Category Archives: About TMMBA

Prepare for going back to school: advice from current students

Sara Jones, Assistant Director and Class of 2012

Tonight is the Welcome Reception for the newest class of TMMBA students.  They will get to meet their study groups for the first time and pick up their reading materials and assignments for the orientation weekend.  To help prepare for the journey ahead, we talked to a few current students to see what advice they have for new students or people who are considering  TMMBA. Here’s what they had to say:

  • View every experience as a learning opportunity.  Put yourself out of your comfort zone and you will be surprised what you learned about yourself.
  • Talk to family who are going to be impacted by going back to school.  Set aside time to be with your family and make it a priority.
  • Know what you want to do or where you want to go after TMMBA.  Be conscious about it and find opportunities to gain the right experience during the program.
  • Have a strong support system in place to help get you through the program.
  • Seriously consider the amount of time it’s going to take. You can’t do everything, so pick your activities and be really good at time management.
  • The program is a safe environment to stretch yourself.  If you see an opportunity, go for it!

What would you add to this list?

Do you feel the difference already?

Hamed Ahmadi – TMMBA Class 11

The music has been always “rock and rolling” in my car and everyone enjoyed riding with me. Not anymore!

Well, unless you like to listen to all the business news broadcasted from reachable radio stations around the Puget Sound. I never thought I would prefer business talks over music. I even felt insulted the other day when my friend, sitting in the front seat of my car, changed the channel to listen to rap music while I was listening to NPR morning edition discussing the interest rates. I do not blame him, I had not anticipated that myself either.

That is a small example of the how my life changed since last December, besides not getting enough sleep or missing my soccer games. It is amazing how the “noises” I’ve been hearing all these years around various business topics are gradually turning into dialogs, talks, discussions, and decision makings … Right, because I can now understand it and be a part of it; and that feels really good :)

Good day to you.

How do you keep up with technology and business events?

Jared McInelly, TMMBA Class 11

Everyone is very busy.  There are so many demands on our time, work, family, school, etc.  I’ve found that school has taken all of my leisurely browsing-the-web-to-keep-up-on-technology time.  So, I have to boil things down to a few key resources.  Here are the things I use to keep up on technology and business issues along with a short description of each.

Podcasts

I love podcasts.  By subscribing to them in iTunes, new updates are downloaded to my iPhone automatically.  I have an FM transmitter that allows me to listen to them on my car radio while driving around in the wonderful Seattle traffic.  Here are my favorites.  All of these can be subscribed to in iTunes by searching for them by name.  (Sorry Andriod users, I have not joined your secret society and so I don’t know how to help you get these).

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series.  Stanford University.  This is a weekly (during the school year) speaking event open to Stanford students.  They record it and post the talks online.  This is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to.  Because it’s Stanford, they get some of the best speakers from some of the most interesting companies in the world.

TWIT:  This week in technology.  Leo Laporte is the moderator with a panel that changes weekly.  They discuss the tech news of the week.  This is a great way to find out what is new and upcoming.  Plus, there are some great personalities in the group (and some consistently grumpy ones).

HBR IdeaCast.  This is a 20 minute interview with the author of one of the main articles for the week’s Harvard Business Review.  Very insightful and a quick and easy way to get the point of the article without having to read it.

Business Week – Behind This Week’s Cover Story.  Similar to the HBR IdeaCast, this is a short interview with the author of the latest Business Week cover story.

Manager Tools.  I don’t know where these guys came from but they are pretty good.  They discuss, sometimes in painstaking detail, specific, actionable tools you can use as managers.  My favorite Manager Tools podcast was the one that had 17 steps to remember for a perfect handshake.  I don’t bother trying to remember all of their items but I do find the overall point of each podcast very helpful.

RadioLab.  If you like science, even a little bit, you’ll love this podcast.  I look forward to a new episode of Radiolab like I look forward to Christmas.  Yes, I’m a geek.

Websites:

Geekwire.  This is a site founded in Seattle to cover the tech beat in the Seattle area.  These guys are good.  They also have a podcast but it tends to be boring.

Google News:

I set up alerts on topics I care about and check it on occasion.  I include on this list all of the blogs that I like to read.  That way I get to see them all at once and it’s easy to tell if they have a new update.  Which is much better than checking them all individually.

I’m interested in what you have found helpful, please respond in the comments if you know of a good site, podcast, etc. that you use to keep up on the latest business ideas and technology.

Use It or Lose it! Speaking Skills in the Digital Universe

Guest Blogger: Lorraine Howell, TMMBA Instructor of Professional Communications

The more we are connected electronically, it seems the less we have to say to each other, at least in person! That’s my non-scientific observation, based on what I hear from people I work with and the people I meet in business settings. With so many communication tools available, people still struggle with their old fashioned verbal communication skills, whether it’s public speaking, networking, or other business conversations.

 However, after teaching TMMBA students during Winter Quarter I’m encouraged and very excited by how many of them wanted more opportunity to practice the skills and strategies they are learning in our new Professional Communications course. There will be more opportunities to practice and get feedback throughout the TMMBA Program.

There are other ways to work on your speaking skills. Consider looking for every opportunity to present at work or in any volunteer activities. Run meetings as often as possible. Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues or friends. As you build skills work on one or two elements at time, like strong opens and closes or gestures and body language. Changes in behavior take time and practice, so take it easy and break it down into smaller goals. Another low cost option is join a Toastmaster’s group. That’s a great way to get regular practice and supportive feedback.

There is no question that communication is a fundamental skill for success as a leader in business. In fact, your skill as leader is dependent on your ability to persuade people to follow you or embrace your ideas and vision. TMMBA students will be taking a deeper dive into the art of persuasion as part of the Professional Communications course.

For now, observe effective communications skills in others, make progress with slow and steady small changes. Developing speaking skills is like a fitness program…use it, or lose it!!!

Lorraine Howell is an instructor in the UW Foster School of Business. After a 12 year career in television production, she started her own communications coaching and consulting company called Media Skills Training. Her book, Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift! is a step-by-step guide through her prove process for eliminating the verbal clutter and creating and engaging and memorable “elevator speech.”

Frank’s Slide

Jared McInelly,  TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

My mother grew up in tiny little town in Alberta, Canada.  Every year, no matter how far away we lived, we’d make the trek to Raymond.  One of the last markers to look for before we’d get there was Frank’s Slide.  In 1904, half of Turtle Mountain broke loose and came rumbling down the valley where it buried most of the town of Frank, Alberta with over 90 tons of limestone.  Over a hundred years later the path of destruction and debris pile are still easily visible.  The road through Crowsnest Pass takes you right through massive, two-story high, sun bleached boulders.  The first time I saw this as a kid I was amazed, even a little scared that such a thing could happen.  I’ve been fascinated by Frank’s slide ever since.

Two weeks into my first quarter in the TMMBA program I started hearing rumblings about “Frank’s exam.”  Peopled talked about it with an awe of respect mingled with a hint of fear.  Just like I felt the first time I saw Frank’s slide.  I began to wonder, “were T-accounts going to become two story boulders, smashing me into wondering why I decided to go back to school?”  Rumors were that the test took 15-17 hours to complete (so I planned on 22-25).  That’s a lot of time when you’re working and going to school.  My study group and I decided to work really hard to finish all of our other assignments before the week of Frank’s exam.  It was a good move.  By the time the week of the test came, I had nothing that had to be done except Frank’s test.  I was really nervous as I downloaded the test questions and the spreadsheet template.  It was my first official test in almost ten years.  As I opened the test I began to imagine Turtle Mountain as it started to rumble and shake.  I could see small boulders beginning to crash down the mountainside before the whole thing gave way.  As I read the first question the panic of being buried in a field of journal-entry dust began to creep up my spine.  I read the question again and sat back in my chair.  “Wait a minute, I know this” I thought to myself.  A few minutes later I was T-accounting with the best of them.  I felt great when, 15 hours over three days later, I was finally finished.

Looking back now, it was actually a pretty ‘fun’ exam.  I didn’t get the best score in the class but that’s not my goal in the program.  But I do have a good, fundamental understanding of how to interpret Income statements, cash-flow statements and balance sheets, something I’ve always wanted to know how to do.  And I’m glad that Frank’s exam didn’t become my own personal Frank’s slide.

TMMBA Class 11 Orientation – Ready, Set, Go!

Adarsh Khare, TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

It was the middle of November 2010 in a Woodinville winery, where my Foster School experience started with meeting a group of wonderful people in a reception event of TMMBA Class 11. Four people (Kundan, Bruce, Glen, and Keka) from that group were definitely special to me. These four folks were my study group – Blue Team – in this course. It was a great combination, with people having experience from accounting, customer management, quality assurance, and IT administration with my own experience in software development. At the end of the event, Tracy reminded all of us to pick a heavy binder at the exit, which contained reading material for our first classroom sessions for the December Orientation Program.

Until a week before Orientation, I couldn’t get a chance to open my binder. Then suddenly I realized that I had to read more than 100 pages of HBR articles and cases with a little book on elevator speech in less than 7 days. We would be learning about professional communications, ethical leadership, and team building. I was wondering how someone could teach leadership and team building in a classroom environment. But in the classroom when Scott started unveiling all the tools required digging deep into analyzing ethical issues and making right choices, I felt empowered. I felt that it was more than a simple classroom setting. It was a dynamic environment, where we were looking into issues from various angles and the whole class was participating in the decision‐making process. Next was team building from Greg; he arranged a good set of exercises in breakout rooms at PACCAR Hall. These exercises were real hands‐on experience in teams. Team is not about putting star performers in a group or making a unanimous decision all the time. It is about putting together a right combination of skills and applying those skills together in marching towards a common goal. The last exercise for building a team contract for a study group was a good learning exercise, where we can observe our results during the course too.

I heard several times in my professional experience, when people say “Let’s talk about it over a dinner?” After going through Arden’s presentation about dinner etiquette in middle of Orientation in a formal dinner setting, now I guess I am better in continuing conversation without worrying too much about my dinner plate and drink.

Overall those three days were jam packed with a nice warm up for the upcoming six quarters. I would definitely continue sharing my learning experiences here and also on my regular blog.

Going back to school is FUN!

Wei Huang, TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

I never thought I being saying this but going back to school is fun.  Even when I come from work all tried and frustrated, I get re-energized when I come to class on Wednesdays.  I see my fellow students who are either studying up for the class ahead or just chatting away with each other.  And very often, I meet someone new and just chat away before dinner.

It is so nice to have dinner waiting for you.  I remember as an undergrad, I hate going hungry and I would always make a quick trip to buy food.  Here in the TMMBA program, food is just steps away.  We’ve had Chinese, Indian, Italian and American food.  All the food is served with veggies, fruit, and desert.  As you might already know, TMMBA has unlimited soda and ice cream.  If you are like me who works for company that provides free soda, you probably know how comforting it is to have that benefit.  Now just add the unlimited ice cream to that equation and it’s all that much better.  The ice creams and sodas are not just their to quench your thirst and appetite, it’s a great way to socialize.

When people ask me how I am doing in the TMMBA program, I get excited and tell them about the new things I learn.  The instructors and Teaching Assistants are great.  Although I’m not the best learner in the world, I always take something away from class that I can apply to real-world situations.

Another great aspect about the TMMBA program is the speakers who are brought in.  Most current was Kurt Shintaffer, who is the CFO from Appito.  It was great to hear how he got started in his company and it was even better to ask him questions.  I don’t know how often anybody gets to talk to someone in his position let alone ask questions openly.  It was a great experience.

We also had former students speak to us about their experience.  During our orientation, we had a speaker who was a student in 2005 speak about his experience at TMMBA.  What I got out of it was how he leveraged his MBA potentials in interviews to get to where he is at now.

So far the TMMBA program is a blast and I look forward to the many classes ahead.

It’s all fun and games…

Chris Rosenquest, TMMBA Student (Class of 2011)

Well maybe not but it certainly has been a lot of fun!

Yes, still, after 13 months, I’m still having a lot of fun. I cannot believe how quickly this has gone by.

The current semester holds entrepreneurship, one of my favorite classes so far. Due to the sensitive nature of our product, I’ll refrain from describing it here but if you’re interested please reach out. I believe we have a truly great business model in a market that’s dying for a innovative products.

We’ll get the opportunity to pitch to to some VCs and get excellent feedback and direction on where to take it next. We’ll also consider entering into the business plan competition to see how far it will go there as well. And we also have a *working* proof-of-concept. We’re very excited!

The thing about this program is that it’s all practice! A place to test your personal boundaries and to go beyond where you’d normally go. It’s a safe environment and a testing ground for growth. This opportunity to test yourself is combined with the prestige of the professors who will teach you some of the most interesting topics on business and management.

I’m really having the time of my life meeting great people, learning and expanding.

My path to the TMMBA

Jared McInelly – TMMBA Student (Class  of 2012)

Getting an MBA was not a decision I took lightly.  It actually turned out to be a journey of almost 3 years for me.  Where you get an MBA has a lot of implications on the rest of your career.  I chose carefully and ended up at the Foster School of Business in the TMMBA program.  Here’s how I got there.

I always knew I wanted to get an MBA.  After graduating with an engineering degree I decided to take a break from school and get some relevant work experience before heading back for an MBA.  Well, one year turned into 8 years , a mortgage and 4 kids.  When I finally decided it was time to go back I first looked at schools that didn’t require the GMAT.  I was intimidated by the thought of taking that test and I was afraid that I wouldn’t score very well.  I compared a couple of online programs with some local evening schools that didn’t require the GMAT.  All of the programs were expensive and online didn’t seem like a good way to really learn from other classmates.  Finally I though “if I’m going to spend the time, money and energy getting an MBA, why not do it right and go to a good school?”

So the pendulum swung the other way for me and I decided to study hard, ace the GMAT and go to school full time.  I studied for a long time and took the GMAT and eventually got the score I needed to get into a good school.

But did I really want to quit a good job and move my family to go full-time?

My wife certainly wasn’t excited about the idea of me going to school full-time.  And the more I thought about it the more it made sense to stay in the Seattle area.  I loved technology and Seattle has good technology companies and isn’t nearly as expensive as somewhere like Silicon Valley.

One day a blurb came on the radio about a “Technology Management MBA from the University of Washington, THE degree for technology professionals…”  It really peaked my interest.  I thought, “hey, I’m a tech geek.  This sounds like a good fit.”  Soon after I attended an info session and was impressed with the stats of the program; 1.5 years, one night a week and every other Saturday.  It sounded intense but doable.  I did some research online and talked to a few people about the program.  I was impressed with a few other things.

1)        The program is officially part of the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.  So the same professors who teach on campus teach the TMMBA courses.  The full-time MBA at the Foster School of Business is ranked #33 nationally.  I’ve since heard that many of the business school professors prefer teaching the TMMBA classes because of the level of work experience and seriousness of the students.

2)       The program is a lock-step, cohort based program.  All of your classes are set, your books are purchased for you and even your food on class days is provided (and, oh my goodness, is the food ever good).  It’s such a relief to have all of these details taken care of by the administrators.  I can’t imagine figuring out when I would have time to travel to campus, park, and walk around the campus bookstore trying to find the right books for each quarter.

3)       I sat in on a class and the students were just like me.  I was worried that going to a full-time program would mean I’d be in class with a bunch of kids just out of college with a year or two of experience and a high GMAT score giving them unearned confidence. The average years of work experience in the TMMBA program is ten.

So, I decided to apply and I got accepted into the program.  So far I have been extremely impressed with the program.  The professors have been incredible and class time seems to fly by.  My group is great and the class is so diverse, with each student bringing such differing backgrounds and experiences.  So far I love it.  Even though the work load can seem all consuming at times, I still love it.