Category Archives: Alumni

Networking on the Ultimate Field

Sara Jones, Class of 2012 and TMMBA Assistant Director

This summer I played on the TMMBA Alumni Ultimate frisbee team in the DiscNW Summer Corporate League. This was my first time playing Ultimate and I captured my initial thoughts in this earlier post.  The season wrapped up two weeks ago and it’s time for an update.

There were lots of opportunities during the season to improve my actual frisbee skills, but the game stretched me to grow in other areas as well. On the field you need to be adaptable, deal with ambiguity, and learn to read your own team members as well as the other team. Of course, communication with your teammates can make or break the game. These skills are important in the workplace and also as a student in the TMMBA program.  It was great to work those muscles in a new setting!

That said, the best part of my experience this summer was the people.  I got to know more of my fellow alums (post-game celebrations helped), their family members that came to cheer us on, and met some really cool folks from the other teams. We played teams from REI, Microsoft, Google, King County, Fred Hutch, Tableau Software, Apex Learning, and Boeing. The sidelines and post-game cheers were great opportunities for casual networking.

All-in-all it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to next season. We’re even talking about some TMMBA pick-up games this fall.

The spirit of the game

Sara Jones, Assistant Director, Class of 2012

Last month I helped organize the launch of our 2nd annual TMMBA Ultimate team for the DiscNW Summer Corporate League. Along the way, I was convinced to sign up for the team and then thought,  “What have I gotten myself into?”.

Let me explain. Although I had been involved in performing arts for the first 20 years of my life, I hadn’t played a team sport since I was about 5 or 6. Frisbee is not something I’m good at and I’ve seen the level of competitiveness and skill of some Ultimate players.

I went into our first game on June 6 nervous, anxious, and a little overwhelmed. I wanted to do well and not let the team down, but I also didn’t know a thing about Ultimate. I read up on the rules and watched video clips ahead of time, but I still didn’t feel very confident.

Tonight is our 4th game and we’re playing against Cotton Kills, the REI team. They have some talented players, but I’m actually looking forward to the game.  So, what’s changed in the last month? Here’s my rundown of the first three games and what I learned along the way.

Game 1: We played Royal Flush and won, 15-14. We had a lot of beginners that night and spent pre-game time trying to get the basic rules.  I ended up guarding a really good female player, felt stressed-out, and was trying to learn defense.  I was so wrapped up in my own head that I don’t really remember seeing the frisbee more than once or twice the whole game. According to my teammates there was a strong back and forth battle throughout the game with some amazing plays by a few of our very skilled players. Here what I learned from this game:

  • There’s a lot more to the game than throwing a frisbee, and it’s a killer workout!
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep your ears open – teammates on and off the field have a different view and can help coach you along the way.
  • Ultimate is guided by the  “spirit of the game” – fair play, good sportsmanship, respect of others, and the joy of the game.

Game 2: We had a 15-10 win against the Tableau Tuple Tossers.  We started off pre-game with a whiteboard and end zone drill.  Although a simple exercise, I felt much more confident going into the game after seeing the objective drawn out and a few small successes during the drill.  This game we had a pretty good mix of skill level in both genders and did well in both defense and offense. Afterwards, the team headed out for post-game food and drinks. A few takeaways:

  • Have fun – it’s just a game! Our closing cheer to the Tableau team was a great reminder of this and the spirit of the game: “Tableau, Tablooo, Yahoo, We Loved [Playing] You!”
  • Watch the other team’s players so you can assess their skill and match appropriately on defense.
  • A little organization goes a long way. We had a clear strategy for the game and it helped everyone perform their best, no matter their experience level.

Game 3: Our first loss was to Blue Screen, the Microsoft team (5-15). Last year they were the season champions, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.  They played a strong game and used a different defensive strategy than previous teams. We had to adapt our offensive approach and many of us were learning on our feet. We had less players attend than previous games, so everyone had to play more. The women only had 1 substitute player! My thoughts post-game:

  • Relax and take your time on offense. It’s easy to feel rushed to throw the frisbee when you’re holding it, but you have ten seconds. That’s actually a lot of time to let your teammates get into place and help you out!
  • The post-game and sideline socializing with teammates makes a difference! It really started to feel like a team during this game. We were supportive, talked to each other on the field, had great sideline coaching, and recognized when teammates needed assistance. I attribute some of this to the off-field bonding.
  • I can do this! I walked away feeling like I did okay. And considering the skill level of the opponent, I feel much more confident that I do bring value to the team even though I’m a beginner.  I even had a few good laughs on the field during the game!

We have several more games to go this summer and I look forward to seeing my own personal progress and the progress of our team as we continue to work together. Go TMMBA!

Here are a few photos that I took during down-time in Game 2:

       

Is entrepreneurship for you?

Jeff Levy
Jeff Levy at the TMMBA & EMBA spring networking night

By Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director & Class of 2012 Candidate

We recently had a networking night for students and alumni of the TMMBA and Executive MBA programs. Our speaker for the evening was Jeff Levy, an entrepreneur, coach, and mentor who has helped hundreds of individuals open their own franchise or small business. He’s also the co-author of Making the Jump into Small Business Ownernship (read an excerpt in this GeekWire post).

Jeff shared his entrepreneurial journey and views on what it takes to achieve small business ownership. He highlighted his personal challenges and achievements and the who, what, when, where, and why of entrepreneurship.  We followed-up with Jeff after the event with a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:

What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?

There have been many times in my career where I felt pride and a sense of accomplishment.  These usually came after achieving something that no one thought possible. Probably,  the most significant moment was when my partners and I put together a $35million package to buy the three division from Flow International to form Safeworks, LLC.  No one, including ourselves, during the process, knew how it would exactly come together. We never gave up on our dream and made it happen.

It’s not easy to take a leap from being employed (and the primary earner) to being an entrepreneur.  When is the right time to start my own business?  Is there a strategy that would provide the least impact to my family?

You are very right that it is not easy to leave the comfort of a regular paycheck. However,  workers today function in what is called the “new career economy.” A paycheck is not necessarily a synonym for security. At the executive level it is not uncommon to be in a different job, or in career transition every 3-4 years. What you want to avoid is having to start a business when not working as a result of a layoff. That is a lot of pressure unless you have a good severance and possibly Self Employed Assistance Plan benefits provided by the State of Washington.  I think the best strategy is to work on the planning part of your business while you have the comfort of the regular check.  Give particular thought to the capital side of the business. Do you have enough money set aside to meet your living expenses for up to a year (or more) in addition to the capital requirements for investing in the business. Once funding is secure it still takes the difficult task of balancing your dreams versus your fears. My family has always been supportive of my entrepreneurial pursuits.  They believed that my early career success working for others would be transferable to my own venture. As my wife said. In her wisdom, you have made money for others, it is time that you do it for yourself.

With the dramatic changes in technology and impending talent war, what are the pros and cons of being a full-time employee versus self-employed?

I think that there will be a talent war. It actually exists today for certain software engineers and programmers.  I do believe the jobs of the future will be “newer and fewer”. No matter what the demand may be for talent in a salaried environment, I don’t think it competes with the benefits of being your own boss.  Clearly, I have a bias in this regard. Workers tend to get comfortable living at the level of their W-2 income and don’t do enough to create real wealth or to control the most valuable thing they have, their time.  I also believe that technology will create many more opportunities for self-employment.

What is the number one personality trait you see in successful entrepreneurs?

I think the # one personality trait is optimism. The ability to look for the opportunity no matter what the difficulty or the challenge may be.  There are certainly other very important traits but you asked for one. If you are a pessimist trying to go into business, game over!

What is the single biggest obstacle encountered by aspiring entrepreneurs?

Here I need the latitude to give a few obstacles.  You might think it is the lack of capital, but I don’t believe that is what holds entrepreneurs back although it might delay entry or slow down the ramping up of the business. My story is a good example of working the plan until you make it happen.  Raising $35m looked like climbing Mt. Everest. The two biggest obstacles are being close minded and not having developed mastery of basic business management skills.

The Power of the TMMBA Alumni Network

Photo of Tim CookeTim Cooke, TMMBA Class of 2005

What are the top reasons professionals return to school to earn an MBA?  I’ll speculate that the top two reasons are to help foster a career change and for acquisition of knowledge.  Whether you’re considering an MBA or have already graduated from the TMMBA program, I propose that you add a third reason for attaining your MBA: access to a powerful and growing network of networked professionals.

Rather than give you the top five reasons for considering your alumni network as a powerful resource, allow me to appeal to you through a simple story.

The TMMBA program sponsors many opportunities for graduates to connect including an event called Technology at the Top which features a technology executive from a local company sharing their perspective on a current topic or sharing insights and lessons learned from their own professional journey.

Like many of you, I mark evening events on my calendar weeks in advance with great intentions of attending, but as the evening draws close, many competing interest seem to rear their needy heads. Technology at the Top was no exception. I had both business and personal interests competing for that small 60 minute investment I intended to make. I did have a loose personal connection to that evening’s speaker, so rather than miss the opportunity to make add a network connection, I dragged myself to the meeting at the Eastside Executive Center.

Being in business development for twenty years has taught me that passive participation in events will not yield the return necessary to keep you coming back, so I listened intently to that evening’s guest, ready to pounce on any opportunity to engage. Forty minutes into the session, that opportunity came in the form a statistical presentation of where the company’s leads come from. My hand shot up and I let fly my sortie in the form of a deep probing question into how the company is tapping into their knowledge that peer influence is the number one entry point into their sales cycle. My reward was that familiar wrinkling of the brow and cock of the head to the side as the speaker thought for a moment and said, that’s a great question and a challenge we’re actively engaged with. Target acquired.

While the hook was set, the fish was not yet in the boat. At the end of the session I sprang to the occasion and stood in line for my turn to thank our guest. I mentioned the one common friend we both had that would forever bond us, then I started to reel by reminding him of the question I asked and letting him know more about R2integrated’s Influencer and Communities of Interest practice that seeks to identify top influencers and communities and then activate them. Whether he was genuinely interested or just wanted to get rid of me I’ll never know, but he immediately offered to introduce me to their Chief Marketing Officer.

By morning, the fish was in the boat in the form of a flattering email introduction to the CMO. I’ll cut the story short here to conclude with a few facts. We kicked off our first project with this client exactly one month after the email introduction. I don’t know about your industry, but for mine, that’s an incredibly short sales cycle. The first project has opened up the desire for a second phase and a project unrelated to the first. The initial value of the engagement was modest in the tens of thousands, but brought us a new local client whose CLV should reach into the millions as we help them to grow.

Would I have been able to close this customer without TMMBA? We’ll never know, but I do know that with the connections TMMBA affords me as an alum, my access to resources is much greater than without. 

So what is it for you? Are you looking for that next great career move? Are you looking for a business partner to join you on the exciting journey of a startup? Just looking for some new friends to discuss current business issues? Whatever your desire, I encourage you to resist the temptation to skip that next networking meeting. Jump in. You’ll never know the outcome if you don’t participate!

Takeaways from Pitch, Don’t Spin: How to Create Buzz Around your Start-up

Rae Wang, TMMBA Class of 2003

TMMBA sponsored an MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest entrepreneur meet up last night, the topic was Pitch Don’t Spin.  I was very excited that the TMMBA program reached out to the community to connect with other tech enthusiasts, meanwhile making such events available us, the alums, to attend.  I have a two years old startup and customer acquisition through new media is always on my marketing agenda, so this topic caught my interest right away.

The panel consisted of the co-founder of GeekWire, Founder of Newsvine, editor of Seattle Business Magazine, Seattle Times Technology Columnist, and the senior editor of Xconomy.  They gave us a wide range of opinions on how to approach media in this new media age. General challenges in the tech media today are:

  • Too much information is flowing around
  • A lot of people are writing
  • New media and old media provide a lot of choices for entrepreneurs, it can get overwhelming

The panel presented very interesting points and suggestions on how tech entrepreneurs can effectively tackle these challenges:

  • Be authentic, be honest, and be yourself
  • Sell your true story not your credentials
  • Have a story: just because you have an app, it does not mean you have an interesting story
  • Explain your technology in layman terms
  • Get the reporters interested in you
  • Know your audience and use the correct channel to pitch: no need to do Twitter etc if nobody reads it
  • Get your interesting nuggets of news prepared ahead of time before meeting the press
  • Rethink press release and don’t be afraid to use new media, such as emails

If you would like to learn more about this event, my fellow note taker over at fireundereverybutt.com posted a visual note from the event. Check it out at http://fireundereverybutt.com/visual-note-taking/.

It’s Business Time!

Aaron Lykken, Manager of Academic Services & Technologies

The smell of fresh cut grass.  The afternoon summer sun shining bright. The company of good friends. Loads of exercise.  Tons of fun.  These all help describe the opening season for the TMMBA alumni ultimate frisbee team, It’s Business Time.  The TMMBA program fielded a team for DiscNW‘s 2011 Summer Corporate League and saw a lot of success, going deep into the playoffs and playing for 3rd place in a league long dominated by titans such as Microsoft Corporation, Amazon.com, and the Boeing Company.  The league pitted Seattle area companies head to head each Wednesday evening on the fields of Magnuson Park.  Plastic flew, the chants were loud, sportsmanship high, and the victories sweet.  We started as a mixed band of talents, with alumni from over the years with varying athletic abilities and staff.  As the season pressed on we learned each others playing habits, grew as players, got in better shape, and saw our offense and defense come together in harmony.  The experience was unique from other alumni activities in that we were able to strengthen connections with people we already know but also to meet new people and get to know them over the course of the season.  There is already discussion of an end of season BBQ and putting together a team for next summer!

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.

TMMBA alum puts his degree to work

Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director
TMMBA Alumnus, Andrew Zydel
Andrew Zydel, TMMBA Alumnus, Class of 2009

Alumnus Andrew Zydel and the Technology Management MBA Program were featured in a recent article in the Horizon Air Magazine about students in innovative degree programs in the Northwest. Andrew is a graduate from the TMMBA Class of 2009 and now manages a team of IT professionals at Swedish Medical Center in his role as Manager of Informatics. He leveraged his TMMBA education, informatics experience, and networking skills to make the switch to his current position.  Read the full article.

The TMMBA Network – A Lifetime of Connections

Tina Bassir, TMMBA Associate Director

When you join the TMMBA Program, you become part of the accomplished TMMBA community: a powerful network of nearly 800 professionals, including entrepreneurs, CIOs, senior managers, and directors.

As an alum, the TMMBA program continues to provide opportunities to learn and to stay connected to this network of top technology leaders. By staying connected and involved, alums continue to gain the networking and educational benefits. A variety of events happen throughout the year ranging from continuing education and networking, to family fun and recreation.

“In today’s economy, a vibrant network is even more critical than normal.  Thanks to the TMMBA program and all the alumni events it supports, I’m able to easily stay in touch with my fellow classmates.” 
–Steve Montgomery,    TMMBA Class of 2008

Continuing Education:

TMMBA alumni are invited to audit classes with current students as a refresher to particular topics, and they have access to a variety of continuing education courses each year. (In fact, a course on Selling Professional Services is happening this week.) These courses provide a chance to connect with fellow alumni and Foster School faculty while returning to the classroom.

Additionally, the TMMBA Alumni Book Group has been meeting quarterly for over two years, spanning topics from strategy, leadership, ethics and finance. The book group is a great opportunity for alums to dig into a business topic then gather to discuss the book in an academic setting. Book groups are facilitated by Foster School faculty members.

“The TMMBA book groups help me maintain a connection with the program while keeping me up to date on current topics.  I’ve been able to apply the books we’ve discussed to my current work.”
— Tamaira Ross, TMMBA Class of 2008

Networking:

While a great deal of networking happens at the education events, there are also events focused on reconnecting with classmates and meeting other members of the TMMBA alumni network. From speed networking night to happy hour, alums are able to meet fellow graduates from practically any local company or functional area. If someone isn’t currently working there, chances are good that someone has at some point in their past. 

Graduates from TMMBA also become part of the Foster School of Business alumni network of nearly 48,000 graduates. Each year, the Foster School welcomes all MBA graduates.  The Foster MBA Reunion held in Oct 2010 brought together all MBA programs at the Foster School from Classes of 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005. 

“To me, the value of the alumni network has been mainly of social value.  It feels good to be connected with good, smart people.”
 –Sumant Hattikudur, TMMBA Class of 2005

The TMMBA Alumni Network truly provides a lifetime of connections and a lifetime of learning!

Dashing to Success: Foster MEANS Business on race day

Aaron Lykken, Manager – Academic Services & Technologies

TMMBA staff and students laced up their running shoes with other Foster MBA programs to raise money for University of Washington student scholarships by participating in the 2010 Dawg Dash.  Little did we know that epic sheets of rain and gusty wind would greet us on a chilly and grey Seattle Sunday morning (we’re talking the type of day where you curl up with a book or movie next to the fire place and drink a hot cup of coffee).  Instead I found myself shaking my head and grumbling as I pulled together my race gear.  On my way to Husky stadium I remember at least 4 distinct times when I almost aborted on the race and sought refuge from the elements back at my house.  The guilt of abandoning my teammates brought me back to focus each time and soon I was parked and deciding when I was ready to fling open the car door.  Through the waves of water running down my windshield I saw a teammate and decided that it was time.  Stepping into this kind of rain meant being wet and cold instantly and set the tone for the rest of the morning until the “Purple Wave (10k)” was called to the starting line.  The scarcity of covered areas was apparent as I observed runners hiding in every stadium tunnel    To the amazement of the runners, the rain ceased as we lined up and executed some last minute stretching, leg shaking, and jumping in hopes of staying loose and warm.  And then the gun popped…

Come race time the Foster runners shook off the rain and cold and found racing success in both the 10k and 5k flavors of the race, with finishers in the top 15% of their division.  The race spans the length of the UW Seattle campus from Husky Stadium in the south to running up the hilly campus past the Foster business school campus in the far north.  It was a painful race but certainly one with an intense feeling of accomplishment at the finish due to the inclement weather.  2010 was the 25th anniversary of the Dawg Dash tradition which raised more than $10,000 last year.  Record attendance last year was beaten by more than 800 registrants this year.

Go Huskies!