Category Archives: Career Development

How to Choose a Startup Company to Join

This guest post is from Daniel Stein who graduated from the UW TMMBA program in 2014 and is a product manager at Smartsheet.  Prior to Smartsheet, he worked at Microsoft for four years as a program manager for Office.com and Excel.  In his free time, he performs as a professionally trained classical flutist and appreciates the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Many of us enrolled in an MBA program with a desire to transition to a smaller company, where we could have a broader role with more challenge, growth, and responsibility.  But it isn’t obvious how to identify the startup that best aligns with our career goals.  In making the transition from program management at Microsoft to product management at Smartsheet, I found it useful to evaluate opportunities in terms of three criteria: role, product, and people.

Your role should be indispensable to the company

It isn’t enough for a company to have the role you are looking for; the company should consider your role to be critical to the business.  I was looking for a product management role where I could work broadly across the company to ship great software that would delight customers and grow the business.  But I knew that I would only be successful at a company that understood product management and valued it as part of the core culture.  At Smartsheet, there are posters on each floor with the names and faces of the product managers, to ensure that everyone in the company knows where to direct product feedback.  Smartsheet’s CEO Mark Mader personally interviews prospective product managers because of the high-profile nature of the role.  Through these signs and others, I could tell that Smartsheet realizes that their product needs to be great for the company to succeed.  This in turn makes it a good place to make an impact as a product manager.  If your company truly understands and values your role, both you and the company will be set up for success.

The product should benefit from your unique expertise

People often talk about working on a product you are passionate about.  Ideally, the product you work on should also use your unique knowledge and experience.  In making a career transition, it’s important to balance what you change versus what you keep constant from your prior job.  Among the factors of role, company size, and product area: shift the factors where you want to grow, and keep some factors constant to hit the ground running and offer a competitive advantage versus other candidates.  In my transition, I shifted role (program management to product management) and company size ( >100k to <200) to gain the experience I wanted.  In choosing Smartsheet, I kept good alignment with my past product experience to make the transition successful.  At Microsoft, I had worked on Office, so I felt right at home at Smartsheet, which focuses on business productivity and also includes a spreadsheet interface.

If you are considering two companies that both have the role and team you are looking for, favor the one where you can offer unique expertise.  It will serve as your bridge to get the job in the first place and be successful once you are there.

The team should be the right size, with the best people you can find

Choosing the right team is the single most important factor in choosing a company.  It goes without saying that you should work with the best people you can possibly find. You should be excited to learn from and work long hours with everyone you meet in your interview loop.

It’s also important to choose a company whose stage matches the experience you want to gain.  This depends on how much “learning through doing” vs. “learning through others” you would like to have.  If you join a very early stage company, you’ll likely be the only person in your role, so most of your growth will be through experience.  If you choose a more established company, there will be at least several others who are experienced in your role.  If the company is too large, you may have less breadth and responsibility than you would like.  I was looking for a company between 100-300 people so that I could work on a small team of strong product managers and still have broad responsibility.  I found this stage to have a good balance of “learning through doing” and “learning through others.”

Of course, financial risk is also an important aspect of choosing a company size.  A smaller company will have greater risk in both compensation and job stability, but it can be worth it if you love the product and team, and you want experience of building a company from scratch.  It’s never a good idea to join a company with the primary expectation of a large financial upside.  That sort of thing is very difficult to predict, so optimize for what you can control: loving the team and the product.  If you consistently choose great people and optimize for your own learning, you’ll do well over the long term of your career.

Getting started: Identifying candidate companies

Once you know your framework for choosing a startup, it’s time to create a specific list of companies to explore.  Many great startup companies are not yet widely known, so it takes some research to identify them.

One of the best ways to identify companies is through the portfolios of top venture capital firms.  Companies that have received funding (especially repeat funding) from well-respected VC firms have already undergone vigorous vetting and have access to resources that will help them to succeed.  In Seattle, Madrona is the largest VC firm, so it is worth researching their portfolio to find companies that meet your size and product criteria.  Some of the Bay area VC firms have also invested in Seattle companies.

Apart from VC firms, it’s also worth following local industry news & networking organizations.  Geekwire is a primary source for tech news in Seattle, and they maintain a list of startup companies on their site.  Local meetups like New Tech Seattle and New Tech Eastside are also great ways to connect with local startups.

Finally, your own network is a good way to identify candidate companies and also the single best way to get your foot in the door at any company.  Once you have identified a startup company of interest, use LinkedIn to see if you have any connections at that company.  Regardless of what department they are in, ask them to meet up for coffee to learn more about the company culture.  If you are intrigued, ask them if they would feel comfortable introducing you to someone in your target role.  It doesn’t matter whether the company currently has openings in your department, because if they are successful, then they will soon!  It’s all about making the connections and keeping in touch.

Happy startup hunting, and I look forward to hearing about what you learn.

Hooked on Entrepreneurship

When Robert Moehle (Class of 2015) decided to apply to the TMMBA Program, he knew he wanted to attend the nationally ranked Foster School of Business and gain access to a strong alumni network to help him accelerate his career. What Robert didn’t know at that time was that the TMMBA Program would introduce him to a new passion – entrepreneurship – and open up an unexpected and entirely new career path for him.

Robert started the TMMBA Program in January 2014 and decided from the get-go to fully immerse himself in his coursework and opportunities that the Program provided. With a technical role in the aerospace industry, he soon saw an increased confidence in his ability to “speak the language” of the business world as he applied his classroom learnings at work.

“TMMBA provided me with the context for how companies operate and why certain business decisions are made.”

He also found himself drawn to the courses and opportunities that extended beyond his current aerospace role – in particular, those in the realm of entrepreneurship.

Midway through the TMMBA Program, Robert made the decision to leave his corporate job to pursue his new-found passion for entrepreneurship. He directed his efforts to the annual UW Business Plan Competition (BPC) where he became a student representative for the TMMBA Program and an active participant in the planning committee. Through the process, he made invaluable connections with various start-ups and ultimately partnered with Hook – a smart home hub that makes inexpensive remote controlled outlets and bulb sockets “smart” to enable home automation on a budget.

BPC
Team Hook celebrates their 3rd place victory at the 2015 BPC

Hook saw great success at the UW BPC, placing 3rd overall in the 2015 competition (out of 139 teams) and claiming the “Best Consumer Product Idea” prize. They also  won 2nd place at the UW Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge earlier in the year. The BPC acted as a powerful catalyst for the company’s early success.

“The BPC gained us exposure to well-respected members of the entrepreneurship community to tap for advice and to grow our customer base when we launched.”

After the BPC, Hook’s momentum continued as they were accepted  as part of the 2015 cohort to the exclusive Foster+Jones Accelerator Program. The Program provides six-months of mentoring from Seattle entrepreneurs and investors, a framework for defining measurable milestones, guidance in achieving those milestones, and the opportunity to earn up to $25,000 in follow-on funding.

Robert has proved to be an integral team member of Hook – both during the BPC and well beyond the competition. He’s leveraged his business skills and knowledge gained in the TMMBA Program to complement the technical skills of his other teammates.

“I negotiated the seed round of investment for our company using the frameworks of Entrepreneurial Finance, managed the company’s accounts using principles from Accounting, and have proper context for our team’s Marketing discussions as a result of my academic knowledge. “

What’s next for Robert? In addition to his continued work with Hook, he recently accepted a business development role at MVP.Aero –  an aerospace company aimed at designing and building the world’s most versatile aircraft.

“I found it remarkable that with my bachelors/masters in aerospace engineering, commercial pilot certification, seaplane rating, and Boeing engineering background, it was the Foster TMMBA that impressed the (MVP.Aero) president the most.”

Undoubtedly, a bright future lies ahead of Robert with new business challenges, entrepreneurial endeavors and opportunities to put his skills and knowledge acquired in the TMMBA Program to the test.

Tactics to Transform Your Resume

TMMBA students and alumni find many opportunities to network with each other as well as employers and individuals from other Foster MBA programs.  This can naturally lead to career conversations and job opportunities.

As a first step in readying for potential career transitions or advancement, TMMBA Career Management hosted a resume workshop for new TMMBA students in November.  A student said,

“The workshop made me realize that updating my resume was a top priority and motivated me to begin this process almost instantly.  The session provided practical tips, valuable resources and best practices that I can successfully use while updating my resume.  It was a great idea to introduce to participants early in the program.”

Elaine Newtson, MBA Career Coach, shared these tactics and expectations to give an MBA resume a distinctive advantage and resonate with recruiters, interviewers, and decision makers:

  • Add a specific and targeted Summary under your heading.  This should highlight key skills and abilities that are relevant to the kind of work you’re seeking.  It tells the reader what you want to do, creates a personal brand, and is your best argument as to why they should hire you.  Know your audience.  Use relevant keywords that show your leadership experience, broad technical skills, and business competencies.  Eliminate an objective that describes the type of position desired.
  • Include a few results-oriented accomplishment bullets (1-2 sentences each) for every position.  Clearly describe how your actions contributed to the team, department, or long-term impact of the company.  Include quantitative metrics and numerical support (#, $, %).
  • Make your resume easy to read quickly.  Eliminate groups of words that can be said in a single word.  Avoid large paragraphs jammed with text.  Remove “References Available upon Request” at the bottom of your resume.  Trends: hyperlinked testimonials, call-out boxes and breakaway text.  More 2015 trends: http://www.careerealism.com/top-resume-trends-2015/.
  • Optimize for Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).  Use keywords from industry-specific competencies, job postings, and company websites.  (Two resources: https://www.vmock.com/ and https://www.jobscan.co/.)  Use different document formats for system compatibility, a PDF resume when possible and a txt version when inputting data into specific application fields.

Minimum expectations for an MBA resume:

  • Refined and polished
  • Strategic and accomplishment-based
  • Clearly showcases long-term business impact that you made
  • Appropriate density and smooth contemporary formatting

Students learn about global business through travel

The Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) International Study Tour gives second year students an experience to see how people live and work in another culture.  Through company visits with executives and managers and cultural excursions, it adds valuable context to learn about and understand the increasingly global economy.  A few previous tours include Vietnam (2014), Dubai and Abu Dhabi (2013) and China (2012).

Students recognize how this trip relates to professional development.  Viveka Raol said “Multinational companies are looking to hire leaders beyond the average MBA, instead they want leaders who have no problem working with cross-cultural teams and are able to adapt to different kinds of settings.  I need to be able to fully comprehend consumer perceptions and preferences across the globe.”

From March 15-21, 2015, fifteen students traveled with faculty member Bruce Avolio and TMMBA staff to the vibrant developing country of Peru.  Before departing, students studied the country and companies and set personal learning goals.  They also reflected on how this trip would contribute to their development as a leader and influence future interactions with classmates.

I was most surprised by the strongly developed and lively metropolis that is Lima. When I thought of Peru before the trip, I thought of the less-developed indigenous tribes of the highlands and jungle.  I expected Peru to be a mixture of my experiences from remote areas of Mexico and India.  I found Lima to be more like Spain – modern and with its own unique culture and flair for life.  I was surprised to find so many foreigners in the capital city, and found the climate for business much more favorable than I had expected.” (John Koehnen)
“I was most surprised by the strongly developed and lively metropolis that is Lima. When I thought of Peru before the trip, I thought of the less-developed indigenous tribes of the highlands and jungle. I expected Peru to be a mixture of my experiences from remote areas of Mexico and India. I found Lima to be more like Spain – modern and with its own unique culture and flair for life. I was surprised to find so many foreigners in the capital city, and found the climate for business much more favorable than I had expected.” (John Koehnen)

For John Koehnen, his goal was to experience and embrace another culture and discover how life and business fit together in South America.  He said “In preparation for the trip, I studied some of the recent macroeconomic trends of Peru and other countries in South America.  This helped frame my expectations, understand what would be important to the people of the region, and ask better questions to uncover nuggets of information that I couldn’t get from a business journal.”

Viveka wanted to learn how the United States is perceived in Peru and practice her intercultural communication skills.  She said “Simple gestures such as direct eye contact, and smiling broadly which are commonplace in the United States can be interpreted very differently in different countries and have the potential to harm business relationships.”

On our first day of company visits, we left the cool comfort of the hotel and boarded a tour bus.  While the driver navigated Lima traffic, three pairs of students balanced in the aisle and presented interesting facts, figures, and stories about each company on the day’s agenda.

Our first presentation was the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) of Peru that promotes and fosters trade, investment, and exchange between Peru and the United States. Chief Economist Rodrigo Acha explained macroeconomic indicators, the business environment, and U.S. relations with Peru.  We learned about the fading of traditional class divisions, growing middle class, and trade balances.  The #1 destination for exports in 2013 was China (U.S. #2) and Peru imports more U.S. goods than other countries.

“It was great to see my classmates outside of the classroom context.  Interacting during, before and after class, it is easy to see everyone only as serious and focused on studies, but the trip provided an opportunity to see the goofy and relaxed side of them.” (Phil Ramey)
“It was great to see my classmates outside of the classroom context. Interacting during, before and after class, it is easy to see everyone only as serious and focused on studies, but the trip provided an opportunity to see the goofy and relaxed side of them.” (Phill Ramey)

I found my classmates to be incredibly engaged and dynamic” said Phill Ramey.  “They asked intelligent and informed questions that drove the collective learning forward during all of our company visits.”

We met and learned about seven more companies over the next few days.

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Zhifeng Wang and Philip Xie with leaders from Ofertop.

Ofertop is a fast growing e-commerce startup who sells discounted deals.  “They are a vivid illustration of TMMBA global strategy concepts and a great story of how a business can flourish by adapting to its local environment” noted Zhifeng Wang.  “Unlike Groupon, Ofertop does not focus on mobile users due to low mobile penetration.  Instead email is a primary channel.  And since a large part of the Peruvian population still relies on cash transitions, they invented a cash payment option to make their business model feasible.”

Marga, a 50-employee textile producer and exporter, sells exquisite Alpaca knitwear. We entered the factory floor, with whirring machines and work tables, and squished into a showroom where Gonzalo Diaz, the new General Manager, explained their manufacturing steps, business markets, and expansion strategy for seven retail stores in Lima.

MargaMarga 2

A student presentation started our last full day in Lima.  Maureen Nash fearlessly sung these lyrics to the tune of “Come Together” by the Beatles:

Hey pay attention, Alicorp sells pasta, milk, and trades
Value to their custo-
– Mers to make them happy
Keeping business money
Founded 1956, going public 1980
Pay attention, right now, Alicorp!

Alicorp is a leading consumer goods company with 160 brands, operations in six Latin America countries, and 39% income from outside Peru.  With 33 bakery brands, we were struck by their marketing strategies.  They don’t market to children.

After visiting Lima, we traveled to the ancient city of Cusco, Peru, located at 11,200 feet in the Andes Mountains.  Motorbikes roared through cobblestone streets while llamas grazed freely on the mountainside.  We took a 2-hour drive through the rolling hills, green valleys, and jagged peaks.  Another 2-hour train ride brought us to the village of Aguas Calientes, where we boarded a bus and ascended to the entrance of Macchu Pichu.

Many adjectives describe a first glimpse of looking down on the lost city of the Incas, 200 ancient stone buildings perched between four mountains.  One student said “I’m speechless.”

After a group photo, we hiked for 2-3 hours to reach the Sun Gate, the official end of the Inca Trail.  Viveka reflected on her experience:

“I felt a sense of humility as I connected with the 'Pacha mama' (mother earth) as Peruvians would call it. The vastness of the Andes Mountains and the openness of the sky reminded me that life is transient and that we need to make the most of our life journey.”  (Viveka Raol)
“I felt a sense of humility as I connected with the ‘Pacha mama’ (mother earth) as Peruvians would call it. The vastness of the Andes Mountains and the openness of the sky reminded me that life is transient and that we need to make the most of our life journey.”

“Peruvians are selfless people who seem to put others before themselves. My most vivid memory was the long hike to the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu.

The high altitude, congested sinuses, and sleepless nights culminated in a long and treacherous hike for me. Our tour guide was patient, empathic, and encouraged me every step of the way. I can still hear his soothing voice in my head, sharing stories of the Inca and their architectural prowess. His storytelling and kind persona helped alleviate my pain and at one point he even offered to carry my bag and heavy jacket to help lighten my load.

My learning from this is to make sure that I do my very best to develop and intellectually engage my direct reports.  Only if there is a pure cooperative dynamic, between employee and employer, will there be a desire to perform optimally.”

We traveled home to Seattle the next day and fondly remember the people and learning beyond the classroom walls of the Technology Management MBA program.  If you’re a future or current student considering the international trip, John advises “Just go.  Sign up.  Explore.  Take a chance.  It is life-shaping and a real-life case study of all TMMBA learnings to-date.”

Photos courtesy of Paul Jeyasingh.

Team Hook On A Roll

Following Entrepreneurship courses in the Winter quarter, Class 14 was abuzz with new business ideas. This was evident by the TMMBA program having the strongest turnout in its history for the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition (BPC).

One new venture with close ties to the TMMBA program is Hook, led by Class 14 student Robert Moehle. Hook won 2nd place at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, and is currently in the Sweet 16 of the BPC.

The team, whose members met through an event hosted by the Buerk Center, has set out to make smart home technology accessible to everyone by offering “home automation on a budget.” One Hook device in the home offers control of anything electric from the user’s smartphone. This allows for energy savings, improved home safety, and convenience.

Hook is currently taking pre-orders on Kickstarter, with a little under two weeks left to reach their funding goal of $25,000 for an initial production run.

“I’ve been able to apply the concepts learned from my TMMBA classes directly and almost instantly,” remarked Moehle. “I am thankful for the program and opportunities offered by Foster, which have given me the chance to pursue my entrepreneurial desires. The TMMBA faculty and staff have been incredibly supportive in every way.”

Please support Hook on Kickstarter, and share their project with your friends and followers!

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TMMBA Alumni Profile: Rick McMaster (TMMBA 2006)

McMaster (TMMBA 2006) @ Vino at the Landing in Renton
McMaster (TMMBA 2006) @ Vino at the Landing in Renton

After competing in the UW Business Plan Competition and graduating from the Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) Program in 2006, Rick McMaster caught the entrepreneurship bug.  McMaster made an unconventional shift from a career in technology at Intel to pursuing his passion for the local Washington wine industry. Today McMaster has put his TMMBA skills to work and is the Owner and General Manager of the thriving Vino at the Landing in Renton.

What’s next for McMaster? In January 2015, he purchased a second location, Reds Wine Bar at Kent Station, and sees even more growth in his future. Much to the delight of McMaster’s patrons, more chardonnay, merlot and syrah possibly await! Read more about McMaster’s story below.

On Career

What is most rewarding about your job? What makes it all worthwhile?
I love the community atmosphere that we’ve established at Vino through great food, delicious wine, and wonderful service.  We have a lot of regular customers who patron Vino on a daily or weekly basis.  It’s great to know our customers on a personal level, learn about their personal lives, and know that Vino is the place that they go to relax and unwind.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career?
Growing Vino from a staff of 3 to 20 has been extremely challenging.  When we started there were no policies and procedures in place.  We now have an employee manual in place with a more disciplined performance management process.  Resourcing has also been challenging.  As we’ve grown it has been difficult figuring out when to hire and how many people to hire.  There is a lot of turnover in the restaurant industry so it’s also challenging to retain good employees.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
We were honored by the Renton Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Customer Service for 2012 and 2014.  And we were just recently honored by the Washington State Wine Commission with a Grand Award for our locally focused wine program.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My first boss at Cummins Engine, Mike Carney, was the biggest influence on my career.  He was a huge proponent of The 7 Habits and building highly effective teams.

What are you most excited or passionate about?
I am most excited about the personal development of my employees.  Most of my staff started at Vino in their early 20s.  It’s been wonderful to see them grow into management positions.

Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years?
I purchased a 2nd location, Reds Wine Bar at Kent Station in January 2015.  I’d love to open a 3rd location in the next 5-10 years.  I’ve also been working on a business plan for a cocktail bar and would love to open that concept in downtown Renton as part of the city revitalization efforts.

On TMMBA

What were your goals upon entering TMMBA?
I was working at Intel when I entered the program.  I had worked primarily in program management and had an engineering background.  I knew that I needed the business education if I ever wanted to advance my career at Intel.  I thought the TMMBA program would help me to achieve this.

How has TMMBA impacted your career?
There is no doubt that I never would have had this opportunity with Vino at the Landing & Reds Wine Bar without my experience in the TMMBA program.  As a small business owner, every part of the TMMBA program curriculum is used on a daily basis.

On Life

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m an avid golfer.  Vino opens at 11am so I’ve been known to get 18-27 holes in prior to opening.  My girlfriend is an avid runner and running coach so I see many 5K races in my future too.

Are you involved in any community organizations?
Vino contributes to many local charities including the Renton Clothes Bank and we are heavily involved in the Renton Chamber of Commerce.  I just began mentoring with the Renton School District.

Business book recommendation?
I’m going to go old school with this one… Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People.

 Read more TMMBA alumni profiles here.

TMMBA Mentoring Program

A conversation between a TMMBA alumnus and student is usually one of mutual understanding around career paths and aspirations.  It’s an easy genuine exchange.  In fall 2014, a TMMBA Mentoring Program launched and 44 TMMBA alumni (mentors) were paired with TMMBA students (mentees).

The beginning:
For mentors and mentees, it started at the Program Networking Night on the evening of September 30th.  The Eastside Executive Center, painted in Husky purple and gold, was dressed for the occasion.  Tall cocktail tables draped in black floor-length linens were positioned so that mentees and mentors could mingle and learn more about each other.

Students submitted their mentor preferences after the reception.

Who are the mentors?
The community of mentors is ambitious and generous.  They are respected business leaders from many industries, companies and functions from Consulting and Operations to Marketing, Data Analytics and Entrepreneurship.  As mentors, they offer specific feedback and encouragement on important MBA career and professional development areas.

How is the Program designed?
The program timeline for mentoring relationships extends from October 2014 to June 2015.  The expectation is for each pair to meet once per quarter (minimum) as well as be available for dialogue via e-mail and/or phone.  This provides at least three in-person meetings for mentees before graduation.

What are mentees saying?
Two students shared feedback on how their mentoring relationship has complimented their TMMBA experience and professional development.

I’ve been working for a big company for almost a decade now and for some time have thought about what it would be like to start something of my own.  While working for a big company has given me experiences that have helped polish and expand my technical skills, it has given me very little insight into what it would take to successfully run a company or even where to start.  Through conversations with my mentor, I’ve been able to get a perspective of what it takes to start a company from the point of view of someone with a background similar to mine, who has been successful at it, and who had similar questions and hesitations to those that I’ve been having.  Being able to ask questions and get honest and candid feedback has been a great compliment to the class lectures and discussions with classmates.

Another mentee said,

For one, I don’t think I would have been able to know my mentor if it wasn’t for the TMMBA program.  That alone is a great example of the benefits that come with the program.  Secondly, I feel that she is one person who I can trust and has a ton of credibility as an advisor in my professional development because of her accomplishments.  Her career progression somewhat overlaps with my own situation, and that is a big reason why I wanted her as my mentor.

In one of our conversations, she reminded me about the big picture of doing an MBA.  That has helped to reinforce a few things that I knew but tended to de-prioritize because of the everyday schedule. She provided some really good insights and perspectives.  She has also forced me to think more deeply about certain things.

I feel I am ready to work on a tangible action plan based on her feedback. I plan to share my work-in-progress with her in our next meeting, and we’ll go from there!

What’s next?
We’re gathering midpoint feedback and will highlight more perspectives, from mentees and mentors, in a future blog.  In summer 2015, we’ll hold Information Sessions for Class 15 to learn about the program design, timeline, and how to participate.

The TMMBA ROI Series: Part 2

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Admissions & Recruiting CoordinatorROI

Last week’s post addressed a few of the many ways that TMMBA students and alumni calculate the return on investment for their MBA experience. The discussion today centers around three additional consideration points- salary growth, career progression, and the lifelong resources of the TMMBA program.

Salary Growth

Compensation increase is often the focus of ROI conversations given that it’s easily quantified. While  sole emphasis should not be placed on an MBA’s monetary value, it is still an important piece to the ROI puzzle.

TMMBA graduates continue to see considerable return for their initial investments. As knowledge and skills grow from an MBA program, pay raises often follow as employers see the benefits of the education.  In fact, in a survey of TMMBA alumni two years post-graduation, 95% of respondents reported an increase in salary – with an average increase of over 20%.

Career Advancement

Oftentimes, career growth goes hand-in-hand with salary increases. Whether students are looking for promotions, functional changes, or to start their own companies, TMMBA helps to advance the timeline for these goals.

“When I think of the next levels I wanted to achieve in my career, TMMBA significantly accelerated my ability to achieve those milestones. In the classroom, I learned concepts that could take years to grasp on-the-job,” remarks alumnus Jeremy Hutton (TMMBA ’13).

With a relevant business curriculum incorporating technology, innovation, and professional development, TMMBA students find that their MBA is a competitive advantage in the market. For those looking to move up, an MBA opens to door to greater responsibility and management roles. Some TMMBA students are hoping to change functions or industries – and upon graduation are more qualified to pursue outside opportunities. Entrepreneurs can also improve future success when equipped with knowledge and resources from the program.

Lifelong Resources

Speaking of resources, it’s important to note that the benefits of the TMMBA program don’t end upon graduation. TMMBA alumni still have access to workshops, guest speakers, networking events, career coaching – even classes. Whether it’s a new course that’s been added or a subject that needs refreshing, many alums take advantage of class audits and lifetime learning.

TMMBA Career Services adds notable value for both students and alumni. From resume workshops and panel discussions to 1:1 coaching and Career Mixers, there are plenty of ways to leverage TMMBA career resources.

Given these potential value propositions of an MBA, it’s still up to students to leverage their education and capitalize on growth. As Jeremy can attest, “It’s never going to be less expensive to get an MBA than today. The return starts immediately – as soon as you learn the concepts in class and start applying them. Take advantage of the opportunity.”

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Missed a post? Catch up!  Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

EQ │Personal Branding │Your Career

Successful business careers evolve from a combination of IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence quotient).  So, why is high EQ important?  Here are a few points:

An analysis of more than 300 top-level executives from fifteen global companies showed that six emotional competencies distinguished stars from the average: Influence, Team Leadership, Organizational Awareness, self-confidence, Achievement Drive, and Leadership (Spencer, L. M., Jr., 1997).

According to Dr. Patsi Krakoff, research by the Center for Creative Leadership found that the primary causes of derailment in executives involve deficits in emotional competence. Specifically, these executives have difficulty handling change, working well in teams, and interpersonal relationships.

Further, Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, said:

a leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control. She must be able to withstand the heat, handle setbacks and when those lucky moments arise, enjoy success with equal parts of joy and humility. No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.”

Developing Both Your IQ and EQ in TMMBA

The TMMBA Program recognizes the importance of cultivating both your “book smarts” and your EQ.  A comprehensive business management curriculum is balanced with EQ reflection & action: a better understanding of who you are, what you are learning & where it’s being applied, what you have to offer (contributions), and where you are going.  The effort in answering these questions among other experiences compliments your MBA experience and assists with your leadership development (and career trajectory).

In the last month, two TMMBA Career Services events were designed around the EQ element of self-awareness through personal branding.  The end goal was an improved ability to concisely introduce oneself (via resume, LinkedIn, pitch, etc.) with a story that makes sense, builds emotional connections, and inspires dialogue.

1.  WHY MATTERS: SWOT #personalbranding Workshop:

Brand Strategist Kevin Susman taught participants how to use a personal SWOT, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats, to improve a pitch to others.  He began with defining the difference between products (selling specific features) and the more powerful brands that are fueled by emotion & trust.

This SWOT analysis framework was used:

Internal to achieving career objectives

Know your STRENGTHS to build connection

Need to be relevant to market/customer

Create high-level 3-sentence statement that answers:

  • What you offer (particular need to be filled)
  • How you help customers achieve goals? (single statement of benefit)
  • Who you are (positive personality trait)
Admit to WEAKNESSES

Understand them and be able to turn into strengths.

Answer these questions in 3-6 words per bullet.

  • The flaw in your offering
  • How you hold yourself back
  • Who you are: negative

External to achieving career objectives

Know your OPPORTUNITIES 

Examples:

  • Current professional network
  • “You” as defined by strengths and weaknesses
Understand THREATS (risks)

Examples:

  • Professional network fatigue
  • Perceptions of you

2. TMMBA Career Boot Camp:

This four-hour session outlined new ways to think about and share a personal brand and authentic voice in promotion to organizations.  It included creating a comfortable elevator speech and resume & LinkedIn profile to stand out from the competition.

Two LinkedIn takeaways: 

  • Create a Professional Headline on LinkedIn.  Be aware that the headline words are “weighted” 40% more than the rest of your profile.  This weighting helps recruiters find you – amidst your competition.A headline is the place to sum up your professional identity in 120 characters or less (15-20 words). Focus on who you are + what you do (your expertise/value) and audience you serve.  It does not have to be your current job title.Consider using a brand tagline or personal title but ensure that it helps people understand what you do. If you are in the job market (passively or actively), use keywords that reflect the titles or expertise you are seeking.
  • More keywords aren’t always better.  Our advice would be to only include the keywords (including repeated keywords) in your Profile that best reflect your expertise and experience.  If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your Profile, you are likely showing up in a high number of searches.  The question you need to ask yourself, however, is whether members consider your Profile relevant to their search.  If not, their behavior as a collective group may be influencing the algorithm used to rank you in search results.

Students visit Amazon and Tableau Software on inaugural TMMBA Tech Trek

The inaugural TMMBA Tech Trek launched Friday, August 16th.  A terrific group of 23 current TMMBA students ventured to Tableau Software and Amazon to build knowledge around product innovations and strategy while getting a first-hand glimpse of the work environment & culture. The Trek also provided a chance to mingle with company leaders and fellow classmates.

TMMBA loves dataamazon1

Here are a few words from two attendees:

Kulkarni, ArvindAnother fantastic opportunity called TMMBA TECH TREK was presented to us in our third quarter.  We were able to visit two great companies in Seattle’s backyard and experience their work culture by interacting with employees in a casual environment.

First, we visited fast-growing Tableau Software, which just went public with their IPO in May 2013. They really love data!  The software demo and the Q&A sessions with Thierry, Ellie and Neelesh followed by a mixer with other employees was very insightful.  I was able to hear more about their future growth and hiring plans and learn that I need not be a software geek to work there!  We need to watch out for this company as it has great potential to grow.

The second company we visited was Amazon.  We already experienced the enthusiasm of Amazonians in second quarter when they visited the Eastside Executive Center, and I didn’t notice any drop in the levels when we went onsite.  We all enjoyed a warm welcome from Dina, Stephanie, Michael, and Bill and got to know more about their roles and work life balance in Amazon. Reading about Amazon in newspapers and then hearing some of their current projects makes me think that they are really on a mission to sell everything everywhere and to everyone under the sun one day.  Bill Burkland’s short presentation gave me a behind the scenes snapshot of B2B operations as I have been using their services to save on purchases in alternate sourcing at my workplace.  Thank you all for a warm welcome and opportunity to learn more about your organizations!  – Arvind Kulkarni, TMMBA Class of 2014

Pongracz, JuditThe inaugural Tech Trek was an excellent example how the TMMBA Program and staff come up with new and inventive ways to enrich student experience. The event gave us an opportunity to peek behind the curtains at two sizzling hot technology companies and do some serious, targeted networking. The level of enthusiasm was clearly palpable and no questions went unanswered at either of the hosts. My only question now is: When can we go next? – Judit Pongracz, TMMBA Class of 2014