Category Archives: Classes

The BIG Field

Hamed Ahmadi, TMMBA Class of 2012

To me, this fall quarter has been one of the best quarters in the program so far. There was a lot of enjoyable and exciting work. Specifically, the Operation and Inventory Management course by Kamran Moinzadeh.

Maybe it is my personal taste, but I enjoyed this course very much. Mostly because I love math, calculation, excel sheets full of data, manufacturing, and a few other things, all presented in this subject. Another reason for the success of the course, in my opinion, was how Kamran taught the material. It just gets into your head and you start using the concepts everywhere. My wife caught me the other day analyzing how many cashiers Costco should have; she was not happy that I did all my ‘calculations’ on the back of the chocolate box she was going to give as gift!

One of the highlights of the course for me was the lesson I learned from the “Little Field Technologies” simulation, a very intriguing practice of theoretical concepts taught in the first half of the quarter. And by lesson I mean something beyond the course material. Let me elaborate a bit more.

The simulation was about teams driving a factory for a few hundred simulated days (one real week) and whoever got the most money in the end was the winner. The competition was the spice to the activity and I do not believe people really cared much about its grade. What our team did was doing the calculations before the simulation started and then just monitoring the factory during the week. But I got carried away: I redid our calculation a few times and monitored the factory the first night until 4 AM! I was taking snapshots every hour to be able to analyze our performance; and finally too much doubt and qualm about our actions did what I was afraid of: I encouraged my team to change something that eventually put us behind most of the teams; then I was kind of depressed for a week after that.

Now, I imagine I was put in charge of a real factory; real money, global competition, eager stakeholders… Am I going to behave the same way? How am I going to handle pressure and high expectation? And a whole lot of other questions…

This simulation was a ”Big Field” I played a few of my tactics in and realized I have work to do. This was another addition to what I’ve learned about myself in this program, and for that I want to thank Kamran and my team.

There’s an equation for that?

Jared McInelly, TMMBA Class 11

That was my first thought when Prof. Karpoff first wrote the equation for NPV (Net Present Value) on the whiteboard.  I was fascinated that there, right in front of me, was a way to calculate the present value, in today’s dollars, of a project that would last in to the future.  There was even a way to include the risk!

Finance has been one of my favorite classes so for in the TMMBA program.  The case studies were challenging yet interesting.  And the final exam was actually fun.  Being able to value a company using information from their income statement and balance sheet is cool.

And forevermore, whenever I see one of those hats with a propeller on top I’m going to think “CAPM.”

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.”

Fostering Leadership the Foster Way

Bruce Avolio, Professor of Management & Executive Director of Foster Center for Leadership

bavolio_smallA year ago, the Foster School decided to get into show business. In partnership with UW TV, we set out to produce a show that would inform viewers about the very best things we know about effective leadership, and to do so in a way that conveys rigor (what we say works, has been proven to work) and relevance (it really looks like something you can use).  Each of six pilot shows is broken down into nine 3 minute segments covering different topics, from different vantage points for different reasons. The people who we have included in the show range from entrepreneurs, to senior executives of Fortune 500 companies to faculty and our own MBA students and alum.Take a look at this new show produced by our Foster community for our Foster community.

By the way, over a million viewers have seen this show in its pilot season and it won out the gate the prestigious Telly Award!

Bruce Avolio is teaching Leadership Development with the TMMBA Program this Spring Quarter. The focus of this course is on understanding the dynamics of leaders and leadership ranging from self leadership through global strategic leadership. Bruce is one of the top scholars on transformational leadership and has devised evidence-based models and methods to accelerate the development of authentic, ethical and transformational leadership.

Government spending taken to the ultimate

Tom Mackey (TMMBA alumnus, Class of 2009)

I ran across this well done article telling the story of entire Chinese cities being built, just to “grow the economy”:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/amazing-video-emerges-of-chinas-ghost-cities/

The video is about 15 minutes long, but well done.  In it, a Hong Kong housing expert estimates that there are 64 Million (and growing) empty apartments and homes in China.  They are asking prices roughly equivalent to what you would expect to see in the Seattle area, require a 50% down payment, and loans must be repaid in three years.  The draconian interest terms have so far prevented a hyperactive mortgage bubble, but they certainly have a glut of housing that no one can afford.  In addition, they are tearing down the places where people are actually living in order to build yet more apartment buildings — which is contributing to growing social unrest.  When you consider the relatively small amount government spending contributes to Aggregate Demand, it is obvious that the Chinese government is spending money by the boat load in order to prop up their economy.  When this housing construction bubble bursts, there is no telling what will happen.  Remember that C = Consumers propensity to spend, I = investments (Mostly in *our* treasuries, by the way), G = Government purchases (the ghost cities), and NX = Foreign exchange (Also huge for China).  What they do not have is much “C” — the thing that is required to really grow an economy (i.e., true creation of wealth where money is created out of thin air through the fruition of ideas into goods and services).

Interesting — if they sell our securities to continue the building, they will collapse our economy, leading to a sudden drop in their NX, which will collapse their economy.  Mutual Assured Destruction of the economic kind.  Yet, at some point, something has to give.  I saw a Twilight Zone episode one time where we had latched on to something in another dimension, and both sides were pulling so hard that neither side could release without destroying everything, or let up for fear of turning that dimension inside out — Tiger by the Tail, I think, was the name of it.  Pretty apt description of what we have with China.  Below, the Aggregate Demand vs. Y (Goods) chart from one of Karma’s lectures:

 AD_Curve

 

 

 

 

 

 
Tom Mackey, TMMBA Alum (’09)

tom.mackey@gmail.com

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.

Three and a half days

Bhaskar Dutt, TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

Class 11 is almost halfway through the first quarter! Many of us have been out of school for a decade or more (drat, now I’ve made myself feel old), so getting into the groove of attending classes took some work. It’s been an exhausting but exciting ride so far and I’m really looking forward to the rest of it!

Since this is my first TMMBA blog entry, it probably makes sense for me to talk a bit about our first taste of it – the orientation experience. We had an intensive three and a half day orientation session in December, after which we got about a month off before classes started in earnest early in January. Those three and a half days served as a great springboard into the TMMBA program. Even prior to orientation, we had been assigned study teams. Meeting our study teams and getting to know them a bit even before classes started was fantastic. We had also been assigned daunting stacks of reading material for two classes that we would be taking as part of orientation, Ethical Leadership and Building Effective Teams.

I was very impressed with the content of both those classes. I had never really thought ethics in business would be a particularly interesting or complex subject, but Scott Reynold’s class showed me how naive that view was. The animated and thoroughly entertaining discussions in this class brought home to us how multi-dimensional a question as simple as “What is the right thing to do here?” can be. By the end of our short crash course in business ethics, Scott had provided us with an appreciation for this complexity and a framework for evaluating such questions that I have little doubt I will be revisiting at some point in the course of my career.

The reading we were assigned for Building Effective Teams resonated strongly with me. My own interests lie in the direction of team-building and process engineering (I currently serve as the scrum-master for my team at work), and so as I read about practices adopted by various successful teams, I thought frequently about how I could apply them at work. Here again Greg Bigley’s thoroughly entertaining teaching style brought the material to life. Various in-class exercises helped us get a feel for the concepts we were learning about while simultaneously forcing us to get to know our new classmates better. I came away from this class with a new appreciation for how important good team dynamics and norms can be to the success of the team. I’m going to keep all the reading material we were given for this class – I am certain I will want to refer back to it soon.

Another high point of our whirlwind orientation was the business etiquette dinner. Held at the swanky Bellevue Club, this event was designed to give us the basics of etiquette in business meals while simultaneously allowing us to get to know each other a little better in a fun setting. There was a great deal I learned here, from how to hold a wine glass, napkin, and small plate in one hand to where to seat guests relative to hosts. The food was delicious, the setting was beautiful, and the company was delightful! This was the first time the TMMBA program has organized such an event and I consider it an unequivocal success.

There were also numerous informative presentations from TMMBA staff about the various services the program offers as well as the beginning of an ongoing class in professional communications that looks like it is going to be invaluable to our careers. At the end of the three and a half days I returned home, exhausted but also thrilled about my new experiences. What a great introduction to the program!

-Bhaskar.

TMMBA Orientation, December 2010.

Hamed Ahmadi – TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

I remember the excitement I had before starting elementary school. I could not sleep well for a few nights before the first day of school. I was dreaming about all the new things that were coming up: the new friends I was going to make, new nice and colorful books, and most importantly, I could finally read the labels on the ice-cream packs.  

The history repeated itself after twenty years. When I got the orientation schedule and course packs, I felt exactly the same way. Of course, reading the label on an ice-cream pack would not make me excited anymore, but being able to read into a business certainly does. I was so ready to start my new journey.

There was a fair amount of reading in the orientation packet and we had about a month to prepare. It was a great adapting period for me to get myself into the “school mode” again.

The orientation was very compact; it started on Thursday evening and finished on Sunday evening. Honestly, I felt like I was running very fast on a treadmill after being out of shape for a long time (I felt that once when I restarted playing soccer after a year of preparing for college entry exams ;) ). There was a lot of interesting content being covered in a short amount of time and I wish we had more time for topics like effective teams and ethical leadership. Our team enjoyed the ethical leadership class so much that picked “Corporate Social Responsibilities” for the Microeconomics course paper this quarter, so we get a chance to read more about this topic. After the orientation, I went over the materials again and tried to summarize what I learned. That helped me to digest the content better.

So, get in shape before the orientation by reading extra papers and analyzing the cases before discussing them in class.

Like all other fun times, it flew by very fast, but left a good memory.

Conversing like a pro at a business meal

Guest Blogger: Arden Clise, Clise Etiquette

Clise_ArdenOn December 3, I had the pleasure of giving a dining etiquette presentation to the new UW TMMBA students. I covered everything from how to juggle a drink and a plate of food at a reception to how to conduct yourself at dinner at the bosses house to the difference between Continental and American styles of eating. It was a wonderful diverse group who seemed very interested in the topic and asked great questions. 

I thought I’d offer a tip related to one of the questions. The question was, “how do I bring up business topics over a meal without sounding pushy?” 

There is a flow to business meal conversation. When you sit down at the table, start by having casual, non-business related talk. Avoid talking about anything personal or controversial such as politics, your diet, your health or religion. Instead, find out what your guests are interested in. When you ask good questions and show a true interest in others you will be seen as a great conversationalist.

 If you were to host a business meal meeting this week, an obvious topic of conversation would be the Super Bowl game.  Whether you’re a football fan or not there are many areas you could take the conversation – the game itself, the commercials, how empty the shelves were at the supermarket when you went grocery shopping, the halftime show, American’s love of football.  You get the idea. Once you have placed the order you may move into talking about business.

 A side note here; when conducting business over a meal, it’s important to order something that is easy to eat and not messy. The focus should be on the conversation, not the food. Also, take small bites so that you can chew quickly and continue talking.

 Once coffee and/or dessert are served, assuming your guest wants coffee or dessert, move the conversation back to small talk if you are finished talking business. You want to end the meal on a light note.

 If you practice this conversation flow you will not have to worry about coming across pushy and you’ll have more success with the business at hand.  I hope this helps you feel more comfortable and better able to enjoy the meeting.

Arden Clise, President of Clise Etiquette, is a business etiquette consultant, radio show host and columnist for the Puget Sound Business Journal. As a speaker and corporate trainer, Arden is an expert in the field of business etiquette. She can be reached at 206-708-1670 or arden@cliseetiquette.com. If you would like to get etiquette tips please “Like” the Clise Etiquette Facebook page.