Category Archives: ROI

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.

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.


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 3

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Recruiting and Admissions Coordinator

In Posts 1 and 2, there’s already been ample discussion about the ways that TMMBA students and alums calculate their return on their investment. While we conclude today with three final categories to the TMMBA ROI, it’s safe to say there are still many components to add to this conversation:

Powerful Network

The TMMBA alumni network is truly one of the greatest assets of the program. With close to 800 TMMBA graduates, it is a diverse community that represents a variety of industries, functions, and companies. Additionally, the larger Foster School network connects more than 50,000 business professionals – creating a huge presence in the Puget Sound region and beyond.

 So how do TMMBA alums relate network to ROI? For many, the value comes from the exposure and access to new contacts, companies, and most importantly – opportunities. As alumnus Kevin Croy (TMMBA ’12) can attest, “The caliber of people on your team and the network you’re exposed to directly impacts your career.” Through an introduction from one of his TMMBA teammates, Kevin met his current business partner, leading to the development of 9MileLabs, a Seattle based high-tech accelerator.

 Another value of the TMMBA network is that it never stops growing. With each new cohort, the TMMBA community expands and provides access to more support, resources, and connections. “My network has exploded almost exponentially” remarks student Chris Zilich. “The connections I’ve made via my team and other classmates have been invaluable.”

 Personal Growth

Can you put a price on confidence? How about personal development and leadership skills? TMMBA alumnus Ameya Bhatawdekar (TMMBA ’10) explains that “it’s hard to put a dollar value on the measurement of ROI. But my most important indicator is knowing that I’m a different person today for having completed the program.”

 While the TMMBA program offers a comprehensive business curriculum, the learning in the program goes beyond business concepts, calculations, and frameworks. Emphasis on strategic decision making, effective leadership, and innovation challenge the individual and change their ways of thinking. 100% of recently surveyed TMMBA alumni cited an increase in confidence as a result of the program. Coupled with increased self-awareness, time management skills, and a sense of accomplishment, the return for the individual is unparalleled.


While it’s not a typical return, the convenience, support and services that the TMMBA program provides helps some students substantiate part of their investment decision. Many alums point to the convenient Eastside location- there’s less time and money spent commuting to class (especially in comparison to other non-local MBA programs). The 18-month program and work-compatible schedule also allow students to continue their current careers – without having to forfeit years of income and career experience to pursue their degree.

By providing textbooks, electronic course materials, registration services and more, students can focus on homework or family time, not worrying about the logistics of classes. Similarly, catered meals on class days allow students to come  from work and network with classmates over dinner – or finish up on last minute homework. As alums have noted– everything about the program is designed to make students as successful as possible.


With the variety of topics that we’ve covered in these last few posts, it’s obvious that the ROI for TMMBA students is multifaceted. From network to rankings, salary increases to personal growth, every TMMBA student and alum calculates their return in their own way.  We’ve started the discussion – now how will you calculate the ROI for your own MBA?

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

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.”


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

The TMMBA ROI Series: Part 1

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Admissions & Recruiting CoordinatorROI

Return on Investment (ROI) for an MBA degree is a common topic when talking with TMMBA students and alumni. Whether they measure their return in dollars or more intangible assets, it’s clear that the UW Foster TMMBA program provides substantial value for graduates.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at some of the various benefits that TMMBA students and alumni use when measuring the value of their Foster MBA degree. As you’ll see, there are many elements to consider in this calculation.

Immediate Value

From day one of Immersion Week to the last Capstone course, TMMBA students experience the real-time ROI of their newly gained business knowledge.

“My ROI becomes visible as I begin to apply my learning directly to my work,” remarks Padmaja Vrudhula, who will graduate in June 2014. For Padmaja, the immediate relevance of TMMBA’s curriculum was clear when she was exposed to different cost comparison concepts from TMMBA professor Lance Young. When she applied these concepts at work, the change in approach to valuations saved her client roughly twenty million dollars.

Like Padmaja, the majority of TMMBA students work full time, and they are encouraged to bring workplace experiences and examples into the classroom. Students are then prepared to apply solutions at work the next day – earning immediate dividends the moment they begin classes.

A Highly Respected MBA

Ranking institutions (including U.S. News & World Report, Businessweek, and Forbes) consistently recognize The UW Foster School for the strength of its graduate programs and success as a school. While rankings don’t always complete the picture, our alumni acknowledge that it does sometimes play a factor in their MBA investment decision.

Kevin Croy (TMMBA 2012) explains “We are so fortunate to have such a prestigious and well-respected research university in our backyard. I’m proud to be associated with the UW and the Foster School of Business.”

With brand recognition across the U.S. and beyond, an MBA from the Foster School of Business ensures that your credentials will hold value and be well-recognized. TMMBA students realize the benefit of being able to attend a top-tier institution without leaving their hometown.  In addition, the TMMBA program itself has developed a strong reputation since admitting its first class 13 years ago.


 Our next post (Part 2) features alumni perspectives on how career and salary growth factor into TMMBA ROI calculations. Also, take a look at these videos from TMMBA ROI panel discussions.

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

Don’t be a Paper MBA

By David Lam, TMMBA Alumnus, Class of 2013

Don’t be a Paper MBA: Attend a Tech @The Top, career networking, or professional development event

Do you want to be a stronger business leader or is your choice to be a Paper MBA?  The TMMBA program has nearly monthly events that can help you stay relevant and are often invaluable opportunities to get connected to recognized business leaders.

Get Connected

Whether you are still in the classroom or have since graduated, opportunities to connect to recognized successful business leaders are invaluable. Interested in an insider’s account of established internationally recognized companies or perhaps prefer hearing about the local startup scene? The TMMBA program has an excellent variety across that spectrum from Walt Disney and Yahoo to WetPaint and LiquidPlanner. Thinking about partnering or career opportunities with a local company or subsidiary? Attending these events can really boost your network beyond what would normally be available to you. Cold-calling the CEO is very different to following up an earlier exchange at a recent TMMBA event.

Stay Relevant

I worked in Japan for a decade and had to be especially wary of ‘paper drivers’, particularly as a motorcycle was my primary way of commuting. This is a well-known phenomenon in Japan and refers to those who have received a license to drive but, since becoming certified, either had not or have very rarely actually gotten behind the wheel. My personal experience of passing the practical driving test in Japan was specific to a motorcycle license but it was an extremely grueling not to mention expensive process. Despite passing this very difficult practical driving test however, those who did not practice their new-found skills were really certified drivers on paper only. On the rare occasion when they do drive (and often long after passing the practical exams), these paper drivers were a danger to both themselves and others around them.

MBA graduates (and current students) have a similar risk.  Granted, the risk to life and limb for MBA graduates who do not continue to develop themselves is less than that of a paper driver, but the hard-won skills learnt in the classroom can also quickly deteriorate.  Graduating with an MBA is a grueling process that begins even before entering the classroom. From the GMAT and overall application process thru to the many, many months of countdown towards that blessed graduation date. It is clearly a significant investment in time and money. In choosing to undertake an MBA, is your goal to become certified on paper only and go no further to develop as a stronger business leader?

Attending the TMMBA events or workshops are an opportunity to learn from current and real-world applicable lessons. Often the talks are surprisingly open with many insights that can be gained, and are never dry case studies.

Avoid the risk of becoming a Paper MBA; continue to develop your business skills, stay relevant and get connected. Subscribe to the calendar at:

Other relevant events at:

Hope to see you at the next Tech @the Top or career networking night!


Sara Jones, Associate Director and 2012 alumna

Are you wondering if you’ll get enough return on your MBA investment to make the sacrifice worth it?  ROI can be measured in many ways—new career options, the value of the network, a sense of security, compensation and more.

So, what is the TMMBA ROI?

Last month we surveyed alumni who graduated from the program two years ago. The responses are still coming in, but here’s a sneak peak at some of the data so far:

  • 24 months after graduation, most respondents so far have said they made a career change
    • 38% changed functional disciplines
    • 48% moved up vertically
    • 5% started their own company
  • 100% are more confident in their business skills and abilities
  • 90% have increased their strategic business responsibilities
  • 67% have greater budget responsibility
  • Almost all respondents have seen an increase in salary, with an average increase over 20%

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for complete results of the alumni ROI survey. 

In the meantime, I encourage you to talk directly with our alums or attend tomorrow’s panel discussion on the TMMBA ROI.  The panel is made up of three alums and one student who will share more about their return on investment from the TMMBA Program.

The TMMBA ROI: a candid conversation with TMMBA alumni  & students

Thursday, August 8
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Eastside Executive Center, Kirkland

Ameya Bhatawdekar, Founder of Nuubuu
Kevin Croy, Partner at 9Mile Labs
Jeremy Hutton, Associate at Point B Consulting
Padmaja Vrudhula, Strategist at VMWare

An MBA… makes you happier?

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator

Despite taking a “Philosophy of Happiness” class in my undergraduate years, I definitely would not consider myself an expert on the subject (philosophy OR happiness). But a recent article on caught my attention, claiming that (gasp) happiness is the newest benefit of an MBA degree.

I know what you’re thinking- everyone expects salary raises, increased confidence, or a larger network post-MBA. But an increase in happiness? Not the end-result I imagined.

In the article describing the MBA Happiness Index 2013, the organization MBA50 asked 1,108 participants from business schools around the world to evaluate their happiness levels 12 months before their MBA, during their MBA, and post-MBA. Here are the results:

Though their survey may not be the most scientifically valid study conducted, it still brings to light some interesting data about MBA graduates. With happiness being such a relative term, you do have to take any data with a grain of salt. Beyond the numbers though, it’s intriguing to evaluate why MBA degree holders might report elevated levels of happiness. For this question, I agree with the survey’s authors. They cite that common studies on happiness have come to the consensus that ” ‘meaning’ (or values, or community, or empathy, or engagement with the public good) correlate strongly with peoples’ reported happiness”. So, consequently, people must be finding meaning during and after their MBA. Happiness is different for everyone, and therefore “meaning” is also different for everyone. Maybe one student finds meaning in the Ethics curriculum, and is able to effectively apply it to his/her job. Maybe one student finds meaning in being productive and accomplishing a goal, and receiving a diploma. Maybe another graduate finds meaning in the network and community that they’ve built over the course of their program.

For all you skeptics who say that happiness for MBA grads comes from the higher salary or finally an end to the nights of endless statistics problems, sure- I imagine there’s a bit of truth to that. But the same study also asked respondents which aspect of the MBA program made them happiest. Coming in at #1, was “Self-Development”, with 42.2% of the answers. “Financial Reward” on the other hand, only clocked in with 2.7%.

While I don’t plan on conducting a happiness survey of my own anytime soon, I think it’s definitely a topic worth bringing up in conversations with TMMBA Students. Granted- with less than one month to go til Graduation for the Class of 2013, I’m sure the responses may be a bit skewed….

In conclusion, I’ll close with a quote from my “Philosophy of Happiness” Class (Professor Alfino would be so proud…). Fittingly, it comes from Aristotle, who said “Happiness depends upon ourselves”. In that sense, I think connecting an MBA to a personal journey of self-fulfillment and happiness is quite fitting. Of course we’ll let our students and alums be the judges.