Category Archives: Teams

Expanding your skills…

Chris Rosenquest, TMMBA Student (Class of 2011)

So the TMMBA is not all about attending classes and doing schoolwork. For me it’s a construct in which I can develop all of my business skills and not just increase my business knowledge.

Expanding myself as a business leader is the primary context for me and the reason why I applied and accepted. And as I go through each semester there have been opportunities outside of class to expand.

I was recently invited to do a short presentation to potential TMMBA students at an informational meeting. Getting in front of people and talking is very easy for me when I know the subject and have prepared well. In this case it was in short notice and I had a select list of topics from which to choose. This was an opportunity to expand and stretch myself. I did well and also noticed areas of development in public speaking.

My team, The Fantastic Five, was chosen to be presented in the TMMBA newsletter and the TMMBA website ( Again, this was an opportunity to reflect on the team work as well as provide some insider information on the TMMBA process.

Both of these examples allowed me to step outside of the classroom and homework to expand, and that’s what school has been about.

Technology Commercialization Capstone event

Aaron Lykken, Manager – Academic Services & Technologies

Students from the graduating class (TMMBA Class 9) this spring participated in the TMMBA capstone presentation on 6/5 as both their final deliverable for their Technology Commercialization course and more importantly, for the program.  The objectives of the Capstone project are (1) to provide students with an “end-of-program” team-based project to reinforce TMMBA course learnings, and (2) to provide the students with an opportunity to internalize the value that they have gained from their overall TMMBA experience by applying the concepts and theories to an actual commercialization of technology project.  Student teams were given a long leash to explore project ideas, from project options within the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization as well as those within their own companies or elsewhere such as a local venture.

The day started bright and early for staff as I arrived at William H. Gates Hall at 7:00 AM to setup for the event.  After planning all of the details in the months prior to the event, it was a relief to finally see the day arrive and the finished product.  Overall, a fairly simple day once put into action, as the student teams arrive at various times throughout the day according to the time slot they were given.  There were four different presentation rooms, each with a judge panel consisting of a TMMBA alumni winner from last year, faculty, and a member of the business community.  Each team was allowed 30 minutes total for their pitch, which is no small task, but forced the teams to get to the point quickly and filter out irrelevant details.  At the end of the afternoon each of the four panels decided on a presentation that stood out above the rest and those teams were honored at the graduation banquet later that evening.

After an entire quarter of researching, analyzing, planning, and integrating into a concise 30-minute presentation, the effort behind these presentations and final output was nothing short of impressive.  This was the 3rd year for this event and consistent quality was at the forefront of  each observer’s thoughts as I chatted with judges, project sponsors, and guests.  I hear repeatedly from students and alumni that this is an extremely useful and practical learning activity in which our students need to apply numerous parts of their MBA skill-sets to create a complete project.
Hats off to our Class 9 graduates for all of their hard work!

Graduation & Reflection

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)

A fantastic program coming to a fantastic ending. The TMMBA graduation is going to be held on Monday, June 7th alongside the Executive MBA program. With graduation comes a time of reflection on the program. What do I know now that I wish I knew before enrolling in the program? Top 3 priority order:

  1. Intensity of the program and time demands.We were informed that it would be a considerable time commitment but before actually experiencing it how would you understand. I thought, hey, two nights a week (class, review) would add five hours to my life. I even thought about outside reading and team meetings and said to myself oh that would add potentially five more hours to my week, ok. Then I thought about that every other Saturday the entire day was occupied, another 4hrs avg per week. So, okay that’s on average 14hrs additional work per work. Even if it was that low on some weeks, that’s a lot of time!!
  2. It’s about the People. The most important aspect of the program is the class mates and more specifically your 4 to 6 person team. This aspect of the program is a make or break. I am fortunate to have had a stellar team comprised of a diverse background from Liberal Arts, Business and Engineering. The diversity of perspectives is key. We also had complementary skills of which creative and analytical stand out. The faculty overall is extremely solid but there are  few professors that missed the mark and I know the administration is receptive to our feedback.
  3. Value.  While I have a high financial burden of paying for the program I do so considering the time, dollar investment against both qualitative and salary returns. What I know now is that I can knock on more doors and most of them will open. For example, my goal is to work on product marketing so as I approach leaders in the space I am confident that I can not only hold a conversation with them but also I can add value to their organizations. I’ll take a line from Dr. Lee Hartwell, the Nobel Laureate at Fred Hutchinson, who once related a story about his graduate work at MIT – “I asked a distinguished professor, why do you like to spend so much time with me, afterall you know so much and I am still learning so much. The professor replied, ‘Well I have the answers, but you son, have all the questions!’.  As a fresh MBA graduate I am a strong asset to any organization because  I have a lot of insightful questions and a high curiosity. The TMMBA program not only prepares you with the set of frameworks to make tough business decisions but also instills the inquisitiveness and curiosity to ask the critical questions of yourself as a leader and of your strategy as a business be it operational (supply chain), financial (accounting), organizational (management), or marketing.

The Business Plan Competition – TrueLight FLIIP

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)
So the closure of any academic pursuit is a diploma or title of some kind. I think in business school that closure should not only be a degree, but if you are fortunate enough a business. In the past few months, my teammates from the TMMBA program have formed a venture called TrueLight. I’m proud of our team and how far we have come from just a bunch of strangers during orientation near the washington/canadian border. We are now a team with not only an academic purpose but also a real business venture!

Follow our team as we revolutionize the experience of viewing and interacting with content on mobile devices through our interactive pico projector.

This LG concept device is a perfect fit for the FLIIP. This LG concept device is a perfect fit for the FLIIP.

Health …

Bryan Smith, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)

Once your are in the thick of the TMMBA program, you obviously have little time for a lot of things beyond the essentials required by full time work, study, and family time.   So, while there is never a good time for getting sick, you can really put yourself in a bind if you come down with something, get injured, or just aren’t up to a reasonable level of health.   This need to remain healthy extends to your family and your study team, as well:  my (peerless, awesome, cool) study team thought this was important enough to include in our team contract at the beginning of the program.  I have to admit that at the time I didn’t think I’d be able to do much more than the daily walking I already do — a little over 3.5 miles, part of my commute — but I figured it sounded reasonable, and of course I wanted to be reasonable with this new groups of strangers.

And so the first quarter began.  On top of the time demands that limited opportunities for exercise, I quickly found that sleep and diet were impacted, as well, and not usually in ways that reinforced health.  If you are up late, it’s easy to end up adding extra calories, for example; or, on the other side of things, sometimes I miss a meal.  When you are operating on half the sleep your body wants (or worse), it’s easy to see this is a problem …  So, yup … I gained some weight in those first months.

It came as little surprise, then, that when H1N1 took its first pass last spring, I came down with the flu at a terrible time.  I missed quite a few days of work as well as a couple of lectures, and when some of the courses only have 4 days of class sessions, that is a problem.  Finding yourself a week behind at work and school while you’re trying to recover from the flu … sucks.

The good news is that in response to recovering from that near-disaster — and by leveraging new organizational skills I’ve had to develop to handle all these full-time commitments — I’ve managed to carve out a little time to fulfill my original team charter to add some healthy habits to my now monstrous list of activities.  I now have some regularly scheduled time in my company’s small gym, including a weekly session with a terrific trainer (the phenomenal Grant Higa!) who puts me through some good workouts.  Unlike half-hearted efforts in the past, this has become a kind of insurance for the considerable time and energy I have sunk into the TMMBA program … steady gym time over the last 3 quarters is something I credit to the focus that the program has brought (or forced) into my life.  I really wonder if I could have survived that first month of crunches a year or two ago.

Of course, I should point out that my level of health and fitness is nothing compared to a lot of my classmates.  We have triathletes, personal trainers, runner, cyclists, yoga -ists (?) … the level of drive, focus, and talent in this program never ceases to impress me.  My (again, amazing!) team in particular has followed through on their health commitments through gym time, continuing healthy habits, thoughtful diet, or taking on tough health challenges with focus and determination.  Their example in particular has helped me attain better health than I had when I started the program, and on top of that, their support and the TMMBA focus have contributed to losing that first quarter poundage (and the then some) …

So, class of 2011 … eat your veggies, get all the rest you can, try to exercise (as alumnus Kalpesh recently recommended) … and good luck.

Learn From My Mistakes: Getting Ready for the MBA Program

Kalpesh Shah, TMMBA alumnus (Class of 2009)

Class of 2011, welcome to the great TMMBA program. There are certain things I wish I had done differently when I was going through the program. I am listing these things hoping that you learn from my mistakes as you prepare yourselves for the grueling schedule of the next 18 months.

  • The first quarter: Welcome to your worst nightmare, the first quarter. I am sure you have heard that the first quarter is very challenging/hectic/difficult. Let me assure you that every one of those stories is correct. This program is front loaded with a lot of content covered during the first quarter. This is by design as a lot of things you will learn during this quarter will be handy later in the program. This quarter might be even more challenging for people who are new to financial accounting and economics. The sooner you accept this fact, the better you will be able to prepare yourselves to face this challenge. This brings us the next point.
  • Prepare yourself: The best way to get the most out of the program is to be prepared for every lecture. The rule of thumb is two hours of preparation for every hour of lecture. There are a number of things you will need to do to be fully prepared. Most important of all is to complete all the reading assignments before the lecture, take down notes and questions while doing your reading.  This will help you better understand the concepts discussed during the lecture. The other advantage is you will be prepared if the professor cold calls on you with a question.
  • Prepare your loved ones: With all the time spend on lectures and preparing for the lectures, you won’t have as much time for your loved one as before. Therefore, it is very important that you manage their expectations right from the beginning. If possible, use them as sounding board for your ideas/assignments. This will make them feel more invested in your studies and you will have more time with them.
  • Prepare your study team: Your study team will have a very big influence on how much you get out of your program. I was extremely fortunate that my study team was in sync with our goals as individuals and as a team. Try to come up with a plan to meet regularly to discuss your team assignments. Some of the students use the dinner time before the lecture for networking with people outside of their study team. I would suggest that you use that time to discuss your thoughts on the day’s lecture. This way you can hold each other accountable for completing the reading assignments for that days lecture and get more ideas to share while discussing a topic during the lecture.  You can still network with other students during the break time.
  • Early Start: Although this might be easier said than done, try to get an early start on your individual and team assignments. This will help you overcome unforeseen obstacles. Yes, there WILL be many obstacles along the way.
  • Professors: TMMBA program’s professors are not only brilliant, but also very accessible. You can make appointments with the professors to help you with any topics you are struggling with. Every professor has a different schedule, so check with them for times when they are available for these appointments. Similarly, you can get a lot out of the TAs.
  • Workout: Even if you do it only for 10 minutes a day, try to make your favorite workout a daily part of your day. This will give you some time away from the daily grind of going through a MBA program while having a full time job and keep your mind and body feeling more energetic.

The most important thing is to enjoy the wonderful experience of being in a room full of brilliant minds. Good Luck!

They said that???

Scott Hannah, TMMBA Student

Do you feel like your team meetings are going nowhere?  Too much discussion, and too little progress.  It’s much like that in the real world too.

Here is a list of meeting quotes compiled by Peter J. Weertman, head of Boeing’s Commercial Aviation Services:

Top Meeting Quotes for 2009

Are we balancing by numbers or egos?

In the worst case scenario, you end up in a Mad Max world where all you need is a pointy stick and a water filter.

We’re paralyzed, so the process is working.

I appreciate the opportunity to brief these awful charts.

Subtracting adds to our performance.

It’s easier to develop a new process than to hold an old one accountable.

I feel like I’m the key on the end of Benjamin Franklin’s kite.

This presentation is a lot like the grieving process.

They are not encumbered by facts.

Over-promise and under-deliver—that was the old plan.

Are we going to have a PowerPoint war?

Risks have a tendency to get together and talk to each other.

It will be a little clearer and a little more complicated later.

Marketing can calculate things we don’t allow engineers to do.

Directors are like icebergs—you know they’re moving, you just can’t tell.

Facts will never stop me.

You have to add it in the budget so you can take it out.

We want to make the livestock comfortable as they fly to their imminent demise.

We’ve had more than one centralized location.

If she went any farther away, she’d be closer.

I’m practicing so I can say that with a straight face.

Let’s deal with factual data.

This system is better because we don’t have to make up as many numbers.

We’re having a technical meeting on his feelings.

The depths of our leadership competencies know no bounds—at least lower bounds.

No sense in shooting off ammunition when you don’t know whom you want to kill.

When you look around the table and can’t find the sucker…the sucker is you.

There’s been change, but nothing’s different.

Do we have a Help Not Needed chart?

It wasn’t ever really a schedule; it was more tracking what had happened.

It’s really just takes looking good in a suit without drooling.

We are way too busy to look at the risks.


The altars are flipping so fast I don’t know which idol is up.

Feels like we’re being pecked to death by a duck.

I get requests every day; sometimes a lot of them, sometimes none.

Dismay seemed optimistic.

No turn unstoned.

Sometimes I’m in my best form when I’m ignorant.

It includes an appropriate amount of inaccuracy.

We are fat, dumb, and happy with a parasitic layer on top.

This slow death is killing me.

The numbers haven’t changed but everyone’s opinion of them has.


More than a few of these feel like familiar comments.  Lessons that class 10 can take from these are; work at building your teams early on, communicate with your team members, and be prepared prior to meeting on a project.  If you’re not prepared to discuss the project at hand, you’re taking precious study time away from yourself and your teammates.

365 days of TMMBA

Reetu Gupta, TMMBA student

Today marks the one year anniversary of our TMMBA start. Wow! What a year!

When I look back, I see overwhelming number of lectures, discussions, case studies, assignments, presentations, team meetings, mid terms and finals and camaraderie with classmates. Best of all – tons and tons of learning and fun.

It all started with Semiahmoo on January 4th, 2009 and since then it has been a high speed race. Race between me and time. There is always too much to do and too little time. Racing with time to see who runs faster. How much can I do in 24 hours. It seems like I have been running a marathon for a year without any rest break. Well, there were few breaks in between but those came with a stack of books and binders to be read. Looking back reminds me Karma’s macro economics, Ali’s micro economics, all the accounting and finance classes as well as leadership and strategy classes. We absorbed like a sponge (with a hope that it sticks). With both qualitative and quantitative courses, I don’t think there is any part of my brain, that was not exercised during past one year. Additionally, personally for me, it was a unique experience. This was my first experience with American graduate education system and to say the least, it was all worth it.

All the professors so far have done justice to their jobs and our TMMBA class. Classes have been lively and interactive. Case studies have been a tremendous tool to apply the text book knowledge in real case scenarios. So far it has been a very enriching program.

Surprising part is now that finish line is in sight; it’s sort of making me sad. In some ways, I’m glad that I’ll be done with almost 30 hours of grueling every week (in addition to job and family). In other ways, a bigger part of me has accepted my team, class and TMMBA staff as extension of my family and it hurts to think of not being in constant contact with them. I guess that is life. We still have two quarters to go. And I’m sure these won’t be any slower than any previous quarters.

Now off to marketing case on Kodak for first class next Saturday!

Reetu Gupta.
Almost there – class of 2010 TMMBA

Study Teams

Tracy Gojdics, Director

As you probably know, students in the TMMBA program are assigned to study teams of 4-5 people. One question that I often get is, “how do you form the study teams?” I’d be lying if I told you that we had the perfect formula for creating the teams, but our method has worked reasonably well thus far.
Method for creating study teams:

1. New students are required to complete and submit a learning styles and personality-type assessment. Of course the output of the assessment is only as good as the input so it is important to answer the questions honestly. One way this information might be used includes – ensuring a team has a good balance between “introvert” and “extravert” tendencies or that the team is balanced in their ability to feel comfortable with ambiguity.

2. In combination with the above step we want to also make sure there is diversity in each team with respect to companies and job functions, i.e. no team shall consist of all software engineers from ABC Company.

3. Next look for geographic situations that might be an issue. For example we would not put an Everett person with a Tacoma person as this could make for difficult meeting logistics.

4. Lastly, we take a look and make sure that the composition (based on what we know of people) makes sense.

Are most teams success, i.e. high-functioning, collaborative and adaptable? Yes. What is the secret to their success? Open Communication, honest communication, continual communication and a mutual respect for each other. What do I mean by communication (after all I stated it 3x!)?

The exchange of thoughts, information, and ideas. The process of being thoughtfully direct and upfront with regard to issues, conflicts, concerns and praise. A system such as email, in-person, phone or IM for sending and receiving messages so that everyone is on the same page with projects and deadlines.

There you have it – the formula for creating teams and the formula for a successful team!

The Keg

Lucas Perin, TMMBA Student

My team, Espectro, has been tasked with the important responsibility of keeping the tradition of having a drink at the Keg after class. We have been going there regularly since the second week, and now we have more and more regulars joining us, especially after the accounting test.

I have to admit that I’ve learned way more at The Keg than I learned in class. This could sound like I should start reconsidering my investments, after all, The Keg offers free nachos if you go with six or more people. Maybe it is because I have been spending a lot of time there, too.

If you are negotiating the MBA schedule with your significant other(s), this is the best advice you will get: tell him/her/them that on Mondays (or Wednesdays, if that’s your section) class goes until midnight. It’s not going to be a lie.