Category Archives: Uncategorized

Capping the TMMBA experience

blog cap

The goal of any MBA capstone is to measure students’ ability to synthesize and demonstrate their understanding of key business and managerial frameworks, concepts and insights taught through the MBA coursework.  The capstone experience varies from program- to- program.  In researching and talking with my MBA and EMBA colleagues from around the U.S. it seems that capstones fall into three main categories:  case competitions, integrated or consulting projects and business plan competitions.

Remember your TMMBA capstone course or competition?

The TMMBA capstone experience has included case competitions (2002-2007), technology commercialization course and competition (2008-2010) and most recently a Venture Capital Investment course and competition (2011-2012).  To varying degrees, each of these capstones met the goals of a capstone and we appreciate all our various stakeholders for making each one a success.

As you reflect on your experience what comes to mind? 

I’m looking to our TMMBA community for constructive input, suggestions and ideas to move this experience forward.  I’m a firm believer that none of us are as smart as all of us – and while there may not be a “silver bullet” for the capstone experience, I’m certain with your help we can get very close!

There is always room to improve, innovate and evolve.

In the next monthly alumni TMMBA email we’ll announce the date for an early January dinner meeting – we’ll catch up and talk capstone!

I hope you will consider helping.

 

Tracy

Tracy Gojdics is the Director of the TMMBA Program and an alumna from the Class of 2007. Outside of the office you might find Tracy out hiking, running, reading, or spending quality time with her family. Tracy can be contacted at tracylt@uw.edu or via phone at 206-616-2610.

TMMBA Week in the Life: David Ginsberg, Day 4

David Ginsberg, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Today my schedule opened up a bit at work and I had chance to actually produce some work. I also found time in the morning to meet a daytime Foster MBA student for coffee and an informational interview. I also passed along resumes and glowing recommendations of 2 of my fellow TMMBA students to our recruiting department, helping to shepherd them through the screening gauntlet so they can secure an interview. The rest will be up to them – good luck guys!

On Thursdays we have review sessions, and the number of them varies from one to three depending on what’s going on in each of our courses that particular week. Next week, like last week we’ll have three reviews in a row which makes Thursday nearly as long as Wednesday, but this week we only had one: Operations and Supply Chain Management. I decided I couldn’t spare the extra hour on the road going to and from Kirkland and attended remotely (this is an option for the review sessions, and many students in our cohort choose this option each week, although I’ve only attended remotely once previously). Tonight we had numerous technical difficulties with the sound which reinforced my belief that its better to attend in person whenever possible. Technical difficulties aside the reason for the review is that we have a big problem set due this weekend and a midterm coming next week, and our TA did a good job of reviewing the concepts we’ve learned and walking us through the types of problems we’re likely to encounter on the midterm. As with all things new, practice and repetition are the keys to getting this stuff. Next week we’ll find out how well we got it.

Too much to do to write more tonight, thanks for checking in & I’ll be back tomorrow with the next installment.

TMMBA Week in the Life: David Ginsberg, Day 3

David Ginsberg, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Today’s schedule makes the last 2 days look like a breeze. At work my calendar was filled with meetings for all but 30 minutes, including interviewing a new candidate for my team. Since this role will work closely with me I put some time and thought into devising a series of technical and behavioral questions to ascertain how the candidate might handle various likely scenarios and if there was a good cultural fit. I sent my analysis to my boss who said it was great feedback, very intuitive and in line with his own thoughts so I’m glad I’m able to add value to that process. I also had lunch with a former coworker who’s interested in Tableau. We went out for sushi & we had a chance to catch up, share experiences at our new companies and talk a bit about how he might fit in at Tableau. The buzz around my new employer is kind of blowing me away, I mean I knew I’d found a gem and made the right choice for me, but I have a fellow TMMBA classmate and former study group member who’s early in the process of interviewing for a role with us, another expressed interest tonight when I got to class and several others have also expressed interest. As I’ve become accustomed to at Tableau the day flew by and before I knew it I was on my way across the lake to the EEC.

image

Arrived at the EEC and tonight we had a Tech at the Top guest speaker from Concur speaking on Fostering Innovation, so I grabbed a plate of Mexican food and headed into classroom 3 for the talk. Class started a little late tonight at 6:15 due to the guest speaker during dinner, and tonight we had a record 3 guests from Monday section join us (we’ve had Monday students join us for the last 4 weeks straight, but only one per night until tonight). Some of my classmates suggested they’re sending spies but I suspect word is just getting out that the Wednesday section is more fun. (As you can see we have a healthy friendly rivalry between the sections…in truth the whole cohort is made up of wonderful, smart, committed people and I like every one of them).

Tonight at the start of class we broke into 6 groups and were assigned positions to defend on the group case we’d turned in before class started tonight. My group was assigned the opposite position from the one my study group chose and wrote our paper on last night, so I had a chance to argue for the other position. Here’s a picture I took of us after we wrapped up our arguments in favor:

image

I’m actually live-blogging (hear that CNN?) during class tonight, multi-tasking as we used to say in the 90s before everyone realized it was impossible due to the singular nature of attention. I better turn my attention back to the content of class…more in a bit.

image

Tonight I took advantage of our break to reach out to a hiring manager about my classmate’s interest & got that ball rolling. I also noticed they also put up lights at the EEC:

image

Class will end at 9:30 tonight, but I’m going to say goodnight now.

TMMBA Week in the Life: David Ginsberg, Day 2

David Ginsberg, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Tuesday morning I was awakened by a furry friend at 4:30…this was the night I was hoping to get closer to 8 hours sleep. So much for that.

image

The workday again went quickly, and while I generally try to schedule my time so my studies don’t impinge on my time with my kids this week that’s been especially challenging. On Tuesdays they make dinner – they plan out the meal, we go to the store and get the items we don’t already have and then they prepare it. They’ve been doing this for nearly two years now and they’re getting pretty good at it. This week they chose comfort food: homemade tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and Caesar salad. It really hit the spot and powered me through my individual case study for Strategic Management of Technological Innovation, which I completed about 20 minutes before my study group met via the UW’s new Lync service to flesh out our group case study for the same class, both of which are due before class starts Wednesday night. Only three of us were able to participate in the meeting, which is a little disappointing since it’s good to get everyone’s input, but the three of us worked together really well and quickly came to consensus on our solution and knocked it out together during the meeting. The learning teams are one of the most valuable parts of the TMMBA program, and we usually meet in person but when that doesn’t work out we’ll use Lync or Google Hangout to meet. Halfway through the program they mix us all up and we form new teams, and this was my new team’s first time meeting remotely. And for all of us it was our first time using the UW’s newly implemented Lync service. It worked pretty well…we had a few technical difficulties (my client crashed a couple of times, for example), but overall it worked pretty well.

Then the unthinkable happened…I was working on the document, sharing my screen and my computer completely froze. And for some inexplicable reason I hadn’t saved the changes I’d made to the document during the call. Fortunately the document was still visible on screen so I was able to take a picture of the screen and use that to recreate the document, but what a pain! I’m usually so good about frequently saving work, I can’t believe I did that. I’ll chalk it up to lack of sleep.

image

And speaking of sleep, I managed to get the case study completed and saved to the shared drive my study group uses for collaborating on these things and still get to bed at a decent hour, which is helpful since I’m in the Wednesday section and tomorrow is the longest day of my week. I have meetings scheduled all but 30 minutes of my day at work and then it’s off to the east side Executive Center for dinner with my classmates and Professor Boeker before class starts at 6PM.

Taste of TMMBA on 7/23. TMMBA ROI on 8/8.

Would you like to sample the TMMBA classroom experience? Join us on July 23 for Taste of TMMBA Class Night. This is an opportunity to experience the classroom environment first-hand and participate in class discussion led by top Foster School of Business faculty, Bruce Avolio and Lance Young. You’ll also meet with TMMBA students, staff and prospective students over dinner.

  • July 23, 5-8pm, Eastside Executive Center in Kirkland. Register today!

Start up. Move up. Change up. Are you thinking about what’s up next for your career? On August 8, join us for the TMMBA ROI event to hear from a panel of TMMBA alumni as they talk about their ROI and how the experience has transformed their careers.

  • August 8, 6-8pm, Eastside Executive Center in Kirkland. For more information and to register, please go to the event page.

TMMBA + Seattle 2.0 Startup Day = winning combination for entrepreneurs!

Written by:  Tracy Gojdics, Director & 2007 TMMBA alumnus

The UW Foster Technology Management MBA Program (TMMBA) is a premier sponsor for the 2012 Seattle 2.0 Startup Day on September 22 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.  In fact, this is the third year we will have a presence at this one-of-kind conference designed to inspire, inform and bring together budding entrepreneurs as well as veteran entrepreneurs.

Why do we like to sponsor this event? 

  • We have a growing student and alumni network full of entrepreneurs.
  • 50+% of  TMMBA applicants want to start their own company.
  • Aligns with our mission to educate, inspire and support the aspirations of our TMMBA community.
  • We are fans of Geekwire!

I often get asked, “Does an entrepreneur really need an MBA?”   The answer is “it depends.”  It depends on business knowledge and experience, the kinds of issues and business problems one has been exposed to (and tried to solve!) and how deeply one understands strategy, microeconomic and macroeconomic factors, finance and market risk.  For some they will have a solid understanding of all of these areas, but the vast majority of people do not – this is when a well-rounded MBA experience is an asset worth having.  The time and investment of an MBA is small when compared to the great ROI with the ability to achieve a dream – strategically and intelligently!

TMMBA has the honor introducing the following speakers at the conference:

Adam Tratt – CEO, Giant Thinkwell / HaikuDeck (10am)
Brenda Spoonemore, Co-founder and CEO Dwellable  (3:25pm)

Here is a complete list of speakers and activities for the 2012 Seattle 2.0 Startup Day.  We will have a booth there as well – stop by to say hi to Ally and Tina. As always, we look forward to seeing TMMBA students and alumni at the event and meeting new and interesting people!

Monday Myths: Part III

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator
 
TMMBA Mythbusters

It’s the Monday you’ve all been waiting for- our final Mythbuster post of this series. Our first Monday Mythbuster post covered GMAT Scores and when to submit your application, while last Monday’s post tackled misconceptions about managerial experience and letters of recommendation. To wrap it all up, I’ve got three more TMMBA Myths for you- right in time for our September 1 final application deadline. If you’re still thinking about applying, we look forward to reviewing your application. Waiting for next year? That’s fine too- hopefully these myths help you get to the bottom of the application process.

TMMBA Admissions is a science guided by formulas:

 “ [ (GMAT x 3) + (50 - Work Experience) + (Recommendations/2 + GPA) ] / 3.333”

Truth: That equation above is not our formula – and you won’t find one here at TMMBA. We don’t believe in complicated ranking scales and unintelligible formulas to choose an incoming class. Admission is not a science. There are too many obscure, qualitative, immeasurable aspects to arrive at a simple number. Besides, if we could do that, wouldn’t the Admissions team just be replaced by automated computing systems?

Bottom Line: Prospective students aren’t reduced to simple stats during the application process. Every application is different, and has different strengths and weakness which are not explained by numbers and formulaic criteria. The TMMBA selection process is holistic, and based on a variety of factors.

English Majors need not apply

 

Truth: Who is going to write the papers if we don’t admit English majors?   We’ve had students who have studied English, History, Communications, Archaeology, Theatre & Film and over 15 other major fields of study.  Varied educational backgrounds enrich the class as a whole, and we strive for diversity with every class we admit.

Bottom Line: One certain major won’t prevent you from getting into the program. Rather, it is your performance while obtaining that major, and what you’ve done with your degree, that will truly influence your admissions decision.

Admissions interviews don’t really count- they already know enough about me from my file.

 

Truth: Not so- there’s a large interpersonal component that doesn’t come through in your paper application. We spend time to meet with prospective students for a reason! Your interviewer is paying close attention to your interpersonal skills, the answers to your questions, your ability to explain your achievements, and much more. TMMBA is a very personal MBA program- and the interview is a critical, personalized aspect to compliment your application.

Bottom Line: Put your best foot forward in your interview. It’s an essential component to a strong application and admittance into the program.

 

And with that, it’s time to put the myth-busting to rest for a while. I hope these past few Mondays have given you some insight into the “truth” about TMMBA admissions. Don’t forget: if you ever have a question about the Admission process- or anything TMMBA for that matter- feel free to send us an email (tmmba@uw.edu) or give us a call (206.221.6914). We’re always here to straighten out the truth.

Monday Myths: Part II

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator
 
TMMBA Mythbusters

Happy Monday Mythbusters! Today we tackle two more common TMMBA Myths- one regarding leadership experience, and the other about the letters of recommendation. Take a look at last week’s Myth #s 1 and 2 for even more myth de-bunking. As always, leave us a comment or e-mail (tmmba@uw.edu) if you have any myths you need solving.

 Masters of Business Administration? I won’t be admitted unless I have managerial experience!

 

Truth: While it may seem contradictory, formal management experience is not required for admission into TMMBA. To us, applying for your MBA signals a desire to gain the tools necessary for effective leadership. We do strongly encourage showing examples of leadership in your application; whether it is in your career, in a volunteer capacity or in other areas. As criteria for admission, we look at leadership potential and the motivation to develop these skills.

Bottom Line: You may not have the title or the legions of direct reports, but that’s not a problem for your TMMBA application. Getting your MBA means you’re working towards becoming a leader- show us your potential in the TMMBA application.

 

Getting a CEO to write my letter of recommendation means a lot more than a lower level manager.

Truth: There’s no checkbox that we mark for “esteemed status” when we see your recommender’s name and title. We only require a recommendation from your current supervisor and a professional reference. To the admissions team, status and title don’t matter as much as quality of the recommendation. It’s not who you know- but who really knows YOU. We’d rather have Joe Smith- your colleague for seven years- write a thorough and detailed recommendation than a short, vague statement by Jeff Bezos.

Bottom Line: Don’t get hung up on the name and title of your recommender. Select someone who will give the most comprehensive insight about you as an applicant.

 

Still have questions about the application process? Take a look at the Application Requirements for more information. See you next week when we straighten out two more common admissions myths!

 

The SWOT analysis essay and the four questions we are (really) asking – Tracy Gojdics, Director & Class of 2007

SWOT image

One of the application essay questions asks applicants to analyze their career using the SWOT technique.   As a student you’ll become quite comfortable with SWOT analyses, but as an applicant it can be a bit confusing.  The information below is provided to help you as you think about to write for this required essay question.   We’ve taken the S, W, O and T and translated them to the four questions we are really asking.   I hope this helps as you contemplate your essay.   Upon completion you’ll not only feel better about having the essay done, but you’ll have a great career analysis to boot!

 

 

1.    S = your strengths.   Your strengths = what are your competitive advantages?

You will want to convey what you think your 3-5 competitive advantages/strengths are in thinking about your career and where it is today.  Be sure to explain each.

Ex:  I am a skillful negotiator.  I have negotiated numerous important contracts for my organization, which have resulted in lower costs and increased services from our vendor partners.   While negotiating contracts is part of my job, it is also something I enjoy doing and have mentored others in my organization through the negotiating process.

2.   W = your weaknesses.  Your weaknesses = What do you need to improve?

The admissions committee isn’t looking at your “weaknesses” so much as they are looking for whether or not you know what you need to improve as it relates to your career.   You should discuss 3-5 areas for improvement.

Ex:   I’m not a strong public speaker.   Giving presentations is something that I have been working on for the past year as I am sometimes asked to give presentations to various groups.  I get very nervous and am not super comfortable presenting, but recognizing this I have enrolled in a corporate class on giving better presentations.  

3.  O = Opportunities.    Your opportunities = how can you enhance or advance your career?

Unlike strengths or weaknesses, opportunities come from your external environment. You might think that “getting an MBA” is the answer we are looking for, but you’d be wrong.  Advancing your career means being proactive.  How are you being proactive with your career?  Discuss 3-5 things you are doing or could do to enhance or advance your career.

Ex:  Attend targeted association meetings.   Because I am interested in Product Management I have attended several speaker events and workshops through the Product Management Consortium.  Attending these events has also broadened my professional network.  

4.  T = Threats.   Threats = what could derail your career?

Just as with opportunities, threats come from your external environment.   The economy may always be a threat, but how is it a threat?  What else might be a threat?  Think about your product or service, your competitors, your customers, the global landscape or your industry as a whole.  These are just a few ideas to help get you started.  List and discuss 3-5 things that have or could derail your career.

Ex:   Our customers decide to go with another provider.  As budgets get tighter and margins begin to shrink, many of our corporate customers are talking with multiple vendors and are no longer willing to stay with our company just because that is what they have been doing.   The competition is fierce and losing customers would mean deep cuts to our organization and my unit in particular.

Khan Academy – my favorite website (and pastime) for 2011 (Tracy Gojdics, Director TMMBA)

Have a hard time remembering exactly how things work  or exactly how to explain something?  Then you’ll want to check out my favorite website for 2011!

Chances are good if we have talked for any length of time in the past month that I have probably mentioned the entreprenuerial venture Khan Academy (KA).  I am one of its biggest fans (along with Bill Gates).  I first became aware of KA during the 2011 Eastside Leadership Conference hosted by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.  During the conference they featured innovators/leaders in the education space with companies such as DreamBox Learning and KA.  For KA  they showed a Ted talk featuring Salmon Khan where Khan discusses the use of  video to reinvent the classroom (also referred to as “flipping the classroom”).  I have been hooked on KA ever since.   

There is so much to learn via KA - from GMAT Prep to Organic Chemistry to Statistics to the Credit Crisis.  I have learned something about all of these subjects, I am by no means an expert.  In fact, I find that sometimes it can be difficult for me to explain concepts such as confidence variables or currency trading to others.  I know that I know the basics and  maybe more than some given the rigorous TMMBA curriculum, but watching the 10-12 minute video segments has really helped to cement my learning. 

The videos are not for everyone as you do have to watch them instead of just listen, but I really recommend giving them a shot.  Some of the topic areas will make a wonderful supplement to your in-classroom learning.   For me,  they have served as a great refresher for subjects and topics I’ve learned  over the years and best of all -  KA is free. 

Some people wonder where I find the time to watch these videos.  Good question.   I usually read for an hour every night.  Now I read for 30 minutes and watch 3 videos.  I’m up to 4 books and 30 videos since October.   Check out my favorite website for 2011 and leave me a comment with your thoughts.