Category Archives: TMMBA Student Experiences

Bruce Avolio: Traveling Globally, Inspiring Locally

Our tour bus glided through snarled Lima traffic while Bruce Avolio kneeled in his seat to face 17 members of the TMMBA International Study Tour (IST) in March 2015.  We had just finished visiting Ofertop, an e-commerce startup, and Graña y Montero, a group of 26 engineering and infrastructure service companies.

Bruce recapped our visits with these local and multinational companies.  We had learned about the dynamic economic, political, and cultural landscapes of their businesses, asked questions during the presentation, and informally talked with leaders.

He announced “How did we today, on a scale of one to five?”  The group laughed yet listened closely.   “I’ll give you a 4.8.”  It was a high score yet with a gap to improve to 5.0.  I replay this exchange when I think about our trip, as his motivating and engaging style contributed significantly to our memorable week in Peru.

Bruce also joined a study tour to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2014.  All student travelers completed his course International Business & Cultural Immersion.

Bruce Avolio, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking (CLST) at the University of Washington Foster School of Business.  Appointed as the inaugural Mark Pigott Chair in Business Strategic Leadership in 2013, he is widely recognized for his outstanding research, consulting, and graduate-level teaching on transformational and authentic leadership.  He has authored more than 150 published articles and 11 books.

In this interview, Bruce shares his perspectives on the distinctive value of a TMMBA International Study Tour and his path to the Foster Business School and TMMBA.

Q.  What stands out to you as rewarding and meaningful in a TMMBA IST?

A.  Two things come to mind.  Number one is the group.  The group came together so quickly and supportively in Peru.  I keep reflecting on how much they did for each other.  They were fun to be with and conscientious and focused on what we needed to do.  They were present.  On the company visits, they were told several times, “that if you keep asking questions, we won’t be able to get through everything.”  The number of questions was terrific, informative, engaging, and reflected well on all of us.

The group in Dubai and Abu Dhabi needed time to acclimate because it’s quite different ─ particularly for women as it’s a very different experience ─ but they came together as a group and achieved everything I hoped they would.  First, that they would be great brand representatives of Foster and the TMMBA, and second, that they would help each other in every sense and leave no one behind.  They exceeded both goals in terms of my expectations.

I also think the pre-trip preparation was valuable to get everyone in the mindset of what they would learn through this experience: what would expand in your knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs and how to set goals and prep for this so you come back with something that has a tangible effect.

A lot of people talk about the first time they went to a different place – could be Paris, NYC, or Cambodia.  In our daily lives, you kind of know the place ─ and even though there are probably many things to learn – you may not be thinking about what you’ll learn.   When you go away, I think there is a greater sense of awareness that something there that can be extracted.  You’re ready to learn and your motivation level is higher.

Q.  You describe a trigger moment in development as a little tiny intellectual nugget that drops in and affects your thinking for a long time. What was a trigger moment or experience that stood out on the trips?

A.  Early on the Peru trip, it struck me when someone said I’ve come to know people in my class better in the last three days than I did in the last 15 months.  I told the new TMMBA class that the trip is a great chance to expand your knowledge and also get to know each other, but I hope you get to know each other earlier.  This is your future network and networks really build the success of programs.

Another was meeting an entrepreneur in Dubai who was getting his company off the ground.  He was so enthusiastic on the prospects and bounced around his small office that we all tried to fit in.  But he also talked a lot about how hard it is to find people like him.  And then we met a similar entrepreneur in Lima and it felt like you could be in SoHo New York or Palo Alto, California.  He was very quiet and watched his COO talk about the business.  But then he got up and threw energy and passion into his talk.  Here are two entrepreneurial leaders where it would be so cool to have a global entrepreneurial meeting of people who come from very different cultures and similar motivations to create something to make a difference.  One comes from wealth and probably doesn’t need to do it and the other has to create opportunities.  They were so similar in their enthusiasm and interests, yet they may never meet.

In Peru, I noticed how gracious people were and their sense of community and family.  People take time and we don’t take time like you see in other cultures, and I think we’re missing this and it’s always reinforced when I go to cultures like Peru.

Q.  You describe global mindset as how an individual and organizations do business in the geographical and cultural context of another country.  A core purpose of the IST is to expand global mindset.  How does global mindset affect leadership strengths and performance?

A.  I see global mindset applying to their leadership in the TMMBA program, how students work with each other and how they come to understand each other.

From a leadership perspective, it’s thinking about the different cultures that are part of your experience and how you look and relate.  They are global ambassadors.  They are going to run companies and divisions of companies, and could have a lot of challenges with respect to global mindset.

It’s thinking about how to grow your business in different cultures.  Our markets are saturated in the U.S. and North America and we’re all looking for places to grow business in other places in the world.  For example, we don’t think a lot about Africa.  It’s a billion person market and we’re starting to see some things happen there that point to positive growth in markets.  If you don’t have a global mindset, you’re never going to think of those markets.

Even within a TMMBA class it’s really important.  This is poignant for me because I really respect Narayana Murthy, the Co-founder of Infosys.  I have a case study in technology, and it’s about this leader.  I’ve had several students come up since I started using the case and say thank you so much for bringing him into the program.

I do it because I want them to know it’s not just teaching about some of our CEOs in the U.S.  We want to look at the world.

Q.  What life lessons or surprise takeaways have you heard from students after the Peru trip?

A.  A lot of it is preconceptions they had going in and how they really changed through the experience.  It turned out to be a much more in-depth experience and even for people who have traveled a lot.

We had some people who hadn’t traveled so it was the preconception and then the adjustment, which I would say is global mindset.  We all learned through observing how we interacted with different cultures or just simple things like meeting and interacting with people on the street.

Q.  What advice would you give a student considering the trip?

A.  This is a unique experience that you will carry forward in your life that you probably won’t replicate in your career.  When you look at your entire life, there is not a lot of time for this.  You may want to travel and relax and sit on the beach.

When we go on these trips, the task is learning.  This is a time when you can take a week or ten days and just heads down learn.  You have opportunities to show what you’ve learned.  You have an opportunity to connect with people that could sustain relationships with the program and their networks.  And you have an opportunity to add to your global mindset.  Why wouldn’t you do it if you could afford it?  Why wouldn’t you do it if you could manage it with your family and job?

There is something rich about this experience because it’s not a requirement.

Q.  Before TMMBA study tours, you decided to move from the University of Nebraska to the Foster Business School. Tell me about a key factor behind your decision.

A.  The interest in leadership was central to my decision.  I also grew up on public education and the vision to be the best public business school was energizing.  I felt it was really important to demonstrate that we could be as good as any other university and business school in the public domain.

As an explorer, I wanted to try a different place.  I had only been here once or twice – never out of downtown ─ so I didn’t even know there were mountains here.

Q.  How did you start with TMMBA and what do you most enjoy?

A.  It was really serendipitous. There was an opportunity to be involved in the program and teach a leadership class in summer 2009.

What I like about TMMBA is being in a bunch of different worlds every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, since students come from different parts of the world. They have a really strong interest in learning and there is a cohort-feel, which you don’t necessarily feel in other programs.

I really enjoy them as a group. I like the diversity. I like the cohort. I like the way technologists think systematically and I like being able to challenge them, when I get the chance, to think a different way.

And there is the staff.  This is unique as the staff are all present when you walk in to the Eastside Executive Center so you have different feeling here than in other programs.

Q.  What did you want to be when you grew up?

A.  First, I’m making the assumption that I haven’t grown up yet.  I’m still working toward that.  Grow old but never grow up!

Every boy I knew growing up in New York wanted to play for the New York Yankees.  And I did.  On a summer evening with friends, I was playing Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris and thinking someday I would put on the blue pin-stripe suit and play for the Yankees.

I also really remember being very interested in archeology.  I don’t know the origin of this.  I thought and actually still do love history and seeing the layers of how things are built.  When we were in Peru, I was interested in Inca everything.

Q.  How did you become interested in Industrial Psychology?

A.  In college, I found a lot of things interesting and I declared my major in psychology in my senior year.

I was really interested in the area of criminology but then I took a course in Industrial Psychology.  I thought my interests in applying psychology to organizations may be broader than just correctional institutions.  I thought about what to do with that.  My girlfriend broke up with me so I decided to leave NY and that’s when I left for Ohio and started my graduate work.  It turned out to be one of the best Industrial Psychology programs at the time.

Bruce recalled a wise observation by Renee, our tour guide at Machu Picchu, “This is a way of thinking not a way of necessarily walking on stones.  Don’t look at the physical structure – this is a place of learning that students and their mentors would come to.”
Bruce recalled a wise observation by Renee, our tour guide at Machu Picchu, “This is a way of thinking not a way of necessarily walking on stones. Don’t look at the physical structure – this is a place of learning that students and their mentors would come to.”

 

 

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!

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

Success @ the Buerk Center Biz Plan Competition

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

Congrats to TMMBA students who showed off their entrepreneurial skills at yesterday’s  Buerk Center Business Plan Competition (BPC) “Sweet 16” Round – TMMBA had representation on two of the 16 teams:

IonoMetal Technologies (TMMBA Student: Pritam Das)
With its revolutionary patented technology and demonstrated tool, Ionometals will not only make the earth a better place to live by reducing landfill of semiconductor waste, but also help save approximately $0.5MM for every semiconductor testing company.

Spectral DNA (TMMBA Students: Michael Franklin, Bryan Kessler, MJ Pattanshetti and Tyler Sims)
Spectral DNA’s goal is to deliver a conformable solar fabric that can be fully integrated into a multi-use model for ubiquitous power generation. We aim to micro-design these 3D conformable fabrics into clothing, and other needed uses and applications for ubiquitous power. This can be used as a mobile power generation house without connecting to wires.

Both teams represented TMMBA well with their polished presentations and innovative business ideas. Furthermore, the IonoMetal Technologies team took home the “Best Clean Tech Idea” and $2500 prize.

Yesterday’s round  was the culmination of months of hard work and dedication for the teams. The competition formally began in early April with over 92 submissions and over time whittled down to the best of the best at yesterday’s Sweet 16 – all vying for the ultimate grand prize of $25,000.

Year after year, the Buerk Center BPC is a focal event for many of our TMMBA students. The competition allows them the great opportunity to put the skills they’ve gained in the classroom to the test – from developing business plans to honing their pitching and presentation skills. The competition also grants teams unique access to the thriving Seattle start-up community (VCs, angel investors, and more!).

Way to go teams IonoMetal Technologies and Spectral DNA! Also, a special call-out to team Zetection (with TMMBA student Anna Gall) who advanced to the earlier Investment Round of the competition.

Check out a few photos from the competition (Investment Round on April 29):

 ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????     Spectral DNA @ the Investment Round

Interested in learning more?
Read about past TMMBA successes at the BPC
Click here for full results of the 2014 BPC

 

Xin Chào from Vietnam!

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

I’m currently writing this post from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where 22 Class 13 students have just kicked off their 10-day International Study Tour experience. Jet lag didn’t hold anyone back as we hit the ground running and began to explore this great city and all it has to offer.

Our first day of the tour acted as a great way for everyone to get our bearings – we started the day with a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City and explored the Presidential Palace and some beautiful French colonial buildings including the Notre Dame cathedral and city post office.

For the afternoon, we ventured out to the Mekong Delta and meandered through a maze of waterways. We had a couple stops along the way where we enjoyed local fruits and tea, music, and encountered a python (yes – I said a python). And a few folks were even brave enough to snap a few pictures with it. I was not one of them!

We capped the day with a celebratory welcome dinner to mark the beginning of an exciting tour to come. From a dynamic group of company visits that includes industries as such banking, technology, automotive, logistics, tax and inward investment, and market research and media (Ford, Cisco and Citi Bank to name a few companies) to unforgettable cultural experiences and phenomenal Vietnamese cuisine – the next 10-day will surely be a whirlwind that will not disappoint.

IST medium

 

About the TMMBA International Study Tour:
The International Study Tour experience is an optional tour for TMMBA students that occurs in the second year of study and gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a different cultural and business context than the one in which we all typically operate day-to-day.  Students who partake in the tour have the opportunity to visit companies, tour manufacturing facilities, and meet business leaders and government officials. Click here to view blog posts from past Study Tour experiences.

TMMBA Student Prevails at Science & Technology Showcase

Congrats to TMMBA Class 13 student, Pritam Das, for excelling at the Science and Technology Showcase in early February. The annual showcase (co-hosted by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and SEBA) is a tradeshow type event where student pitch their ideas and innovations to a panel judges consisting of Seattle area entrepreneurs and investors.

“During the showcase, we were challenged by the judges that ranged from local venture capitalists to scientists from NASA, from every angle of a robust business model. We used the experts’ challenges as an invaluable tool to hone our business models for future commercialization of our product,” shared Pritam.  

IMG_4188_updated

Pritam and his teammates from the Chemical Engineering Department at UW placed 2nd overall and were also awarded Best Marketing Strategy. Their idea, Electrometal Solutions, is a unique approach of putting metals onto surfaces using advanced electrochemical techniques.  The applications of this advanced technology can range from security applications to the decorative market. Currently, their application is targeted towards the semiconductor industry.

We’re excited to see what’s in store for Pritam and his team.
Next stop – the Buerk Center Environmental Innovation Challenge. Best of luck!

Above & Beyond: TMMBA Students Participate in Recording-Breaking Holiday Drive for Food Lifeline

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

Earlier this month, TMMBA Class 13 & 14 joined forces during the annual holiday drive for Food Lifeline to raise a combined (unofficial) total of 1370 lbs of food donations! We’re pleased to share that this impressive contribution marks an unparalleled effort to that of any past TMMBA holiday food drive and certainly sets the bar high for future holiday drives to come. What’s even more notable is that the food drive took place during an extremely busy period for both cohorts, and yet the students still made this holiday food drive a shining success. A true testament to the strength of the TMMBA community!

In addition to our annual holiday drive, each year TMMBA also partners with Food Lifeline for a volunteer day at their Shoreline Distribution Center.  Our TMMBA group spent last Saturday afternoon repacking over 2800 lbs of wheat flour. Over the years, TMMBA students, alums, faculty, staff and family members have volunteered to repack over 12,000 lbs of food that has contributed to countless meals over the greater Western Washington region. The volunteer day serves as a great opportunity for the TMMBA community to connect with each other and support the tremendous need to end hunger in Western Washington. In 2012, Food Lifeline distributed more than 36 million pounds of food, the equivalent of more than 30 million meals, to feed hungry people throughout Western Washington.

A look @ the numbers:

  • 30 million: number of meals provided by Food Lifeline in 2012.
  • Over 12,000 lbs: total amount of food repacked by TMMBA volunteers @ Food Lifeline over the years.
    View past event photos
  • 1370 lbs: 2013 unofficial holiday food drive total.
  • 21: number of TMMBA volunteers @ 2013 volunteer event.

A look @ TMMBA in action:

photo 4

guys putting on aprons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone at TMMBA who has volunteered or contributed to Food Lifeline over the years – we greatly appreciate your efforts and generosity!

TMMBA Week in the Life: David Ginsberg, Day 6

David Ginsberg, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Woke up this morning to a gorgeous blue sky, a very welcome change from the last few days.

image

I slept a bit longer than I should have so I left a bit late, and sped over the bridge, through Seattle, and across the lake to the EEC, missing breakfast for only the 2nd time since the program began. I did manage to grab a bowl of yogurt and granola and get into class less than 10 minutes after it started, and I think the extra sleep was worth it because it will help me stay focused better throughout the day. Our first class this morning is Managerial Accounting, and unfortinatley we’re not going over the midterm today. We are, however, reviewing the two case studies that were due before class started this morning. We just went over the solution for the first case and I got it almost entirely right, even catching some of the ‘gotchas’ hidden in the case. This bodes well for our next exam, which will cover this material. Accounting has probably been the biggest surprise for me – I dreaded Financial Accounting last winter quarter and it ended up being my favorite class that highly quantitative quarter, and this time Managerial Accounting is a close second to the Leadership Development during our Leadership Immersion at the beginning of this quarter. Not that I’m going to suddenly shift direction and go into accounting, but I’ve ended up enjoying both subjects and have done reasonably well in them.

During our morning break I talked to a couple students from the Monday section who told me that our Operations & Supply Chain Management professor told their class this morning that up until now it’s been easy and we should expect it to become more difficult from today on and to take much more of our time. Awesome, because I’ve been looking for things to do with all that spare time I’m spending sleeping 5 hours per night!

Lunch was delicious…today I was a bad vegetarian and had the beef vegetable stir-fry. I don’t regret it (the cow might, but that’s a question for a philosophy class). For the afternoon section we had five visitors. Visitors come periodically, sometimes prospective students, sometimes former students. It’s rare to have so many at once but always nice have visitors, especially when they engage in the discussions. This group was from next year’s class, and I think the first half of class scared them off because none of them came back after break (this is probably just as well, because after break came the most difficult and technical lecture of the entire course). By mid-afternoon I needed another cup of coffee. Caffeine is your friend in a full-time graduate program designed for working professionals. I like to call it liquid sleep.

Do not be alarmed…
image

It looks like the rest of the quarter will be pretty intense: the midterm for this class gets released Thursday, immediately after that’s due the final for our Strategic a Management of Technological Innovation is released, and once that’s done we have the finals for this class and Managerial Accounting. Winter break has never looked so good!

TMMBA Week in the Life: David Ginsberg, Day 5

David Ginsberg, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

This morning I met with our CMO to engage marketing in an initiative I’m working on, and this afternoon we had a department outing to The Garage where I bowled solidly in the 80s. Ok so maybe I don’t have a career in professional bowling ahead but we had a good time and nobody took it too seriously. All but my team are moving to a new office down the street and their things were being moved as we bowled, another sign of a rapidly growing company.

Today it finally feels like November again and it was raining at lunchtime. Luckily there are plenty of loaner umbrellas available at the office.

IMG_4713

After The Garage I met a group of old friends for happy hour, a rare occurance with such a busy schedule which made it all the more enjoyable. Tonight will be an early night, we have breakfast at the EEC early tomorrow morning before class starts at 8:30. It was good to have a little down time, it’ll help refresh me for tomorrow’s seminars

This quarter seems to be flying by, I can’t believe we’re halfway through it already. Class 14 had their welcome reception recently. I remember ours last November…in a way it seems so long ago now because we’ve learned so much and gotten to know each other quite well, but in another way it’s hard to believe it’s already been a year. We’ll be graduating in June and that’ll be here before we know it.

On that note, goodnight!

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.