Admissions Advice: rethinking the GMAT

Tina Bassir, TMMBA Associate Director, recently answered a question on the GMAT Ask the Expert video Q&A series. Watch the video below to hear some tips on how to think about the GMAT (and hopefully ease some of the anxiety of taking the exam). For information about all of the TMMBA application requirements, take a look at the TMMBA Application Process page for details. And join us on January 22 for the first Application Workshop of 2014.  (other dates are available too)

 

The Number One Obstacle Students Face During the Admissions Process:

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: http://www.foster.washington.edu/academic/tmmba/Pages/Tech-at-the-Top.aspx.

Other relevant events at: http://www.foster.washington.edu/academic/tmmba/pages/cal.aspx

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

Capping the TMMBA experience

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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.

EQ │Personal Branding │Your Career

Successful business careers evolve from a combination of IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence quotient).  So, why is high EQ important?  Here are a few points:

An analysis of more than 300 top-level executives from fifteen global companies showed that six emotional competencies distinguished stars from the average: Influence, Team Leadership, Organizational Awareness, self-confidence, Achievement Drive, and Leadership (Spencer, L. M., Jr., 1997).

According to Dr. Patsi Krakoff, research by the Center for Creative Leadership found that the primary causes of derailment in executives involve deficits in emotional competence. Specifically, these executives have difficulty handling change, working well in teams, and interpersonal relationships.

Further, Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, said:

a leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control. She must be able to withstand the heat, handle setbacks and when those lucky moments arise, enjoy success with equal parts of joy and humility. No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.”

Developing Both Your IQ and EQ in TMMBA

The TMMBA Program recognizes the importance of cultivating both your “book smarts” and your EQ.  A comprehensive business management curriculum is balanced with EQ reflection & action: a better understanding of who you are, what you are learning & where it’s being applied, what you have to offer (contributions), and where you are going.  The effort in answering these questions among other experiences compliments your MBA experience and assists with your leadership development (and career trajectory).

In the last month, two TMMBA Career Services events were designed around the EQ element of self-awareness through personal branding.  The end goal was an improved ability to concisely introduce oneself (via resume, LinkedIn, pitch, etc.) with a story that makes sense, builds emotional connections, and inspires dialogue.

1.  WHY MATTERS: SWOT #personalbranding Workshop:

Brand Strategist Kevin Susman taught participants how to use a personal SWOT, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats, to improve a pitch to others.  He began with defining the difference between products (selling specific features) and the more powerful brands that are fueled by emotion & trust.

This SWOT analysis framework was used:

Internal to achieving career objectives

Know your STRENGTHS to build connection

Need to be relevant to market/customer

Create high-level 3-sentence statement that answers:

  • What you offer (particular need to be filled)
  • How you help customers achieve goals? (single statement of benefit)
  • Who you are (positive personality trait)
Admit to WEAKNESSES

Understand them and be able to turn into strengths.

Answer these questions in 3-6 words per bullet.

  • The flaw in your offering
  • How you hold yourself back
  • Who you are: negative

External to achieving career objectives

Know your OPPORTUNITIES 

Examples:

  • Current professional network
  • “You” as defined by strengths and weaknesses
Understand THREATS (risks)

Examples:

  • Professional network fatigue
  • Perceptions of you

2. TMMBA Career Boot Camp:

This four-hour session outlined new ways to think about and share a personal brand and authentic voice in promotion to organizations.  It included creating a comfortable elevator speech and resume & LinkedIn profile to stand out from the competition.

Two LinkedIn takeaways: 

  • Create a Professional Headline on LinkedIn.  Be aware that the headline words are “weighted” 40% more than the rest of your profile.  This weighting helps recruiters find you – amidst your competition.A headline is the place to sum up your professional identity in 120 characters or less (15-20 words). Focus on who you are + what you do (your expertise/value) and audience you serve.  It does not have to be your current job title.Consider using a brand tagline or personal title but ensure that it helps people understand what you do. If you are in the job market (passively or actively), use keywords that reflect the titles or expertise you are seeking.
  • More keywords aren’t always better.  Our advice would be to only include the keywords (including repeated keywords) in your Profile that best reflect your expertise and experience.  If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your Profile, you are likely showing up in a high number of searches.  The question you need to ask yourself, however, is whether members consider your Profile relevant to their search.  If not, their behavior as a collective group may be influencing the algorithm used to rank you in search results.

Lessons from the Desert – A Look Back on the 2013 International Study Tour

In March, a group of 22 students, alumni, staff, and faculty landed in Dubai for the beginning of the TMMBA International Study Tour.  We spent 10 days in the United Arab Emirates and had the opportunity to visit 11 companies and government agencies and to take in the local sites and culture.

Photo of company visit to e-Home Automation
Meeting with Founder & CEO of e-Home Automation in Dubai

This year an overarching theme for the trip was examining our “global mindset” regarding the way we live, and how we and our organizations do business in comparison to the geographical and cultural context of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  Two definitions of global mindset shared by Bruce Avolio, our faculty for the trip, were:

“An expansive way of seeing and thinking that grasps the individual, team, and organizational challenges and opportunities triggered by operating in a complex global business environment.”
– http://virtualteamwork.blogspot.com/2011/08/defining-global-mindset.html

“The cognitive capabilities of senior managers in multinational companies”
– Source: What We Talk About When We Talk About “Global Mindset”: Managerial Cognition in Multinational Corporations

We explored this concept before we departed for the UAE through several reading assignments, videos, and an individual assessment that gave insight into our own abilities that contribute to the development of a global mindset.  We were asked to consider and explore a few questions during the trip and used our time on the bus between company visits to delve in more deeply. For example:

  • What are the challenges of working in a global cross-cultural context and in particular Dubai and Abu Dhabi?
  • What are the best companies doing to manage and lead in a global context?
  • How might technology facilitate or hinder working in a complex, global context?
  • What constitutes one’s global mindset and how is it developed?
  • How does one’s global mindset relate to leading and managing across different cultural contexts?
  • What are the implications of having a global mindset for performance?

There were great discussions during our time in the UAE and one student who went on the trip put together this video on the experience.

Interested in learning more about our takeaways from International Study Tour? Check out this blog post from student Anne-Marie Scollay and these final thoughts on Leadership in the Middle East from our faculty, Bruce Avolio.

In March 2014 TMMBA will take a group to visit another part of the world, Vietnam. Learn more about that trip and stay tuned for their takeaways from the experience abroad.

TMMBA Week in the Life: David Ginsberg, Day 7

David Ginsberg, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Today we had a problem set due for Operations & Supply Chain Management. This one is a team submission and my team decided to all take a stab at it and then compare our work over a conference call in the afternoon a few hours before it’s due. I hadn’t really felt certain that I was getting some of the concepts, so working through the problems and talking though it with the team was really helpful. It turns out I understood more than I thought, and my answers aligned with what we decided were the correct answers.

We decided t meet again tomorrow to discuss the upcoming “Beer Game” and “Littlefield Simulation for the same class. For some reason we’ve ended up having class 2 Saturdays in a row this month so we’ve got class next weekend as well, which isn’t helpful for those of us who’ve got kids and schedules that must be kept to, but at least the quarter is nearly over.

Sunday night after we got our work submitted I headed up to my brother & sister-in-law’s to celebrate my dad’s 81st birthday. Was good to have a few waking hours away from studying finally, though the time went to quickly and before I knew it the day was over.

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And with that my Week in the Life draws to a close. It’s been fun but I’ll be glad to have this time back, and just in time for another midterm and then finals. Thanks for reading!

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.

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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…
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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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

- Students, staff and a few alumni blog about the experience of earning an MBA via the University of Washington Foster School of Business Technology Management MBA Program, covering events, learning-in-action, life after graduation, networking opportunities, and so much more.