Complexity and simplicity — all at the same time

Erin Aselas, TMMBA Student

Last Saturday was the first day of the second quarter. As usual we had two classes and I was struck by the polar opposite lessons I learned in each class.

In the first class, I was awed by how complicated global economics can be and how it really takes a formal education to start to even scratch the surface of understanding it. I kept thinking how my family loves to debate the economy and identify who’s to blame for today’s crisis, where it all began, etc. But now I know it is not that simple. In fact, I don’t even know why the lay person even tries to understand the economy — the cable news networks dumb it down so much that they just make you feel like you know what’s going on, but you really don’t. We talked about 57 (OK I’m probably exaggerating) different economic indicators and how they all tell a slightly different story. It was so complex and humbling.

My second class was corporate finance. Now here I had the opposite experience. I used to think that financial reports were so complex that you would need a ton of expertise to even begin to figure out what is going on with a company’s financial situation. However, I have learned that in the course of a quarter I can really start to take a look “under the hood” of a company and really “get” what is happening. It is all coming together and at times seems pretty simple. If you just learn the tools to analysis, you can apply it to most financial situations and glean valuable info. It’s pretty exciting that in three short months I am already experiencing “break-throughs.” Which I think is saying a lot considering my liberal arts background.

Why I chose the UW TMMBA program

Erin Aselas, TMMBA Student

I have to admit my decision was not exactly calculated, but rather more a result of a gut-check. I went to the open houses and attended some classes at the other local MBA programs, but the UW TMMBA program seemed to resonate with me the most. I think although I am on periphery of technology, I was drawn to this program because I tend to enjoy the personality and the curious nature of technology professionals.

As a prospective student, I sat in on a class. I think it was managerial accounting (which to me was great, however probably not everyone else’s first pick). Anyway, I was impressed with the program, the faculty, the classroom discussion and the individual students in the classroom – pretty much everything. I highly recommend sitting in on a class so you can check things out first hand. This program is not only a large financial commitment but a huge time commitment. Make sure this is right for you – if it is, you’ll love it. (OK “love” is a strong word especially as I just coming off finals, but…you know what I mean.)

And so the quarter ends…

Lucas Perin, TMMBA Student

As Plato would say (as I remember from playing Magic, the Gathering), all things must come to an end. And that includes our quarter.

There’s no real vacation between quarters. Really, don’t count on it. What happens is that you don’t go to class a couple Mondays (or Wednesdays, if that’s your thing), but between the last Saturday of Q1 and the first Saturday of Q2 there are two weeks, just like “normal” times.

And there are a lot of pre-reads and homework between quarters. Honest. A lot. You even have to watch a movie.

At the end of the quarter, the summary is:
– Accounting was great, and a welcome surprise. I can decently read a company report now.
– Microeconomy was interesting, but a little shorter than expected, so it felt a little incomplete.
– Statistics was good. Not very interesting by itself, but I can see it being used in other courses.
– Strategy was “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. If the last class was the first, it would make much more sense.
– Team building was great. I used a lot of it on my current job and it paid off.

So far, still very much worth it.

Get the Inside Scoop – Visit a TMMBA Class

Mikaela Houck, Program Assistant

Are you trying to figure out if the TMMBA Program is the right fit for you? If so, I’d recommend visiting a TMMBA class. This is a unique way to meet current students and faculty and experience the dynamic and “real life” classroom environment.

Class visits are offered at the Eastside Executive Center on Monday and Wednesday evenings and some Saturdays throughout the year. Visitors are paired with a host and invited to dine with the students prior to the start of class. This upcoming quarter, visitors can choose from an variety of classes: Economics, Corporate Finance, Organizational Change, and Global Management.

Although there are many opportunities to learn more about our program, visiting a TMMBA class really provides you with an exclusive look at the program. For one night, prospective students can dive into the world of academia and test the waters!

I coordinate the TMMBA class visits, so if you would like more information on how to attend an upcoming class, feel free to contact me at

Spring Break: Haircuts, Grand kids, Miatas, Death, and Taxes

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

The Winter quarter officially ended yesterday when Anjani dropped off our marketing plan at TMMBA HQ. He’ll be on his way to Las Vegas in a few days for some R&R. The Friday before we submitted our business plan for our Entrepreneurial course, just in time for Rick to wing his way over to Prague — he’s doing the foreign study trip. The only final this quarter was in Strategy, and that was due closer to the middle of the quarter. The two final projects, and a branding paper, more than made up for finals, but in my not so humble opinion, also were much more valuable in terms of solidifying what we learned. Class 9, on the other hand, is in Finals Hell this week — my co-worker is done with his Stats final and is now pounding his way through Accounting.

I’m sitting here in the Backstreet Salon in Monroe (a great little place that Marilyn found through a friend of her’s) listening to Tami and Marilyn yakking about all the things that men are not usually privy to. Tami found time to give me a quick shearing while waiting for Marilyn’s perm to cure, something sure to bring a certain amount of joy to my class- and work-mates. This brings to mind an old limerick:

As a beauty I’m not quite a star…
There are others more handsome by far.
But my face, I don’t mind it
Because I’m here behind it.
It’s the ones out in front get the jar!

OK. Enough of the bad poetry. While I was getting my hair cut my cell phone rang — it was my daughter Debbie and she had some good news. She is expecting again, due in mid-July, and pretty excited about it. And so am I, of course. Soon-to-be big brother is looking forward to a playmate and dad is looking forward to having the family together during maternity leave. It was a little tough to talk and get a haircut at the same time, so we will have to chat again pretty soon.

(3/20/2009) Got a note from my sister in Michigan that our Uncle had passed away. While I had not ever gotten the chance to spend any time with him or my cousins, I know she had and was pretty saddened by his death. The last, and for me, practically the only time, we had seen our cousins was at our mom’s funeral back in 2000. Our cousins have done well with their lives — some are retired, some have risen through the ranks of one or another of the Big Three, and one has several patents related to the glass shelves we all have in our refrigerators.

(3/23/2009) Marilyn and I went on an over-nighter with our Miata club over the weekend. We had a great time and got re-acquainted with some folks that we hadn’t seen since before the TMMBA program started. Now, with one quarter to go, we are starting to look forward to re-engaging with the Puget Sound Miata Club and some other activities as well.

So it was pointed out to me by my sweetheart that I’ve managed to fritter away two weeks of this three-week break and I still haven’t cleaned out the office nor have I done any painting, nor have I done my taxes. Hint to fellow TMMBA students, both Class 8 and 9, if you don’t get your taxes done in this break between quarters, you will surely have a tough go of it between now and April 15th!

(3/24/2009) Rick is back from Europe, and we are all puzzling over our grades from Entrepreneurship — 75% of the grades are supposedly team grades, yet we have managed a 0.6 point spread based, evidently, on our class participation. The funny thing is that the person on the team that claimed to not have “drunk the Kool-Aid” got a 4.0, and those of us who IMHO contributed quite a bit got 3.5 and 3.6. Go figure… In the final analysis, grades don’t matter so much as what each of us was able to take away from the program.

As for me, I’m sipping a “Satan’s Whiskers”, one of the many new cocktails I’ve learned to make reading the “How’s Your Drink” column in the Saturday WSJ. With the global financial system rearranging itself faster than the trees on Lavalite World, could it be that I’ve stumbled upon the most valuable learning experience of them all?

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.

Almost Done with the First Quarter!

Teagen Densmore, TMMBA Student

Today I have one week of classes left and one week of finals after that. The quarter has gone by so quickly! Overall, the school work has been very challenging and very interesting, my teammates and classmates are fantastic, and the staff is outstanding.

This quarter’s classes are Accounting, Microeconomics, Statistics and Strategy and I’ve already noticed that I listen to and understand business news (and all news, really) in a whole new light.

Although I’m only one quarter into business school, I’m planning on giving the Foster Business Plan Competition a go. Leading up to the competition, Foster’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship bring in entrepreneurs to talk on various topics regarding start-ups. Since the talks are on Thursday nights and I’m usually at class reviews on Thursdays, I’ve been listening to the talks online. I really appreciate the convenience of having these talks available online, saying the TMMBA keeps me busy is an understatement!

Next quarter’s schedule looks very fun:

TMMBA 507: Global Economic Conditions
TMMBA 512: Corporate Finance
TMMBA 551: Global Management I

Where there is a will, there is a way…

Reetu Gupta, TMMBA Student

It’s Monday, almost midnight. Clock is going to change to next date any minute now. How will be my tomorrow? Equally busy – probably. Better in some way – Definitely! Every day when I go to bed, I feel I accomplished so much in my last 24 hours that I’m a better person than I was yesterday.

I am feeling really tired right now after reviewing my group project report for Micro Economics class. I look thru my home office French doors. Glass doors have hands prints of both my girls, aged 2 and 5. I’m wondering how do I do all this. Is it because I’m crazy or because I’m smart? I like to think of it as latter. What is it that drives me? Is this that every human has in him/ her? I’m sure I have had it for a long time. I never realized it till I came into this program. Now I know that how much more time “24 hours” has. Now I know how much human brain can absorb. Now I know how we can stretch ourselves to the limits we never thought possible.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying you jump into ocean without knowing how to swim. I do believe though if you put your mind to it, you can do it. If I can do it, so can you. So here are few tips on how to prepare your self and your environment for this journey that you are about to take.

In March, 2008, I realized that I’m not using my full potential. All these years I had been looking for channels for my energy. I did find some like full time job along with community volunteering, project management outside my job etc. But all of that was not sufficient to make me feel “accomplished” at the end of each day. Then one day light bulb went off – “Why don’t I go for MBA?” That activated a different part of my brain. Excitement of going back to school, meeting new people, connecting with professionals and numerous other advantages set my mind in that direction. And once I made up my mind, there was no turning back. And I knew there is some fact to the saying ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.” That did it for me. Quitting was not an option for me. Even when it gets crazy, I never doubt my decision. One more thing that my neighbor told me just before the program “18 months will pass – MBA or not” is my new mantra. You have to think about it for it to sink in your mind.

In addition to preparing yourself mentally, you have to prepare your environment. That includes your immediate family, friends, co workers and the whole world that belongs to you. you have to prepare them in terms of their expectations from you.
Talk to your kids – They will have difficulty in understanding why mom or dad is gone so much. Even when mom is home, she can’t play with them since she has to finish her assignments. So talk to them before hand. Prepare them and make them understand. I have 2 and 5 yr old. It is harder with young kids but believe me, they get used to it if you prepare them well.
Take Vacations – In 2008 summer, after I got accepted in the program we took 3 big vacations where each time we went out of town for 4-5 days. That gave really good memories to whole family to live on for 18 months, before we take next big vacations.
Finish pending projects – We completed all near term home improvement projects. Minor things that need fixing and may distract you, while you are in the program, won’t be a headache if taken care in advance.
Organize – December 2008 was the spring cleanup and organization month for me.
Socialize – We did social gatherings in Nov-Dev, 2008 time frame and conveyed to all our close friends to expect less in terms of phone calls and get togethers, going forward.
Hire a house cleaner (if you can) – At least you won’t have to worry about dirty house. Calculate your time value in terms of money and I’m sure you’ll come out ahead with a cleaner option.

Overall, if you prepare well, you’ll thank yourself and you’ll be less distracted. If you need more tips, call me. Yes, I still have time to talk on the phone!


Nhi-Huong Huynh, Fiscal Specialist

Hello all! My name is Nhi-Huong Huynh, and I am a Fiscal Specialist for the Technology Management MBA. I’ve joined with the TMMBA team for couple months. My current responsibilities are including Financial Analysis, Budget Reconciliation, Tuition and Fees.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know the students and provided them tuition fees breakdown and payment deadline for every quarter. Also, I can give out FAFSA information for students who interested in getting Financial Aid, so feel free to contact me. Welcome and best wishes to all TMMBA students.

Why I chose the TMMBA

Teagen Densmore, TMMBA Student

Halfway through my first quarter of the TMMBA program, I can absolutely say that I picked the right program for me. The TMMBA has great professors, helpful staff, a schedule that works for me and ice-cream! OK, ice-cream doesn’t really compare to the first three things I mentioned, but it sure is nice to have some frozen yogurt while your brain catches its breath during break.

The TMMBA is a rigorous program, certainly not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking for immersion into a great program, the TMMBA is worth checking out.

– 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.