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!

Greeting!

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.

What time is it anyways…

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student

The TMMBA has started to stretch my time more than I had initially anticipated. From my first couple of months in the program this is my typical week at bottom of the post. I imagine from talking to a sample of colleagues this is the norm and a larger range of min to max hours invested exists but I would say no more than +/- 8hrs.

The time invested, though, does not reflect the real learning returns. The study of Business is so fluid and so dynamic. I found that I can learn one concept in five minutes and a whole other in five weeks. The richness of the curriculum and the caliber of the students in the program have met my expectations so far. Since practicing the concepts in this program in the real world make the learning stick and refine it I am starting a measure that I will update through each blog post. I am calling it the Relevance Factor. It measures how relevant the learning in each course is to my job. Two components will make up this factor:

1. T – Aided in thought processes or discussions at work – did it get me to an answer faster or more thoroughly
2. I – Implemented a concept or learning from the program to my job

So far I have implemented Feedforward (a concept introduced by Prof Greg Bigley on giving/receiving feedback) in my workgroup. 1pt for I.

So far I have used learnings in Rev Recognition from an Accounting perspective to understand at a more fundamental level a project that I am working on in the Rev Recognition space. Understanding the pros and cons of recognizing revenue in either a time of sale or amortized manner (over a period of time in increments). 1pt for T.

Relevance Factor = 2

The schedule:
Mondays – Team Meeting 1 to 3hrs
Tuesdays – Preparing for Wed class 2 to 4hrs
Wednesdays – Attending class 4hrs (incl dinner and after class chats)
Thursdays – Attending review session 1 to 3hrs (incl team quick synchs or after class chats)
Fridays – Preparing for Sat class (only every other week) 1 to 3hrs
Saturdays – Attending class 8 to 9hrs (incl breakfast and after class chats)
Sundays – Homework usually due or Preparing for upcoming week 1 to 4hrs

Range of hrs spent 18 to 30hrs (when week incl Sat class)

The Semiahmoo Experience

Lucas Perin, TMMBA Student

The MBA kicks off with an intensive orientation week. Ours was to the Semiahmoo resort. We had our first classes on Team Buiding, Accounting, Microeconomy, Statistics and “Presentation Techniques”, and, most importantly, we got to hang out with each other.

I was very impressed with how great the professors were. I had high expectations, and my expectations were exceeded by far. I really learned a lot in the first week, but we barely get to see the resort – the schedule is packed. When we were not having classes, we were studying for the next class. Well, most of the time. My group was pretty good at hitting the bar at night and we got to know each other way better. And it helped a lot.

On the last evening, we had an impromptu Karaoke “competition” – it was not part of the program. We had a rather large number of people (mostly engineers) trying to hook up a computer to the Semiahmoo bar sound system, while another rather large group of people (again, mostly engineers) was trying to find a way of getting free karaoke songs on YouTube. It worked. One of the other bloggers (don’t know if I can tell who it was) sang “Landslide” beautifully. And a Microsoft colleague sang a song from the Phantom of The Opera quite professionally.

All in all, a good end for such a good start.

Before the first class…

Lucas Perin, TMMBA student

Make no mistake: the TMMBA starts at the welcome reception. Before the reception we had to fill some questionnaires that would help sort us into groups. At the reception, we had our picture taken for the yearbook, and then the program director and a former student tried to tell us how hard the program was. And we got a bag quite full of books and pre-read materials.

In summary, the TMMBA depends very much on the pre-reads. It is a good program that covers a lot of material. It is well-recognized. And it is short. The catch is that you will have to read a lot of material before the classes, between quarters and even before the program starts.

We got assigned to read the whole material of the “Team Building” class (some HBR articles), an entire book and a couple chapters from another book for “Financial Reporting & Analysis” (fancy name for accounting), some material for Microeconomics, the “Blue Ocean Strategy” book and some chapters for Statistics. To do that, we had about six weeks.

We then got to meet our groups. We are assigned to a group of about five students for the whole length of the program. Apparently the questionnaire works – my group is a very good fit for me.

After the reception, time to get started. Most people will tell you that doing the pre-reads (in particular, the Accounting pre-read) helps tremendously on being successful in the program. I did. Time will tell.

The TMMBA and I

Amit Ghosh, TMMBA Student

I am about 7 weeks into to TMMBA program at the UW. So far, its been a very eye opening if hectic journey. Life has been a blur of Accounting, Strategy, Microeconomics and Statistics. Throw in student presentations, midterms and a 9 month old baby (in my case) and you have the makings of a perfect storm.

Despite all that, I absolutely enjoy the fact that I have already started looking at business and financial news with a new kind of understanding. For instance, now that I know that for a business, Revenues are not the same as Cash Flow. I understand what VCs and financial experts mean when they ask startups to focus on Cash Flow to stay alive in this downturn. On that note, check out this very interesting presentation that a VC firm, Sequoia Capital, gave at a mandatory meeting to 100 CEOs. http://slideshow.com/presentations/244-sequoia_outlookpdf

The basic program itself has been structured to cater to busy professionals, so the program staff does a phenomenal job in taking care of things you would not want to spend your time on. Your books and case studies are ordered and delivered to you before the quarter begins. Food is catered in during class times, so you do not have to rush out to grab a bite. You really appreciate these thoughtful timesaving touches as you try to balance your student, professional and personal lives. One of my classmates even created a blog about the food served at the TMMBA at http://tmmbafoodie.blogspot.com

Will keep writing as more interesting things keep happening..

First things first . . .

Lucas Perin, TMMBA student

In the first post, we are usually supposed to talk a little about ourselves. But hey, if you wanted to know more about me, you would probably be stalking me in Facebook. So I am guessing that the reason for having a reader (hi mom!) is because you want to know more about the TMMBA. Is it hard? Is it good? Is it worth it? Let’s see how much I can help. And for quick answers to those questions, my answers in the middle of the first quarter would be: “not that much”, “oh yes” and “I still don’t know”.

It may be helpful to know that the MBA starts “for real” on the day of the welcome reception, usually in mid-November, not on the day of the first class. In later posts, I’ll detail some parts of the experience before (and after) the first class.

I WAS RUDE!!!

Kalpesh Shah, TMMBA Student

In the early 1990s, I was taking courses in software development. After the first quarter, the instructor asked the class to give feedback on each student, with 3 areas of strength and 1 area of improvement for each student.

This was not done by secret ballot. Students would stand up one by one, and the class would voice their opinions for everyone to hear. When it was my turn, the majority of the class thought that I was intelligent, good at spotting problems and solving them and very helpful. When it came to the liabilities side of the balance sheet, the class was unanimous: I was rude. Of course, this was shocking to know. When I was pointing out their mistakes, I thought I was helping my classmates. I did not realize that I was perceived as being rude.

A big part of a manager’s is to get things done through other people. Being rude will not make things easy. Therefore, I have looked to improve my people management skills ever since. After attending the TMMBA program, I certainly feel that I am a better manager than before. Specifically, “Managing People in Technology Companies” and “Negotiations” are two subjects that have helped me along the way. I also attended a 12-week seminar from Dale Carnegie that helped me be a better person.

Remember: “Perception is reality in the mind of the beholder”.

What a difference a quarter makes

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

This post is mostly personal, and medical related; I’m posting in hopes that some of the lessons learned and pain experienced may spare someone else down the line. No TMMBA content — You have been warned.

After my annual physical in September, I started experiencing increased shortness of breath, momentary dizziness, momentary chest pains, irritability, and extreme fatigue. By the time Quarter Four was underway, I was getting worse, and I also started to experience rather severe back pains. My physician called me back into the office and told me my blood pressure was going up and she wanted to put me on a mild med to bring it down. She also told me to get more sleep. Between the worries over my health, and a conscious decision to limit my stress and anxiety level, I pulled back some on my studies and tried to get more sleep. By late November, my blood pressure had started to come down to just a little over optimum.

I was told to track my BP daily if possible, and since we have one of those BP measuring stations in my building, I could do that. Of course, I could not resist keeping track of my BP in a spread sheet, and then running stat pad on the results and creating a plot of Systolic, Diastolic, and Pulse along with date and time. That confirmed to my physician that I was a Class-A Nerd! But it also showed that the med and lifestyle changes were working.

While shuffling Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations down from and back into the garage attic, my back ache got progressively worse. I was starting to wonder if this was it and I would be reduced to hiring someone to do the work for me. Then about two weeks before Christmas I woke up one Saturday and could not bear to even sit on the bed. I could not stand, could not walk for sure. I had to crawl on my hands and knees to the toilet, and finally a full 30 minutes after I awoke I could finally stand and sort of shuffle around. The next day was much better — just a bad back ache mostly on my right side.

The Sunday before Christmas I woke and sat straight up in bed, with incredible pain. It felt like someone had stuck a spear in me. It was in my lower right abdomen. Marilyn looked up symptoms on the internet and there was a possibility that it was acute appendicitis. Another possibility was a kidney stone, but I did not seen to have the kind of pain over my kidney that seemed indicated. Now I warned you there would be medical content. After a bout of diarrhea I felt much better. By lunch I felt well enough to eat, so I did. Immediately the pain returned, worse than before, and radiating all the way through me, still centered in my lower right abdomen. It was well below freezing outside, and after trying and failing to install tire chains (I had been sold the wrong size, but that’s another story), we headed out into eight to ten inches of snow to get to the hospital. The pain was so intense that I came close to blacking out several times. Once there, the triage nurse told me that it was probably not a burst appendix, but was probably a kidney stone. I said that of the two, a kidney stone was probably less serious, and she agreed, but said the appendix would be less painful After five hours, chucking my lunch, three morphine drips, and a cat-scan which verified a 3mm stone two thirds of the way towards my bladder, they sent me home with a prescription of “Good Drugs” ™ and a filter funnel to catch the stone.

I think I paced a mile in the house that night, as anything else was too uncomfortable and the pacing seemed to make the pain more bearable. The drugs, by the way, when you have “Real Pain”, don’t really do that much. The ER doc said every six hours, but the effects were wearing off in three and I was hanging on until four. He also said to drink extra fluids to “flush it out”. My doctor was out on Monday so it was not until Tuesday that I could talk to her. She called her Urologist and then called me back with more bad news. It turns out that once a stone is moving, drinking more fluids just increases the pressure behind it, causing the duct to balloon, and thus causing even more pain. She sent in a prescription that would relax the ducts and I ceased fluid intake as much as possible.

Christmas Eve morning I awoke drenched in sweat but to no pain. I figured that the stone had passed into my bladder as I mercifully slept through the final burst of pain. Sure enough, the little bugger was captured in the funnel filter — a little black BB was all I was able to show for my efforts. The next day was the best Christmas I ever had: pain free!!!

So where are the lessons learned? Interestingly enough, my Blood Pressure is now within the “good” range. My back ache has also disappeared. I put all the Christmas stuff back into the attic without any problem. Turns out that pain can increase your BP, as well as stress, lack of sleep, and diet. Also, in further reading, “flank” pain like I had is an indicator of kidney stone issues. I suspect strongly that the Saturday I could not move was the day the stone started it’s journey and the back pain was the result of its movements through and out of the kidney. If passing a kidney stone, reducing, not increasing, fluid input may be best. And in the case of the type of stone I had, which is most typical (calcium oxalate monohydrate), drinking more water and some minor diet modifications (the same in many respects that help lower blood pressure) will help prevent future stones.

Finally, I hope that this nasty week-long cold that I just shook is the last of the medical challenges I face for some time to come. This getting old stuff really bites

– 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.