Ready, Set, Network!

Mikaela Houck, Program Assistant

Greetings! My name is Mikaela Houck, and I am one of the newest members of the TMMBA team. I began as Program Assistant just over one month ago, and I work to provide student, faculty and staff support for the program. Now that class is back in full swing, the students’ return has brought a special energy to our Eastside Campus. I have enjoyed getting to know the students and faculty, and last night at our Class 9 Speed Networking Event, I met for the first time members of the incoming class that will start in January of next year.

The Class 9 Speed Networking Night provided students with a great opportunity to meet fellow classmates, exchange stories, and trade business cards. Although the cohort does not officially begin until January 2009, this get-together fostered some great connections and sparked enthusiasm for the year and a half to come. To the benefit of the students, the networking doesn’t end here. TMMBA students have the opportunity to participate in Speed Networking with other students and alumni each quarter. Another event is just around the corner!

Posting a picture — May be of interest to other bloggers

Tom2

Marilyn, my life partner, and I like to go on road trips and we like finding interesting roads, old town sites, historical sites, and such. Two years ago we took a 6000 mile trip around a large part of the US, and I started a personal blog, “Travelers-Traces”, to record our impressions. If I did this right, here’s a picture of Chimney Rock in Nebraska, on the Oregon Trail route.

Tom1

The main site is here: http://travelers-traces.blogspot.com/

And if you are interested, you might want to start with my first post: Preamble: Natchez Mississippi

And work backwards to the most current. I have not had time nor been motivated enough to continue, yet, but working on this one may get me in the mode of continuing where I left off. Last year we took a trip to the Canadian ghost town of Barkerville, which is run as a tourist destination during the summer. Later, and again this year, we took trips into Eastern Washington and Oregon and I have a lot to share. Again, if interested, set up an RSS notification thingy and when I post new stuff to Travelers-Traces, you will be notified.

I also have a set of missives I wrote back in 1999 when we did a Europe Through the Backdoor Tour — at least I hope I can find them. When I do, I’ll add them to Travelers Traces.

Other things I plan to add someday:

  • Trip from Michigan to California in 1971 on a Kawasaki 250
  • Trip from Washington to Michigan and back via US 2 and US 30 (mostly) in our brand new 10th Anniversary Special Miata
  • Trip from here to Moab Utah to attend a Miata gathering (over 200 other Miatas from all over NA attended)

I have not used many different blogging applications. Just the internal Boeing blog, Google’s blogging, and this. If any of you have experience with others, or tips or tricks for doing a good job of blogging, please let me know. I would like to be interesting and informative and not bore you all to tears.

Later,

-TomM

Scheming and Teaming

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

Our team met each other for the first time at the welcome reception. For our class, it was held at the Burke Museum on the UW campus, and our significant others were welcome to attend, too. That was a nice touch, but it was also an opportunity for the staff, through a guest speaker from the previous class, to help level-set expectations for the following 18 months. I remember our speaker going through a series of lessons learned, and things not to do, including conceiving a child during the Fall break which meant dealing with child birth during Finals week the following June! Yeah — “Don’t do that!”

It was during the opening Residential that we really started to get to know each other. The staff tries to give the teams a good head start for the Winter quarter through a series of team building exercises and social time. Early on, our team decided we wanted to get the most out of the program that we could, and we all wanted to get good grades. It was a consensus, meaning, we would each support the decision, and none of us would act contrary to the decision. This is important, as the program is structured such that individual scores in most classes are comprised of a “team score” and your individual score. For our team, this means that the work done to earn the team score is most important. If one of us chooses to relax their standards for a particular class, then it means that our individual work is what we would allow to slide a bit; we are all expected, and held to, doing the best we possibly can for the team. The side effect is that for the most part, our individual scores are probably higher than they otherwise might be, because we are all fully engaged in order to support our team responsibilities.

The usual four steps of team building occurred (Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing) — starting in the Residential and continuing during the Winter quarter. It is the nature of the program that it attracts mostly professional people with well-established careers, so working in teams was not new to any of us. What was new, at least for this writer, was the depth of teamwork we were able to establish so quickly. Again, I attribute a good part of this to our decision to be a high-performing team, but I give kudos to the TMMBA staff for giving us the tools to make it happen.

What do we do to make this happen? I know that some of the other teams are also high performers, so I am sure that ours is not the only way, but here is what works for us.

The “people” aspects are probably most important.

1: For each team deliverable, we choose, mostly through volunteering, but sometimes by suggestion, a project manager. The PM is responsible for calling the meetings and setting meeting agendas, and for assigning and assembling the work into a coherent work package. The PM is not responsible for writing or doing the project on behalf of the team, but rather is responsible for keeping the rest of the team on track in producing the required work to assemble the final product.

2: It happens that our self-professed “type-A” personality likes keeping track of all the deliverables for each quarter, so he acts as a “quarter master” and makes sure we all know of key due dates for individual homework, group assignments, and tests.

3: We rotate the PM role so each of us gets to experience the leadership role for a variety of deliverables. We try not to let anyone get overloaded, and also try to let team members with particular interests take projects that will help them grow in their careers. We acknowledge that taking on a particular project may be a challenge, and will pitch in to help the PM be successful.

4: At the end of each quarter, we meet and do a de-brief, sometimes called a “post-mortem” and discuss what went well, what didn’t, and figure out what needs to be done to correct course before the next quarter starts. If one of us has not lived up to expectations, we are sure to hear about it in this meeting, if not earlier, but we strive for constructive criticism — we are all in this together and we really do need and depend on each other in order to be successful in the program.

Tools are less important, but are still necessary for collaboration and communication. Most of us have work or personal email that we prefer to use, so we all forward our school email to our favorite place. Once again, what I am about to describe is what works for us — it may not be optimal or even feasible for other teams.

1: We don’t use Blackboard for collaboration. It quite frankly sucks blue mud. We tried Google Sites and found that it gives us pretty good functionality. Docs can be uploaded through a web interface, it is secure, and there is a rudimentary version control system built in. As a Config Mgmt guy, I like that. We can also arrange our work in folders that match our classes, and there is effectively no limit so we can keep past quarters’ work for reference in an archive area.

2: We use Google Groups for email accretion. We can each choose to have email to the group account bounced to our favorite personal account, and by replying to the message, with the original sender being the group account, the reply reaches each of us. Plus, messages are archived at the group, so there is no need to store them in our personal accounts unless we want to.

3: Along with Google Groups and Google Sites, we use Google Calendars to track our deliverables. There is one for individual assignments, one for group assignments, and we can have our personal calendar for tracking vacations (hah!, like that ever happens…), business trips, and so forth. We can then combine what is important to our personal calendar and have a one-stop look at what we need to do.

4: For conference calls and virtual meetings, we use freeconferencecall.com and Microsoft’s SharedView. SharedView works as well as WebEx, but is free. Can’t beat that! The conference call number we have is long distance, which is no problem for those of us that have unlimited long-distance cell plans. But for the rest of us, and speaking for myself, I bought a calling card from Costco and pay about 3 cents per minute.

For the Summer quarter we decided that we weren’t getting enough accomplished in virtual meetings so we decided to meet every week on the other section’s class night. That was quite a hit for those of us with long commutes or who usually take the bus, as the bus service late at night to anywhere other than Kirkland, Redmond, or Bellevue is so bad as to not be an option. That committed us to 2 or 3 nights per week, depending on whether or not there was a TA session scheduled on Thursday. This is one thing we will have to look at during our debrief session next week, because after Fall quarter the next TMMBA class will provide competition for the meeting rooms at TMMBA HQ. I’m hoping we can find a way to be effective utilizing virtual meetings.

I would be quite interested in hearing from the other Bloggers and how their teams work — both in the People and Tool realms.

That’s it for now.

-TomM

2009 International Study Tour full-speed ahead!

Sara Jones, Program Manager

Hello! My name is Sara Jones and I am a Program Manager with TMMBA. I spend most of my day making sure the student experience in the program is great. Right now I’ve been working hard coordinating the ‘09 International Study Tour and thought I’d take a break and tell you a little bit about the trip.

The Study Tour is an excellent opportunity to learn how business is conducted around the world! The trip takes place during spring break between quarters five and six. This year TMMBA is heading to Eastern Europe. Students will visit companies and meet with executives in Budapest, Bratislava and Prague. I’m really excited because we are extending the trip from 7 to 10 days this year. That means there will be extra company visits, more cultural activities, and free time to explore the cities and get to know classmates better. During fall and winter quarters we will be arranging the company visits and academic activities. The itinerary is usually 75% confirmed two months before departure.

We’re trying out a few new ideas this year to improve the student experience before take-off. This past month I rolled out a website dedicated to the Study Tour. Everything a student needs to know about the trip will be posted to the site including itineraries, costs, readings, deadlines, etc. We have also moved to online registration for the trip and will be able to accept credit card payments for the first time. I hope that both of these features make the registration process much easier for students.

If you’re curious about the ‘09 trip to Eastern Europe, take a peak at the Study Tour website.

What do you mean, “Juvenile”?

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

One of the things that must be included in your admissions packet is a personal statement explaining why you want to enter the TMMBA program. There are a number of questions that you need to respond to, and a page limit — I won’t get more specific than that. Now I fancy myself as being pretty good with prose, so I figured that this would be a no-brainer.

By the time I was done, I would prove my preceding opinion wrong — twice over…

I wrote the essay and showed it to Marilyn. She wanted to see the requirements. I showed them to her. She tossed my paper back to me and said, “It’s juvenile — if you want to be rejected, go ahead and turn it in like that.” Ouch. Oh, my ego. Juvenile? But look how clever I was in weaving the information they wanted throughout my paper! I had written what I thought was a nice “hook” that would be a compelling reason to read the paper. “What about the hook?” I asked. “The hook is fine. But the rest is garbage. Do you really think that someone reading a hundred papers for the information they want is going to be willing to look all over your paper for what they need? If I were reading the papers, I’d want to see each response in a concise paragraph, in the order in which they were presented. Yours I would reject after one glance!”

Yikes. The application packet is due the next day. The next day is the absolute last day I can submit it (more on that later….) and now I have to re-write the whole dang paper. Hours later, I ran it by Marilyn, again.

“Well, it’s better, but your points aren’t being made very clearly. If you want to get accepted, you’ll have to re-write it.”

I argued, I pleaded my case, and as you can imagine, this ended up with me shouting what it was I was trying to say.

“I need to go to my meeting now. Just write it like you were yelling at me. I’ve had it!”

Double Ouch!! — Well, at least she didn’t toss my sorry butt out of the house before she stomped off to her appointment. She had every right!

So I did another edit, then tightened it up even more, so it said what I wanted to say, directly, and stuffed it in the packet. The hook? That was the only part I didn’t have to re-write.

Key take-aways:

1: Show your personal statement to someone you trust to be objective, critical, and a stickler for details.
2: If you think you are done, edit it again. Be ruthless with the pruning, like you should be with roses.
3: Even with a tersely written paper, there is room to show your creativity.

Did it work? When I had my interview I was told that they enjoyed my paper and had passed it around the office. ’nuff said.

-TomM

We live in interesting times…

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

The market fell 504 points yesterday, and last night I didn’t sleep too well. I’m a TMMBA geezer; I’ll hit double-nickels on Friday. I know my Boeing VIP fund took a huge hit yesterday. I think my early retirement plans fell out the window right along with the market.

Yesterday was also my first day back at work after a short vacation. The week before that was Finals week, which capped off the third quarter of the TMMBA program. I was looking forward to this first blog entry and had composed a lot of it in my head as my life partner Marilyn and I traced a path to the Eastern Washington wine country, then back along the Columbia River, and finally to the Long Beach peninsula. This morning, as I ride the bus in to work, my mind is a jumble of disconnected thoughts — bits of composed blog entry, worries about the economy, the upcoming elections, factoids gleaned from our vacation and other road-trips, memories of the past three quarters, things I need to do at home, the difficulties at work where the machinists’ strike and an SEI-CMMI assessment have combined to make things even more hectic than usual, all spin together in my mind, each vying for attention. Suddenly a bumper sticker I saw once comes to mind: “Visualize Whirled Peas”. Peas in a blender — now that’s an apt description of my mental state right now! World Peace? I think recent events have not helped in that quest…

I volunteered to write because I thought I might provide a unique perspective on the TMMBA program. I’m a “late boomer”, and my parents were close to 40 when I was born, Especially in my mom’s case, her memories of the Great Depression were still vivid and so sometimes it is almost as if I had lived through that as well. My early years were shaped by the Mercury Seven, the tragedy of the Kennedy assassinations, race riots, sit-ins, and Kent State. The fabric of society was being torn asunder by multiple forces, and I was an awkward age — too young to participate and too old to not notice. The Viet Nam war was winding down during my draft year and I drew a high number. Looking back, entering the military would have been good for me. I could have used the discipline.

17-Sep-2008
So it’s the next day — the fur was flying when I hit the office yesterday and the pace didn’t slow until I got home — late. Marilyn had some kabobs for me to BBQ, and by the time we ate and told each other about our day, it was time to go to bed. The market recovered about 140 points, but the Fed announced after the close that it was putting AIG into conservatorship. Who knows what today will bring. The market opens in 15 minutes, which is about the time this rattling bus will let me off at the airport.

I did take a quick look at the blog site yesterday, and this entry has definitely taken a different tone than the rest. I didn’t see any place for comments like a normal blog; you are welcome to email me: tom.mackey@gmail.com if you wish to comment. I’ll incorporate relevant feedback in future postings.

Discipline, among other things, was what drew me to the TMMBA program. I was working as a lead Configuration Management specialist at The Boeing Company, and a young man was hired for my team. It was my first leadership position, and he is a Marine. He had served as a tank commander in Desert Storm, and although easy going and laid back, there was a quality about him, a steely self-confidence, that I deeply admired. I noticed his discipline in completing his tasks; this, too, was expressed in a quiet and laid back manner. When his grandmother passed away, he inherited a modest sum of money that she hoped he would use to further his education, and he started looking into MBA programs. I had been noticing the TMMBA ads on the buses downtown and something clicked. If he could be considering an MBA, why not me?

I have a decision to make w.r.t. my career — Boeing has both a technical path (the Technical Fellow program) and a management path. The nice thing is that you can move back and forth, within reason, so neither path is permanent. Regardless of which I choose to take, I recognized that I needed an advanced degree, or more specifically, the skills learned in obtaining such a degree, if I wanted to do well. This program, which has evening and weekend classes, and finishes in 18 months, seemed ideal. Once in the program, I found additional benefits — we are placed in teams by the TMMBA staff, and we progress through the program as a team. Since nearly every facet of today’s high-tech industry involves working in teams, the experience is both natural and instructive. A large part of what we do is making our team work more efficiently. I am lucky to be part of a great team. Our personalities both contrast and compliment, as do our backgrounds and interests. I’ll be writing more on the team aspect later.

Well, I am about to get off the bus, so once I get to my desk I will submit this entry and get to work. Future posts will touch on the various classes, lessons learned, teamwork, and of course, personal and interesting tidbits that hopefully will pique your interest.

PS: Well, the market is tanking again, as feared. We are in for a rough ride and I am glad to be in high gear learning mode again.

I have a saying: “If you stop learning, you might as well start dying.” The TMMBA program is a Fantastic place to keep learning!

-TomM

I *heart* September

Aaron Lykken, Program Manager

The end of Summer quarter is arguably one of the most significant, if not THE largest, milestone in the TMMBA program. There is really no way to sugar-coat the fact that the 18-month curriculum is demanding, mentally and physically. If schoolwork wasn’t already enough, the vast majority of the students have their professional life and family life to tend to as well. I can’t help but to sense that many of the students are close to edge of complete exhaustion by the time Summer quarter wraps up. This is why the September break is so famous among students/alumni. Think of it like half-time, the students finish the first half strong, jog into the locker-room, rest/retool their game plan, and then come out refreshed and ready to finish the game. In my discussions with students on the closing class days of Summer quarter, their time off from school encompassed everything from leaving for a couple of weeks to travel in Thailand to taking a week or two off from work “to just do nothing”. Regardless of the use of the break it’s a rejuvenating experience and is certainly well earned by our hardworking students.

Despite the absence of classes, the TMMBA program office remains busy during this time due to the final admissions deadline occurring in early September. It does give the staff a chance to take a break from the weekly logistics/planning that occurs throughout each quarter, in addition to valuable time to gear-up for the incoming class in the Winter. One of my favorite things about my position is that I get to interact with the students a lot, and now, I’ll stay in contact even after graduation. I’ve been working increasingly with our alumni population as I have been planning Continuing Education, networking, and social events. Most recently the program has offered an alumni reunion at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture. This was a lot of fun as I was able to see a lot alumni I haven’t seen in awhile in addition to meeting their families.

Also occurring during the Summer is one of my favorite events, the TMMBA Alumni Scramble, which is second only to the Bettin Cup, another great golf event named after our Leadership Professor, Pat Bettin. Since I’ve joined the TMMBA team, I’ve watched these events go from often poorly attended outings to easily the most popular alumni/student activities TMMBA offers. In fact, the Alumni Scramble just happened this past Sunday at Washington National Golf Course in Auburn, WA. I could not have asked for a better day of golf. The weather was absolutely perfect (High of 78) with only a slight wind, we doubled our attendance from last year, and the course was in great shape. I felt these conditions were warranted, considering we’ve had a string of bad luck with adverse weather at previous tournaments. For instance, at our student tournament in the Spring we had heavy snowfall at Trilogy Golf Club in Redmond….in mid-April! Despite the snow, it turned out to be the most memorable golfing experience we’ve ever had. The Alumni Scramble is just plain awesome, as a lot of times you’re on a team with someone from a completely different class (that’s my doing as I assign teams). Current students were mixed with incoming students and alumni, how neat is that! Besides the obvious implications of networking, it’s also very social and fun, which is really the major purpose of the event to begin with, community. With the program continuing to grow each year and with our alumni base is now over 500 and increasing rapidly (larger cohort sizes due to there being two sections), I can’t think of a better time than right now to build a stronger sense of community around the TMMBA program.

Overhaul my resume, please!

Susie Buysse, Career Services Manager

The better it looks, the better you look

TMMBA students often inquire about a resume tune-up. They want to stand out in the competition and possibly secure interviews. Some students have technical resumes and want and need a greater focus on the MBA degree and business knowledge. I’ve also seen resumes that detail, in multi-pages, a long history of every job held, primarily stressing job descriptions and responsibilities.

Since you have just a few short seconds to make a strong first impression, here are six pivotal tips:

1.Eliminate a fluffy objective statement that describes the type of position desired.

2.Instead, add a compelling Summary or Profile right under your heading, highlighting your important skills and abilities that are relevant to the kind of work you are seeking. This should be like a Super Bowl commercial; every word counts and convinces us to buy. It tells the reader what you realistically want to do and it’s your best argument as to why they should hire you.

3.Include a number of short compelling accomplishment bullets under each position listed. Be sure to clearly describe how your actions contributed to the team, department, or company. Always quantify or qualify the result and avoid task-oriented bullets.

4.Humans (and computers) look for key words and phrases. Check major job boards or corporate websites to find popular key words related to your target position and company. Incorporate these as well as industry buzzwords in your resume.

5. Make your resume easy to read quickly. Get to the point. Eliminate groups of words that could be said in a single word. Avoid large paragraphs (over six or seven lines) jammed with text. Use lots of white space.

6.Don’t waste any precious space. Remove “References available upon request” at the bottom of your resume. Hiring managers and recruiters assume that you have a list prepared and will ask if they want to see it.

To get started with your resume review, please feel free to contact me after gaining admittance into the TMMBA program. We’ll work together on creating a resume that gets noticed!

Building a Blue-Print for your Future

Susie Buysse, Career Services Manager

One of my favorite quotes is “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing” by Theodore Roosevelt. It’s thought-provoking. What do you love to do? What motivates you to do your best work? Who are you becoming?

These questions often surface when a TMMBA student or graduate talks about a wish to contribute to the betterment of society or people. This can take many forms ― joining the renewable energy industry, working for a company that models corporate philanthropy, or perhaps becoming a fair leader with both business and technical strengths.

In Developing a Strategic Vision for Your Career Plan, Randall S. Hansen, PhD. outlines key steps for building a short term plan:
•Analyze your current/future lifestyle. Be sure to identify the key characteristics of your ideal lifestyle.
•Analyze your likes/dislikes. What kinds of activities — both at work and at play — do you enjoy?
•Analyze your passions. Reflect on the times and situations in which you feel most passionate, most energetic, most engaged and see if you can develop a common profile of these situations.
•Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Think in terms of work experience, education/training, skill development, talents and abilities, technical knowledge, and personal characteristics.
•Analyze your definition of success.
•Analyze your personality.
•Analyze your dream job. Look for ideas internally, but also make the effort to explore/research other careers that interest you.
•Analyze your current situation. Before you can even do any planning, clearly and realistically identify your starting point.
Here is an additional interesting tip. “A study of Harvard students 10 years after graduation showed that those who had specific goals made salaries three times greater than the salary of the average Harvard graduate. Those with written goals made 10 times the average.” (“Targeting the Job You Want,” Kate Wendleton)

I recommend taking the time to define your career ambitions and set specific goals. The self-reflection is often insightful and can certainly be helpful in defining your next or future career steps.

Hello from Susie Buysse

Susie Buysse, Career Services Manager

August – how did we get so far into summer so fast? This is my first entry so I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Susie Buysse and I manage Career Services for the TMMBA program. I bring more than 18 years of experience in the private sector, including the aerospace, medical device, and advanced electronics industries. I’m available to discuss your specific career development and job search needs (resumes, cover letters, interviewing, networking, salary negotiations, etc.)

- 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.