Tag Archives: Networking

Welcome TMMBA Class 16!

Class 16 students showing their UW pride
Class 16 students showing their UW pride

Last Thursday evening marked TMMBA Class 16’s first official gathering as a cohort for the Welcome Reception at the UW Burke Museum.  Excitement was in the air as students mixed, mingled and met TMMBA faculty and staff who they’ll be working with over the course of their 18-month journey. The “grand reveal” of the TMMBA study groups was a major highlight of the evening – students learned which five other students they’ll partner with for the first three quarters of studies for projects, case discussions and countless hours of studying. A powerful bonding experience to say the least!

The students also heard words of encouragement from TMMBA Program Director, Tracy Gojdics, and TMMBA Professor of Management, Bruce Avolio, as well as some sage advice from current student, Brian Ames, a Senior Manager at the Boeing Company. One year ago (nearly to the date) Brian stood in the same spot as the new students found themselves in – ready to embark on an educational experience of a lifetime. He’s now just over two quarters away from graduation. He broke his advice down into 12 important (yet simple!) takeaways for students to tuck in their back pocket to help them navigate the TMMBA Program:


  1. Get to know your study group on a personal level – invest heavily in this early as you will be spending a lot of time together
  2. Go to all of the social events – take any opportunity you can to get to know the people outside of your study groups and section
  3. Go on the tours career services lines up – you don’t get these opportunities in normal life
  4. Take advantage of all the University has to offer – free bus, cheap football tickets, driving range


  1. Pay attention in class – sometimes it’s hard after a long day of work but the professors are excellent and then you will have less to do outside of class
  2. Stay organized – exams are typically open-book, open-note and that format rewards those who are organized so create your system early
  3. Do as much as you can and play your own game – don’t feel bad if you have different study habits than your classmates, do what works for you
  4. Take a day off of work every once in a while to get ahead – set that expectation early with your manager and co-workers and don’t feel bad about it!

Personal Life:

  1.  Cut a hobby that takes a significant amount of time – like golfing, pick it back up after you graduate
  2. Take at least one night off of school work per week – try consolidating your work into a few evenings so you have time to spend with your family and friends
  3. Find a good daily stress reliever – exercise and clear your mind
  4. Take advantage of your time off – take time off of work during school breaks and take a vacation

So, who are the students that make up Class 16? We have a diverse and experienced group of professionals that we’re excited to introduce to the TMMBA community …

Looking sharp!

61 Students

  • 70% Male, 30 % Female
  • 35 Companies Represented (Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, Ericsson and many more!)
  • 6 Countries Represented (US, India, China, Thailand, Ukraine, Turkey)
  • Average GMAT Score = 590
  • 21% with advanced degrees (masters, doctoral)

These 61 students are now one milestone down. The next milestone awaits just after the Thanksgiving holiday – the TMMBA Program Immersion. The Immersion is a 7-day orientation/immersive experience that will surely help the cohort get back into the student groove. More to come!

The TMMBA ROI Series: Part 3

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Recruiting and Admissions Coordinator

In Posts 1 and 2, there’s already been ample discussion about the ways that TMMBA students and alums calculate their return on their investment. While we conclude today with three final categories to the TMMBA ROI, it’s safe to say there are still many components to add to this conversation:

Powerful Network

The TMMBA alumni network is truly one of the greatest assets of the program. With close to 800 TMMBA graduates, it is a diverse community that represents a variety of industries, functions, and companies. Additionally, the larger Foster School network connects more than 50,000 business professionals – creating a huge presence in the Puget Sound region and beyond.

 So how do TMMBA alums relate network to ROI? For many, the value comes from the exposure and access to new contacts, companies, and most importantly – opportunities. As alumnus Kevin Croy (TMMBA ’12) can attest, “The caliber of people on your team and the network you’re exposed to directly impacts your career.” Through an introduction from one of his TMMBA teammates, Kevin met his current business partner, leading to the development of 9MileLabs, a Seattle based high-tech accelerator.

 Another value of the TMMBA network is that it never stops growing. With each new cohort, the TMMBA community expands and provides access to more support, resources, and connections. “My network has exploded almost exponentially” remarks student Chris Zilich. “The connections I’ve made via my team and other classmates have been invaluable.”

 Personal Growth

Can you put a price on confidence? How about personal development and leadership skills? TMMBA alumnus Ameya Bhatawdekar (TMMBA ’10) explains that “it’s hard to put a dollar value on the measurement of ROI. But my most important indicator is knowing that I’m a different person today for having completed the program.”

 While the TMMBA program offers a comprehensive business curriculum, the learning in the program goes beyond business concepts, calculations, and frameworks. Emphasis on strategic decision making, effective leadership, and innovation challenge the individual and change their ways of thinking. 100% of recently surveyed TMMBA alumni cited an increase in confidence as a result of the program. Coupled with increased self-awareness, time management skills, and a sense of accomplishment, the return for the individual is unparalleled.


While it’s not a typical return, the convenience, support and services that the TMMBA program provides helps some students substantiate part of their investment decision. Many alums point to the convenient Eastside location- there’s less time and money spent commuting to class (especially in comparison to other non-local MBA programs). The 18-month program and work-compatible schedule also allow students to continue their current careers – without having to forfeit years of income and career experience to pursue their degree.

By providing textbooks, electronic course materials, registration services and more, students can focus on homework or family time, not worrying about the logistics of classes. Similarly, catered meals on class days allow students to come  from work and network with classmates over dinner – or finish up on last minute homework. As alums have noted– everything about the program is designed to make students as successful as possible.


With the variety of topics that we’ve covered in these last few posts, it’s obvious that the ROI for TMMBA students is multifaceted. From network to rankings, salary increases to personal growth, every TMMBA student and alum calculates their return in their own way.  We’ve started the discussion – now how will you calculate the ROI for your own MBA?

Missed a post? Catch up!  Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Is entrepreneurship for you?

Jeff Levy
Jeff Levy at the TMMBA & EMBA spring networking night

By Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director & Class of 2012 Candidate

We recently had a networking night for students and alumni of the TMMBA and Executive MBA programs. Our speaker for the evening was Jeff Levy, an entrepreneur, coach, and mentor who has helped hundreds of individuals open their own franchise or small business. He’s also the co-author of Making the Jump into Small Business Ownernship (read an excerpt in this GeekWire post).

Jeff shared his entrepreneurial journey and views on what it takes to achieve small business ownership. He highlighted his personal challenges and achievements and the who, what, when, where, and why of entrepreneurship.  We followed-up with Jeff after the event with a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:

What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?

There have been many times in my career where I felt pride and a sense of accomplishment.  These usually came after achieving something that no one thought possible. Probably,  the most significant moment was when my partners and I put together a $35million package to buy the three division from Flow International to form Safeworks, LLC.  No one, including ourselves, during the process, knew how it would exactly come together. We never gave up on our dream and made it happen.

It’s not easy to take a leap from being employed (and the primary earner) to being an entrepreneur.  When is the right time to start my own business?  Is there a strategy that would provide the least impact to my family?

You are very right that it is not easy to leave the comfort of a regular paycheck. However,  workers today function in what is called the “new career economy.” A paycheck is not necessarily a synonym for security. At the executive level it is not uncommon to be in a different job, or in career transition every 3-4 years. What you want to avoid is having to start a business when not working as a result of a layoff. That is a lot of pressure unless you have a good severance and possibly Self Employed Assistance Plan benefits provided by the State of Washington.  I think the best strategy is to work on the planning part of your business while you have the comfort of the regular check.  Give particular thought to the capital side of the business. Do you have enough money set aside to meet your living expenses for up to a year (or more) in addition to the capital requirements for investing in the business. Once funding is secure it still takes the difficult task of balancing your dreams versus your fears. My family has always been supportive of my entrepreneurial pursuits.  They believed that my early career success working for others would be transferable to my own venture. As my wife said. In her wisdom, you have made money for others, it is time that you do it for yourself.

With the dramatic changes in technology and impending talent war, what are the pros and cons of being a full-time employee versus self-employed?

I think that there will be a talent war. It actually exists today for certain software engineers and programmers.  I do believe the jobs of the future will be “newer and fewer”. No matter what the demand may be for talent in a salaried environment, I don’t think it competes with the benefits of being your own boss.  Clearly, I have a bias in this regard. Workers tend to get comfortable living at the level of their W-2 income and don’t do enough to create real wealth or to control the most valuable thing they have, their time.  I also believe that technology will create many more opportunities for self-employment.

What is the number one personality trait you see in successful entrepreneurs?

I think the # one personality trait is optimism. The ability to look for the opportunity no matter what the difficulty or the challenge may be.  There are certainly other very important traits but you asked for one. If you are a pessimist trying to go into business, game over!

What is the single biggest obstacle encountered by aspiring entrepreneurs?

Here I need the latitude to give a few obstacles.  You might think it is the lack of capital, but I don’t believe that is what holds entrepreneurs back although it might delay entry or slow down the ramping up of the business. My story is a good example of working the plan until you make it happen.  Raising $35m looked like climbing Mt. Everest. The two biggest obstacles are being close minded and not having developed mastery of basic business management skills.