2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Jennifer T. Francis, University of Washington (Foster)

Jennifer T. Francis

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“Fearless mother, wife, and unexpected Rockstar who leaps for success, and never ceases to move boundaries.”

Hometown: Cupertino, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I’ll give you two! 1) Joseph, my husband, and I have been married for 10 years and we have three beautiful girls. 2) I used to be a Spin Instructor. To this very day, you will see me in the gym, mentally and physically rocking out to my own spin class for an intense workout. Catch me at the gym sometime—I love to motivate people at all levels!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of San Francisco, Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Division Officer, supporting six surgical sub-specialties. (Currently, I am proudly serving as an Active Duty Navy Corps Officer.)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle campus

Where will you be working after graduation? Ecstatic to be heading to Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan, Operating Room leadership staff

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:  

  • Fritzky Leadership Fellow, coaching 10 first year MBAs in the program
  • VP of Outreach, Foster Veterans Association
  • VP of Hospital and Operations relations, Healthcare & Biotech Association
  • Volunteer at B.F. Day Elementary School, in Seattle, WA
  • Learning Management Systems Team Lead, Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI) Recertification Committee

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  I developed the “Self-Marketing” curriculum and facilitated this session at the Navy Nurses’ Junior Officer Symposium. My research in authentic transformational leadership is extremely relevant to the nursing community, especially at the organization-level. I was thrilled to implement what I learned from business school into the Navy Nurse Corps, a global military leadership platform. I hope to extend my curriculum and findings across all branches of the military and civilian hospitals throughout the U.S.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I spent my first leadership position in one of the most remote and extremely complex, socio-political environments available to a young military officer. In 2015, as part of a floating military Hospital Ship called the “USNS Comfort”, I was challenged to execute complex medical planning across 11 different foreign countries. Our goal was to offer world-class surgical services to underserved populations via ship-board equipment and logistics. My care team started from scratch and I carefully developed them with substantial mentoring, coaching, and personal development. My crew of 16 personnel rapidly developed, despite substantial stress.  Together, we successfully delivered safe surgical operations for over 1,265 patients. This was a tremendous feat with many challenges! Providing quality leadership to my team in order to better serve others, was the most rewarding part of this experience.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Crystal Farh, Associate Professor of Management, is my immediate choice. Professor Farh’s leadership was dynamic and made me feel empowered. Her organizational behavioral class provided obvious impact and her unique ability to keep students engaged added a charismatic energy that was contagious. Taking her classes made me realize that anyone can manage a team, but skillful few can be an outstanding leader. The golden nugget that I took away from her class was this: The leadership development journey is a long-term gain. And it starts now.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Successful Negotiations—it is imperative to prepare your toolkit for every negotiation. It helped me adjust my expectations for the situation, ask the right questions, and be aware of my leverages.

Why did you choose this business school? Collaborative environment. True innovation. The Seattle community. Foster is the right fit for me. Students celebrate each other’s successes and genuinely want to help others grow. Even when my family schedule hit a snag, my student peers immediately stepped in to help me access and engage with the curriculum through teleconference and immergence. Despite busy days, we are a team together here. It showed during my weekend visit as a prospective student, and I see it now. This school is surrounded by Microsoft, Amazon, Costco, Boeing, and lot more. Our connections are endless and we integrate with these companies directly. Seattle is a beautiful city with plenty to offer its residents. I feel at home here with such a wonderful culture, breath-taking mountains to visit, and a unique feeling of harmony.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? First, spend time to reflect on the essay questions and understand your narrative story. It’s so important to understand your crucibles, what makes you unique, what you bring to the table, and how you see this journey playing out. I continue to be amazed by each of my classmates whom I am fortunate to have a deeper discussion. They have come from conventional and unconventional paths. They continue to push their own limits.

Second, know what type of school you’re looking for, and if you have a family, how much your family will be incorporated into the MBA life. Reach out to current students to get their perspectives on what their daily MBA life looks like. For example, the Career Management team helped build connections with Microsoft, Amazon, and companies in Japan. Through our student run case preps and Peer Advisors, you’re in a good position to be challenged and evolve. We’re blessed here to have family gathering opportunities through the Blue Dot community, and plenty of excellent mentors. If you can, come to a class visit. We are glad to give you a tour and introduce you to the team!

Lastly, start your application early and pace yourself with the GMAT. A mentor once told me that the process is a solid preparation for MBA school. They were right.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Business school will exercise a side of my brain that I haven’t used for a very long time. I knew that I would be challenged by different subjects, such as finance and accounting, but I had to remind myself that the past decade my life was merely focused on clinical excellence, not financial management. I had to be respectful to myself and celebrate how much I was learning.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Foster encouraged me to challenge new ways of thinking in an academic setting and team dynamics. I absolutely enjoy experiential learning and active discussions about cases to understand decision-making at a deeper level, ranging from time and situational constraints to difficult adjudications. Through team dynamics, I had the fortunate opportunity to be a Leadership Fellow. This grew my self-awareness in order to show up fully present, understanding where biases and conflicting perspectives come from, and heightening individualized considerations to assist others in setting goals.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Priya Gupta—most impeccable Foster teammate. She’s a forward thinker who asks, “What haven’t we thought of yet?” She’s a fierce negotiator and a compassionate mother. Somehow, she makes homemade dinner every night, despite long days in the boardroom. She’s a jack-of-all-trades who truly understands all subject-matter and volunteers during her free time. She is very focused and executes tasks seamlessly, without losing sight of balance in her life.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Joseph, my fearless husband. I really admire this man. He doesn’t let anything get in the way of what he wants to pursue and his focus is outrageously sharp. He has intuitive strategic vision, allowing him to align finance, accounting, marketing, operations, etc. within every specialty. He helped me realize the empowerment that come from positively developing systems into higher performing, better integrated, and functional models of success in otherwise challenging environments. Through his business successes, I was motived to transform from the mid-level clinician than I was, into a leader who is ready to meet the needs of the rapidly changing Military Health System. I knew pursuing an MBA was the direction I needed and wanted to go. He helped me see that all aspects of nursing and healthcare management involve business as well. I was driven to merge that “Joseph-ism” business mindset into the daily practices of the Operating Room Leadership Teams that I specialize in.

What is your favorite movie about business? Gung Ho—awesome comedy from the 80’s reflecting on intercultural communication in a business environment. It reminded me to not assume sameness, and that what I mean may not actually be what is understood. This was key! This taught me about the value in broad-based marketing, being thoughtful in approach, and how to communicate across populations with a clear message. Understanding where behaviors come from will lead to optimal business relationship and negotiations.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? WACC (weighted average cost of capital). Who didn’t have fun with WACC? Also, FOMO (fear of missing out) is a debatable MBA term—Foster has awesome community involvement with driven MBA students filling their bucket lists.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…pursing a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? Can you give a dollar value on experience? Foster was more than an MBA education—this school embodies life experience, community, collaboration, experiments, network, and lasting friendships. Definitely worth more than what I paid for!

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

1) Travel to Vietnam with my family and 2) learn to ski (in order to ski with my children).

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as a trusted companion and co-creator who redefines success and will push you to do the same.

Hobbies?  Did I mention my love for Spinning? I also like running, snowboarding, singing, and exploring the Pacific Northwest with my beautiful family.

What made Jennifer such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“I have always been interested in understanding people’s preference in pace because it says a lot about their background, personality, and interests. Maybe that’s also the nurse in me to dive deeper!”

The quote above came in an email from Jennifer Francis after she asked how I was dealing with a snowstorm in Seattle that shut down the city. I replied that I wasn’t a fan of being stuck inside.

Maybe it is the nurse in her, as she suggested, but Jennifer would likely be asking questions regardless of her profession. And more importantly, she listens to the answers. This was expressed by a number of her classmates who called out Jennifer as one of Foster’s Best & Brightest.

One of them captured it this way, “She is always present when you talk to her. The feedback she gives is very thoughtful and easy to understand. In addition, she is someone who is generous, loyal, encouraging, and confident. Most of all, she has the ability to work in harmony with her classmates regardless of the situation.”

The administration at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan will be fortunate to have Jennifer’s communication skills and team-driven mindset.”

Andrew Krueger

Director of Alumni Engagement




Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.