MOUNT RAINIER…HERE WE COME!
This success didn’t happen overnight for Leuba. It required 18 months of long hours and intensive reviews that demanded precision, professionalism, and perseverance. In that regard, she’ll find a kindred soul in Mitch Platman. He served as an operations officer in the U.S. Army, where he was responsible for armored vehicles strewn across the Middle East. Eventually, Platman left the service, despite his worries that he might not find a place in the private sector. With help from a career skills internship for transitioning service members, he was able to land a position as a product manager in the tech field – a role that became his defining moment.
“This internship made me realize that while I may not have any experience in the tech sector, the leadership and team-building skills I developed in the military were incredibly applicable and helped me be successful in this new role,” Platman explains. “It helped prepare me for business school because it soothed my anxiety about transitioning and gave me the confidence I needed to be successful in pursuit of my future career goals in tech.”
Looking ahead, Platman plans to summit nearby Mount Rainier as part of Foster’s Outdoor and Sports Industry Club. Turns out, this climb was the defining moment for Drew Blundell. It was a time, he says, that revealed what he was really capable of achieving.
“In the midst of high winds, driving snow, and low visibility my spirits were low and fatigue was high,” he reminisces. “When our party went to sleep at 11,000 feet to summit the next day, we had a very low chance of being able to continue to climb. The next morning brought clear skies, but also another exhausting day of climbing. En route to the peak, I gritted past what I thought was my limit and discovered previously untapped energy reserves and optimism. This determination in the face of adversity has served me well in many different aspects of life.”
EACH STUDENT BRINGS SOMETHING UNIQUE
Speaking of adventure, Amanda Pearson spent six years in Turkey and traveled through Europe and the Middle East. Kate Leuba has traveled to 32 countries – and played for the Egyptian women’s rugby team. You could call Ezra Tilaye a man for all seasons. After all, he is a chef and a saxophonist…who played Big-12 football at West Virginia. That said, you can bet that any time spent around Nidhi Agarwal will turn into something memorable.
“I once traveled to Paris with a small gym bag and zero pre-bookings. I ended up travelling to 6 countries for a month on that same trip before returning home.”
When it comes to the Class of 2022, each of these students brings a special ingredient to their classmates. Tyson Colledge, for one, intends to bring his classmates out of their shells. “I hope to contribute sources of outlet for my classmates. Whether it comes in the form of weekend adventures, evening burrito binges, or early-morning gym sessions, I want to be a facilitator of the non-curricular moments that galvanize teams.”
While Mitch Platman doesn’t want to be tagged as the “Army Guy,” he believes his experiences can help classmates engage more productively with each other. “Top MBA programs naturally attract a lot of Type A personalities and I’ve seen how those personality types interact in some stressful situations,” Platman writes. “I want to assist in keeping everybody level-headed and focused on the end goal when academics or career recruiting becomes stressful.”
Travis Strawn, who studied finance at Foster before moving into valuations, brings a similar talent to the class. “I see myself as a team driver, someone who can mediate dissenting opinions in a respectable but productive way. With a curriculum that is heavily focused on teamwork, I believe this special ingredient will allow my classmates to speak and think candidly.”
CLASS PROFILE SIMILAR TO PREVIOUS YEAR
With the advent of COVID-19, the 2019-2020 recruiting cycle has been a rocky time for many business schools. However, the Foster School’s class profile reflects little change. The number of applications, for example, slipped from 836 to 833 over the past year, with the class size shrinking from 117 to 110 students. That said, the school’s acceptance rate rose from 36% to 41%.
Academically, average GMAT dipped from 695 to 692. Undergraduate GPAs followed a similar pattern, losing a .02 of a point to 3.37. On a positive note, the percentage of women in the Class of 2022 rose from 34% to 37%. Like most American MBA programs, Foster experienced a decline in international students, with the percentage falling from 29% to 24% of the class.
Grounded in innovation, the Foster MBA is also a magnet for technology firms looking to beef up their rosters with imaginative and resourceful talents. In the Class of 2019, for example, 44% of the class was hired by tech firms – the most of any MBA program last year. That number is actually a decline. It hit 60% in 2018 and 51% in 2016.
“I think there’s something very special here and it’s reinforced by our new Dean Frank Hodge, who came on board just this year during this pandemic,” explains Naomi Sanchez, assistant dean for career services, in a 2020 interview with P&Q. “We have a values-based culture and one that is innovative, that grows out of a growth mindset. Truly, we talk growth mindset all the time, which then generates the innovation that you’ll see in our career office.”
AN INTERVIEW WITH FOSTER’S ASSISTANT DEAN
The market has certainly bought into Foster’s mystique. In 2019, MBAs pulled in $145,115 between base and bonus, up nearly $20,000 over the past five years. That’s not the only news coming out of the MBA program. In August, P&Q reached out to Wendy Guild, assistant dean of MBA programs. From new developments to COVID response at the school, here were Guild’s thoughts on the state of the Foster MBA.
P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?
WG: “In the summer of 2020, Dean Frank Hodge led the Foster School through a strategic planning process, the results of which will help us become a purpose-driven business school.
Our purpose statement:
We Foster Leaders
We Foster Insights
We Foster Progress
…To Better Humanity
At Foster, we acknowledge that no one succeeds alone, others contribute to our journey and helping each other is a much more powerful and generative force than competing. We are doubling down on our commitment to care for each other, taking the time to listen to others’ experiences, and equipping our community members with the tools to navigate challenging conversations to the goal of greater empathy, deeper understanding, and better solutions.
Moving forward, we are asking our students to lead with a clear sense of this purpose, with a plan for how they will make their best possible contribution to better humanity. This work to focus and act on one’s purpose will be threaded throughout the management curriculum in the core courses LEAD and Leading Teams and Organizations, and in professional development activities hosted by our MBA Career Management office.
Our purpose to better humanity will no doubt be matched by our student’s ingenuity. Students apply what they learn from award-winning faculty to practical challenges in our Applied Strategy Projects, leadership experiences to serve the Foster & local community, entrepreneurial ventures, and Radical Collaboration rapid response project presentations to key employers.
Those who have had experience with Foster know it to be a place where we continuously innovate and where all voices are invited into decisions – a place where we lift each other as we rise.”
P&Q: What are the two most unique or differentiating features of your full-time program? How do they enrich the MBA experience?
WG: “There are two areas I’d like to share…
One of the University of Washington’s core beliefs is We > Me and Foster exemplifies it. At Foster, we take great pride in our tight-knit community that lifts others as we rise. Our first impulse is to help, not compete, with each other. There is a genuine caring for others that has been a hallmark of the program over the years. The small program size creates deep relationships and an ethos where no one gets lost or is left behind. Employing a growth mindset, students share employment stories to celebrate their successes and learn from and seek support to overcome failures. Ultimately, as individuals, we seek knowledge, relationships, and new opportunities that will allow us to add value – helping each other along the way.
There is a very high level of collaboration between faculty, students, staff, alumni, and corporate leaders. The school and program leadership set the direction using a consultative process then manage daily operations to create continuous innovation. New, evidence-based creative ideas are quickly generated and applied to challenges as they arise. For example, student representatives will bring concerns and data to the biweekly program meetings and participate in discussing policy, curriculum and service-based solutions with faculty and staff. At Foster, faculty creates the learning context and students drive the student experience. The high levels of collaborative decision-making and autonomy make our programs agile – ready to anticipate and adapt to the changing needs of our students and the organizations that employ them.
* To read profiles of 12 first-years, go to Page 3.