Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Lily Bowdler, University of Washington (Foster)

Lily Bowdler

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“A technically-minded cross-functional program manager, I’m good at getting diverse teams to work together.”

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve climbed all 5 of Washington’s volcanoes.

Undergraduate School and Major: Dartmouth College, Spanish

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Qumulo, Inc.; Program Manager – Launches

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? I may be biased, since it’s my hometown, but Seattle’s a great place to live for the two years of the program, and between our several tech giants and a solid startup ecosystem, it’s a great place to start a post-MBA career.

Aside from your location and classmates, what was the key part of Washington Foster’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As I was researching schools, I really focused on programs with a reputation for being collaborative. With Foster’s small class size and emphasis on team building, I am looking forward to joining a community, not just earning grades.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Washington Foster? I’m actually most excited for the core classes! My experience in business up to this point has all been related to marketing, sales, and product, so learning about finance, accounting, operations, and economics will fill in the gaps. As I’ve told my professional network about my plans to get an MBA at Foster, several people have mentioned specific professors so learning these things from people who are respected by people in the local business community should be especially worthwhile.

Washington Foster operates off a philosophy of We>Me. Give us an example of how you’ve incorporated that approach in your career? When I realized I was going to need maternity leave from my job at Igneous, I had the chance to negotiate a generous package for myself. Instead, I made the choice to push for establishing a company-wide family leave policy. It was implemented and family leave is now available to all employees, regardless of their position within the organization.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One recent big accomplishment of mine is the launch of Qumulo’s “Studio Q” remote video editing product. In order to make this launch happen, I worked as a program manager with teams from nearly every organization within Qumulo, from legal to customer success to, of course, product, marketing, and sales. In addition, I managed three strategic technology partners, including AWS, with varying levels of involvement from internal alliance managers, to launch a remote studio branded by 4 companies. Studio Q led to significant new Cloud business for Qumulo within a couple of weeks of launch – an important goal for the company overall.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? Wow, that’s a bigger question than I have space for here.

I realized that I wanted to build my resume without working at a large corporation, so that I can continue to work at startups (or pursue whatever is interesting at the moment) without sacrificing my family’s financial stability.

Although I still love spending time with a broader social circle, COVID-19 also showed me that I feel deeply content to just spend time with my husband and daughters.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I had been working in the Seattle startup scene since graduating from college, and I finally reached a natural leaving point at the company I was working for in spring of 2020. After graduation, I hope to find a role in which I can contribute to mitigating the global climate crisis or other urgent human problems, rather than making and marketing incremental improvements to enterprise SaaS.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to Dartmouth Tuck, MIT Sloan, Stanford GSB, and Berkeley Haas.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Washington Foster’s MBA program? Take advantage of all the resources that the admissions office provides! They’re all really approachable people, and the Q&A events were really helpful.


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