Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Nick Mager, University of Washington (Foster)

Nick Mager

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“A committed learner; bookworm; public radio nerd; armchair music critic; avid runner.”

Hometown: Healdsburg, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: My first 6 years of school were taught in Spanish.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, Davis; B.S. in Managerial Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Freddie Mac Multifamily, Production Analyst

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? Seattle is one of the few cities that blends cutting-edge global industry with a values-driven approach to business. It’s on the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship, but some of the city’s most renowned companies are also leaders in corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices. Seattle understands business and value-creation – if you don’t believe me, look at the list of companies headquartered here – but recognizes that success requires so much more than dollars and cents. That is the future of business, and Seattle is taking the lead.

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? Foster’s approach to inclusive learning and its focus on community success over individual accomplishment was refreshing and unique. After all, it’s our support network—friends, family, coworkers, and classmates—that give us the resolve to do great things. I also have a distinct interest in public private partnerships and cross-sector collaboration (I’m also pursuing a Master in Public Administration from the University of Washington), and I think Foster’s approach to business and its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation are critical components of this space.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Washington Foster? I’m really excited to join the UW Foster Net Impact club because it focuses on connecting students to careers in environmental sustainability and giving them access to change-leaders in top organizations in the private and non-profit sector. The group also works with the University of Washington administration to help connect Foster students to like-minded graduate students outside of the business school. Partners include the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, the College of Environment, and the College of Engineering.

Washington Foster operates off a philosophy of We>Me. Give us an example of how you’ve incorporated that approach in your career? It’s hard to think of an achievement or success in my career that didn’t involve contributions from other people. But perhaps the most impactful experience for me that demonstrated this philosophy was my first leadership role on a client service/operations team. At the time, the company was going through a reorganization, and people were leaving left and right. Tensions were high and morale was tanking. The response from many was to adopt a survival mindset, and it showed. Productivity dropped, other teams refused to support each other, and there was in-fighting on the sales team. But our team remained a cohesive unit, and we were recognized for our perseverance and success many times through the rough patch. And I realized that the difference between us and other teams was not intelligence, efficiency, or work ethic. It was our ability to share success, address challenges and mistake together, and leverage individual strengths for the benefit of the entire team.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Probably getting accepted to business school!

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? One thing COVID did was exacerbate existing inequities in wealth, health, and opportunity in such a way that made them impossible to ignore. And I think it was a wakeup call for a lot of people, including myself, in recognizing privilege and understanding its effect on circumstance. It also highlighted the importance of innovation and science, and why it’s important to invest in new technologies and novel ideas. Taken together, I think COVID has reinforced my interest in finding ways to drive progress in a more inclusive and thoughtful way.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I decided to pursue an MBA because I wanted to learn how to think through complex challenging problems and develop actionable, sustainable solutions. I also have an interest in learning how business principles can be leveraged to drive social impact, particularly in the social enterprise and impact investing space.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Washington Foster’s MBA program? Make sure the school is a cultural fit! Do your research, visit the campus (if possible), talk to faculty, do the standard due diligence. But perhaps most critical is asking current students and alumni the right questions. Program and application specifics are important, but don’t forget questions about participants’ personal interests, values, and career aspirations. Their answers are pretty telling and will give you a good sense of what kind of people you’ll be spending the next two years with. 


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