Meet Washington Foster’s MBA Class Of 2024

UW Campus with Mount Rainier in the background. Credit: Andrew Krueger

AN INTERVIEW WTH THE ASSISTANT DEAN

What are some reasons for this popularity? Earlier this spring, P&Q reached out to Wendy Guild, Ph.D., now the former assistant dean of Full-Time, Evening, and Global MBA programs. Here are her thoughts on new developments, signature experiences, and underrated aspects of the Foster MBA program.

P&Q: What are the two most exciting developments at your program in the past year and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?

Guild: “New Curriculum: This our first cohort with the new revised curriculum. The faculty at Foster changed a number of elements based on the feedback of recruiters, current students, alumni, and a benchmark analysis of our peers. In particular, we added two new short core courses; one in Data Management for Analytics, and one in Professional Communication. We shortened our Macroeconomics course to focus on foundational knowledge, and we infused DEI and ESG into core curriculum. In addition, we launched a new ESG Specialization that allows students to customize their focus on ESG by taking electives of interest.

In addition to our curriculum innovations, we have developed more robust programming and support for our student experience. We now have a lead staff member supporting our international students, we have a more focused orientation experience supporting purpose driven leadership and community development, and we have refined our co-curricular skill development and DEI offerings as per student interests.”

Assistant Dean of MBA Programs Wendy Guild

P&Q: If you were giving a campus tour, what is the first place you’d take an MBA applicant? Why is that so important to the MBA experience?

Guild: “The first stop would be the Peek Forum in Founders Hall. Founders Hall opened in September 2023. It is the third new building to be opened in the past 10 years in the Foster School of Business complex and the first mass timber structure on the Seattle campus. Students will immediately notice the warmth of the wood and the modern, open architecture that brings the beauty of the outside in with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. Peek Forum is our space for gatherings including orientation, speakers, coffee breaks, affinity groups, alumni events, etc. The room has a southern exposure to bring in sunshine and an outdoor terrace to spotlight our tremendous views of the UW campus, Lake Washington and Mt. Rainer.”

P&Q: What is the most innovative thing you have introduced into the MBA program in recent years? How has it been a game changer for your program?

Guild:Radical Collaboration consulting sprints with key employers, hosted by alumni, provide an integrated experience. Students apply academic frameworks to a semi-structured consulting prompt to generate recommendations that must be delivered persuasively, engaging students with alumni around current, relevant ideas, and building relationships with alumni and peers.

P&Q: What have MBAs told you is the most memorable, signature experience they’ve had in your program? Why did it resonate so much with them?

Guild: “There are simply too many memorable experiences to mention; from social events –- parties, hikes, dog park visits, the Challenge for Charity Gala, volunteering within the community, Husky tailgate and sailgate events, Frosters Gala, and Grad Week; to learning experiences –  study tours, experiential learning projects, Radical Collaborations, the 1st-year case competition, and numerous student hosted speaker events such as IdeaLab. These experiences bring the community together to develop relationships and create opportunities for us to learn from one another. At Foster, through these experiences, we build friendships that support our development in the moment and into the future.”

P&Q: What have your employers told you are the two biggest strengths of your graduates and how does your programming bolster these differentiators?

Guild: “It is not possible to limit our students’ strengths to just two, but I can summarize the feedback about our students. Foster students are purpose-driven collaborative strategic thinkers with superlative analytic skills that get it done, support others, and build community. Our program bolsters these differentiators through community building programming, strong team design within a longer core sequence, culture carrying initiatives (such as Challenge for Charity), and the positive influence of wonderful 2nd year students, faculty, staff, alumni and school leadership.”

Fritzky Leadership Fellows Overlooking Seattle

P&Q: Washington Foster is often associated with experiential learning. Tell us about some of your programs that help MBAs gain professional experience? What companies did they partner with and what types of work did they do for these firms?

Guild: “All first year MBA students engage in experiential learning as a part of their core curriculum through case-based learning exercised in various courses, an all-class M&A case competition, and through leading a team-based consulting-type project for a company on a real-world business challenge.

Applied Strategy: 5 to 6 MBAs engage in 10-week projects on topics including, but not limited to, new business and product assessment, customer/user experience journey mapping, cost benefit analyses, pricing optimization, asset lifetime value optimization, strategic growth plan for international expansion, market research and new product positioning, customer lifetime value analysis – for companies such as Microsoft, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Alaska Airlines, Smartsheet, Philips Healthcare, Fuji Sonosite, and Tommy Bahama.

Core Case Competition: MBA team analysis of a business acquisition by a company to introduce an entirely new product/service that will generate substantial synergies and value, to include detail financial analysis submitted and presented to a panel of faculty and alumni judges

Students are offered elective credit-earning field study projects with for-profit and non-profit business through the following programs:

Strategic Consulting:  Teams of 3-5 MBAs deliver creative solutions for interdisciplinary real-world business challenges to companies including but not limited to Google, Amazon, REI, Expedia, Brooks Sports, PepsiCo, Providence Health, Talking Rain, Saltchuk Resources.

Global Consulting:  MBA Teams provide valuable solutions to clients from around the world, and develop cross-cultural competencies through a unique lens, collaborating with companies such as PepsiCo LatAm, Fashion Eyewear, grassroots entrepreneurs in the state of Gujarat in India with the Self Employed Women’s Association.

Service Corps: Nonprofit businesses, including but not limited to Fair Trade USA, Special Olympics Washington, Boys & Girls Club, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Puget Sound Energy, engage in a strategically focused projects with small teams of MBAs typically focused on financial and people growth and operational optimization.

Ascend Fellows:  A national program collaborating with JPMorgan Chase intended to support growing businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans, and inner-city businesses using Ascend center’s 3M model of Management education, Money through loans and investments, and Market access through contracts.

Board Fellows: “Collaborative program with the UW Evan’s Master’s in Public Administration to engage teams of two students as non-voting board members of a nonprofit organization with the intent of delivering a project outcome based on a mutually agreed business priority.

Applied Independent Studies (sponsored and entrepreneurial): MBA students’ pursuit of an independent, more customized learning and growth opportunity through either a company-sponsored project or an entrepreneurially focused project intended on taking steps toward launching a business

Foster Customer Analytics Center Insights Projects: In-depth field study project experience led by an FCAC faculty member with a team of 3-5 MBA students focused on delivering a technical analytics solution to a sponsoring company.

Creative Destruction Lab: A nine-month, objectives-based program focused on helping build massively scalable, seed-stage science-based startups where MBAs engage with entrepreneurs accepted to the program to develop their business strategy.

Specific courses have also been designed by our faculty to be project-based, allowing students to work in teams to lead a discrete project for and engage with a business, offering them direct applied learning on a focused area of curriculum:

  • MKTG 560 Consumer Insights (syllabus)
  • MKTG 579 Analytics Consulting Lab (syllabus)
  • FIN 579 The Power of Access: Impact Lending to Underserved Communities (website)
  • ENTRE 532 Software Entrepreneurship (by application) (syllabus)
  • ENTRE 532 Software Entrepreneurship (by application) (syllabus)
  • ENTRE 579 Angel Investing (by application, 1 year, 10 credits) (syllabus)
  • BECON 560 Foster Research Partners (2 years, max 8 credits) (syllabus)

In addition, UW Foster MBA students have the opportunity to engage in other experiential learning programs based on their areas of interest and capacity that may not be credit bearing or are offered by other UW schools or programs:

Global Study Tours: Give MBAs the chance to experience business and culture first-hand through personal meetings with executives and local business leaders, company visits, and cultural excursions; example businesses visited on the England study tour including Softbank, Arm, F5, Marsh and Lloyd’s of London.

Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship: MBAs have the opportunity to engage in case competitions, get help through the first decisive six months early-stage business startup, or apply to engage in a fellowship to gain real-world experience while pursuing their degree.

Entrepreneurial Law Clinic: MBAs engage with UW Law School students and faculty to conduct comprehensive “legal and business audits” to identify issues for startups and provide guidance on how to remedy and/or a establish systems to limit or prevent standard pitfalls.

Venture Fellows: MBAs work with top Seattle-area venture firms and incubator, such as Voyager Capital, Fuse, Kernel Labs, Pioneer Square Labs, Lighter Capital, Techstars, to receive practical venture and entrepreneurship experience and deliver valuable outcomes.”

MBA Student Hometown Undergrad Alma Mater Last Employer
Trent Alsin Olympia, WA Whitworth University U.S. Space Force
Pranoy Chatterjee Mumbai, India Nanyang Technological University Experts E&I
Hannah Ewing-Kally Ashland, OR Kenyon College Detroit Public School Community District
Divya Gambhir Panchkula, India UIET, Panjab University McKinsey & Company
Kenta Keleher Seattle, WA University of Washington EV Motors International
Brady Lemons Idaho Falls, ID Weber State University U.S. Army
Alex Macintosh Shawnigan Lake, Canada Harvard College Natural Capital Exchange (NCX)
Liza Sankar-Gorton Narberth, PA Wesleyan University Smashing Ideas
Shriti Singh Patna, India St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, India Ernst & Young
Fanny Tavera Brooklyn, NY Cornell University Inicio Ventures
Irfan Vengasseri Malappuram, India National Institute of Technology Calicut JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Ni Yang Philadelphia, PA University of Pennsylvania Troemner

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