Milgard School of Business MBA Newsletter Autumn 2016 Vol VII(I)

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Milgard School of Business MBA Newsletter Autumn 2016 Vol VII(I)

In this issue:

Updates from the MBA Director, Dr. Eugene Sivadas
MBA Student Profile: Angela Ward
MBA Student Profile: Karen Janz
MBA Alumni Profile: Russell Summers
MBA Faculty Profile: Dr. Brandon Fleming
MBA Association News & Events
MBA Program Events
Milgard MBA Faculty and Alumni Updates
In Memoriam: Professor Ramin Mirsaidi

MBA Director Updates:  

I hope this finds you well. On behalf of the MBA Program, I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season.  The MBA program welcomed 23 students to its Purple (Autumn) cohort and we are adding another 6 students to our Gold (Winter) Cohort. 

Autumn 2016 marked the launch of our revised 64 credit MBA program.  The revised program can be completed in as few as 7 quarters and yes it does mean that students do not have to take additional classes after the hooding ceremony.  As part of the new program, we have introduced a mandatory online math prep and flex core electives.  You can learn more about the revised program at I am excited to note that the Milgard MBA program is going to offer its first global study tour to Rome in May of 2017.  Thus far interested students have taken part in tours offered by the Foster school and UWB.  So this is indeed another step forward for the program.

The program hosted Dr. Patrick Bajari, Chief Economist and VP at Amazon as our Autumn Quarter Executive Speaker. Dr. Bajari’s talk on Data Science and the Evolution of US Industry: Some Observations from the Front  was well received by an attentive audience.  The MBA Association has new leaders who are taking over from Jordan Lyon and his team.  I thank Jordan for his contributions to the MBA Association.  The MBAA is kicking off the new year with an event on January 7.  The program also has teamed up with executive coach Marcy Porus-Gottlieb to offer some career management workshops .  We encourage alumni to take advantage of these workshops as well.  Prior attendees have found these very beneficial. Thus far the program has been communicating with students and alumni via email.  We have now added an option for you to opt-in to receiving text messages.

We welcomed our new dean, Dr. Howard Smith to the school and a new faculty member, Brandon Fleming who is profiled in this newsletter. On a more somber note, we mourn the passing of our colleague, Ramin Mirsaidi and the untimely death of a member of our extended family, Austin Kelley, the husband of one of our MBA students Morgan Kelley.

Wishing you a wonderful 2017.


Student Profile: Angela Ward, MBA candidate 2017

Angela Ward graduated in 2005 from the University of Washington Tacoma with her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing and a minor in Non-profit Management. When she first began her pursuit in higher education she was unsure of her career goals. Ultimately, Angela decided that a business degree would be the most flexible as it provided skills necessary for a broad career scope.

Upon graduating Angela was employed with Group Health Cooperative and specialized in hospice care. It was Angela’s position with Group Health that ignited her passion for healthcare. She felt driven by a mission to better the lives of others and found the work rewarding. Now, eleven years later, she has a positon with Community Health Plan of Washington; a not-for-profit organization that caters to low-income individuals and ensures they receive the basic medical necessities and treatments. Her current positon with the organization is a Program Manager for Care Improvement. Angela’s role is to support the quality improvement efforts of local Federally Qualified Health Centers. She analyzes performance in clinical and patient satisfaction measures, supports process improvement work, and trains staff for using new tools and skills.

Angela will be graduating in June 2017 with her Master’s Degree in Business. She decided to return to school after almost a decade to further her career in healthcare. She feels that her on-the-job experience has helped her relate and conceptualize the material presented within her coursework. She chose to return to the Milgard School of Business because of the great experience she had when she was attending for her Bachelor’s degree. The flexible schedule also made it possible for her to continue working full-time. Angela states that the most valuable part of the program is her ability to learn from her peers’ skills and experiences through class discussions. She’s excited to see how the knowledge, skills, and, new connections gained at the Milgard School of Business will lead career trajectory in the next few years.

As far as spare time goes, Angela says that – like many MBA students - she has no spare time. She feels time management is a life-saving skill while working full time and going to school full time. However, she stated that she was able to get away for a backpacking trip over the course of the summer. She also enjoys being active when the weather cooperates.

Angela’s word of advice for those contemplating a MBA is, “Be self-confident.”  She feels that students’ employment experiences will help in their education and that they should not be scared to share them with their peers. Students can utilize personal examples to relate to the concepts presented in classes. Angela feels when students bring what they offer to the table and participate, they will get the most out of their education.


Student Profile: Karen Janz, BABA, MBA candidate 2018

Upon graduating high school Karen attended Highline Community College. She then entered the workforce for 6 years. At the age 28 she became employed at Boeing who offered education benefits if she pursued a degree in engineering or business. Therefore, she chose to focus her studies in accounting because it was a highly employable skill. Karen earned her Bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University in the late 80’s and went on to sit for and pass the CPA exam on her first attempt. Besides working at Boeing for thirteen years, she used her education to do bookkeeping, human resources work and ultimately became a business owner where she managed office staff. She recently decided she would like to go in a different career direction.

From a young age Karen always saw herself working with children and in the educational field. She is quite heavily involved in nonprofit work where she has sat on several boards. Her nonprofit work is always with children’s organizations, such as, the Boys and Girls Club. She spent about year speaking with friends and coworkers about what she did best and the consensus was she is skilled with training and teaching others. Karen took a personal inventory and found she needed to update her skills and decided a Master’s degree in Business would afford her the education necessary to teach. Once she earns the MBA, Karen plans to either work for CPA firms training new hires or possibly teaching accounting at a local community college. 

When Karen began her search for the right MBA program, she knew she wanted to stay in the South End of Puget Sound in order to broaden her network. Karen prefers a smaller campus schools and found that the Milgard school offered smaller class sizes which would enhance her learning experience. Additionally, she wanted to attend a well-respected university that had a proven track record. Karen states that she is happy with the choice to return to school at the Milgard School of Business. Her initial desire to earn an MBA came from a need to update her skills for an opportunity to do something she was passionate about-teaching. However, even just in her quarter in the program she finds the program is helping her gain and build skills that will open a multitude of avenues for her to utilize. Karen sates that going back to school has made her feel relevant and that it has even brought her closer with her son who is also a college student. She says they can relate to each other on a number of different aspects of college such as studying for exams and the pressure of finals.

Karen’s advice for someone looking to enter the Master’s program is to, “Just do it.” She recommends not being afraid of the GMAT or applying for the program. Karen adds, “too many times we let our fears and self-doubt stop us from doing what we want to do.”


Alumni Profile, Russell Summers, '16: 

Russell began college while he was still attending high school to obtain his power plant license, enabling him to work on commercial aircrafts. He graduated from high school Russell had one year of college under his belt and desire to work in the aviation industry. He started working for Alaska Airlines in 1985 and where he continues his career. In 2002 he went back to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics with minors in Business and Aeorspace Safety.  

Russell’s current role with Alaska Airlines is in aircraft acquisitions. He works cross-divisionally with the engineering department, piolets, flight attendants, marketing division, finance department, legal department and even technicians. As part of his position he accepts aircrafts from Boeing. He found that Boeing had the best and brightest working for them. Many of the people he held in high regard had Master’s Degrees in Engineering or Business. He also discovered many were University of Washington alumni which played a part in his final decision to attend the Milgard School of Business for his MBA.

Russell knew early in his educational career that he wanted to either work in law or business. Ultimately, it was a co-worker at Alaska Airlines who worked in law who helped him realize that a Master’s of Business Administration was the best route. Russell began researching MBA programs-he wanted to attend the best, most rigorous program that he could afford. He researched executive programs, online programs, and evening programs; he also considered different universities from across the United States, including Stanford and Boise State University. When it came down to choosing a university the factors which influenced his decision were: the time it took to finish the program, the cost, the quality of the education, and that it was a proven program. He spoke with the heads of the MBA programs in Seattle and Tacoma and determined UW Tacoma was the most realistic and best program for him.

Russel states that his very first class in the MBA, Business Communication with Dr. Nelson, left a huge impression. The class changed the way he looked at communication between people. For Russell, it was intriguing that the class was not just about business communication, but communication between people in general. Within the class he learned about different communication styles and how to improve upon them in order to work with a multitude of different types of people. Russell felt this was a great skill to utilize in his career. He added the program is not simply about numbers, it is about learning stills which will be utilized in a lifetime such as leadership, working with teams, creativity, ethics and finding a way to get the job done no matter the challenge. 

Russell says that his MBA has not necessarily advanced his current career, however it has allowed him to keep his position.  The MBA helped Russell through a transition period in his department where he got a new boss. The training in the program prepared Russell to adapt to the changes and learn how to work for his new superior. Russell feels that without the education, he probably would not sill be employed with Alaska Airlines today. While he has not advanced to a higher paid position or become a director (a personal goal), the company looks at him as a candidate to represent them internationally which would not have happened otherwise.

For those looking to join the program Russel suggests they determine how best they study. For example, he found that he studied best in the morning as he was too tired to focus after working all day. Once students find a studying schedule that works best for them they need to be disciplined enough to stick with it. He also recommends taking all their syllabuses at the beginning of each quarter and preparing a schedule. He feels this alleviates the stress of the workload and helps students stay organized in their studying.


MBA Faculty Profile: Dr. Brandon Fleming: 

Dr. Fleming attended University of Michigan where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International Political Economy. While in the school his primary interests transitioned from Political Science to Economics and then ultimately to Business. Dr. Fleming was admitted to the Master’s in Applied Economics program at the University of Michigan where a third of his coursework was in the business school’s MBA program. He found the he was able to understand and apply the business school classes much easier in comparison with his political science classes given his understanding of the “administrative point of view.” Dr. Fleming was then admitted to the PhD program at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. For his PhD he studied Strategy and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Accounting. His research focused on startups and technology firms as well as venture capitalists.

During his master’s degree at the University of Michigan Dr. Fleming worked at a “Think Tank” in the William Davidson Institute where he studied companies and governments going through the transition from communism to capitalism. They studied small to large sized businesses mainly located in Eastern and Central Europe, as well as in Vietnam including companies which were becoming privatized. Furthermore, they were able to work with politicians in those markets. This ultimately gave him a competitive advantage when it came to his skills as a professor.

When asked if he always knew he wanted to be a professor Dr. Fleming references the film Mr. Holland’s Opus. He stated that he almost fell into teaching by accident. He did not ultimately see himself as a professor, but the Foster School of Business requires Ph.D. students to teach. Dr. Fleming admits he struggled with teaching at first. The Foster program required students to teach from a prewritten curriculum, but he found that did not work for him. Therefore, he approached the department and proposed his own curriculum and was granted a waiver to teach in his way. That is when everything clicked. Dr. Fleming adds that teaching requires one to consistently improve their skills because the students change each quarter and each student has a different way of learning. He stated it is essentially a “moving target.”

Dr. Fleming was attracted to the position at UW Tacoma because he felt closely tied to its urban serving mission. The Milgard School of Business has a focus on corporate social responsibility which ties in well with his PhD research. Dr. Fleming looks forward to teaching the Strategy course in winter quarter because MBA students have business experience which allows him to do more complex things within classroom. He added that the campus is gorgeous and he loves the way the school has preserved the architecture and the flavor of the downtown atmosphere and he appreciates working with supportive faculty members.

Dr. Fleming’s philosophy is to teach from an administrative point of view. “I want the student to see what the manager sees. What the chairman of the board sees. The larger role of the company. Not just serving its customers, but also serving its employees, its investors, and the legal environment.” His approach is case based studying and teaching. It is a Socratic setting where he asks questions. He is more interested in the student’s way of thinking and how they explain their ideas. He states “There are no right answers in business, there are just answers that are well executed or poorly executed.” Dr. Fleming says that he “looks at undergraduates as apprentices with very little experience,” but MBA students he sees as “journeymen looking to perfect their skills.” He adds that he “molds himself to the army he has, not the army he wishes he had.”

For those looking to join the MBA program Dr. Fleming encourages them to prepare their family and self for the burden that they will be taking on. Students need to realize the impact it will have on their schedule and their lifestyle.  He states “it is important to be grounded when they encounter the ebbs and flows of the additional work they must do.”


MBA Association Updates & New Year Happy Hour

You are invited!

Please join the MBA Association to celebrate in the New Year! We will be hosting a happy hour social for networking with current MBA students, alumni, and professors. Guests are also invited.

Date: January 7th, 3-6pm
Location: Harmon
Cost: $10 per person (includes food and drinks)
RSVP: Angela Ward at

The MBA Association is pleased to announce this year's leadership team:

Angela Ward, President
Christopher Ruiz, Vice President
Jed Tan, Treasurer
LaTasha Hernandez, Secretary
Michael Hanks, Junior Senator
Karen Janz, Junior Senator


MBA Program Events & Text Message sign up

  • Dr. Patrick Bajari, Chief Economist and Vice President at Amazon, delivered our quarterly executive speaker series lecture on December 6th. Stay tuned for a Save the Date for our Winter quarter 2017 MBA Executive Speaker.
  • If you would like to receive text messages from the MBA program about events and links to our quarterly newsletter, click here to sign up.  We are using a text message service called Remind to send out these messages, this service is FERPA compliant.
  • Career Management Workshop Series (sign up will begin in January, priority registration will be for students, but we will open to Alumni on a space available basis)
    Plan ahead and get psyched for our 2017 Career Management Workshop program! Come and learn with your colleagues and Executive Coach Marcy Porus-Gottlieb on topics ranging from how to define your personal brand, to how to market yourself via your resume, Linkedin and other channels, to effectively navigating a job search, to how to present yourself powerfully and confidently in a job interview. One student who participated in last year’s workshops noted: “we learned about the value of building a brand and sticking to it in order to be successful in both finding the right opportunity and in interviewing successfully. The teaching and learning was invaluable!"

    Defining your Personal Brand- January 28th
    Communicating You: Creating an Impactful Resume/LinkedIn profile- February 11th
    Seeking a Great Opportunity- April 1st
    Interviewing for Success- April 28th
    *All sessions will meet from 9:00am-12:00 pm and there will be an optional lab time from 12:30-1:30 pm where you may have one on one feedback time with Marcy.


Milgard MBA Updates: Faculty and Alumni 

  • Dr. Tracy Thompson recently did a 5 minute Lightening Round talk to campus discussing her research. You may view her talk here.
  • Wes Bailey, MBA '13, gave a presentation about his Board work with Center for Dialog & Resolution and his work at Metropolitan Development Council. You may view his video here.
  • Scott Miloscia, MBA '13, was selected for and accepted a Special Agent position with the Foreign Service.
  • Brian Bodah, Ph.D, MBA '16, completed his last final for his MBA on November 22nd and on the 23rd left the west coast for his new position at Cornell University as the Assistant Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.


In Memoriam: Professor Ramin Mirsaidi 

The Milgard School of Business Mourns the Passing of our Colleague, Ramin Mirsaidi. He arrived at UWT in 2012 and was a Senior Lecturer and Founding Director of the Masters in Accounting Program. The Milgard School faculty, staff, students and alumni are invited to celebrate Ramin's life and contributions to UWT on Wednesday, December 14th at 4:00 pm in the Jane Russell Commons.