Evening MBA transformers: Lani Aviado

Lani Aviado Once: non-profit program director
Now: manager, Energy and Waste Solutions Consulting

Tell us about your previous career: Prior to attending Foster, I had about ten years of non-profit work experience, mostly in development and program management. My last role was working for an adoption and relief organization, and I managed a small team of individuals who helped parents adopt special needs children domestically and internationally.

What are you currently doing in your role? I currently manage a team of 26 within Ecova’s Waste Solutions Consulting arm, supporting large companies by minimizing their current waste consumption and eventually driving a zero waste profile through recycling, composting and right-sizing programs. I’ve also worked on the utility side for Ecova, managing retail marketing and multi-family property energy savings programs for local utilities.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? Prior to my MBA experience, I lacked a solid body of financial and metrics-based knowledge (I was a humanities major in undergrad). I wanted an MBA because I hoped to transition into the for-profit sector and knew I had to build my business skills. After working with career counselors, getting a mentor and aggressively building my network, I was hired by T-Mobile through one of the career fairs hosted at the UW. I then moved into sustainability consulting, blending my non-profit and for-profit experience seamlessly, right after I graduated.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? It’s important to know where you want to go and what you want to do next if you want to make that transition. If you’re unsure, talk to as many people in different fields as you can and get a sense of the role you picture yourself doing, no matter the price point. Once you find that ideal role, identify key people in your class and/or in your organization in these roles and ask them what core capabilities they need to be successful. Then focus your energies on building these skills and taking the classes you need to grow in that space. Know that to really get the most out of this program, it will consume your life for two to three years. But once it’s over, your perspective on business and life will be different, broader, and your network, if you worked on building it, will be extensive and awesome and will help you make those next steps down your new career path.