Finding your Path and Priorities: Q&A with Trevor Ford, MBA 2021

Trevor FordWhy did you choose the Evening MBA program at the UW Foster School of Business?

I chose the Evening MBA program at Foster because I was looking for a competitive school in a progressive city that would give me the opportunity to build strong connections with other professionals in the area. My undergraduate degree was in Jazz Studies and I wanted to build out my business acumen to transition into a corporate role. As I am early in my career, it was important to me to continue working while I went to school, but I was still eager to gain exposure to opportunities outside my day job. I knew Foster would give me the chance to participate in case competitions, assume roles on boards, and gain exposure to new industries. Overall, the UW Foster School of Business presented the most competitive and holistic opportunity to advance my career.

Student Experience

How do you balance work, family/friends and school?

My ability to manage family, friends, and school is attributable to keeping a disciplined schedule. Before my MBA, I was never the person to allocate every hour of the day to a specific event, but when I started classes it was simply too difficult to manage school, work, family, and play without allocating a specific amount of time to each. I could make time for the people and things that were most important to me. I also think pursuing an MBA forces you to find the right balance between the activities you find important. A schedule helps you to adjust the time you allocate to things until you find the balance that works best for you.

How have your fellow students influenced your experience in the program?

My cohort has enabled me to be successful throughout the MBA program. We’re all experiencing the same thing: midterms, class, work emergencies, and personal obligations. We all have a lot to juggle and we are all working hard to be successful at what we do. I find the cohort lifts each other up unconditionally and supports each other during the highs and lows of our professional and academic careers. I can truly say that I look forward to interacting with my cohort after work and I will always cherish the relationships I’ve built at Foster.

Curriculum

What is the classroom environment like?

The classroom has been a stimulating experience. The professors will engage with you and the content regardless of how much time you’ve had to prepare for class! You’ll be cold called, you’ll be asked to solve problem in front of the class, you’ll be asked to complete in-class assignments on content you have just learned. But these challenging experiences feel rewarding because you gain a more robust understanding of the content. It’s clear to me the professors want us to thoroughly understand these concepts in order to be successful in our careers and the engaging classroom environment sets us up to achieve that goal.

What has surprised you about the MBA experience?

I’m not sure if I could have truly prepared myself for the time commitment of an MBA until I was living it. For the first quarter or so, expect to read a case study per class session and complete a team case study every couple of weeks. Homework is due most class sessions and the content is a lot easier to understand if you have read the material in advance. If you’re not quantitatively inclined, expect to attend Sunday TA sessions as the teaching assistants are really helpful when it comes to the trickier content. Most students should plan to spend some time on Sundays working with their group to complete team case studies and assignments. Once I had spent a couple months in the program, I was able to handle the workload. I think the time commitment is an important component of the program to understand early.

Faculty

Is there a faculty member who stands out in your mind as being exceptional?

Professor Weilli Ge is the Fall Accounting core professor and I think she does an excellent job giving students a foundation in Financial Accounting. The class is challenging. There are case studies and homework due most classes and it’s definitely a class you want to stay on top of the material for. Fortunately, Weilli is an excellent professor who can explain concepts in several different ways so students can understand. She also ties class concepts to both her research and local companies many students work in. Overall, professors at Foster have been excellent and I am glad that the first core course is taught by one of the best.

Career Impact

Did you participate in the mentor program?

I participated in the executive mentor program for the first time this year.  My mentor is Chris Dorr who was a recent HR Executive at Nike. I was fortunate enough to be matched with a mentor who was in the same industry as I. The mentor program has really integrated my Foster experience brining work, school, and networking together. Chris and I have monthly one-on-ones to discuss career, refine resumes and learn about industry trends. This relationship adds a lot of value to my experience at Foster and I am happy I have an opportunity to build my network with area executives.

Work / Life / School Balance

What’s the most challenging part of the MBA?

Saying “No.” Foster presents you with all the opportunities you need to feel engaged, broaden your expertise, and advance your career. Your challenge is to identify the opportunities you will find most impactful given you really want to take advantage of them all. You quickly become aware of how little time you have between work, class, and your personal life when you begin the program. But the number of mentor programs, speaking events, and student leadership opportunities almost appear endless. What I’ve found useful is outlining the skill sets and experiences I want to have throughout my career. Then, I can plug in the experiences Foster offers that will augment my career best. Unfortunately, you won’t have time to take part in everything the program has to offer, but chances are that if there are professional experiences you are looking for, Foster can help you achieve them.