My childhood dream job was to be a pilot. While I’ve taken a different path, I’ve gotten to fly single engine planes over Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Each quarter, I hop on a plane in Austin, Texas, to attend the Hybrid MBA Program immersions at University of Washington’s campus in Seattle. Daniel has worked at Apple, Cloudera, and now Dropbox since starting his MBA career.
You live in the Austin, Texas, area. Besides your love for flying, why did you choose the Hybrid MBA program at the UW Foster School of Business?
The Format – There is simply no other program with the caliber of Foster that has this format, at this price range. The value gained from the mandatory immersions enabled us to build our network in ways that most pure-play all-online programs can’t. Personally, the flipped classroom model also allows me to fit in my schoolwork when it is convenient for me.
The Reputation – Foster, a top 20 Business School/top 10 online MBA program, is hard to compare with any other hybrid/online programs.
The Seattle “scene” and network– UW is surrounded by a thriving diversified economy that enables a strong network in tech and beyond.
What part of the Hybrid MBA experience do you enjoy most?
Throughout the program, we are assigned a core team with which you do team assignments with throughout the program. I feel extremely fortunate to have been assigned to an amazing team that is collaborative, fun, and professional. The experience of doing “life” with them throughout the program and getting to learn from each other not just in the context of our MBA, but also that of our personal lives has been extremely rewarding. If it weren’t for Shannon Andrews, Dave Chen, Kirsten Hoover, Jared Leong, and Grace McIntosh (aka Team Oak/Lokahi Ohana), my experience would just not be the same. I can honestly say I’ve gained lifetime friends turned family.
Tell us about your peers in the MBA program. How have your fellow students influenced your experience in the program?
The diversity in backgrounds, professional experience, industries, and points of view from my peers is very refreshing. Getting to interact with growth-oriented professionals from all over the country is invaluable.
While some volume of my HMBA peers are around the Seattle area, there are numerous people on every time zone across multiple states. Getting to learn from their perspectives that are different from my own and understanding their respective markets in real time is something I would not be able to experience from another program.
What class has been the most useful or interesting to you?
As a current people manager, Bruce Avolio’s Leading Teams and Organizations has been instrumental in my development as a leader while at the same time, enabling me to help my team to develop as leaders themselves. Getting to learn directly from one of the world’s most influential scientific researchers in leadership only helps me in knowing that what we are learning will indeed have an impact on my work and my team.
Is there a particular faculty member who stands out in your mind as being really exceptional? If so, what makes them so great?
Weili Ge has such a tremendous passion for accounting and financial reporting, it gets you fired up to dive into some 10ks! Weili’s enthusiasm and love for the subject shows in everything she does; from our immersion class, to our live sessions, to our discussion assignments, Weili has a way of getting everyone she interacts with excited about the subject, case, or discussion at hand. 10/10 would have as a professor again!
Describe your experience with the team aspect MBA program, and your biggest takeaway so far.
As I mentioned above, my team has been pivotal in my great experience in the program. A key takeaways I learned early on centers around diversity.
While diversity helps us accomplish more together than on our own, it also creates opportunities for us to exercise emotional intelligence. We all come from different backgrounds, and we all approach problem solving and getting things done a little bit differently. This has given us many opportunities to practice empathy and strengthen our emotional intelligence both as individuals and as a team.
What is an achievement you are most proud of in your professional career to date?
In the spring of 2019, I got my first opportunity to lead and manage a team of Sales Account Executives. From day one, we decided that as a team, we would adopt a “no one is left behind” mission in which we defined team success as everyone making it over the finish line. Within two months of working together, having put in place this new paradigm, the entirety of our team was meeting or exceeding our targets, something that had not happened in more than a year. The self and team accountability created a unique culture and has continued to provide results and success for each of them throughout my tenure with the team. While I am proud of the work I put into making this happen, I am more proud of the work and dedication each and every person on the team put forth; they are the real MVP.
Our Leading Teams class with Bruce Avolio only helped me in continuing to execute and lead in subsequent leadership roles, including my current Sales Manager role at Dropbox.
How has your MBA experience enabled you to see your industry/company/career differently?
I have spent the majority of my professional career in engineering and customer-facing sales roles. Going through the Foster MBA experience has allowed me to expand my horizons and look at the business holistically, enabling me to think through how my decisions will impact not only myself or my team, but other groups around my organization. Essentially, it has empowered me to view situations from numerous functional lenses (finance, marketing, upper management, etc.) and ultimately led to better decision making.
What strategies do you use to balance the various demands of the MBA experience as well as your life outside of the program?
I balance my time among work, MBA, and family by putting systems in place that provide structure, with a bit of flexibility, to make sure I can roll with the punches. For example, I have specific days of the week in which I work on schoolwork in the evenings after my toddler daughter goes to bed. Similarly, on the weekends I have specific time blocks I use for schoolwork (usually during her naptime). This added focus on time management has actually had an unexpected environmental impact as well. Pre Covid, I have started leveraging public transport as opposed to driving into work every day. This has given me about 1.5 hours extra each weekday to do schoolwork while I commute, freeing up a lot of my weekends for extra time with my wife and daughter.
Is there anything else you want to tell prospective students about this program?
At the moment of this write-up, there is simply no other program quite like Foster’s Hybrid MBA. I would encourage any prospective student to reach out to current and past Hybrid MBA students to get their personal in-the-seat perspective. Please feel free to reach out to me directly via LinkedIn as I’d be happy to give you my take and/or answer any questions you may have.
This post is part of a series called “Flying In” where we feature students who come in from the region and across the nation to earn their MBA at Foster.
The series shows behind the scenes on what it’s truly like to be earning your MBA at Foster while not physically in the Greater Seattle area.
Read more Hybrid MBA Student Q&A.