Lessons in action: Q&A with David Duncan, MBA 2020

David DuncanWhy did you choose the Evening MBA program at the UW Foster School of Business?

I wanted a true MBA experience while also advancing my career. My goal was to attend a well-reputed school in a vibrant city with ample job opportunities. The Foster School of Business met those marks and more. After attending a campus night visit, I knew attending here was the right choice. I was really impressed by the engaging classroom atmosphere and the post-MBA success of the Foster alumni. So far, Foster has exceeded my expectations.

Student Experience

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

Attending the Evening MBA program is quite a time commitment. Luckily, the admissions info sessions gave me hope that completing the program was totally feasible. As a husband and parent of two little ones, I’ve been able to successfully integrate Foster into my work and home life. How? My advice is to schedule, schedule, and schedule! Creating a plan to allocate your time for studying vs. time with family and friends is crucial. For peak happiness, always maximize your downtime with fun time!

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

My Foster peers are extraordinary! They come from so many different backgrounds, both professionally and personally. I’ve learned a lot from my classmates and friends in the program. The biggest impact has been with my MBA team. They’ve taught me to be more introspective about my abilities and aspirations as well as how to find my voice as a leader.

Curriculum

What is the classroom environment like?

The classroom is a sea of ideas, insights, and opinions. The dialogue can be contagious which keeps the classroom lively through the night. Due to the varied backgrounds of the students, you’re going to get an interesting discussion in any class whether it’s accounting or marketing!

Describe your experience with the team aspect MBA program.

David DuncanThe team experience in the evening program is an opportunity to understand your personal leadership strengths and weakness. From the onset of the very first team assignment, I remember how challenging it was to balance each person’s personalities and ambitions. It was like a management lesson in action where we were simultaneously the instructor and the student. We practiced together, debated each other, and joked whenever we had the chance. I mostly attribute the strengthening of my leadership skills to this experience.

Faculty

What are your impressions of the faculty?

What makes the faculty at Foster special is the engagement. Every night, most professors bring great energy to many classes and expect the students to reciprocate. I really enjoy when their personal research is integrated into lectures such that it provides a new conceptual view on existing business issues. The best attribute is how well the Foster faculty values and respects their students’ inputs and opinions.

Career Impact

How has your MBA experience enabled you to see your career differently?

My undergraduate studies and current career have been focused solely in finance. Therefore, one of the big reasons why I chose to pursue an MBA was to broaden my skillset and become more grounded in other business disciplines. So far, it has been worth it. I’ve implemented concepts from numerous courses into my daily work from operations management to marketing. Every day I go to work, I look forward to leveraging the new knowledge and skills I’ve learned so that I can bring more value to my organization.

Work / Life / School Balance

Describe your busiest day of the week.

My busiest day of the week is typically Wednesday class night. I wake up around 6:00AM and help the kids prepare for school. I spend about 40 minutes commuting to my job at Microsoft where I’ll typically be until 4:30pm. After work, then it’s off to school, where I’ll grab a quick dinner before class and re-read some of the assigned cases to keep it fresh for class discussions. After the 2nd lecture ends 9:30PM, my team typically holds a team huddle to discuss our gameplan for upcoming assignments. By 9:45PM, I’m headed home to head to sleep by 11:00PM.