Meet the Class of 2023: Three Student Stories

The Hybrid MBA brings in students from around the country with a wide array of backgrounds, careers, personalities and interests. This series will highlight the vast diversity of experience in the program as well as provide advice to those interested in joining the Hybrid MBA program.

Anne Kertson, DPT, Small Business Owner

Tell us about your current job role.

I am trained as a physical therapist and have been a small business owner of a physical therapy private practice for the past nine years.  I always enjoyed the management side and came from a background including roles as a Clinic Director and Director of Operations within private practice before taking the leap to open my own practice in my community. This role makes me accountable to all sides of the business operations which has been both the most challenging and rewarding aspect of the job.

In your opinion, what are the most common challenges or opportunities for women in business today?

I am lucky to be a part of an industry that is made up of primarily by women (depending on the studies, 65-70% of physical therapists are women). With that being said, the median salary for a woman in our field is still over 15-30% less than our male counterparts, depending on the source.  In my opinion, the challenge for women in business to have equal pay and equal status is still a significant area that needs to be addressed, across industries.

On the flip side, I tend to be a naturally optimistic person and therefore chose to focus on the opportunities side.  I think the healthcare industry is very open to women climbing the ladder and as care providers.  I also feel that the ability to overcome a challenge and enter an industry, even if women are not the norm, is more motivating if looked at via a challenge to overcome, and being able to be empowered by that success.

What is your success story?

I like to think I am only in the early chapters of my success story. I feel like my biggest professional success has been helping thousands of patients to achieve their goals and get back to what makes them happy (whether running or being able to play with their grandkids without knee pain).  Personally, getting my doctorate in physical therapy, then getting my board certification in orthopedics and moving on to open a successful private practice and sustain it through the pandemic definitely would be part of my success story and sufficient for many people.  Part of getting my MBA and specifically being part of the Foster school will give me the resources and opportunities to achieve change on an even bigger platform. Stay tuned, I am currently writing the middle chapters of my success story.

What is the one thing you would say to the next generation of female leaders considering pursuing their MBA?

Take the leap.  A common theme in our household is “down with adventure.”  My husband and I joke about this but we actually feel like we learned this life lesson from our lab, who never says no to jumping in and going on an adventure.  I chose to live by this: say yes, take the leap, even when you are nervous.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it through and do my research to make sure it is right for me, but then my advice is to listen to your gut and do not let fear hold you back.  There is always an excuse for a better time in life but sometimes it takes just saying yes to take that first step.

Harlin Miller, Zones Employee

Tell us about your current professional role.

I work as an Enterprise Advanced Technology Executive, as well as Supplier Diversity leader for Zones. Zones is a global IT systems integrator, based in Auburn, WA. For all complex IT software and hardware, I help provide my clients the expertise needed in procuring, installing, and managing their technology investments.

Why did you choose the Foster MBA?

I was blown away by the program’s curriculum as well as its overall track record as a top MBA program. Foster MBA is ranked Number 1 in MBA job placement. As a millennial that has lived through the Great Recession and amid the pandemic- I appreciate Foster understanding the importance of playing a role in jump-starting my career. Also, frankly, alumni of Foster do amazing things and I want to be a part of that. I also was impressed by the University of Washington’s, “Stronger Together,” mantra and thus far I can attest that they live up to it!

 What have been some of your favorite experiences while in the Hybrid MBA program?

Immersion easily. Immersion was jam packed and I was exhausted afterwards, but it was a good exhaustion. It was amazing to be on campus and take classes with my cohort in person. Then seamlessly we go back to virtual classes- I really enjoy it.

What do you do outside of work and class?

I enjoy reading, watching movies, and working out. In fact, since starting my MBA, while still maintaining my career, I feel a renewed passion for these activities because they help center me, and feel refreshed for my studies. 

Who is your role model in business and why?

Firoz Lalji, CEO and Chairman of Zones. If you ever hear Firoz’s story he will also become your favorite business role model and person. His family was forced to leave Uganda, however through his grit and determination he attended the London School of Economics. While in the U.S. he started multiple companies and much of his success as an intelligent and generous entrepreneur is perfectly in line with how I would like to maximize my potential.

What advice would you give a prospective student before joining the MBA program?

Always be thankful and never give up. These are two elements that have helped me and others I admire throughout our lives. It applies to all aspects of life, and especially during the rigors of an MBA program. This is a new experience, and I surmise no one ever truly gets used to it. However, if you keep showing up, keep asking questions, and keep a grateful mind and heart- it, like anything else, will be yours. 

Anthony Au, PhD, Consultant

Tell us about your current professional role. 

I’m currently working as a hardware product development consultant while also running my own small business. In my consulting work, I’m leading the development of a connected device consumer product that utilizes electromechanical systems for some unique fluid dispensing applications. My responsibilities on the project cover everything from product management through to manufacturing. I’ve also self-launched several recreational boating products, so I’m always interfacing with retailers and other buyers as I expand my distribution.

Why did you choose the Foster MBA?

Foster was always my first choice for business school because I’m really invested in both the University of Washington and broader Seattle communities. I earned my Ph.D. in Bioengineering here in 2014, and I explored some commercialization and entrepreneurship opportunities then, so I was confident that the resources and capabilities provided at Foster would align well with my career goals.

The Hybrid MBA Program has been a perfect fit for me as a working professional who is already juggling two other roles with their own unique scheduling demands.

What have been some of your favorite experiences while in the Hybrid MBA program?

During our first immersion session, I was able to take my study team out on Lake Union on my sailboat, “Where’s the Beef?”. We had perfect weather, stopped over at Ivar’s Salmon House for dinner, and overall had a great time. In general, getting to know my study team members better and interacting with them has been my favorite aspect of the program.

What do you do outside of work and class?

Sailing as a competitive sport and as a recreational activity is a huge part of my life. Many aspects of my social and professional life are thoroughly intertwined with it. I also tend to gravitate towards hobbies which have enjoyable technical aspects to them, such as cooking, scuba diving, photography, fishing, and mixing cocktails.

What advice would you give a prospective student before joining the MBA program? 

I highly recommend attending an information session and reaching out to the staff to learn about the program and its unique offerings. Try to connect with some of the current Hybrid Program students or alumni so that you can directly hear about their experiences in the program.

Hear from UW Hybrid MBA Students through our Hybrid MBA Student Q&A blog posts.

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