Congratulations to our recent Evening MBA Class of 2017 graduates! Get to know them via a series of spotlight stories: What does earning a Foster MBA mean to them and what advice do they have for those considering a work-compatible program? Learn more in our first feature, Chelsey Roney, who tailored her MBA to develop expertise in her areas of interest.
Pre-MBA Profession: Financial Analyst at Boeing and Small Business Owner
Current Profession: University Recruiter at Microsoft and Small Business Owner/Entrepreneur
A former Texan turned Washingtonian, Chelsey Roney works full-time as a University Recruiter at Microsoft and part-time as an entrepreneur. She recently spent several years as a Board Member for Nature Consortium. Chelsey is passionate about developing new business ideas. She currently runs Select-A-Sis, a company focused on streamlining sorority recruitment and recently launched Collectabl, a company that creates seasonal capsule wardrobes for purchase. Outside of work, Chelsey enjoys spending time with her husband, traveling and working out.
Looking back on your Foster experience, what was your most memorable challenge and success, respectively?
The most memorable challenge was trying to balance school, full-time work, a part-time business, and a personal life. When you are in an MBA program and working, a multitude of tasks that each appear to be as important as the next pull your attention in varying directions. Like my classmates, I became an expert in prioritization and simplifying processes during my time in the program. I think the key to success is planning the tasks that must be completed at the beginning of each week and staying on task as much as possible. I also learned to include buffer time in case of delays and plan periods that are designated as ‘rest’. I was pushed to my limits, but I also learned more (both educational content and about myself) than I could have dreamed possible.
My most memorable success was learning content in a deeper way than I have before. The Foster MBA program uses case studies for most lessons. This approach forces you to think more critically and take a step further than you may have in the past. Rather than caring primarily about grades, I cared about how I could apply the content to my work. I honed in on my ability to truly learn material so that I could more impactful at work. The Foster MBA Program also helped me develop curiosity, which is an important aspect to learning. Because the solution associated with each case was often vague, you must learn how to ask the right questions to be successful.
Foster MBA students are empowered to move up, change up, or start up. Which path did you choose?
I love that Foster MBA students are encouraged to think about how their experience in the program will enable them to change the trajectory of their careers in one of several different ways. Because the Foster MBA Program discusses potential career changes from the first day of orientation, it empowers students to begin planning what their careers might look like upon completion of the program. This forethought sets students up for success because they can map out what coursework and extracurricular activities they might want to take on to make these changes happen.
I both ‘changed up’ and ‘started up’ because of the program. Midway through my coursework, I made the transition from Finance at Boeing to Recruiting at Microsoft. I knew that I wanted to move to a company that focused on innovative technology and into a role that focused on people. My experiences and coursework at Foster allowed me to successfully navigate into my new role at Microsoft because I could discuss strategy and industry trends at an MBA level.
I have served as the Managing Partner of a small business in addition to my full-time job for about six years. While my business has captured a significant portion of a niche market share, the revenue is not significant enough to consider it a full-time job. Given that I was bitten by this ‘entrepreneurial bug’, I would like to ‘start up’ another business that might allow me to go full-time. I am currently working on two business ideas that have potential to scale. I credit any forward movement in these endeavors to my time at Foster. My courses in entrepreneurial finance, marketing, and strategy helped me to better understand how to be successful as an entrepreneur.
How has Foster impacted your outlook on entrepreneurship? How have you developed as an entrepreneur over the course of the Evening MBA program?
Before I started at Foster, I was managing my small business with only a background in finance. I developed as an entrepreneur as I took classes outside of my previous area of expertise. Foster has well-rounded course offerings in entrepreneurship that will help you run your business better.
Foster impacted my outlook on entrepreneurship by making full-time entrepreneurship seem more attainable. Sometimes, it feels like being full-time entrepreneur is out of reach. Entrepreneurship courses at Foster teach you how to seek, eventually spot, and solve problems in a certain marketplace. These courses also teach you best practices in terms of how to monetize your solution. Furthermore, professors often bring in guest entrepreneurs to share their experiences with the class. Each of these learnings made starting up your own full-time business seem attainable.
You chose to accelerate the program and complete your MBA one quarter early. What do you think of this flexibility in the curriculum and how did you tailor your MBA?
I loved the flexibility the Foster Evening MBA program provides. Students can tailor their schedules in the second half of the program to either speed up or slow down their coursework. I chose to accelerate the program because I found the areas I was passionate about and could not wait to dedicate 100% of my time and expertise to them.
I chose to concentrate most of my electives on either marketing or entrepreneurship since my background is in finance. I wanted to expand my breadth of knowledge so I could better operate strategically as a business-person.
How has the Evening MBA program contributed to your career trajectory?
The Foster Evening MBA program has contributed to my career trajectory in several ways. First, it helped me hone in on my passions. I tailored my classes so that I could explore, then narrow down, areas that I might be passionate about. Second, the Evening MBA program helped me grow my network. In the program, you will have dozens of classmates who are all top-level professionals that you work with throughout your three years at Foster. We can leverage on one another’s expertise as we navigate into new careers, research other companies and negotiate business deals. Finally, the well-rounded coursework Foster offers helps you provide value to a business because you can take a step back to evaluate the overall strategy and any potential risks that may lie ahead.
Are you where you thought you would be when you started the Evening MBA?
In terms of specific job content, I thought I would continue my work as a Financial Analyst at Boeing. The Evening MBA helped me narrow down other industries and roles that I may be interested in. This led to a change in profession, company I work at, and where I want to direct my career.
In terms of my ability to grow professionally, I could not have imagined how much I would have developed in the program. Of course, I had hoped to make strides in this area, but the amount of growth I experienced was exponentially more than I expected. I advanced in the breadth and depth of knowledge I can bring to the table, the ability to think more critically, and level of professionalism demonstrated in everyday interactions.
What advice do you have for those considering a work-compatible MBA program?
- Examine why you want a work-compatible MBA program. Spend some time thinking about the pro’s and con’s of an Evening Program. The Foster Evening MBA program allows you to continue advancing your career while you are expanding your knowledge base. Next, an evening program allows you to apply what you are learning in class immediately! Not only does this help you remember what you learned, but it also helps you make an impact at work right away. The classmates in your evening program can help you network during the program instead of waiting until the end. On the other hand, during the Evening Program your ‘free time’ is extremely scarce.
- Evaluate how you will reprioritize your time. Getting an MBA while you work will necessitate that you decide on aspects of your life that will become deprioritized during your time in the program. You should understand if you are willing to let go of things you spend time on now to go to class and complete assignments after work. It is also helpful to talk to both your family and friends ahead of time so that they know sometimes you will have to say ‘no’ due to program obligations.
How does it feel to earn your MBA from Foster?
Empowering. The Foster Evening MBA provides challenging coursework meant to expand the breadth and depth of your knowledge. If I can dive this deep into difficult classes while working for three years, I feel like I can take on any challenge!
Wondering if the Foster Evening MBA Program is the right fit for you? To make an appointment with the Foster MBA Programs Office, call 206-543-4661 or toll free at 1-866-778-9622, or email us at [email protected].