Q&A with Jessica Ruppert, TMMBA student

Jessica RuppertJessica Ruppert, software engineering manager at Scientific Games, shares her experiences in the UW Foster School’s Technology Management MBA program.

Why did you choose the Technology Management MBA program at the Foster School?
Initially, the TMMBA program logistics piqued my interest. The work-compatible structure and 18-month duration allowed the opportunity to continue my career progression without setting aside 2-3 years. But ultimately, it was the entrepreneurial curriculum and fantastic alumni feedback that helped solidify my decision to apply. Having spent years as a software engineer, the TMMBA’s focus on technology and startup ventures was a great fit to complement my experience and desire to stay in the tech industry.

How has your study group affected your experience in the TMMBA program?
My study group is made up of six individuals with diverse professional experiences. Our range of specialization has been really beneficial to the learning experience because each individual has unique strengths to contribute to assignments and group discussions. Not all classes require group work, but we regularly study together and work through difficult concepts and assignment as a team. My group members have also become some of my closest friends and will be great professional contacts for years to come. I cannot speak highly enough of the experience I’ve had with my TMMBA group.

Could you describe the classroom environment?
On average, I would say that 50% of class time is spent on lecture and 50% on discussion. There are two key components that make this a successful learning atmosphere–first, is the ability of the professors to teach fundamental concepts and frameworks, and their capability to prompt students with the right clarifying questions. The second component is the quality and experience of the cohort and their enthusiasm to share knowledge, perspectives, and reiterate concepts in class. Thus far, both of these components have been exceptional, and I’ve found classroom discussions are an equally important teaching tool.

Is there a particular faculty member who stands out in your mind as being really exceptional?
Lance Young is an exceptional professor, well regarded by the cohort as one of the best teachers in the program. He teaches corporate financial strategy and entrepreneurial finance. Lance has a unique ability to break down complex concepts and present them in their fundamental parts through analogy and application. He is an incredibly mindful teacher and makes sure students clearly understand topics. He simultaneously challenges students, while fostering a fun and engaging classroom environment. His charisma and entertaining stories make his class one that’s not to be missed!

Has the TMMBA program had an impact on your job/career?
Yes, since enrolling in the TMMBA program, I was promoted to an engineering manager from a software engineering position. The TMMBA has already given me the skills to feel comfortable taking on new responsibilities, and my enrollment in the program signaled to my employer that I was interested and serious about taking on new challenges. In this new role, I have been able to immediately apply many of the concepts we’ve learned and now have insight into decisions made by the business development teams. The TMMBA has introduced me to many different factions of business and I am confident that my career will continue to grow thanks to the TMMBA.

Could you describe your busiest day of the week?
My busiest day of the week is typically a Tuesday, the day before class and when assignments are often due. My group usually meets on Tuesday nights as well. My day starts early when I go to work and stay until about 5 p.m. I leave, grab dinner to go, and head straight to PACCAR Hall where I prepare to meet my team to work on an assignment or study. We ordinarily meet for two hours, or no later than 8:30 p.m. Depending on what’s due for class the next day, I then go home and either finish readings or complete and submit assignments.