Radical Collaboration Week 2021 Brings Together MBAs and Seattle’s Iconic Companies to Ideate and Innovate

Radical collaboration event on zoom

Now in its third year, the Foster full-time MBA program’s Radical Collaboration Winter 2021 exercise is an opportunity for first-year students to tackle current business challenges, develop crucial relationships with Foster alumni and the iconic companies where they work, and build an understanding of design thinking principles as tools for creative thinking. This popular event is just one of the exercises that Foster sponsors throughout the year to help students deepen their networks and immediately use what they are learning to innovate.

In early January, Foster alums from Amazon, Microsoft, Nestle, Starbucks, and T-Mobile introduced student teams to current challenges and opportunities ranging from growth and marketing issues to post-COVID strategies. More than 30 alums and other business representatives participated on panels to evaluate student presentations and provide feedback. Unlike past years, the entire 3-day program took place virtually.

T-Mobile radical collaboration slide

Here is a snapshot of the experience:

Foster alums developed the real-world business challenges brought to this year’s Radical Collaboration participants.

In an all-morning event, 19 student teams heard from lead company representatives from Amazon, Microsoft, Nestle, Starbucks, and T-Mobile and discussed the business case prompts that they would tackle over the next few days. Students have only a few hours to meet and create a presentation. The assignment concluded on Friday with the presentations and discussions with panels of alums. Radical Collaboration creates an experience for every student to engage in critical thinking, apply academic frameworks, and develop innovative recommendations.

Prior to the multi-day exercise, students received a list of readings to boost their understanding of design thinking principles. After a quick session where the MBA Career Management team provided an overview of ideation exercises and design thinking mindsets to promote creative thinking, students split into breakout groups with each company to learn about the business case prompt that their team would be working on during the week. Students asked questions and heard advice from their alums to help prepare for the Friday presentations.

Company leads included Amazon’s Jonathan Ng (Foster MBA ‘18) and Justyn Egert; Microsoft’s Mallory Monsma (Foster MBA ‘20) and John Turk (Foster MBA ‘19); Nestle’s Danny Finan (Foster MBA ‘09); and David Oh (Foster MBA ‘10), Victor Hsieh (Foster MBA ‘17), and Yasar Ammar (Foster MBA ‘19) from T-Mobile.

“Radical Collaboration gives our students first-hand experience diving into creative thinking and developing innovative solutions,” says Assistant Dean – MBA Career Management Naomi Sanchez. “We are so grateful for our engaged graduates who actively support our students as they apply their learning to real problems; that’s part of the culture here.”

Here is some of the feedback students received from our alumni:

  • “Super impressive that you could put together this amount of research in just a few days!”
  • “I have been doing a lot of hiring over the last few months, and these students showed more knowledge and understanding of our company than many of those I have interviewed.”
  • “One of the presentations I saw could actually be presented to our executive management right now and would probably get a go-ahead!”

Here’s what our Foster students said about the experience:

  • “I loved getting the chance to work with Microsoft and actually applying what I learned in marketing class. I honestly do not know if I would be able to apply the marketing framework without these types of real-world prompts/exercises.”
  • “Great experience to work on a business strategy in a real-world scenario.”
  • “I liked how engaged and passionate about the project the company representatives were!”
  • “Got to work with a real company on something they might actually end up doing. [The] ambiguous problem and a longer presentation was great practice for interviewing and presenting in general.”

T-Mobile slide Q&A

“Events like Radical Collaboration Winter 2021 are an essential part of the Foster MBA experience,” says Sanchez. “These programs where students work directly with representatives from top companies to learn by doing have a huge impact for them. Our students deliver top-rate innovative work for these companies and build strong bonds within their teams. We see the results not only short-term in Foster’s 94% post-grad job placement rate, but also in our students’ long-term accomplishments.”