Q&A with Scott Coughlan, EMBA class of 2019

We asked current student Scott Coughlan (class of 2019, monthly format) what life is like in Foster’s Executive MBA program.


  1. Where do you live and what do you do?

I currently live in Houston, Tx and I am the Safety, Security and Environmental Manager for Subsea 7 in the US.  Subsea 7 is one of the largest deepwater subsea engineering, construction and services companies serving the global offshore energy industry. Also, recently hung my hat up after retiring as a Reserve Naval Officer in the British Royal Navy after 23 years of service.


  1. Was there any specific event or trigger that inspired you to pursue an MBA?

I’ve been interested in getting my MBA for some time, but finally staying in one country/city was the trigger to do my research and then apply. Plus, my wife also told me to get on with it! This might contradict my later point about there is never a good time to get an MBA, but I think you at least need to have stability in terms of what country you are living in…


  1. Why did you choose the Foster School of Business, Executive MBA program?

I visited a number of highly ranked business schools and found the environment at Foster to be incredibly welcoming and laid back, despite maintaining high academic standards. I found the students and faculty to be very approachable and willing to go the extra mile. In short, I found a culture that I liked and could fit into.


  1. Have you been able to apply what you’ve learned in the program to your real-world challenges? If so, which lessons/courses?

The greater understanding of accountancy and finance was immediately useful in management team meetings and better appreciating the challenges my company faced in the recent oil and gas industry downturn. Overall, I have found that my confidence when dealing with senior management/leadership has increased exponentially as I learn more and increasingly master the ‘language of business.’


  1. Why did you choose the monthly format (instead of the weekly format)?

I live in Houston…..  🙂

It is also worth pointing out the value of attending class for 4 consecutive days each month with the monthly format. I much prefer the greater level of immersion from 4 days.

Further, the monthly format allows for a better work-school-life balance. If I want to take a weekend off, I can as I don’t have to attend every weekend. Although I’ll have to catch up later, it is still nice to be able to spend a quality weekend with my wife and son without worrying, too much, about school.


  1. When you’re on campus for class, what does a day-in-the life look like for you?

With the monthly format, we have classes Wednesday through Saturday. We always start at 8:15am and have a class through to lunch at 11:30am. After lunch, we have another class from 12:30pm to 3:45pm. This will vary, particularly in the first quarter when you should expect to finish later. Some days there will be help sessions that allow students to ask further questions on the courses that quarter. Then it’s usually back to the Silver Cloud hotel to work on team assignments for later in the week along with some dinner and, occasionally, a beer.


  1. During non-campus weeks, what strategies do you use to stay connected and on top of your responsibilities?

There are a number of different ways of staying connected, and these have varied from team to team, depending on the methods that team is most comfortable with. I’ve used Office 365, Skype, Google Docs and GoToMeeting.


  1. Describe your team experience.

In a word, amazing. I’ve been truly humbled by the fantastic people I have teamed up with. Foster picks a wide variety of people from all walks of life and you will learn as much from your teammates as you do from the faculty. You have to learn to trust your team very early and they, you. The 5-day residence was a great way to get to know my team and bond. By the end of residence, I’d made some truly great friends that I would trust implicitly. Be willing to step up for your team and they will have your six.


  1. What is the vibe and feel of your EMBA program?

I am immensely proud to be a part of such an intelligent and diverse cohort. Everyone is friendly and willing to share their amazing experiences and vast knowledge with the rest of the group. Finding a program that fits ‘you’ is really important and the program mirrors the great city of Seattle in being easy going with a huge dollop of smart.


  1. Has there been an unexpected benefit of the EMBA program thus far? Something that surprised you?

Making some great new friends and getting to sample some of the Seattle food and drink scene.


  1. Advice for others thinking about the EMBA program?

If, dear reader, you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking that you really want to do an EMBA, but now is not the right time. Be honest with yourself and admit there will never be a right time. As a busy manager/executive you’re snowed under at work, and more likely than not, you have a family. Speak with family and friends and you’ll be amazed at the support you’ll get. Despite having an energetic 5-year-old and another bundle of joy on the way, my wife is my biggest supporter and we make it work. You will too.


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