Club Spotlight – Foster Strategy Club

In this feature, Aakash Borwankar, the outgoing President and Dhruval Shah, Evening MBA liaison and VP of the Foster Strategy Club, share their insights on leading the club and tips for incoming MBAs.

Strategy club outgoing president Aakash (pictured right) with tech club board members

Please tell us a bit about yourselves.

Aakash: Before Foster, I was a consultant – initially a tech consultant at Infosys and then a marketing consultant at a boutique consulting firm. I really enjoyed my time at the latter, having had opportunities to work with companies across the world to bring their products to market. Post graduation, I will be joining Dell Technologies as a Senior Advisor on their product marketing team. When not working or studying, I’m always looking to find new places to eat, exploring different recipes or binge reading comics.

Dhru: I am a Technical Product Manager in Operations Strategy at Blue Origin where I help identify opportunities to streamline and scale up our manufacturing operations. I love traveling and trying different types of food and I also love cooking when I get time outside of work and the Evening MBA. As far as work is concerned, I love my current role and I am planning to stick around in my current role after Foster!

How would you describe the Strategy Club?

Aakash: For starters, we’re different from the Consulting Club. The club is industry agnostic and aspires to educate MBA students about the different “strategy” based roles available across different companies and industries. Every year, we bring in a ton of professional speakers in roles such as Corporate Strategy, Product Strategy, ESG Strategy, Sales Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Strategy Consulting, among others.

How has your club influenced the continued evolution of the Foster MBA program?

Dhru: I think the Strategy Club has carved out a unique position in between the Consulting, Tech, and Marketing clubs by providing a common platform to just focus on the business strategy across multiple industries and across different facets of the business (pricing, M&A, marketing, etc.).

Aakash: I think our club does a great job in acting as a bridge between the different clubs at Foster. Companies today expect a lot out of MBAs, expecting them to adapt to any situation. The Strategy Club, by working in the intersection of the various clubs, is able to help the students learn more about the different facets of business.

What unique role does the Strategy Club perform in promoting students’ goals at Foster? 

Aakash: Through our speaker events, we help our club members build connections with professionals in senior roles. Typically, such roles are not accessible right out of the MBA. However, it pays to know exactly what companies look for in such roles so that you can build your career to take you there if you’re interested in following such a path. Like many of the other clubs, we also help with resume reviews and interview preparation should it be required.

Strategy club panel

What have you learned about leadership while in this role?

Dhru: As an Evening MBA Liaison, I have learned to represent the voice of the Evening MBA class and make sure the club is inclusive of the Evening MBA program given their limitations in terms of schedule and availability. I have also learned how to balance priorities when it comes to choosing what events are most valuable for the Evening MBA class. 

Aakash: My thoughts on the importance of time management were reinforced. Everyone in the program is almost always super busy. So, it was important for us to communicate, prioritize and effectively share and balance responsibilities with the rest of the members on the board. Sometimes we did it right and sometimes we made mistakes and learned along the way.

What were your expectations and intentions as you took on the role? Did your experiences line up?

Dhru: My biggest goal when I took on the role was to boost Evening MBA participation in the strategy club. This was especially important for me since there are a number of students in the Evening MBA program working in fields (product management, consulting, pricing strategy, etc.) that would be good contributors to the club and also learn from the club for their day jobs. The club executives allowed me to push for this which I really liked, but I also loved that I was able to join in on larger efforts to promote the club and the events that we held. The most challenging part of this role was to maintain a rhythm of constant Evening MBA participation while balancing the larger priorities for the club.

Aakash: Honestly, I just wanted to give back. The second-year students had gone out of their way to give us a good club experience, investing their time when they didn’t have to. I wanted to do the same for the incoming class when I entered the second year. I must admit, the role demanded more time from me than I had originally anticipated. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to work together with a great board that made life much easier.

Which club events have been most popular or successful and why?

Aakash: I think this is going to be a close tie between our summer internship panel and our pricing strategy event. I think people were just interested in learning more about what some of the internships were like, which brought a lot of folks to the event. In the case of the latter, our guest speakers explained how data and consumer psychology feeds the strategy that goes behind pricing products. These principles can be applied across any industry as long as you’re working with a product, which is why I think it ended up attracting a lot of people across the evening and full time program.

Do you have a favorite memory of your time with the Strategy Club?

Aakash: If I had to pick one, it would probably be our Spring Social. We host it pretty much every year and it’s just a time for everyone to unwind, drink and eat some good food while connecting with everyone from the program.

Dhru: I really enjoyed the event where we got to know the consulting team at Concentrix.

Strategy club spring social

Spring social

How have you worked with other clubs or UW graduate schools to provide networking opportunities?

Dhru: We did happy hours and other events in collaboration with clubs such as Foster Marketing Association (FMA) and Foster Consulting Society (FCS). 

Aakash: We host a lot of events in collaboration with many other clubs. Most of our speaker events are set up to allow the students to connect with the speakers. We will be having more dedicated alumni networking events starting next academic year.

Which students or why do students join the club?

Aakash: Most students that choose to join the club are those who are interested in eventually taking up “strategy” roles at some point in their career. We also get interest from students who are undecided about their career path and want to use the strategy club as a platform to learn more about the various roles relevant to MBAs across the different industries.

What tips do you have for incoming MBA students as to why they should join club leadership?

Aakash: Join the leadership team of at least one club! I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to not only give back, but also hone your skills on influencing people, organization, and time management in a relatively low stakes environment.

Dhru: It gives a unique perspective of the inner workings of the club. It’s great to attend a lot of the events that different clubs put together but it’s even more fun to get involved on the back end of it. I think it’s also an act of giving back since without the students running these clubs, the Foster experiences would not be the same.