The Foster Wine Club was formed by Full-time MBA Jeff Corbett of the class of 2021, with the vision of providing the best social, networking, and educational experiences to Foster MBA students through shared passion for wine. The club coordinates events on-campus and off-campus as an opportunity for students to learn about Washington Wine. This club is for both people that enjoy wine, and those who want to start learning how to drink wine.
Please tell us a bit about yourselves.
Myrna: My name is Myrna Barrera and I am part of the Class of 2023 Full-Time MBA program. This year I was the VP of Diversity for MBAA and the Wine Club Co-President. I was born and raised in California. I love traveling and learning about different cultures and experiencing new dishes. Me and my husband love cooking for friends and family and enjoy taking our dog on long walks to grab a beer. If you are ever in need of a wine night, I’m your gal! Professionally, I have a background in marketing and post-MBA I’ll be working as a Product Manager at Starbucks.
Kelsey: I am a class of 2023 Evening MBA student and I served as Wine Club Co-President for the 2022-2023 academic year. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking with my dogs, camping, riding horses, and going out with friends for wine or a beer. I worked full-time throughout the program, transitioning jobs and industries halfway through. I currently work in consulting with Accenture.
What unique role does your club play in promoting students’ goals at Foster?
Kelsey: Wine Club offers various events connecting, tasting, and touring local wineries. This offers students the opportunity to learn more about the wine making process – what it takes to successfully open, operate, and maintain a successful business in a competitive market. Many members are interested in pursuing the wine business at some point in their career and this offers them a great opportunity to learn more.
Myrna: We have been able to create a stress free and inclusive space through Wine Club Events. I’ve had several students tell me, “Wine Club is my favorite club; I can show up for events and step away from the stressors of the MBA program.”
How has your club influenced the continued evolution of the Foster MBA program?
Myrna: Wine Club takes people out to explore small wine businesses in Seattle and Washington State. This year, I launched Wine Club’s annual Wine Experience in Walla Walla, located in central Washington. Students were able to visit another region of Washington and get a tour of wine making facilities. It was an amazing weekend event that brought 25 people together!
Kelsey: The Wine Club has brought a new annual event to Foster – the Walla Walla trip. This was a goal we shared when founding the club, which we were finally able to pursue after COVID restrictions were lifted. I’m excited to see how the club will continue to grow.
Which cub events have been most popular or successful and why?
Kelsey: People have enjoyed our Wine 101 event which we have held annually since starting the club. We take the time to review some basic wine growing and tasting facts for those who are new to wine, along with some more in-depth knowledge for additional expanded learning. People enjoyed learning facts about wine in addition to the opportunity to network with other cohorts.
Myrna: Some of our most successful events have been in collaboration with other clubs. We kicked off the year with an amazing event called, Tour of Latin American Wine, in partnership with Diversity in Business. The goal was to have a global perspective on wine and highlight Latin American culture for Hispanic Heritage Month. Another successful event was our annual Wine 101 event, created to educate students about wine tasting. We’ve been fortunate to have students in our program that are well versed in wine and share knowledge with the rest of their classmates.
What have you learned about leadership while in this role?
Myrna: I’ve learned that I am a people-oriented leader. The reason why I have put so much effort into leadership roles at Foster is because I find joy in creating events and inclusive spaces for people. In leading the Wine Club Board, I tried to create equitable responsibilities and clear lines of communication.
Kelsey: I’ve learned that flexibility is important in leadership, especially when coordinating among a group where everyone is busy with classes and many who are also working full-time. Scheduling across Full-time MBA and Evening MBA students can be difficult, which also plays into event planning.
What were your expectations and intentions as you took on the role?
Kelsey: I originally joined Wine Club before it was an official club to help start it and get it up and running. I have dreamed one day of working in the industry or owning my own winery one day. I thought having a part in the club would be a great way to learn more about the industry while also helping to further educate others about wine, and to encourage them to not feel intimidated about joining if they didn’t have much knowledge of or experience with wine.
Myrna: I expected this role to require more setup and infrastructure development. This was the second year that the club would be in full swing. I knew there was work to be done to set up processes and create new traditions. I set out to create an easier and more streamlined experience for my successors. At times it was a challenge to manage the immediate need and the need to create documentation and processes. However, it was extremely rewarding to establish a new annual excursion to Walla Walla for the club.
Do you have a favorite memory of your time with the wine club?
Myrna: My favorite memory has been kicking off an official Wine Club event that promoted Latino culture. I wanted to set the tone to create an inclusive and fun club. It meant a lot to me to be able to highlight my identity as a Latina in a traditionally white dominant wine culture. It was a really fun event, we had Latino music playing on Hogan’s Terrace and first year and second year students were able to network and enjoy wine. I knew then that this was going to be a fun year leading the Wine Club.
Kelsey: Overall, I love looking back on how the club has grown. Our first event was virtual due to COVID and we faced many struggles getting a social club up and running during a pandemic. Seeing our original vision come to life has been very rewarding.
Which students or why do students join the club?
Myrna: We see two types of students join Wine Club 1) They are frequent wine drinkers and are well versed in what their style profile is 2) Students that have not gone wine tasting and are looking to learn more about their personal taste preferences.
All students get the benefit of joining a club that can provide them with a space to relax and step away from the stressors of the program in a casual way.
Kelsey: Many students who are interested in the club either love wine (like myself!) or are wanting to learn more about wine and don’t know where to start. Both of these are the exact reasons we started Wine Club and it’s great to see that it’s paying off.
What tips do you have for incoming MBA students as to why they should join Wine Club’s leadership?
Kelsey: Wine Club offers a great opportunity to network with both Full-time MBA and Evening MBA students. There is also a lot of flexibility in the type of events we hold. The events vary from year to year, so there’s an opportunity to really showcase your interests and ideas in event planning.
Myrna: Wine Club leadership has been one of my most rewarding experiences at Foster. It allowed me to grow and develop my leadership skills. Wine Club also provides the opportunity and flexibility to add your personal touch to the club experience.