TMMBA Study Groups: Team Sha-mazing

Team Shamazing

(L-R) Wen-Jen Chang, Senior Product Manager, AOL Inc; Teagan Densmore, Producer, GameHouse Studios/RealNetworks; Kevin Mcleish, Software Engineer II, Microsoft Corporation; Mike Palagashvili, Payload Systems Design Engineer, The Boeing Company; Tom O’Brien, Systems Engineer, The Boeing Company.

Meet Team Sha-mazing

Team Sha-mazing shares their experience in the TMMBA program. Read about the benefits of a cohort program, value of the network, their favorite classes, and the importance of study groups.

Wen-Jen Chang: I currently work for AOL Inc in South Lake Union. I’m a product manager for the AIM Mobile product suite, which means that I work on AIM and messaging applications on mobile devices. Previously, I was a device product manager at Samsung and a content/project manager with Nokia’s Developer Program team. I have been in the mobile industry for about 8 years, and before that, I was a network engineer/consultant working on internetwork infrastructures.

Teagen Densmore.: Currently, I’m a game producer at GameHouse Studios in Seattle, Washington. In 2002, I graduated from Santa Clara University with a BS in Computer Science. At that time, the job market was still bruised and battered after the dot com bubble burst of 2001. In October of that year, I was hired on as a customer service agent at GameHouse, which at the time was a small start-up, less than 20 people. As the company grew so did my role within the organization. I moved from customer service to game testing to software engineering and finally ended up as a game producer.

Tom O’Brien: I’m currently an engineer at the Boeing Company and have worked for them for about 8 years. I work on the defense side of the business primarily. I have spent the majority of my career focused on integrating supplier provided avionics into various 737 based platforms but have also worked in Flight Test and Systems Engineering. My current position is integrating electronic Warfare Self Protection products onto the P-8A Poseidon submarine hunter/killer.

Mike Palagashvili: and I’ve worked for Boeing for last five years. Currently, I am a member of 737 New Interiors Engineering team. We are plastic surgeons doing internal facelift so to speak. The project involves a lot of mechanical, electrical, systems, and even software engineering.

Kevin Mcleish: I currently work at Microsoft as a Software Engineer in the Windows Test team. I have been at Microsoft since 2002 after completing a MS in Computer Science at Colorado State. While I was in graduate school I took a business course and became interested in learning more from business methodology. As I spent time in the industry I became more interested in formally learning the financial side of business decisions and management methodologies. I went to informational sessions for a few of the University of Washington MBA programs and the TMMBA program aligned well with my goals. The program was geared specifically towards technology professionals and had a convenient 18-month timeline. Additionally I was looking forward to widening my network and learning from other professionals from different companies and different industries.

How have the different perspectives in your study group enhanced your learning experience?

Teagen: Our team learns from each other and depends on each other. We help each other understand difficult subject matter, manage our schedules and generally keep each other sane! Our different perspectives help us see situations and decisions from many angles, angles we may not have been aware of or considered otherwise. Your team forces you to develop a much wider field of vision, which is invaluable in life and business.

Mike: In retrospect, I can say my TMMBA teammates are the only reason I survived in this program. The folks are bright, supportive and hard working. I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved with a group of younger yet mature professionals mostly from outside my industry. I think the benefit is great in terms of both different perspectives and productivity. My team is very diverse professionally and culturally.

How has the TMMBA network been beneficial to you?

Teagen: The TMMBA network has helped me learn about new industries and opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. Additionally, I now have a huge network of friends who would bend over backwards to help me out; it’s nice to know that there’s help just a phone call away.

Tom: I can see how the TMMBA network can be beneficial in the future. Normally a person’s network is limited to those that they work with (at least primarily), but the program allows me to develop lasting relationships that are outside of my company that can be tapped when I am looking for career advancement or need to solve a complex problem outside of my company’s area of expertise.

What are the benefits of being in a cohort with others who are passionate about technology?

Wen-Jen: I really enjoy the cohort program, and it was actually another reason for choosing the TMMBA program. It’s a huge benefit to work with the same people throughout the whole 18 months of the program. It builds trust and great relationships among the team, and we’ll all be good friends afterwards. Since we are closer now and know each other so well, we can be very open and candid with one another. If something bothers me, I’m not afraid to bring an issue up as I feel that we’re all close friends. The cohort program is great, and I think it’s been an important part of my success in the program.

Teagen: Creative ideas inspire more creative ideas. Tech is very much about being creative to solve real problems. Being in a cohort where everyone understands and is passionate about innovation means you can take the discussion and discovery much farther; we like to push the limits to see how far we can go in creating new solutions.

Tom: Focus on relevant material! Since we all work in the technical field it is very easy for all of us to relate to each other. This means that we can establish relationships quickly and have things to talk about outside of what we’re studying in class. The cohort program in general also supports this relationship building because we are always together working on the same material. This was another one of the primary reasons for selecting the TMMBA program. These relationships also allow us to creating lasting friendships and network relationships that will last for a long time.

What have been your favorite classes and why?

Wen-Jen: I don’t have one favorite class, but I’ve really enjoyed the Marketing, Accounting, and Economics classes. Not only were the professors top notch, the information and tools you learn can be applied to your current situation at work and personal life. I really like the aspect of practicing and using what you’ve learned in class in a real world environment. Of course, my current classes are the freshest on my mind as I’m always thinking about them, but I’m really like our Marketing New Products and Entrepreneurship classes.

Tom: I’ve loved both of our marketing classes. As an engineer I generally take a “negative” attitude toward marketers; however there are excellent lessons that I have taken from these classes that will aid in engineering development and capturing future business for the company I work for. The professors for these classes have also brought humor and excellent examples to teaching of the material, in additional to relevant reading material, which makes the learning easy and able to remember long term.