Executive MBA Online Information Session

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Find out if the Washington State University Executive MBA Online is for you. This session covers:

  • An overview of WSU and the Carson College of Business
  • An in-depth look of the Executive MBA Online program
  • Military and veteran benefits
  • Admission requirements and support available to students
  • The international field study, EMBA Leadership Conference, and other networking opportunities
  • A firsthand experience from an Executive MBA graduate


  • Mitch Swanger, Director of Admissions and Student Services
  • Gary Poelma, Executive MBA Online Graduate
  • Jake Moscinski, Enrollment Advisor

Originally presented on October 21, 2020.


Jake M.: Hello, everybody, and welcome to The Executive MBA Online Information Session. We’re hosting this for our upcoming January start date. Excited to be giving you some information about The Carson College of Business and the programs that we have here, specifically the Executive MBA. Moving forward, I do want to talk a little bit about the logistics of this presentation. In order to minimize any background noise, we did set the presentation to broadcast-only mode, so you guys can hear us. We’ve got a few different speakers on the line that you’ll be hearing from, but we can’t hear you. Any questions that you have, go ahead and throw them into the Q and A section.

Jake M.: There should be a Q and A feature on the right side of your screen, so you can ask any questions there, and we’ll be addressing them throughout the presentation. Specifically at the very end of the presentation, we’ll have a Q and A section. Additionally, if you guys go to hop out for any reason, or you want to watch this webinar at a later day, we do have a recording of the session. That’ll be emailed to you within a day or so post-webinar. Perfect, let’s go over a quick agenda though of what we’re going to be covering. We’re going to start off with some introductions, that way you know who is on the line today.

Jake M.: We’re going to dive into the history of Washington State and The Carson College of Business, as well as going into some of the rankings and accreditations specific to the Executive MBA Program. From there, we’ll go over a nice online Executive MBA Program overview, really give you a feel for a few different facets of the structure and curriculum here. Then, we’ll talk through the admissions requirements, really give you a sound understanding of what the application process looks like and what it takes to be admitted here into the Executive MBA. Finally, we’ll dive into the International Field Study. This is a pretty cool optional event that we have.

Jake M.: We’re going to have a slide on that, really diving into it, as well as some of our other networking events, such as The Executive MBA Leadership Conference and a few other ones. Then, we have a student speaker on the line as well. We have A Day in the Life section that we’re going to try to give you some visibility into what it actually looks like being in the program. We wrap things up with a live Q and A, where we will be addressing any questions that are coming through, try and get a little more granular for you guys there. Now, again, starting off with introductions, I’m at the top there. My name is Jake Moscinski. I’m an Enrollment Advisor here.

Jake M.: I advise students on the MBA as well as the Executive MBA Program. Really, my main role is to, one, see if the program’s a good fit for you. If it is and you wanted to apply, my second function is to guide you through that admissions process, make it as seamless as possible. Now, Mitch, we also have you on the line. Go ahead and take some time to introduce yourself.

Mitch S.: Thanks Jake, and welcome, everybody. My name is Mitch Swanger and I am the Director of Admissions and Student Services for the grad and online programs team. I’ve been with WSU just over 10 years now, and essentially, our team oversees all of the day-to-day operations from recruitment through graduation for our applicants and our MBA students.

Mitch S.: Perfect. Thanks so much, Mitch. Gary, you want to introduce yourself?

Gary P.: Hey, good afternoon. I am Gary Poelma. I’m a graduate, just over a year ago, summer of ’19, and I’m based in Duluth, Minnesota. I have an undergrad in engineering from the University of Wisconsin. I got my MBA as my career shifted away from the technical side and more into the business side. What I do nowadays is I oversee aircraft development, working for Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth. We build a small general aviation aircraft. When people think of a smaller crane airplane, a lot of times they think of Cessna, but we have about twice the market share that Cessna does on the small airplane. Cirrus is a market leader in that area in it.

Jake M.: Awesome. Thank you so much Gary, now we’re excited to have you on the line. Mitch, thank you as well for being here, but special thanks to you Gary. It’s always awesome to have a student on the line to be able to give some insight as to why the executive program made sense for you and also what that experience looked like. We’ll be diving into that in a bit, but we do want to take a second here to introduce you to Washington State University as a whole and where we came from. Mitch, I think you’re the longest standing member of WSU on the line right now. Can you tell us a little bit about the history here?

Mitch S.: Absolutely. I think you’re right, Jake so I’m happy to. I’ll just give a quick overview of WSU. Washington State University was founded in 1890 in Pullman, Washington. For those of you who are not familiar with the geographic location, we are actually on the eastern side of the state. Pullman busts up right against the Idaho border. Most people know where Seattle is. We are about four and a half hours from Seattle. We’re about 80 miles south of Spokane, just so you have an idea of where we are located. WSU is Washington State land-grant institution. What that means is the university was founded on the mission of providing affordable education to anybody and everybody who is willing and able to pursue it.

Mitch S.: It started as a university surrounding agriculture and has grown into what it is today. If you’re familiar with Pullman or the area, we are completely surrounded by wheat fields. Agriculture certainly made sense when it was founded. We have over 125 years of alumni legacy, and currently have one of the biggest alumni associations. In fact, it’s almost cult, like you can pretty much go anywhere in the entire world. If you are wearing some type of WSU affiliated like T-shirt or something, you’re most likely going to get a go-KUBE shouted at you. I’ve literally never seen anything like it, it’s pretty crazy, but it’s pretty cool.

Mitch S.: We have over 60 years of graduate business education and over 20 years of online degree programs. Our Executive MBA online began in the spring of 2011 with the goal to work around busy working professionals, which Jake and Gary will get into a little bit later. Then we do have an international network of corporate and academic alliances, which allows our students more corporate and learning opportunities. If you go on the international study trip, you’ll be able to see some of those opportunities and I will actually be speaking on that trip later on in the presentation.

Jake M.: Perfect. That is a great summary here of WSU. I think for me, the main things I like the highlight are those 20 years of perfecting online degrees. That’s a lot of time for us to refine our strategies and make sure they make sense for our students, and then that international network of corporate and academic alliances. It’s awesome for the international trip, as well as for our professors and the curriculum that you’ll see that does have a pretty international focus. Now I want to take this time to move into accreditations and rankings. I think that’s pretty important for students as they research different options and try to find the right fit. I’d say this is a good logical starting point when evaluating any program.

Jake M.: At the top there, we’re going to start with accreditations. AACSB accreditation is the very first one that blue bullet point, so that is going to be a programmatic accreditation specific to business schools. Washington State University and specifically The Carson College of Business that our Executive MBA is housed out of, it’s among less than 2% of business schools in the world that are accredited at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels by the AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. This is typically going to be thought of as the gold tier accrediting body for business programs. Most schools are going to attempt to get this.

Jake M.: There’s a whole host of other business accrediting bodies, but this is going to be the primary one that you want to see. Basically make sure that your curriculum is relevant, your professors are creating relevant research, as well as teaching proficiently and a few other factors to really make sure your program is of high excellence. Then right under AACSB, you see the NWCCU. This is another part of the research process into any university. You want to look at if whether or not they’re regionally accredited, or nationally accredited. Ideally, you want to see regional accreditation. That’s going to be the primary accrediting bodies for all universities.

Jake M.: All programs within Washington state will hold the MWCCU accreditation. Whereas only the business programs will have AACSB because it’s going to be business specific. We have that one. We are regionally accredited, as well as AACSB accredited. I think we checked two of them, the main boxes that you want to see there. Aside from accreditation though, I think accreditation’s really good at looking at the rigor and the experience of the program, but I think rankings are going to be much better at looking at the general populations feel of that school, or that program. This is a good way to tell brand recognition. WSU, we really don’t like to chase rankings.

Jake M.: There are schools that will make this one of the primary focuses of their program and design it around rankings. We don’t do that, but we’re still very well recognized. You’ll see at the bottom left there US News and World Report has us at number 18 for 2020 for best online MBA programs, so that’s in the top 5%. We’ve been consistently in that top five percent since I’ve been here. We’ll put up the last three to four years, probably longer than that. Moving on though to the right, recently we got ranked from Poets&Quants, another really good research tool, research site. They have us at number 16 for top online MBA programs, which was awesome to see. I really like that website, recommend you guys use it.

Jake M.: Additionally, we got CEO magazine. Specifically when we’re looking at executive MBAs, they have us at number 42, which is a solid recommendation there. Then the farthest two right recognitions are going to be specific to military and veteran students. US News and World Report has us at number 13 for online programs for veterans, whereas we’re also recognized as a military friendly school for Military Times on the list of best vets colleges of 2019, but speaking of the military side of things, we do have a pretty significant population in our MBA and executive MBA that are either currently in the military, or they are veterans of one of the military branches.

Jake M.: About 15% of our students are that, so we have a few different benefits. You get an application fee waiver, so you don’t need to pay for the typical $75 fee. There’s no late fees for payments. A lot of our students are using different benefits from their service. Sometimes that’s out of your hands as far as payment time. We waive those late fees, and we got a full team here that can help work with you to leverage and use those benefits. You can email them any questions at veterans@wsu.edu. Another side, another point though that we’ve really emphasized in the past couple of years has been around the veteran network. You can see that third bullet point, there we have a veteran’s coordinator. His name’s Matthew Beer.

Jake M.: He’s excellent, and his whole mission is to really create a strong network of veterans and help grow the tools that veterans have access to within the MBA. He’ll host different professional development opportunities. We’ve done some resume and LinkedIn building if you’re looking to transition out of the military. All in all, you can see we do, put a lot of emphasis into supporting military students, especially in that transitional phase when oftentimes MBAs or executive MBAs are going to be especially important. Perfect. Now moving on to just an Executive MBA online overview, these are a few highlights here.

Jake M.: The first thing before I really get into these bullet points, I want to highlight what an Executive MBA really means and why you would choose that over a regular MBA. Typically, a student who’s going to choose a regular MBA is going to be one who’s looking to move into management, so a little younger in your career. Whereas if you’re looking at an Executive MBA, primarily what we’re looking to do is give you the high level strategy skillsets to lead organizations. We want to focus on strategy and innovation, and how to be one of the top tier leaders in the C-suite within a company. Now moving on though to these bullet points, how do we structure this? We have made it 100% online.

Jake M.: We want it to be very flexible for you guys to complete, while maintaining your career and maintaining your family. It is a pretty quick program as well. You can see that you can complete it in as few as 16 months. About a year and a half to complete from the day you start to the day you finish. It is an entirely asynchronous program. There’s no mandatory times that you need to be logging in. Really, you’re able to complete this on your own time, as long as you’re meeting your weekly deadlines. We’ll get into the actual breakdown of that in a bit. Now, while it is asynchronous, so that you can tackle it at your own time, we also do want to have interaction between the faculty members and our students, as well as the students with other students.

Jake M.: We do have live sessions. These take place twice a week. We encourage you guys to attend them. If you can make it, it’s great, a good way to learn from your professors and get to be in different small groups with classmates. If you can’t make them though, they are recorded so there’s no penalty to missing the live sessions or lectures. Then we have designed the program for working professionals. That’s why we have it asynchronous, that’s why those are recorded. Then we also are going to have the last real deliverable in the program that’s going to be a capstone project. This is going to be really instead of taking a big comprehensive exam, or writing a large research paper at the end, we’re going to have you develop a business plan with a group of team members.

Jake M.: Typically, groups of four are going to be completing this business plan together. That’s a pretty unique approach that we’ve taken. We really like it. Our students have had some good success there. So excited to expand on that in just a bit. We also have the International Field Study. This is an optional event that takes place every year. There’s some impact with COVID as I’m sure you can expect, but we’ll be touching on that in a bit. Then we have a pretty unique opportunity which is the Executive MBA Leadership Conference, which is a great networking, as well as career development tool that Mitch Swanger is going to be diving into later on in the presentation.

Jake M.: Now I do want to look at some more highlights here. Some of this is going to be a recap from what we just covered, but some of this is going to be new information. Like I mentioned before, it’s 16 months to complete, so about a year and a half. It’s 100% online. We don’t have any mandatory travel for the program. There’s no residency required. Some programs will have you fly out somewhere for a weekend and get to know your cohort, and that can be maybe not the most flexible approach. We don’t have that as a requirement. Instead, we have those optional International Field Study and leadership conference if you’re looking to take advantage of that in-person feel of the program.

Jake M.: Another thing that we have looked to do is to keep the class sizes small. In the Executive MBA, we want it to be right around 20 students per faculty member, giving your faculty enough bandwidth to address all questions in a timely manner, make sure that you have a clear point of contact who’s going to get back to you with any questions, or any topics that you want to cover. This fourth bullet point I think is probably one of the more important ones for our students, and that’s going to be the course structure. What we have done, so you have 15 courses, but they’re going to be in five week sections.

Jake M.: Rather than taking multiple classes all starting the same day of the semester or ending the same day of the semester, we’ve opted for that one class at a time approach. You’ll take a class for the first five weeks of the semester, the middle five weeks of the semester, and the final five weeks of the semester. That way, you can really be focusing on one topic at a time, mastering that and then jumping to the next one, instead of juggling multiple assignments. That’s been huge for a lot of our students and a big reason that some people will choose our program because of the flexibility there. Perfect. Now the bottom point is going to be the tuition, another big factor when making a decision with the school.

Jake M.: As far as Executive MBA goes from my research, we are on the lower end of a lot of the cost. You can see it’s $1264 per credit hour. It’s not including the cost of books. You’ll have a total of 44 credits so that’s an overall tuition of $55,616, so full tuition there. Again, the only thing that that’s not factoring in is the cost of books. Typically, the main sources that I see students using are going to be financial aid. It’s a very common source. It’s available to those who apply and qualify, so that would be in the form of student loans. We do have a lot of students using tuition reimbursement, or assistance through their employer. Then our military students are oftentimes using the GI bill or military tuition assistance there as well.

Jake M.: Feel free, we have a team of advisors if you have any questions about costs, or what that would look like for you. Let us know, we’re happy to chat that through, but I do also want to give you guys some insight into the admissions requirements. What does it look like to go through the process? What’s a good candidate? You’re going to have your application. We need a completed online application. In that application, we’re going to need to get official transcripts from all schools attended. Most schools have digital transcripts that you can order, so that’s pretty quick. We’ll also want to see a resume. In that resume, the main thing that we want to see is going to be five years or more of managerial or leadership experience.

Jake M.: That’s going to be the primary thing that we need for the Executive MBA as far as work experience goes is that leadership. We used to need three letters of recommendation. Actually just yesterday, we’re approved to move that to one letter of recommendation in an attempt to just make the process a bit more streamlined. You’re absolutely welcome to add more letters of rec, but only one is going to be needed ideally from a manager or a supervisor. We’re going to write a quick essay called the statement of purpose, basically detailing what your background looks like, what your career plans are, as well as why you’re a strong fit for the program.

Jake M.: As an advisor, I’m here to help you through that. If you guys do go through the process, you write through the statement of purpose, send it on over. We can review that and see if we’re targeting the right material. Then you’re going to have an organizational chart, just breaking down the hierarchy of your company. That way, we can understand where you fit into the mix and what that process of growth looks like within your company. The final piece is going to be an interview that your advisor will conduct. Then right under there, you see the experience. I mentioned that earlier five years of management experience is required. That’s what we’re looking for.

Jake M.: We’ve made exceptions in the past for people who are on a really high trajectory, but ideally, we do want to see that five years of managerial experience. Additionally, we do want to see a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If you’re below the 3.0 threshold, let us know, share with us your transcripts and your past. We have made exceptions to that rule, and there’s a few evaluations that we like to conduct throughout the application process. If you’re just below that 3.0 or you’re in the 2.6, 2.7 range, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of contention for admittance into the program. Definitely reach out to us, and we can can guide you through that.

Jake M.: Then finally, another big question that we get a lot is going to be around the GMAT exam, GMAT waivers. In case you’re not familiar, the GMAT’s going to be an entrance exam for MBA and Executive MBA programs pretty widely adopted at this point, similar to the gre test if you’re familiar with that. For our Executive MBA, we do have waivers available. A lot of students are going to be requesting waivers and oftentimes getting those granted. If you need to take the test, or you’ve already taken the test, we’re looking to see scores of a 550 or higher in an ideal scenario. Similar to the GPA though, if you’re below that 550 mark if you’ve taken the test, just reach out, let us know.

Jake M.: We can look at your full profile and see what we’re thinking here. Now moving on to the actual different ways you can get the GMAT waived, we got five specific ones. At the very top, we have a GMAT waiver for students who have previously earned a graduate or professional degree. If you have a master’s degree, or maybe a PhD in another area, we can use that as evidence to bypass the need for a GMAT test. One piece of that puzzle is having a 3.0 in that master’s or PhD, so want to see that 3.0 or higher. Additionally, you can see the next one down there. This is a very common one that I use with a lot of students. This is having five years or more of progressive work experience alongside a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Jake M.: This is probably the most common one. As a requirement just to be admitted into the Executive MBA, we want to see five years of management. Already checking that box and if your GPA is at that 3.0 or higher, then you’re setting yourself up pretty nicely for a waiver there. Another common one is the third one, having a STEM degree. That’s going to be a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics degree, paired with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Most common, we see a lot of engineering degrees coming into the program, so that’s going to be very common here. If you’re not sure if your degree would be considered STEM, go ahead and send it to us.

Jake M.: Let us know what you had and we can evaluate the content, the classes that you took and see if we could fit it into the STEM category. Then the fourth bullet point down, we have a GMAT waiver for students who have a business degree from another AACSB accredited institution, paired with a 3.0 GPA or higher. If you look on your school’s website, you had a business degree, you can find out if they are AACSB accredited, which is the same accreditation that WSU holds. If they are and you have that 3.0, setting yourself up for a good GMAT waiver opportunity. Then the final one is going to be having 10 years, or more of progressive work experience, paired with a 2.79 GPA or higher.

Jake M.: As mentioned before, just because you’re below that 3.0, doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get admitted, and it also doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get a GMAT waived. Send this transcript, send us your resume, and we can really fully look at what that admissions process would look like for you, but now at this point, another key element for us and the success of our students, success of the program is going to be around student support. I want to highlight the different layers that we’ve implemented here. Your first one is going to be enrollment advisors, so that’s going to be my role.

Jake M.: Like I mentioned before, we’re here to help you look at the program, see if it makes sense for you and help guide you through that admissions process. Anything from transcript evaluations to GMAT waivers to reviewing that statement of purpose essay, we’re here to make that process as streamlined and easy as possible. As soon as you’re admitted in the program and you’re in that transitionary phase, from applicants to student, you’re going to get access to your student support advisor. This is really going to be your go to, your main person throughout the duration of the program. Apologize if you guys are hearing the construction work going on right outside, but again, that student support advisor, they’re really the main person to help you navigate the program.

Jake M.: Any issues you might be facing, if you have questions about a class or your schedule, you’ll have access to a dedicated representative for you. We also have tech support. If you’re running into any technical issues, we’re going to have quick ways to navigate that. Our learning platform system, currently we’re using Blackboard. I believe we’re transitioning to Canvas, but they have 24/7 technical supports. Then within the specific WSU products that you’ll be using, the Washington State University products that you’ll be using, we have our own help desk that has helped me through plenty of problems over the years. They are great and very supportive there.

Jake M.: We also keep class sizes small, giving you more time with your professor. Your professors have office hours as well. If you want to connect one-on-one, you are more than welcome to do so, and then we break our classes even smaller with section instructors, that way you get even more help specifically with content related questions in your classes. All those layers of support are there from you starting immediately, and we’re here to really give you the highest chance of being successful in this program. Now this slide is going to really give you a good feel for what a semester actually looks like. I mentioned that one class at a time structure before. We talked a little bit about it being the 5-week classes.

Jake M.: Here’s a visual representation on top. You’ll see, we separate our semester spring of 2021 as the example here into three sections. In spring one, your class is going to go from January 11th through February 14th. That class would as an example be international business management. You’re only focusing on that topic for those five weeks. Then by the end of the five weeks, you’ve now completed that course, you’re moving on to the next one. You can see there’s a little bit of a break, so you end that class on February 14th. Now you’re hopping into your second course, February 22nd, and that’s going to be financial management.

Jake M.: Now you’re running through that for another five weeks, focusing on that topic, doing those assignments. That’s going to go through March 28th so another five weeks there. Then you’ll hop into your final course, the final five weeks of the semester, going from March 29th through May 2nd. That’s going to be business analytics, where now again you’re focusing on that topic, only worrying about business analytics, and your career and family at that point to really try to ease the burden of school, make it a little bit more efficient, and spend your time wisely there. That is a semester breakdown. That’s going to be the cadence that you’ll see throughout.

Jake M.: Spring, summer, and fall semester should all look fairly similar to that. At the bottom of your screen though, you’re going to see a screenshot of what our learning management platform looks like this is a screenshot of Canvas. This is the one you guys would be using moving forward. Actually no, apologies. This is going to be the screenshot of Blackboard, the one we’re currently using. Canvas will look pretty similar to this. It’s going to be a fairly straightforward platform, but you can see, this is the portal that you’ll be accessing. On the left side, you’ll see your grades, you’ll see your assignments, any announcements that your professor might have.

Jake M.: This is really going to be the main site that you work off of when going through your course, and every single class once that ends, now your new class is going to be in here always accessing through Blackboard, or in the future going to be accessing it through Canvas. We can can talk you through that a little bit better in the future if you have any more in-depth questions there, but at this point, I think it’s a good opportunity for us to bring in our student speaker, Gary into the mix. Gary, what I’m going to do is just run through these bullet points. I’m going to ask you some questions around it.

Gary P.: Okay.

Jake M.: Perfect. Yeah, starting off our class weeks, they begin Monday, they end on Sunday. Your assignments are always going to be due Sunday night. I’m curious for you, how were you breaking down your program? Were you mostly knocking stuff out through the week, were you mostly doing it over the weekend? What was your approach when you went through the executive program?

Gary P.: I was pretty disciplined with it. One thing I was very fortunate that one of my classmates was a co-worker, and she was a fairly competitive person as am I. We’d be talking about where we are on the reading and reading for a different class, and maybe a business analytics class, where are you on figuring out the different problems. We’d be checking in over the course of the week on how far along we were on things. As the days went by, every single night, I was working on things, and you do need to keep working on it. Some of the classes, the workload is pretty intense, especially when capstone get layered on top of it. It would be pretty tough if you were waiting to just do things on Saturday and Sunday.

Jake M.: Got it. I appreciate the insight there, yeah. The most common approach that I’ve heard from a lot of people, again this is going to vary from student to student and class to class, but a lot of people are going to do primarily the learning from Monday to Friday, where they’re reading all their material, they’re attending or watching those lectures. Then starting to lay out the plan for the weekend to be applying that material to the assignments. Sounds like you were super disciplined. I think that’s excellent. You’ll find that with a lot of our students in the executive program. Now speaking of those live sessions though, we have them.

Jake M.: They’re usually Monday through Thursday. You got two of them typically for a lot of your classes, and we try to host them starting at 6 p.m. or somewhere between 6 and 9 p.m. Pacific Time. For you Gary, were you attending a lot of those live sessions? I know they’re recorded as well, so you can watch them on your own time. What was your approach, more of the live component or the watch it on your own time component?

Gary P.: Yeah. I’m on central time and as we talked about a little bit offline, when I was taking the class, I was doing a lot of travel for my work. I have to add it up I think. I did 10 or 11 trips to Asia while I was taking the class, which is pretty intense. Most of the things, even when I was abroad, I was able to listen to classes live because it’s nice to be able to participate in the class, either ask questions directly to the professor, or you have to chat forwards going along with your classmates, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out, so you have to do the recorded session. One of the things I really did appreciate about the WSU class is that they’ve been doing this a long time.

Gary P.: All the professors that I had worked with in my classes, it’s clearly they knew how to use the technology. My daughter is doing her undergrad work right now at a different school, and due to COVID, they weren’t truly prepared for this new technology. Some areas are working really well. Some areas are not working so well. That’s one of the things I really appreciate even more on WSU you see that it for some areas, that may not go well at other schools.

Jake M.: Right. No, that’s something I’ve heard quite frequently recently. I talked to a lot of people, and a lot of students are just now transitioning into that online learning due to COVID. They didn’t really have a choice, and not always having the best experience. I think with WSU, that 20 plus years of online learning experience has resulted in a pretty good professor base who understands how to use the technology as strong as possible to make sure you guys are learning the material and having a good experience throughout. I appreciate you chiming in there.

Gary P.: Can I add one other… Yeah, one other item on that-

Jake M.: Go for it.

Gary P.:… is that in addition to technology, it’s just the overall experience that it’s not just a broadcasting that it’s one thing to figure out how to hit record and replay a lecture, but how do you have the environment that you can make some connections within the class, some participation. I think WSU generally does a good job of having interaction with other students, instead of it just being a I’m listening to a equivalent of a YouTube recording.

Jake M.: Exactly. Now, that’s another thing that I’ve heard a ton, where there’s the polar opposites of programs. There’s ones that are too interactive, where it can be difficult to fit alongside a career. You traveling so much, that can be difficult to attend anything that’s mandatory. Then there’s other programs out there that are going to be almost just a school where they’re providing you a bunch of material to watch and read, and you go on, you teach yourself. I think that’s been a focus for us is maintaining that balance. Sounds like you had a good mix of that balance and you were able to take advantage of both sides of things, which I like to hear. Perfect, okay. Now Gary, we usually expect about 20 hours per week of work.

Jake M.: Like any average, that’ll go up and down, depending on the class, depending on the student’s specific ability within that individual class. What do you think of that? When you’re seeing 20 hours a week and the way that you approach the program, does that seem accurate? Give me some of your thoughts there.

Gary P.: Gosh, so it hasn’t been that long that I’ve been out of the class, but I think that seems a little on the high side, but you’re probably right that it is. It doesn’t work out to that extent and when capstone gets layered on, you need to be doing something every night and the weekends to do it, but there’s definitely some classes that are… and also depending on what your background. If you have a finance background, when you get into business analytics, you’re going to sail through that type of class. Some of them are going to say to your strengths and others, you’re going to put in a lot more time.

Jake M.: Absolutely. So glad to hear that sometimes that 20 might be a little bit high, but yeah, at the end of the program, we do a capstone project that I had alluded to earlier, and that’s going to be added on top of your classes. The thought is at that point, you’ve got your structure down, you have your approach to classes down, so we feel confident adding on another one, but certainly does make it about that 20 hours a week, maybe a little higher sometimes when you’re in that final section of the program. Now we do have a fair bit of group work throughout the program. That capstone project’s one example, but oftentimes in your class, you’ll have a group work element.

Jake M.: Tell me Gary, what was your guys’s approach when you were in a group assignment? What tools were you using? Did you guys connect for phone calls or Zoom meetings? Tell me a little bit about the way you guys tackled any group assignments.

Gary P.: Well, so first of all, I think everybody recognizes that collaboration has really changed dramatically in just the last six months with COVID. When we were taking the class, I had Skype which seems it’s archaic nowadays, but at the time, that was probably the best tool that we had available to do either… A lot of times, we were just doing audio calls because video calls even two years ago, those were almost a little bit unusual to be doing a video call. Now the expectations have changed dramatically. If I was taking classes now, I would be doing Teams call, Zoom calls or Google Hangouts or whatever would be. There’s a lot of different tools that you can use to make it very easy to collaborate.

Gary P.: The other thing to expect is that at least in my experiences, there was a lot of people that were on the Pacific Timezone. I was on central so it wasn’t too bad, but I also had people be in East Coast or even in Europe. As you’re working on collaboration on your small teams, you just figure it out, and everybody that I had on my different teams was very accommodating because we were all very busy people, and you understand that you have to compromise to make it work.

Jake M.: Absolutely. I think that open line of communication with team members is what we see leading to success. Sounds like you definitely took advantage of that. Timezones are something that you always have to overcome. You got the full range of it from pacific to eastern to international timezones, but it sounds like you were able to overcome any of those issues, which is excellent to see. Now the thing I’m probably most interested on, specifically with your background, is going to be the capstone project that you guys did. As a quick refresher to everybody, that’s going to be the business plan, the final deliverable where you guys are coming up with a new opportunity and creating the full strategy around executing that. Gary, what did you guys do for your final deliverable for that capstone?

Gary P.: Okay. Yeah, I was actually really excited about the capstone program that it… A lot of I think played with some of the strengths in my background of engineering, product developing, and bringing something to market because at the company that I work with, I’ve been very fortunate to be involved in… I’m not just heads down doing engineering analysis. I’ve been able to get involved in a lot of different areas of the company.

Gary P.: First of all, advice is if you get into this program, you don’t necessarily need to think about where your capstone idea is, but when you’re in classes, pay attention to some of the people that are really smart because their names are going to be coming up pretty frequently when you’re asking questions, or when you’re on teams during your classes leading up to capstone, because your life gets a whole lot easier if you get on a good team for capstone.

Gary P.: I was fortunate to be on it just an outstanding team, where I had a person that was a marketing person, a person that was a supply chain, and then a person with a program management and in my background, we really complimented our skills very well, but as you said, what the capstone is, is you’re picking a concept to develop a business plan for and how do you bring it to market. The concept that we came up with was a kitchen item that was an automated trash can. Now you have a trash bin that’s in a cabinet. Well, how do we create a touch free, automated way for that to open up, and our imaginary company was called [Seasma 00:40:13] and our tagline was open Seasma. You bumped the door and then it would open up.

Gary P.: You have your initial idea and the idea that you’re going to do some iterations to find out is this idea really working or not what needs to be done. You pivot it when you have some problems on it, but every week, you’re doing lots and lots of interviews on it. Make sure you pick a topic that sets itself up to have people that you can talk to, and I didn’t have all that insight early on when we’re doing it. Some of it just turned out to be dumb luck because when you talk about a kitchen product, it’s pretty easy to find a whole lot of people that have different ideas about would this fit into your life, or wouldn’t it.

Gary P.: Then every week, you’re working through different elements of the business plan, and then you’re interviewing more and more people every week as you’re refining and developing the business plan, business case for your capstone, in capstone A, B, and C.

Jake M.: Awesome, I love it. I’ve heard a lot of different capstones. That’s probably the most relevant one for me. I’ve got an old school trash can. I think I could use the open Seasma, that would be excellent. Cool. Gary, I appreciate

Gary P.: Yeah, my tagline… One of the other items on your both for capstone and for many of your classes that I did appreciate from Washington State is that to encourage some interactions. There’s a lot of stuff that it’s not just typing up a paper and sending it in. You’re doing videos to send in to either your professor or your classmates because you just can’t be in front of a room to present. On our capstone, the opening line of our thing is wet, raw, chicken and then the idea that you have these dirty hands. You’re touching your kitchen cabinets and here’s the solution to your problem.

Jake M.: I love it that. That’s excellent. I hope maybe after this call, you could send me over that YouTube video that you guys presented for the capstone. That’s excellent.

Gary P.: Thank you Jake.

Jake M.: Perfect. Well, what I’m going to do, we’re going to loop you back in towards the end of… We’re coming up here towards the end. We’ve got about 20 minutes left. We’ll bring you back in during the Q and A session, but Mitch, tell us a little bit about the International Field Study. I know things are a little bit up in the air right now, but give us a breakdown of that.

Mitch S.: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks Jake. Typically, every year, our students are offered the opportunity to go on an optional International Field Study. Obviously for everything that was COVID related, that got sidelined this year, but typically that trip is taken every April and usually in China. You can expect the trip to be 10 or 11 days. It depends on travel for that, but it’s nice because it’s a nice mix of company visits, as well as major activities. In years past, some of the multinational companies in China included businesses like John Deere or Boeing, but then there’s also Chinese companies that you’d visit like Alibaba because China is one of the biggest economies in the world.

Mitch S.: That’s why it’s typically chosen for our EMBA field study trip, because it gives you a nice variety of company business, those for what the business environment is like, what the climate is like for doing business in China, or what it’s like to sell into the Chinese market. The trip may actually be somewhat tailored based on the interests of the students that are going. We can’t make promises on all visits, but if you let the instructor who leads that trip know with enough time, he can typically work out some of those accommodations. For example, on one of the last trips that happened, there were a few students from Boeing in the aerospace field.

Mitch S.: One of the company visits was Boeing R and D Center in Beijing, and then some of the tourist and cultural activities that have taken place before included visits to Forbidden City, The Great Wall. When they visit Shanghai, they visit Yu Garden. You get a nice appreciation for the history and culture of China. Back to essentially all travel being shut down due to COVID, one thing I do want to highlight is we allow our alumni the opportunity to come back and go on these International Field Study trips. If you happen to be in the program at a time where travel is not allowed and the International Field Study essentially gets postponed or canceled, you can always still attend it, even once you’ve graduated from the program. That is an opportunity that we offer for our alumni. Don’t be discouraged if you wanted to go on this trip and travel got postponed or canceled.

Jake M.: Awesome. Appreciate you giving that insight. I know I’ve talked to a few students, and some of the other webinars who have gone on the field studies multiple times. Being able to hop back in as an alum is awesome, especially in this time of uncertainty around the pandemic. If you can’t go, like I know Gary had been traveling to China for work quite frequently for his time during the program, so this is an optional event. If you can’t make it, even if it is up, no worries there. Now Mitch, can you also tell us about the leadership conference? I know we’ve done in-person versions, we’ve done virtual versions. Tell us a little bit about this.

Mitch S.: Yeah, absolutely. This is an event that is exclusive for our current students and our alumni from the Executive MBA program. Typically, in normal years, we host it every September in Seattle, although again because travel was sidelined this year, instead of eliminating the event altogether, we ended up doing a virtual EMBA leadership conference. Normally though, when we’re traveling, it’ll be like at a boutique, a hotel in Spokane and it’s typically three days, two… Well, two days, two and a half days, where we bring in executive coaches and leaders to talk about work and conduct workshops. We’ve had authors over the years, various professors, topic experts.

Mitch S.: Not this year, but the previous year, some of the sessions included group stereotypes and biases in the workplace, emotional intelligence and how it’s a differentiator, and then skills and techniques to stand out as a global executive. Also, as part of that, we allow lots of opportunity not only for networking with fellow peers and alumni, but we also have various staff that attend that event. We have faculty that are there, and then one of the big highlights of that conference, is that at the conclusion of typically the second night of the conference, we hold what’s called the dean’s reception, where the dean of The Carson College of Business will host a happy hour.

Mitch S.: It’s just a really nice opportunity for him to get to know the students, but also the students to get to know our dean. It’s been very well-received in the years past. This year doing it virtually, we actually did a virtual happy hour with the dean that was interesting. We did some games and stuff this year. It was a fun event, but in normal years, you can expect that that will be held every September in Seattle.

Jake M.: Perfect. Just like the international trip, it is open to alum. We do have a lot of alumni who finished the executive program coming back year over year for those. Excellent, I appreciate that Mitch. Now we got one more slide before we move into the Q and A section. If you’ve got any questions that you’re itching to get answered, let’s go ahead and start sending them through the chat, but while we’re getting some questions in there, can you just briefly go over some of the other networking events aside from the international trip and the leadership conference?

Mitch S.: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. As Jake has mentioned in numerous times, there is no travel or any type of residency that’s required for our students. It is 100% online. However, we do want to offer the opportunity to allow face-to-face networking opportunities for our students that want to take advantage of those opportunities. I’ve already talked about the International Field Study. I’m going to go ahead and move past that, but some of the other events we host, one of them is called the Carson College Power Breakfast and actually, we typically host that around the same time. It’s typically the same week as our EMBA leadership conference.

Mitch S.: For those that might be traveling out of town, or taking work off, or whatever, it allows you the opportunity to attend both within a day of each other, so that you don’t have to try and spread out travel arrangements or work arrangements, but what that is, is that’s an opportunity, again we have staff, we have faculty to meet for breakfast in Seattle. We typically have a speaker to come in and speak to our students and our alumni. We’ve done panels before to talk about various things happening in industries. In last year’s event, I actually think we had WSU’s new basketball coach Kyle Smith come and speak. It’s a pretty cool event. It’s a power breakfast, so it’s typically held from 7:30 to 9 in the morning.

Mitch S.: Those of you that do work in or around the Seattle area typically can still make it for work for the rest of the morning. Another opportunity is the CougsFirst! Show, also held out in the greater Seattle area, although they are now holding one in Spokane as well on the eastern side of the state. What that essentially is, is it’s basically like a large trade show to highlight Coug-owned businesses and allow alumni, current students to interact with Coug-owned businesses. It’s a pretty cool event. President Schultz typically speaks as well. Military student events, I know Matt has held a few essentially meet and greets for the military students.

Mitch S.: He’ll typically go to like a pub or something and for a few hours, the military students and the alumni will get together, and just network and hang out. That’s pretty cool event. We have alumni association events and watch parties. If you go to the alumni association page, you’ll be able to see a lot of those events. Even if you’re not an alumni yet, a lot of them are open to the public and to current students. If you wanted to catch a WSU football game, you can type in your location, and it will tell you what watch parties are happening in your city, or around you in case you want to be present for those.

Mitch S.: Then the last one we typically hold commencement celebrations, and Carson College receptions for our graduating classes. It’s a really nice time of year when you can travel in the spring to come see WSU’s campus. Like we said, you don’t have to come, but you’re always invited. Definitely a nice time of year to come check out WSU, come meet fellow graduates, and see the police in the spring. Those are a few of the opportunities that we offer throughout the course of your career as a student, but then also as an alumni.

Jake M.: Excellent. I appreciate you really expanding on those. I think that the networking events are something that has been growing year over year for our students, especially in the Executive MBA. Appreciate you giving some clarity there. Now at this point, we are going to move into the Q and A section. If anybody’s got to rush off, then I just want to highlight a few things here. We do have an upcoming spring start date, so that’s going to be January 11th of 2021. If you’re looking to start off the new year in an Executive MBA program, let us know, we’d be happy to connect and talk through your options.

Jake M.: If you want to give us a call, you got the phone number there in the bottom left, as well as a link to our general scheduling tool, where you can schedule an appointment with either myself, or any of the other enrollment advisors. Then you can see the application deadline there is December 7th. Plenty of time to get things in. I’d recommend the sooner, the better, but yeah, at this point, let’s move into the Q and A section for… I’ll be giving out questions between you Mitch and as well as Gary. I got some good ones rolling in here. Now I’m going to start off with this one. Do I need any foundational courses? That’s an excellent question. Foundational courses are pretty common with MBA programs.

Jake M.: I’m going to go ahead and take this one. With our Executive MBA, we don’t have any foundational courses because they’re going to usually be prerequisites that an MBA would need. Since it’s a program really designed for people further along in their career, we feel pretty confident with the ability to move directly into the core curriculum, so that strategic focus for the content at the top layers of leadership. No foundational course is needed. If you feel like you really need those, or would benefit from those, give us a call. We can talk through our regular MBA compared to the Executive MBA, and make sure we’re getting you in the right program here.

Jake M.: Now Mitch, here’s a good one for you. On managerial experience, is there a minimum amount of direct reports that you need during those five years? When you’re looking at management experience, when you’re evaluating resumes for applicants, tell me what you are doing in that process.

Mitch S.: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great question. A lot of management, a lot of leadership does not have to be tied to how many direct reports you have. There’s a lot of executive level leadership that are managing big projects, or big budgets for example. Those are things that we look at. Obviously, managing people is a huge piece of that, but that is not the only thing that I’m looking at when I’m evaluating management and leadership experience. It can be a myriad of options. Yeah, I look at the full resume for those types of things.

Jake M.: Absolutely. Yeah, we have students coming from all different backgrounds. If you feel like the executive’s content is going to make more sense for you, rather than a regular MBA, let us know, and we can really look and see if you’re on the right path and have the right background to be successful in the program. I think that leads to another really good question that I think Gary, you can chime in on. I’m going to answer the first half of it, but I want to see if you can add some other color to it, but how does the Executive MBA differ from a regular online MBA? When I’m looking at this and I’m talking with students about trying to find the right program between the two, typically the curriculum of the regular MBA is tailored for somebody moving into management.

Jake M.: You’re getting a little bit more in the weeds. You probably don’t have much management experience yet, so we’re going to teach you really all the fundamentals of business and how to be a really solid manager within a company. When I look at the Executive MBA, it’s going to be for students who are already at that management level. They got a minimum of five years and their next step is often towards that C-suite or some of the higher level positions within a company. Our primary focus in that program is going to end the executive program is going to be on how to lead organizations as a whole. The company-wide strategy, adopting technology, and identifying innovative technology to really maintain a competitive company, and some different strategies there.

Jake M.: Gary, tell me a little bit, when you were doing your research and you were trying to find MBA versus Executive MBA, what led you to choosing the executive program?

Gary P.: There’s a few things you touched on already that I use very quickly to filter out some schools. I’m a little bit older. I think I was 50 when I started the program. I’ve been out of college for a couple years, and I had really no desire to go back to study and take the GMAT, or any other classes in order to get it. I wanted to start taking MBA classes right away. The exec MBA and the waiver that you previously described, those were huge things for me, because I’m busy. I want to get into the classes and start to apply things right away into my work life. I’m not looking to take accounting 101 because I’m not going to be an accountant.

Gary P.: I want to learn the executive level types of accounting on how do you make decisions on capitalization and operations expenses when I’m doing a budget for a department or program. That’s just one example of a let’s get to the high level stuff that’s important for where I am in my career, and not the very simple things that you may need in other areas.

Jake M.: Absolutely. No I think that that’s an excellent summary. I really appreciate you sharing their on what your experience was and why you chose the executive. It is a quicker program. That 16 months is pretty fast, not to say it’s easy. It is a rigorous program as I’m sure Gary can attest to that roughly 20 hours a week, so that is an advantage there getting through the process quickly. Perfect. Now I got another question here. What is the feedback you see from alumni on having an Executive MBA degree versus a regular MBA in a competitive job market? For me addressing this question, I’m going to say the biggest value is speaking to the content that you’ve learned.

Jake M.: When you’re in those interviews and you’re making the next step in your career, you’re able to talk on terms that are going to be much more targeted towards C-suite positions if that’s what you’re applying for. In that case, the executive’s curriculum is going to be more relevant. You can really highlight that piece. Mitch, do you have any anything to throw into the mix there on feedback that we’re hearing from alumni with the executive program versus a regular MBA?

Mitch S.: Yeah. Jake, I would echo exactly what you said. It’s really interesting over the years, I’ve actually seen a handful of people whose employer required an EMBA versus just an MBA. It doesn’t happen a ton, but it’s happened enough that I’m talking about it where, yeah, when they were deciding to go back to school at the request of their employer, they needed it to be an Executive MBA. Some of the other things that I think are really important in the differentiation between the two and Gary, actually had alluded to it in his answer as well. With the general MBA even with ours, it’s really discovering like what are those tools out there, and maybe how do you use them to leverage your career and get to the next step.

Mitch S.: With the Executive MBA, it’s basically taking it even a step further to say, “Okay, you already know that these tools exist. How do you make the big decisions and analyze the data and that type of stuff with witness types of tools and these things?” That’s one of the big differentiators, is basically how do you take that knowledge and then make those big executive decisions. The second huge piece I think between an Executive MBA and just our general MBA really comes down to networking. I say that because in our general MBA, we have tons of students who are right out of the undergrad, who they might be 21, 22 who don’t have a lot of work experience.

Mitch S.: While they might get a lot out of you and learn a lot, sometimes it’s not reciprocated, right? With the Executive MBA, you’re going to be sharing class based with CEOs, CFOs, people very high up in the military, health care administration. I’ve heard a lot of the feedback to say that it’s nice to say, “I’m an accountant and this is what we learned in class this week, and this is how it applied in our firm.” Then somebody might say, “That’s interesting, I work for a hospital and this is how this same topic applied to us.” I think those are really important as far as being a big differentiator between the EMBA and just the general MBA. Definitely some I hope you all consider.

Jake M.: Yeah. No, absolutely, I appreciate the further insight there. I think the executive program is excellent. I think it’s really designed to differentiate yourself that that top layer, where everybody’s a high performer. Now how do I further differentiate myself executive, tends to be a great path for that. We are a couple minutes over here, so I’m going to start wrapping things up. Thank you everybody for hopping on. I hope this was informative. If there’s any questions that didn’t get answered, we will be addressing those. If there’s any cases that you want to talk through, give us a call or schedule an appointment.

Jake M.: We’d love to talk through the program, and really make sure that this is going to fit what you guys need, but we got that January 11 start date coming up, deadline of December 7th. Hopefully, we get to talk to you soon, but here’s a big thanks from The Carson College of Business and go Cougs!

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