WSU Executive MBA Summer 2019 Info Session with Program Director
Jason Techeira: Hi. Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for joining us for our Executives MBA info session. We’re very happy to have you here as we go over some information on the program. Before we get started, I do just want to go over a few things to keep in mind. This presentation is in broadcast only mode. We cannot hear you. Please, if you do have any questions, utilize the Q&A feature located at the bottom of the screen. I will be answering questions throughout the presentation, but we will also have a Q&A session when this is all over so please do stick around. Also, a recording of this session is going to be emailed to you after the webinars. So I thought something comes up, you will be getting a recording of this as well.
Jason Techeira: I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Jason Techeira. I’m the senior enrollment adviser here with our online Executive MBA program. It’s a pleasure to be speaking with all of you.
Matt Beer: Hey everybody. My Name’s Matt Beer. I’m a military and veteran affairs manager for the Carson College of business.
Jason Techeira: Also with us. We have the Executive MBA faculty director Velle Kolde. Velle are you there?
Velle Kolde: Yeah. Sorry. I introduced myself and I still had the mute on. Yeah, my name is Velle Kolde I’m directors Executive MBA program. I’m also a faculty member and I teach in the program as well.
Jason Techeira: Perfect. Thank you Velle, thank you Matt for joining us or we do also have a student speaker here with us today. We’ll be introducing him here shortly, but I want to just go over what we plan on covering in our presentation. First and foremost we are going to go through some military specific information for any of our military students out there. We’ll also be going through the history of the program accreditations, rankings. Really everything that sets us apart from other programs out there. We do have some information on our international field studies from the past and again, a student speaker here with us to go over and really give you that student perspective. Will follow the presentation up with a live Q&A session.
Jason Techeira: At this time. I’d love to turn it over again your Executive MBA director Velle Kolde. Oh I’m sorry, I’m turning that over to Matt Beer our military coordinator. I apologize for that mix up. All Right Matt, you still there?
Matt Beer: Yup. All right. Hey, thanks JT. Liked I said Matt Beer Air Force 22 years. I’m excited to be here working for Washington state, taking care of our military and veterans students, which actually comprise about 58% of our student population and they’re all over the world from Germany, Japan, some, here locally but all with a lot of great leadership experience to draw from. For the folks that aren’t military or veteran, there are some benefits there. So you talked to your enrollment advisor about what you might be eligible for. And then if you do end up using some VA benefits, you’ll want to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and our veterans coordinator there. We’ll make sure that all your paperwork’s taken care of. In any event, if you do have questions about that, feel free to contact me as well and I can get you in the right direction.
Matt Beer: The part I’m really excited about we’re starting to offer some programs for our students, both those that are in service, those that are transitioning and even those that may be just recently left. And those include some book discussions, we invite some speakers in and talk about different things and we tend to do some transition focused workshops. In fact, we did one just the other night, we had a strength finder workshop and I had a career coach come in and talk about using your strengths in the workplace and that how that relates to both military and corporate environment. Then we’re going to follow that up with some one on one coaching with her over the next month.
Matt Beer: So a lot of stuff going on here. It’s pretty exciting. If you have any questions about the program or just want to talk to maybe a current student, please reach out to me and we’ll make that happen. Welcome.
Jason Techeira: All right thank you so much for that, Matt. At this time I’d like to turn it over to your Executive MBA, director Velle Kolde to just go over, some of the program specifics. Thanks Velle.
Velle Kolde: Okay. Before I jump into a little bit of the history of the program in Washington State University, one thing I will mention is I’m actually a double alum from Washington State University. I did undergrad and grad there. Then I went out and worked in the private sector in the tech industry for 30 years. Had a pretty good career there. And then I retired and I failed at retirement. And now I’m here as a director of the Executive MBA program and a professor and I feel like I am giving back. Because the education that I got at WSU, was fabulous. My first job out of school was in Silicon Valley. I was working with competing against, working for and having people work for me that have come from other schools, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, all the big names. I felt that the education I got at WSU was second to none because I was effectively, competing and working with these people, throughout.
Velle Kolde: But anyway, enough about me, let’s talk a little bit about the school. Washington State University was founded as a land-grant university in 1890. So we have, a long steep history. We’ve been doing graduate business education since 1957. That’s when we opened our MBA program. Then the school has also been very progressive in distance learning and online learning. Washington State University was giving distance learning degrees over 30 years ago. That was actually pre-internet. This was a time when you would get videotapes mailed to you and you’d watch them and you’d be doing work. But it was remote learning, pre-internet. Then of course with the introduction of the Internet, we moved our distance learning programs to the web. We’ve been working on perfecting those programs for 25 plus years now.
Velle Kolde: It really pays off because over that time we have really learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t work, how to make an engaging online experience, how to structure the program to make it work well for the students. Particularly in this program because we’re designed for working professionals. Also as a tier one university, we have a huge international network of corporate and academic alliances throughout the globe. Now, accreditation we’re AACSB accredited and we’re also recognized by a number of ratings agencies and rankings agencies. However, honestly we don’t actually chase the rankings because sometimes the criteria that they use as a little bit interesting, I guess maybe I don’t know if it really measures the effectiveness of the program, but still we appreciate the recognition.
Velle Kolde: But the one thing that, it’s important for all of you that are considering getting an MBA, particularly an Executive MBA. You know, even if you don’t come to our program, make sure you select a program that’s AACSB accredited. There are other accreditation bodies out there. But AACSB is considered the gold standard. It’s what all the top universities are AACSB accredited. Why that’s important is it really speaks to the quality of the education that you’re going to get it is monitored. You’re going to be in a very worthwhile rigorous program. The recruiters at a large companies and even small companies, so smart, sophisticated recruiters, they all know what AACSB accreditation is. So, when they’re looking at resumes, if they see that you went through an AACSB accredited school, they’re going, “That’s great.”
Velle Kolde: If you didn’t go to an AACSB accredited school, then they will use your degree with less favor. I guess, polite way to put it. So important that you do get an AACSB accredited school regardless of where you’re going. Just some advice for you guys.
Velle Kolde: What about our Executive MBA program? So, our Executive MBA program, we also offer a regular online MBA program, but the key differences between the standard MBA and the Executive MBA is that we teach to a higher level in the Executive MBA. The average student in there in our program has 18 to 20 years business experience wearing the normal MBA program. You have people that might have zero to five years business experience. So, you will get actually if you’ve got 7-10 years of work experience under your belt, you will get so much more out of an Executive MBA program then you will for out of a standard MBA program, because we teach to people that are leaders that are managers that have to write performance reviews, that have to make strategy decisions, have to make innovation decisions, have to be leaders.
Velle Kolde: Regular MBA programs. You know, they may touch on those subjects, but they’re teaching people, like I said, the 0-5 years business experience. Sometimes, you’re not getting that same level of focus on leadership, innovation and strategy that you’re going to get in the Executive MBA program. I mean, a good example is business analytics in a conventional MBA program, they’ll teach you all about how to make the business analytics and what the key metrics are, et cetera. But, they spend less time on how to really interpret that information. Whereas an Executive MBA program, most of you will have somebody who’s doing the analytics for you.
Velle Kolde: Now, yes, it’s good that you understand the mechanics of how it works, but what you really need to know is when you get that analytics report, how do you digest that information? How do you use it to, for your business decision making, how do you incorporate it into your strategy? So, when I taught getting people into the more specifics of our program, when people ask me about the program, I say, in one sentence, “We offer quality, convenience and relevance.” So quality refers to the fact that we are a tier one research university. We’re fully accredited by a AACSB. And in fact a WSU is one of all the schools that are AACSB accredited. Only 2% of them are accredited at the undergraduate, graduate and PhD level. And WSU is one of those schools.
Velle Kolde: As a result of that accreditation and the of being a research institution, we have a world class faculty. We have a world class curriculum. We keep the class sizes small. Specifically our section sizes are limited to 20 students per section. Then you will also be … The students that are going to be your peers in the program, your colleagues in the program are going to be exceptional people as well. They’re all successful mid career professionals. That are acute success in leadership positions within their own organizations and distinguish themselves. So you will learn as much if not more from your fellow students as you will from the faculty and the textbooks and case materials.
Velle Kolde: We do also include a lot of group projects. We discussed current events, there’s a lot many that networking opportunities you will be working with your fellow students on projects or group discussions, case studies, et Cetera. And now, when it comes to convenience, I think this is one place where the WSU really has distinguished itself and this is where we’re really benefited from all those years of doing online education is that, you can’t just take a brick and mortar class and shoot some videos and then put it online and say, “Now we’ve got can online class.” That’s actually how we started. And it really didn’t work out very well. In fact, it sucked. But over the years we’ve identified the weaknesses of it. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from students and we’ve been able to improve the program.
Velle Kolde: This program is actually designed for working professionals. It’s designed for adult learners. It has a 100% online and we try and keep it as asynchronous as possible. So, for example, our lectures are all recorded. So if for some reason you aren’t able to attend the lead instructors lecture or the section instructors session, those are recorded so you can come back and watch later. Even if you did attend that, sometimes you want to go back and say, “Well, I kind of forgot what they said there.” Or “I was a little confused about this.” And you can go back and review the video. So that way if there’s a lecture scheduled for Monday night at 6:00 PM Pacific time, but you have some professional or family obligation that prevents you from making that session, you can then later watch it at your convenience.
Velle Kolde: The other thing that we do is we tend to load up the assignments, to being due near the end of the week to give you maximum flexibility to schedule the time you need to, get your classwork done. And I’ll touch on this later slide. But in general, it’s about 20 hours a week plus or minus. And different students have different strategies for how they deal with that. I’ve had students with young kids studying in the evenings after they put their kids to bed. I had a guy that ran an R&D department at Boeing. He liked to get up, and study for two hours before going to work.
Velle Kolde: Some students actually have the luxury of being able to do some of their schoolwork after work. They’re supported by their organization or their bosses and allowed to do that. Some people are heavy on the weekends getting the work done. But having the most of the work done, not all, but most of the work do late Sunday night, actually gives you that flexibility to get your coursework done, to do the readings, and schedule the time in a way that fits your schedule. And I do know that you know, like one student actually told me that for every five week class at the very beginning, they would look at all the assignments and when they were due and they would actually map out their time for the next five weeks on when they were going to be able to schedule their study time.
Velle Kolde: In terms of relevance, we really have a practical, a focus here. I mean, we teach a lot of theory and concepts as well, but it’s always tied back to practical application. As I mentioned, I was 30 years in the tech industry there it’s all about delivering results, generating positive outcomes. That was what was important. I really have a strong emphasis in this program that when we teach you things you can work here, learn something on a Monday night lecture and go apply it at work Tuesday morning. And we have lots of stories of students that I’ve done that I think later when Aaron is talking, he can share his experiences with it, but we’re really focused on giving you the information, the education, the tools, the concepts of frameworks, the best practices that you can take and apply right away.
Velle Kolde: We do data driven analysis. We talk about business plans. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, we have increased focus on leadership strategy and innovation. Because those are the three key pillars that upper level managers are responsible for. When you first start off working, you’re not leading anybody. You’re not responsible for developing strategy. You just execute whatever strategy is given to you. And similarly you’re not responsible for generating innovation to keep the company competitive and relevant, for the next 3-10 years. But as you get higher up in the organization, that becomes much more important.
Velle Kolde: Also, another thing I’ll mention about our program is we do not at the Executive MBA level, we do not offer specialties. We don’t have our undergraduate program. I’m sorry, our standard online program, you can have an emphasis in finance or marketing or international studies. At the executive level. It’s really taking CXO type perspective where you need to understand how all aspects of the business work and how they’re interrelated. So, we don’t do the specialty here because we don’t believe it’s appropriate at the executive level. At the executive level, you need to be the Jack of all trades and understand how all the pieces fit together and how they’re interrelated.
Velle Kolde: I also look one of talk here about the support that we give you, during the admissions process and enrollment advisor will be there to answer all your questions, to walk you through the process, and make sure that you get a complete application package and answer any questions or address any issues you may have. Once you enroll in the program, the enrollment advisors, I hand you off to student services. Basically think of them as customer service. They are there to help you with anything that is related to the program except for the actual coursework itself. For the coursework, you have the faculty, you’ll have professors and you’ll have a section instructor for each course that you’re in. They’re both available to you. Most of them, would get very good marks on faculty accessibility. Like personally, I give every student in the program my cell phone number and they of course have my email address and they can call me anytime they want to talk about anything. Whether it’s related to the school related to the program, related to their coursework, were available.
Velle Kolde: We also have technical support. So, for the technical tools, we use blackboard as our learning management system so basically that’s the web based application that you will use to access course materials to access lectures to submit your assignment et cetera. We have 24/7 technical support available for blackboard. So even if you’re studying or working late at night or you’re grabbing to get that assignment in late Sunday night, you run into a problem. Tech support is there for you. A couple of other features of our program is we do offer an international field study up opportunity. This year it’s going to be in April. We’re going to China. We’re going to go to Beijing. We’re going to Dalian. We’re going to Hangzhou and to Shanghai. While we’re there, we will visit local businesses. We’re going to visit Ali Baba. We’re going to visit Geely automotive and we’re going to visit a law firm.
Velle Kolde: During these visits we come in, we sit down in a conference room, with some of their executives and we talk about what’s going on in the business, what’s going on in doing business with China. Sometimes we’re visiting Chinese companies, sometimes we’re visiting U.S or global companies that have operations in China. We will, if appropriate, will tour of their facilities. One year we went to Nike’s huge automated distribution center outside of Shanghai. The building was so large, they built a tunnel through the center of it, so fire engines could get in there in the event that was a fire. It was so big that you couldn’t fight the fire from outside of the building. You actually had to build roads in the building for the fire trucks to go through.
Velle Kolde: Then in addition to the business visits, we also do cultural visits. We go, like for example, in Beijing, we will go to Tiananmen Square and we’ll go to the Forbidden City and we’ll go to the Great Wall. So, we’ll learn about the culture and the people as well. So it’s not just a business focused it’s actually the best of kind of, if you think of a tourism vacation, learning about the history and culture and learning about the people as well as learning about how business is done there. It’s just a really great experience. Also, Aaron who will be speaking later was on the trip last year so he can share his perspectives with you on that.
Velle Kolde: Now the international field study, it is an optional course. It’s an elective. So if you want to do the trip, great. If you can’t do the trip, that’s fine too. There’s another elective that you can take. But it is a wonderful opportunity if that’s something that’s available to you and something that [inaudible 00:23:51] to you. Every student … I’ve been doing this trip for eight years now and every student that’s been on the trip has said, “Life changing experience. I will never forget this trip for the rest of my life.” So, it’s a lifetime memory and a lifetime impact. Also, it’s a … I don’t know whether we will be going to China next year, good chance we will, but we’re also open to input from students as to where they want to go. But the one thing about China, it is the second largest economy in the world, soon to be the first largest. Big trading partner for the U.S.
Velle Kolde: Regardless of what business you’re in, just about every business is either going to want to sell into the Chinese market, partner with Chinese companies for manufacturing or other reasons or they’re going to be competing against Chinese company. So that’s what makes China particularly interesting and relevant for the Executive MBA student.
Velle Kolde: One of the things that we do is we conduct a leadership conference every September and we will stay at a boutique hotel in Seattle. We’ll bring in speakers and actually the Executive MBA program picks up the cost of the speakers and all the catering. The only thing that students and alumni need to cover is the hotel room and whatever travel they need to get to Seattle. But it’s a great time. We bring in people to talk about subjects that are relevant to executives but perhaps are not covered that well in our Executive MBA crew curriculum. So we tend to bring in a lot of executive coaches, career coaches. Last year we had Tom [Tripp 00:25:47] talk do a day on negotiation because as part of the program itself, we didn’t get too deep in negotiation. But negotiating skills are definitely a good positive thing to have.
Velle Kolde: As I mentioned, we bring in career coaches to teach you how to distinguish yourself. These are Executive level coaches too because it’s when you start off in an organization and you’re at the lower levels, if you’re smart and you’re a hard worker, it’s easier to distinguish yourself because the competition isn’t as good. But as you move a higher and higher in an organization, now all of a sudden, all your peers are also really smart, hardworking people as well. And it becomes harder and harder to distinguish yourself, to make yourself stand out to the CEO or to the senior management team. So we bring in people that will help you do that.
Velle Kolde: As I said that happens in September. It’s also, we do in the … We have the sessions during the day, but we also do some reception in the evenings. So it’s a great opportunity to network with your fellow students and alumni from the program as well as some faculty from the program. I will, I always attend and so some of the faculty members who will join us in Seattle as well. So it’s a really great networking opportunity.
Velle Kolde: Now, let’s get into some of the specifics of the program. Program structure, it is an 18 month program. It’s 15 courses. You’ll be taking one elective you have a choice between two different electives. One of them is the International Field Study Course, which as well of course I teach by the way. Our courses run five weeks and you only take one course at a time. So during this 18 month period, you will take a five week course and that will be all you’ll be caking, for the first half of the curriculum. So you’re not trying to balance multiple courses, you’re just doing one course intensively for five weeks.
Velle Kolde: Now, during the second half of your program and the last thing … So the first nine months, you’re just taking one five week course at a time during the second half of the program. Well, the remaining five months or I’m sorry, nine months, you will be taking one five week course and you’ll also be working on your capstone project. And the capstone project is what we use as a final exam in our program. Now, any graduate degree needs some final examination to show that you have demonstrated … That you have proficiency in the learning goals of the program. Now common ways that you can do this final exam is you could have the students write a thesis. And back when I went through the program, I actually wrote a thesis. But writing the thesis is doing a research project deeply on one subject. Well, it’s really, it’s not a bad thing to do, it’s actually a great thing to do if you thinking that you want to go on and do a career in academia, you want to go on to get a PhD and become a tenure track professor.
Velle Kolde: But it’s not terribly relevant to business because you will be going deep and narrow on one subject. The other thing that we could do for final examination is give you a big comprehensive final examination. We took their big hairy task, but I don’t really think that, that really allows you to demonstrate and apply what you’ve really learned in the program. So instead what we do is we have you generate ideas for a new business and then go through the then formula in the teams. And then have you go through the process of developing a business model, testing the feasibility of that idea, and then writing a complete and comprehensive business plan.
Velle Kolde: This ensures that you understand how all the pieces of the business disciplines work together and you’ve integrated them and you’ve developed strategy, you’ve done something, you’ve come up with an innovation and you’ve developed a strategy to commercialize it and you comprehended all the acts aspects of the business. The target customer, the value proposition that the sales and distribution channels, the customer relationships some revenue models, pricing tactics, the metrics, the key partners, the key activities, et cetera. The students that have been through that process speak very, very highly of it. They find that to be perhaps one of the highlights of the program. Because especially if you work at a large company and you’ve always worked at a large company, you don’t get that type of exposure. You tend to be more siloed and more narrow in your exposure to what goes on.
Velle Kolde: It also is a great opportunity if you are doing an entrepreneurship project. So, let’s say you’re doing a project within your … You’ve chosen a project that relates to your current business. We had one student who was a plant manager for a Liquid Natural Gas facility in Texas and his project was to work on … They were going to develop a new port facility for exporting Liquid Natural Gas to Asia. So that was his project and he was doing the feasibility study and the business model and developing the business plan for it. He would tell me later, he goes, “It was great.” Because he was able to, as I was saying, “Hey, I’m an MBA student and I am working on this as my project.” He was getting meetings with the senior vice president of marketing. And him being operations guys. Normally he would have never talked to the SVP of marketing.
Velle Kolde: But doing this project, he talked to many members of the senior leadership team. It was great exposure for him. He learned a lot more about his company. His senior executives learned a lot more about him. It worked out very, very well for him all the way around.
Velle Kolde: On admissions process. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because, your enrollment advisors can take you through this in detail, but in general, we look for a minimum of 10 years work experience. Minimum seven years business experience. The GMAT waiver is available, because we can waive the GMAT for students that have demonstrated, seven years or plus of business experience. So, simply by meeting the requirements for the program, you most likely qualify for a GMAT waiver. Again, your enrollment adviser can give you more information on that. But in general, we have very, very few students that are required to take the GMAT. Most everyone that qualifies for this program also qualifies for a GMAT waiver.
Velle Kolde: We do start three times a year. We start in January, May and August. So the next start, I believe it’s May, oops! Jason we’ll know for sure. It’s going to be that Monday, I think the first Monday in May will be the beginning of the spring session for classes.
Velle Kolde: Now also, let’s talk about numbers. Everybody always wants to know numbers. So tuition about a little over $54,000. As you can see, it’s 44 credits at $1,233 per credit. Plus or minus, you’re going to spend probably another $3,000 on books and fees, materials, case studies, et Cetera, simulations and then if you do, do the optional fields study trip depending on where we go and how long were gone, that can add another $5,000-$7,000 to the cost. So bottom end, if you don’t go on the trip, you’re probably just over $57,000. If you go on the trip, you’re maybe 64,000 ish.
Velle Kolde: There are scholarships that are available. If you go to fast web, there’s also financial aid available. If you are a veteran or active duty military, you’ve got a great program, through the GI Bill and post 9/11 GI Bill. That pretty much covers everything for you it’s fabulous. But Matt will be able to help you with that. We also have within our registrar’s office, financial aid office, a person that is dedicated to military and veterans who knows these programs inside and out and will be able to help you and work with you to make sure that you get, the maximum amount of benefits that you’re entitled to.
Velle Kolde: I’m just gonna wrap it up with a few up frequently asked questions, how often are you interacting with the faculty? Typically you’ll have two sessions per week. One with the lead instructor, one would your section instructor, as I mentioned before, all the sessions are recorded and available for viewing later. The time commitment probably about 20 hours per week plus or minus. It sometimes depends on how familiar you are with the material. If you are a finance person and you’re taking the finance or accounting class, you might be spending less time. If you’re one of those people that … But if you’re a marketing person and don’t have a lot of finance or accounting experience, maybe you’re spending a little bit more time, it can vary.
Velle Kolde: Also, during the second half of the program when you’re also working on the capstone, that time will go up or you might be spending … Well, two things happen. The capstone adds more work, but now that you’ve been in the program for nine months, you’ve become much more efficient at getting your course work done. So that was per week go down because you’re more efficient at doing it. But then they’re going to go up a little bit because you have more works the capstone. And I’ll let Aaron talk to that. We talked about the international field study trip. I talked about the capstone final examination process. There’s also an option go peak is WSU is a research university. We are actually as an institution really good at taking our $300 million a year of research money that we get in the form of grants and turning that into ideas in the form of patents.
Velle Kolde: The one thing that the university is not very good at is turning those ideas, those patents back into dollars. So, there is an option to select a project based on WSU, intellectual property where you take some IP developed by the university and you develop a business plan or commercializing it. The courses themselves, abstracts are available up on the website. Jason can help you, I know where your enrollment adviser can point you to it so you can read it about the specifics of the classes. One thing that you may notice is when you read the descriptions they may sound a lot like a lot of other MBA classes.
Velle Kolde: But do remember in the Executive MBA Program we’re teaching the subject at a higher level. we’re teaching it to somebody who is a manager in that process and who is responsible for innovation, responsible for strategy, responsible for making the tough decisions and is responsible for leading others. So, everything that we teach is taught in that context.
Velle Kolde: Then also the picture here, by the way the woman in a light sweater, that’s Carrie Andrews. She’s a graduate of the program. That is her and her colleague on Shark Tank where they actually took their capstone project, turned it into a company. They had started a fundraiser on Kickstarter and then Carrie got a phone call from Shark Tank saying, “Hey, we saw your company on Kickstarter, would you like to come onto Shark Tank and pitch your idea? Well, Carrie and her colleagues went on Shark Tank. They pitched it, they got 100% funded by Mark Cuban. They operated the business for a while and then they sold out to a larger company. I’m not implying that everybody that goes through the program commercializes our capstone project. Probably, but some do probably about 5% of our of people that go through the program actually end up implementing their … Well have actually started companies.
Velle Kolde: People that do entrepreneurship project, something within their company, they work at Amazon or Starbucks and they’re elbowing and they did something within their own product group or within their own division going into a new business area. I have quite a few of those as well. I’m giving you a perspective as director of the program and as a faculty member in the program. But now I’d like to turn it over to Aaron. Aaron just graduated from the program and I will go ahead and let him introduce himself and share with you his experience in the program and feel free to ask Aaron questions about anything that I’ve talked about or actually anything that’s of interest to you. So with that, Aaron take it away.
Aaron L.: All right. Thank you Velle. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to everyone today. My name’s Aaron Leatherman. As Valle just mentioned, just a graduated I turned in my last paper in January of this year and certainly happy to have a bit of that time back to spend with my family. But I’m the plant manager of RG Grays Harbor, which is the United States second largest Biodiesel Plant. Actually started the company out of college in 2004. Was able to raise, obviously condensing a lot of information due to time here. But, we were able to raise about $140 million over three different rounds of capital raising. Essentially got our angel investor from Microsoft days and was able to essentially be the operational guru for the company from day one. First employee that company, and essentially managed a large percentage of the innovation of our process, which was unique and really when we started the company in 2004, the industry was 25 million gallons in the United States. And this year I believe we just broke 2.1 billion gallons. So certainly the industry that I helped to create it has taken off.
Aaron L.: Well, my point is that we were acquired the original company that started with imperium renewables and we were acquired by REG in 2015 and that was essentially a way for most of us to cash out that originally started the business. I stayed on to manage the asset for the new company and was the most senior employee kept by REG. And essentially this degree was a way for me to get the formal education that I had received essentially, from the ground floor just running as fast as I possibly can. That, that real world education that I had received just from making a business work from scratch. And to improve my ability to be an entrepreneurial, agent for change, for REG not only from grays harbor, but to essentially join the ranks of upper management and become executive director with this new degree.
Aaron L.: So, what also stated … Pretty much everything Velle said I was shaking my head with in agreement, as he rattled off the myriad of details about the program. Most importantly is that the program is just chocked full of great information no matter what your background is. Whether you’re from a big company or a small company, the people that you attend class with are very bright. They spend a lot of time with you if whether it’s project work or discussion topics, there’s just a lot of different, backgrounds and people available, with a lot of different information and viewpoints that help improve your knowledge base as you move forward.
Aaron L.: To that point, I really liked the setup of the class, the five week classes that you take one at a time for the first nine months. They’re very, very beneficial. I liked the compact nature of them, but I wouldn’t say the drawback, but you really have to be cognizant of planning your schedule. So I was one of those people that did the five week look ahead. I understood the larger assignments when they were due, how I was going to study how I was going to do my reading and just approached it very systematically so that when I went into, either the discussion posts or the various discussions with the teachers that you have the material read and you’re going in with an idea of clarifying your viewpoint rather than going in to learn, the topic from scratch.
Aaron L.: So, that worked for me. And I was able to get ahead and stay ahead up until the very end when the capstones do start. The nice part about those is that, it is more work than just the one, five week class, but you’re essentially incorporating what you’ve already learned in the classes, into the business plan. And as Velle stated, the capstone is broken out into two separate sections. One being essentially the executive summary, the feasibility study, and then the actual business plan where expand each topic and go more in depth and write further about that.
Aaron L.: I actually did almost every major paper on something that we were doing within REG Grays Harbor or the larger corporate entity. And so it was very helpful as Velle said. I met … I already have direct line access to all of our senior leadership team, but it is a whole lot easier to get time on their schedule when you drop the fact that they’re spending, or at least in my case I had the good sponsorship from my company. So the fact that I could get their time and get their opinion in a timely fashion based on the fact that I needed their feedback for a paper or a discussion post on exactly how we apply the knowledge that we’re learning about. It’s just very, very helpful to be able to do that. A couple of other topics just wanted to bring up, being an operational guy, I really enjoyed, Operations Management, Management Innovation and International Business Management.
Aaron L.: But one of the things that caught me off guard that was very interesting to me that isn’t really in my background and I know it’s very important in today’s business, as we move forward, is IT Governance. There’s a very in depth course on IT governance that really opened my eyes on the topic and in these five week courses, there’s such a large amount of information to take in that you mean you’re never gonna be able to learn everything on the topic in a five week course. But really, in each book I made notes and there’s articles that are available to you that you don’t necessarily have to read. I bookmarked them and I made just a laundry list of information that I can go back to at a later date, that would help me in my future.
Aaron L.: Overall, I can’t say enough about the program, it was great. The other piece. The China trip that we went on that was fantastic. Absolutely will never ever forget that trip. Definitely a life changing experience. It was my first trip to Asia. I’ve been to Europe extensively several times, but never to China. So we were able to fly into Beijing and see the cultural sites in Beijing, the wall as well as local businesses. We saw a home in downtown Beijing. There was something like $6 million for a very small humble abode. But a good kind of the cultural experience of that. We were able to take a four hour high speed train to Shyanne where we got to see that the city wall of Shyanne, which was amazing as far as I’m concerned, that was my biggest takeaway from the trip was just the city wall, and how big a that was.
Aaron L.: Then, also I was able to take for another four hour a high speed train to Chengdu where we saw, a 2000 year old dam as well as the terracotta warriors. Excuse me, terracotta warriors, where at Xi’an and the Panda’s where at Chengdu, I apologize for that. But overall a great experience. I still am in contact, literally text with people on a daily basis from that trip. So I still have those relationships that will be going strong in my mind, no doubt for the rest of my life. Just was a great experience and certainly if you can make it work from a financial and timing perspective, highly recommend going on that trip.
Aaron L.: I just been talking nonstop so certainly can keep talking or if there’s any Q&A?
Jason Techeira: Perfect. Thank you so much Aaron. At this time, yes, I do want to, answer a few questions about the program. We got a lot of questions coming in and hopefully we can get to most of them if we are not able to, I assure you admissions advisor will reach out to you directly. And typically email, phone call to answer those questions. Before we jump into the QA session. I do want to let everybody know that’s, the start date for the upcoming semester is going to be May, 6th, the deadline is April 8th. Do work with your admissions advisor to make sure that we’re getting all those documents in by the deadline and working to hopefully get you admitted into the program. Additionally, everybody that attended this webinar today is entitled to an application fee waiver. You will be emailed the application fee waiver code, after this presentation as well along with the recording.
Jason Techeira: So we’re going to go ahead and answer a few questions here. We do have a lot about the international trip and the program itself. The first one that I do have here. If you give me a moment here while I look through these, these are not in any particular order. Can the length of the program be extended if desire to reduce workload or to account for scheduling challenges? And so just to answer that really quickly. That the program is designed for working professionals and we understand that breaks may have to be taken. We do give the ability to do that. So all students have up to six years to complete the degree. we encourage you to work with your student support advisor and your professor, to try and go through the program as streamlined as possible. Taking breaks could possibly put gaps in the program. So we encourage you to try and go through straight through. But the option of taking breaks and extending that out up to six years is always available
Jason Techeira: Did you have anything that you wanted to add on that Velle?
Velle Kolde: Nope, I think you covered it well.
Jason Techeira: Perfect. All right, thank you. Now Velle we do have a question here for you that I think would be best answered by you. This individual wrote that they’re looking at the admission, requirements and they’re wondering if there’s something specific that you look for in the resume. Any advice is appreciated and any thought Velle.
Velle Kolde: No. You can just send a regular business resume. Because as I mentioned, I come from the private sector. What I’m looking for is I’m looking for your business experience, your management experience, making sure that you’re going to be a good fit for this program. Because end of the day, we want to get you into the best program for you, the one that’s going to be right for you. Sometimes when I look at a resume, if they are light on business experience, light on management experience, so probably a better fit for our regular online MBA program and not such a good fit for the executive program. But don’t worry about doing anything special on your resume. I mean we just obviously always do a good job on your resume, but just your current professional resume is just fine for me just the way it is, just the way you would submit it if you are applying for a position.
Jason Techeira: Perfect. Thank you so much for that Velle. Another question here for Aaron really just getting your insight to the networking how easy it is for students to really get to know one another in the program.
Aaron L.: Yeah, absolutely. It is really easy to get to know one another with the various sessions that you have for each class. You have the main professor where you have the bulk of the students, which is somewhere between, depending on the class, it could be 80-100 students and then you have your sectional breakout where you have the 20 students. So, you really get to interact with a large range of students in both. Then there’s chat features that you can actually chat with other students while you’re listening to lecture. Obviously just being able to exchange information that way you can meet for projects and do stuff off not on blackboard. Then the other items, one thing I didn’t mention that I wanted to in the spiel earlier was that the leadership conference is a great place to meet face to face and have those, socialize and network. I went to the last one and a really found that the negotiation discussion was great. But also just being able to interact with the individuals in person certainly was very helpful as well.
Jason Techeira: Thank you so much, Aaron. Another question here. Matt, if you wouldn’t mind answering. This person is planning on using post 9/11 GI Bill and they will be taking one class, or they’re wondering if making one class will fulfill the requirement to receive the 100% funding as a full time student or if they’re going to be considered part time?
Matt Beer: Yeah, sure the the answer is yes. You have any questions? They can please send me an email. But yeah, when one class is considered full time for our program, so that won’t be a problem.
Jason Techeira: Perfect. Thank you Matt. Another question here,. Opportunities for visiting campus and I believe we covered that. Velle had spoken about several opportunities that we have for networking and our executive conference that we hold as Executive MBA student our program … Even though the program is an online program, you are still a student with Washington State University and this program is not going to be a specific on line degree. It’s going to hold the same accreditation as through that a AACSB that Velle mentioned. You have all the same rights as an actual student with our cars and college of business. So you’re more than welcome to have to come out to campus visit campus. I encourage you to, if that’s something that you wanted to do and then again, we will have optional networking events that you can take place within and outside of the region.
Velle Kolde: Yeah. And one other thing I’ll mention, some students will come to participate in the commencement ceremonies, the graduation ceremonies in May. I know like this year there’s a whole bunch of them that are going to come here and also the same May is a great time to come visit Pullman. Usually it’s sunny, it’s warm, it’s dry, it’s a springtime in the Palouse is fabulous.
Jason Techeira: I’ll be there Velle. Okay. Another question here. Velle, I don’t know if he would be able to give your insight onto this. I know I have a few talking points that I can address, but how well is the program received from hiring executives? How does this program compare it to top 10 Executive Management Programs online and in person? Did you have any insight to that Velle?
Velle Kolde: We’re actually very well received. Currently when you mentioned top 10, well, currently we’re ranked 13th, but we’re actually, there’s a number of schools that are tied at certain levels. So if you take out the ties, we are a top 10 program. We are very well received. We’re very well respected. We’ve got graduates, in a variety of industries and very successful. We’ve got … I’m trying to just figure out how to say this because we’ve got so many, we’ve got people like Aaron who’s founded a company and is running the second largest biodiesel plant in the country. Yeah, we’re certainly one of the top programs and especially in the online space, we’re very well respected because we were there before it was fashionable to be online.
Velle Kolde: Now you see more and programs coming online, The University of Washington finally just introduced a hybrid program last year. Kind of expensive one, but they’re just getting to the end of the ballgame. But, also maybe one thing I should mention. My last position at Microsoft I ran the product management group for the automotive business and we were customers with the Global Automakers. So they were, Ford and Fiat, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia. So, my customers, the people that I was dealing with on a business level, on a marketing level and on an R&D level, they were located in Tokyo and in Seoul and in Munich and Turin in Italy, in Detroit. So they’re all over the globe. We were doing 99% of our business, our marketing and our engineering work via digital communications. So to me when the dean asked me, “What would you think about helping us run our online Executive MBA program?” I go, “Online, no problem.” because that’s actually how business is done today. Digital communications are how you do it.
Velle Kolde: Even if somebody is three doors down from you. In the old days you used to walk down and talk to them. Now a lot of times you will just send them an email because it’s more efficient to be asynchronous. Let them read it when they have time to read it and they will respond to you when they assigned respond. So, yeah there are some Luddites still around there that go, “Oh, online education, it’s not as good as face to face.” And I’m just going like. “They just really aren’t in touch with the reality of how business is done today and also how education can be done today.
Aaron L.: I would like to say … This Aaron again. That, that was the number one reason I chose wisely for the program was the fact that I’m out in the middle of nowhere, don’t really have a brick and mortar, a school that I can attend. So, after looking at the online space, really saw the Wazoo was head and shoulders above the other online competitors. And the fact that being a Washington state resident, loving the Northwest I wanted keep dollars here.
Jason Techeira: Awesome. Thank you so much Velle and Aaron for that. Now we are at our hour for this presentation. I want to be cognizant of everybody’s time. Again, I will be responding or your admissions advisors will be responding to all of these questions. You will get a recording of this presentation as well. Just to go over some very common questions that are being answered here. The program again, I answered this before, it’s 18 months in length, but can be extended. We give all of our students up to six years, the program is available internationally. We have students throughout the world. So, if you are an international student, that’s fine. We have tools and resources to assist you with that. And your admissions advisor will be able to tell you more about that. In regards to the Executive MBA program and upon graduation for the growth that you can see ROI. Again, your admissions advisor we really want you to work with them. We do have some infographics that we can share with you in just more detailed information on really what makes Washington State’s MBA program, the number one in the Pacific northwest.
Jason Techeira: The summer start is going to be May 6th, the deadline is April 8th. Well, we do have a PDF that will walk you through step by step instructions for applying to the program. So please connect with your admissions advisor, there’ll be able to help you throughout that entire process. I want to take this time again and thank Matt, Aaron and Velle for joining us today and everybody for joining us in this presentation. Thanks Matt. Thanks Velle. Thanks Aaron.
Aaron L.: Thank you.
Velle Kolde: All right, thank you all.
Matt Beer: [inaudible 01:03:55]. Good luck.