Albers School of Business and Economics
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Bridge MBA Blog

  • Jose Gaona

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 5/15/2015 05:11:49 PM

    Image: Jose Gaona

    Jose, born in Hidalgo, Mexico, has been in Washington since the age of six. That is to say, he’s like many people in the program, who have deep roots both here and abroad. For him, Seattle University and the Bridge MBA program offered a chance, as a nonbusiness major, to engage in business while also being a part of the Jesuit tradition.

    For Jose, the program offers the administrative skills that are essential in any career. With these skills, and the degree to match, he plans to start a career in the business sector of healthcare where decision-making can impact entire communities. The longterm goal, within this field, is to run a chain of nonprofit health centers that provide various health services, especially in Eastern Washington, where the population mirrors the one he grew up with. It should be obvious then, that the program appeals to his passions, and comes as no surprise to us based on his own conversational contributions in our more Socratically-geared seminars. Madhu Rao’s Information Systems in Digital Technology, in which the class was forced to address large-scale decision making, has also allowed Jose to practice and define his value systems. This dynamic ties into the vitality of decision making and the overall current of our program, netting us an understanding of what we believe in and what kind of change we want to engineer.

    Jose’s favorite part of the program, however, resides in larger opportunities the program provides. The mentor program, Jose has said, “is a phenomenal tool for networking in the [Seattle] area” and he has been fortunate enough to have “a great advisor for the career [he] wants to develop.” Additionally, the cohort itself works towards Jose’s goals, introducing him to decision making tactics, concepts of thought, and the holistic system in which we are forced to confront the other, and live authentically after having done so. 

    So, when Jose isn’t relaxing, playing FIFA (a game that allows him to enjoy soccer in the off season), or out at a local bar, he’ll be brewing up new ideas to help implement change in the world. We all wish him the best of luck in his next venture, and will be sure to give him feedback in the meantime.
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    General Advice:

    Seattle: “Although it’s been a rather dry winter, keep in mind that the PNW is home to some of the most beautiful mountain sceneries; so be prepared to catch a ski/snowboard session in the winter, some hiking in the spring, and some boating in the summer.”

    To Parents: “The value of Albers Business School; the fact that this program is housed in one of the PNW’s best business schools is a step in the right direction.”

    To Students: “The cohort experience is just as described. Many professors have commented that Bridge students excel in their learning because of the strong knowledge everyone brings and the interaction with one another; the cohort brings us together in times of struggle and is a key to success in this program.”

    Follow us on Instagram here: https://instagram.com/bridge_mba_su/

    Have a question about the Bridge MBA program? Want to chat in person? Feel free to send an e-mail to any of us below!
    John Merle (Program Director): merlej@seattleu.edu

    Ben Porter (Blog Coordinator, Bridge MBA student):porterb2@seattleu.edu
    Eric Madison (Photographer, Bridge MBA student):madison1@seattleu.edu

    May Ma

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 5/11/2015 11:58:57 AM

    Image: May Ma

    For May, an international student from Hong Kong, coming to Seattle University was a decision that came with many different benefits. The first, and one that is echoed by other students I’ve talked to, is in the ability to attend a school with small class sizes. Similar to the classmates who grew up in Washington, one of May’s other reasons for picking the Bridge MBA is its proximity to her home, as she has lived in Seattle for five years.

    May’s passion, and general talent, when it comes to baking and cooking make her a favorite in the cohort. It comes as no surprise, based on her ability to problem solve tiramisu recipes, that her favorite class has been Financial Management with David Carrithers. The combination speaks to her ability to engage with precise measurements that determine both long term profitability of projects and long term deliciousness of the birthday treats she constantly brings to class.

    Based on these interests, it makes sense that she wants to own her own practice focused on child clinical psychology. After all, the Bridge MBA is a stepping stone for all of us into the larger world and, for May, this world will include the study of medicine and psychological healing. The compassion she has, mixed with her drive to always learn more, speaks to her future success in such an industry.

    Despite her unique hobbies and unparalleled empathy, she shares the same sentiment that we all seem to feel. May said, “I get a lot of support from the cohort. No matter what we need to do and how difficult it is, we give support to each other and get over the difficulties.” That, there, is true for all of us, and we are grateful to have May as an integral part of our community.

    Overall, May is someone who embodies the spirit of the Bridge MBA program. She hopes to excel in a specialized profession that heals the world, and wants to do so in a way that benefits herself as well as others. As with everyone in the program, I have no doubt that May will go on to do great things!

    General Advice:

    Seattle: “Having a strong support system is very important in my life. Find communities that help you with that. It makes my life way easier, especially when I’m busy with work and am frustrated.”


    To Parents: “This program is such a great program! I learn something new everyday. No matter what class it is and whether I learned the material before or not, I still learn something, from day-to-day skills to professional skills that will help me in my future career.”

    To Students: “Although all the course work and requirements for graduation have kept me busy for the last two and a half quarters, I still enjoy every moment of my life at the Bridge MBA program. I feel like I’m way more mature than before, while also feeling like I’m truly OLD!”

    To International Students: “A little piece of advice for international students who would like to study in the Bridge MBA program is to be aware of the internship requirement. Start the process early, meaning you should look for a job as early as possible so that you can have the international student center process your application of CPT in order to get authorization for working in the states. Lots of the time people don’t know much about the process and wait until the last minute. This will make things more difficult. Also, do your own research about how to get CPT working. It’s better to have the knowledge yourself instead of relying on someone else who might not know exactly what you need.”

    Follow us on Instagram here: https://instagram.com/bridge_mba_su/

    Have a question about the Bridge MBA program? Want to chat in person? Feel free to send an e-mail to any of us below!
    John Merle (Program Director): merlej@seattleu.edu

    Ben Porter (Blog Coordinator, Bridge MBA student):porterb2@seattleu.edu
    Eric Madison (Photographer, Bridge MBA student):madison1@seattleu.edu

    Court, Business Plans, & Brunch

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 5/4/2015 04:11:20 PM
    The sun is out, bar patios are open, and we are all now searching for the answer to the question, “Where’s my full-time job hiding?” Not many of us know the answer to this question, the exception being those who have already landed full-time employment. (Congrats to those hard-working and talented individuals.)

    In the meantime, during another transitional phase of life, we all turn back to our communities and networks of support. After all, there are still homework assignments in need of attention, business plans to be executed, and extra credit assignments to give us a protective cushion in the face of a missed class here or there.

    Enter Professor McLean, our personal guide into the world of law for Spring’s Business Law. Recently, he assigned us the task of finding a courthouse and following two current cases, an extra credit assignment designed to push us into the real world of what we’re all learning (a common theme throughout the program). The task, and I’ll be the first to admit it, is not always the most interesting or pressing when compared to those bar patios, but with the cohort we find a way to engage wholeheartedly with these sorts of opportunities.

    So, last week, at what seemed like the crack of dawn, twelve of us headed on down to observe criminal and civil court. The results were equal parts disturbing and delightfully absurd. Summed up: There are some things you can’t learn from a textbook. I was glad to have gone, not only for the extra credit, but because, as the cohort is wont to do, we made a day out of it.

    Not only did we cover everything we learned about, comparing notes and interpretive concepts of the law system, but we ended up making a whole brunch out of it. The brunch, in all its greatness, was equal parts helping each other prepare for the future and general schmoozing. Here we have another “textbook” example of how the cohort system is meant to function. It is not solely about the convenience of knowing who has the best notes, or who might be able to help with essay structure; it is about connecting and forming bonds that inform the rest of the school year’s activities.

    Image: Brunch 1

    Image: Brunch 2
    On top of all that, we help each other with the networking and quasi-financing of our cumulative hopes and dreams. Earlier in the month, around 20 of the 24 students in the program showed their support for Kevin Klauer and Ryan Claypool by attending the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition. Not only did we have the pleasure of learning about TenderCure, their genius business concept meant to alleviate increasing health care costs (check the website HERE), but we were able to donate fake money to bolster their idea and praise the hard work they’ve put in.
    Image: Tender Cure

    Overall, as should be obvious after seeing this theme emerge in past blog posts, the cohort creates a community that strengthens our professional and personal life.

    Follow us on Instagram here: https://instagram.com/bridge_mba_su/

    Have a question about the Bridge MBA program? Want to chat in person? Feel free to send an e-mail to any of us below!
    John Merle (Program Director): merlej@seattleu.edu

    Ben Porter (Blog Coordinator, Bridge MBA student):porterb2@seattleu.edu
    Eric Madison (Photographer, Bridge MBA student):madison1@seattleu.edu

    ExcelTalkers: Becoming Coders in 2015

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 4/13/2015 03:31:09 PM

     Image: ExcelTalkers

     There are classes in the Bridge MBA that many of us are already quasi-masters of. For Patrick Popovici, after having worked in a law firm for a number of years, Legal Aspects of Business is a breeze. For myself, Ethics in Business is just a form of lighthearted argumentative jogging. For others, Accounting and Economics was a fun puzzle you solve over Sunday brunch.

    Enter Financial Modeling. Taught by Carlos De Mello-e-Souza, the class was so initially inaccessible to us that it’s probably akin to watching a baby try to pan sear a steak. That is to say, it doesn’t look pretty and the final product isn’t what anyone ordered. Essentially, it breaks us down to our core, to the fight or flight panic that courses through humanity’s veins. For classes like this, we can’t fall back on one or two cohort members.

    These moments bring about a sort of strength that harkens back to the way in which communities are formed. The hunter-gatherer societies would fly away from an Excel programming landscape, if only to find low hanging fruit in a different forest. Yet, just as humanity transitioned into agrarian societies, we transitioned into a cohort emblematic of building something we are unable and unwilling to run from.

    So, while we may not always know what to do when it comes down to coding for VBA, we do know that the collective is stronger than the individual. After all, “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.” If I was to try and climb up alone, devoid of the advice of those under me, well I’d be lacking the substance that this group represents. In the context of programming, I can Google an issue while someone else may parse out what exactly our goal is, and all the while a third can play with code commands. By the end of the day we have something tangible, and something we’ve all come to understand through each other. This is just another example of how the cohort builds upon its own self, as we have the connections and understanding surrounding the benefits of teamwork that become necessary when tackling what seems to be an unsolvable problem.

    On top of that, it may help that Carlos champions our learning. That element, often going unspoken, is another important part of our cohort’s success over these past six months. We have had a great set of teachers who are willing to engage with a group that, at times, has the energy to topple conversations and lesson plans. So, as we charge through the rest of the year, we send a thank you to all of our professors.

    Follow us on Instagram here: https://instagram.com/bridge_mba_su/

    Have a question about the Bridge MBA program? Want to chat in person? Feel free to send an e-mail to any of us below!
    John Merle (Program Director): merlej@seattleu.edu

    Ben Porter (Blog Coordinator, Bridge MBA student): porterb2@seattleu.edu
    Eric Madison (Photographer, Bridge MBA student): madison1@seattleu.edu

    Student Interest Piece #4: Marianne Stover

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 4/9/2015 11:04:19 AM

     Image: Marianne Stover

    Marianne is a Washington lifer. After growing up in Edmonds, she spent a brief period of time attending Gonzaga University before transferring to Seattle University to finish up a BA in International and Asian Studies. The degree itself is an inspired one, the whole of it representing Marianne’s passion for expansive empathy and connection to different cultures and places. 

    You could say Marianne is an enigma. She has a stylish and unique sense of fashion, owns one of the biggest vinyl collections you’ll ever have the pleasure of seeing, and is simultaneously quick witted but slow to divulge information. She’s a kind of intelligent lock box, one that takes time to figure out, but is well worth the treasure hunt.

    Her decision to join the Bridge MBA comes from a belief that you can take the best cultural and intellectual caveats of different civilizations and disciplines and integrate them into a holistic lifestyle that works towards a better, more informed planet. Her choices are akin to the Hebrew phrase “Tikkun olam”, that shared responsibility humanity has in repairing and connecting the world. For Marianne, this translates into focusing on interpersonal relationships and the belief that, “business is as personal as you make it.”

    So far, her two favorite classes have been Accounting and the Legal Aspects of Business. These classes have had such an impact because, “they take conventions of society and question them while constantly developing better standards.” It is here that both the program and Marianne flourish together, creating a vibrant learning environment that questions the standards of business and lead us towards discussions that invigorate and spur Socratic learning.

    Marianne’s other favorite part, unsurprisingly, is having met all of us in the program. It’s a twofold benefit as the friendships bring support and provide us with the networking that creates an entirely different support system. It even goes beyond the friendships for Marianne, as she loves the fact that Susan Weihrich knows her by face and name, and for her, “it’s a wonderful thing to have!”

     Image: Marianne Stover, SF

    So, when our favorite enigma isn’t listening to classic vinyl, writing music, and watching Boy Meets World with her brother Bobby, she’s probably connecting and repairing the world. Marianne truly reminds us all to be grateful for the collective whole that we represent, and there is no doubt that she will bring that greatness into business culture.

    General Advice:
    Seattle: “Seek out diversity. It leads to invigorating conversation and excitement around learning.”

    To Parents: “Business is the broadest degree you can get. You can do anything with it. I mean, it’s an MBA in one year, c’mon!”

    To Prospective Students: “It’s an opportunity that may not be well advertised right now, but it’s something you won’t regret. When you’re in class, learn for the long term, because if you don’t… hah!”

    Have a question about the Bridge MBA program? Want to chat in person? Feel free to send an e-mail to any of us below!
    John Merle (Program Director): merlej@seattleu.edu

    Ben Porter (Blog Coordinator, Bridge MBA student): porterb2@seattleu.edu
    Eric Madison (Photographer, Bridge MBA student): madison1@seattleu.edu

    Student Interest Piece #3: Amanda Sacknitz

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 3/30/2015 11:35:32 AM

    Image: Amanda

    Amanda Sacknitz, lovingly called Snacknitz by those who know her penchant for class snacking, has lived in Washington for her entire life. Currently, she resides in her hometown of Duvall, in which she claims to have access to the beautiful starry night skies. This is her biggest victory over the rest of us city dwellers, access to a world without the glaring light pollution that makes Seattle seem a little grayer than it should be. In fact, her access to the stars may be the mystical element that has allowed her to have more clarity than most when it comes to her life goals and future plans.

    For her, Seattle University and the Bridge MBA program provide an opportunity to stay close to home, keep graduate school cost effective, and get it done, “quick and dirty.” The one-year window has kept Amanda on track and pushed her towards her ultimate goal, to move out of low-level sales and be the decision maker. It’s a concept that was brought up, time and time again, in last quarter’s Information Systems in the Digital Enterprise (taught by Madhu Rao). It’s the idea that our breadth of knowledge in this program will allow us the opportunity to make informed decisions within the business world. The focus of this decision making process falls into the informed logic that allows us to not only grow businesses, but also provide socially just perspectives that form companies worth working for and supporting.

    For her, Rao’s IT course has been the “hands down favorite.” It was not a hard choice for her to make, as the class challenged her conceptions of technology while focusing on case studies discussed in such a format that the classroom felt more like “a boardroom than anything else.” That, combined with Rao’s ability to foster debate and play devil’s advocate, created the type of environment in which Amanda could advocate for and spread change.

    Like many of us, Amanda came in with the goal to grab the degree and grow within the professional world. However, at the halfway mark, Amanda has found that her cohort has taken on a bigger part of her MBA experience than anticipated. Most recently, she took an excursion down to San Francisco with myself and Marianne Stover. The whole trip, it should be noted, occurred for no other reason than to blow off steam and see a new city. This experience, she admits, “was not something she expected to find.” Yet there it is, and here most of us find it. It is in the close quarters of growth that it is more challenging not to become close with one another, not to see each other as an integral part of this experience.

    Image: Amanda, SF

    Amanda’s greatest strength is in her openness to the Bridge MBA journey and all of the great opportunities that will surely come her way. She hopes her decision making skills, combined with her master’s degree, will allow her to facilitate growth and change in the woefully underfunded subject of women’s health. All in all, don’t be surprised if you see Amanda Sacknitz on a non-profit board, we certainly won’t.

    General Advice:
    Seattle: “Don’t exfoliate too much in the winter time. Seattle’s a little finicky with the weather … also, the Internet is a capable tool for a lot of research!”

    To Parents: “Let your kids flourish in the program. Grad school is a time to let go and a time for us to come together and become smart and gifted adults.”

    To Prospective Students: “Don’t expect to find an internship without putting in work. Life is all about connections and being in a new program is very exciting but sometimes challenging to navigate. Always speak your mind and see if you can help build something better. This program is all about decision-making and being an informed and beneficial part of a community.”

    Have a question about the Bridge MBA program? Want to chat in person? Feel free to send an e-mail to any of us below!

    John Merle (Program Director): merlej@seattleu.edu

    Ben Porter (Blog Coordinator, Bridge MBA student): porterb2@seattleu.edu
    Eric Madison (Photographer, Bridge MBA student): madison1@seattleu.edu

    Just Be Yourself, Man

    Posted by Barbara Hauke on 3/24/2015 02:59:12 PM

    I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks near the B11 gate, located all the way at the far end of the Seatac Airport. There are four television screens in view, all of them playing news or sports programs. There’s an international payphone with a pole that contains some universal sign for phone at the very top of it. There’s even a handwritten note informing me that Starbucks is, “Now Serving Coconut Milk Made From Sumatran Coconuts.” Everywhere there’s this push for product to be moved, for a potential customer’s attention. The rather interesting part is it all feels a little grosser in an airport. You’re trapped, you’ve got no choice but to engage with the ads and notices because you need to make calls, eat food, use rented movies to stave off that tipsy guy who wants to have a heart to heart on the flight. (Sorry, it’s probably me.) Essentially, we’re being bombarded by implemented market strategies, by customer engagement attempts that pull, pick, prod, and ultimately consume the wallet share of a diverse, traveling crowd.

    The problem that companies and people have is centered not in the job itself, but the authenticity of all these decisions and interactions. Yet here some of us will find ourselves, trudging through the world we hope to engage in. We know that now we may be the ones shifting supply chain over to Sumatran Coconuts, maybe we’ll move into managing news ad sales, we could be the ones hiring the designer to create the international symbol for “payphone,” we could even create a movie rental business partnered with an airport.

    A lot of us in the program are truly creative people, inspired to grow and spread their own consciousness out into the noise that you only really notice in a place like an airport. Now, halfway through graduate school with no projects to take up our own engagement, we must question the choices we’ve made to get here. These conversations are almost always relegated to bars and late night phone conversations, the tinny voice asking or answering, “What’s the point of all this?” 

    There is no doubt that we are not the only ones asking these questions or filling that blank space with answers. The program works in an interesting way here, and it’s situated in the fact that we don’t see it. It all starts when applications come before the desks of those talented, caring, and funny human beings who select the cohort. You have Susan Weihrich, David Carrithers, John Merle, and many others who work behind the scenes with a true passion for both learning and helping others. These initial decisions, on who ends up stuck together, crammed in classes day in and day out, that’s the spark to light the match. What you then find are a group of diverse people who want more than a 9 to 5, who’ve been inspired to first swim out into the world of art and creative vision, only to find that they need the business language and skills in order to flourish. In this way, we’re put together to do much more than the average group, we’re working together to heal, to learn, and to grow into the kinds of people who can be understood and are understanding.

    In those late night conversations, I see talented individuals who recognize a certain perceived sickness or wrongness within the world. They’ve always seen it, as most of us do, but they also see ways to fix it, and this program has taken on that lens for them. It’s about creating a better world, about taking a moment like high-fiving your teammates, or celebrating achievements with a significant other and using those to fuel a consciousness that engages with the other authentically and unapologetically.

    No matter the petty differences between us, at the end of the program we will walk away with knowledge accumulated over the year that has already pushed us to question our realities, futures, and ability to spread compassion inside and outside of the classroom. I can’t tell you if the program is the main factor that has built this inside of us, but I can tell you that this class will change the world.

    As always, if you have a question about the Bridge MBA program or want to chat in person, send an e-mail to any of us below.

    John Merle (Program Director): merlej@seattleu.edu

    Ben Porter (Blog Coordinator, Bridge MBA student): porterb2@seattleu.edu
    Eric Madison (Photographer, Bridge MBA student): madison1@seattleu.edu