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Admissions Director Q&A: Wendy Guild, Ph.D., of University of Washington Foster School of Business

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This edition of our Admissions Director Q&A takes us to Seattle to hear all about the University of Washington Foster School of Business from Assistant Dean of MBA Programs, Wendy Guild, Ph.D. At Foster, Wendy’s administrative work reflects her longstanding commitment to student development through her collaborative strategic leadership of advertising, marketing, recruitment, admissions, curriculum, and student services. Her teaching focuses on leadership, strategy, field studies, study tours, and sports and entertainment management. Her research focuses on creating engaging experiential learning content. Previously, Wendy worked at UCLA Anderson as Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, briefly taught Leadership in Executive Education at Yale School of Management and served as a Program Director & Faculty at University of Colorado Denver’s Business School. She earned her Ph.D. in Organization Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Wendy Guild, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of MBA Programs, Washington Foster

Read on for Wendy’s insights into standout courses at Foster, how to write a stand out admissions essay, what to expect in the interview and more.

Clear Admit: What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?
Wendy Guild: The Foster MBA faculty! Not only are they thought leaders in their fields, but they also are involved members of the community, hosting dinners, attending student organized fundraisers, joining in the annual polar plunge to welcome the new year, and they lead many global study tours.  Given our comparatively small class size to other top programs, Foster faculty are very accessible to current students and alumni. While Foster is often known for its strong job placement and connections to the tech industry, what really stands out to me is our close-knit and genuinely collaborative community, and our faculty are an integral part of it.

CA: Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision?
WG: We work to communicate with applicants on what to expect once they submit the application. Once you press submit, you can expect to hear from us within a few days with a comprehensive application received email which will walk you through what to expect while your application is under review. In addition, we will send a video interview request (via Kira Talent) to all applicants. Within several weeks of the deadline, the admissions committee does a first review of your application, and if it stands out as competitive, we will invite you for an admission interview.

We have a holistic review process and multiple members of the admissions committee are involved in your application’s review. Decisions are determined by the Director of Admissions, along with a committee consisting of admissions committee members, MBA Career Management leadership, and MBA Program Office leadership. Should you be admitted to Foster, we will notify you at the time of admission of both your acceptance and any merit scholarship awards.

CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read an essay? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? What is one key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write?
WG: We are looking for applicants who can authentically tell us why they are pursuing the Foster MBA by articulately explaining their motivations and goals. Essays that stand out are well researched, demonstrate an understanding of the program, its opportunities, and how the applicant authentically sees themselves achieving their goals and contributing to the community at Foster. A common mistake might be when an essay response could apply to any MBA program. We encourage you to tell us your story while connecting the dots as to why Foster. I encourage you before you sit down to write your essays to engage with our community, connect with current students, staff, and alumni, so that when you do write your admission essays you can authentically tell us how you see yourself thriving in the Foster MBA program.

CA: Could you tell us about your interview process? Approximately how many applicants do you interview? Who conducts the interview (students, admissions officers, alumni) and what is the nature of the interview (resume-based, behavioral)?
WG: Foster’s admissions interviews are by invitation and are conducted by a member for the Foster MBA Admissions staff. Interview invitations are sent within 4-6 weeks of the application deadline. We offer an admission interview to all applicants who have a competitive application. Traditionally we have offered the option of a virtual or on campus admission interview. Our admission interviews are a mix of discussing your background and experiences, your motivation for the MBA, and genuinely getting to know more about how you could see yourself excelling in the Foster MBA program. The number of applicants invited to interview varies from round to round.

CA: What is your testing policy?  Do you offer exam waivers?  Why or why not?
WG: Applicants have the choice for how to craft their most competitive application and may choose between submitting the GMAT, GRE, or the test optional summary of qualifications. We do not offer exam waivers, but rather, we allow applicants the opportunity to elect to apply test optional by submitting the test optional summary of qualifications. This summary of qualifications asks the applicant to describe how their academic and professional experience supports their analytical and quantitative preparedness for success in the MBA Program.

CA: Tell us briefly about two popular courses at your institution.
WG: It’s not easy to choose just two! At Foster, we have so many amazing courses to choose from taught by outstanding faculty. I want to share a sample of some of the options.

Problems in Business Finance- This class is a case course examining corporate financing and investment decisions and related issues in financial strategy

Alphanomics- The course serves as a primer on active investing in public equity markets.

Software Entrepreneurship- A case- and project-based course, focusing on starting a software or hardware company. Guest entrepreneurs, lawyers, and financiers discuss market identification and analysis, planning the business, financing, and typical operating and administrative problems.

Data Analytics in Finance- In this class, students learn new technical data analytics skills in three areas of business: finance, microeconomics, and macroeconomics

Game Theory and Other Topics in Microeconomics– This course surveys and develops concepts and techniques of game theory and information economics and their applications to issues of business strategy, including advertising and pricing decisions, negotiation and bargaining situations, entry deterrence games

Business Analytics: Tools for Big Data- An Introduction to data analytic techniques via quantitative tools and sophisticated software (R and Tableau)

Global Business Forum- An MBA class and discussion forum where professionals from around the world share their insights into the complexities of doing business globally – differences encountered, obstacles overcome, advantages discovered, and solutions developed.

Consumer Marketing & Brand Management- This course presents a consumer psychology inspired framework for cultivating and maximizing brand equity. Specific emphasis on brand positioning, visual identity design, brand association creation, and brand portfolio management.

Strategic Product Management- This course focuses on best practices in new product development including customer-centric innovation, market identification, prototype development, value proposition communication, testing tactics and launch strategy.

CA: As we learn to live with COVID-19, campuses have opened up and students are back. What about prospective students? Will they have the opportunity to visit campus? Will admissions interviews be conducted virtually?
WG: The University of Washington is on a quarter system, and the academic year starts at the end of September. We are planning to offer on campus events and visits this year and encourage you to check the admissions events page for the most up to date calendar of events. We will also likely offer applicants the choice of interviewing on campus or virtually.

CA: Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?
WG: Get to know us! It isn’t just a cliché statement – at Foster, we genuinely want to get to know you through the admissions process. Community is incredibly important to Foster. Students in the program benefit from a small, intimate cohort size and the ability to know both your faculty and classmates extremely well and to make bonds and a network that last a lifetime. The best way to discover this for yourself is to engage with admissions staff, students, and alumni – reach out, schedule a coffee chat, attend an information session, connect with an alumni. As Foster’s Dean Frank Hodge recently wrote, “We are committed to being a purpose-driven business school that truly believes in bettering humanity through business, doing so according to a set of values that focus on integrity & excellence in an inclusive & respectful community.” We welcome you to be a part of it!

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.