BAS-AM to MBA

TToday, the Skagit Valley College BAS-AM program was proud and honored to host Katie Johnson, Assistant Director of the Western Washington University MBA program. Katie talked about the benefits of an MBA degree and the various types of programs there are. She also described Western’s MBA curriculum and the application process to their program. It was surreal to witness her describe the opportunities that are now a possibility for a SVC BAS–AM graduate.

Never Too Young Nor Too Old To Learn

I recently came across this fascinating article from Fast Company entitled Thirty is the New Fifty”.  The article talks about an increasingly common rite of passage, the day you find yourself working for someone younger than you. Given the country’s demographic profile and technological trends, this upending of historic, age-based hierarchies and power structures is the new reality.

It happened to me for the first time two years ago and while there was the initial shock of realizing I was old enough to be older than someone (if you follow my drift), this evaporated almost instantly. Instead, I feel blessed that I’m working for my favorite type of boss – the one that gives you all the rope to hang yourself but is right by your side to cut it down just before it’s too late. As I read this piece, I realized that not only was I fortunate to be working with Darren Greeno, Executive Dean of Workforce at Skagit Valley College but I was also blessed to see many of the best practices of inter-generational cooperation, friendship and community described in the article truly alive in the BAS-AM program.

The age range in the program goes from “just turned 21 and celebrated in Las Vegas” to folks with more life experience. Daily, I watch how the program participants embrace the points raised in this article – those with “digital dexterity” support those who are relative novices. And folks with more life experience coach newer workforce entrants on things such as interview techniques, navigating the art of balance and coping with imbalance. I’ve had program participants coach me on the finer points of bands whose names I can’t pronounce, smile indulgently when I refer to flash drives as floppy discs, teach me the vocabulary I need for street credibility and listen intently when we enter into discussions on lessons learned from actual workplace experiences. It is a wonderful thing when the sum of the parts become greater than the whole. It is also a wonderful thing when you experience yet another way the BAS-AM program is enabling all of us to be effective participants in the workforce and life long learners who seize every opportunity for growth.

#learningthroughlife #skagitbasam #skagit #skagitvalleycollege #iambasam #applied-management

Golf, Driving in Seattle Traffic and Accounting for Managers

A beautiful Saturday morning in Washington and I am getting ready to play my first holes of golf of the season. I will share that while I am an enthusiastic golfer, I am decidedly in the “not very good” category. I love golf but the stigma of being “not very good” has evolved into a real fear that keeps me from playing as often as I might and in fact, almost led to me cancelling my game today.

As I thought about this fear, it took me back to another conversation about fear that I had two years ago with a friend. I told him that although I have driven in several countries, driving in Seattle gave me real fear, so much so that I avoided going to Seattle if I had to drive. He suggested to me that the best way to get over fear was to do more of the thing that caused the fear. Those words made me pause and then the next day with gritted teeth, to embrace the fear of driving in Seattle by doing it again, and again, and again. Now, driving in Seattle no longer gives me fear.

As I remembered those experiences, I thought about the Accounting for Managers course, which I am currently teaching in the Skagit Valley College Bachelor of Applied Management program. So many of us have had unfortunate experiences in learning about and working with numbers and these experiences have led to real fear about numbers. I saw this fear on the faces of many Friday afternoon as we talked about income statements and compound annual growth rates. I had told my program members that we needed to embrace a “we can do it” mindset about numbers. I witnessed my program members rise to the challenge, tacking the income statement activities with effort and commitment.

As I get ready for my game this afternoon, I realized that if I ever want to get over my fear of golfing, I need to play again, and again, and again, until the fear of “being not very good” no longer matters. I have been taking baby steps in this direction but I need to make a giant leap and make a genuine and wholehearted commitment to a mindset of “I can do it”.

Thank you to my BAS-AM program members and to my wise friend for showing me the way. Can’t wait to see where else we travel by conquering the fears that hold us back. I’m curious : have you ever let the fear of being “not very good” hold you back?

Bandit aka Hatchi

As many of you know, I have a dog named Bandit who is the jewel in my life. Today, we watched a movie about a dog named Hatchi. Hatchi and his master had an extraordinary bond. The bond was so extraordinary that when his owner unexpectedly died, no matter where Hatchi was living, he made his way back to the train station to wait for his owner who used to commute to work by train. Rain,snow, sun, wind, for over ten years, Hatchi waited faithfully. Eventually, Hatchi succumbed to old age. Even then, Hatchi made his way from his den to his usual spot at the train station so that he laid in rest forever waiting for his master.

The movie disturbed me on so many levels – although I’ve had Bandit for less than a year, I can’t imagine life without him. He’s my shadow, follows me wherever I go and always begs to come with me, no matter where. He’s become the BAS-AM program mascot, featured by program participants in their presentations.

After I finished watching the film, I held my puppy extra tight and my parents tighter so. Hatchi represents the power of unconditional devotion and loyalty. I’m blessed to have many people express this sentiment to me. But, I’m more blessed to feel this same devotion for so many, most notably my family, my BAS-AM program members, and of course, for my Bandit.

Bandit watching his hero Hatchi

Bandit featured in a BAS-AM group presentation

Speed Reading

I’m an avid reader. I devour books, most books. Except when the books are ones I’m forced to read – that’s why I don’t do book clubs – too much pressure reading. When I feel as if I’m being forced to read something, I become slothful, a procrastinator, petulant, you name it. And as reading is a virtually non-negotiable feature of managerial life, no way around it, over the years, I’ve developed my own methods for reading efficiently – call them reading smart cuts.

When I came across this Idea by Ted Talk article on speed reading, I was intrigued. It features a list of reading smart cuts that are artful and to the point. If practiced, they could shave hours off “have to” reading, leaving so much time for “want to” activities . Try them out and let me know how they work.

Pivot Points and Life Dilemmas

On this Spring Quarter Eve, my new name for the night before my first class of the Spring Quarter, I’ve been thinking a lot. I’ve been thinking about how much I’m looking forward to seeing the 2018–20 BAS-AM program members tomorrow. I’ve been thinking about our accounting for managers course this quarter and about the former colleagues who taught me the accounting and finance I needed in the managerial world. I’ve also been thinking about New York Times columnist David Brooks.

You see, around this time four years ago I was in midst of an intense, soul-searching dilemma. I was wrestling with whether I should continue my 25-year corporate career, which I no longer enjoyed but which was financially lucrative, or whether I should pack my bags and head west to seek new adventures of what type, I had little idea. And then, I came across this article by Brooks, “The Moral Bucket List”.

In the article, Brooks talks about the focus we put on developing a career eulogy, often at the expense of a moral eulogy. He describes the consequences of this life, saying:

but if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self”

The answer to my dilemma was clear – I needed to quit the corporate rat race, pack my bags and move to the Pacific Northwest. And so I did. Within two years of landing here I found myself on the adventure of a lifetime: designing, launching and teaching the Skagit Valley College BAS-AM program. By being part of this program, I’m discovering that my greatest joy and what I believe will be the core of my moral eulogy is enabling the empowerment that comes from education for my students. David Brooks, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for putting me on this journey.

PS – I must add that it is due to my upbringing, read parents, and the education they made possible for me that I had the luxury of the choice I faced. It is now my life’s work to make this type of opportunity a possibility for others through the Skagit Valley College BAS in Management degree.

#learningthroughlife #skagitbasam #skagit #skagitvalleycollege #iambasam #applied-management

My Name is Sunaina

When I was around eight years old, I came running home from school one day and excitedly told my mother that I’d been given a new name at school. We lived in England at the time and my friends had told me that my name “Sunaina” was too hard to say so they were going to call me “Sue”.

My mother listened patiently as she (almost) always does and then gently shared words that stay with me to this day. “Sunaina” she said. “Sunaina, your name is Sunaina. It is an Indian name, you are from India, never ever forget that”.

Not only have I never forgotten I’m from India but from that day, I’ve also always asked that people use my given name and offered pronunciation help to those I see struggling. More importantly though, I do my very best to respect other people’s names and I see what a positive impact this has on establishing a rapport and building relationships.

When I came across this Ted Talk article on how to recover from a name mispronunciation, I was intrigued. I was struck between the parallels and the differences between my own experience and the author’s. Mostly though, I was taken by the ideas the author offers on how to address and correct a situation that occurs more often than it should.

How have you handled this type of situation? What’s worked and, what hasn’t?

One third of the way there

March 22, 2019 saw the end of the Winter quarter at Skagit Valley College and with that, the “1/3 of the way there” milepost for the inaugural BAS-AM class. So far, we’ve covered the managerial and workplace applications of Economics, Environmental Science, Statistics, Marketing and Project Management. We’ve also explored the foundations of management. We’ve delved into the connections between each of these subjects and investigated their relationships with our own career and professional interests.

I think the smiles on the faces in this class picture on the last day of class speaks volumes about the exhilaration around the experience so far.

I only know that I know nothing …

Our class today was spent getting ready for the marketing plan presentations that program participants will be delivering next week. We have been studying Marketing and Project Management this quarter. In these courses, working in groups, participants were tasked with creating a marketing plan for the Skagit Valley College BAS program, which involved applying both their project management and their marketing acumen.

In our last meeting of the quarter, participants will present their plans to the entire class and some special guests. Each group will evaluate their own work and that of other groups. Participants will also provide feedback to each other on strengths and opportunity areas. I anticipate a rich and stimulating day, that will be filled with creativity, passion and some laughs too.

As we talked about the presentations, the conversation morphed into a discussion about the fear of not knowing, the feeling of believing we know more than everyone else and the related connections to Carol Dweck’s Mindset and lifelong learning. It seemed only fitting that our class concluded with a saying attributed to Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle “I only know that I know nothing.”

For me, this is certainly true of every area except one: from my work with them since September 2018, I know the SVC BAS-AM Class of 2018-20 has what it takes for great success in management and leadership. I am so honored to be with them on this journey.

#skagitbasam #learningthroughlife

Our Advisory Committee

We are fortunate to have advice, support and counsel from a highly experienced  advisory committee who represent a cross-section of industries and sectors. Committee members  generously volunteer their time and experience to advise faculty on workplace trends and needs and related curriculum enhancements. They also mentor program participants, serve as sounding boards for new approaches, and visit classes as guest speakers.

A shout out to their dedication and commitment.  We appreciate you.

Members of our current advisory board include:

Cindy Brooks Certified Business Advisor with the Washington Small Business Development Center, and the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County

Ellen Martin Gardner Senior Project Manager, Evergreen Health

Bernadette Halliday Bernadette Halliday, CPA

Sachin Mehta Financial Analyst, Amazon.com

Paul Spilsbury US Navy Commander (Retired)

Vijay Tewari Director, Azure Stack Infrastructure, Microsoft Corp.

Cindy Verge Executive Director, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Carl Young Retired Ex ecutive Director, Skagit Valley College Foundation