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Winning Voices: Michelle Foley, Technical Training Program Lead, Columbia Forest Products

Winning Voices: Michelle Foley, Technical Training Program Lead, Columbia Forest Products

Each week, JWMI profiles students and alumni in its new featured series “Winning Voices.” Learn about our diverse community and what sets our program apart from those who have experienced it. For more great “Winning Voices” content, click here.

Michelle Foley
Technical Training Program Lead
Columbia Forest Products
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA

HOW HAS THE JWMI CURRICULUM HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?

I am confident that my new ability to strategically analyze business situations, which I learned in my Jack Welch MBA, contributed to my promotion to Technical Training Program Lead, part of the Digital Transformation initiative at Columbia Forest Products. I successfully negotiated a 25% raise and better work-life balance, which has dramatically improved my general quality of life.

Four weeks into my new role, I participated in an executive planning session. In fact, I was the only non-executive employee who was asked to participate.

DID YOU FIND THE CURRICULUM WAS IMMEDIATELY APPLICABLE? PLEASE EXPLAIN.:

The most significant area of applicability for me is related to corporate culture. I am a better employee and teammate, thanks to this program. As part of being a better employee, I look for opportunities to improve processes, either of the core business or within the culture. As a veteran Microsoft employee on my previous team, I made it a point to reach out to the new hires: new to Microsoft, the college hires, or just new to the team. I would provide an overview of how the team functioned, how engagements were staffed and prioritized, and the key responsibilities of each role. I also provided the newbies with key contacts within the team. As I was preparing to leave that team for my new one, I received many messages from people letting me know how much I had helped them and that my leaving was a loss for Microsoft.

Additionally, my project for New Business Ventures and Entrepreneurship is being vetted for adoption by Microsoft. During regular 1:1s with my manager, we discussed the project during the course. He was impressed with my proposal and raised it with senior leaders.

LOOKING BACK AT WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT AN ONLINE PROGRAM WHEN YOU FIRST EMBARKED, WHAT WAS YOUR OVERALL IMPRESSION NOW? DID IT MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS VIA DQ BOARDS, EOP VIDEOS, FACULTY ETC?:

I first enrolled in the program to satisfy the “personal growth” requirements of my company’s annual performance review process. I was expecting a typical academic experience and not necessarily fully committed to seeing it through to the end. To my surprise, I found that I really enjoyed the program. Candidly, I cannot attest that every assignment was enjoyable, but certainly, every class was; I particularly enjoyed the discussion questions. Reading other student’s posts and then looking for relevant articles to ask thought-provoking questions not only expanded my knowledge on many topics, but it was also fun.

WAS THERE A PARTICULAR PROFESSOR OR MEMBER OF THE STAFF THAT YOU FELT HELPED YOU TO EXCEL? PLEASE ELABORATE.:

I felt like every professor, and every JWMI staff member with whom I have engaged has been exceptionally vested in my success in the program from day one! Two professors, however, stand out for their extraordinary levels of engagement and guidance. First, Paul Serluco provided career counseling in addition to the outstanding guidance he provided for coursework. Second, Bruce Smith, with whom I had the pleasure of working with for two courses: Financial Management and the Capstone course. “Chairman Bruce” was exacting in the details needed for the final project but still kept the course enjoyable. The real-world examples provided by both professors significantly enriched the materials and the discussions.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE IN THE PROGRAM?:

It isn’t easy to name just one. My project for New Business Ventures was an improvement to the engagement model used by my team, which handles incident response. During a 1:1 with my manager, he asked if he could see the proposal. The next day, he asked me to share all of the DQ responses and assignments related to the proposal. When he told me that the model was something he wanted to push forward, I was humbled and proud at the same time.

PLEASE SHARE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW STUDENTS EMBARKING ON THE MBA JOURNEY.:

The first piece of advice I have for incoming students is to manage their time very deliberately. It’s never too early to begin working on discussion questions or an assignment. If you create a schedule for doing the work, i.e., Sundays are designated for schoolwork, keeping up with the work will be much easier.

The second is this: You will get out of the program only what you put in. If you only put in the minimum amount of work and/or thought, you will only benefit a minimum amount. There is so much to learn from the faculty and your fellow students. Take advantage of it all.


Connect with Michelle Foley on Linkedin

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