MBA students are tech networking insiders

innovation guide

Two UW Bothell MBA students helped compile a guide to the entrepreneurs and innovators in Seattle’s technology community, and they learned about networking and expanded their own professional contacts along the way.

Jessica Partnow and Ella Stefoglo conducted nearly 60 interviews for the 2018 Guide to Greater Seattle’s Innovation System, published online by the Iinnovate (pronounced I innovate) Leadership Network. This was the fourth year for the guide and the second under the consulting firm’s partnership with the UW Bothell School of Business. The work was an independent study course led by Denis Trapido, an assistant professor, in collaboration with Joe Ottinger, the Iinnovate CEO.

Building skills and networks

Ella Stefoglo
Ella Stefoglo

Partnow, who teaches journalism in the Department of Communication at the UW in Seattle, and Stefoglo, an industrial engineer at Boeing, said working on the guide introduced them to brilliant people in the Seattle tech startup world.

“It was a lot of work, but it was worth it! I have met so many intelligent and inspiring individuals — one of the coolest experience in the entire program,” Stefoglo said.

Through dozens of interviews, Stefoglo said she gained confidence in her skills and made contacts who would be a good resource.

Partnow put her journalism skills to work while gaining MBA insights into Seattle’s tech and innovation ecosystem.

Jessica Partnow
Jessica Partnow

“This was a fabulous opportunity to get out into the real world and explore some of the issues we cover in our courses,” Partnow said. “I was really ready to understand what my subjects talked about in a way that I couldn’t have before starting the MBA program.”

Partnow said she hopes to bring some of the relationships she built to her journalism teaching.

Findings with relevance

Joe Ottinger
Joe Ottinger

Ottinger, the CEO, said the 2018 report was the most ambitious to date. It lists investors, lawyers, recruiters and other professionals in tech, health sciences, commercial real estate and government — “the people and the companies that are making things happen in the innovation economy.”

Part of Stefoglo and Partnow’s work was to add the new health sciences section. Next year’s guide will add the energy sector, Ottinger said, adding that UW Bothell has been a great partner in the goal of raising awareness in the innovation ecosystem.

“The belief is, if you can do it well and can figure out how to create an innovation economy, it raises all boats: jobs, higher pay, lots of good things,” Ottinger said. “Hopefully, it positively impacts lives.”

Hundreds of copies of the free 70-page guide have been downloaded since its release in February. Among other things, it reported the largest growth in new, local tech venture capital firms and capital raised in a decade. It also noted that while tech jobs in recent years in the Seattle area have been growing faster than Silicon Valley, 80 percent of the tech talent has come from outside Washington state.

Denis Trapido
Denis Trapido

Trapido, the faculty coordinator, said the collaboration with Iinnovate is growing and improving every year. As someone whose area of research includes social networks in business, he expects the relations that the study mapped and created to have lasting relevance.

“We look at where good ideas come from and what helps those good ideas become ones that change the world,” Trapido said. “To succeed in creativity you need people around you. People rarely succeed alone.”

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