Conversations on Careers and Professional Life
Conversations on Careers and Professional Life
Gregory Heller
Conversations on Careers and Professional Life, from the Foster School of Business office of MBA Career Management Host Gregory Heller has conversations with University of Washington and Foster School faculty, staff, alumni, executives, current MBA candidates and other experts relating to career development, planning, and resilience. If you're navigating a career change, pursuing your MBA, or looking to develop a resilient mindset to help you with your job search, this podcast may be for you!
Christopher Barnes on Sleep and Work
My sleep hasn't been great for years. I never have trouble falling asleep, but I wake after about 5 hours and then have trouble getting back to sleep.  I average about 7 hours of sleep a night, sometimes more, sometimes less (an improvement over a few years ago). A few years back, after hearing author Matt Walker talk about his book, Why We Sleep on a podcast (watch his TED Talk), I went down the rabbit hole (not for the first time) on ways to improve my sleep. I'm happy to report, that it many ways, it has gotten better and my relationship to sleep has as well.  I write this as a preface for why the topic of this episode is so important to me. Sleep is important for mental and physical health, and for the quality of our work product, our relationships, and the broader work environment as we'll here from my guest, Professor Christopher Barnes. Christopher Barnes is a Professor of Management and the Michael G. Foster Endowed Professor of Management at the Foster School of Business. His recent research over the past few years focuses on sleep and its impact on work, ethics, decision making and work place engagement. His research has been featured in the Foster Business Magazine, Harvard Business Review, and a TEDx Talk I've long wanted to have Professor Barnes on the podcast, somewhat selfishly, because of my own interest in -- and challenges with sleep. In April of 2022, I invited him to present to faculty and staff as part of my work on the Health, Wellness and Professional Development Committee at Foster, and after that, I knew I what he had to say would be important to my listeners. We discussed how sleep hygiene can improve sleep: Stick to a schedule for wake time and bed time. Avoid alcohol, caffein and nicotine too close to be time, up to 12 hours prior for caffein. Use your bed for just two things, sleep and sex.  Don't stare into your smart device screen before bedtime, We briefly touch on his research on Blue-light filtering glasses, and we discussed one reputable supplier, Swanwick Sleep. I'll add: keep your bedroom dark and cool. Consider lowering the lighting in your house in the hour or two before bed Get bright  (preferably natural) light upon waking. For those of us in the PNW, you might want to get a "happy light" for these dark winter months, and use it for 20 minutes upon waking. (I have one from Verilux.) Some other important resources: If you suffer from insomnia or sleeplessness, the best experts now recommend avoiding sleeping pills. From my reading, the jury is out on Melatonin except at low doses for short periods of time (like around dealing with a time change). One reason why sedatives and melatonin aren't great is that while they will bring on sleep, they disrupt the best kind of sleep for your brain, deep wave sleep. I learned about this from Matt Walker, so if you want to learn more, follow the links in the first paragraph, or check out this three-part podcast.  The gold standard is now Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, or CBT-I. You can even get apps and online programs to that deliver CBT-I therapy, some are actually FDA Approved. Chris mentioned Sleepio.  There is also a free email based program from Insomnia Coach that I found helpful.  There are some supplements that can help with sleep, but you should talk to your doctor about taking anything regularly for help with sleep, whether it is over the counter, or prescription. Chris also mentioned Arrianna Huffington's book, The Sleep Revolution (you can watch a talk she gave for Talks At Google, or read an interview with her), Dr. Nathaniel Watson (also at UW) and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. There is also a great recorded talk from the Whole U Speaker Series with Dr. Michael Vitiello on Getting a Good Night's Sleep.
Nov 7, 2022
44 min
Nivedita Kumar on Recruiting During Year 2 of the MBA
This episode features a conversation with Nivedita Kumar, Foster MBA '22. Prior to coming to Foster, Nivi worked at Philips as a technical sales manager and then in a variety of roles culminating in Program Manager at Swiggy, a local delivery startup in India.  Nivi interned in a Program Manager role at Amazon during the summer of 2021 and then recruited for full time roles throughout her second year in the MBA program landing a full time role at Microsoft as a Product Manager. Nivi shared the importance of building a strong network with fellow classmates, Foster alumni and others, and how this network was instrumental to her getting interviews and the role she is in now. Some of the resources we mentioned during the show include: Exponent: online courses and prep for product management Inspired: How TO Create Products Customers Love, by Marty Cagan The Lean Product Playbook, by Dan Olsen Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, by Nir Eyal Podcasts: Product Podcast from Product School Product Thinking with Melissa Perri The Product Experience from mind the PRODUCT  
Oct 18, 2022
31 min
Jeff Perry On Coaching Engineers
Jeff Perry, Foster Hybrid MBA '20, and founder of More Than Engineering, talks about his transition from engineer to coach of engineers and offers advice for how engineers can articulate their experience and value when switching careers. Visit for full episode show notes. Find additional resources at
Sep 15, 2022
35 min
Portia Obeng on Updating Your LinkedIn Profile
  Portia Obeng is a social media strategist with over 10 years of experience in social media strategy and content management. Her current focus is supporting individuals and organizations in their use of LinkedIn and Instagram. Our conversation focuses on how anyone, but especially job seekers can use LinkedIn to build their person brand. This is episode complements last season's conversation with Jeremy Schifeling about his book Linked, and using LinkedIn for job search. We talk about: Why you should pay attention to LinkedIn even if you are happy with the job you're in, and why companies should want their employees to be active on LinkedIn. How to get started with interacting and making content on LinkedIn from: Making comments that add value on other people's posts. Commenting on your own company's posts Writing LinkedIn articles Making images with Canva both for posts and for your profile banner image Portia's top advice for updating your profile: Get a good profile photo and make sure it is set to visible to all people If you need a new photo, book a photo shoot with Shoott, or AirBNB Experience, or get a friend to help out. Be sure to smile. Don't be afraid to be bold and show your personality. Natural (and indirect) light is your friend. You can read an article I wrote with four tips for taking a LinkedIn Profile Photo. Update your headline and use key words for the role you want. Her formula for the about section:  What you do, how you do it, and why you're so good at it. Highlight your results. Update your LinkedIn Banners with and image made on Canva. The banner is a free billboard to advertise your value proposition We also talk about getting recommendation from colleagues or clients for your LinkedIn Profile. Portia recommended the Brown Ambition Podcast and an older show called Joblogues, and the following influencers on LinkedIn Cassey Ademola Lisa Orbé-Austin Tinu A and the Luxury Career Club You can find and follow Portia on LinkedIn.
Sep 1, 2022
36 min
Advice from Foster 2022 MBAs on the Career Search and Interviewing
On this episode, I share advice from three members of the Foster MBA class of 2022 on the career search and interviewing. Hear from Elizabeth Daly, Tyson Colledge, and Christine Pham on the importance of knowing your story, and how they prepared for MBA interviews.
Jul 1, 2022
7 min
Advice from Foster 2022 MBAs on Internships
[et_pb_section admin_label="section"] [et_pb_row admin_label="row"] [et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text"] On this episode, I share some advice from three members of the Foster MBA class of 2022 on how to have a successful internship. Hear from Tyson Colledge, Elizabeth Daly and Christine Pham on the importance of networking, asking questions, and trying new things.  [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column] [/et_pb_row] [/et_pb_section]
Jul 1, 2022
6 min
Mikaela Winter on Her Path to a Career in Sustainability at Microsoft
Microsoft Program Manager and Foster Evening MBA alum Mikaela Winter talks about pursuing a career in energy and sustainability. Full show notes at
Jun 1, 2022
31 min
Conquer LinkedIn with Jeremy Schifeling
On this episode, I speak with Jeremy Schifeling. Jeremy is co-author of the book Linked: Conquer LinkedIn, Get Your dream job. Own your future with Omar Garriot. Before getting his MBA from Michigan's Ross school of Business, Jeremy worked in education, including as a kindergarten teacher. After business school, he worked at LinkedIn, and is now director of consumer and product marketing at Khan Academy. he founded Break into Tech, a resource for anyone without a tech background to break into careers in tech, as he did, and regularly presents trainings on LinkedIn, including  to MBAs at the Foster School of Business. The book is like the missing manual for the modern job seeker on how to leverage linkedIn to build your network, score referrals, do company research and get a job offer. Jeremy and Omar also provide the reader with insights into the experience and mindset of recruiters using LinkedIn's powerful recruiter tool. We only scratch the surface of the advice in the book, but I think you'll come away from this conversation with some useful tips and actionable steps for using LinkedIn to level up your job search. We talk about what Jeremy thinks the most overlooked tool on LinkedIn is The importance of using keywords Why referrals are so important, and how to use LinkedIn to get them "Open to work" and how to think about when to use this picture frame on LinkedIn Why you should follow companies you are interested in How to find a direct email address for a recruiter or hiring manager and so much more! You can find Jeremy and Omar's work, the book and additional resources at Other resources mentioned during the episode include: Jeremy's guide to breaking into tech industry jobs without prior tech experience Jeremy and Omar's online course on mastering LinkedIn 2-Hour Job Search, and my interview with the book's author Steve Dalton Two more of my episodes about informational interviewing with my colleagues, and with Foster Alum Asal Mirsalimi Lindsey Pollak  and her book Recalculating  Podcasts: Pivot with Kara Swisher & Scott Galloway, Sway with Kara Swisher, Prof G. Show with Scott Galloway Smart Passive Income podcast with Pat Flynn The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and their business plan competitions LinkedIn Career Explorer tool which you can find through the link on this page:
May 13, 2022
42 min
Prof. Kira Schabram on Callings, Compassion and Burnout
UW Foster School of Business Assistant Professor of Management Kira Schabram joined me to talk about her research into callings, compassion and burnout.  Burnout has a clinical diagnostic framework. It is not just feeling exhausted. Burnout is when exhaustion is accompanied by feelings of inefficacy or cynicism. Interventions that can help an individual experiencing burnout include small acts of compassion (and self-compassion) and self-care.  Self-care can help combat burnout that is characterized by exhaustion and cynicism, and acts of compassion can help combat burnout characterized by exhaustion and inefficacy.  The Maslach Burnout Inventory(TM) can be used to diagnose burnout. Programs designed to help pull people out of burnout often fail, and individuals experiencing burnout often find it hard to engage in such programs.  If you suspect someone is suffering from burnout, taking an action to help them, ie bring them a meal, or do something for them, but don't ask what they need, because that shifts the onus onto the person. Kira also talked about the importance of having a hobby or interest outside of a career that is based on a calling, or passion as a way to avoid burnout. She also shared the danger of fixating on a single path toward a "dream job" associated with a call or passion, which can cause frustration and burnout. You can read more about Kira's work in the Foster Business Magazine.  Kira recommended the following authors and books: Adam Grant , Give and Take Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis Daily Rituals by Mason Curry  
Mar 25, 2022
38 min
Some quick advice on following up after informational interviews
Have you ever wondered when you should follow up with someone who's give you an informational interview? I'll share three tips in under six minutes to answer this common job seeker question.  Visit for episode show notes.
Mar 15, 2022
6 min
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