“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end,” according to writer Robin Sharma. No one would agree more than Mithun Shankar, a 2014 graduate of the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.
A successful software engineer at Oracle Corporation in India and the U.S., Mithun was responsible for developing infrastructure, certifying cloud technologies, managing global teams of engineers, and working with big data analytics. But something was missing.
“I’d been with Oracle for more than a decade,” he remembers. “I’d reached the point where I knew I’d be successful if I stayed, but there was no longer a real challenge for me.” MIthun's work was also very internally focused, and he was hungry for some interaction with the users of his technology. “As an engineer, you analyze a problem and then solve that problem. But does it help one person, or one million people? You have no idea.”
He started to wonder about roles that would develop another side of his personality, but didn’t have the skills to make a switch to marketing or finance. Born, raised, and educated in India, Shankar had just arrived in the U.S. in 2009 and knew he needed the credibility of a good management program in a good school to gain the confidence to make that leap. Raising the stakes of taking such a risk was the fact that he was married with two small children, and his wife had her own career to think of as well. When he learned about the Berkeley-Haas Executive MBA Program, he knew he’d found the right way forward.
A Wealth of Options
Soon after he’d started at Berkeley-Haas in 2013, Mithun met with Luke Kreinberg of the MBA Career Management Group, who drew a chart illustrating four career types: Advancer, Explorer, Switcher, and Entrepreneur. The result: Shankar came out of the meeting feeling even more confused than before, realizing he had many more options than he’d considered – but he knew he was on the right for career advancement outside of engineering.
He proceeded through the core curriculum, gradually learning the language of business and finance. Particularly transformative courses included Turnarounds with Peter Goodson and Jennifer Chatman’s Executive Leadership class.
Advancing with a Move into Product Management...
By the time he completed the program in 2014, Mithun knew his next step. He stayed at Oracle, but, with the credibility of his new degree, was able to switch to product management – a more externally facing role that enabled him to work with customers to solve their technology problems.
...Then a Switch to Consulting in Private Equity
About a year later, he learned through the Haas Alumni Network of a consulting position for Alvarez & Marsal's private equity group. In January 2016 Shankar relocated his family to Texas to work for its San Antonio office, and he now advises C-level executives at mid-sized companies on how to run their businesses. “I’m dealing with human and economic problems,” Mithun says. “I can really see my own impact.”
What would Mithun say to others dreaming of making a big career switch? “Change is something everyone should embrace,” he says. “It can be challenging, but it’s never too late to do it. And it’s incredibly satisfying on the other side.”
Looking to embrace your own career change (or advancement)? Learn more about the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.