A chameleon chooses blue-and-gold as his colors

By Eric Askins

It’s not unusual for MBA students to describe their studies as an “investment in themselves.” But that expression has specific meaning for Ramiro Montiel, MBA 25.

Becoming a full-time MBA student at Berkeley Haas is Ramiro’s way of continuing to build a solid foundation for the future he wants for himself and his family. “It is on me, and has always been on me, to create my own financial stability,” he said. Ramiro attributes that determination, and his past success, to a childhood spent in 24 foster home placements. “You learn to adapt, to be alert for how one place differs from the other and to change your own approach to fit in—or at least, not to stand out too much. You need to be a chameleon.”

It was his brother Enrique—who, once he left the foster-care system himself and graduated from college, served as a foster parent to Ramiro and their sister—instilled in his siblings the desire to work hard and succeed. “My brother’s advice could seem a bit harsh at times. He once told me that if I fell down in life, the rest of the world would walk around me without even looking. But I needed that wake-up call to really push myself into a dynamic career.”

The Consortium was such a great source of support before and during my application process."

As an undergraduate at Cal Poly Pomona, Ramiro took on six internships in the southern California entertainment industry, working at every major studio including HBO, Warner Bros, Lionsgate, Fox, and Disney. After graduation, he leveraged that experience into a job at HBO in New York City, working his way up from the position of executive assistant to a senior manager of Integrated Media, Marketing Strategy, and Insights at Showtime.

Despite his success, Ramiro always knew that he needed an MBA to broaden his vision and explore other business possibilities. He was pleased after his first visit to the Berkeley campus because not only did he feel that he could fit into Haas and adapt, he felt quite at home. He describes being at a dinner on campus in a room “where looking out the windows at one end you could see the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge and in the other direction you could see trees and the football stadium where I can go see my Golden Bears play.”

Ramiro credits Anthony Whitten, director of Diversity Admissions at Berkeley Haas, for supporting him through the application process. “Anthony was both a voice and an ear. He listened and he asked great questions. Anthony got me to look at my life and career experiences as well as future plans, through a unique and different lens. He helped me think about various ways of presenting myself and telling my story. Thanks to him, I’m coming to Haas with great career hypotheses to test out.”

One hypothesis is that he can leverage his multifaceted background in media and marketing for a move into a technology product manager role. Academically, that means focusing on classes and experiences that will hone his technology skills. He intends to complete the requirements for a certificate in business analytics.

Because his experience in foster care taught him to “think at least five steps ahead,” Ramiro already has plans for how he will invest his time at Berkeley Haas. “Academically, I want to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I guess that translates to being a Student Always. As an undergrad, I took Finance and Accounting classes, but never used them in my roles at HBO and Showtime, which focused more on marketing and strategic media planning during pivotal moments in the streaming industry. I’m excited to brush up on both subjects and learn how to use those skills.”

In addition to being excited about meeting his cohort and study group, Ramiro is eager to engage in extracurriculars like the Digital Entertainment & Media Club (DMEC), the Latinx Business Club, and the Berkeley Haas Technology Club. And he is eager to attend a water polo game or two. But his top priority will be the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management (CGSM).

“The Consortium was such a great source of support before and during my application process. Attending its 2023 meeting in New Orleans this summer was inspiring. I could see how important the second-year students and the Consortium Liaisons were to making that organization run,” Ramiro said. “I want to be part of optimizing the experience for the next cohort of Consortium Fellows at Haas.”

“One of my key values is to give back to the organizations and people who have supported me. I want to be part of making sure that everyone at Berkeley Haas feels the sense of belonging that I do. I feel like I’m starting anew with my MBA studies,” Ramiro said, “and I feel a great deal of encouragement and community."

Interested in making your own career pivot? An MBA from a top business school can help you grow your network and leadership skills so you can take the next step toward a fulfilling career.

Compare Berkeley MBA programs

Posted on July 21, 2023
Eric Askins
Eric is the Executive Director of Full-time MBA Admissions. He partners with students, faculty and staff to recruit a diverse student body that enhances our community through innovative leadership and academic excellence.