Reflecting on the decade: Berkeley grads get real about their experience with Haas

By Om Chitale

Where do you want to be in one year? How about five years? What steps will you take in 2020 to ensure you’re making strides to achieve these goals?

Many people who set lofty career goals look to an MBA to help them turn their vision into reality.

Hear from real Haas alumni on when they knew that a Berkeley Haas MBA was the right fit for their goals.

Personalize your MBA curriculum to reach your dreams

Earning an MBA is a great way to showcase your uniqueness in the workplace. Many traditional industries are seeking a modern approach to solving problems via innovation. For this reason, MBA graduates are beneficial across all sectors and are critical players for businesses that are serious about changing their core business models.

Market differentiation was the reason Nony Onyeador, MBA 18, made an MBA an integral part of her career goal, which is to enter the entertainment industry, “My business degree is unavoidably tied to my creative goals. To reach them, I looked for a program that would provide me the best opportunity to gain a well-rounded, personalized MBA. Berkeley Haas came out on top.”

Ricky Tan, MBA 17, says that he decided to go to Berkeley Haas because, “From a career perspective, I wanted to press ‘reset’ and become more fluent technically. I believed an MBA in the Bay Area would be the best fit for me to be exposed to both the industry and the people from whom you can learn the essential skills.”

Now Tan is the founder of TokenData, a cryptocurrency data and research firm based in San Francisco.

Join a warm community for ongoing support

While pursuing your MBA, you’ll meet and connect with a great deal of faculty, students, alumni, and professionals associated with Berkeley Haas—at the school and in the surrounding community. This group of like-minded individuals will become your tribe as you get to know them and help you expand your network. Because these connections will vary in industry, geographic location, and function, these relationships can also translate to promising opportunities and friendships in the future.

The strong sense of community and networking is one of the reasons Megan Bradfield, MBA 15, decided to attend Berkeley Haas in the first place. “I remember sitting on a sunny bench in the courtyard with an admissions officer, still wearing my Chicago-winter boots. Student after student greeted her, and she knew everyone’s name. That’s when I knew Berkeley Haas was for me: warm weather and warm friendships. I wanted to go to a business school where everyone is eager to learn, not just to compete. To me, being people-centric is a way of being innovative, and Haas is definitely people-centric.”

Rachel Adams, MBA 17, was able to lean on her classmates when it came to reaching her professional goals, post-MBA program. “My classmates were happy to help me with my job search, so when I finalized my list of dream retail-tech companies, my Haas network helped me land coffee chats that led to formal interviews with all five organizations I targeted.”

Discover what lies outside your comfort zone

Taking risks is often linked with successful business people. Whether that means finding the courage to leave a comfortable job to start your endeavor or if it means switching careers to find a more fulfilling industry—many people make it their goal to take more risks in their life.

By obtaining an MBA, you’ll learn how to assess your opportunities and take calculated risks that can help you achieve your goals. For example, Jose Alonso, MBA 19, said that his MBA, “Was a unique opportunity to pivot and dedicate my passions through calculated risks while being supported by a strong Haas food community and alumni network.”

Gain confidence in yourself to reach higher levels

An academic study that polled 54 MBA graduates on ROI of an MBA, taking into consideration costs vs. benefits, found that participants ranked increased confidence as one of the highest-weighing and most important non-financial benefits of earning an MBA degree.

For those who feel that their self-doubt or lack of confidence is hindering them in the workplace, an MBA could be a great goal for you to set in 2020.

Hady Barry, MBA 17, said that she initially saw the MBA experience as a way to incubate ideas for a social enterprise in the education space. But, after her first year at Haas, she realized she wasn’t ready to make the leap into entrepreneurship on her own.

“There was still a lot I needed to learn when it comes to bringing about social change. I realized that working in the social impact consulting space would provide the additional training I needed. I gained from Haas confidence in knowing that there's nothing I can't do. I stretched myself greatly in leadership roles, but this is also how I learned the most,” said Barry.

Katie Benintende, MBA 15, used Berkeley Haas’ guiding principle ’Confidence Without Attitude’ to find her voice, and reach her goal of making an impact. Benintende started The Gender Equity Initiative, which is a student-led effort to increase the number of women in MBA programs.

“Our initial goal was to have 40 percent women by 2020. Being involved with the Gender Equity Initiative taught me how to expand one’s influence. You can create enormous change by voicing your position in the right way with the right people,” said Benintende.

Understand yourself — and others

Different perspectives, cultures, leadership styles, races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, languages, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identities, political opinions, and socioeconomic statuses run today’s business world.

And, with fast-changing technology, products, information, and business is virtually borderless.

If your professional goals are to be able to connect in the business-world more deeply, it’s essential to take a step back and learn about your leadership styles, as well as other perspectives in the business world, to be effective in your journey.

An MBA is a great way to explore a variety of leadership, communication, and cultural business styles.

Steven Weddle, MBA 15, said that the strategy class at Berkeley Haas, “Helped me understand the strengths and weaknesses of an enterprise I started with a classmate. We were able to adjust our strategy in ways that served us well.”

Dominic Bea, MBA 17, used his MBA experience to differentiate his perspective from the one he’d been taught in the service. “The military tends to have one dominant style of leadership. At Haas, I learned different but equally valuable and productive leadership styles. I saw this in my classmates and how they operated.”

Making a Berkeley Haas MBA your 2020 goal

Think about your own goals. How does an MBA mesh with your vision?

If you’re thinking about making the initial step and applying for your MBA in 2020 to reach your short and long-term goals, now is a great time to get started.

Then, work with admissions officers at Berkeley Haas to see how you can mold your experience to meet your expectations.

Stacey Chin, MBA 16, said, “I had clear goals for my MBA, and I [tailored] my experience at Berkeley Haas to realize these goals.”

Now is your chance to do the same.

Are you ready to start your Berkeley Haas application? Start here.

Learn more about the Full-Time MBA program

Topics: Networking  |   Career
Om Chitale
Om is the Director of Diversity Admissions at Haas, as well as a graduate of the full-time MBA program (class of 18)! He started his career in consulting at Deloitte, then switched paths into education access and equity work through an Education Pioneers Fellowship in Memphis. He spent his years at Haas applying his passion for closing gaps in access and worked with a classmate to launch Teachers of Oakland, a storytelling non-profit organization that amplifies teacher voice in the Oakland community, which he continues to run today. He loves guiding prospective students through the application process, and he is committed to increasing access to Haas for folks from underrepresented communities.