Behind the scenes of Ghita Soulimani, MBA 23, filming "Why MBA".

Berkeley Haas students answer the question: why get an MBA?

By Jenny Clare

Joselyn Baety, MBA 24, spent years considering an MBA program, determining what her return on investment would be. Cost was a big factor, but not in the way you might expect. “I was already making really good money. I had a career that I could see going forward without an MBA,” she said. “I just needed to understand where an MBA would actually take me more than what I'm already currently doing.” Her investment has already paid off. After 10 years in the oil-and-gas industry as a refinery planner and economist, she is now one year into a new role as an advisory manager at Deloitte.

Putting the question in another way, Alex Holden, MBA 23 asked himself, “What's the value of an MBA? It sounds kind of expensive. How is that actually helpful? It's important to look at it as really an investment in yourself. For me, it's kind of about taking a leap.” Alex’s leap has taken him from a six-year career in sales with the San Francisco Giants baseball organization to a position with VISA as manager, US Co-Branded Business Development & Partnerships.

“You can't calculate how much money you're going to make in the next five years and do the net present value of that to see if it makes up for the MBA tuition, because there's so much intangible stuff that you get in an MBA program that is just invaluable,” says Farzad Yousefi, MBA 23. “I decided to pursue my MBA because honestly, at the time I felt a little stuck. I felt like my career was not progressing as fast or as rapidly as I wanted. And I thought an MBA would push me forward and propel me to where I want to be.”

Tangible and intangible skills

For many Berkeley Haas students, those “intangibles” fall into a category where the school excels: leadership.

Nana Lei, MBA 22, who holds a master’s degree in international affairs from the University of California, San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy, was a senior analyst working on data analytics at Oracle. She “wanted to learn how to be a leader. So, you know, set vision for a team, define strategies for my own team rather than just tackling challenges as they come up.” Today, Nana is a senior consultant at Deloitte.

I've also learned a lot about myself and the person I want to become and continue growing into.”

An MBA, says Ghita Soulimani, MBA 23, “is not just about the finance class or the accounting or the strategy class. It's also about knowing what type of leader you want to be, what kind of person you want to be, and projecting that. I've learned a lot in terms of what will benefit me professionally, but I've also learned a lot about myself and the person I want to become and continue growing into.” A senior manager of clinical partnerships with health care start-up Color, Ghita “wanted an MBA because of the versatility of the skill set that it would allow me, the network that I would build, and to push myself outside of my comfort zone.”

The Berkeley Haas core curriculum and electives take some students out of their comfort zone—a challenge that is their answer to “Why an MBA?” Marissa Maliwanag, MBA 24, a senior manager in Global Logistics & Provisioning at Fuze, had studied biology and chemistry in college. “I never took any econ courses. I had never seen accounting books or anything like that, so I figured an MBA would help round out my foundational skills.”

Entrepreneurship had long interested Chris Dekmezian, MBA 24, and he figured an MBA would help him figure out how to get there. When he applied for the evening & weekend MBA program, Jarret Wright, MBA 22, was running a marketing company. Already the founder of several start-ups, he knew things were missing in his skill set. “I wasn't 100% sure exactly what they were. It just kind of felt something was missing. I needed to be in a place where it was safe to be able to explore.”

Your decision to make

No matter your reason for getting an MBA, the decision is yours to make.

As Farzad says, “There are people who are going to tell you that you should definitely get an MBA because it helps them, or it helps other people they know. There are others who are going to tell you don't need it because they've seen people who went up without it or were fine without it. And to be honest, both of those groups are probably right because, given their situation, an MBA was or wasn't right for them. So, it's important to talk to different people and take their input.

“But this is not a decision to let other people make for you.”

Watch more Berkeley Haas students answer the question: “Why an MBA?”

Watch Here

Posted on December 1, 2022
Themes: MBA Benefits
Jenny Clare
Jenny is Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She hopes these blog posts provide you with useful insights into the Berkeley MBA experience and answer questions you may have about the MBA in general.