Berkeley MBA Study Teams Yield Insights on Diversity, Leadership, Self

By Morgan Bernstein

Berkeley MBA students during orientation's cohort olympics

At Berkeley-Haas, our students contribute diverse perspectives, valuable experiences, and a contagious ambition to learn and grow. If you read our previous post on how our full-time MBA students contribute to their study teams, you probably got a sense of the varied, yet valuable, contributions that each student makes to the team.

Our unique culture is shaped by the different skill sets and insights that students bring to one another—and to our program at large—but we also believe there's a symbiotic relationship at work: when students bring positivity to their peers, they receive enthusiasm; when they share a new idea or challenge a convention, they're met with open-minded interest; when they step up to lead, they find support.

Whether they've gained a sense of confidence, patience to work through a problem, or an appreciation for all voices, at Berkeley-Haas, when our students give, they also receive. Read on to see what study team members have gotten from collaborating with their peers.

Across the board, these students in our Full-time Berkeley MBA Program said they value the strength that came from their team's diversity. George Roche, who previously worked in government strategy and operations with Deloitte, says he appreciated the eclectic backgrounds and experiences of his teammates. "We had a group of people from all over the world with a breadth of experiences across the board," George says. He also never felt reticent to admit when he didn't know something, because his team provided a supportive structure, and made it "safe to acknowledge areas you weren't good at."

Sonya Hetrick, who worked in financial services, agrees that her team's diverse backgrounds enabled different problem-solving approaches. The different perspectives "helped us explore more ideas and options, rather than just going with the first idea," Sonya explains. “My experiences taught me the value of including all voices in the conversation."  

Robbie Heath found that listening to all of the voices on his team actually improved how he approached problems in his field: energy. He says he was able to "take lessons learned from other industries and apply them to energy." Robbie also saw leadership qualities in his teammates that instilled a sense of confidence and leadership in himself, noting that, "Over time, my team made me more confident to contribute earlier in our discussions."

Mario Siewert also discovered inspiration and confidence from his fellow students. “I was struggling to experiment with different speaking styles, and it was very uncomfortable for me to leave my known path and particular speaking style. Through the safe space my classmates created, I was encouraged to experiment and challenge myself." In fact, the experience gave Mario a new sense of himself, and a new definition of leadership. "Looking back," he says, "the experience was crucial to discovering a part of me that I wouldn't have discovered without my classmates.” 

And many students find that their study teams not only broaden their academic and professional horizons, but also their social ones. Ryann Kopacka found in her team an unwavering support system. "I know that I can go to any member on my study team for help, for a listening ear, or just for a fun time," she says.

Ryann has also learned the importance of such relationships. “I have learned that I want to be the type of leader who cares about the people I lead. I have learned from my study team that relationships are more important at the end of the day than completing an assignment or the quality of an assignment.”

Want to learn more about the kinds of students you'd be on a study team with at Berkeley-Haas? Check out our student profiles. 

See the Kinds of Students You'd Be Teamed with at Berkeley-Haas



Posted on December 1, 2015
Morgan Bernstein
Morgan was the Executive Director of Full-time MBA Admissions at Haas from 2016-2019 as well as a graduate of the program. She enjoys making personal connections with prospective students and guiding them through the MBA admission process.