Bringing leadership skills from the U.S. Navy to the business world


Berkeley MBA student Jorge TellezDuring his time as an officer in the US Navy, FTMBA Jorge Tellez was no stranger to the demands of leadership and responsibility. Among other tasks, he advised the Secretary of the Navy on the Navy and Marine Corps awards program and provided antiterrorism training to crew on the guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen. As his Navy stint came to an end, he saw getting an MBA as a great way to put those skills to use in the business world.

"I was looking for a school that would offer not only outstanding education for my career transition, but also a strong community of students that I could connect with," he says. "Every other school I visited just had me come in, do the interview, and return home. But when I arrived at Haas, the current students had made a human tunnel for all of us candidates to run through as a community-building exercise, and that evening my fellow applicants and I went out with them for dinner and karaoke. I knew Haas was the place for me."

Deciding on a career in consulting

Before joining the Navy, Tellez earned his undergraduate degree at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington City, during which time he also spent a semester at the University of Oxford's Magdalen College. At Haas, he has interned at SkyAlert, one of U.C. Berkeley's 2018 startup accelerator firms, and at McKinsey & Company in Seattle.

Before he began his MBA program in September 2017, Tellez wasn't yet sure what kind of business career he wanted to pursue. That summer, he took part in an Orientation Program in Atlanta offered by the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, an organization that works to foster diversity in business education and leadership. After talking to his classmates and fellow Orientation Program participants from other U.S. business schools as well as to representatives from a variety of firms, he landed on consulting.

"I was initially interested in tech, but realized it was an industry I really wasn't familiar with," he says. "As I talked to people at the Orientation Program, I learned that a consulting career would be a better fit by giving me opportunities to engage with many different industries instead of just one. By the time I started at Haas, I was fully committed to consulting."

Berkeley MBA student Jorge Tellez

Gaining global consulting experience

This commitment led Tellez to participate in a semester-long consulting project through Haas' International Business Development (IBD) management consulting program—and then serve as a team leader in Dubai for three weeks.

"We advised Majid Al Futtaim Holding, a company heavily invested in shopping malls and commercial and mixed real estate. We helped them envision what the 'mall of the future' could look like in Dubai," he says. "There's an advanced mall industry there, much more so than here in the U.S. Our team assumed we'd have lots of cutting edge proposals to offer, coming from Silicon Valley, but this firm was already developing really innovative ideas. So our challenge was to think ahead of what they were already doing."

To help him in his pivot from the military to a consulting career, Tellez has made good use of the career management resources the MBA program offers its students, working with consulting specialists and peer advisors to develop his career strategy, craft a resume, and prepare for interviews. Add to the mix the coursework that's given him the tools he needs to move forward and a number of friendships he will continue to enjoy after graduation—and Tellez feels ready for what comes next.

"I'm leaving Haas not only with concrete skills in finance, accounting, and data analytics, but also with incredible friendships I know will be some of the closest I'll have in my life," he says. "I feel so fortunate for the support I've gotten here."

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About The Author

Liz was Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Full-time MBA Program at Berkeley Haas from 2018-2019. She holds an MBA from Boston University and came to Haas after gaining years of experience in retail for Gap and Gymboree, in financial services for Putnam Investments, as well as engaging in significant non-profit volunteer work. Prior to joining the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program, she spent 7 years in admissions for Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She loves her work in admissions because of the connections she's able to develop with students, all of whom bring such amazing diversity of personal and professional experience to the program.