Executive MBA Ranks High with Veterans


Military Veteran, Southwest Air Pilot, and Berkeley Executive MBA Student Michael Boos

The 69 students enrolled in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program pack a lot of diversity into their cohorts. For Mark Gorenflo and Michael Boos (pictured above), that includes the valuable skills learned serving in the military. Here’s what they had to say about why they chose business school, where their careers are headed, and why they recommend it to other vets.

Mark Gorenflo, director of operations, DIUx (Defense Innovation Unit Experimental)

U.S. Navy veteran and Berkeley MBA for Executives student Mark Gorenflo

His military career: A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mark (pictured r.) served 21 years in the U.S. Navy, and followed that with 10 years as a civilian employee in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

His decision to go to Haas: “As part of an informational session, I made an executive MBA program class visit. It happened to be an Operations class, a very tangible subject that I could easily relate to. Better yet, the students in class asked all of us visitors to introduce ourselves and say a bit about why we were there. Everyone was so welcoming and encouraging—and they still are.”

His future: “In the past, the Department of Defense was a source of innovations crucial to modern society—GPS and the Internet, are just two examples. At DIUx, we want to do the reverse: Introduce innovations developed by the private sector to the military.  We’re looking for more nimble ways to engage high technology entrepreneurs to help ensure that the U.S. military maintain its qualitative edge over potential adversaries.”

He recommends an MBA to other vets because: “First, the marginal utility of what you learn will be greater than your classmates. Almost everything will be new to you, from Accounting to Economics to Marketing. You’ll find a lot of rigor in those subjects. Second, your leadership and operational experience will enrich any classroom discussion. Third, it’s one of the best ways to take full advantage of your Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits.”

Michael Boos, first officer, Southwest Airlines

His military career: After graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Michael served eight years, completing 716 combat hours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He followed that with five years in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. 

His decision to go to Haas: “The caliber of the students and the faculty, the warmth of the welcome were all important factors. But to be business-like about it, the program makes financial sense. The Post 9/11 G.I Bill treats the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program like a full-time program, and because this is a public university, it pays 100% of the tuition and books, plus a housing allowance. All that, and you’re at a top-ranked business school.”

His future: “I love flying and want to stay in the cockpit as long as I can. Fortunately, Southwest Airlines Southwest Airlines pilot, military veteran and Berkeley MBA for Executives student Michael Boosencourages pilots to take on management roles while still flying. Our current VP of Flight Ops still flies. I would love to follow that same path in my career. Or, given my flexible schedule as a commercial pilot, pursuing a second career in finance or strategy has a lot of appeal. I love the idea of being able to pursue more than one passion.”

He recommends an MBA to other vets because: “An MBA program pushes you beyond your core military competencies. I left the Air Force as an expert pilot confident in my leadership skills. But it can’t teach you the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the business world. An MBA gives you insights into everything from microeconomics to how to handle an Excel spreadsheet.”

Interested in pushing beyond your core competencies? Explore the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.


 Beyond Core Competencies:  The Berkeley MBA  for Executives Program









About The Author

Susan is Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. She has nearly twenty years of experience in marketing and advertising, having worked in several different industries including technology, travel, healthcare -- and many others from her media planning days at J. Walter Thompson where her clients included Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle, and Ford. She enjoys advising prospective students and guiding them through their personal MBA experience.