Allie Foote, EMBA 18

Finding her focus through an MBA: Allie Foote, EMBA 18

By Susan Petty

By age 29, Allie Foote had a dream job. Eight years into her consulting career, she had worked in three groups at PricewaterhouseCoopers: from auditing to finance to organizational and customer strategy. She was engaged in meaningful work on corporate culture, diversity, and inclusion. She had a great network and a role with upside potential. Still, something was missing.

Why an MBA

“I had an amazing career, amazing opportunities,” she says. “But I knew I wanted to do something more, something else. I just didn’t know what it was.”

She had always planned on going back for an MBA. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn, explore, and figure out the next step. A thorough researcher, Allie looked into “every program west of the Mississippi,” in search of one with true diversity.

“It was my visit to Haas that sold me,” she says. “The diversity of the class – not just demographics but what they were doing in their careers, their interests, what excited them – it created a learning environment that I wanted to be a part of.”

At 29, she would be the second-youngest member of her Berkeley Haas Executive MBA class of 2018. But that didn’t faze her. After working with C-level execs at PWC, it felt like the best fit.

“Even though I was on the younger side,” she says, “I knew based on where I was in my career that I wanted to do an executive MBA.”

Leveraging career resources at Haas

As she settled into the EMBA rhythm – five terms of three-day weekends, each term followed by a field immersion – Allie began exploring the many directions her career could go. As part of the Global Network for Advanced Management school, she spent a week at Seoul National University learning about retail trends in foreign markets.

The classes and field immersions helped her identify so many possible career directions it could have been overwhelming. But Allie had allies on her side. Searching for the right direction, she spent six to eight months plying every resource Career Management Services offered. She took personality tests, career aptitude tests, and wrote about what mattered to her most.

She narrowed it down to three key areas: corporate development, business development, and strategy. But those are broad. She needed to zero in on how those jobs play out in different companies.

“I wanted to hear what folks in different industries actually did on a day-to-day basis,” she says.

Seeking answers, she tapped the Haas network. With contacts from the Career Management Group, she reached out to more than 60 Haas alumni for informational interviews. She spoke to graduates working in development, product management, and strategy roles at Google, Apple, Adidas, Nike, Spotify, and more.

Their responses surprised her.

“Everyone was willing to reach out and help me figure this out,” she says. They described corporate culture, shared what they love about their jobs, and gave her advice for the search. She realized, then: “This is why I am part of the Haas family.”

Finding the perfect fit

With their stories, her future came into focus. It was a company that had been in her life all along: Nike. Her first paid job the summer after her freshman year at college was at the original NikeTown in Portland, Oregon. As an undergrad at Claremont McKenna College, she got a weekend job at the Nike outlet. She’d always had a connection with the brand.

Sixteen months into the 19-month EMBA program, Allie accepted a strategy job at Nike. The connection came through a classmate, a Nike employee who made sure Allie’s resume landed on just the right desk. In the job interview, “I wore my pair of Air Jordans I had bought during the summer of 2007,” she says. “We love stories at Nike.”

Now a senior manager for Digital Strategy, Allie enjoys a role that’s both macro and micro. She helps develop the digital piece of the overall corporate strategy. And works with leaders of key digital products, such as an app that lets shoppers scan a barcode on a mannequin in the store and have those garments sent to a fitting room.

She loves her job—and the journey it took to get there.

“I made some of the best friends I will ever have, and challenged myself in ways I didn’t think would be possible,” she says. “I came out having a better understanding of myself and what I wanted to do in my career.”

Learn more about the Berkeley MBA for Executives program

Posted on February 28, 2019
Themes: MBA Benefits
Susan Petty
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.