When Christopher Jones joined the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA (EWMBA) Program, his hoped for MBA ROI was to transition from a long career in banking to a new career in tech. His plan was to finish the program and then pivot to an established tech company like Google, but by activating his Haas network, things moved a bit more quickly.
Within the first few months of starting the program, Christopher found a sales role in Google Cloud Platform that was focused on financial services in banking as a vertical—exactly where he came from. “I reached out to Haas alumni working in the business areas I was interested in and, after some great conversations and an in-person lunch, one of them submitted a referral on my behalf."
Today he covers Google Cloud Platform's San Francisco customers, managing B2B relationships. His path to this role and to the tech industry in general has been notably unconventional; he began his career on Wall Street. Starting as an investment analyst at CitiGroup's private bank in 2007, he had only been there for 6 months when the recession hit, a period he calls “unfortunate but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn a lot." Christopher spent another 6 years at CitiGroup working as an operations analyst as well as in sales, but in 2013 he was offered the opportunity to switch jobs—and coastlines.
Using an MBA to explore career possibilities outside finance
In CitiGroup’s Bay Area office, he found a closer-knit community—which sparked an interest in managing and developing relationships. He also became intrigued by San Francisco's thriving tech scene. "I was inspired by the innovation I saw and by a culture that seemed to foster employee happiness. I thought an MBA would be the best way to explore career possibilities outside finance, specifically tech," he says.
Now at Google, Christopher thrives on the innovative work of his clients, and he enjoys his unique exposure to and partial involvement in their ever-changing creative projects. "The customers I work with are leading really incredible work and they're always changing,” he says. “It feels good to help them save money and to work more efficiently and to be part of helping them accomplish their mission."
While Christopher's deep background in relationship management at CitiGroup has served him at Google, he's also used his Haas experience to strengthen other essentials skills. "I took Sales Force Management & Channel Strategy at Haas, and the class was literally a guidebook in terms of running a sales organization; I use what I learned in this class everyday at work."
Although he's found fulfilling work in his current role, Christopher also has his sights on non-sales roles at Google, and he's confident that his Haas experience will help him get there.
"Sales was my way into tech but I don’t think I'll be there forever. There are classes at Haas that have given me skills to move to a role in other areas within Google's cloud platform like business development or marketing." Strengthening his technical skills is just one piece of his Haas experience; now in his final year of the program, he says he’s also learning important soft skills “like how to keep employees motivated and how to become an effective leader."
"Early on you understand that one of the biggest resources you're gaining at Haas is the network."
In addition to using the Haas network and education to transition to tech, Christopher says the best part of his Haas experience has been the variety of classes and people.
"I wanted a broad sampling of classes. Last year I went to Brazil with Haas through a seminar in international business, and it had nothing to do with my direct job search. I've also never worked in Human Resources, but I really enjoyed my Diversity in the Work Place class, where we learned about the financial cost or reward of a diverse work place, and how to quantify diversity. It gave me a new appreciation for the importance of this field."
He says the most valuable part of Berkeley Haas has been the community. “Early on you understand that one of the biggest resources you're gaining at Haas is the network. I was fortunate to leverage that very quickly and find my current job.”
Fellow classmates are also a valuable resource. “Everyone offers different insight and expertise, and you can explore career opportunities through your peers." And Christopher plans to be part of this. "I've also paid my experience forward to other Haas students, helping them explore career options or offering some guidance."
Looking for a community that could help launch you in a new direction? Learn more about the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.