MBA Student Perspective: Sharing Haas with a partner

By Christie Howe

It wasn’t an easy decision to uproot my life—and my partner Ben’s life—to move across the country from Boston to pursue my MBA at Berkeley Haas. 

I had been working in the energy sector for seven years, and I knew I wanted to stay in the industry. However, I wanted a more formal business education than my job or my undergraduate psychology and environmental science degree could offer. And I was drawn to UC Berkeley and the Bay Area, as one of the top places in the world for clean energy innovation and investment.

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When we visited the school on the Days at Haas new-admit weekend, it was immediately clear that not only was it a place where I could I achieve my professional goals, but where we would both be part of a vibrant community.

It didn’t take me more than a few months to confirm that I had made the right choice.

What I have gotten in the past year and a half is so much more than just a deeper understanding of finance, accounting and economics. Through classes like Power and Politics, Haas has helped me to work on softer skills like public speaking, giving feedback, and making my voice heard in an assertive but authentic way. I have also reflected more deeply on what it means to be a female in the male-dominated energy industry, and have discovered actionable ways to combat gender discrimination and encourage gender diversity. Haas has allowed me the space and time to think more analytically and intentionally about workplace dynamics and how to position myself to make a real impact in a clean energy organization.

I’ve also been able to build my leadership skills and industry knowledge by serving as co-president of the campus-wide Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC). At BERC, I’ve had the opportunity to manage a team of six executive members and a leadership team of 25 students from different colleges on campus—from Law and Public Policy to Engineering and Chemistry. I’ve deepened my understanding of the industry through BERC events on topics such as nuclear energy to water conservation, and perhaps most importantly, I have connected with the broader cleantech industry in the Bay Area.

With so much going on at Haas, I ran into a dilemma that many MBA students face: how to juggle the countless opportunities that Haas has to offer. In addition to running for co-president of BERC, I also wanted to take on a leadership role in the Redwoods outdoors club. But due to the workload, I knew that I couldn’t fully manage both. Luckily, my partner Ben and the other Redwoods leaders came up with a brilliant solution:  Ben would also join the Redwoods executive team so that we could share the workload and I could focus more of my energy on BERC.

Ben (2nd row, right, in group photo) had been actively involved in Haas events and activities since the start of school, and had become good friends with the other Redwoods candidates. He was able to take on a leadership position partially due to his outgoing nature and the personal connections he had forged, but in large part due to a school culture that is truly inclusive and welcoming of partners. 

I feel lucky to have found a place that has allowed Ben and I to become part of such an incredible community, and that has helped me to develop the skills I need to make a big impact in clean energy. 

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Posted on December 29, 2016
Christie Howe
Christie Howe is a full-time Berkeley MBA student in the Class of 2017.