Chris Sampson

Meet Chris Sampson: Balancing Business and Family with a Berkeley EMBA

By Susan Petty
“The Berkeley EMBA program really encourages you to dig deep and discover what your motivating factors are... There has been a lot of self-reflection, asking myself and other people: what drives me?”

Chris Sampson

Like many students, Chris Sampson enrolled in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program to advance his business skills in order propel his career. To his surprise, this period of self-reflection and growth in the EMBA led Chris to begin shifting his professional perspective and long-term career plans. Through his experience at Haas, Chris has opened up to a new world of opportunities and deepened his understanding of himself as a business leader. Today, he has stepped back from his longtime career path, and is exploring new business ventures with enthusiasm and deliberation.

“Through self-reflection in the program, I learned that I really thrive in short durations. I love new projects: I get super stoked, ramp up, and put in all of my energy,” Chris said. “And then as soon as we deliver, I’m ready for the next thing...” Excited by this aspect of entrepreneurship, Chris is currently exploring options for his own new venture, while continuing to work as a strategic business consultant. Now with a new sense of personal understanding, he always has his eye out for new great projects and opportunities.

Chris Sampson

Chris is enjoying the weekly practice of putting his latest MBA lessons to work. “Having those two and a half weeks in between sessions: you learn something, and then you get to go apply it directly,” Chris said. “So often, I'll take what we just talked about in class and start applying it in my work that week.” For Chris, as for other executive MBA students, the EMBA learning extends far beyond the classroom and into their everyday, ongoing work.

“The EMBA program is the best of both worlds... It's ‘part-time’ in that we're only together every three weeks – but it's ‘full-time’ in that we always spend three intensive days together at a time. I love that.”

Just months before he started the program at Berkeley, Chris, his wife, and their young daughter had relocated from the Bay Area to Southern California. Already traveling part-time for work, he fully expected to commit to a business program that was closer to his new home. However, he and his wife Megen were surprised to find that Berkeley-Haas became the clear best choice for their family, despite requiring a commute from Los Angeles.

Chris Sampson in class

“I was so relieved when Chris chose the Haas EMBA program,” says his wife Megen. “It was a huge weight off my shoulders knowing that it would only be a year-and-a-half of every third weekend.” Megen recognizes that the extra time and effort pays off, seeing the great opportunities and perspectives that her husband has gained at in the Haas community.

For Chris, family will always be his top priority – and they support him in turn. He, Megen, and their nearby extended family lean on each other to make it work with intensive school and work schedules. While Chris jumps with enthusiasm into his studies and explores new ventures, Megen provides extra support with their usual household and parenting responsibilities.

“Thankfully we live close to a lot of family members,” Megen says. “So when I can't pick up the extra responsibilities, I know we have a support system to fall back on.” They all especially enjoy the blocks of “down time” in between sessions where there is more time to relax and recharge as a family.

Chris Sampson

“The EMBA program is more focused on the depth of leadership and management experience that you've had – as opposed to just where you are in your career at that time...”

Chris learned about the Executive MBA after applying to the Haas Evenings & Weekends program. When he learned more about the Executive program, he quickly realized that it was the better fit for him and his experience. As a rising leader in his technology company, along with his military management in the Navy, Chris was well-positioned as a young executive. “I had only nine years of business experience at that time – but as a senior manager, I realized that my leadership experience meant a lot,” he said.

The program, which meets once every three weeks over 19 months, has a flexible schedule that works well for Chris, as a working professional and a new parent. Chris’s daughter was just one year old when he started, and he wanted to spend as much time together as possible. “For my family, there's no other program that I could have done,” he said. “Going every three weeks with those long breaks in between: it’s huge.”

Chris Sampson & family

“I took a more holistic approach into determining my next career moves... What motivates me? What do I want to do to make me and my family happy?”

Today, Chris has just a few months remaining in the EMBA program before graduation. He is enthusiastically shaping his next business projects and working on a minimum viable product for his latest business project. With his family as his first priority, he is grateful for the opportunity to have taken this more comprehensive view of his career as a business leader. “I want to make impact,” he said recently. “I want to work in great teams, and I want to have openness to be able to try new things and experiment with things as opposed to being more confined.”

Learn More:  The Berkeley MBA for Executives Program


Collections: Work-life balance  |   MBA for Execs  |   Community
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.