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Proud Marine uses EMBA education to create positive change in his community

By Susan Petty

Alex Lopez is proud of his association with two strong organizations: the US Marine Corps and the University of California, Berkeley. A member of the Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives class of 2020, he served five years as a Marine, during which he earned the rank of sergeant E5/team leader and was honored after serving in Benghazi, Libya. Today, he is a vice president and relationship manager with U.S. Bank in Las Vegas, Nevada.

One thing that links the two organizations, according to Alex, is a commitment to principles. Indeed, the Defining Leadership Principles are part of what drew him to Haas. “There have been times when Questioning the Status Quo got me in trouble,” he admits. “Here at Haas, I’m enjoying it and learning how to do it with intention.”

His studies have Alex questioning his own leadership style. “The Leadership Communications immersion week was transformative. My coach Ingrid Gavshon helped me open up so I could share my story of how immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico as a child shaped my character and how it continues to influence my choices,” he explained.

And after just a few months of classes, he is pleased that his colleagues and managers at U.S. Bank notice changes in both style and substance in his approach to work. There is, he says, more polish in his presentations, more focus to his conversations, and “a deeper focus on creating relationships based on trust, which means making more of an effort to understand the other person’s challenges and rewards."

Alex has high expectations for his career growth and appreciates that his EMBA classmates are equally demanding of themselves. “The skill level and diversity in our cohort is amazing, from physicians to engineers to nonprofit executives,” he said. “Everyone contributes something unique to the conversation. At the same time, there is genuine curiosity and humility.”

He credits the Haas faculty for capitalizing on the experience represented among the members of the EMBA student body. “They are uniformly inclusive and relatable. They strike a good balance between theory and practical, real-world lessons." He cites the example of Professor Homa Bahrami, who brings years of experience with major companies to the classroom when she teaches Creating Effective Organizations. He adds, “As an immigrant, I appreciate that many of the faculty are immigrants as well, who have built strong careers here.”

Alex also has ambitions to share his knowledge of finance with the Latinx community in Las Vegas. He and a few college friends have developed a financial literacy workshop. They go into community schools to teach about topics like compound interest, retirement plans, home mortgages, personal and business loans, and credit cards. “My years in banking mean I’m familiar with all of the topics we need to teach, but the skills and connections I’m building at Haas will allow us to take the workshop to the next level and make an even broader impact in a community that needs this kind of education.”

Learn about veterans funding for the Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives program.

Learn about the Berkeley MBA for Executives program

Topics: Veterans  |   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.