Ready for an MBA...or for the next big thing in Your Life? Part I

By Susan Petty

Berkeley MBA George James with family

If you read our previous blog on how Berkeley-Haas students knew they were ready for an MBA, you may have found others who share similar circumstances or considerations to your own. And perhaps you have more in common beyond the pursuit of an MBA. In addition to their MBA programs, Haas students balance eventful personal lives outside the classroom. In this two-part series, learn these same students knew they were ready to start another exciting chapter, be it an upcoming marriage, a baby on the way, a growing family, or a changing career.

George James, of our full-time MBA programon being ready to get married:

My wife, Zula, who is Mongolian, and I had a whirlwind courtship.  
I met her in May during a church camping trip in Southern Utah. We are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We started dating in July 2010 and got married the following year on January 8th at the Salt Lake City Temple.

 I think the biggest thing for us was the feeling that we found someone we wanted to spend the rest of eternity with. We are also very complimentary. Opposites really do attract—I am a planner, my wife is not. I am not especially sensitive or courteous, but my wife has these characteristics in abundance. I think I'm funny and my wife does not. On a more serious note, we also shared very similar life goals. Getting married meant we were combining our friends an family to create a future together, and that gave me a profound sense of purpose and joy.

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Anca Popovici (EWMBA) on being ready to train and fundraise for triathlons:

Triathlon swimmers

I remember being in Ecuador in 2010, snorkeling in this incredibly beautiful place and being completely terrified of the water. I didn’t know how to swim, and the life vest did little to calm my fears. I couldn’t understand how my fear could take away from that beautiful moment, so my new year’s resolution was to learn to swim. I do best when I have a goal, so I signed up for a triathlon. In 2011, I did my first triathlon, survived the swim and got hooked. In 2013, one of my dreams came true. A year of intense training and tremendous support from loved ones and even strangers across the globe helped me finish 10th in my age group in my first Ironman race: 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking and 26.2  miles running.

Berkeley MBA student Anca PopoviciThe idea for fundraising actually came from a simple class assignment. In our “Leadership Communication” we were asked to present something we are passionate about. I realized that my personal passion was to help people like my mom, who faces bipolar disorder and the stigma surrounding mental illness.

I started questioning why this has been such a big secret in our family for so long. After talking to my family, I realized that they were trying to protect us, the children, from being associated with the stigma. What my parents had to endure outweighs any endurance challenge, and they did it quietly behind closed doors. I wanted my mom, along with 60 million people facing bipolar disorder, and their loved ones, to be celebrated for their courage.

Is your Next Big Thing an MBA? Find out if you're ready with our free ebook: Five Signs You're Ready for an MBA.

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Topics: Evening & Weekend  |   Full-time  |   MBA for Execs
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.