Six questions for Air Force reservist, MBA student Ricky Cornejo

By Susan Petty

"Haas opens all the doors and then you get to choose which one you walk through," says pilot, military reservist, and MBA student Ricky Cornejo of the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.

It's an honor to help military veteran MBA students take their extensive leadership skills and experience into the business world. This week, we're exploring what brought some of our military MBA students to Berkeley Haas and what they hope to do with an MBA. Here are six questions for Ricky Cornejo, United Airlines pilot and First Officer & Maj US Air Force Reserves:

Berkeley EMBA student and military reservist Ricky Cornejo in the cockpit1. How did your military experience develop you as a leader?

The most important thing I learned in the military was that it is very important to set an example for your team. You have to establish your credibility by showing you’re a reliable leader. When you’re in command, your co-workers have to know you possess those traits in order to trust and follow you. I try to set the example, not just in work, but in everything I am a part of.

 2. What did you want to learn or do with an MBA, and why was this important to you?

Normal career progression for a military aviator after leaving the service is to join an airline. I enjoy flying, but I wanted to continue to grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. I knew a Haas MBA would help me accomplish this and push me to become the best version of myself. Also, I’d like to start my own business or transition to an executive role within the airlines someday. Getting an MBA from Berkeley Haas will help to open these career possibilities. 

3. Why did you choose Haas?

In addition to the value alignment I felt with Haas' Defining Leadership Principles, I also chose Haas because it allowed me to work while attending school. I'm in the Air Force Reserves at Travis Air Force base, and I fly 737s for United out of SFO.  Having everything in the same area gives me a chance to be a part of the professional and academic worlds in the East Bay. 

4. What does your military experience contribute to the MBA program?

With my military background, I am very accustomed to pressure and adhering to deadlines. As a result, I'm able to help guide my group at times to stay on task, completing our objectives or meeting our timeline. Also, as a veteran, your deployments and military experiences will provide a valuable perspective on issues facing the cohort. 

5. What would you tell other vets or active duty members who are considering business school?

I’m the military admissions rep for my cohort, and I’ve already encouraged several vets to pursue their MBA. It’s going to be challenging at times but you will learn new things and grow as a leader. Also, you’re going to connect with individuals you would have never crossed paths with if you didn’t get an MBA. Lastly, the character you develop will help you have a larger impact at your company and within society.

6. How has Haas made your goals of what you wanted to do/learn more possible?

Haas sets you up for success in terms of connecting you with people across different industries. I’ve met a lot of talented individuals, and I have learned how to feel confident in approaching and interacting with them. Haas opens all the doors and then you get to choose which one you walk through.

You might also like these interviews with other military MBA students:

Learn about the Berkeley MBA for Executives program
Posted on November 9, 2017
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.