When most of us want adventure, we might visit a new city—or try a different kind of coffee. But when former Coast Guard Lieutenant Andrew Price craved adventure out of high school, he decided to move from his landlocked home state of Arizona to Connecticut and attend the Coast Guard Academy.
Andrew spent five years with the Coast Guard serving on three ships: On the first, based in North Carolina, he was the supply department head and law enforcement boarding officer; the second, based in Manama, Bahrain, he was the operations officer and supported the ship's mission to escort US. commercial vessels and conduct training exercises with other countries; and on the third ship, based in Connecticut, he served as the ship's commanding officer. That ship performed search and rescue missions, enforced fishery laws, and offered national security services.
Now, in addition to working toward his Berkeley Haas degree in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program, Andrew is a project manager for Flexport, a freight forwarding and software company focused on improving the user experience in global trade. Currently, he’s helping the firm establish a global network of warehouses.
How did your military experience develop you as a leader?
I didn't shy away from responsibility—in fact, I dove into it head first. It's easy to say, 'It's not my problem,' but the military taught you to be action-oriented, commit to a decision and carry it out. Know which decisions are reversible and which you could continue to iterate upon. When you were overseeing people, you had a duty to provide guidance. I was responsible not only for my own success or failure, but also for my team's.
Why did you want to pursue an MBA?
I felt that I had developed some great skills in the Coast Guard, but I wasn’t exposed to possible career paths on the outside. It seemed like the leadership, discipline, and judgement I learned in the Coast Guard would combine well with the business-specific knowledge—finance and marketing for example—that Haas had to offer. And I wanted to develop a strategy mindset. All my roles in the Coast Guard were operation oriented, and I wanted to learn to take a long-term strategy view.
Why did you choose Berkeley Haas?
In part because helping Flexport develop its warehouses was an awesome experience, and the EWMBA program was so close. But I also chose it for the culture and community. The Berkeley Haas community was broad-ranging, and represents every industry. Being here gave me connections with people at companies all across the Bay Area.
What does your military experience contribute to the MBA program?
My Coast Guard experience gave me the ability to get to the root cause of an issue quickly and calmly – which was helpful when I worked with classmates on an assignment. I was good at getting the best out of teams, and I could offer structure to the study teams I was part of: If we were losing direction on a group project, I could provide some guidance to get us back on track.
What would you tell other veterans or active duty members who are considering business school?
I would tell them that it helps us combine the leadership, discipline, and judgment skills we learn in the military with fundamental business concepts, career exploration, and a strong alumni network. All that made transitioning from military to civilian life much smoother and offered us the opportunity to "pressure test" different career options before committing.
How does the Berkeley MBA program make your goals more possible?
I gained skills from my time at Berkeley Haas that I wouldn't have just by working at Flexport. I knew that my ability to go down to Los Angeles, set initial strategy, develop and team, and then hand the project off to another colleague is due in part to what I learned at Haas. And being in the MBA program allowed me to demonstrate to Flexport that I'm committed to my own career development.
I have gotten a better understanding of how financial factors drive business. In the public sector or in the Coast Guard, a budget is set and you carry out the job within that budget. But at Flexport, you need to be able to persuade people internally to support a project. I learned how to do that at Haas.
What could you learn at Berkeley Haas? We invite you to learn more about the military veteran experience in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.