Working an EMBA into your work-life balance

By Susan Petty

Work-life balance can be challenging. And yes, keeping your job, home life, and studies in sync when you’re enrolled in an executive MBA program is even more so. But: Students tell us that strengthening their time management skills and honing a razor-sharp ability to prioritize are among the abilities they gain in the process.

And, this juggling act is one you don’t have to manage alone. Here are some ways the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program helps you make EMBA studies work for you.

The Block rocks: three days every three weeks

We offer advantages that smooth the way. One of the most important, according to our students, is block scheduling. You’re on campus for three days every three weeks, in addition to five immersion weeks. Knowing your class schedule well in advance makes it easier to organize your calendar.

“The block scheduling allows me to better compartmentalize," says Alf Cheng, director of pharmacological sciences operations for BioMarin. "Three days in-residence allows me to focus completely on learning in class and from my Haasmates.” 

It helps that the program is 19 months in duration as well. "The short format is aggressive," says Roshini Das, sustainability specialist with the Los Angeles Unified School District, "but better for working women professionals with a full-time job and family to juggle. The structure and timing were perfect for me."


Student tell us that being on campus frees you to focus solely on your studies. They unplug from other concerns and plug into dynamic classroom discussions and even more invigorating after-class sessions back at the hotel or in one of the area’s acclaimed restaurants.

These often late-night meet-ups are where long-lasting friendships are formed, life philosophies are debated, and startup ideas explored—just one way in which your scholarly life becomes a social life.

And with the Program Office handling all hotel reservations and shuttling you to campus, all you have to do is get to Berkeley (or wherever your Immersion Week is happening). Plus, our convenient location gives you your choice of three airports if you’re commuting for your EMBA.

Family matters

For many of our students, going through the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program is a family affair—especially since they are here, in part, to make a better life for their families.

“My wife and family thoroughly support my decision to, in effect, take a sabbatical from family life while I’m in the program, says Sandeep Garg, a physician with the Northwest Cardiovascular Institute in Lake Oswego, Oregon. "It helps that my daughter is a Cal student. I see her during block. My older son aspires to be an entrepreneur. Now that I’m more aware of that space, it gives us a whole new way to connect. It’s a family affair.” 

We work to support that as much as possible, with special events such as picnics and end-of-term celebrations. Events like these give everyone the opportunity to see where mom or dad disappears to every few weeks.

And students find they bond through the shared experience of finding balance. As the mother of a 17-month-old daughter, it’s been rewarding to find fellowship and camaraderie with my classmates who are in similar situations,” says Cristy Johnston Limón, executive director of the Destiny Arts Center.


Take your learning to work

Most of our students find that the line between work and school soon starts to dissolve when they begin taking classroom learning to work. Here’s what Mike Alter, chief of staff at Napa’s Huneeus Vintners, says about that, “So much of my coursework informs what I do every day. I’m able to leverage the lessons about mergers and acquisitions and investing I learned from in Corporate Finance. The Entrepreneurship class has helped me think through how to employ entrepreneurial approaches even in a mature business environment.”

“This is much like a laboratory environment, where we test and try different approaches, says Sally Allain, director of external alliances, immunology, with Janssen Research & Development in San Diego.We learn from our mistakes and from each other, and can then take it back to our businesses.

When what you’ve learned starts to affect how you work, the work/life balance shifts once more, and you start to realize an early return on your investment in your studies and yourself.

As Roshini Das says, "The executive MBA program is a stretch, intellectually, emotionally, and in practical matters like the commute and juggling work and family. But when you work hard for something, it means that much more.”

Register for Work/Life Balance Webinar

We’ve updated this post, first published in January 2015, just to make sure everything is as fresh as possible and that the links are still good. 


Posted on February 2, 2016
Themes: MBA Benefits
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.