Part-time MBA Grad Becomes Business Manager to the (Michelin) Stars

By Julia Sprague

Berkeley MBA grad Aarti Shetty

Restaurant kitchens are all about transformations: whipping egg whites and sugar into meringues, emulsifying egg yolks and oil into mayonnaise, stirring butter, flour and milk into a béchamel sauce.

Part-time MBA programs are about transformation too. Aarti Shetty took her career from Biomedical Engineering to a Michelin three-star restaurant, where she is director of operations & finance.

"I always knew I would make a career in the restaurant business,” she says, “I just didn’t know if it would be in the kitchen or on the business management side.”

Before and during her Evening & Weekend MBA Program at Berkeley-Haas, Aarti did “stages” – the restaurant equivalent of internships—in kitchens in Texas and San Francisco, while pursuing her full-time career in the medical device industry.

Chef Corey Lee, the culinary genius behind the Michelin-starred Benu and Parisian-style bistro Monsieur Benjamin, was a mentor and wrote a letter of recommendation when she applied to Berkeley-Haas. Now that Aarti is the Director of Operations & Finance at CL Partners, he is also her boss.

In her new position, Aarti finds herself opening her Accounting and Corporate Finance textbooks every few weeks to refresh her memory or to research a new concept. She also credits Professor Peter Goodson for leading a Turnarounds class where she learned “what can go wrong and how to fix things. More importantly, when I was figuring out what do to next, he gave me some great advice: Talented people will always do well. What is most important is to find and follow your passion.”

Aarti, who graduated from the Haas program in 2015,  is convinced her passion will eventually lead to an even bigger purpose—making a difference in the world through food. For now, she continues exploring the world of fine dining, and every now and again, welcoming her classmates at Benu or Monsieur Benjamin to celebrate milestones in their lives.

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Topics: Evening & Weekend  |   Career
Julia Sprague
Julia is Associate Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She hopes these blog posts provide you with more personal insight into the Berkeley-Haas and Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA program experience.