Preethi Mukundan, MBA 18, was headed toward her senior year in college and set on becoming a doctor when she happened to sit next to a tech executive on a holiday flight home from Boston to San Francisco. The conversation turned to healthcare, and her seatmate encouraged her to think even bigger than medical school. “There are many ways to contribute to the healthcare industry including as a doctor,” he said. “But tech innovation benefits from a network effect that enables you to change people's lives at scale.”
That conversation planted a seed and instead of medical school, Preethi went to work in Intel's Digital Health Division. She held positions that ranged from digital health strategic planner to mobile client market analyst to future trends strategist.
After she'd been at Intel for a decade, Preethi decided to go to business school while continuing to work full time. So she investigated the Berkeley Haas Evening and Weekend MBA program which offers either twice weekly evening classes or a full weekend day of instruction over a three-year course of study. Part of what appealed to Preethi about Haas were the Defining Leadership Principles, key values she felt were already important to her even before she discovered Haas' dedication to them.
“The Defining Leadership Principles really set Haas apart. Not only in how they're explicitly stated but also in how they're woven into the core curriculum,” she says.
In 2015, Fitbit appeared on Preethi’s radar. First, she bought and “fell in love” with one of its products. “Fitbit is raising awareness of health metrics, even the ‘invisible’ ones like sleep quality,” she says. Drawn to a “brand that puts the consumer first and empowers them to take control of their own health,” she landed a job there in 2016, initially as a senior research manager in new markets and innovation. Now, she's senior director of research and brand strategy.
“I love Fitbit's mission, and its commitment to the consumer,” she says. “Intel introduced me to strategic planning, strategy, and market research, and my work at Fitbit is a nice combination of those, not to mention all of the new information that I gained at Berkeley Haas.”
One of the benefits of being an Evening & Weekend student was the immediate applicability of what she learned in class. “I'd be sitting in my Corporate Strategy class learning about how to set effective objectives, goals, strategies, and tactics for an organization, and I'd take that information straight to work the next morning and implement it,” she says.
As for the concern that part-time MBA students can't develop a network as robust as a full-time student might, “Berkeley Haas offers networking events that go a long way toward helping students build their business and peer connections,” Preethi says.
“Haas held twice monthly networking events that included participants not only from the business school but from different divisions in the university – and these gatherings really fostered a kind of cross-pollination,” she says.
This type of interaction across fields is another way that Berkeley Haas prepares its students for the real-life work world.
“My fellow students had accomplished so many things, across a variety of industries, from tech, food, biotech, pharmaceuticals – it added so much to my Haas experience to get exposure to these other fields,” she says. “Add the Defining Leadership Principles, and the program at Haas offers an effective way to become a better leader in your own field."