Why right now is the time to apply for a Berkeley MBA

By Jenny Clare

At the start of 2020, innovating was something companies did to stay competitive. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s something that companies must do to survive.

Strong business leaders are sought after now more than ever to envision and shape how organizations will survive and thrive post-COVID-19. Citizens everywhere are looking for ways to keep things as normal as possible, seeking guidance, a sense of confidence, and hope. If you’ve dreamed of becoming a leader who steps up and guides others through the difficult times, an MBA can help you acquire the skills you'll need — and make you attractive to hiring managers.

Here's why you should pursue an MBA now:

The world needs strong business leadership

If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that leaders must have a strong presence to provide a sense of continuity to employees and community members, despite disruptive events. By pursuing an MBA in the middle of an active global crisis, you will hone the skills necessary for calming your team, encouraging growth, and setting expectations during times of turmoil. This need is necessary in any time of crisis, not just COVID-19.

Learning the art of business communication

By observing the responses to COVID-19 across the world, patterns start to emerge. One is the critical need for direct and honest business communication. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is a great example of this in her blunt assessment of COVID-19: “This situation is serious. So take it seriously.” Judy Dempsey of Carnegie Europe says the chancellor's approach to handling COVID-19 "points the way forward to the unified, decisive response that is necessary and how democracies can best deliver it."

MBA courses like Leading People and Leadership Communication can increase your ability to speak directly and meaningfully as a leader so that people listen and respond well.

Soft skills go further

Empathy, understanding, and patience are soft skills that can differentiate good leaders from great leaders. Haas Professor Jenny Chatman says great leaders, who can encourage productivity from their team, know how to temper expectations during chaos. “People are legitimately distracted. Children are home, dogs are barking. Members of your team may not have a good internet connection. And, they are grappling with new priorities that were not a part of their job before. You have to be realistic about what people can do in a day.” Showing empathy to your team can go a long way when it comes to long-standing relationships.

Soft skills are a core component of MBA learnings. Cynthia Song, MBA 17, explains how she was able to learn the power of soft skills with an MBA. “I have grown to be a lot more assured of my own self-worth, and this cultivates a virtuous circle for wanting to achieve more – all coming from within rather than some external pressure or benchmark. Haas's four Defining Leadership Principles, especially Beyond Yourself, taught me about leadership. On multiple occasions, I saw how putting yourself last and watching out for others is actually leading.”

Consistency is key

Keep regular communication with your team so that all information can flow naturally without ringing alarm bells and your team knows what’s going on. Professor Chatman says, “Regular, predictable, and scheduled communication means that your people don’t make up the worst case scenario instead.”

While these leadership skills may seem straightforward, they aren’t easy to carry out if you’re unprepared. For example, not everyone is naturally disciplined enough to showcase consistency. These skills come more easily to those who have training in business leadership and management, which are core elements of an MBA program.

Real-time problem-solving in an active crisis

Life as we know it is changing at an unprecedented pace, which makes now a truly unique time to be in an MBA program. Not only will you learn about managing a crisis as it unfolds, but you’ll be in the perfect position to explore the myriad opportunities of a post-COVID-19 world.

For example, according to Haas professors Zsolt Katona and Thomas Lee, we have an opportunity to solve a new data crisis that COVID-19 uncovered.

The professors explain in a video responding to COVID-19, that we have newly abundant data at our fingertips that we can eventually extract business value from. So what better time than now to team up with fellow students and professors to dig deeper and learn about this data and how it relates to a global economy?

We are in a position to be on the forefront of innovation, which is incredibly exciting for Berkeley Haas and its dedication to a lifelong pursuit of personal and intellectual growth.

Learning new skills that change your perspective, technical skill set and ability to become more agile during these unprecedented times is critical: See how an MBA can help!

Be a part of positive change

The best time to develop your leadership capacity is in the moment. A silver-lining to COVID-19 is that it gives us an opportunity to take a moment to uncover areas for growth, and take steps to course correct. After all, your leadership capacity is only as good as your experience, and what will test your skills more than leading a team through a global pandemic? 

“We’re only going to get through this together. That means we are required, more than ever, to work together. Leaders should ask for help and delegate more than usual. Allow others to step up and attack problems together. Ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, in massive amounts,” says Berkeley Haas professor Maura O’Neill.

The current microscope on management styles means now is the perfect time to address change head-on.

Not such which program is the best fit? Compare Berkeley Haas MBA programs today.

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Posted on May 5, 2020
Themes: Applying
Jenny Clare
Jenny is Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She hopes these blog posts provide you with useful insights into the Berkeley MBA experience and answer questions you may have about the MBA in general.