Yes, it’s possible to achieve MBA-work-life balance

By Eileen Jacob

Swetha Tupelly used her Berkeley Haas MBA from the Evening & Weekend program to successfully transition from a previous career as an engineer. But within that simple statement lies a complicated story of juggling job, family, and school – a daunting triumvirate for anyone thinking about adding MBA studies to an already full agenda.

How was she able to achieve MBA work life balance? In part II of our conversation with Swetha, we found out how she decided on the best program format for her—and how she managed to fit in the various demands on her schedule. She chose the Evening & Weekend format because it felt to her most in line with the full-time program.

“I liked that we would be meeting every week, with the same curriculum, format, professors, and recruiting opportunities as the full-time MBA,” she says. “There seemed to be the possibility for deeper relationships and more continuity.”

Skills for balancing an MBA with work and life

As a classic type-A-super-achiever, Swetha was used to exerting a high level of control over her work and her schedule. However, she found that accepting a certain loss of control was critical to her new normal as a part-time MBA student.

Letting go was one trick—sharpening skills, like prioritizing and multi-tasking, was another.

“I like to succeed at whatever I do,” she says. “But with so much going on in my life – three really diverse areas of demands – I found I just couldn’t do it all. I had to prioritize the heck out of everything and make peace with the fact that I couldn’t excel all the time.”

Her greatest challenge was having to switch tracks at a moment’s notice – taking a conference call while she was caring for her young daughter, for example. “There’s never a time you’re not multi-tasking,” she laughs. “But what keeps you going are all the fascinating things you’re learning and the interesting colleagues you’re working with.”

MBA student. Product manager. Partner. Parent.

For her first year-and-a-half at Berkeley, Swetha finished work at four o’clock on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then took the school shuttle from Santa Clara to arrive on campus by six o’clock, and then return home by eleven. As a mother of a very young child, she says that having a supportive and understanding husband was essential to her success.

Still, there were some bumps. “I had been our daughter’s primary care provider, and she would only go to bed with me,” she explains. “But because I was doing the evening program, I had to train my husband on the bedtime ritual. Everyone survived!”

Swetha commencement.jpg

Swetha completed her Berkeley MBA in December, and her husband and daughter proudly sat in the audience when she walked with her cohort at graduation in May – the family has also enjoyed attending a Cal football game together. “My MBA has greatly enhanced my professional trajectory, and the benefits will ultimately extend to my family and other aspects of my life,” Swetha says. “It was challenging at times, but totally worth it!”

Swetha Tupelly decided a part-time MBA was an achievable goal within her work-life schedule. Find out how you, too, could make it work; get our free ebook Life + Work + MBA

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You may also like Part I of our conversation with Swetha, Why business school? for a career switch to product management

Posted on June 21, 2017
Themes: Evening & Weekend  |   Consider
Eileen Jacob
Eileen was Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals from 2017-2019. She enjoyed meeting prospective students and helping them explore the benefits of an MBA, and hopes these blog posts provide valuable insight into the Berkeley MBA experience.