B-School Insider Interview: First-Year Student, Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, Class of 2015

A first year at UC-Berkeley’s Hass School of Business provided us with some insight into the school’s MBA program and his experience as a student thus far. Having entered Haas with an engineering background, he is planning to pursue either a strategy or business development role in the technology industry after graduating, or may explore the option of working in the tech practice of a consulting firm.

mbaMission: When you were deciding where to pursue your MBA, what led you to choose UC-Berkeley Haas? And how has the school matched your expectations thus far?

Haas First Year: The school’s culture really got me hooked. It was interesting to note that Haas had articulated its values and what it seeks in students so eloquently. On top of that, everyone I met seemed to embody those qualities. What I could only infer prior to admission, I know for certain now. Everyone is super down to earth, no matter how accomplished they are. Challenging [the] status quo and being students always are also principles that can be commonly observed. The MBA program office itself constantly strives to better the student experience by collecting feedback and acting on it. There are supplements such as courses on strategic innovation and even actual coding for the MBA students.

Another important consideration for me was the strong experiential component of the program. There are endless opportunities to get involved and work with actual clients, from semester-long consulting engagements with actual clients to courses such as Cleantech to Market and [the] International Business Development [Program].

mbaMission:  I see. How do you like living in the San Francisco area? Do you feel like the school’s location has had any impact on your MBA experience?

HFY: I lived in the Bay Area prior to Haas, and this is one of the reasons I chose Haas. Being close to the city as well as the epicenter of tech is really useful when it comes to networking and job hunting and being able to get great speakers for talks and events. Of course the weather, the outdoor activities and the proximity to wine country are not bad perks, either, and Haasies make the most of it with the Redwoods@Haas and the Wine Industry Club.

mbaMission:  So how would you characterize your Haas classmates?

HFY: Supportive, collaborative and humble. As I said, most of them exemplify the Haas principles of “confidence without attitude” and “beyond yourself.”

mbaMission:  Nice. And what would  you say about the greater community as a whole?

HFY: The community itself is really tight-knit and has an intimate feel to it.

mbaMission:  Great. What resources at the school do you feel have been the most helpful or interesting to you so far, would you say?

HFY: Several events all year round, like the speaker series, and club events bring in experts and business leaders from the industry and academia, so there is never any dearth of interesting talks to go to. The clubs are all student run and really in touch with the needs of the student body. For example, there was a workshop to teach students how to write SQL queries—and that’s a skill that is needed for a lot of tech jobs.

mbaMission:  Sure. That’s pretty cool. Have you had any interaction with the dean during your time at Haas? What impression would you say students seem to have of him?

HFY: Dean [Rich] Lyons is regarded very highly here. He was the one who really captured the essence of Haas in the culture and the four principles. Students have frequent access to him at events. For example, there is a breakfast with the dean once every few months. There is also a Dean’s Scotch Tasting event in the spring with the Chatham House Rule to encourage candid discussions.

mbaMission:  That’s great. What has been your experience with the school’s alumni? Did you contact any Hass graduates before you got into the school, and have you reached out to any so far as a student?

HFY: There are several alumni mixer events held throughout the year, and alums come in all the time for recruiting events as well as club events and talks. Before I was enrolled, I got a chance to network with alums at Haas admissions events as well.

mbaMission:  Okay. What would you say are some of the best parts and perhaps less great parts of the school’s facilities?

HFY: Being part of a crowded campus means that expansion of the current facilities is an issue. Classroom availability can sometimes become a problem, and meeting space can be hard to find. Having said that, we have just gotten access to a new facility within the new Memorial Stadium known as the i-Lab [Innovation Lab]. It is open space available to students to use and meet at whenever there is no class taking place.

mbaMission:  That sounds like an important addition. What has been your favorite social event so far at Haas? Or is there one you are particularly looking forward to?

HFY: Oh, wow, several. Orientation week was a whirlwind of activities culminating in a bomb-diggity ‘80s party. We usually have themed Consumption Functions every two weeks, and the International Consumption Function as well as the Black History Month Consumption Functions were awesome events. VegHaas was another memorable event—several hundred Haasies descend on [Las] Vegas and take over several night clubs. The student treks are very popular as well. There are spring treks to Japan, Morocco, Israel and Cuba.

mbaMission:  So what is the most important thing you feel more people should know about Haas?

HFY: I think there can be a perception that Haas is just a tech school. This is absolutely not the case, and many of my classmates are looking at careers in finance, private equity, banking, energy and the social sector. The other thing that has been a pleasant surprise is how much the school cares about input from the students. Course feedback as well as identified curriculum development needs are dealt with in almost real time, something the students who are here for a short two years appreciate very much.

mbaMission:  I can imagine. To finish up, which professors have you found particularly impressive thus far? Or is there anyone you are really looking forward to taking a class with?

HFY: Sure. Well, there’s Cameron Anderson. I haven’t taken any classes with him yet, but his power and politics as well as his negotiations course are both very, very highly rated.  And I haven’t done the pricing course with Teck Ho yet, since the course was completely bid out by second years by the time first-year bidding started, but I’m looking forward to it in second year.

Terry Taylor teaches the core operations course at Haas, and I can safely say that a lot of skeptics going into ops were blown away by Terry. He uses a variety of teaching tools, from regular cases to Seinfeld videos to supply chain games. For example, there’s one where we drink beer while managing a beer supply chain. Students love Terry’s teaching style as well as his masterful handling of class case discussions.

mbaMission: Thank you so much again for taking the time to talk with us a bit. We really appreciate it.

HFY: No problem!

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