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Berkeley Haas MBA Admissions & Related Blogs

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Finding her focus through an MBA: Allie Foote, EMBA 18  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Feb 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Finding her focus through an MBA: Allie Foote, EMBA 18
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By age 29, Allie Foote had a dream job. Eight years into her consulting career, she had worked in three groups at PricewaterhouseCoopers: from auditing to finance to organizational and customer strategy. She was engaged in meaningful work on corporate culture, diversity, and inclusion. She had a great network and a role with upside potential. Still, something was missing.

“I had an amazing career, amazing opportunities,” she says. “But I knew I wanted to do something more, something else. I just didn’t know what it was.”

She had always planned on going back for an MBA. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn, explore, and figure out the next step. A thorough researcher, Allie looked into “every program west of the Mississippi,” in search of one with true diversity.

“It was my visit to Haas that sold me,” she says. “The diversity of the class – not just demographics but what they were doing in their careers, their interests, what excited them – it created a learning environment that I wanted to be a part of.”

At 29, she would be the second-youngest member of her Berkeley Haas Executive MBA class of 2018. But that didn’t faze her. After working with C-level execs at PWC, it felt like the best fit.

“Even though I was on the younger side,” she says, “I knew based on where I was in my career that I wanted to do an executive MBA.”

As she settled into the EMBA rhythm – five terms of three-day weekends, each term followed by a field immersion – Allie began exploring the many directions her career could go. As part of the Global Network for Advanced Management school, she spent a week at Seoul National University learning about retail trends in foreign markets.

The classes and field immersions helped her identify so many possible career directions it could have been overwhelming. But Allie had allies on her side. Searching for the right direction, she spent six to eight months plying every resource Career Management Services offered. She took personality tests, career aptitude tests, and wrote about what mattered to her most.

She narrowed it down to three key areas: corporate development, business development, and strategy. But those are broad. She needed to zero in on how those jobs play out in different companies.

“I wanted to hear what folks in different industries actually did on a day-to-day basis,” she says.

Seeking answers, she tapped the Haas network. With contacts from the Career Management Group, she reached out to more than 60 Haas alumni for informational interviews. She spoke to graduates working in development, product management, and strategy roles at Google, Apple, Adidas, Nike, Spotify, and more.

Their responses surprised her.

“Everyone was willing to reach out and help me figure this out,” she says. They described corporate culture, shared what they love about their jobs, and gave her advice for the search. She realized, then: “This is why I am part of the Haas family.”

With their stories, her future came into focus. It was a company that had been in her life all along: Nike. Her first paid job the summer after her freshman year at college was at the original NikeTown in Portland, Oregon. As an undergrad at Claremont McKenna College, she got a weekend job at the Nike outlet. She’d always had a connection with the brand.

Sixteen months into the 19-month EMBA program, Allie accepted a strategy job at Nike. The connection came through a classmate, a Nike employee who made sure Allie’s resume landed on just the right desk. In the job interview, “I wore my pair of Air Jordans I had bought during the summer of 2007,” she says. “We love stories at Nike.”

Now a senior manager for Digital Strategy, Allie enjoys a role that’s both macro and micro. She helps develop the digital piece of the overall corporate strategy. And works with leaders of key digital products, such as an app that lets shoppers scan a barcode on a mannequin in the store and have those garments sent to a fitting room.

She loves her job—and the journey it took to get there.

“I made some of the best friends I will ever have, and challenged myself in ways I didn’t think would be possible,” she says. “I came out having a better understanding of myself and what I wanted to do in my career.”

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Leadership is about passion and vision for consultant Hrishika Vuppala  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Mar 2019, 12:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Leadership is about passion and vision for consultant Hrishika Vuppala, MBA 11
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The McKinsey partner talks about the art and satisfaction of consulting, the proper role of a leader, and how Berkeley Haashelped shape her future.

When asked for the first thing that comes to mind when she thinks of you, a friend says that it’s intensity. How does intensity contribute to your success, and do you ever need to pull back?

I think personality traits are at least partially responsible for where you end up in life. Intensity is an innate characteristic of mine. I hope it’s not in an overbearing way but more about being passionate. I’m really excited to do what I’m doing, and my battery doesn’t seem to run out.

Do I have to throttle back sometimes? Absolutely. It’s situational. But at McKinsey, we’re less about the individual and more about the team. Before every engagement, we have an open dialog where I tell my team to be open with feedback on what’s working and what’s not. So with my intensity, my team members know that if we’re working too hard, or if it’s getting late, they can call me out and say, hey, we can do this tomorrow.

Was an MBA always part of your plan?

Not at all. When I was working at GE, I understood my role and the work I was doing as an individual contributor. But I realized I didn’t know the entire company; how it worked and all fit together. I wanted to know, ‘what does the CEO wake up and think about every day' and I thought an MBA would be a starting place.

Why consulting rather than a specific field like corporate finance or private banking or M&A?

Again, for the broad view, but there are other reasons too. Consulting gives you the ability to be an impact partner – from strategy to implementation. And it’s highly collaborative, dealing with people from multiple functional groups. My work has allowed me to explore many geographies and disciplines. Most important is the people. They are extremely diverse in terms of background, culture, and gender, so I continue to learn.

As a consultant, what keeps you up at night?

I spend a lot of time thinking about what it’s going to take for my client to change. And that’s not an easy question. You have to define what’s going to change, figure out how to motivate change at multiple levels in the organization, and build the capabilities necessary. The secret is to co-create the answer from the beginning. It has to be a team, your client and you, all the way along from strategy to implementation. Then you have to be able to demonstrate the change will work. Not just saying, this is the answer, but a demo, a pilot. Don’t take my word for it; let’s try it out.

How do you define yourself as a consultant in a leadership role?

First, as a leader I am most naturally excited about problem solving. What is the million-dollar question we’re trying to unlock? How do we answer this question for our client to have an impact? Second, I like to be entrepreneurial and I get to define entrepreneurship in my own way. I got to start our digital practice in Mexico City, which was about helping the CEO or CIO discover how technology will enable their strategy, solve their most challenging issues, and become their best weapon.

Tell me about the differences between being an individual player and a manager, a leader of consultants.

I believe that being a leader is more important than being a manager. Managing to me implies having to oversee someone’s work, telling people what to do in a minute way. The people I work with are extremely smart and effective. I think a leader’s defining qualities are being five steps ahead, making calls about outcomes, setting vision, and strategy. I don’t want to find minute errors, but instead look at how the work will create an impact. The second thing is to be more of an enabler than an overseer. I don’t need to watch over people’s work, but to prepare them for their next role, make them realize their potential.

How do consultants work outside their area of expertise?

That’s a good question. It comes down to asking yourself, what skills do you bring to the table. Of course, you need practical experience and expertise. But I think what consultants bring is the ability to identify clearly the problem we are trying to solve and the data that will help us solve it. Is it the market, the trends, the competition, whatever? We also bring independence and objectivity – the refreshing outside view, and the perspectives from other industries. That’s why consultants are valuable. It’s about peering around the corner and marrying that with insight.

Why an MBA at Berkeley Haas?

Oh, I could tell you the “right” answer. But the true answer is that at some level it was intuition and a combination of other things. I wanted to come to California. I was an engineer; it was my passion to work in technology, and I wanted to be close to Silicon Valley. I also wanted to go to an institution that had an emphasis on diversity, teamwork, and constant learning. My two years in Berkeley completely proved all of that out.

What is the most practical thing you learned at Haas?

I would say the defining aspect is how experiential and project oriented it was. As part of IBD, we spent a whole semester working with a nonprofit in Africa--COMACO, Community Markets for Conservation, a wildlife conservation group. Their mission was to reduce poaching. They found that one of the main issues was that because many farmers didn’t have a sustainable food source, they relied on killing wildlife. So COMACO recruited farmers and built a business model that taught sustainable farming practices: how to grow soybeans, rice, peanuts. The profits from their sales would get plowed back so the farmers had income and food security and didn’t have to rely on hunting wildlife. We worked on how COMACO could expand and stay competitive with other for-profit brands. It wasn’t academic. It wasn’t textbook. It was incredible.

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How a Berkeley MBA led to a Dodge & Cox dream job—before graduation: D  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Mar 2019, 12:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: How a Berkeley MBA led to a Dodge & Cox dream job—before graduation: Dustin Seely, EWMBA 18
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Dustin Seely, MBA 18, had his eye on Dodge & Cox for years. He first approached the San Francisco firm in 2012 while working as an analyst for Prudential Financial. Equipped with an economics degree from Brigham Young University, Seely wanted to know what else was required to earn a spot on the firm’s investment team.

He was told that a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification and an MBA were strongly encouraged.

But not just any MBA—it had to be one from a top-tier school.

“I knew there were Berkeley MBAs working there, so I applied and was pleased to get into the Evening & Weekend program, while still working full time,” he says. “Haas challenges the way you think and encourages intellectual humility, much like working on a team at Dodge & Cox.”

Today, as an analyst and trader for Dodge & Cox, Seely researches, assesses, and invests in bonds on behalf of the firm’s mutual funds and institutional accounts. He is part of an experienced investment team that makes important decisions about multi-billion-dollar portfolios.

“This is a very high-caliber firm and I don’t plan to leave. The environment is collegial and you have the freedom to explore and learn," says Seely. “They value thoughtful, smart, secure people and offer a flexible, family-friendly workplace.”

Journey toward a dream
In the fall of 2015, Seely was armed with his CFA and on his way to earning a Berkeley MBA. His coursework widened his perspective and even provided an opportunity to explore other career options.

An entrepreneurship class taught by Professor Kurt Beyer introduced him to the resources and mindset needed to build a business from the ground up. It also inspired him to co-found a startup aimed at investors in the cryptocurrency market. His company, Cryptonite, received a 2017 Trione Student Venture Fund grant.

Seely, a married father of two, later opted to quit the startup to focus instead on family and his financial career.

“Even though I chose not to pursue the startup, I now have the knowledge and the confidence that I could do it if I chose to. Ultimately, that’s what Berkeley Haas is all about—gaining confidence in your ability to do what you want professionally or personally. I also learned what it takes to be an owner, which has led to stronger performance in my seemingly unrelated career.”

He credits his Hedge Fund Strategies course with boosting not only his investment skills but also his approach and attitude toward his work. The class challenges student teams to develop, test, and pitch investment strategies to a panel of professionals. Leading hedge fund investors serve as guest speakers and coaches.

“Guest speakers were very insightful,” he says. “One looked at debt markets in a certain country in a specific way that helped me frame the way I think about emerging markets. Another was really passionate, which gave me validation that focusing on sectors that excited me might offer a competitive edge.”

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Realizing the dream
Near the end of his first year at Berkeley, Seely spotted a Dodge & Cox position on the Haas job board. He applied, got an interview, and then worked with his career counselors to prepare for the appointment.

“The CFA and MBA combo made me much more attractive to fill that vacant seat,” he says. “Without a Berkeley MBA, however, I don’t think I would have gotten that first interview.”

How might an MBA help you get your dream job? Explore the possibilities found in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.

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From scientist to venture capitalist by way of a Berkeley MBA: Juan Cu  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Mar 2019, 10:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: From scientist to venture capitalist by way of a Berkeley MBA: Juan Cueva, EWMBA 19
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You might be tempted to call Juan Cueva, PhD, MBA 19 an accidental venture capitalist, but you’d be wrong. Every step of the neuroscientist’s career path was strategic and intentional, including his decision to attend Berkeley.

Passionate about life science, Cueva’s interest in business emerged while employed at a biotech startup, where he helped commercialize a new technology for mapping neural circuitry at the nanoscale level. The job involved everything from R&D to web design.

“I’ve always been interested in tech innovations and pursuing a career in venture capital offered a way to learn quickly about new technologies beyond neuroscience. But I knew it would require more than scientific knowledge. I also needed business, financial, and social skills,” says Cueva, a student in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA program, who now serves as a senior associate with Applied Ventures in Santa Clara, Calif.

His first move was to apply to the part-time Berkeley MBA program, since it would allow him to continue full-time work. Next, he leveraged his acceptance in the program to secure a corporate development position with Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals in Novato, Calif.

It was June 2016 and his classes had yet to begin, but his career transition was underway.

Mapping a successful route
Even before enrolling in courses, Cueva visited the Haas Career Management Group (CMG) to assess his skills and identify the gaps in his expertise. Counsel from CMG Associate Director Luke Kreinberg helped him shape his course load and offered an unexpected piece of advice.

“I’m an introverted scientist, so the social aspect of the VC sector—networking and relationship building—was the more challenging part for me,” he says. “Luke advised me to take up improvisational acting. I did, and it really made a difference.”

Courses, such as Venture Capital and Private Equity, helped Cueva hone his deal analysis techniques. The course also introduced him to a variety of industry practitioners who shared their insights on how to evaluate a startup.

“It made me feel like a better investor. That in-class, in-person interaction with VC practitioners is priceless,” he says.

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A risk worth taking
A year into the Berkeley MBA program, Cueva found and applied for an internship at Applied Ventures through the Haas job board. He prepared for his interview by studying the company. He researched its team members, the type of investments they made, and their areas of expertise. Then, he went a step further to explore startups that might be good investment candidates for the company.

Following an on-campus talk by Applied Ventures investment director Michael Stewart, PhD, MBA 14, Cueva introduced himself and shared his investment ideas with Stewart to “put a face to my name so I wouldn’t be just another application in the pile.”

Applied Ventures offered Cueva a summer internship, but accepting it would mean quitting his full-time position with Ultragenyx. The risk was daunting, but he took it, with the support and encouragement of his wife Sarah, a pediatrician.

Once there, he toiled as if he were already a senior associate. Along with his intern duties, he built a side portfolio and a challenging niche for himself: finding investment opportunities that bridge the world of life science and advanced material engineering.

Applied Ventures extended his internship into the fall and, in 2018, hired him as a senior associate. Today, Cueva explores potential investments in emerging technologies such as medical imaging and bio-field effect transistors.

“Although I had been strategic, I didn’t think I’d achieve my goal until two or three years after finishing my MBA,” says Cueva, who will graduate in June. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife, my three children, my classmates, and everyone who believed in me.”

Could an MBA be the missing piece of your success strategy? Explore the possibilities found in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.

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Learning to see at C-level: Kriya Chantalat, EMBA 16  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Mar 2019, 10:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Learning to see at C-level: Kriya Chantalat, EMBA 16
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At a pivotal point in her career, Kriya Chantalat, EMBA 16, faced the best sort of problem: a promotion out of her comfort zone. After working for years as a CPA and controller of Arcadia Companies, she was offered the chief financial officer position. It was a role that called for leadership skills she wasn’t sure she had.

“Accounting is a role where you know the ‘what’ and the ‘how’—this is what we’ve done and how we got here,” she says. “For a CFO, it’s about the ‘where’ and the ‘why.’ Where are we heading, and why? That’s more strategic and visionary.” The Berkeley MBA for Executives equipped her for her new role.

After a childhood spent moving between Dallas and her native Thailand, Chantalat pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting at the University of Texas at Austin, seeking a “career with the kind of financial stability [she] lacked as a child.” Her first job was as an auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers. She enjoyed that work, but something was missing.

“It taught me people skills, how to work on a team, meet deadlines, and deliver results,” she says. “In the role of an auditor, you write the report, but you don’t get to see how it is implemented or whether it’s done effectively. It’s not as fulfilling.”

Two successive career moves to Fortune 500 homebuilders immersed her in a new industry and sparked her desire to lead. As the 2008 financial crisis roiled the housing market, Chantalat landed a position with Arcadia, a 60-year-old private real estate firm.

She started out overseeing accounting for Arcadia’s core real estate business. Soon, her boss was asking her to engage in activities as diverse as angel investment and private wealth management. “I had to wear so many hats at the same time, I did not know if I had it in me to succeed,” she recalls.

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The Berkeley MBA for Executives gave her what she needed and more. In addition to core classes, she chose electives that supported her evolution at work where she found herself on unfamiliar ground overseeing an institutional investment portfolio of non-real estate assets and helping form a private foundation.

She also took advantage of the program’s access to classes outside the EMBA curriculum. She audited a nonprofit governance class and added real estate electives offered through the Evening & Weekend MBA program. Reaching out to experienced Haas classmates in tech, banking, VC firms, and real estate gave her a “trusted sounding board.”

When her job called on her to advise a distressed start-up, she used what she learned in Turnarounds, an intense week-long elective that requires analyzing several dozen case studies that taught her to “take a broken company, form an investment thesis, identify key fixes, and strategize a profitable exit. It honed my strategic, operational, negotiation, and presentation skills. You deploy the whole MBA curriculum.”

It’s been two years now since Chantalat graduated with an MBA, and she still draws upon it every day: from tactical skills to leadership. Just the other day, the CEO delivered the highest compliment to Chantalat and the chief of operations, who manage the company’s day-to-day business.

“You two run the company so well for me now,” he said, “I have time to do all this fun business.”

Chantalat replied, “Thanks for letting me get an MBA.” 

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Investment Banker Jeff Chang thrives on the strategic chessboard of M&  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Mar 2019, 13:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Investment Banker Jeff Chang thrives on the strategic chessboard of M&A
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The partner who runs the software practice at Qatalyst Partners talks about the rigors of investment banking and his road from a political science major to an MBA from the Evening & Weekend program to his role as an M&A advisor at a boutique firm.

You earned a political science degree from UCLA and worked in marketing before enrolling at Berkeley Haas. How did you finally arrive at investment banking?
I wish I could say it was premeditated, but it wasn’t. It was much more ad hoc and spontaneous. My dad had always wanted me to go to business school, but it was never a focus for me during my 20s. When I applied, I didn’t imagine that I would focus on finance let alone become an investment banker. I didn’t really know what investment banking was! Haas showed me a range of possibilities I didn’t know existed. It was applying for a summer internship in banking at Goldman Sachs that really put my brain in overdrive.

I didn’t have a quantitative analytical background but while I was interviewing on campus, the representative from Goldman told me, ‘I’m going to take a chance on you. Even though you may not be the best associate, you may have the potential to be a good senior banker.’ He said he knew the first few years would be hard for me as I brushed up on my quantitative skills, but he thought I had the personality and the natural EQ [emotional intelligence] to succeed at a senior level, if I got that far.

How was that summer internship?
It was the hardest 10 weeks of my life! I was determined to demonstrate that I could handle the rigors of the job. I was often in the office until 3 in the morning as the pace and cadence of work, the long hours, and working in Excel were really new to me. It was a very painful summer. I was so lost at times.

What is the most practical thing you learned at Berkeley Haas?
It’s not one single thing. The Berkeley MBA education is incredibly well-rounded. Of course it grounded me in finance and accounting, and the electives were equally important. It also helped me look at business through a variety of lenses.

And it’s not just what you learn, it’s also the people you meet from different backgrounds and different businesses. That diversity adds to the fabric of the experience, it fills in the blanks.

What are the rewards of investment banking?
It’s been an interesting run and most importantly, it’s been fun. This is an amazing time in technology. There are so many disruptive and innovative technologies: cloud computing, AI, autonomous vehicles. At Qatalyst, we have had the good fortune to work on many interesting, challenging, and impactful transactions. The stakes are very high. If you make one bad decision or miss one trend, it could be disastrous. Think about Nokia or BlackBerry: They had massive leads in their category over competitors like Apple and it was reflected in their market cap. But they missed one very important product -- the smartphone.

How do you sleep at night?
Not very well! At the associate level, your job is to get work done and get it done correctly while juggling many assignments. You have to be prepared for 100-hour weeks. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. There are significant personal sacrifices.

As you get more senior it’s less the stress of long hours and more the stress of thinking about what value you are able to provide for your clients. The goal is to be a trusted advisor and to help your clients think through their most important and difficult decisions. Often, it’s being the industry expert who understands the next moves on the strategic chessboard.

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What is your strongest skill or attribute as a leader?
Generally speaking, I think finance professionals excel in managing process. I am not a finance lifer. Coming from a marketing background I brought a different perspective on how to lead and manage. For me, managing people is the key. There are social and emotional aspects to managing people. It’s about giving your teammates opportunities they might not otherwise have to punch above their weight. It’s about factoring in all of the team members’ opinions including the most junior team members, investing in their careers, getting their feedback. In my opinion, the best managers are the best listeners.

What about managing clients?
Working with clients is my favorite part of the job. Helping them think through important decisions is a privilege we do not take lightly. In addition to dealing with the strategic and tactical elements of a potential transaction, we have to remember that these transactions are also emotional for the principals. An overlooked part of an advisor’s role is to listen and understand how the client is both thinking and feeling. In some ways, our job is similar to being a psychiatrist; you need to listen and be aware of your client’s mindset.

You’ve worked at a major firm, Goldman Sachs, then at a boutique firm, Qatalyst. What are the tradeoffs?
At Goldman Sachs, I worked on IPOs, M&A, various debt offerings, and was exposed to every financial product. It was then that I decided to focus on M&A advisory. It was a great learning experience and provided me with a great foundation.

At a big firm, you are working across hundreds or thousands of people. At Qatalyst, we aren’t spread across the globe. I get to see everyone every day: I’m enjoying the more focused and personal experience at a boutique firm.

Growing up, did you have a source of inspiration that may have led you to where you are now?
My parents were my role models and I aspired to make them proud. They were college educated but when they emigrated from Taiwan my father had to work as busboy in a Chinese restaurant. Eventually he owned a restaurant supply business focused on exporting to Asia and got an MBA from Golden Gate University. My mom took BART every morning from the East Bay to work at China Airlines in San Francisco. Watching my parents work tirelessly around the clock made me work harder in school. It really was the classic immigrant family story of chasing the American Dream.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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This post has been originally posted on the Admissions Blog and re-posted here for convenience

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Investment Banker Jeff Chang thrives on the strategic chessboard of M&   [#permalink] 18 Mar 2019, 13:00

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