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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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One path, two goals: Brian Tajo, EMBA 18  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Mar 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: One path, two goals: Brian Tajo, EMBA 18
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By age 31, Brian Tajo was hitting his professional goals with remarkable speed and precision. He had worked as a consultant for IBM, a workday design manager for Johnson & Johnson, and a product manager for Salesforce. He had just started an MBA, a longtime aspiration.

But hovering above these milestones was a different deeply personal goal, a calling he had felt for years. It had to do with what his parents, natives of the Philippines, once told him.

“You have to find a way to give back,” they had said. “That’s our one ask of you.”

Brian saw that opportunity in the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), a nonprofit group dedicated to the advancement of the Philippines and its people. Every year, FYLPRO selects 10 people under the age of 40 for a special delegation to the Philippines where they embark on an intimate tour of the country with top government and business officials.

“You get a macro and micro view of what’s going on in the Philippines told though their eyes,” Brian says. “It’s very in-depth.”

FYLPRO would be a chance to reconnect with his roots and apply his business acumen to the country’s economic and social challenges—the ultimate chance to give back. But the program was highly competitive. Tajo had applied in the past but hadn’t made the cut.

When it came time to apply to MBA programs, Tajo searched for one that would help him achieve not only his professional goals but his personal goals, particularly acceptance to FYLPRO.

“In looking at all my professional and personal ambitions, Berkeley had the program structure to put me in a position to achieve them all,” he says.

After being accepted to several full-time MBA programs, he opted for the low-residency Berkeley MBA for Executives program with classes held Wednesdays through Sundays on campus in the same classrooms as traditional students.

“I think the EMBA is the best of the full-time and part-time programs,” he says. “You have classes only periodically, but you really are immersed on campus. You feel like a full-time student.”

It was the out-of-classroom experiential learning programs that really gave him an edge, according to Brian. It started with the Leadership Immersion with his classmates in Napa, a weeklong class with the goal of finding your voice and learning how to tell your story. Through exploring past failures, honest reflection, and “a lot of tears and tissues,” everyone tapped into their authentic self and distilled their personal “call to action.”

“My call-to-action was giving back to the community. It’s my mantra—what makes me happy and keeps me going. Don’t forget where you came from. And make sure you give back.”Image

Another keystone program for Brian was the Global Network for Advanced Management, a group of 30 top business schools around the world that offer online and international courses. Through GNAM, Brian took a class on economic development in Southeast Asia hosted by the Asian Institute of Management in Manila. The five-day class drew students from Yale, Germany, India, and beyond to discuss case studies for the Association of Southeast Asian Networks (ASEAN), a group of smaller countries trying to offer business alternatives to superpower countries like China, Japan, and Korea.

“It was so relevant to what I want to do,” Tajo says.

That experience, along with the Berkeley program, gave him the edge he needed to make the FYLPRO cut. As a 2018 delegate, he spent the week in a state of wonder and joy. Escorted to venues not open to the public, they visited the governor’s palace and enjoyed an intimate dinner at the home of an ambassador, sharing a table with the nation’s senators, policy advisors, and business moguls.

“Here we were, young professionals ages 26 to 38 talking with them about everything from birth control to what’s going on with basketball,” Brian says. Once while they were running late to a meeting, the police actually parted traffic to speed them through. “I felt like a celebrity.”

Recently graduated with the EMBA class of 2018, Tajo credits Berkeley Haas with making him more competitive for FYLPRO. More than that, though, he says his MBA journey reinforced his personal values.

“It’s not just about pursuing my professional ambition, but my personal ambition,” Tajo says. “It’s beyond career and financial gains. It was about learning more about myself—solidifying what my strengths are and what makes me happy.”

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Consultant seeks macro impact on healthcare through investment banking  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Mar 2019, 10:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Consultant seeks macro impact on healthcare through investment banking: Victor Leclere, MBA 18
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Injury and that classic desire to help people first drew Victor Leclere to consider the healthcare field. But it was a desire to have a macro impact – and an ever-expanding sense of what that meant – that brought him from consulting to investment banking and a full-time Berkeley MBA.

A competitive swimmer in high school and college – he earned a spot on the French national team in 2008 – Leclere suffered a series of stress injuries. His attempt to find pain relief beyond physical therapy and cortisone shots led him to explore acupuncture and alternative medicine and then on to the healthcare field in general.

“When you’re interested in healthcare, the first thing that comes to mind is being a doctor or nurse. But that’s the micro level. As I learned more about the field, I found myself attracted to macro changes and how to impact health at a population level.”

After earning a degree in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he landed a job in the healthcare group at Kurt Salmon, a boutique consulting firm. Over the next four years, he worked in strategy consulting at more than a dozen hospitals and clinics in four countries.

Changing the Healthcare Landscape

On a project in Qatar, he helped set up the first dedicated pediatric hospital in the gulf region. This seminal experience, “transforming the landscape,” as Leclere puts it, was most satisfying.

“When you think about it,” says Leclere, “a physician sees a thousand to two thousand individuals in a year,. but a hospital touches tens of thousands and a health system adds a multiplier. As the field redefines ‘health and wellness’ to include more than our interactions with healthcare facilities, the impact will expand."

But consulting had its limits in his mind.

“I was helping facilitate change, but it lacked the element of ownership,” he says. “In consulting you develop a plan or strategy and hope the client implements it. But for me, that lacked the passion that comes with execution and ownership.”

The Lure of Investment Banking

Fortunately, Leclere’s work in emerging markets allowed him to work closely with private equity firms that were creating new healthcare systems. That was his first interaction with investment bankers – providing the support necessary to finance and acquire clinics, hospitals and retailers to transform health care in emerging markets. It was the kind of macro impact and execution that he craved. But he had no credentials or formal education in finance and the capital markets. So when Kurt Salmon was sold, he thought an MBA focused on investment banking was the next logical step.

His decision to attend Berkeley-Haas was shaped by his experiences at Days at Haas, an event where the school invites prospective students to sit in on classes, talk to professors, and socialize with current and other prospective students.

“I’d been to a few of these at different schools, and it always felt a bit like speed dating,” says Leclere. “I was disappointed with the superficial connections and shallow depth of conversation.”

But his first evening at Berkeley, despite nasty jet lag after a flight from Dubai, he sat down to a small group dinner with a dozen others at the house of a second-year student.

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A Culture that Fit

“That’s where it clicked,” he says. “The thoughtfulness of prospective students and the acute focus on the role and responsibility of business in addressing social issues. I thought, ‘This is the culture that fits for me.’”

It was the people at Berkeley Haas more than anything else that proved most influential over the next two years.

“Even though I’d lived in France and the Middle East and thought of myself as informed,” he says, “I continued to perceive the world through my own narrow lens and experiences.”

The diversity of his classmates and professors broadened and developed him in ways he did not expect. And it wasn’t just about different cultures.

“Anyone can read a case study, identify a problem, and craft a superficial solution,” says Leclere. “But when you’re surrounded by curious individuals, many who have worked in these industries or with these companies, it gives substance to the case and your education goes many levels deeper.”

Now an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in New York, Leclere is immersed in deals and thinks about how to continue having an impact on the healthcare landscape at a macro level.

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A Peace Corps tour led Haas alum to a fintech career: Blakey Larsen, M  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: A Peace Corps tour led Haas alum to a fintech career: Blakey Larsen, MBA 18
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A tour in the Peace Corps may not seem like a direct line to a career in finance. At least finance wasn't on Blakey Larsen's mind in 2008 when she completed her undergraduate degree in linguistics and computer science at McGill University in Montreal and headed off to Samoa with the Corps to teach high school computer science.

But in addition to her teaching duties, Blakey had the opportunity to consult for the Samoan Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organizations (SUNGO), an organization that helps locals develop business ventures and advises NGOs. And it was this experience that sparked her interest in financial technology, or "fintech," which includes tools like blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and mobile payment systems that make financial tasks easier for the consumer.

"Working with SUNGO got me interested in how technology could be used in the financial sphere to keep money 'in the family' – in small, local businesses," she says. "I found the question of how money moves around the world fascinating."

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Back in the States, Blakey served as a consultant with Genesis10 and Accenture for a number of years before she realized that an MBA was the next logical step toward a fintech career. When she landed at Berkeley Haas in 2016 she quickly found a variety of resources, including the Fintech Club. The club, for which she served as co-president throughout her time at Haas, supports its more than 150 members by connecting students with prospective employers, hosting company visits, career panels, and speaker series, and educating its members on fintech's many aspects: from payments and lending to investment management.

Blakey’s coursework gave her a solid framework on which to build her fintech skills, particularly Associate Professor Gustavo Manso's Corporate Finance class and her participation in the school's International Business Development (IBD) program. There she worked with four other students to put an innovation strategy in place for Civil Rights Defenders, a nonprofit based in Stockholm, Sweden. She also took advantage of the career coaching resources at Haas.

"Gustavo's class taught me the language of corporate finance, while the Career Management Group helped me figure out how best to pursue a career in fintech, and the club gave me access to company recruiting events," she says.

In fact, it was at a Fintech Club networking event that Blakey discovered NerdWallet, a company that enables clients to compare products available from banks and insurance companies so as to make informed financial decisions. She interned with the firm in 2017, and after graduation, landed a job as a senior associate in the company's business operations.

NerdWallet is a great fit with the Haas Defining Leadership Principles, particularly "Students Always," according to Blakey. "One of the company's values is relentless self-improvement," she says. "There's always more to learn, and NerdWallet has a strong culture of learning, feedback, and support."

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Although a career in fintech wasn't what Blakey expected, it's a great fit, she says, offering dynamic opportunities to question the status quo.

"Fintech has the potential to give a more economically diverse population access to financial tools that used to be available only to wealthy people," she says. "And that fits well with the Haas value of questioning traditional ways of doing things."

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Re: Berkeley Haas MBA Admissions & Related Blogs  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Apr 2019, 07:23
If you want to know about the MBA you should have to read the blog from different sites
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Can MBA Skills Help Lisa Rawlings Tackle Social Injustice Issues?  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Apr 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Can MBA Skills Help Lisa Rawlings Tackle Social Injustice Issues?
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Lisa Rawlings, EMBA19, acknowledges that business and finance is a world away from social work. But the chief of staff of the Courts Services & Offender Supervision Agency in Washington, D.C. is finding parallels between the two realms that may help her deal with systems long in need of reform.

You have an undergraduate degree in public health, a PhD in social work, and now have a top job in the criminal justice system in Washington, D.C. What made you think going back for an MBA was what you needed next?
My career has been defined by shifting between theory and practice -- staying connected with on-the-ground realities while understanding the big picture. When I started my career, I just plunged into youth development work with kids in D.C. I operated on pure instinct not always understanding the implications of my actions and decisions. I realized then that I needed to understand why things were the way they were and how I might be most helpful. So, I earned a PhD in Social Work. While most of my colleagues were entering academia, I knew that the life of an academic was too far removed from the concrete realities I hoped to address. I wanted to stay more connected to real people and real problems. Now, I’ve been in the trenches of criminal justice for several years and I feel I needed to pull back again and ask, “What are we really doing? Is it making a difference?”

But an MBA?
Right! At so many points in my career, whether it was working in child welfare or in refugee and immigration services, and now in the criminal justice system, it had begun to feel like I’d been trained to manage difficult problems, but not to really solve them. It was Albert Einstein who said you can’t solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it. And I knew I needed a new lens and a new set of tools.

When I looked around at where innovative solutions were emerging, I saw that in the business sector, especially in entrepreneurship, people were challenging long standing assumptions: pulling things apart and putting them back together in new ways to solve vexing problems. I knew I needed to learn how to do that for the social problems I was concerned about.

Your jobs and your education have mostly been on the East Coast. What drew you out here to California and the Berkeley MBA for Executives program?
I knew I had to be with kindred spirits. It was important to be in a place where there was not only rigor and excellence but also a belief that business can and should do good for the world. There were schools on the East Coast that would have been a lot more convenient, but when I visited Berkeley Haas—met students and experienced them actually living the Haas Defining Leadership Principles – I knew I was in the right place. Berkeley has become this safe space away from it all where I can completely shift my perspective, learn new tools, and contemplate new concepts.

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With your background in social work, do you think there will be practical benefits to getting an MBA?
Yes, absolutely. I believe that sharing a common language and training is such a powerful tool for bridging understanding. For example, one of the concepts I found as a useful metaphor was compounding. In finance, interest compounds and grows exponentially. In social work, adversity, stress, trauma can compound over a lifetime and across generations until they lead to intractable social problems.

Professionally, I’m interested in pivoting into responsible business practice and social entrepreneurship. In business, the clear assumption is that the goal is to maximize profits. That’s not the driver in the social sector. But it’s critical to understand the levers of business and how they interact and perhaps how they can be enhanced and/or tempered to help create sustainable social-sector solutions.

And leadership?
I’ve seen that a lot of people in MBA programs come from engineering or other highly technical backgrounds. They are used to having formulas and spreadsheets to neatly tackle problems. Some can even be tempted to apply these approaches to working with people. But people are messy and unpredictable. I appreciate that Haas’ leadership development approach requires self-reflection, relational skill-building practice, and the study of situational context and nuance. These resonate deeply with my social work orientation and belief that it’s these softer skills, coupled with integrity and judgment, that make or break effective leaders.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My grandfather definitely! His name was Hamilton Smith, but we called him “The Great Oracle.” In his own way, he embodied each of the Haas Defining Leadership Principles – perhaps this is why I was so drawn to them. His entire civil service career was dedicated to improving living conditions for the poor. After he retired, he continued to learn and experience life right up until he died at 91. In his 80s he first traveled abroad and even went to a Puffy concert, just to know what all the buzz was about! He would introduce us to new and unfamiliar experiences and places, intending to infuse us with a sense of belonging and ease. And he frequently reminded us of his own mother’s requirement to “Go to school, be somebody, but don’t get big headed.”

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Leading through empowerment: Conor Farese, MBA 19  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Apr 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Leading through empowerment: Conor Farese, MBA 19
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When Conor Farese, MBA 19, was invited to speak at a recent Days at Haas, it caused him to ponder his role as a campus leader.

“There are so many competent people at Haas who are much better public speakers,” says Conor, president of the MBA Association, the student government for the Full-time Berkeley MBA program. “I had to figure out how to be a voice for this community and to help prospective students feel excited and welcome here.”

This challenge was one of several throughout his Berkeley MBA experience that would shape him into the leader he has become today. In fact, his journey has often reflected the program’s Defining Leadership Principles.

Confidence Without Attitude

As MBAA president for 2018, Conor led a team of 12 vice-presidents, each charged with their own aspect of improving the student experience. His greatest challenge was discovering how to build a collaborative community among these high-achieving individuals while also ensuring they could be successful in their diverse initiatives.

That challenge helped Conor learn when to step in as a leader and when to “get out of the way.”

“Some people knew exactly what they needed to do and so I would support them from behind. For others, I needed to be a thought partner or idea generator.”

He also enrolled in Extreme Leadership taught by Omri Even-Tov and Jen Chatman, which helped him become “an empowering leader” of a collaborative group.

Question the Status Quo

Early on, Conor and his MBAA team noticed that campus communication traveled through varied platforms. This included the informal use of the workplace communications tool Slack, but there was no acknowledged central hub. So they worked to formalize Slack as the main communication source to provide a place where students and the administration could connect.

Their work ranged from negotiating price and loading email addresses into the software to training students and the Program Office staff to use the platform.

“Slack is now the No. 1 place where students post whatever comes across their radar—whether that’s looking for housing, friendship, or opportunities to join a company,” Conor says. “It’s also provided a new way for them to interact with the administration around questions and issues.”

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Students Always

A key conversation during his time at Haas centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As a white male, Conor wanted to learn how to be an ally. He signed up for the student-led course Dialogues on Race to build his knowledge of race and racism in our society. He then supplemented that with books, podcasts, and guidance from leaders who advocate for DEI issues on campus.

“When it comes to DEI, there is a huge amount of foundational knowledge you need, so ‘always be a student’ has been such a big takeaway for me,” he says. “I believe strongly that diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace ensure the best talent, the best products, and the best ideas.”

Conor again applied the Student Always approach during his internship last fall at IDEO, an international design and consulting firm. Assigned to a healthcare-related strategy project, he had to get up to speed on unfamiliar issues in the emerging field of digital health. With help from friends in the Berkeley Haas MBA/MPH program, he was able to do so quickly.

Beyond Yourself

His proudest achievement as MBAA president is his team’s effort and accomplishment at recruiting and transitioning the incoming class of 2020 to lead the MBAA.

“That was so critical,” he says. “We could make a world of difference in our year, but if the incoming class is not prepared to take on leadership roles, what legacy does that leave?”

When Conor graduates in June, he will join IDEO as a senior business designer. The position will call upon many of the same skill sets he developed as a leader at Haas.

“I’ll be working with high-achieving people, who have different craft areas, sharing my framework in a way that builds up others. I practiced that so much at Haas, I feel it set me up to be successful at IDEO.”

Want to be a world-changing leader? Explore how in the Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA Program.

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Experience best teacher for Haas finance fellow  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Apr 2019, 10:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Experience best teacher for Haas finance fellow
Image

If you want to harness the power of knowledge, you must acquire the wisdom to apply it correctly. Take chess for example.

“You can learn the rules, but it takes years of experience to hone the skills needed to win,” explains Jake Wamala, MBA19, Haas Finance Fellow, and former youth chess champion.

“In chess, you build a database of pattern recognition where you see this works well or that move would give you an advantage,” he says. “That also applies to investing when you see a certain company doing something unique and sense that this opportunity could be really big.”

Because he understood the vital role of experience in a person’s success—on and off the chessboard—Jake embraced the many experiential learning opportunities available to him as a student in the Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA Program.

Investor Insights
Through his Investment Strategies & Styles course taught by veteran investors Ted Janus and Bob O’Donnell, Jake gleaned insights from the perspective of some of the nation’s top performers. He found himself drawn to Warren Buffett’s value investing approach.

“It still resonates with me in terms of investing in businesses with a clear competitive advantage and the potential to produce long-term profits. This allows you to take advantage of the power of compounding.”

Investment Club
Involvement in the Haas Investment Club helped Wamala expand his professional network, practice his analysis and pitching skills, and explore potential employers.

As co-president, he helped set up and joined in company treks to premier organizations such as Franklin Templeton, Guggenheim Partners, and Ares Management.

“You can only find out so much from a company website,” he says. “When you get to meet the people and see how they operate day to day, you get a better feel for the company culture.”

Jake also participated in a variety of stock pitch competitions including the 2017-18 Global Network Investment Competition which involved 22 teams from 15 schools. For six months, judges measured and weighed each team’s stock performance against the S&P 500. The Haas team nabbed first place. “That was exciting because we outperformed with close to a 30% net return against schools from all around the world.”

Image

Parnassus Internship
Jake gained his first hands-on experience in socially responsible investing through a summer internship at Parnassus Investments, a fund founded by Berkeley alumnus Jerry Dodson ’65. At Parnassus, he worked on two pitches and learned how to assess a company’s value based on fundamental analysis and study of its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.

“I got a look at how Parnassus does things. They don’t just download reports, they do their own analysis. They look at the stakeholders: what impacts the bottom line and what a company needs to get right from an ESG perspective.”

SRI Fund
His experience at Parnassus folded neatly into his next role: serving as portfolio manager for the student-led Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund. Since last fall, Jake has helped manage the fund’s more than $3 million in assets.

“Managing the fund allows me to examine issues of corporate and social responsibility and then combine that with investing acumen,” Wamala says. “We decide to buy or sell certain companies based on changes in their fundamentals, including how their ESG impacted stakeholders such as employees, investors, and the communities they were involved in.”

Jake values the wisdom gained from his time at Berkeley Haas and hopes to apply it to his new position at Aristotle Capital Management where he’ll serve as a global research analyst.

“I hope to leverage my experience from Haas to help Aristotle analyze really good businesses in which to invest.”

Ready for a life-changing experience? Discover the possibilities available through the Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA Program.

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Experience best teacher for Haas finance fellow: Jake Wamala, MBA 19  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Apr 2019, 20:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Experience best teacher for Haas finance fellow: Jake Wamala, MBA 19
Image

If you want to harness the power of knowledge, you must acquire the wisdom to apply it correctly. Take chess for example.

“You can learn the rules, but it takes years of experience to hone the skills needed to win,” explains Jake Wamala, MBA19, Haas Finance Fellow, and former youth chess champion.

“In chess, you build a database of pattern recognition where you see this works well or that move would give you an advantage,” he says. “That also applies to investing when you see a certain company doing something unique and sense that this opportunity could be really big.”

Because he understood the vital role of experience in a person’s success—on and off the chessboard—Jake embraced the many experiential learning opportunities available to him as a student in the Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA Program.

Investor Insights
Through his Investment Strategies & Styles course taught by veteran investors Ted Janus and Bob O’Donnell, Jake gleaned insights from the perspective of some of the nation’s top performers. He found himself drawn to Warren Buffett’s value investing approach.

“It still resonates with me in terms of investing in businesses with a clear competitive advantage and the potential to produce long-term profits. This allows you to take advantage of the power of compounding.”

Investment Club
Involvement in the Haas Investment Club helped Wamala expand his professional network, practice his analysis and pitching skills, and explore potential employers.

As co-president, he helped set up and joined in company treks to premier organizations such as Franklin Templeton, Guggenheim Partners, and Ares Management.

“You can only find out so much from a company website,” he says. “When you get to meet the people and see how they operate day to day, you get a better feel for the company culture.”

Jake also participated in a variety of stock pitch competitions including the 2017-18 Global Network Investment Competition which involved 22 teams from 15 schools. For six months, judges measured and weighed each team’s stock performance against the S&P 500. The Haas team nabbed first place. “That was exciting because we outperformed with close to a 30% net return against schools from all around the world.”

Image

Parnassus Internship
Jake gained his first hands-on experience in socially responsible investing through a summer internship at Parnassus Investments, a fund founded by Berkeley alumnus Jerry Dodson ’65. At Parnassus, he worked on two pitches and learned how to assess a company’s value based on fundamental analysis and study of its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.

“I got a look at how Parnassus does things. They don’t just download reports, they do their own analysis. They look at the stakeholders: what impacts the bottom line and what a company needs to get right from an ESG perspective.”

SRI Fund
His experience at Parnassus folded neatly into his next role: serving as portfolio manager for the student-led Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund. Since last fall, Jake has helped manage the fund’s more than $3 million in assets.

“Managing the fund allows me to examine issues of corporate and social responsibility and then combine that with investing acumen,” Wamala says. “We decide to buy or sell certain companies based on changes in their fundamentals, including how their ESG impacted stakeholders such as employees, investors, and the communities they were involved in.”

Jake values the wisdom gained from his time at Berkeley Haas and hopes to apply it to his new position at Aristotle Capital Management where he’ll serve as a global research analyst.

“I hope to leverage my experience from Haas to help Aristotle analyze really good businesses in which to invest.”

Ready for a life-changing experience? Discover the possibilities available through the Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA Program.

Image
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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Six Questions for Laura Teclemariam, head of product at Electronic Art  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Apr 2019, 13:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Six Questions for Laura Teclemariam, head of product at Electronic Arts
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Laura Teclemariam, EMBA 18, has redirected her career many times. She followed her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Irvine with stints at Microsoft and Deloitte Consulting. She started her own internet marketing and digital media firm in 2006 and ran it for almost a decade. She also served as a product manager for the mobile advertising company Tapjoy. Currently, she's head of product for product management at Electronic Arts. There, she leads the company's central product management team.

So with all this experience, why did Laura decide to pursue the Berkeley MBA for Executives? She wanted to step up her game with sharper business and leadership skills and knew Haas offered opportunities to do just that.

What sparked your interest in interactive media technology, and what do you find satisfying about the work?
After I left Deloitte, I started my own business as an advertising consultant for the entertainment industry. That was my first attempt at entering the tech/media sphere. After I closed my business, I still wanted to learn more about that blend of tech and media, so I found a position at Tapjoy, a mobile advertising startup in Silicon Valley. Working there, I learned how to scale mobile products to a variety of devices. I also learned about what motivates gamers who play on mobile devices. When I left Tapjoy for Electronic Arts, I knew I wanted my work to be directed at the end user: the people actually playing the games.

Part of what interests me about interactive media is making it more diverse. The number of female gamers was pretty low until the mobile platform emerged. Now, half the gamers on mobile devices are women. I had also noticed that even on the development and design side, the consumer base wasn't accurately represented. That was part of my passion, my purpose: To work in the gaming industry and to design for my customer base, for people like me—and to be an asset to an industry that's in need of more diverse designers and developers.

What prompted you to pursue the Executive MBA, and why was Berkeley Haas a good fit?
When I think about my career journey, a number of things align with the Haas Defining Leadership Principles--particularly Students Always. Even after working in the tech field for many years, I wanted to fill some business knowledge gaps I knew I had.

When I was shopping for MBA programs, most of them were similar in terms of curriculum, but when I got to sit in on a few classes at Berkeley, the culture felt very different. At the time I didn't know about the Defining Leadership Principles, but I could feel their influence in my interactions with staff and students as I went through the admissions process. You can go to many other business schools, and probably you'll be with people who have a typical profile: Ivy League, East Coast, Wall Street. But at Berkeley, you meet people from all over the world. Your Haas network touches every continent which is very important for accelerating opportunities for your future endeavors.

What aspect of the Berkeley MBA program influenced you the most?
Honestly, the flexibility of the EMBA program was a huge benefit. I'm a working mother – I have three daughters, ages 11 to one—so with the traveling I do and my family obligations I knew that a full time MBA wasn't an option. The residency structure of the EMBA really worked for me. Our family could plan around it, like I was going to a conference.

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What's the most practical thing you learned at Berkeley Haas? The most helpful coursework?
The most practical thing I learned at Haas was ruthless prioritization. I didn't even know I could be that ruthless, but I had to make a lot of sacrifices to finish the program.

As for coursework, there were three professors who really had an impact on me. I took Rui de Figueiredo's Strategy class, and he was so good at distilling what makes companies work. His class helped shape the way I look at companies and their strategies for success. Maura O'Neill's New Venture Finance course helped me better understand women's role in tech, and how to go about launching my own entrepreneurial efforts in the future. And in Sarah Beckman's Leading Advanced Design course I got to practice design thinking – that is, moving beyond trying to prove a particular answer to a particular question and allowing for more possibilities for solving a problem.

How do you define yourself as a leader?
The MBA has really refined my leadership qualities, but I'm still learning how to be the best leader I can be. Now I think I'm more of a collaborative leader. We spend so many hours at work, if you don't have a good collaboration and team structure, it can negatively impact team morale. So I focus on leading through coaching, encouraging people to grow.

What advice might you give women who want to enter the tech/media space?
At a conference, I heard a woman on a panel refer to a study that had surveyed women leaders and male leaders. Most of the characteristics between the genders were the same, except when they were asked the question, ‘Do you have a mentor or a sponsor who helped you get to where you are?’ The majority of men said yes, while the women said no. That resonated with me, and it's part of why I got my MBA at Haas, to find those mentors and sponsors. So I'd advise other women to make finding a career mentor a priority. Just think, if each person finds a mentor and then in return becomes a mentor in the future, we can grow the diversity pipeline.

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IBD consulting project provides a career pivot: Shaun Hundle, MBA 19  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Apr 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: IBD consulting project provides a career pivot: Shaun Hundle, MBA 19
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For Shaun Hundle, MBA 19, his International Business Development (IBD) experience in Mexico City provided exactly the opportunity he wanted to hone his ability to “leverage influence in a larger institution.” It also proved to be “invaluable as an internship-like experience to talk about in interviews when I was recruiting in the Fall semester, which can be particularly important for Evening & Weekend MBAstudents who want to switch or advance their careers with a new employer.”

IBD is the flagship global management consulting program at the Berkeley Haas School of Business. Its impact is twofold: IBD connects clients with talented MBA students ready to tackle a variety of value-enhancing projects, and it provides students with practical experience in international management consulting.

For two months in the summer of 2018, Shaun and his team worked with a large retail bank based in Mexico City. The five-member team was tasked with developing a plan to improve the customer acquisition experience. “Although I had previous consulting experience, I didn't have much experience working in fintech, retail banking, or payments, so this exposure to the industry was great in helping me decide where I wanted to focus my job search,” he says.

Starting on campus, the team applied lessons learned in core classes, including Micro- and Macroeconomics, Data & Decisions, and Design Thinking. “We created a structure, scope, and approach to the problem. We also tapped the Haas Alumni Network to identify benchmarks from similar projects using the same tools,” Shaun says. Onsite, they dove into the client’s data, conducted interviews, and applied behavioral economics concepts to develop a series of recommendations. “Our communication and presentation skills came to the fore in our final presentation to stakeholders, when we needed to be both succinct and persuasive,” he says.

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In addition to the exposure to fintech, Shaun credits his IBD experience with sharpening his skills in managing various stakeholders from different divisions who sometimes had diverging perspectives. His biggest take-away? “It's important to listen and build trust with stakeholders before doing the more complicated work of presenting and recommending solutions that some stakeholders may not like.”

While in Mexico City, the team also took in the sights. “None of us had been to Mexico City before, so we visited the Frida Kahlo Museum, enjoyed the culinary scene, from taquerias to fine dining, and took a side trip to the Pyramid of the Sun in the ancient city of Teotihuacán,” he says.

As for that transition into fintech, after graduation, Shaun will take on a new position as a manager in the Consulting & Analytics division at Visa. “Unlike my previous consulting experience at the Swedish Trade and Invest Council, I will be working with fewer clients simultaneously, and I will be doing more quantitative data analysis than the qualitative consulting I had been doing,” he says. “My Berkeley Haas coursework, culminating with IBD, was an excellent opportunity to gain a new skill set and transition to the fintech industry with a globally recognized company.”

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Noa Elan’s Marketing Odyssey from Selling Soap to the Ride of Her Life  [#permalink]

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New post 02 May 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Noa Elan’s Marketing Odyssey from Selling Soap to the Ride of Her Life at Lyft
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Noa Elan’s career has unfolded a bit like the title of the Grateful Dead album – what a long strange trip it’s been.

Her journey has taken the 2014 Berkeley Haas MBA grad from compulsory duty in the Israeli Air Force to the marketing of Downy fabric softener to Tel Aviv housewives, followed by a PR stint at Burning Man on the playa at Black Rock Desert, and now to her dream job now as a marketing manager at Lyft, the newly public ride-hailing company.

Noa credits her remarkable odyssey to the Defining Leadership Principles at Berkeley Haas and just as importantly, the student and alumni services the school provides. But the adventure almost didn’t happen.

“My husband and I had quit our jobs and were vacationing on a beach in India trying to decide which business school to attend,” she says.

They’d both been accepted to Berkeley Haas as well as to another well-known business school on the East Coast. At first, they seemed evenly torn between the two.

“We sat on the beach and said, ‘Let’s flip a coin.’ It came up in favor of the East Coast school. We were doing high fives and cheers when we stopped a moment and said, ‘Hey, you want to try flipping again?’”

They did and it came up in favor of Berkeley Haas. But the real decision actually had been made before that.

“We visited both schools and the moment we arrived at Berkeley, we felt instantly that it was really special,” said Noa. “There’s something magical about Berkeley: the faculty house, the Campanile, the energy, the hippies on the street. It’s bigger than the business school. This university has changed the world.”

And then there were the Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Student Always, Beyond Yourself. “In a way, because of those principles, Berkeley chooses you as much as you choose it,” she says.

But Berkeley is a long way from Tel Aviv where Noa worked for Procter & Gamble creating advertising campaigns for Tide, Dawn, and Downy detergents and softeners.

“I feel grateful that my first career was at P&G because they really understand marketing,” said Noa. “But I knew the future was technology. Everything was happening around that. I wanted to be around hyper growth, a place of learning and development and education.”

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Berkeley also brought new insights into marketing.

“I’ll never forget Professor Don Moore's courses about decision making, focusing a lot on framing, biases, and overconfidence,” she says. “I feel lucky that I got to study with one of the key global researchers on the topic of organizational behavior.”

Besides the coursework, Noa threw herself into activities, like the Digital Media and Entertainment Club. There she and a fellow student put on a conference about how technology was shaping people’s lives.

“The conference experience made me want to explore live events,” Noa says, “because I really enjoyed creating experiences and bringing people together toward one shared goal.”

That led to her Burning Man internship, the annual event in the desert that celebrates art and self-expression, especially if they involve spectacle and fire. After graduation, the Haas Alumni Network and the Career Management Group gave Noa a further boost by introducing her to the CEO of BottleRock, the Napa Valley music, food, and wine festival.

“A lot of the power of Haas is in its communities and the people they connect you to,” says Noa. “And I’ll be forever grateful to Tenny Frost, head of Alumni Relations. No one can say no to her.”

Noa describes her voyage into live events as “epic,” but she adds, “I didn’t see the meaning or the long-term path.” So she returned to her dream of technology. “I stayed ‘non-traditional’ – that’s part of the Haas DNA – it’s just that now I’m doing it in a traditional techie role.”

Noa ended up being a bit of both. “I've been obsessed with Lyft since before it was in the market,” she says. “I met the CEO, Logan Green, during a speaker series in my first semester and fell in love with the vision.”

Lyft was “my dream company whenever I thought about recruiting,” says Noa, who is senior marketing manager at the firm which went public in late March. “Lyft is technology. It’s part of the new economy. And you can do crazy stuff – like the founders once wearing beaver and frog costumes in public when they were marketing. I can be creative here, as well as flex my business and people skills.”

As the latest stop in Noa’s long strange trip, she says, “Lyft is where I was meant to be.”

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Learning to lead—and follow—in Patagonia: Yogesh Soni, MBA 19  [#permalink]

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New post 06 May 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Learning to lead—and follow—in Patagonia: Yogesh Soni, MBA 19
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In mid-March, a group of Berkeley Haas MBA students went on a hike on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County. Not unusual until you learn that the last time they hiked together was in the wild mountain passes of Torres Del Paines National Park in Patagonia, Chile with only themselves to rely on as they trekked through valleys and forded rivers and clambered up peaks.

“This was hands-down the most intensive physical and mental challenge of my life,” says Yogesh Soni, MBA19, “and it gave me the most powerful lessons in leadership and teamwork that I could imagine.”

The hike was the culmination of the Extreme Leadership class in which Yogi and his Evening & Weekend MBA classmate Zheng Li joined with eight full-time students for an eight-day trek at an elevation that reached 5,000 feet.

They were split into two teams of five, each accompanied by an instructor with a different team member serving as leader each day. Out of range of any cellular network and using only paper maps to plot their route, they often hiked for 10 to 13 hours, carrying 55-pound backpacks filled with a week’s worth of food, gear, and survival supplies to their evening campsite.

“I am not an outdoor person. I had been camping only once and I had never backpacked. I suspected—and was proved correct—that putting up a tent would be a challenge. This course addressed all of my weaknesses,” Yogi confesses.

Yet it also revealed his leadership strengths, and he discovered a leadership style unlike the one he uses often in his job as a product manager at Cisco. “In Patagonia, I was more hands-off as a leader. Instead of directing, I relied more on multi-lateral decision-making and encouraged my teammates to be the navigators.”

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Yogi took away three valuable lessons. First is the importance of communication when you are a leader. “Clarity is essential and not often achieved,” he says. “It is equally important not to take other peoples’ levels of knowledge for granted. You have to check in regularly to gauge where everyone is in their understanding.”

Second is the value of believing in yourself and your teammates. “One day we still hadn’t reached our destination by 9:30 at night. One teammate was not well. We had to decide whether to continue or make camp short of our goal,” Yogi recalls. “We took stock, acknowledged our limits, and adapted. We pushed through to our goal, exhausted but very proud of how we supported each other and worked as a team.”

The third lesson is the importance of awareness. “One day I just kept my head down and closed in on myself. My teammates left me alone while we hiked, but I knew they were aware of my mood. That evening, people came over to check in on me.”

Yogi has taken all of these lessons—and a newfound confidence in his physical abilities—to heart. He and his classmates returned home more “disciplined leaders and capable decision makers,” he says. “This course truly exemplified the Haas spirit of Questioning the Status Quo.”

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The ‘double’ career switch: Rohan Vashdev Balwani, MBA 19  [#permalink]

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New post 09 May 2019, 11:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: The ‘double’ career switch: Rohan Vashdev Balwani, MBA 19
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Seven years into his hardware engineering career, Rohan Vashdev Balwani, MBA 19, sensed a shift in his interests and his industry.

As a design engineer, first at Nvidia and later at Oracle, he helped develop products that “pushed the edge of technology” yet found few buyers in the market. This raised the question: What makes a product successful?

He found the answer through discussions with product managers at both firms and further explored it by volunteering for projects on the product management side of development. This sparked an interest: How much more impact might he make working in product management?

“Engineers decide how to build something. It’s the product managers who figure out what we need to build to solve a customer’s problem,” says Rohan, a student in the Berkeley Evening & Weekend MBA program. “I really enjoyed being on the product management side.”

Around the same time, Rohan noted an industry trend of consolidation among hardware companies and a boom among software firms.

“I realized that soon there would be very few companies specializing in hardware whereas software was gaining more and more ground,” he says. “So not only did I want to switch to product management but also recognized I needed to move over to building software products.”

But he was unable to make the switch right away.

Achieving his goal would take a two-pronged approach—one to build his business savvy, the other his network—so Rohan applied to Berkeley Haas and simultaneously got involved with the larger product management community.

To his amazement, he reaped results within six months of entering the Berkeley Evening & Weekend MBA program.

Building Soft Skills
He credits the program with helping him hone his interpersonal “soft” skills through courses on negotiations, leadership communication, and power and politics. He got to practice those skills at his job at Oracle and through International Business Development, an experiential learning course where students serve as consultants solving real-world problems for clients.

“I don’t think I would have gotten these experiences anywhere else but Haas. I’ve gained not only information but also experienced personal growth.”

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Leveraging His Education
Rohan used the skills he was learning in the EWMBA program with the knowledge acquired from involvement in the product management community—volunteering with the Silicon Valley Product Management Association, Lean Product Meetup, and the annual Product Leader Summit—to position himself for a double career switch. Soon, he could swap both role (engineering to product management) and industry (hardware to software).

So he began searching for opportunities within Oracle.

The timing was perfect, because Oracle had recently acquired cloud-based software provider Ravello Systems. Rohan connected with Ravello co-founder Navin Thadani, who was then serving as vice-president of product development at Oracle.

“After multiple meetings with him, a job opened up and he was happy to have me on board as a product manager.”

Now a senior product manager at Oracle, Rohan is part of a team that oversees the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, a platform that offers a suite of B2B software services.

Helping Others to Switch
Soon after, Rohan reached out to classmates and others interested in making a similar career shift. As VP-Careers for the EWMBA Association, he arranged “One-to-Many” sessions where students could learn about other careers—including product management—from peers working in the field. He also shared his story at a fall 2017 Career Day event.

His hope is that he can inspire others to pursue their dreams and convey how a Berkeley MBA helped make his possible.

“I wake up happy every day that I made the change to product management. I really enjoy having an impact on the product itself and helping solve customers’ problems,” he says. “One day I hope to expand from B2B to B2C products and the Haas course Growth Hacking is already helping me gain experience in that area.”

Thinking about a career change? See how the Berkeley EWMBA program can help you make the transition.

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Adebaki plans a career legacy that goes beyond himself  [#permalink]

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New post 13 May 2019, 10:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Adebaki plans a career legacy that goes beyond himself
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At the end of the day, full-time Berkeley MBA student Bosun Adebaki, MBA 19, would like his career legacy to be one in which he leaves the business world a better place.

“I want to use my career to make business a more diverse and equitable field so my children will be able to say, ‘He did something important,’ rather than, “He joined the company at 21 and retired at 65,’” he says.

He’s only in his 30s now, but Bosun is one of those people who seems to have already had a number of careers. He came to the Berkeley Haas MBA program after almost a decade at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which he joined in London straight out of undergrad at the University of Nottingham. At PwC, Bosun served as a consultant in both London and Switzerland, scaled the firm’s international tax business across 15 jurisdictions including Hong Kong, Singapore, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda, and built out PwC's mergers and acquisitions tax business in Mexico City.

His cosmopolitan work life arose in part out of his upbringing. Born in the diverse London borough of Hackney, Bosun was raised along with two siblings by their Nigerian-born mother. As a young adult, he witnessed how lack of access to financial resources could make or break an entrepreneur when his mother who ran a small business alongside her full-time job had to close shop when she was unable to obtain funding to ramp up to the next level. His sister, on the other hand, had Bosun to ask for help when her entrepreneurial moment came.

“My sister was importing boots from China and selling them on Twitter, and she needed some cash to get over that initial inventory hump,” he says. “The difference between my sister and my mother was that my sister could come to me because I was established in a career. She was able to ask a family member for a loan while my mother didn't have that option when she needed it. My family is a good example of how not having access to financial options can make starting a business almost impossible.”

His experience at PwC and with his own family prompted him to pursue an MBA at Berkeley Haas with a specific focus on fintech. His goal is to use tools like blockchain, alternative data, and mobile payment methods to make financial tasks simpler and more accessible for end users.

“I was on the partner track at PwC and I realized it wasn't what I wanted,” he says. “I wanted to work in an environment where the business objective was geared toward social impact.”

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Over his time at Berkeley Haas, Bosun has had a variety of opportunities to further develop his leadership skills and his interest in socially responsible business. He has participated in the Haas Impact Investing Network and served as a consultant for Blockchain at Berkeley, an organization focused on becoming the East Bay's blockchain hub. He was co-president of the Fintech Club and helped launch UC Berkeley’s new blockchain startup Xcelerator. Bosun also served as a graduate student instructor for Leadership Communication, Financial Statement Modeling, and Ethics in Business courses. Last summer, he interned at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City, with a focus on fintech.

All of these opportunities have helped him hone his sense of mission in the fintech space: making business more diverse and making financial tools available to more people.

“Diversity happens when you select team members that reflect a different mix than what's typical,” he says. “The process has to be active and intentional.”

As graduation approaches Bosun has had a number of work offers to consider. But he also knows he'll start his own business one day.

“I see myself creating a company that has financial inclusion as its specific objective,” he says. “I want my work to reflect the passion I have for building a business environment that really represents my values – and that means helping create greater financial access for people who haven't had that before.”

Read more about Bosun, recently named by Poets & Quants among the Best & Brightest MBAs for 2019.

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Adebaki plans a career legacy that goes beyond himself   [#permalink] 13 May 2019, 10:00

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