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Berkeley Haas MBA Admissions & Related Blogs

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Director
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What Haas alumni taught us about entering the job market in a recessio  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jun 2020, 05:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: What Haas alumni taught us about entering the job market in a recession
Berkeley Haas recently hosted a panel talk called, “Weathering the Storm: Stories of Career Success in Challenging Times” where Haas alumni who graduated in 2009 shared tips and inspiration about entering the job market in a recession.

The facilitator of the conversation, Mark Friedfeld, spoke with a panel of five MBA students to discuss what it was like to enter the job market during difficult economic times and how they still found their way to rewarding careers.

Allow yourself to be agile
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Morgan Bernstein, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Haas School of Business, isn’t shy to acknowledge, “We all come into business school with certain intentions. We all wrote about it on our Haas applications. I can tell you that a career in higher education administration was not what I wrote about on my Haas application.”

Instead, after her dream internship at Google didn’t yield a full-time job offer, Morgan had to come to terms with the fact that her first job out of b-school might be “more about paying bills than fulfilling a passion.”

Morgan says, “This is a marathon, not a sprint. The first job might not be perfect nor what you conceived in your business school application, but it’s a step forward. You’ll gain skills and experience that will accelerate your career, one step at a time. Give yourself permission to envision an alternative path.”

In time, Morgan’s agility led her into an unexpected path in higher education that was more rewarding than she would’ve expected. “Be open to opportunities that weren’t necessarily on your roadmap when you started your MBA,” she advises.”I never would have thought that 10 years post MBA I’d be back at Haas, but I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Lean on your network
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Nearly every panelist in the discussion spoke to the importance of an MBA network. Omar Garriott says, “To be part of Haas and even Berkeley at large is awesome. The Haas network was really huge for me [in 2009].”

The Haas network is how Omar found his first job post-MBA degree, “By virtue of the Haas network, I got in the door. And I was off and running.”

Omar also explains that the far-reaching nature of the Haas network is incredible. 

“There are just amazing successes that people have in the job search no matter what state you live in, and no matter what the economy looks like. What you really need to lean on is getting those referrals like I did. They make up only 7% of applicants—but 40% of actual hires. Each job you have throughout your career is going to be through your network and your ability to tell a story about where you’ve been and why you’re the right fit for this next thing.”

Think in terms of long-term relationships
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Dutta Satadip, agrees that leaning on your network is critical, but his advice is about realizing the importance of a network while obtaining your MBA degree. 

Before Dutta could rely on a network, he realized that he needed to first build it, which Haas allowed him to do. 

Dutta says his first year at Berkeley Haas was about making connections. To help combat some of his imposter syndrome, he realized he “needed to make some more friends and be in the ‘in-crowd’. My approach—because I love to travel—was that I joined a lot of international business seminars and signed up for class trips. There are also some programs like Haas@Work that really helped me mix and mingle with folks who were in other cohorts.”

Even though Dutta still had a job after he graduated from the evening and weekend MBA program, he was still applying for a better fit and more responsibilities. He met many failures while trying to land his ‘dream job’. But, one day something clicked. 

“I found somebody who was in the company I wanted to work for. There was not a direct connection, but a classmate that I had worked on a Haas@Work project with wrote a glowing referral to his friend who then forwarded it to somebody in the company. That's how I ended up getting my first transition and upgrade.”

Look for empowerment and inspiration
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Networks at Haas aren’t only about job placement. Taking on the Student Always mindset that’s so precious at Berkeley Haas, Urvi Parekh used her network to continue learning post-MBA degree.

 

“I think that everyone at Haas is so disciplined about having it together and knowing how to have those conversations and being proactive. I remember during 2009 alums were really responsive. I think they understood how hard [the job market] was. Even if it was a person who said, ‘I have no jobs at my company,’ they still would take a coffee with me or they'd still have a conversation.”

From those conversations, Urvi said she was able to learn more about industry lingo and have more interactions. 

She learned that people within her industry know each other in many instances.  Eventually she’d come across connections that would say, "Oh, I know someone at this other company, and I've heard they were hiring."

Urvi says, “I think building those connections created a lot of power for me in feeling ready to transition and make the move.”

Urvi also recommends reframing conversations with hiring managers. “Change the rhetoric from being about what you want to learn to being about what you’re going to be able to do for [the company] based on what you’ve already done.”

Tell a convincing story
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Jaime Colmenares admits he’s a rare breed. He went into his MBA degree at Haas with a very narrow set of interests. From day one, he knew where his academic focus would lay. 

This streamlined focus narrowed his job search. It also meant he could create convincing stories for hiring managers because he was leveraging his experience very squarely.

Jaime says, “In a moment of crisis there are fewer jobs. There are jobs out there, but there are fewer jobs. A lot of those companies that are hiring are looking for people who are going to hit the ground running. And so you need to be really self-aware, more pragmatic and realistic than probably any time before.”

To catch the attention of hiring managers, Jaime says you need to be able to tell a convincing story. Crafting the best story means, “Leveraging your previous experience and how your strengths at business school have prepared you for this next step.”

Join the Haas network and weather this storm together
There is no wrong time to get your MBA degree. But, perhaps there is a perfect time to go back to business school.

In the midst of an economic downturn, creating a strong network of like-minded professionals can help you strengthen your industry knowledge or introduce you to your next hiring manager. All while you’ve learned the skills that keep your story convincing and help you move agilely through the job market. 

Learn which Haas program suits your needs best.



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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
Director
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Women in leadership: leading transformation as CFO  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jun 2020, 12:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Women in leadership: leading transformation as CFO
Bahaar Sidhu, MBA 13, CFO of Berkeley Partners, empathizes with her evening & weekend MBA classmates, acknowledging, “Haas trained us well for functioning in the COVID-19 pandemic. We all had so much on our plates while we were in school part-time, working full-time, and caring for families, that juggling became second nature.”

At Berkeley Partners, a vertically integrated investment management firm focused on light industrial real estate, Bahaar’s role spans operations and finance, including corporate strategy and portfolio management. She also liaises with transactions, asset management, construction management and property operations, treasury, technology, human resources, and compliance. Previously, Bahaar led the BNY Mellon San Francisco practice and spent seven years at Deutsche Bank in Asset and Wealth Management.

The conversation has been condensed and edited for length.

Real estate has been woven into your career in finance. What about it interests you?
I enjoy the meeting point of real estate and private equity. When you think about product launches, typically consumer products come to mind. But, in real estate private equity, the launch is all about aligning the needs of our institutional investors with the appropriate fund strategies.

The real estate private equity world is quite small, and I’ve been fortunate to work at some great places, from Deloitte to Deutsche Bank to AMB (now Prologis) to BNY Mellon.

Moving to Berkeley Partners was a pivot to a very entrepreneurial firm, which was in the middle of a growth phase having just closed our second institutional value-add fund and a core-plus separate account. It has been a great experience to help lead that transformation. The focus for my first 18 months on the job was on building teams and blueprints for the tech infrastructure, constantly assessing the people and skills sets we needed. The transformation is an iterative process and we continue to focus on our field operations and property management business in the current environment.

How have your leadership skills evolved?
I was 26 when I was hired into a very responsible role at Deutsche, leading a team of people significantly older and more experienced than me. My challenge then was to form relationships based on respect for their expertise, while recognizing my authority in what was a rather formal work environment with a rigid hierarchy.

Berkeley Partners is a much flatter organization with a more fluid environment. Our workforce is quite diverse while employing many millennials, early in their careers. In general, my leadership style is more of a coach, but each relationship is different, according to the individual’s and the team’s needs.

I think Dr. Mark Rittenberg’s Leadership Communications class at Haas influenced my leadership style. He emphasized the importance of authenticity. If you are not authentic, people will not follow you.

I also credit Connie Hardisty, the woman who hired me into that position at Deutsche. She is a no-nonsense leader but one who also exhibits tremendous empathy. She remains one of my most important mentors.

What role do mentors play in leadership development?
I’ve thought a lot about this. My sons, who are eight and five, are growing up in a community where they have advantages I did not have. When I stepped into the corporate world, I didn’t know what to expect at all.

A mentor creates a safe space for you to ask questions and get advice. They go to bat for you. Having a mentor builds confidence and expands your network. As I’ve grown in my career, I feel responsible to mentor others, to give back what I was given.

How well are women represented in the real estate private equity sector?
Not well enough in executive roles. But the tide is beginning to turn. Ten years ago, there were very few female CFOs in the sector. Now there are at least 10 of us that I know personally.

There is approximate equity between men and women at the analyst level, less so for mid- and senior-level executive positions. For that to change, we need to think about how to keep women in the pipeline through transformative life events, like marriage and the birth of children. If anything good comes of this pandemic, perhaps it will be recognition of the effectiveness of flexible work arrangements, which can be tremendously advantageous for working parents.

We need to make conscientious hiring and promotion decisions. Of course, you want the best person for the position, but we need to address and remove the unconscious bias that the best person looks like me.

What advice would you give to women aspiring to leadership positions in business?
Be authentic and know your own worth.

You have to be brutally honest with yourself about your needs and wants. You need to be culturally aligned with the organization where you work. When you’re a strong performer—giving 110%—and the values of the organization, and those of your boss are aligned with yours, your needs and wants tend to be met.

If your organization doesn’t value you, it’s probably time to look for a different role. Don’t wait around for the organization to change; that can take a long time. Sometimes you need to look around and find the right fit where you are valued.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your work?
I get the greatest joy in seeing the people that I work with blossom in their own careers, and delivering the best results for our investors. Success isn’t always about AUM growth or reducing the G&A spend. I tell my reports, we’re in a career-long relationship. We may not always work together, but we will weave in and out of each other’s lives.

My Haas classmates are a great example of that. Fifteen or so of us have kept in close contact since graduation, and even meet weekly on a video call. We’ve been there for each other through marriages, children, divorces, the death of parents, and career changes. We’ve done business together. We’ve formed industry-specific cohorts. We’ve helped people get hired and been each other’s recruiters. We’ve even counseled each other’s children! The sense of community with my classmates post-graduation has been one of the most rewarding outcomes of the MBA experience.

Read more from the Women in Leadership series:
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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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Joined: 13 Nov 2013
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Women in leadership: expanding access to those underserved by the trad  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jul 2020, 15:00
FROM Haas Admissions Blog: Women in leadership: expanding access to those underserved by the traditional financial system
The World Bank estimates that about 1.7 billion adults around the world are without a bank account at a financial institution or through a mobile money provider. Those are the customers served by Tala, a fintech firm with a mission to expand financial access to people underserved by the traditional financial system. Tala’s CFO, Jennifer Loo, EMBA 14, “manages the company’s financial health so we can improve the financial health and circumstances of our customers.”

When she started the Berkeley MBA for Executives program, Jennifer was VP Finance, Business Strategy, and Analytics at LegalZoom, a company she could have “worked at forever.” But her MBA studies and classmates inspired her to pursue new opportunities. Before landing at Tala, she served as CFO at a sustainable apparel retailer and a Latino digital media company. She also holds a JD degree from New York University.

The conversation has been condensed and edited.

What is it about finance that compels you?
I really love puzzles and I find that finance is really one giant puzzle. You’re trying to figure out how to make all of the pieces of the business work with the available resources. You deal with a lot of different stakeholders, many of whom may have divergent motivations, needs, and demands.

Finance puts you at the epicenter of a business, where you can have a birds-eye view of the entire enterprise. I have to look at operations, product, marketing; I love the freedom to dig in anywhere to figure out what is working, or not.

How well are women represented in leadership roles in finance?
It’s getting better. But there’s still a long way to go. The good news is that we are seeing many more women take CFO or heads of finance roles. A few years ago, I attended a Women CFO event in Los Angeles – five of us showed up. But my Rolodex of female peers has since increased manifold.

That said, the investment community is still woefully underrepresented. I remember when I was raising debt at the apparel company I worked for, and our broker urged us to take a particular term sheet – not because it was the best, but because the firm was the only one that had a female partner, and she would ‘get us’ better. We turned down the term sheet. And the broker. The reality was, we didn’t need a female partner to understand our business because the numbers, economics, and operations spoke for themselves.

We need more representation in the investment community so that investing in female-centric brands or female-led companies is simply good business.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your role?
Beyond driving revenue and a healthy bottom line, the companies where I’ve worked have each had a bigger purpose. At LegalZoom, it was providing access to legal services and products—something that typically requires a certain level of affluence in the US.

Tala has the most audacious mission of anywhere I’ve worked. We are trying to solve a massive, trillion-dollar global issue one customer at a time. Even though Tala does not have a single customer in the US, we hear and read customer stories on a daily basis about how the financial access we create is changing lives by helping them start and maintain businesses, send their children to school, or weather unexpected storms. I find this incredibly rewarding. 

What is your greatest challenge?
Immediately, it is helping drive the company’s near- and long-term decisions in times of unprecedented uncertainty.

Some element of uncertainty always exists in Tala’s business. We work in emerging markets, where things like regulations and the competitive landscape can change on a dime. We need to be on top of those dynamics and continuously adapt our business model. In a time when no one – not VCs, lenders, customers, or us – can see clearly around the corner, we need to remain alert, nimble, and adaptive.

I graduated law school in the middle of the 2009 financial crisis. My best advice is to be open to all opportunities. These times call for resilience, flexibility, and open-mindedness. You need to have the courage to change."

What prepared you for your current role?
Every experience I’ve had along the way! I love finance because you can always grow your core skill set, learn more. I’m now at my fourth company and my fourth industry. So much of what I’ve learned in one place helps me in the next.

How did you develop your leadership style?
My CFO at LegalZoom defined a lot of my style, and it was reinforced at Berkeley Haas: Lead honestly and transparently. Don’t avoid the tough questions. Be supportive of your team’s development and always foster healthy debate. Leadership requires rolling up your sleeves, but also being able to pull back and see the forest for the trees.

What advice would you have for women aspiring to leadership?
It is important to be authentic, tenacious, vocal, and present. Make sure you’re being heard. Don’t let little setbacks or self-doubt hold you back. Trust yourself and keep going.

What advice do you have for graduates entering the workforce right now?
I graduated law school in the middle of the 2009 financial crisis, so I understand the feeling that life has thrown you a massive curveball. My best advice is to be open to all opportunities. These times call for resilience, flexibility, and open-mindedness.

You need to have the courage to change. The Berkeley MBA for Executives program and my classmates taught me that. I remember the first time someone announced to the class that they had quit their job. You could have heard a pin drop. No one knew how to respond. After a few months, when someone made that kind of announcement, they received a standing ovation. The program gave us the courage to change.

Most of us have – during or since the program – taken on new roles or started our own companies. Always give yourself the freedom to explore something different, because every new chapter is guaranteed to bring new adventure, new learnings, and growth.

Read more from the Women in Leadership series:
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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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Women in leadership: expanding access to those underserved by the trad   [#permalink] 02 Jul 2020, 15:00

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Berkeley Haas MBA Admissions & Related Blogs

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