Class of 2016 Haas Undergraduate Student Orientation

It has always been my dream to call myself a Golden Bear, a student at the prestigious UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. So with that being said, I did what I had to do and made it happen.

Hello, my name is Isabelle Lee, and I am transfer student from Santiago Canyon College, and this is my experience and takeaway from the Haas New Student Orientation held on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 for the Class of 2016.

Photo Courtesy of @thebenj

Photo Courtesy of @thebenj

The orientation started off with Dean Rich Lyons’ speech in which he kindly reminded us who we were and why we were the chosen ones accepted into Haas. Consistently reminding us to continue to have that competitive edge that makes us Haas students and never lose sight on the four defining principles of Haas: Beyond Yourself, Student Always, Confidence without Attitude, Questioning the Status Quo. Dean Lyons ended his speech on a more serious note articulating that we should be “Haasome” and not “Haasholes” because we define the culture here at Haas, as we are not defined by it. As the new incoming class, we have the opportunity to seize the day by embracing and portraying the four principles of Haas through our actions.  After that, we had the Executive Director, Erika Walker, congratulate us on our achievement of admissions that made me feel like I was on top of the world! She also brought out the Undergrad Program Staff and explained which Cohorts they represented. From there, Haas Business Student Association (HBSA) President, Stacey, along with three of her colleagues, provided three tips of encouragement and advice on how to tackle our first year in Haas. .

Photo Courtesy of @lalalanicky

Breaking into our respective cohorts!

The cohort activity was an amazing opportunity for the class to network in a more casual setting by playing various games similar to speed dating and ice breakers. After the cohort activities were completed, we had a free lunch catered by Top Dog while meeting with many Haas sponsored business organizations, business clubs, and fraternities. For me, this was extremely exciting for two reasons; I got two eat two of Berkeley’s renowned Top Dogs, and I finally got to opportunity to meet face-to-face with other students of Haas School of Business.

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Photo Courtesy of @itspaullee

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Photo Courtesy of @yehrin

Finally, the time has come. The clock strikes 1:00PM and that meant we were allowed to get our infamous Haas backpacks. And with that came the distribution of the ‘Class of 2016’ embroidered backpack that everyone had been waiting for since 9:00AM.

Photo Courtesy of @sampersand

Winner!

 

 

Lastly, something new they did this year was have a little contest to see who could capture the Berkeley-Haas moment the best. I would like to congratulations to our Undergraduate Orientation Instagram contest winner, @sampersand! @sampersand’s photo of the Class of 2016 backpack really highlighted just how #haasome the swag is. Look for her photo on Haas’ official Instagram feed (@BerkeleyHaas), and remember to tag all your Berkeley-Haas moments with #berkeleyhaas! You never know when your photo might be the next winner.

I conclude my recap of the Haas New Student Orientation for the incoming Class of 2016. After going through the orientation, I can say this: it took a lot of hard work and constant determination to get where I am today, but I know I will have to continue to beat the odds and take on more challenges. But hey, I am ready for it, and I am ready to take all that Berkeley-Haas has to offer. Go Bears!

Alumni Profiles: Shazia Virji (BS 2011), Marketing, Mint.com

Shazia Virji, Haas BS 2011

Alumni Profiles is a series of posts featuring Haas alumni. It aims to provide the blog’s readers insight into work experiences in various industries and life after Haas. 

Shazia Virji graduated from the Haas School of Business in 2011. While in Berkeley, she served as Berkeley Women in Business’s VP of Finance. She was also active in the Blueprint Leadership Program where she mentored undergraduate students. Shazia currently works as an associate marketing manager for Mint.com, and has joined the Haas Alumni Network’s San Francisco Chapter Board in 2012, where she is VP of the Han-SF Scholarship and Co-webmaster.

You have been with Intuit/Mint.com for over two years now. What is so unique about the company?

It was great celebrating my two year Mint-iversary recently! Mint is unique because even though it was acquired by Intuit in 2009, Mint still operates very much like a start-up. My colleagues are passionate about helping our users make money, save money, and stretch their dollar further. We’re all incredibly invested in guiding our users to reach their financial goals through a well-designed interface. It’s exciting to know that I work for a company that is a leader in the personal finance space.

What is your job title at Intuit/Mint.com? What excites you most about your work?

I’m an Associate Marketing Manager on the Marketing team. I specifically work on monetization via our lead generation partnerships. What attracted me to Mint is that I am able to provide a large impact to our user base which is over 14 million users and growing. Previously, I worked in private wealth management where I was only able to help one person at a time. But at Mint, the partnerships I manage and the campaigns I create are visible to millions of people.

How was the interview process for Intuit/Mint.com?

From start to finish, the interview process took less than one month. I was searching for a marketing role at a financially focused company and stumbled upon Mint. I applied for the job and remembered that I had a connection with someone at Intuit through my time volunteering for the Haas Alumni Network SF Chapter. I reached out to my contact who helped refer me to the position and before I knew it, I was on the phone speaking to someone in HR. I spoke with the hiring manager the next day and was called in for an interview scheduled for the following week. On the day of my interview, I met with the 5 individuals on the team (4 in-person and 1 teleconference). Most of the questions were behavioral and geared at asking me about my previous work experience. A lot of the questions were about leadership and how I would handle certain situations. Everyone was really friendly and I was able to get a good feel for the culture. I heard back from the hiring manager within one week with a job offer! Intuit typically doesn’t hire recent grads but I guess I was an exception. Recent grads typically apply for and complete the Rotational Development Program (RDP) prior to being placed in a permanent position. Last year, 26 RDPers were selected from a pool of 2,322 applicants – that’s about 1 hire for every 100 applicants. It’s quite a competitive program, but I would highly recommend Intuit as a place to work after graduation. We did rank 8th on Fortune’s Best Places to Work list!

You received a BS in Business Administration in 2011. Have you found your degree to be very useful in your career?

I have found that a business degree does give you exposure to a network that lasts a lifetime. The Haas degree has provided me with opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I don’t know if I would be working at Mint if it weren’t for my Haas connections. From an academic perspective, the business foundation I received at Haas has helped me in my day-to-day work experiences. Being in the workforce is like having a full-time group project to work on. I used to dread working on group projects at Haas, but now I just think of group work as a commonplace occurrence – so get used to it!

You were involved with Berkeley Women in Business, Blueprint Leadership Program, and the Dean’s Team during your undergraduate career. How has your affiliation to these extracurricular activities played a role in your overall personal and professional development?

My time with Berkeley Women in Business has impacted me the most in my professional career. Empowering women in the workforce is something I’m incredibly passionate about. Since graduating from Haas, I’ve been involved with Dress for Success which is an organization whose mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing them with professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life. I’ve been mentoring clients of the Going Places Network which was launched by Dress for Success with the support of the Walmart Foundation. The Going Places Network helps unemployed and under-employed DFS clients gain professional skills, accelerate their job search, and build confidence through weekly training sessions, one-on-one career coaching and networking in a supportive environment. It’s a great organization and one that I’m proud to be an active member of.

Do you have any advice you would give current students about life after Haas in general? (Anything you wish you knew earlier when you were still a student?)

I wish I had been more involved in Haas alumni activities as an undergrad because it would have expanded the network I had as a student. But I’m making up for it now because I’m heavily involved in the Haas Alumni Network SF Chapter. I serve as the HULA (HAN-SF Undergraduate Leadership Award) Chairperson as well as VP Co-Webmaster. I got involved with HAN-SF during my senior year at Haas and it helped me connect with people who were able to give me helpful advice and insight about the professional world. After graduation, it was easier for me to attend events and build my network while also giving back to the Haas community.

Which Haas Defining Principle do you identify most with?

I define most with the principle “Beyond Yourself.” This is something that I’ve actively practiced even before Haas. I strive to help others and volunteer because I always learn a great deal about myself and others when I participate in those types of experiences. I’m able to learn about other people and challenges that I hadn’t even thought of, such not having something professional to wear to an interview. Working in tech and living in Silicon Valley can make you numb to the real issues that are going on all around us. We need to make the conscious decision to lend a helping hand and put our Haas education to good use in order to improve the lives of others.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

Alumni Profiles: Kathryn Cicoletti (BS 1999), Finance & Entrepreneurship

Alumni Profiles is a series of posts featuring Haas alumni. It aims to provide the blog’s readers insight into work experiences in various industries and life after Haas.

Kathryn Cicoletti graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business in 1999. She started her career as a Hedge Fund Research Analyst at Meritus Research in New York, and later took on a Senior position at Bank Julius Baer. She was Director of Institutional Sales at GAM, a global asset management firm in Los Angeles for seven years before pursuing her own startup. Cicoletti is currently Writer and Founder of MakinSenseBabe.com – “The Money Site For Non-Finance People. Finance People Are Annoying.” Kathryn has 13 years of experience working on Wall Street prior to launching the website.

Kathryn Cicoletti, Haas BS 1999

Kathryn Cicoletti, B.S. 1999

You graduated from the Haas School of Business in 1999. What was your first job post-graduation and how did your foot in the door?

My first job was at a hedge fund research company. It was a dot-com, and we went out of business one and a half years later, so don’t get too excited about my first job! I met the founder of the business through a friend. When we met I had no idea what a hedge fund was (not kidding). I don’t even think I understood what the business was. We met a few times and it became clear to me that I wanted to work for this woman. My role was very undefined, meaning, I accepted the job to basically “do anything”.  The founder was very impressive and someone who I knew I could learn a lot from. I wasn’t at all focused on what my specific role was, I was more focused on learning everything I could about hedge funds and I always asked to take on more projects. I think she liked that.

What got you interested in the finance industry in the first place?

Well, I would be lying if I said that I had an epiphany one day and said, “I LOVE FINANCE!” That didn’t happen. I wanted to go abroad my junior year at Berkeley and I knew you had to declare a major to go abroad. I had several conversations with my parents and since I didn’t have any pull towards any other specific major, I thought “business” was a safe route. After getting accepted to Haas, getting a job in finance seemed like the next step. Once I started working in the finance industry for a few years, I realized how it is such a great place to learn so much about business. Finance is such a broad term. I worked for a start-up out of college, but it was focused on “finance.” But you can get “finance” experience pretty much anywhere you work. I realized pretty early on that understanding finance would be something I could take anywhere with me, even if it means making fun of finance like I do now!

Your work experience appears straightforward. You started as a Hedge Fund Research Sales Associate at Meritus Research, moved on to becoming Senior Hedge Fund Analyst at Bank Julius Baer, to serving as Director of Institutional Sales at GAM. How has your Bachelor’s degree from Haas been helpful in your career?

I am convinced I got my job at Julius Baer because 1) I went to Berkeley and 2) I went to Haas. The CEO who interviewed me went to Berkeley and we talked about CAL for basically the entire interview. Beyond that… having Haas on your resume gives you instant credibility with anyone you’re talking to. While my career has taken me in a different direction since I quit my job in asset management, having gone to Haas opens the door for conversations with people who might not want to talk to you otherwise. When you quit your job and take a leap of faith, you need all help you can get!

You were at one point the youngest Senior Hedge Fund Research Analyst at Bank Julius’ Baer’s senior team. What do you think contributed to the quick promotion? How did you make yourself stand out?

I always just wanted to learn as much as I could.  I asked a lot of questions. I was the nerd. I stayed late. I raised my hand in meetings when I didn’t understand something. Most people in the room didn’t understand either, but they were too afraid to ask. I think those qualities made me stand out.

What made you walk away from your very secure and stable job in finance to pursue MakinSense Babe?

I got to a point in my career that I knew I wanted to do something that I really really enjoyed. I had a great career in finance but I just knew I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I like doing, and figured out a way to marry what I like doing with the skills I built over the last 13 years. It was a gradual process for me, it wasn’t like I just woke up one day and said, “I’m quitting! I hate all you people!” It wasn’t like that at all.  I realized what I wanted to do and made a plan as to when the best time to quit would be. “Plan” being, lining up my finances, giving myself a timeline for my new career, etc.

What is MakinSense Babe? What is your vision for the website?

MakinSense Babe is a financial news site for non-finance people. You can sign up for the weekly MSB Roundup, http://makinsensebabe.com/stay-in-touch/, and get the most important money and finance news for that week. I cut out all the crap and just tell you what you need to know and what you don’t need to know. I also create weekly video episodes where I talk about something in the news that everyone is talking about, and often point out a key thing that people are missing in a comedic way. The concept is similar to what The Daily Show does, but just focused on money and finance for now. My vision for the site is to grow viewers as much as possible. I would love to be the destination that people know they can come to for no BS commentary on money and finance news.

You only recently launched MakinSense Babe. Do you have any general tips so far for others who are interested in entrepreneurship/founding startups?

Meet with as many people as you can. Networking is huge. But make sure you are spending your “networking time” wisely.  You need to make sure you are making it clear what you need from somebody when you schedule a meeting or a coffee date. If you ask someone to meet with you who you think can help you, make it clear from the beginning why you want to meet them so they can come prepared to help.

And be prepared for hard days. Taking a leap of faith isn’t easy. The uncertainty of “how everything is going to work out” can make you go crazy. So for sure, know that the biggest challenge is managing the uncertainty in your head.

Do you have any last advice you would give current students about life after Haas? (Anything you wish you knew earlier when you were still an undergraduate student?)

I would try to focus as little as possible on what other people are doing. Meaning, I know when you graduate everyone is talking about who got what job and what person got this job or that job. I can’t stress this enough, the jobs that everyone want out of Haas right now aren’t usually the same jobs that everyone wants in 10 years. It’s hard to see this when you graduate though. All I’m saying is try to take some pressure off of yourself because I know it can feel very competitive. Focus on getting a job that is good for you, and just work hard and I guarantee you will get where you want to be. This is a long-winded way of saying, your first job out of Haas isn’t what determines your whole career AT ALL, but it feels like it when you’re graduating.

Which Haas Defining Principle do you identify most with? How did your identification with this principle(s) help you in your personal and professional development?

Haas definitely taught me to question the status quo. If you can always make sure that you’re not just buying in to whatever everyone is doing, you will do very well in your career. There will be many, many, many times that you will need to stick your neck out and give an opposite opinion or question even whether what your boss says is right. It is okay to do this and you should do it (in the right way), and I guarantee you it will move you farther in your career than if you just go along with the pack.

Finally, if a Cal undergrad is interested in interning for MakinSense Babe, where should they go to apply?

They can email me at Kathryn@makinsensebabe.com!

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

Haas Graduation – Class of 2014

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And just like that, my two year residence in the Haas Undergraduate Program is over. On Monday, May 19, 2014, I joined 384 other Haas students as we bid farewell to the prestigious business school at the Greek Ampitheater in UC Berkeley.

Dean Lyons’ Opening Remarks

The event began with Dean Rich Lyons welcoming everyone to the Haas undergraduate commencement ceremony. In his opening remarks, Dean Lyons referred to Haas undergrads as an “energetic and high-performing” group, and commended Haas students for being some of the most outstanding students in UC Berkeley. He shared that getting into Cal was already difficult in general, and being admitted into the Haas undergraduate business program was yet another challenge. Dean Lyons exclaimed that after graduating, we will be joining the ranks of successful alumni and business leaders who have affected the world profoundly through our shared ideals of the four defining principles, namely Question the Status Quo; Confidence without Attitude; Students Always; and Beyond Yourself.

Stephen Etter’s Introduction of Commencement Speaker

Stephen Etter, founder of Greyrock Capital Group and Haas School Lecturer in Corporate Finance (UGBA131), who earned his Bachelor’s Degree and MBA from the Haas School of Business, and whose dedication to students is reflected in three teaching awards he has received as a GSI and Professor, walked up to the podium next to introduce this year’s graduation speaker. It is one of Haas’s traditions to choose an alumni to speak at commencement, ours was Mark DiPaola (BS ’99), co-founder and current Chairman of the Board of inMarket. DiPaola was one of Etter’s most memorable students. During his time as an undergraduate, DiPaola had been chosen by Etter to participate in the Texas Case Comp team because of his innovative leadership and ability to question the status quo. Nonetheless, Etter says it was not obvious to him then that DiPaola would “assemble an unbelievable record of achievement at a very, very short time.” DiPaola had founded a company with his brother Todd, a fellow Cal alum who also took Etter’s UGBA131 class, called Vantage Media, before selling it to launch their second venture, inMarket. Outside the entrepreneurial world, Mark and Todd set up the DiPaola foundation to give back to education, environment, and other non-profit services. Mark Dipaola was deemed as one of Haas’s youngest innovative leaders.

Mark DiPaola, Class of 2014’s Alumni Commencement Speaker

Mark DiPaola, BS 99, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of inMarket, Commencement Speaker

Mark DiPaola, BS 99, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of inMarket, Commencement Speaker

Mark DiPaola began his speech by sharing his own experience as an undergraduate during his Haas commencement day. He pointed out to the seat he vividly remembers sitting at, talked about providing horns and pans for his family to bang, and stitching “Hi Mom!” on the back of his cap. DiPaola was just like the students of Class of 2014. He had a plan for post-graduation; he had just landed his dream job at a strategy consulting company and imagined flying around different parts of the country to meet CEOs and give his “nuggets” of advice for his clients’ approach to pursuing “new verticals” and increasing their business’s efficiency, among others. He would work their for maybe 8-9 years, become a partner, then relocate in “rustic Italy” or “sunny south of France” where he would put up a new office. While DiPaola enjoyed his job as a consultant, he never made it to his end goal (Italy), as he got laid off after his second year at the firm during downsizing.

While losing his employment hurt, he later joined a startup that sought to change the world. The startup would also “fail spectacularly,” causing DiPaola to consider returning to school for an MBA. Unfortunately, none of the graduate schools he applied to offered him admission. Hence, to save money and make his new company work, he moved back with his parents at age 25. It was all good until the company he started fired him. DiPaolo states that business authors call these events “pivots.” DiPaolo laughingly shares his conversation with Etter earlier that week who thought otherwise, “in my days, we didn’t call those pivots. We called them failures.” DiPaolo acknowledges that Etter was right, but affirms that the failures were the best things that happened to him. His failures pushed him to build Vantage Media, a $100 million company, which he sold. His failures pushed him to start the DiPaolo family foundation, which gives millions back to great causes, like UC Berkeley. His failures continue to help him today as he aims to develop his new company and potentially set new records. DiPaolo adds that “in fact, I can directly trace each of my pivots to creating the awesome life that I’ve enjoyed since leaving your seats back in 1999.”

DiPaola’s talk was an exploration of what went wrong over the last fifteen years since he graduated that allowed him to speak in front of us and back at Haas. He also gave pieces of advice to help students maximize our odds for success when everything is going “wonderfully wrong.” DiPaolo outlined two characteristics that assisted him through his journey: focus and flexibility. By this he meant focusing on one or two things that were really important and could make a difference to us; and by flexibility he refers to being able to roll with life’s “little hints” if our first plan does not work out.

Last year, DiPaola went heli-skiing with his brother. He only had two goals in mind: “don’t die” and “don’t be the slow one that makes everybody else wait for you.” Their first run was steep, deep, and filled with trees with only a couple narrow snow paths in between. To ensure he doesn’t die, he asked their guide for tips to avoid hitting the trees. The guide’s response, “Don’t look at the trees, if you look at them, you will hit them. Focus only on the white space, and that’s where you’ll end up.”

“As human beings,” DiPaola said, “we can’t not think something.” Thus, focusing on “avoiding trees” would almost basically means focusing on getting squashed. Consequently, he urged that the graduates focused on what we want versus avoiding what we don’t want. Furthermore, he reiterated the need to have only one area of focus instead of doing everything. This focus was what helped make his first company, Vantage Media such a success. DiPaola had started the company during the time when the Internet was just in its early stages. He was passionate about matching students up with colleges of their interest, hence his firm focused on education. Nonetheless, he remembers receiving many criticisms, “Mark, why focus just on schools? Cash for gold is the future!” or “My uncle knows a lot about adjustable rate mortgages, now that’s a business!” However, these did not deter DiPaola on the one thing he cared about, and he eventually got better and better at it each year. His company later introduced three million students to schools, and was approached by private equity firms six years later due to the recent explosion of online education space. DiPaola asked the audience who we thought the private equity firms would call first, “the company that did ten things so-so, or the company that did one thing exceptionally well?” He insisted that having expertise at the one thing we are passionate about is key to standing out.

So how does one identify his passion? It is difficult to recognize whether our passion is the right one for us, especially if it is uncommon, not something our classmates are pursuing, not what our parents want, or not the ABC’s (Accounting, Banking, Consulting)! For DiPaola, Vantage Media was emerged as a passion, not a business idea. It was, for him, a means of experimenting with new technology, and tinkering and figuring things out. He posed thus the important question that we should all be asking ourselves, “What do I have a hard time stopping myself from doing?” Nonetheless, being passionate about something doesn’t diminish the risk of failure. DiPaola, himself, hit a lot of trees since graduating from Berkeley fifteen years ago. When this happens, learn to be flexible. Vantage Media had been successful during its first six months of existence, there were new schools added to the platform regularly, students were being helped, the company was making a difference! However, DiPaola had left all their sales operations to a sales agency. Therefore, after significant disagreement between Vantage Media and the sales company, their partnership was dissolved and Vantage Media ended up with zero customers and many bills to pay.

DiPaola had never done sales before. However, the experience forced him to be flexible and pursue activities and operations outside his comfort zone. He was terrified he would not have the correct answer to questions, or that he would say something stupid on voicemail. It took him three months to close his first deal, but it ended up being worth more than his whole business before. He sold a couple million dollars of Vantage Media’s services over the next few years. Thus, he recommended that the audience do something once a year that really scares us; something we can actually fail at. In this way, hopefully we maximize our odds when we will actually need it in life. When we overcome something we have felt accustomed to failing at, we will become much more fearless and confident.

Finally, he shares resourcefulness as an important characteristic in flexibility. People often blame lack of resources whenever something goes wrong, when in reality, there is plenty! Resourcefulness, not resources, thus is what constrains us. One of Vantage Media’s clients who purchased services from DiPaola’s competitors for instance, never responded to any of his calls or voicemails over three years. One morning in December, he decided to be resourceful and flew to the client’s corporate headquarters in Chicago. The meeting turned out great! The client loved what Vantage Media had to offer and began working with DiPaola’s company within six weeks after his visit. DiPaola doesn’t know why the client never picked up his calls, but he learned that resourcefulness was key to his success.

DiPaola ended his speech by wishing the graduating students of Class of 2014 lots of challenges, right decisions, and wrong ones; follow our passion; and have as many opportunities to learn from our mistakes and turn each pivot around into being one step closer to our true passions.

Nishant Budhraja, Undergraduate Student Speaker

Nishant Budhraja, Undergraduate Student Speaker

Nishant Budhraja, Undergraduate Student Speaker

Before proceeding to the student walks, Nishant Budhraja, Haas Undergraduate Commencement Speaker for 2014. While at Cal, Budhraja was an active member of Berkeley Consulting, where he served as President this year. He also built a startup with fellow Berkeley students that one first place at the Berkeley University Mobile Challenge in December 2013. After summers interning for Deloitte Consulting and Microsoft, he will be joining Bain & Company full-time as an associate consultant.

Budhraja thanked the parents of the graduates for their love and support at the beginning of his speech. Graduations are an important milestone. Budhraja shared that it is difficult to come up with messages that match the momentousness of the occasion. Since he is not old or experienced enough to provide sage life advice, he has opted to look back to the great times we had together in the class by presenting the “Top 8 Things Only the Haas Class of 2014 Will Understand”. Read the list and see GIFs here.

Congratulations, Haas Class of 2014!

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

Top 8 Things Only the Haas Class of 2014 Will Understand

“Top 8 Things Only the Haas Class of 2014 Will Understand”

by Nishant Budhraja, Haas Undergraduate Commencement Speaker, Class of 2014

1. Getting a 95% on a UGBA 10 exam, but still ending up with a B on the curve

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“This is a real thing that can happen to you in Haas’s famously competitive Introduction to Business class. Rumor has it that the curve is much more lenient now. So I say let’s take our urban legend to the next level: ‘You know son, back in my day, if you missed a question on a UGBA10 exam, they would just slice your finger off. And get this, they even made you buy your own Scantrons! Crazy, crazy.'”

2. The ethical dilemma posed by the infamous Haas backpack given to us upon our acceptance to the school

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“I mean, are you supposed to use the thing or not, right? Wear it and risk the eyre of your non-Haas classmates, but forego it and risk missing out on that Haas backpack swagger. I’ve seen many a great friendship ruined by this debate.”

3. The intense fear that we develop for Professor Alan Ross’s cold-calling

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“If you come to class unprepared, Professor Ross will call on you and he will make fun of you when you have no clue what you’re talking about. I occasionally see Professor Ross outside of class walking around campus, and I’m still afraid he will find a way to call on me. So I typically just walk the other way.”

4. The pros and cons associated with the Haas courtyard reconstruction during our junior year

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“Studying in the library with jackhammers going off in the background wasn’t particularly nice, but the same jackhammers did keep us awake during those late afternoon lectures. It’s all about those silver-linings. All about the silver-linings.”

5. The deeply spiritual bond that you develop with your fellow UGBA 104 classmates

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“For context, UGBA 104 is Haas’s mandatory spreadsheets and modeling class. In which students learn that a class titled ‘Spreadsheets and Modeling’ is just as terrifying as they would imagine it to be. People like to say that Haas students are extremely competitive, but clearly none of those people saw the Haas Computer Lab ten minutes before a 104 assignment was due. So much collaboration and so much profuse sweating. I mean seriously, is it possible to put some of our class’s senior gift towards some air conditioning for that computer lab. Not even a little bit? No? Just checking!”

6. The Haas email celebrities, including, among others, Barbara Felkins, Renee Camarena, Jennifer Cherniss, Karren Bautista Tanisaki, and of course, HBSA President Rosemary

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“These are the people that you may have met only once or twice in your life, but who will live on forever in your inbox. Just know that we students appreciated your diligent messaging even if we never opened your e-mails.”

7. The myth and legend that is Dean Rich Lyons

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“Dean Lyons is like the Haas version of the most interesting man in the world. Rumor has it that when Dean Lyons drives a new car off the lot, it increases in value. Dean Lyons also had an awkward moment once just to see what it would feel like. I’ve seen Dean Lyons’ business card, and it has no text on it except ‘I’ll have my people call you.’ I mean, it’s the stuff of legend.”

8. Finally, the fondness that we will carry for that beautiful little campus tucked in right below Memorial Stadium

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“Being a Haas undergrad is a unique experience. One marked by ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and a constant underlying fear that our older MBA counterparts are having way more fun than we are. We leave this school, however, having accumulated great knowledge, great friends, and most importantly, a set of unique memories that we collectively, the Class of 2014, will cherish for the rest of our lives.”

Open Innovation Leveraging IBM Watson

Working with Professor Solomon Darwin has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my college career. After taking his UGBA190T Business Models & Open Innovation course in Fall 2013, I was invited to serve as Prof. Darwin’s Undergraduate Student Instructor for the UGBA193i Emerging Market version of the same course this semester. Prof. Darwin’s classes have always been structured in this way: Consultation project/challenge assignments; Lectures on relevant concepts applicable to the projects; Mid-term exam geared towards gaining groundwork for projects; Ongoing teleconferences and in-person projects advisory from corporate executives abroad and in the U.S.; and a Final Presentation to challenge sponsors, among other corporate judges.

Prof. Darwin has been teaching on the subject for over five years now, and has guest lectured worldwide, such as Peter Drucker School of Management in Claremont; Stanford University Graduate School of Management; EM Lyon School of Management and Euro-med School of Management in France; Wuhan University, East China Normal University, International University of Business & Economics in Beijing, and Jiao Tong University in China; Lancaster Unviersity in the UK, Korean University in South Korea, University of Zurich in Switzerland, University of Turku in Finland, and BI Norwegian Business School in Norway.

In an e-mail from IBM’s Jim Spohrer, Director of Global University Programs, and Pamela Induni, Manager of Watson Academic Engagement, they expressed their admiration over Berkeley-Haas students’ presentations on unique sponsored challenge solutions. They state that they “have been impressed with the quality of your student projects pertaining to Open Business Models taught by Professor Solomon Darwin during the past two years.” Prof. Darwin has actively engaged with IBM over the past few semesters, inviting corporate executives to judge student presentations, and even tackling IBM’s consolation project on Education for his Open Innovation in Emerging Markets course this Spring. Consequently, IBM has selected UC Berkeley, among less than a dozen universities, to participate in IBM Watson’s cognitive computing course to be offered in Fall 2014.

According to Spohrer, Watson can be built for any discipline, whether it is for business discovery, financial advice, retail, or medicine. The class is an opportunity for innovative students to utilize their creativity and go beyond oneself to help people through the Watson computer. Spohrer hopes this kind of cognitive computing will allow more flexibility in communication to be incorporated in one’s daily life, versus the current form of programming which necessitates expertise in special or unique languages.

Prof. Solomon Darwin, who spearheaded the Haas Emerging Markets Open Innovation course this Spring and co-instructor to “Open Innovation Leveraging IBM Watson”, cites that Watson could be especially beneficial to emerging economies. Watson can be accessed by anyone with access to Internet, the technology thus is powerful in its unprecedented ability to increase the reach of cognitive computing.

This course is limited to 26 students (Seniors and Juniors from the following schools will be accepted: 10 Business, 10 Engineering and 6 Information). Students need to apply to be selected at our course site provided below. Instructors, Don Wroblewski and Solomon Darwin, of the course are looking for a special pool of talent to form four groups that have the potential to gain national visibility. The students will compete against six other top schools to win $100,000 to seed their venture. Most importantly, the group gets to own the IP they created.

APPLY on the course website: UGBA198 Course Web Page LINK. The course will not be listed on the Tele-bears system and will be independent from the regular enrollment system.

Application Deadline: June 10.

You will be notified by June 17th through and email that you provide and not through the Tele-bears system.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

Alumni Profiles: Andrew Chau (BS 2004, MBA 2011), Marketing & Entrepreneurship

Alumni Profiles is a series of posts featuring Haas alumni. It aims to provide the blog’s readers insight into work experiences in various industries and life after Haas.

Andrew Chau graduated from UC Berkeley with Bachelor’s Degrees in Mass Communications, Sociology, and Business Administration in 2004, and received his MBA with a focus in General Management & Global Strategy from the Haas School of Business in 2011. Chau has rich marketing experience from a variety of industries, including Consumer Product Goods (Clorox), Retail/E-Commerce (Wal-Mart, Target), Consumer Technology (LeapFrog), Specialty Apparel (Timbuk2). He has also co-founded and exited Vergence Media in 2006 and 2011, respectively, a patented interactive media solution for e-commerce platforms; and is currently the co-founder of Boba Guys and Tea People. He is also a contributing writer to the Huffington Post.

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Andrew Chau making bubble milk tea at Boba Guys

You graduated from UC Berkeley and have had multiple work experiences in marketing and management for Target, Walmart, and Timbuk2 prior to starting your MBA education with the Haas School of Business. What is it about marketing that interests you so much? What excites you most about it?

I fell in love with marketing as an undergrad after taking a sociology class, but I think it all began when I was high school. I was really into personality tests and organizational behavior even as a teenager. I wrote a dating compatibility application on my TI calculator. One time, the teacher almost took my calculator away because he thought I was typing test notes in it and planned on cheating. When he looked on the screen, he said, “What is this?” I said, “I’m writing a dating program that shows how compatible people are. It’s how I’m going to get girls.” I was dead serious. I imagine he told the story to his wife when he got home and got a good laugh. I even had a website on the now defunct-Geocities dedicated to people dynamics. I came up with all these theories on why things are funny or why we like certain brands. Honestly, this is all quite embarrassing, but I share those stories because marketing is a people-obsessed lens. It is something you live and breathe because it’s your view of the world.

Marketing is sociology and psychology applied to commerce. By the time I planned on being a marketer, I already spent hours dissecting consumer behavior because I had been thinking about it for so long. Deciding what shoes to buy or what car to drive is a lot like choosing friends or a potential mate. The choice is the expression of one’s values, experiences, and desires. It might sound provocative, but we’re all fairly predictable as consumers because needs and wants work the same way. Motivations may vary, but the mechanics are similar.

And that’s what excites me. I love that marketing, in my opinion, is a science… it’s fairly predictable and builds on itself over time. At Clorox, a top-tier CPG firm, I turned this theory into practice. The best marketers in the world are able to find a target market and speak to their soul over and over again. And when the right consumer connects with the right product… boom. It’s like magic. I remember getting my first Nintendo after asking for it every year at Christmas. When I finally got one for my birthday, I felt euphoric and untouchable.

That’s another thing that’s exciting about marketing. Everyone thinks it’s about emotions and feelings. It is to a certain degree, but it’s also very logical. Marketing is a discipline that combines both emotions and logic. It’s both Captain Kirk and Spock. I love using a multi-faceted skill set because I always felt different growing up. I did fairly well in my math and science classes, but I happen to love reading, history, and English as well. As I got older, I felt like I had to choose a side as my friends gravitated toward one side or the other. In marketing, you don’t. The best marketers in the world are ones who can balance both emotion and logic.

What made you decide to pursue graduate school? And why did you return to Haas?

I went into graduate school (i.e. business school) thinking of a career change. That’s why most of us get an MBA. I had already spent five awesome years developing my marketing chops at Target and Wal-Mart, so it seemed like a good time to try something new. I was always interested in venture capital, so that’s what I focused on in business school.

The real reason I returned to Haas is a personal one. I knew that I wanted to stay in the Bay Area after school because my family and in-laws are local. I spent my early twenties vowing to never come back to the Bay Area, so it’s ironic that I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. Every time I visit a fantastic city like New York, Chicago, or London, I get homesick. So it’s not the answer you might expect from an MBA, but that’s truly how I made the decision. For me, it was driven by my gut.

I will add that my main concern returning to Haas is that I would be repeating the same material that I learned as an undergrad. I think that’s a myth. In business school, you are in a much different life stage, so you approach things differently. I was a studious, hard-nose bookworm as an undergrad. When I came back as an MBA, I was much more adventurous and confident which resulted in a new learning experience. For example, I spoke up a lot more so I probably got more out of the classroom discussions than I did as an undergrad.

Lastly, I get asked whether or not it’s good to go to the same school twice because it limits your network and options. It’s probably true, but I always prefer to go deep vs. wide. By going to Berkeley twice, I can utilize the resources better than most because I know who to go to. Plus, I would show my MBA classmates around campus which made me feel popular… very different from high school.

How has your Bachelor’s and MBA degrees from Haas been helpful in your career?

Two of the Haas principles are Students Always and Confidence Without Attitude. Those lessons are by far the most important things I learned in school. I say that because any school can teach you intellectual knowledge. I can read a book that teaches me about discounted cash flows or a BCG-matrix. It’s the lessons related to people and leadership that really accelerate your career.

As I move up in my career, my roles and responsibilities are a lot more strategic and people-centered. I won’t be tasked with running analyses or pulling reports like I used to. Instead, I rely on my interpersonal skills a lot more to produce results. And that’s why Students Always and Confidence Without Attitude are so important. Those are leadership qualities. They are soft skills that few people possess, even well-trained MBAs. It takes a lot of practice to turn these values into a part of your character. One of my favorite quotes is, “Make sure your character grows faster than your influence.”

You must be pretty busy. You currently serve as the Global Brand Manager for Leap Frog Platforms, and have co-founded Boba Guys last year in San Francisco and recently expanded into Berkeley. How are you able to manage your career and business so well? Give us a glimpse into your day-to-day.

I do not manage my life well. I give myself a B+ at best. But I have great tips on getting that B+!

The one thing I had to cut out of my life is video games. It sounds trivial, but when you are short on time, you need to prioritize things in your life.

I also like to batch tasks. For example, whenever I meet up with people, I tend to pick places that are near one of my shops so I can run errands before or after the meeting. I also document everything because I have a horrible, horrible memory. I could not run my life if I didn’t have my iPhone with Evernote, Google Calendar, and Gmail.

My day-to-day is that I get up around 7am-7:30am every morning. If I have time, I go to the gym. Then, I go to my day job and work for 8-10 hours. I do get a lot of emails and text messages throughout the day from my business, but I made a rule to myself to separate the two areas of my life. It’s not fair to either company when they start bleeding into each other. Additionally, being “present” is a must-have for me. Sometimes, I used to leave my day job and go to the store and check in on the staff. However, I would be so tired that I didn’t give Boba Guys the best part of myself (sounds like a Katy Perry song). Boba Guys had mindshare, but it wasn’t quality thinking. I was very, very tired.

The way I am dealing with it now is that I learned to control my energy. I minimize my big decisions, so I don’t get decision fatigue or lose willpower. I do this by deferring decisions to others when the impact has low downside risk. I recently read an article about how willpower works. For example, it said that you should make your decisions in the morning when you are fresh. I tend to agree. I recall a lot of my poorest decisions being made when it late in the evening and I just wanted to get something out the door.

You have accomplished so much. What’s next for you?

I don’t want it to sound like false humility, but I truly do not feel like I’ve accomplished anything. I’m only 31 and much of my career has been a result of fortunate circumstances. I think if I was 50 and started two successful companies, I would probably have a different take. Right now, I’m just trying to make a dent in this world, however it may be. It is likely through Boba Guys as time progresses because it’s gaining a lot of momentum. We made it a mission-driven company, so it’s already different from most businesses in the space. Let’s just hope my training up until now helps me lead it in the right direction. I have a great business partner and a talented team, so I think we have a shot.

Starting your own business can be really scary and risky. What general tips can you give others who are interested in entrepreneurship?

This is a big topic to unpack, but I’ll try to get keep concise. I think the ingredients for a solid startup are: passion, complementary and relevant skill sets, and vision.

Another tip is that you have to be okay with failure. Specifically, learn to be okay with failure even before starting the business. If you learn that you can’t handle failure while you’re ship is sinking, there will be some serious trauma.

My favorite take on entrepreneurship is the idea of social risk by Malcolm Gladwell. He says that entrepreneurs are not actually risk-loving people. In fact, they are very risk-averse. The types of risk we entrepreneurs love is social risk. I think that’s how you know if you have entrepreneur DNA. The best entrepreneurs I know don’t care about what people think. More accurately, what people think does not affect their performance, self-worth, or actions.

I get questions all the time about my post-MBA life. I can probably say that I am the only person in the world who went to an elite business school that started a boba shop. It’s not really a claim that looks good on paper. Oops.

Most of my classmates are investment bankers, consultants, or movers and shakers in their respective fields. I—for better or worse—make boba. When I show up to school events, I sometimes hear, “How’s that boba thing going?” It’s not sexy to say that you are dealing with a toilet drain issue or that the sugar supplier isn’t working out. But that’s real and I’m not really ashamed of it. It may seem trivial to some, but I love it. At Wal-Mart, I developed the habit of servant leadership, so I love getting my hands dirty and doing menial jobs. I also grew up in a restaurant, so making boba or serving customers feels like home to me. I truly don’t care what people think… in the nicest way possible!

Do you have any last advice you would give current students about life after Haas? (Anything you wish you knew earlier when you were still an undergraduate student?)

No particular advice other than do what you love. I wrote a Huffington Post piece on this that best encapsulates my thoughts.

Which Haas Defining Principle do you identify most with? How did your identification with this principle(s) help you in your personal and professional development?

Although I talked about Students Always and Confidence Without Attitude, I think the principle that defines me the most is Question the Status Quo. A year ago, my classmates honored me with the “Question the Status Quo” award at our alumni dinner and I was truly humbled. I say that because I got it in part because of Boba Guys. The reward showed me that most of my peers understood my career path and that I was taking the road less traveled. It’s always awesome to feel understood. My cold MBA heart grew three times that day!

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

CONTINUUM by Fashion and Student Trends

This article was contributed by current Haas junior/incoming senior, Monica Diliberto.

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Fashion and Student Trends (FAST) put on yet another captivating fashion show, CONTINUUM, at the Krutch Theater on May 3, 2014. Students from the UC Berkeley community, Swagger Cosmetics, Caliber Magazine, Daily Cal, Charlotte Russe representatives, Chictopia representatives, famous bloggers and the Loved Twice representative all made fashionable appearances at the FAST Fashion Show – CONTINUUM. Not only did the audience experience the amazing talents of the UC Berkeley student designers and models, but also they were able to see the end product of the immense amount of work the FAST Executive Board Coordinators (UC Berkeley students) put into making the fashion show.

When speaking with FAST Co-President Sophia Dutra about coordinating CONTINUUM, she said, “Show day is always crazy, but that’s the fun part! Fashion is crazy, raw, and unforgiving. If you can survive show day, then you pretty much can survive anything.”

Every semester, FAST recruits new and returning talents from undergraduate and graduate students of all majors who have an unabated hunger for fashion and immense passion for design. This year, the designers where challenged to make their own line of clothing inspired by the fashion show’s theme, CONTINUUM. This progressive and easily adaptable theme allowed the twenty-four designers to create very unique and truly innovate pieces of clothing, worthy of runway status, which were modeled by UC Berkeley students.

CONTINUUM was hosted by FAST’s Co-President Ming Cong and Public Relations Director Nataly Flores. They captivated the audience with their great style and charm and generated an ambiance full of admiration and desire—of being on that runway.

Audience member, Brenna Memole, described the show as “truly inspiring and really captivating… it’s just like a big party!”.

CONTINUUM was topped off with a raffle that featured amazing prizes, such as gift cards and free merchandise, from FAST’s sponsors—Chictopia, StyleLend, JustFab, Charlotte Russe and Sway—and a commemoration of the graduating senior designers and models. FAST had seven graduating senior designers—Daisy Gonzalez, Sarah Mount, Sandra Sequeira, Rae Zhuang, Hannah Hubbard, Melanie Sherzad, and Su Wen Tan—who all made very spectacular pieces for CONTINUUM. FAST also had twelve graduating senior models—Emmelyn Hsieh, Christine Garibian, Wei Zhao, Vicky Pan, Caitlyn Mott, Ashley Zhang, Asheley Gao, Audrey Goldbaum, Pupe Thiravanitkul, and Amy Lee—of which two of the graduating seniors was FAST’s Co-President Sophia Dutra (senior model) and FAST’s Social Media Director Cleo Palmer-Poroner.

For every new fashion show FAST hosts, they choose to work with and make a donation to a charity of their choice. For this Spring semester’s show, FAST donated a 15% of their ticket sales to Loved Twice, a non-profit organization, focused on helping mothers-in-need provide clothes for their newborn babies, that collects quality reused baby clothing and redistributes their donations to hospitals, shelters and clinics. And because CONTINUUM had over 300 people in attendance, they were not only able to donate a lot of money to Loved Twice, but they were also able to have a sold out show with the highest number of attendees ever!

Reflections of a Haas Introvert: Senior Year, Part II

Where did college go?Image

It has been about four years since I’ve started this affair with the University of California, Berkeley – if I don’t start counting from third grade when I announced during story time that I wanted to attend this university.

For those of you who know me, or perhaps those graduating seniors who have been following my Senior News and Clues email closely, it comes as no surprise that this is a time of possible excessive sentimentality. And it certainly comes as no surprise that I write this staring out a dusty, fingerprinted, wall-length glass window at Sacks coffeehouse, on College Avenue, again procrastinating during finals. My coffee, cold as it’s gotten, seems all the more bitter now that I reflect and really let it sink in: this is my last stretch of finals as an undergraduate. And my last post for the Haas Undergraduate Blog.

In the time it takes me to write this I could be studying the AD/AS model to a tee, I could be gallivanting along residential streets in the City, I could be sleeping, I could be trying a local eatery I’ve never tried. Tradeoffs abound by the minute. Time passes sooner than we can think. We’ve spread ourselves pretty thin as Berkeley-Haas students, from sitting through UGBA-10 to the final rounds of recruiting. Sometimes it makes you question what it would have been like had you taken an hour off of studying, redistributed time and priorities; what else would have been accomplished.

The fast approach of graduation puts one in a more retrospective mood than usual, and in what little introvert time I’ve managed sitting on the rug of my Berkeley apartment or on a bar stool at the Berkeley Art Museum café, I’ve gathered together some thoughts about my experience at Haas. So here they are, typed up, perhaps a little more cohesive than they’ve been in my head.

The Choice

It hapImagepened one evening, my elbow on my knee munching on sweet potato fries at local favorite Freehouse. Up came the topic of Haas admissions and the major. There’s something quite unusual about hearing a group of business students reflect on their choice to be business students, and a very diverse group at that. You have the representative of the Greek life, of a business fraternity, the International student, the extrovert, the introvert, etc. I’ll be frank and admit, I was not and am not the most willing nor enthusiastic business student. Among the group that night I was probably the one most hesitant to answer, “Would you have done it again? Would you have done Haas?” While the choice has been a source of much tension and stress, it has also been one of much learning and growth that I would have been sorely different without. Difficult to imagine what Berkeley, or life, really, would have been like along another path.

The Culture

ImageI found myself walking along College Avenue post-food-coma-inducing-burger-meal trying to explain the culture at Haas to a friend in L&S. And as is bound to happen in any conversation on that topic, the nature of competition came up.

It’s competitive, yes. The curve (or enforced mean, or whatever they call it) sucks, yes. People are go –getters, yes. I think the mistake here is 1) the assumption that competition is synonymous with business, 2) taking these to be standards of behavior that need to be surpassed, in other words, adopt the mentality that I need to be competitive and busy to the extreme and 3) the idea that competition and a competitive attitude are necessarily bad. Competition is present in many fields, in different forms – that it exists at Haas should therefore come as no surprise. Often people reflect on UGBA-10 as the annex of competition, and they slap that experience as the defining experience of business, when in reality it’s all in the outlook. I’ve found outlets in quirky, quiet friends (for you extroverts out there: quiet people are interesting too), the Cohort Program, and the Haas Blog, and really many of my experiences in classes have been more cooperatively competitive than anything. Everyone is just trying to do their best, and who would say competing to do your personal best is a bad thing?

The Haashole

Let us be honest with each other. This is not by any means a positive phrase, nor was it intended to be. And if you have yet to realize it, let me be the bearer of some not-so-pleasant news: Haas students are not the most well-regarded students on the Berkeley campus. With our emblazoned backpacks, air-conditioned classrooms, and location up on the hill, is it any wonder? And why is it that when pegged as a Haashole we sometimes feel the impulse to throw the faulty persona right back?

There are a whole host of other things that give us a bad rap too lengthy and dense to discuss in a paragraph, but I am happy to witness increasing awareness on the issue, which the Undergraduate Program (think the Four Defining Principles) and the Undergraduate Cohort Program (creating community, both at Haas and with the rest of campus) are both addressing. And how? Through changing perceptions through changing the models for what a business leader can be – us. Greater awareness on both ends – Haas and the greater Berkeley campus – is needed to rename, redefine the business major, so that it no longer becomes “us” versus “them”, but just us.

Here’s a thought: why not shoot for Haasome?

The Road Ahead

First, finishing finals. Then, graduation. With all of the recent grad pics popping up on social media, I can’t help but think that on May 19th at the Greek, someone, clad in a black wizarding gown, is going to look at me seriously in the eye, their hand on my shoulder at the Greek and say (in British lilt), “We expect great things from you, Hillary!”

It’s been a great couple of years, Haas. Signing off.

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Hillary Le

Class of 2014

Career Profiles: Staci Ja Yoon Heo, Walmart e-Commerce

Career Profiles is a series of posts that will feature Haas students who have accepted an internship or full time job offer across various industries. This one is on Retail and e-Commerce.

DSC08709_1When it comes to consulting experience, it is probably difficult for any undergraduate to compare to Staci Ja Yoon Heo (Class of 2014). However Staci has decided to take on a different route. Staci is a double major in Business Administration and Psychology. She has interned for Bain & Company and the Boston Consulting Group in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Staci was a Finance intern for Walmart’s e-Commerce division last summer. At Haas, she served as Director of Communications for the Berkeley Business Society from Fall 2012 to Spring 2013, and is an inducted member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society for business students. Staci also held positions as Associate Editor and Marketer for the Undergraduate Journal of Psychology and Director of Finances for the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Research Conference. She also won the Edward Frank Kraft Award and the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship at UC Berkeley, and was on the Dean’s Honors List from Fall 2010 to Spring 2013.

What made you join Walmart’s e-Commerce? What makes it so interesting to you?

Before joining Wal-Mart eCommerce, my internships and extracurricular activities focused on client-consulting projects. Wal-Mart’s projects were a bit different from these client projects, because first of all I didn’t have a client, I was just working with my team for my firm; also, the solutions were not meant to be delivered to clients but needed to be carried out immediately to bring about tangible results. I was extremely attracted to the prospect of solving problems and implementing the solutions (or watching those solutions get implemented by relevant business partners) rather than just recommending solutions. It was my first internship at a non-client-services firm, and it was very hands-on. It was interesting to come up with solutions, test them, and prepare training materials and internal-control documentations. I gained a big-picture perspective of looking at things and detecting and solving problems.

How was the interview process for Walmart?

The interview process consisted of two rounds. The first round was with two directors, and was highly structured with behavioral questions requiring you to draw experience from classroom, internships, and/or business clubs. The second round was with more people from various departments in controllership, and was more conversational and casual. It ended with a mini-tour of the awesome building. All the interviewers for both rounds were upbeat, friendly, and easy to talk to. They were also very accommodating of my questions about the firm, internship, and potential projects.

You interned for the Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company in the past. What made you shift industries?

I enjoyed every bit of management consulting at those two companies. I learned a great deal and made valuable connections. However, I decided that I was more interested in the technical side of things, building my professional expertise through licensure in accounting and then applying my knowledge to understanding and evaluating various business processes.

Haas students tend to pursue the ABCs. Do you think this prevalence made you pursue consulting initially?

There was definitely a peer pressure from my business club that provided consulting services to for-profit and non-profit clients. Investing time and effort in securing clients and working on and presenting deliverables influenced me to believe that this was what I was going to do, post-college. But once I talked to more people, especially from Wal-Mart as well as from other firms at the career fair, my club’s mentorship mixer, etc., I looked beyond consulting and realized there were opportunities that sounded even more interesting and that I needed to try out.

What excites you most about doing Finance for Walmart, post-graduation career?

I would have said that I love every single bit of it, the people, the culture, and the projects. They also have lots of fun events, such as diversity festivals, SF Giants games, and bring-your-dog (or cat) to work days. Wal-Mart’s eCommerce is probably the world’s largest start-up, so it is an exciting time to be a part of that momentum. Unfortunately, I will be joining Deloitte Audit in San Francisco office starting September. What excites me the most about joining this firm is that I get to do similar kinds of work in business processes and financial statements, except for a lot of other firms from different industries. I am excited about learning from the peers as well as experts and exploring various areas apart from retail.

Do you have any advice you would give other Haas and Cal students in general, who are also interested in working in retail versus traditional ABC industries?

I believe that both retail and traditional ABC industries are very good post-college careers with lots of merits. Your earlier question related to a lot of Haas students pursuing ABC’s, and my advice to that is not to cross out anything completely just because no one is going for it or to commit to something too early because everyone is going for it. At Haas or at Cal you are sometimes peer-pressured into trying out for the most popular. Do talk to people and find out reasons for why some careers like ABC’s are more pursued; however, I also recommend that you take plenty of time to think, experience, and explore the different areas like retail that you find interesting. I realized during my recruiting process that it is really important to talk to my friends, family, professors, mentors, and professionals about my career interests, and to know what I prioritize and value the most.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014