How To Break The Rules And Get Away With It

 

Food for thought: To do extraordinary things, you cannot simply follow the ordinary paths of other people.

This semester, I’ve been experiencing an identity crisis between being a rule follower or a rule breaker. I’ve found myself repeating the phrase, “I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing”, too much. And for me, that’s problematic. Let me explain:

When I was a kid, I was always the rule breaker. Back then, it was an issue: I would talk too much in class, draw on tables with pen, shove marbles up my nose – the whole deal. The few blurry memories I have of grade school all consist of detention or getting sent to the principal’s office.

Yet somewhere down the line, I became a rule follower. I became averse to the punishment of my teachers and my parents, and I decided to do well in school, pay attention in class, and walk the righteous path of a “good kid”. With a stroke of good luck, I ended up at UC Berkeley.

But when I came to college my mentality shifted again. After all, I was at Berzerkeley, the school where Mario Savio stood on Sproul and told the school administration to go love itself for stifling free speech (paraphrasing). I was gleeful that finally, I had an excuse to break the rules again.

So when I arrived, although I was pressured by my parents (much like 65% of the student body) to pursue medicine, I dropped all of my science classes and instead, surreptitiously became an intended Business major – much to my parent’s dismay when they eventually found out. Three cheers for independence.

Before applying to Haas, despite learning that important clubs and business fraternities significantly increased my chances of finding an “prestigious” career, I decided (perhaps foolishly) not to join one. Instead I became a founding member of a consulting club, which has since faded, and a mentorship organization, which withered away after a year.

Because I had failed to define a network for myself with a fraternity or club, I began networking by literally emailing hundreds of random people I found on LinkedIn and asking if I could chat with them about their experiences. I had no idea what I was doing, but it became empowering for me. If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have had conversations with so many immensely talented and impressive people, including CEO Tom Reilly of Cloudera, who stopped replying because he was either too busy or because emailing an undeserving college kid was very strange.

I also wouldn’t have met two Harvard Business School graduates who turned down cushy job offers to become tech entrepreneurs, even though they had no idea how to program. And if I hadn’t become friends with them, then I wouldn’t have been inspired to become an entrepreneur myself someday.

So if I hadn’t dishonored my family by quitting medicine for Haas; and help start two failed organizations; and had no network; and therefore randomly emailed hundreds of people to build up my network; and met two Harvard grads; and become inspired to someday become an entrepreneur, then I wouldn’t have the opportunity to tell you that someday, albeit far into the future, my dream is to own a bar/restaurant, even though I don’t know anything about the restaurant business.

So how do you break the rules and get away with it? You just do. As one of my professors, Rob Chandra, told me this semester, “When I take risks, I always go big. Because when I am convinced that something is good, I just can’t get enough of it.”

I am not a model of successful risk-taking or rule-breaking. But my point is that as I reflect on all the things I did over these four years that were incongruous with the “right way”, I realize that I still turned out okay. And every time I deviated from the plan – even when things didn’t go to plan – I always gained something valuable from the experience.

So the next time you start saying “I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing”, if you’re about to break the law, stop.

But if not, and you are convinced that what you are about to pursue is good, then just go for it. If you want to do something non-ABC, please, do it – there are way too many of us. If you want to start a bar/restaurant in 20 years, hit me up. And if you want to go climb Mount Kilimanjaro after graduation, pull trig on some flight tickets. After all, in the hallways of Cheit Hall, there is a poster of two Haas rule breakers who made millions by selling mushroom farms. I don’t see any posters of rule followers up there. Don’t be afraid to break the rules. I promise you, you’ll get away with it.


Josh Wang

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Study Abroad Feature: Asia and Europe

Midterms, job recruitment, paperwork, and course prerequisites- there is always one reason or another that make people want to, but ultimately do not study abroad. Blocking out the noise inside your head can sometimes be difficult; on any given day, we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and travels miles away to live in an unknown place for half a year.

Like many Haas students, I myself had some reservations about studying abroad. How do I show my personality through a Skype interview? Can I still graduate on time? All these worries subsided and I went ahead and did it anyways. As Nike says, just do it!

We’re trained in school to think logically and methodically. But sometimes, you shouldn’t have to weigh out your opportunity costs that seriously. I hope that by reading about these other amazing Haas student’s stories, you will seriously give studying abroad a chance.


C3R2X9 Barcelona, Park Guell By Architect Antoni Gaudi

Damon Laguna
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Program: CEA Barcelona

Can you share why you chose to study abroad?
I think it was when I realized that there wasn’t going to be another time in my life where I can go to a country and live there for an extended period of time without any responsibilities. I’ve never left the continent so having the opportunity to travel was very intriguing to me.

What made it a memorable experience?
You hear about the places, you read about them, but when you’re actually there, it’s so different.  You appreciate it so much more. Everything over there is so old compared to the US- here, history is hundreds of years old, but in Europe, we’re talking thousands of years old.

Looking back now, what was a major takeaway from your time abroad?
I realized I learned something new every day- I learned a lot about myself. I felt very fortunate to have grown up in a place (America) where I have so much opportunity and not take that for granted. It was in Prague when I realized this; I looked around and saw that people grow up in the city and they generally stay there. It really made me appreciate the mobility that California and USA gave me.

Any tips on what to consider when you choose a place?
Think about what factors are most important to you. I chose Barcelona because I took four years of Spanish in high school. The weather was great and it was an easy place to fly from which was a major bonus. Also, don’t be constrained by just opportunities with UCEAP. I actually went through CEA and my credits counted towards Haas too.


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Soo Song
Location: Hong Kong SAR
Program: UCEAP, Hong Kong University

When did you realize you wanted to study abroad?
It was actually the day the application was due. I have always been interested in going abroad, but I never got around to filling out the app and fully committing to it. I actually entered Berkeley as a Linguistic major, and I just really love learning about people; studying abroad was kind of a way for me to intersect all those things.

I also really needed to get out of the Berkeley bubble. While it might seem that it seems kind of strange in hindsight since I studied abroad during the first semester of getting into Haas, it was an ideal time for me because I needed it.

What is the Berkeley bubble that you mention?
It’s a one-track mindset. When you’re surrounded by people who are extremely high achievers- sometimes in a good way and sometimes in narrow-minded way, you tend to forget how big the world is and how small you are. The Berkeley bubble is a bubble full of very intellectually bright people but limited in recognizing that this bubble isn’t the center of the world. We have so many places and people in the world and I think that the Berkeley community needs to know that.

What is a tip for people to capture their memories abroad?
I committed to writing everything down and I think that decision was the best I’ve made. Actually I had a private blog shared with my 4 best friends and I wrote everything in there. My highlight, my daily routine, my really low moments when I first came, the great food I was eating, and my travels. I made a commitment to recording every experience and person I met which made the whole journey abroad almost feel like a story.

Would you go back again?
In a heartbeat. But one thing to take note of is that study abroad isn’t glamorous all the time. I had struggles with being misidentified. People questioned my cultural identity abroad that I never had in America and it bothered me a lot. I was so used to communicating and being fully understood in America that the language and culture barrier in Hong Kong was discouraging at time. It was a humbling experience to say that least. Eventually, I got a grasp of the city and met locals that took me to experience the local’s perspective of the city. These pockets of memories  slowly but surely shaped Hong Kong into becoming home to me.


You’ve now heard two study abroad stories from Haas students that have had eye-opening experiences during their semester abroad. Now it’s time for you to make your own!

Canaan Express: The Land of Milk and Honey…Check Cashing, Wire Transfers, and International Shipping to Mexico and South America

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Featured Above: Founder and CEO Alfredo Figueroa (left) and employee Maria Bastidas (right) in the San Mateo store.

Perseverance, equality, and understanding are key tenets of Alfredo Figueroa’s personal life, serving as business models for Canaan Express, a money services/shipping business that connects immigrants with friends and family in Mexico and South America. He has created a neighborhood store that makes its customers feel safe, at home with “people speaking the same language”, and first-name-basis familiarity. Figueroa, the son of immigrants, influenced by his own childhood struggles growing up in a low income neighborhood was inspired by his parents’ determination and resilience. He opened Canaan Express three years ago to better “cater to the needs of the Latino community”. His goal was to help eliminate barriers for low income individuals, facilitating easier access to people back home in Latin America. His success as a “reliable shipper” and financier is notable. His customers are lined up around the block every morning before the store opens.

“Do you give up? Do you let it all go? Do you let something you created die? No. You keep fighting,” explained Figueroa. Earlier this year, faced with a spontaneous administrative error that left his bank accounts frozen, Figueroa nearly lost not only his entire life savings but also three years of hard work building his business and establishing a strong line of credit. His prompt action in rectifying this glitch saved his refuge for fair treatment, low prices, and reliable services.

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Featured Above: Figureoa with frequent customer Doña Tita, local business owner, who goes to Canaan Express every week to purchase minutes to call home

Figueroa admits that it’s difficult to balance school and the rigors of running his own business but has found that the immediate application of concepts taught at Haas “make class and business easier”. He spends his days juggling classes, near-constant phone calls and emails from international vendors, and working in or managing his store and employees. Haas has helped him develop “skills to be competitive in the community” by “personalizing” the experience for consumers with the goal of “increasing community impact”. Figueroa “want[s] to understand [his] customers so [he] can offer them the best service possible,” applying Professor Fanning’s example of visualizing yourself in the client’s “wooden chair” as you make business decisions.

Figueroa’s goal has always been to make a positive difference in his community, believing in Haas’ principle of think ‘beyond yourself’ as one which promotes changing lives for the better. To Figueroa, this means making decisions that will benefit the greatest number of people. His passion has driven his enterprising spirit. Encouraged by his own hard-fought success, Figueroa encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to “pick something [they] are willing to lose sleep over” because if they “don’t have passion…[they] won’t have the strength to fight for it”.

He is fully committed to creating a better future for others. When he isn’t at his store or in class, Figueroa has taken a leadership position in a variety of teaching and guidance roles- managing a tutoring center that helps over 100 youngsters through afterschool programming, volunteering (with his friends in Hermanos Unidos) to play soccer with inmates at San Quentin and helping them learn to read and write to earn their GED. Figueroa believes that if you “can change one life, it branches out quickly” and you change many more.

Figueroa has remarkably and successfully negotiated through the struggles and dangers of shipping, ensuring successful delivery of packages to Mexico and South America. The threats from crime, corruption, and lack of a protected postal service create substantial challenges for Hispanic immigrants that want to send help to their families back home. Figueroa described a proud and satisfying moment when a package, unaccountably delayed, was successfully delivered. The elderly woman, who had shipped the parcel from his San Mateo business, came in one morning to personally thank him. Because of Figueroa, her “nieces, nephews, and grandkids ha[d] new clothes.”

________

Dana Siegel

Senior Writer

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Alternatives to Internships: Studying Abroad

My UGBA 105 Professor once told the class that travelling is a great alternative to finding an internship. And I wholeheartedly believe that. But travelling can cost a lot of money, especially for a typical college student, who may have to pay out of pocket on top of tuition. A great alternative, therefore, is to study abroad! It’s cheap (through financial aid and scholarships), and a great way to meet fellow students who are eager to learn.

Here are some reasons why studying abroad is a great alternative to an internship.

  1. You learn to adapt to new surroundings

Entering a new country will feel like entering a new world. The random greetings you share with strangers in the US may not be as welcome in other countries. I’ve had my fair share of weird looks after I subconsciously greeted every stranger who passed me by. Even international students who now have random strangers greeting them in the US can come as quite a shock to some. But fear not! Understanding the mannerisms of other cultures and countries can prepare you to adapt to the multitude of people and departments at your job as well.

  1. You gain invaluable experience

Not many people have the opportunity to travel abroad. Studying abroad is a great way to use your financial aid to go somewhere and do what students do; learn! You will be exposed to new ideas and cultures, which will make for some great story telling and great memories. Your mind will be blown away at how much there is to see in the world.

  1. Who wouldn’t want to study in another country?

One of Berkeley Haas’s core values is, Students Always, so why not incorporate that while travelling abroad? I had the opportunity to study abroad in England at the University of Cambridge. I took a linguistics class from a world-renowned linguistic professor, and I was so honored to be in his presence. Knowledge is something every student should always try to gain.

  1. You’ll be independent

Something about being in another country makes me feel vulnerable. Even though I’ve travelled by myself all the time, going to England made me miss my family a million times more than being at Berkeley. But this feeling of vulnerability made me stronger than ever. Independence is a trait that can be learned by studying abroad. Studying abroad also helps because if you ever do feel lonely, there are administrators and faculty who you can always talk to.

Studying abroad is a great alternative to internships because you don’t have to be at an office 40 hours a week, and you are free to experience new things while you’re there. My personal experience studying abroad really helped me realize how much more there is to learn about people and the world. My world became bigger and I felt more aware of everything that occurred around me. I also had a wave of new work opportunities because I studied abroad. I currently work as a brand ambassador for a major travel agency, and it was all because of studying abroad. Studying abroad is an unforgettable experience and a great alternative to internships.

Idris Gettani: Fitness, Faith, and Life Coaching

“If I can’t change the world, I am going to try and change my world” –Idris Gettani

Before the sun rises, Idris Gettani is up and ready to start the day.  After performing the Muslim dawn prayer, he heads straight to the RSF for his daily 6 A.M. workouts. Then he spends the rest of the day studying at Wurster Library and concentrating on his business classes.  This has been the regimented routine of Gettani, a senior at the Haas School of Business and former summer analyst at J.P. Morgan.  Standing amongst the most disciplined and inspiring people in the Haas community, I was eager to learn from this man and see what he was all about. Fortunately, I got the pleasure of interviewing this close friend and mentor of mine in which he shared his passion for self-development, his love for his Muslim identity, and his future goals of becoming a life coach.  I truly appreciated the time that Idris gave me out of his busy schedule, and I hope that reading this interview is beneficial for you just as it was for me.

idris-photo 

Thank you very much for your time, Idris.

My pleasure, Arhum.

Can you start off by telling me about yourself? Who is Idris Gettani?

Well I was born and raised locally in Fremont, CA to North African immigrant parents. Throughout my adolescence, I began to develop three core elements of my life that still stick with me today: body, mind and faith. I transferred to Haas last year in the fall of 2015 from De Anza Community College to further enrich all three of those categories. I am currently in my last year at Berkeley-Haas and much of my life is structured around fitness, because I believe it is an essential part of developing my body, mind, and faith. I try to put a lot of emphasis on fitness and health, because fitness facilitates a way for my lifestyle to be regimented and disciplined. Fitness has even been a big part of my habits academically, and I have found it to have made a significant positive impact on my Berkeley journey.

Now has fitness been an interest of yours before coming to Berkeley or did it recently develop through-out your time here?

It’s something that I’ve always had a fervor for ever since high school, but I’ve come to appreciate it much more since I came to Haas because it helps me take my mind off of all of the academics, recruiting, and daily stresses of being a Haas student.rsf

Tell us something you would want the Haas community to know about yourself that most people don’t know about you.

I would want the Haas community to know that I am constantly trying to improve myself, first and foremost, so that I can be a positive member of society. I am a firm believer that even if I can’t change the world, I am going to try and change my world.  So I really want to improve every aspect of my life whether it’s my body, mind, or faith.  I try to excel in every aspect of these three categories in hopes that by doing that, I can spread positivity in the world.

The Haas School of Business features an extremely diverse student body.  Every student has a unique background and set of experiences that contributes to the richness of the Haas culture.  I want to ask you about what aspect you believe you offer to this profound culture.  What element of yourself do you value the most?

My faith. My Muslim faith is the first priority to me because it defines who I am.  I think it is especially important to me in these times when the president elect is Donald Trump. He is spewing some hateful rhetoric towards Muslims and other minority groups.  I think now is the time more than ever for me to manifest that faith aspect boldly and confidently.  I’ve always looked at faith as something that’s been between me and God, but now I really take it as a personal obligation to show the world that I am a proud Muslim while also trying to be a positive member of society by the good that I do.  I am very grateful to be able to say that I am Muslim and I am a Haas student.

You have also founded a Muslim Business Club on the Haas campus.  What’s that all about?

Well, when I transferred in, I noticed that there was a huge Muslim representation amongst the Haas student population.  Just amongst transfers alone, there were 10 Muslims (as far as I know) that transferred with me out of about 90 people that transferred in total.  That was only amongst transfers.  This motivated me to assemble this unofficial network for Muslim students not only at Haas, but for anyone who is interested in business and wants to connect with Haas students.  It provides students with great resources and information.  Although it’s in its early stages, we currently have 40 members. We have utilized the Facebook group to stay well-connected throughout the year. I have come to learn that there are a lot of Muslims interested in business and I can see that growth potential.  Muslims will be amongst the business leaders in America in the future, and some of them already are; so it’s important to harness that growth and to recognize that Muslims are making immense contributions to the world in business and in society at large.

idris-and-the-brothers

Muslim Haas Seniors

Tell us about when you found out that you got into Haas.  What was that experience like, and what has your journey been like since then?

I was definitely euphoric to find out I got into this school.  It felt great to know that all the hard work paid off.  Those long nights and early mornings and the 20-unit quarters paid off, and I finally reached a long term goal that I had set for myself.  It really pushed me to start setting more goals for myself and start working towards achieving them.  So that was the start of it.  Then I took pre-core the summer before, and it really helped me relax and make amazing friends that I am still close to today.  So that really eased the Haas pressure for me.  That lead me into my junior year relaxed, although it was stressful to catch up to those kids that had done internships in their freshman and sophomore years.  It really took a toll on me that I didn’t get any internships in my first semester at Haas.  My second semester at Haas, I was able to get an internship at JP Morgan in corporate finance.  I did that over the summer.  Now I fast forward to my senior year now, and I am sort of in that similar position where I haven’t found the right job yet, but I feel like my experience of not getting any internships in my junior year has helped me realize that it all ends up working out.  So it’s really helped me not get stressed because I know it will work out.  All I need to do is focus on my part by working hard.  So that’s where I am at right now.

What’s been your favorite class at Haas, and what made it so special?

My favorite class has definitely been UGBA 191P with Cort Worthington.  It’s a leadership and development class.  I think that class is very thought-provoking and it really makes you introspective about your own life and journey.  It forced me to think about my life as a story with me as the narrator.  The energy that you input into the story is the output that you will get.  Before, I used to look at myself as this inferior transfer that needed to keep up, but now I can reshape that story as me being a transfer with a lot of diverse and unique experiences. This class taught me that I need to relish every moment of this journey called life.

What challenges have you faced at Haas, and how have you worked to overcome them?

My biggest challenge has been feeling different from everybody.  I don’t see myself as the person who wants to compete really hard for grades or exhaust myself to get a better internship or position than someone else.  I avoid judging myself based on what other people have or achieved, and I really try to just focus on my own journey.  To overcome that feeling I have of being different, I really make an effort to branch out to other parts of campuses and meet all types of people outside of Haas.  I’ve realized that being part of the Haas experience is also being part of the Berkeley experience.  When you’re at Haas, you’re around a bunch of like-minded folks that are business-minded that are driven to get internships and jobs.  That’s great, but I have also come to value the importance of meeting people in other walks of life that are pursuing disciplines other than business and learn from their experiences.  Also, I think it’s equally important to get that Berkeley experience by taking classes outside of Haas and becoming well-rounded.

What are some of your goals and aspirations for the future?

15 years from now, I want to have invested in myself and equipped myself with valuable skills that will allow me to invest in other people.  I’ve always dreamt of being a life coach who leads people in living successful lives.  I want to help people with all types of backgrounds and give them my take and experiences to help try and guide them in their

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Santiago from The Alchemist

own journey.  I love the book, the Alchemist, and always use the reference from it that I want to “help people pursue their personal legend”.  That is my long-term goal, and right now I want to be able to invest in myself and really improve in every facet of my life in order to be that positive inspiration and mentor for others in the future.

That leads perfectly into my next question! Since you want to be a coach and advisor for people in the future.  As a senior, what advice would you give to the juniors that are still adjusting to life at Haas?

My first advice is to really dwell on your “why” in everything you do.  Like why do you get up in the morning and do what you do? To really think about what your purpose, and think about whether you are doing it for the right reasons. Then think, is that really what you want?  I would encourage people to think about their intentions. Another important thing is to place your life in the context of others.  In other words, to really pull yourself out of that selfish mindset.  To just pop out of that mentality which just focuses on me, me, and me, and really start thinking about others and how you can benefit them.  And then really think about what you want to accomplish in these two years.  They really fly by, so it is crucial to take advantage of the plethora of resources on the Haas campus.  I wouldn’t even say all, but take advantage of the resources that you are most intrigued by.  This is by far the most important aspect.  If you feel like you have an interest in something, but don’t think you have enough time or are capable, at least give it a shot.  If you’re interested in something, I think you should recklessly pursue it because you don’t know where it can lead you.  You will be surprised, and if it is different from everyone else don’t feel deterred because the biggest regret that anyone can have is to say that they “ignorantly followed the herd without thinking for themselves about their own why.”

“Hot Seat” questions:

Favorite quote?

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?

J. Cole

Dream job as a child?

Archaeologist

Favorite childhood TV show?

SpongeBob Square Pants

Favorite Song?

A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke

Favorite book?

The Alchemist

Role model and why?

Malcolm X. He is special to me because he was an emphatic speaker and he fought for what he believed in. Even though a lot of people didn’t agree with what he believed in, they couldn’t help but respect him. He had three key qualities about him that really made him great: logic, rhetoric, and grammar. Those three things are great leadership qualities and I hope to hone in and improve on them myself. He has really inspired me to try my best to emulate his qualities in my own journey to leadership.

Thanks Idris!

Your welcome!

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The Milkmen of the Future: Meet Movebutter

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Featured: Co-Founders of Movebutter. Left: Chai Mishra, CEO; Right: Sebastien Werz, CPO

Former Haas Berkeley students Chai Mishra and Sebastian Werz are determined to transform the way San Franciscans buy groceries. Proud, self-proclaimed “milkmen of the future”, rather than run-of-the-‘bay’ tech moguls, Mishra, CEO and Werz, CPO, are co-founders of Movebutter (2015), a service that provides fresh, customized, high quality and personalized groceries direct from farmers and producers to their members-only food club. With maximum efficiency, zero-waste, and a commitment to giving back to the community, Mishra and Werz are working to change the culture of food marketing. I spoke with Werz about the unique Movebutter brand, his time at Cal, and the contents of his fridge.

“Getting food should be as exciting as consuming it.” Now that’s a philosophy we can all get behind. Werz enthusiastically described Movebutter’s positioning as the first “direct to consumer food brand,” which gives each customer an entirely personalized experience that even includes their names on packing labels. Mishra worked with a farm-to-table coffee company in Germany and his experience inspired him to reach out to Werz to start Movebutter, initially delivering groceries to students in Berkeley which developed into its current closed-membership stage of high quality, customized farm-to-table products to foodies in San Francisco. Movebutter has been funded by some of the greatest investors in Silicon Valley, including Y Combinator, Kima Ventures, and The House Found, to take on the multi-trillion dollar US food market. Customers have also been enthusiastic about the service, using Movebutter for their entire shopping lists. 100% of its users, mostly young professionals, have placed multiple orders through the service. Their special requests are displayed as recommendations on the merchandise homepage which also features such esoteric options as duck eggs and cold cured salmon.

Werz, proud of the Movebutter’s recent move into its new San Francisco office, is optimistic about their growing operations and ability to keep up with demand. With increasing daily orders, Movebutter is satisfying a hole left by our “broken” food systems. “Supermarkets are in the business of blurring the story behind our food” and are extremely wasteful with regard to quantity, cost, and resources, Werz explained.  He and Mishra want to cut out the supermarket middleman that increases costs for the consumer and undercuts the farmers and suppliers just to maximize profits. Movebutter prioritizes conscious coordination, purchase, and consumption of food – no waste, ever.

Maximum utility with zero-waste is taken very seriously at Movebutter. When he can get his hands on a jar, Werz savors their creamy, crunchy peanut butter, but most days he’s too busy managing product goals, designing the next improvement, and working with customer feedback. Ironically sipping Soylent instead of tall, cool glasses of almond milk from Modesto, CA, Werz and Mishra work tirelessly until the “product is at least 20% better than it was the day before.” Quick success and plans to expand to all of San Francisco within the next year mean no distractions, just hard work, motivated by a sincere passion to change the way we interact with our food.

In Movebutter’s first year, Werz had to balance the rigors of Haas studies with the excitement and challenges of launching a new business. The company wound up taking 70% of his time. He knew “people relied on [them] for groceries” and was committed to providing the best experience possible for the customer. Learning about the experiences of his Haas classmates helped him “get better at putting [himself] in someone else’s shoes, which translated to a better understanding of the way [his] customers feel and think.” He is fully dedicated to improvement and innovation.

Werz agreed he was positively influenced by his time at Haas. He characterized his defining principle as “question the status quo,” evident by his “strong interest in taking something completely traditional, tearing it apart into a million pieces, and putting it back together as something completely new and better.” As an enthusiastic entrepreneur, inspired by the idea that “no one can stop you,” because you’re “only limited by [your own] drive and imagination,” he encourages aspiring businesspeople to prioritize a strong co-founding team. The key, he says, is finding people who share the same dedication and determination. He insists that with a solid foundation “it won’t matter how many times the idea changes or how many times you fail if you have a team that keeps moving.”

As a co-founder, CPO, and Haas graduate, Werz is looking forward to an exciting future with Movebutter. There is pride in every label, every photograph, and every delivery (each of which is personally delivered by either Werz or Mishra). They are dedicated to giving their customers the ultimate, customized, freshest marketing experience, even if that involves transporting a live octopus (their most unusual delivery to date).

You can drool over the delicious featured food selections here: movebutter.com. If you’re lucky enough to live in San Francisco, their full-time launch is coming soon!

 

________________

Dana Siegel

Senior Writer

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Consulting Student Profile: Nathan McWilliams

Nathan McWilliams is a senior at the Haas School of Business. He transferred from Berkeley City College, and he has been very successful so far. After starting a business at the age of 16, joining a consulting group on campus in his first year at Haas, and interning at a small consulting firm during Summer, he is now finishing up his classes before starting full-time at Bain & Company in Fall 2017. May his story be your inspiration.
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  1. Tell me a little about yourself.

I am originally from Oakland; I went to Oakland High School, where I graduated early at the end of my Sophomore year when I was 16. At the time, I wasn’t planning on going to college, and I started a video game business with a friend. I ran that business for four and a half years and grew it from startup to just over 500K in revenue. At that point, I realized that the business had started to stagnate— and with it, my life. Coming out of high school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I was really passionate about business, so I went to Berkeley City College for 5 semesters before I transferred to Haas.

  1.  What things did you get involved in with while at Haas?

sssThere is one program that I really loved, and that is Social Sector Solutions. In this program, one undergraduate student joins a team of MBAs to provide consulting services for local non-profits. My team worked on an economic cost report for the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center to calculate how much child abuse costs to the city each year. Although the time commitment was significant— at least 15 hours a week— this experience definitely boosted my Excel, PowerPoint, and public speaking skills, as I was able to work next to very talented and smart MBA students.

  1. What classes did you enjoy the most?

My favorite class was UGBA 115 (Competitive Strategy) with professor Frank Schultz. This class is about high level strategy, so you learn how businesses compete in the marketplace: it’s basically what a CEO does on a daily basis. Lots of group work, phenomenal lectures, long but very interesting papers. Highly recommended.

My second favorite is UGBA 195T, which I am taking right now with Robin Chandra. It’s Alternative Investing: private equity, hedge funds, and venture capital. I took it because I didn’t want to graduate from Haas without knowing what those things were! But I am learning a lot of valuable skills that can be applied to the real world, and guest lecturers are amazing.

  1. How did you find out consulting was right for you?

I came in as a transfer student and I enrolled in the Haas PreCore Program during the Summer. When I transferred I was interested in technology and management in general, but I had no idea about what I wanted to do– and I didn’t really know what consulting was. After I got started at Haas and learned about the ABCs, I started looking into Consulting and Investment Banking. I recruited for both throughout Fall semester, but in the Spring I eventually settled on Consulting for three main reasons.

First, it’s gonna get me to where I wanna go, which is business strategy and management.

Second, I really fit into the culture, and that is important for me. I am among phenomenal people, that I like both on a professional and on a personal level.

Third is the ability to be exposed to many different industries and keep my doors open while I progress toward my final goals of achieving upper management positions within a firm.

  1. How do you feel about recruiting? Feelings, thoughts, advice?

I think I am pretty unique on this because everyone hates it, but I actually kinda liked it. Granted, it is super stressful. I didn’t get any round 1 interview until December. I think it’s a very imperfect system, but it’s also the best I could think of.

In terms of consulting recruiting advice: you should practice case studies a lot in order to do well in the interview. It’s also crucial to have some experience that aligns with strategy consulting. It doesn’t have to be a consulting internship per se, as long as it can align with business strategy.

  1. Can you tell us about your Summer internship?

I interned at a small TMT consulting firm— Tech, Media, and Telecom—in San Francisco. The firm only had about 20 employees, so I felt like I was really doing less of an internship experience and more of a practical experience, because I was doing very real work. I worked on a couple projects, and it was a lot of technical work. One project was on a wireless company that was considering buying another wireless company to get a hold of their frequency spectrum. We had to come up with a valuation for this spectrum. Clearly, I knew nothing about this, and this is representative of consulting. If you’re interested in consulting you should feel comfortable diving into something that you don’t understand and you should be able to learn on the fly and get up to speed with whatever is put in front of you.

  1. What are your plans for the future? You got into Bain, what do you expect? 

I am going to stay at Bain for at least two years. bainThen, if they sponsor my MBA, that would be an opportunity I couldn’t pass on. Regardless, I eventually would like to move on to a management position in a mid-stage startup with a lot of room for growth, like Airbnb. Another option I’d like to explore is private equity. Bain has a strong private equity line and I would love to gain different types of skills before I dive into the management role that I want to have in the long-run.

  1. Any advice you would give to transfer students? What are the additional challenges that we face and how did you approach them?

Continuing students have the advantage of being exposed to different career fields and opportunities early on, when they are still freshmen. Transfer students have only one semester to figure out what continuing students have had two and a half years to gain experience on. On the other hand, there are also advantages of being a transfer. Transfer students often have more real world work experience, they often have been through more difficult situations, and they had to adapt to a changing environment. Many times they also have very interesting stories, so it is up to them to leverage on their strengths.

Thank you.

-Federico Crivelli

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What to Expect in a Non-Technical Role in Tech

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Being students at UC Berkeley, exposed to the tech bubble that is the Bay Area, landing a job or internship at a tech company is a goal for many. We attend information sessions where they provide hungry students with food, free swag, and inspirational talks from employees about the company culture. This past summer, I interned at a large tech company in San Francisco, my first experience in tech. I want to provide my perspective on working in tech, some things to expect, and hopefully help other students decide if tech is the right path for them.

Now to define what tech is (for the purpose of this post): businesses revolving around the manufacturing of electronics, creation of software, computers or products and services relating to information technology. Examples: Amazon, HP, Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, Facebook, the list goes on…From my summer in tech here are some highlights that will give you a more holistic inside look:

Being comfortable with ambiguity

To work in tech, you have to be comfortable with ambiguity and be able to overcome it. Before my internship started, I met with my manager for lunch and he gave me six projects I would be working on throughout the summer, with no clear guidelines. For each project, I had a sentence description I wrote based on the desired outcomes my manager had stated. He told me upfront that he didn’t know how to tackle some of the projects. To excel in this position, I had to reach out to the right people in the right departments, starting on my second day on the job. To complete my projects successfully, it was imperative that I sought out the answers – through self-research, connecting with the right people, and sending google calendar invites like crazy. If ambiguity and the responsibility of truly “owning” your projects excites you, tech may be your calling. 

The only constant is change 

In tech, you are immersed in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment. For example, I woke up one morning in the third week of my internship, finding out that my company had been acquired by Microsoft! This was still surprising to many in the company, mostly in terms of how the partnership would evolve, but this kind of change is definitely not uncommon in tech. Also, you have to be okay with the fact that a project you worked on extensively could be dissolved in a matter of one meeting. Since things are changing rapidly in tech, like innovation, competitor offerings, and external factors, a project you are working on could be extremely relevant one day and obsolete the next. It should also be noted that the average time people are employed at a company now is around two years (especially relevant in tech!). Thus, changes in leadership can also quickly affect business objectives, but usually specific team goals are the most impacted.

Believing and living the company culture 

A big component of any tech company are their internal values and culture. Students want to work for a company that has a vision beyond their service or products, so tech companies emphasize their values and causes to differentiate themselves against the plethora of competitors. While interning this summer, I witnessed the emphasis on values and culture, with one Friday off a month to volunteer or get involved with coworkers. Many events focused on the company values and included all-hands meetings with the CEO and other C-Suite executives.

I believe it is a great thing to work for a company that aligns with your own unique values, but it is hard to sift through every company’s values and determine what is real. I am in the process of recruiting for full-time, and I research various tech companies’ values and they are all very similar if not identical. It makes you question if it’s genuine or just babble to build their brand and get you interested in their company. To get a better understanding of a company’s culture, I urge you to reach out to employees or people you know who work there. This will give you a better view of the company than an inspirational info session.

Free food vs. free gym: The unfair battle   

Most tech companies give you free meals and many other amazing perks, including a gym membership, kitchens stocked with snacks, game rooms to battle coworkers in foosball or ping pong, and happy hours with craft beer. Sounds awesome, right?! Well it is. Many people recognize the “freshman 15” but I think there is a new epidemic: “tech 15.” Although there is a gym in your building with all the equipment, personal trainers and classes you could want, you don’t seem to utilize it as much as the free breakfast, lunch, ice cream, and snacks. If you want to work in tech, be prepared to never be hungry again!

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Life-balance: the secret to stress-free happy days.

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Written by Federico Crivelli, Haas UG Blog Writer

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.  The more things you do, the more you can do.” -Lucille Ball

 

Students are busy— everybody knows that. Trying to juggle endless readings, hefty assignments, group projects, midterms, clubs, and recruiting is no easy task. On top of that, we always hear (and should keep in mind) that we can’t go back to the past, that college years never come back— and should therefore be enjoyed. Practically, this means not only choosing classes and extra-curriculars that interest you, but also trying your best at having a successful social life.

Yes, you read that right: social life. That does not mean networking. It means having some— get ready for it— FUN. I promise, this is not a bad word; so to the editors of this blog post: please don’t censure it! As a student at one of the best undergrad business programs in the world, you are competitive; everyone around you is, too. In these circumstances, it becomes fairly easy to prioritize everything else and forget to enjoy your college experience thoroughly. With this, I am not saying that you should sell your textbooks and buy a one-way ticket to Mexico: just don’t forget to take some time off to let your overheated brain cool down.

With this in mind, for most of us Haas students, it comes down to four or five main responsibilities that we need to handle. Namely, all of us have classes, some of us work, some are in clubs, on and off we’re all recruiting, and we also (should) have some fun in an informal environment.

Now, of course I am not going to tell you what you should do with your life and your time, but what I can do is sharing with you some of the advice that I picked up throughout my journey as a curious foreign kid. When I came to the U.S. everything was insanely hard, because I had to focus more on speaking and understanding English— a foreign language— than on the activity itself. But by asking a lot of questions, listening to a lot of advice, and personally trying out different lifestyles, I have now achieved a balance that makes me enjoy my existence exponentially more than ever before.

If there’s anything that can make my life even more satisfying, it is helping my peers achieve their own balance and their own happiness. So, to conclude, here are my top 3 suggestions to achieve the balance that makes me extremely happy with my less-than-perfect life.

  1. Spend time thinking about yourself.

What do you like? How do you have fun?

Do you enjoy being with other people? Do you value being alone?

What are the smallest things out of an average day that make you happy? Do you recognize their value (this one is important)?

What are your goals? Why do you wake up in the morning?

How do you want to be remembered after you die? How do you want to die?

These are extremely hard questions, and it is human nature to avoid them, especially the most unpleasant ones. But understanding the meaning of your existence is fundamental to understand your goals, your motivation, and which activities you genuinely enjoy.

  1. Learn to prioritize— on a daily basis.

While everything on your schedule is likely to be really really important, learning to discern what is most important (or urgent) will help you live a better life.

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My lock-screen background

My advice when prioritizing is to avoid being rigid. For many students, GPA is the absolute priority, while for some others that’s recruiting. While it is great to know what’s more important to you, make an effort not to be rigid when assigning your priorities, and allow yourself to determine them on a daily basis. In order to achieve the right balance, you need to find the right compromise between the willpower to get important things done and the flexibility to prioritize what is more urgent in that moment.

 

Always keep in mind your end goals, and every day choose to invest your time in the things that you believe can maximize returns in the long-run. This type of flexibility helps me keep clear from stress while still getting all my work done, so give it a try!🙂

To sum up, discern what’s most important out of every day by learning to listen to your body, trusting your instincts, and also asking other people’s opinion: even if you disagree with them, you’d be surprised how much others can help you figure out your own thoughts.

  1. Work comes before play.

I spent enough time stressing the importance of incorporating time off into your schedule, but do keep in mind that relaxing and having fun should also be a way to reward yourself for being a diligent and committed student.

In fact, learning to prioritize also means being able to sacrifice. As my coach taught me, “nothing really worth having comes without struggle.” You need to be able to recognize what things are most important in order to achieve your goals and to prioritize them above anything else. Thus, that additional hour of sleep, that night out with your buddies, and that afternoon of laziness should only come after you are confident that you can reasonably take care of your duties. Working hard to get your job done should give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.

So give yourself some credit for how much you have already achieved so far. Spend time with your friends; pay attention to the great things that are happening to you; and don’t ever forget your purpose.

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Haas Students Win Japan Case Competition

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Written by Arhum Ali, Haas UG Blog Writer

Congratulations Team Synergy!

The 2016 Audi Global Business Case Competition sponsored by Audi Japan took place in Beppu-Ōita earlier this month.  Student teams gathering from China, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States came to compete and solve some of the most complex business problems.  Four of our very own incredible UC Berkeley students stole the spotlight as they represented the Haas School of Business. Mitchell Quon, Sophie Wan, Grace Ma, and Angela Wang are the Haas names that led Team Synergy to be crowned the global champions of this annual competition.  Not only did they represent our school, but they also represented the United States.

Fortunately, I was able to interview Mitchell Quon about his amazing experiences in Japan. Here is my conversation with him:

Thank you very much for giving us your time Mitchell.

My pleasure, Arhum.

You must be really excited to have brought the gold back home. Let’s start off by talking about the team name.  What was the inspiration behind “Team Synergy” and how did your team come up with that?

It was sort of a play on consulting roles in general. In consulting, synergy is a very popular buzz word so we just wanted to have fun with the name, but at the same time we realized that synergy is an important aspect to any sort of team and we really wanted to represent that element when we went for the competition.

Can you tell me a little bit about your team? What made the four of you unique from other teams?

What made our team unique is that all of us brought very different elements of strengths. We worked really well together because we looked out for each other and wanted to make sure we all felt part of the team. It was nice that no one felt the need to dominate the team, and we all shared ideas with one another allowing us to cooperate well with each other. We were really open with one another and that enabled us to perform at our best. What made our team enjoyable is that we were are all easy-going people, and that took a lot of the pressure off of us since we did not feel like we had to outperform each other. That really allowed us to be our best.  That’s really what helped us be successful at the end.

Cases can be extremely rigorous and perplexing.  People spend hours on top of hours trying to sharpen their case studying skills.  Your team went to an international competition where some of the top students were competing.  What type of preparation did Team Synergy do beforehand?

The way the preparation process works is that after you audition and are selected for the team, the Haas undergraduate office has practice cases set up for your team before the competition.  Prior to the competition, we met every other week on Saturdays to do case studies at Haas for five hours each time. We would then present our findings to the undergraduate team to improve our skills.  We did this from the beginning of the school year to October, and our final case was a full 24-hour case. That was the week before we went out to Japan. At first we didn’t really know each other, and doing these practice case studies definitely helped us learn more about each other and helped us perform well and be creative. The undergraduate office also really showed us what to learn, how to create a story, and use a person to convey findings. Being able to utilize those two tips gave us confidence in the competition.

For consulting and case competitions it is crucial to know how to structure your thoughts in an organized way and be able to communicate different elements in structured arguments. People have different ideas and have varying ways of going about them, but if you don’t go about them in a structured and orderly way, it will be hard for the team to know what issues need to be addressed.  For case competitions, you do not need to worry if you have case competition experience or not.  I didn’t, but I got the opportunity through my classes and organizations to do case competition simulations beforehand and discuss how to solve problems.

What was the most enjoyable part of the trip for you personally?

Three things I enjoyed about the trip was the case competition itself, exploring Japan and meeting various types of people. The competition was enjoyable as it really challenged me and the team to think outside of the box. When we first came to the competition, we did not have too many expectations and were not sure how we would perform.  Yet practicing before helped us create synergy within our team and allowed us to think critically under pressure and hash out what we needed to be successful. We spent a lot of time coming up with a storyboard at the hotel and had sticky notes everywhere. We felt challenged not just from a case perspective but as a team to work together in the time given to us.  That’s a rare and valuable experience that you can bring into the business world.

We didn’t go to the main parts of Japan that people usually visit.  Instead we visited down south and saw traditional cultural elements of Japan.  The people in Japan are accommodating and kind.  The food is amazing! you can get top quality sashimi for half the price there, and Japan is known for their bath houses. The bath house was cool and were bath/sauna fusion. Moreover, you go in with no clothes which was interesting. It was really unique being able to experience cultural differences and visiting the cities with these really tiny shops.  It says a lot about the culture.

The people that I met were from the other teams, and they were from nine different countries so I had the opportunity to bond, learn, and see different perspectives of the world.

I remember sitting next to someone from Thailand and we had a deep political conversation.  Despite that, being able to have perspectives from different parts of the world was amazing and all of the participants were together even though we came from different places, we were brought together by competition, and regardless of who won we were all going to be friends and bond together.

Tell us about the moment the team found out that they are the champions.  What was everyone’s reaction?

The way that they announced the winners is that they went backwards from second runner up to first runner up to winners. At the ending ceremony, they would announce the place of the team, and there would be speech from faculty of the schools and they would discuss the highlights of the teams and the school. What happened however is that they screwed up the slides and they only went through second runner, runner up and went so far ahead by mistake they said we won 10 minutes early and we found out accidentally when we saw our picture come across the PowerPoint slide.  We were surprised because we did not have any expectations.  I mean we did not even think we would get past preliminary rounds.  When we saw we got first place, we were in complete shock and were very excited. We did our best and gave it our all. To see our hard work pay off was great and to be able to see all things come to fruition.  Our presentation we gave to the judges was something everybody liked and to be able to represent Haas, who hasn’t won a first place in a long time in a global competition and bring victory home to the United States was a very humbling and rewarding experience.  We were very thankful.  We felt we helped Haas and the country by making them proud.

Can you tell me one word that you would use to describe this entire trip in its entirety?

The word to describe the experience is humbling, and the reason for that is I had the most brilliant and talented teammates I could imagine.  All three of them are just incredible people.  Angela was the oldest who took the leadership role, generated ideas, and figured out what we needed to get done whether it was financial analysis and writing the recommendations themselves. Grace who was the youngest had a ton of experience with case competitions, and she could make decks really well.  Sophie came from the same consulting organization as me, she was the president, and I was only an analyst.   Because of that she had a ton of experience with consulting projects to start with.

Because I was surrounded by so many talented people, it really challenged me to rise up to the occasion and perform up to the high standards of our team.  Being in another country, being in an unfamiliar environment, and being able to experience a new place took me out of my comfort zone.  I have never been in Asia before, and being in a place where English was not the main language, and experiencing a different culture, whether it be food or bath houses forced me to get used to it and break out of my comfort zone.  Meeting people from other countries and learning about the background of their country, and what their perspectives were on life and the world made me realize what I take for granted by living in America whether it be economical, educational, or career opportunities.  I have so much here and people from other countries want to come here since they see it as a land of opportunity.  Having these conversations with them and seeing what they thought about life humbled me and made me realize I have so much here in America.

Really appreciate your time Mitchell!

Thank you, Arhum!

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