Student Profile: Giving Back With Corey Lowe

Today we have for you Corey Lowe! Corey is a newly minted junior at the Haas School of Business and a Regents’ & Chancellor’s Scholar at UC Berkeley. He is aspiring to build a career in marketing within the tech industry and hopes to one day become a Professor to help guide future students.

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Featured today is Berkeley Haas junior Corey Lowe.

He is a member of the social media team for UC Berkeley, helping to promote the university through Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. He participates in Imagical, a consulting group sponsored by HBSA, with hopes of winning the National Student Advertising Competition this year. He is also an MBA and Alumni Committee Associate for HBSA.

So tell us about your background and your path to Berkeley Haas.

C. Lowe – If you would’ve told me two years ago that I’d be a student at Berkeley Haas I wouldn’t have believed you. At the time I was working as a Sales Associate at Target and taking classes when I met a person named Juluo Decastro. He told me what he wanted to do in school and I was like “wow this guy seems like he’s on a great path.” I joined the same extracurriculars as him, such as Economics Club, and subsequently quit Target to become more involved in school. I was also fortunate enough to meet a professor at Chabot College who really believed in my potential and encouraged me to pursue opportunities that seemed out of reach. I didn’t want to let him down so I must have put 50 hours into my application. Having this experience is what sparked my interest in volunteering and paying things forward to other students though mentoring.

So tell us more about the kind of volunteering you are doing?

C. Lowe – This semester I’ve spent about 70 hours mentoring other students, both continuing students at Berkeley looking to get into Haas, and prospective students through the Starting Point Mentorship Program. I’m currently a board member for the Chabot Las-Positas Measure B Committee which ensures $500M in bond money is used equitably for capital improvement. Among other things I’ve volunteered for Cal Hacks, picked up 700 individual pieces of litter through the Berkeley Project, and did my part in the fight against hunger through an organization called RePlate. But my main commitment has been mentoring, since I like interacting with my mentees one on one and developing a close friendship.

It sounds like you’re really interested in giving back, would you say that public service is a personal commitment of yours?

C. Lowe – I would! I didn’t quite understand the power of giving back when I was in high school, but I discovered the significance of community service when I was tutoring a girl named Joanna. Joanna was a fourth grader, an English as a Second Language student, and extremely energetic. Every time we read together, she would get up randomly and walk over to a table where there were spirit week items. She would put on gigantic blue glasses and a small hat and say “look at my teeny hat!” I was only supposed to tutor her for one semester, until winter break, but when that time came, I knew I couldn’t leave her. Her father had been deported. I tutored her until eventually, the non-profit that was running the program at her school closed its operations. Today I still have her paper purple mitten ornament she made me for Christmas, on the back it says “Corey, you are the funniest of all the reading partners.”

Thats a powerful story Corey and I think a lot of students want to ‘make the world a better place’ but developing relevant skills is important too, has volunteering helped you build any business related skills?

C. Lowe – Definitely, I spoke to about 100 perspective Haas students through a lot of the events I participated in, including an event that I set up at my own community college.

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Corey Lowe. Mentor. Communicator. Champion.

Creating this platform gave me the opportunity to help 30 prospective students interested in business. Those events have helped me improve my public speaking and storytelling skills as I had the chance to speak in front of tons of people at events and share my story. Communicating with people is a largely underestimated skill, but if you do it well, it can take you to a ton of opportunities.

With the next class of business students eagerly awaiting their admission letters, what advice would you offer to those not yet convinced of the impact that public service has on the community?

C. Lowe – I’m sure that since these students are at Berkeley or want to be at Berkeley, they must have done community service before. Now, doing it is important, but also reflect back on what you did, how you felt about it and then why you did it. I chose business because I think it’s one of the greatest vehicles that you can use to make a positive impact on society. I hope that the next class of business students understand this, and want to do good both for themselves and their community. Like our ethics professor Alan Ross says, “Do the right thing and everyone can do well… And be ethical dammit.”

Well thanks a lot for your time Corey, good luck with finals and enjoy the winter break!  

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The Difference Between Movement and Progress

The following is my perspective on (what I believe to be) the biggest problem with students at Haas.

At Haas, we don’t seem to understand the difference between movement and progress.

I’ll explain. Imagine you are hiking up a mountain. If your strategy to get to the top of this mountain was to simply move, well then you’d have a lot of options. You could zig-zag up the mountain, you could crawl, you could roll, you could walk on your hands. Maybe if you waved your arms in the sky, someone flying a helicopter would see you and offer you a ride to the top. Or perhaps you could Zumba your way up the mountain; we can get creative here.

My point is that by simply moving, you could potentially be expending an enormous amount of energy doing absolutely nothing. You are not making any progress. For my finance geeks out there, your progress to energy ratio is 0.

On the other hand, to make progress up this mountain, you would probably follow some path or trail, or carve out your own, and soon you would be at the top.

Too often at Haas, we believe that by doing as much as possible, we are making progress. By being the VP of (insert random department) in 3 clubs, participating in 4 case competitions, teaching a DeCal, and taking 20 units, we are accomplishing something…right?

*inhale* Wrong.

To be fair, it’s not entirely our fault. We were conditioned to be this way. In high school, in order to stand out among our peers, we participated in a bunch of extracurriculars, we took on any leadership position we could find, we took a plethora of random honors and AP classes to boost our GPAs. In millennial speak, we were “doin’ too much”.

In order to get into Haas, we did the same thing, joining clubs and doing nearly everything we could to make it clear to the admissions officers that we were all business. And therefore, for almost our entire lives, we have been frantically adding as many different lines to our resume as possible.

Stop. Instead of running around trying to pick up every penny you find, now is the time to walk with a little bit of purpose towards the bank.

In order to make progress in your career, or in your life, I believe that you must have some sort of direction. Time is the most valuable currency you have, and you should devote your time to things that will help you progress, rather than just filling up your time with movement.

If you are interested in marketing, then find marketing internships; start a business and try to market your product; find ways to market yourself better by networking. If you get an opportunity to participate in a finance case competition, or to be the VP of Food and Beverages or Secretary of Club Apparel in some random organization – say no if that isn’t the direction that you want to go. Be patient and find the best opportunities. Be judicious with the opportunities that you accept, as well as with the ones that you deny. Have some sort of plan in the back of your mind. I believe it is more impressive to have a few meaningful, committed experiences in roles related to your interests, rather than a laundry list of meaningless positions.

This not only helps your story when you are interviewing, as well as the flow of your resume; it also gives you a lot more free time. Use that free time to go do something worthwhile and something that could help you make progress in your personal life, like learning how to surf, playing guitar, or maybe even socializing.

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Saim Ali: Wells Fargo Investment Banker

Saim Ali is a senior at the Haas School of Business.  Born and raised in Southern California, he transferred to UC Berkeley from Mount San Antonio College and began his journey in investment banking.  After struggling for months to find an internship, he was able to lock one down at Stifel.  He did not receive a return offer from them because they did not have any openings.  So then his full-time hunt began, in which he received an investment banking offer at Wells Fargo.  This interview will be especially beneficial to those who are searching for investment banking opportunities or those who want to transition smoothly into the Haas School of Business as transfers. Enjoy!

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Saim Ali, thank you for your time.

 It’s my pleasure.

 Can you start off by telling me a little bit about yourself?

I’m from a town called Chino Hills in Southern California where I was born and raised for twenty years of my life.  I went to Mt. SAC community college for two years which is located in Walnut California, and I completed my requirements there.  Then I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity of transferring to UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.  Right away when I got here, I knew investment banking was going to be my path since it offered an array of experiences. So I jumped right into recruiting for internships last year, and I was able to land a position at a middle-market bank called Stifel. It took a lot of patience and persistence, but by the end of spring, I finally got the internship.  Had an amazing experience there, and then I recruited for full-time this fall and will be joining Wells Fargo for that.wells-fargo

Great! What advice would you give to incoming transfers for them to transition smoothly?

The advice that I would give is that they should start thinking about the careers they want to get into because although they got into Haas and they are really excited about that, the hard work needed only increases from there.  People need to realize that life does not magically become easier once you enter Haas.  This, “We made it” type of mentality that transfers come in with can really hinder their opportunities. Instead, they need to think about the next step forward because that will make their transition much easier.  It will also make it much easier if they have an internship the summer before coming into Haas so they have a stronger resume and more experiences. It’s extremely crucial to have your resume and cover letter ready and reviewed before coming in because recruiting season starts within the first weeks of the semester.  Haas students are very helpful so you can always send them those documents to review.  I also think before coming into Haas they should start networking with professionals from the field they want to go into, as well as with Haas students just to get advice on the recruiting process and ask about the adjustments, coursework, and stuff like that so their transition is easier.

What do you think is the best way to go about getting that position?

First and foremost is to not be discouraged. I think it’s a learning process, and failure is a part of that process.  Rarely do you ever hear of someone who comes in and gets there dream position on the first try.  You also barely hear of anyone walking out of their Haas graduation without any position.  So being hopeful throughout the process is necessary. You may be having a tough time getting the position, but have conviction that you will come out with something as long as you stay persistent.  I went through a lot of interviews, and I failed over and over again and didn’t get calls. Each failure was a step to success, and I think I was learning along the way.  I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice so that’s one of the big things.   Be persistent and optimistic about the process.  Each interview is a fresh new start.  If you have a bad interview, it will not roll over into the next interview. 56863359-failure-equals-opportunity-classroom-board

On top of that, one of the main things is don’t limit your job outlook to Handshake.  It is super important to branch out to great resources such as LinkedIn.  Try connecting with people who are where you want to be to learn about how they like it.  These conversations can go a long way. This was the case with both my internship and full-time process.  I reached out to people, and they were very helpful and generous in connecting me to the recruiting process.  They told us in the Haas orientation that Handshake has less than 10 percent of the jobs that are out there. So definitely apply on Handshake, but also look outside of it.

You will soon be graduating; how will you look back at your Haas experience?

I definitely learned the most in the shortest amount of time when I came to Berkeley.  It really launched me into the professional world and taught me a lot about the professional environment, but then I also gained skills here that I couldn’t gain anywhere else. Now I think about everything from a business point of view which is very interesting because I never thought like that before.  Haas was just such a great place for me to build relationships not only with employers but also with fellow classmates.  I would say that is probably the most important thing I am taking away from this institution.  The relationships I have formed here are going to be life-lasting, and I really value everyone I have met.  That’s also very helpful to have in the future when we are working.  It’s nice to know that there is a strong network even then.

Thank you for participating in this interview.

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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.


12031382_10153116452683483_811440323665515544_o                                                                                                                                             Photo courtesy of Soo Song
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.

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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.

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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!

You’re 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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