Happy Holidays!

The end of the first semester and the three week long school vacation has brought some well deserved free time for us all. As I was driving on the gorgeous 17 mile drive a couple of days ago, my thoughts went back to the semester starting with orientation weekend in August and all the fun we’ve had over the last few months getting to know each other. Now this being the holiday season and all, I had to pull over by the scenic road-side and break into a song, which, from what I can recollect, had a carol-like ring to it and went something like this:

As an exciting first semester is drawn to a close,
You feel the passage of time, as it dramatically slows.
And you remember the day, not so very long ago,
You said yes to Haas, and then downed a Bordeaux,
Not knowing how you’d manage your precious time,
As you said your vows, to the MBA part-time.

The memories of the orientation weekend play in your head,
Those new faces you smiled at, the accents you misread.
Shooting the tennis-balls at your team’s architectural wonder,
Heaving a sigh of relief, as the Chateau refused to go under.
The Coors case analysis, right after that delectable dinner,
You knew right then, in Haas, you’d chosen a winner.

For your first group assignment, in the “Leading People” class,
You interviewed accomplished leaders, without a safety glass.
Studying supply demand and game theory in Economics course,
Made the engineer in you, love the dark side of the force.
Accounting made you delve closer into your investments-stocks
Those financial statements, after all, weren’t a complete black-box.
And you loved Marketing, in all its great glory,
For it taught you there was a method, to selling a story.

As you look forward to a year, brand new,
You know you’ve bid that initial fear adieu.
And you catch yourself smiling in your clairvoyant mirror,
For you know that the destination is so much nearer.

Happy Holidays everyone and see you all next semester!

Introduction, Giants, Elections …

Wow, those are some great introductions. Welcome Archit, Jennifer and Joann. You guys have a fun few years of blogging in front of you, savor every minute of it (Uhh…that’s probably my senioritis kicking in).

Here’s my brief intro keeping with the introduction season. My name is Divyang Agrawal (Div). I started my 3rd year this fall and am hoping to graduate next year. When I started school back in ‘08, one of my goals was to really enjoy the Haas experience, academic and more importantly the amazing world outside of academia. In the past 26 months I’ve lived my goals by engaging in a variety of endeavors. From being the editor of eZine, the EWMBA magazine, to running for office as an executive member of the EWMBA association; from taking voluntary consulting assignments to finding myself stranded on the beach after a late night “field expedition”. Haas is now a part of my life, and my family’s life, what with my son being born 3 days before the Core Finance Exam. Now that was some timing. I should add that my first year Finance Prof was very understanding 🙂 If I ramble more it’s going to sound like a retirement speech and there’s still time for that so let’s move on.

So I have classes Wed (Corporate Finance, which incidentally has a midterm next week) and Sat (Negotiations). Today, the Negotiations class was in South Bay allowing me to watch the entire NLCS Game6 after a short ride back home. The Giants really tried to make things difficult for themselves but finally came through. I am not a big baseball follower. Back in 2002 when the Giants last entered the World Series, I didn’t really appreciate the game having come to the US less than a year earlier. Over the years I started understanding some of the nuances but most recently I think it’s the sweeping Giants fever that has just made me a convert.

The Giants are celebrating today and hopefully they’ll be celebrating even more in another 2 weeks. The upcoming midterm elections will also have quite a people celebrating by that time. Our own Haas EWMBA Association election winners will only get to celebrate by 2nd week of November though. Every year the Haas student community elects its four executive officers (President, VP, Treasurer and Secretary). This year’s slate is now out and we have 10 candidates in the fray. Good luck to all of them. For my fellow bloggers, make sure to vote once the elections open next week. This is a great tradition and these 10 people have stepped up to challenge the status quo and make a difference in our Haas experience. Please encourage your friends, project mates, classmates to exercise their franchise and choose the next executive team at Haas. And don’t be surprised if some of these candidates show up for campaigning in your next class!

The third musketeer

You know, for the longest time, I had been living with a deep dark secret. It had been tough dealing with the innumerable life-threatening situations and all those psychotic villains with their clichéd jabs about my get-up. Thanks to the economy, I was behind on my auto and home payments, and not a day went by when the bank forgot to send me a foreclosure notice. Cutting down on my health-food to save money saw me put on a few pounds, and rendered my precious belt completely unusable. Now if you take a look at my car, home and my belt, you’d see how much pain separation from them could cause someone. Even my loyal butler decided to part ways with me. That’s when I decided I needed a new career; being Batman no longer seemed the right fit for me at my point in life. And I knew Haas would be the step towards that. Sorry it had to be this way, Robin – I can write your recommendation though if you too decide to apply to Haas.

Now since you all believe me with all your sincerity, let me introduce the man behind the get-up. The name’s Lohokare, Archit Lohokare (that surely sounded a lot cooler in my head). And what follows next is a copy-paste from my Match.com profile. Well, not really.

By day, I am a technical sales consultant in security software for IBM Corporation. After my bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from NTU, Singapore, I joined a young Silicon Valley startup, Encentuate, which was acquired by IBM in 2008. At Encentuate, I was fortunate enough to perform diverse roles in engineering, support, professional services and technical sales. I absolutely adore startups and technology, so here’s a big shout-out to all you startuppers out there. I’d love to hear more and write about you and your startup!

Before ending up in Silicon Valley, I’ve lived in several places in India, spent seven years in Singapore, a year in a number of European countries and 2 years in New York City. Besides being a source of some amazing experiences, this nomadic lifestyle has helped me perfect the art of faking stupor and appearing clueless in a new place.

Not to burst your bubble, but I’m not really Batman and I don’t really have a bank breathing down my neck. So let me come clean about my reasons to join the EWMBA program at Haas. To me, Haas is at the epicenter of the unique Silicon Valley technology startups phenomenon. It has a rich history of nurturing entrepreneurship and the philosophy of ‘challenging the status quo’. The versatility and diverse experience of my classmates has only reinforced my idea of what to expect at Haas. And I can’t stop raving about our professors – never have I seen such engaging teaching. I could go on.

So here I am. I am super excited to write about YOUR and my Haas experience over the next couple of years. So feel free to get a hold of me in school or drop me an email. I’m all ears. Cheers!

Please allow me to introduce myself…

I’m Jennifer Caleshu, and I’m one of the new first year EWMBA bloggers.

I’ve spent my entire career working in cultural non-profits, which is a fairly atypical path for an MBA student. I’ve produced live theater, chosen the films for an art-house movie theater, and marketed a children’s museum. I’m passionate about real experiences – the kinds of non-virtual, in-person experiences that are by definition unique – only happening at that particular place and time. I have a degree in Human Biology with a focus on Issues of Adolescence from Stanford (don’t hold it against me!). I always joked that the adolescence part came in handy when working with actors, but in truth, I never really used much of the knowledge gained in the major. Instead, I graduated and took an unpaid artistic internship at American Conservatory Theater, and never looked back!

But a couple of years ago, I started thinking about graduate school. When you don’t have a business background (I’ve never taken any sort of business class before this!), you learn on the job. And to paraphrase the well-known book, “what got you here won’t get you there.” My career goals include being the executive director of a cultural institution, but on-the-job knowledge isn’t always enough to gain the kind of strategic planning, financial acumen, and operational chops to help an institution reach its highest capacity. Many non-profit managers choose masters in arts administration, but I wanted to keep my options open. I’m passionate about the double-bottom-line (mission and profits), and knew the knowledge gained would apply to a wide variety of non-profits, and be transferable should I ever choose to go to the “for-profit” side.

So over the holidays last winter, I decided to take the plunge and apply for an MBA. As the breadwinner in my family (my husband is a stay-at-home dad to our two children, Cole age 5, and Rae, age 2), I knew I wanted to keep working, and I was committed to staying in the Bay Area. So Haas EWMBA was the best choice, and here I am! I’m in the Blue cohort, so I take class on Mondays & Wednesday evenings, and I commute from Sausalito where I work at the Bay Area Discovery Museum.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with the readers of the blog – and hearing the perspectives of my fellow bloggers. Please feel free to email me or comment here with any questions!

One month into fall…

Summer got over in a flash and Fall Semester’s already a month in. It’s starting to kick in that the promised land of graduation is really a few corners around.

One of the classes I took in the spring was Competitive Strategy. Btw, this is going to be a “core” class starting class of 2013 (it’s already a “core” class for the FT-MBA program). For my 2nd year colleagues, I would strongly recommend taking this elective as it helps tie together most if not all of the different functional areas covered during core (Micro, Macro, Finance, Accounting…). It was a semester long class, entirely case based. We evaluated how companies tried to gain and sustain competitive advantage, and analyzed moves made by companies such as MSFT, INTC, AAPL, WMART, etc. Over the summer I got a great opportunity to apply some of these concepts in a project I did with one of the top tech companies in the Bay Area, with their corporate strategy team. Two things helped me get this assignment, contacts with Haas alums and the Haas brand. It was a crazy busy summer with work kicking up a notch and the strategy assignment taking as much time as regular school.

The fall classes are off to a steady start but there’s a lot going on campus as well. For instance, the final Haas@work engagement before the program becomes a “3-credit” class starting spring has generated some debate. On the plus side, semester long commitment will give participants enough time to not only thrash ideas but also actively engage in the execution phase. On the other side of the debate is the loss of one of “free” programs. Regardless of the debate the program itself brings a lot of value (I was involved in a Haas@Work engagement this past spring).

The EWMBA Association events are also picking up and we have a packed schedule of Academic, Social, Alum and Career Services activities. Just completed our mid-year kick-off where each of the committees presented a mid-term report card. It’s amazing to see the level of commitment from the folks who’ve stepped up to drive the association and help make a difference during our stay at Haas. This is despite balancing family, school and work lives. A big shout out for them.

More on EWMBAA in the next post as we prepare for our annual elections coming up in November….

Spring break and more…

Spring break was much needed R&R. Went to Mendocino with the family for a few days. No TV, no Internet, no Cell-phone, no Computer. I think last time I was this removed from the “normal” life for more than a couple of days was when my son was born. Although that certainly did not qualify as R&R 🙂
We got a vacation rental just South of Mendocino on CA-1. Here are a couple of pictures taken from inside the house, at 3 AM and 3PM. Breathtaking view, not for nothing is the California Coastline the envy of all and sundry.
Back in the world of fun and frolic things picked up right away. My Comp Strategy group has a Case write up due Wed and am gonna review the case for my Sunday AM meeting as soon as I post this. I also wrapped up one of my 1-unit classes the week before the break. This was my first class with the FT program. Btw, EW students can apply to the classes on the FT schedule and are admitted depending on availability..
On the non-academic front, the EWMBA Association had a kick-off meeting since my last post. And like Tim, I forgot to capture all the energy in the room despite having a camera in my backpack. If you’re curious, there are 8 functional committees in the association which drive various student government activities with the help of the Program Office and the Executive Committee (Pres, VP, et al). Some of these activities are Technology adoption in the program, Communication, Admissions support, Alumni outreach, etc. It was a successful event and a great networking opportunity over some pizzas and presentations.
Six Weeks and counting for the Summer Break. (Although for our third year classmates this is more than your usual break, no?)

The Start of A New Semester

It sounds like Deanne and Tim had awesome trips. I went to Hong Kong and Macau too and stuffed myself silly with tons of good food, but didn’t manage to bump into Tim.

I also finished reading a book during break (something I don’t normally do if it’s not a book listed in my syllabus for the semester) and to get my car tuned up for commuting this semester.

While the first year evening folks have already been in classes for the last few weeks, my first class isn’t until this Thursday. I’ve signed up for Pricing and Entrepreneurship (and yes, reading our blog has made me realize it’s going to be a busy semester). The relaxing part of January is going to be over soon as I start reading case studies again.

Also, as Tim mentioned, we have new executive team members (including our very own Div), so I’m busy planning the upcoming EWMBAA Leadership Appreciation Dinner for last year’s hard working volunteers as well as planning for the transition meeting to hand off everything to the new President. It’s amazing to think how quickly the last year passed by and how many academic, social, and other events have taken place. I will definitely cherish the memories of being part of the EWMBAA leadership team and hope many of you reading this might consider volunteering once you become part of Haas.

Power, Influence, Dating

The last few weeks and weekends have felt like a whirlwind. So much has happened.

There was the usual work, sleep, and commute. And on the weekends, I found myself in Berkeley for a plethora of events. I went to the Building Your Brand seminar (Great stuff!) and walked away with a ton of things to do to help manage my brand.

As President of the Evening and Weekend MBA Association (EWMBAA), I, along with my fellow executive team members, hosted the Mid-Year EWMBAA Leadership Meeting (photos here at: http://www.haasewmbaa.com/). The meeting was packed with presentations from the Executive Team, Haas Alumni Network, and EW program office, followed by a breakout session where we ate yummy cake, and then more presentations by each committee to share their upcoming goals and plans for the fall semester.

And then last weekend, while juggling studying for midterms (yes, it’s midterm time already for some of us), I attended another Leadership Development Series seminar. At this point in my time at Haas, I may be trying to soak up everything I can before graduation in May. This is no time for regret – I’m going to make sure I don’t miss anything! This seminar was taught by Professor Cameron Anderson, one of the top professors in the area of Organizational Behavior. Cameron Anderson spoke about Power and Influence and discussed topics about scarcity and reciprocity. When things are scarce, we have a tendency to want it more. One study he mentioned tested toddlers who were given two equally desirable toys. However, once one toy was placed under plexi-glass, that toy became more desirable and these were toddlers who could only crawl – they couldn’t even walk or speak. We had an interactive exercise where we discussed more concepts that affect our influence, and of course, one student asked whether or not these concepts worked outside the work world – specifically when dating. And fortunately for us, many skills are transferable. Indeed, these things do work when it comes to dating.

So for all you single folks out there, remember, business school concepts can be used in multiple facets of your life. Now doesn’t that make it a particularly worthy investment? 🙂

Back and trying to get over the first year hangover…

It’s officially autumn and we’re already a month into the fall term for the 2nd/3rd years. And I thought 1st year flew by 🙂

I am a 2nd year student, used to be a Gold (Tue/Thu) last year although this year I have a combination of evening and weekend electives. Part of the reason for my switch is that work has become more hectic and I can’t take off early as often. I work with a South Bay based Hi Tech company as an engineer/technical manager. Another factor for this transition was that during the 1st year I found myself missing more than a few events during the weekdays. I am hoping to alleviate this with my weekend classes this fall.

Taking 4 classes in the fall, although it’s still a net of 6 credits. The good part is that the classes are staggered so that at no point of time I have to manage all four simultaneously. In fact I’ve only been balancing managerial accounting past few weeks. M&A and Risk Management start next weekend while Designing Financial Models won’t start for another 4 weeks.

I have also been involved in a few extra-curricular activities at Haas since my first year. I am a co-chair of the EWMBAA communications committee and am one of the editors of the eZine, the EWMBA newsletter. While I was apprehensive about whether I’d be able to manage this additional involvement during 1st year, in hindsight it was great to be a part of the thriving EWMBA student government. Folks involved in this effort work hard to make our experience as EWMBA students better. My colleagues find time from their busy lives and drive initiatives to improve our experience as Haas students, whether it’s academic or social or technological or …you get my drift. EWMBAA elections are around the corner and my suggestion to the first years is to try and get involved. At the very least, see if you can volunteer for one of the committees.

In one of my previous posts I promised to compile my top-n experiences from the 1st year. Here’s my top5 aha moments from the 1st year, in no particular order.

  • Communications Class: Experience of a life-time! This two-Sunday class was an ice-breaker and helped our cohort really connect with each other. Prof Rittenberg and his GSI’s were great.
  • Workshops: Haas Career Services organizes more than a hundred workshops over the course of an academic year. Some of these are soft-skill workshops (work-life balance) while others are hard-core quant/excel domain workshops like “Training the Street” focused on financial modeling for valuation/LBO/M&A etc.
  • Parties/Henrys/Jupiter/Bennigans: Our cohort had an end-of-the-year party in the city. Good old-fashioned bar-hopping/clubbing through the night. At various times we sneaked out to Henrys during the class break. Or shared a laugh after class in the South Bay shuttle and finally ended up at Bennigans at 11 in the night after a long day. Work hard, play very hard!
  • Course Projects: Almost half of my first year courses had group projects. Good opportunity to work with a diverse set of smart people. We accomplished a lot but more importantly built long lasting relationships.
  • Not just surviving, but smelling the roses: Work, school(academics+extracurriculars), partying, family(first-baby!), I’m glad to have not just survived, but enjoyed every moment of it.

    …until later,


Grillin’ & Chillin’

There’s nothing like a BBQ to indicate that summer is really here. The EWMBA Association (EWMBAA) sponsored a BBQ at Coyote Point in San Mateo last week. That means that students from the EWMBAA Social Committee organized the event location, volunteers, food, etc.

It was sunny weather with a strong breeze.
There were the usual hot dogs and hamburgers and lots of refreshing beverages for all to enjoy. It was a great way for families to spend some time together, for the kids to play on the huge play structure, and for fellow students to catch up.

To start off the event, the class of 2010 held a soccer match, part of the South Bay vs. San Francisco Battle that has been ongoing between students – sometimes its poker, sometimes its flag football, but today, it was soccer. Amy, our EWMBAA secretary, was out there representing the ladies and she really kicked some butt, even knocking down one of the guys! Go Amy!!

Thanks for organizing EWMBAA Social Committee! A fun time was had by all.