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!

May we Live in Interesting Times…

This has been one heck of week. The current editors (including yours truly) of the eZine, the Haas EWMBA Magazine, bowed out and the new team of Shadab Nazar (1st year) and Amber Ulrich (2nd year) took charge. We wish them all the best! Incidentally Anlei (our fellow blogger) was one of the editors last year before she ran for office 🙂

eZine is a collection of events/news/announcements of perceived interest to the EWMBA community and a great source (biased opinion) to keep abreast of what’s happening in and around Haas. It was a thrill-ride editing it last year, and I’m gonna miss those tens of hours spent pouring over articles every week 😦

Another event of note that’s happening this Sunday is the kick-off meeting for the incoming EWMBA Association. The Executive team has been busy planning the event with a tonne of help from the Program Office (a big shout out for Beth, our Director of Student Affairs and Dave, our Executive Director for the EWMBA program). The kick-off represents a unique opportunity where all the EWMBAA Committees get together and formalize the annual goals to improve our overall experience at Haas. More on this next week with hopefully some pictures from the kick-off!

With so many things going on it’s easy to forget that I’m enrolled in 11 credits worth of classes this semester. Yeah, unbelievably I’ve made my most intense Academic Semester at Haas till date. With the eZine work ramping down, hopefully I’ll be able to pull it off. It’s good to see Tim every week in the FIA class and I couldn’t agree more with his take on it. I don’t really have a soft-skill class this semester with Competitive Strategy, LBO, Business Law, Risk Modelling rounding off my course-load. But each of the classes has so far provided some cherished memories. One of ’em which bubbles up is our quiz from Business Law from two weeks ago. Each of us had to pick up a question out of a hat and then answer it in front of the class (I think last time I took an exam like this was in high school). Anyway, I got to babble about the landmark case on Brown vs Board of Education, hahaha.

Before I sign off, can’t help but blurb on the Haas@Work engagement, the details of which are perhaps best left for another post. It culminated a few weeks ago with a team presentation in front of the CTO for a $100B HealthCare Conglomerate! That’s the access you get as a Haas student.

Later…

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,

    Div

Doesn’t feel like summer…yet

And Weather’s only part of it.

After the helter-skelter life in the past two semesters I was almost apprehensive about a quiet summer. Turns out I had no reason to be so. Work has kicked up a notch and our 3-month old has become more demanding 🙂 However, I’ve been able to catch up with my classmates with 3-4 events (Birthdays, Happy Hours, and so on) in the last few weeks. The annual end of the year party just finished with a Bar-Be-Que in the South Bay as well. And, the 2nd year evening cohorts are have a Sailing-Wine-Mixer two weeks from now (feisty Catamaran with Wine and chit chat).

In the midst of all this I am enrolled into a 1 unit Summer Course – Financial Statement Modeling (along with our fellow bloggers Anlei and Deanne). Can’t believe that I’m almost done with it. Next week’s the finals and then truly no classes until Fall. (And finally a complete weekend to myself).

Congratulations to all the new admits! As Tim said, enjoy your summer and things will become really hot in the fall. If you have any questions do not hesitate to get in touch with the student ambassador who reached out to you.

I started my top “n” list of experiences in the first year but in the hustle bustle of the past month I’ve not been able to complete it. Will post it soon.

EWMBAA

Like every other group or organization, Haas has its own alphabet soup of acronymns. And this one is a mouthful. The Evening and Weekend MBA Association (EWMBAA) is comprised of students who try to aid, inform, and serve as a resource to the EWMBA students at Haas – that’s over 700 people.

Fellow bloggers Dutta and Diana, as well as myself, are all members of the EWMBAA committees. If you miss student government and helping make your school a better place, the EWMBAA offers a multitude of committees that cover Admissions, Academic Affairs, Communications, Career Services, Alumni Affairs, Community Service, and of course, Social Events (because we need to have proper school – work – life balance too! and we can’t let the full timers have all the fun).

Many of us are working hard to make Haas an even better place for existing students and to continue to draw the best and brightest prospective students to the program (that’s you!). So visit the EWMBAA website to meet the executive team and all of the committee members and check out our one stop shop for information.

Dinner with Marshall Goldsmith

This semester has started with a bang. I am really excited about both of my electives – Brand Management and Strategy, and Designing Global Organizations. Both classes are featuring a series of industry leaders as guest speakers. Last week, we had the opportunity to hear Debbie Cantu, Vice President, Brand Marketing and Advertising at Kaiser Permanente. She is the architect of the “thrive” campaign .She shared how she has managed to turn around the Kaiser Permanente brand perception by listening to customers perspective and using a data driven approach to measure and tune the campaign.

Apart from the all the excitement in the class, I was also part of the celebration of the 1st aniversary of Peers @ Haas. Peers @ Haas is part of the “Leading through Innovation” initiative. The goal of the program is change a behaviour that will help one be more successful by following the principles outlined by Marshall Goldsmith. Marshall is a executive coach and the author of the bestseller – What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. His techniques are remarkably simple and the program relies on working with a peer to improve the target behavior. I had participated in this program last year, and I feel that I improved significantly. The celebration included a dinner with Marshall – an interesting evening with good food, wine, champagne and lots of remarkable conversations.

I have been having a really great time since MPAR ,and things will take a serious turn shortly. However till the tide changes, I am enjoying as much as I can.

Cheers … Dutta:)

What a Sunday!

This Sunday, daylight savings time ended ,and I relished the extra hour of sleep. I really wanted to roll around in my bed longer, but I had signed up for the Heavy Hitting Sales seminar by Steve Martin. So I dragged myself out of the bed, got dressed and reached Haas in time for the session. I ran into a whole bunch of classmates at the breakfast tables and finally I felt like my brain was in motion.

The session started on-time with an introduction to the speaker. Steve Martin started with the concept of using metaphors and using checkpoints when communicating ideas. The best part of this session were the exercises to understand how one processes information. One of the exercises was to go through emails and understand whether you use the auditory, visual or kinesthetic channels for absorbing information. Steve talks about these techniques in his book titled “Heavy Hitting Selling” and the idea is to understand how someone absorbs information and use the same channels when building relationships. Overall this was a great session. I got some practical tips to use immediately. I plan to read the book over the winter break.

The session was also a great networking event. I got to meet fellow blogger Anlei. After the session, a group of us went to lunch at Adagia. It was wonderful to catch up with friends from Israel and the South Africa trips, and get into the conversations about classes, professors and next steps.

While I had a hard time getting up Sunday morning, the day turned out to be productive and fun. The only bad part – I still wanted to laze around a bit, but I guess that will have to wait till next Sunday.

Cheers … Dutta:)

Perks

There are a number of perks related to being an EWMBA student that you might not think of until you get here. Now that I have a student ID again, I’m able to go to museums and stores and use my student ID for discounts. This includes getting 50% off of Cal Performances tickets.

Next, there are all of the club happenings. There seems to be no end to the amount of events going on at Haas, from the >play conference taking place this weekend to the upcoming first annual Finance conference in early November. As Dutta mentioned, we also are having our next Leading Through Innovation speaker Steve Martin coming soon. You can learn a lot from meeting industry folks, attending conferences and listening to interesting speakers.

You get to spend a lot of time in Berkeley. Although I’m an evening student, I typically find myself in Berkeley at least once a weekend attending a discussion session, group meetings, other Haas events (such as the Leading Through Innovation seminars) or just enjoying the area (Tilden Park is a great outdoor spot).

One additional perk that you won’t find discussed anywhere else – weight loss. That’s right. I won’t guarantee it, but you might be surprised to find that Haas can help you shed those few extra pounds. It worked for me and it could work for you too. Learning this was a lot like finding cash in the pocket of a jacket I haven’t worn in a while.

And there’s much more, but you’ll need to discover them on your own when you get here.

Homecoming

Homecoming was a terrific event-filled day.

Although the game against Oregon State was emotional and ultimately disappointing (28-31), it was a day filled with great networking with current students and alumni.

Our day began with Heather Hollick, EWMBA 2004, who talked about Innovations in Networking. If you’re not on Linked In yet, you’ll definitely want to join. Heather talked about how to maintain the networks we have already and led us in a speed networking session (I had the opportunity to meet a food technologist who had been involved in making Rojo Salsa) .

Next, Dean Tom Campbell talked about How to Lobby, and Other Secrets of the Political Process. It was a great inside perspective from a former U.S. Congressman, California State Senator, and State Finance Director. We also listened to eye-opening solutions to eliminating the federal and state budgets deficits.

Our final pre-game event was the Haas Alumni Fiesta. Here I am with fellow first years enjoying some great food, live music, and conversation. It was awesome having free time to hang out with classmates and meet some of their family members. If you’re a prospective student, current student, or alumni, come visit Haas during Homecoming. It’s a great opportunity to get a sense of the people and culture of Haas (not to mention the excellent speakers and food).

Sunk Costs & The EWMBAers know how to party too!

Alas, finals are over! Friday evening was grueling from 6:30 to 9:30pm as first year Blue and Gold cohorts filed into Anderson Auditorium to take our first Haas final – Microeconomics. As we tried to maximize profit with MR = MC (marginal cost equals marginal revenue), most of us walked out of the exam a little dazed. Those of you who are reading this now and haven’t taken microecon will probably not know what I’m talking about, but someday, MR = MC could become your best friend.

There was little time to think after this final because our Organization Behavior (OB) final was held the next day – Saturday between 2 and 5 pm. Many would say this final was not so much about OB as much as how tiny a font you can read and how well your printer operates. Professor Barry Staw allowed each of us to bring a one page, double-sided cheat sheet containing all that we could put on it. Although most of my fellow classmates stuck to 6 point font, one amazing gal printed landscape, 6 columns, 4 point font. Just try to read 4 point font and see if your eyes start to cross – then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So what did I walk away from finals with? Thanks to our Microecon Professor Catherine Wolfram, we all know that finals are sunk costs now. There is no looking back. Look to the future.

After the final, our Gold Cohort classmate, Jin, had arranged a great get together at the Bear’s Lair, a pub on campus. Many of us gathered together to relax, enjoy the USC vs. Stanford game (thanks to Stanford beating USC, Cal is now ranked #2!!), and just hang out. So, it’s not just the full timers that know how to party, but EWMBAers have opportunities to get together too.

So what next? Homecoming is this weekend, and there are events galore. The whole campus will be buzzing with tours, workshops, and more. Haas will be hosting a networking event as well as a lecture by our esteemed Dean Tom Campbell. The game against Oregon State is sure to be a blast. Go Bears!