New Admit Series – Part I

Sonny: Here’s a guest post from Shamik Bandyopadhyay (class of 2014) who recently started his first year in the EWMBA program. Shamik has the unique perspective of having made a decision to move to Bay Area from Seattle in order to be closer to classes and other EWMBA folks. To find out how he made the transition and what he would do differently if he had to do it all over again, read on…


I moved to the Bay Area a couple of weeks back. My move had been in the works for a while. As I started my applications for Haas I also started engaging with current students and alumni to get to the bottom of the question – “Are you better off commuting to Haas on weekends, or being a Bay Area local?” My conclusion was that it’s a matter of personal choice. The program is designed to be very commuter friendly. The program office and the professors go out of their way to make sure the program works for commuters.

For me, it came down to a desire to both be deeply engaged in the Haas community on a day-today basis and to work in the Silicon Valley. It was a big decision, given that I was a Round 3 applicant. I barely had a couple of months from the time when I received my acceptance letter, to the start of class. In this short span, I had to find a position in my firm’s Silicon Valley office, relocate and settle down. I learnt a lot of lessons and given a second chance I would do things differently. Let me share with you what I learnt, so you can prepare yourself better if you decided to move to the Bay Area:

  • Apply in the early rounds:  If you are planning to move to the Bay Area, apply in Round 1 or Round 2, the earlier the better. This would give you ample time to cherry-pick your job in the Bay Area, settle into your job and truly plan out and manage your relocation.
  • Get your statistics and math pre-requisites out of the way:  If you apply in the later rounds and plan to move after receiving the admission decision, get your pre-reqs done early. Start your necessary pre-req courses or take the waiver exams well before you even receive your admission decision. Finding a job and managing your relocation while trying to complete a pre-req class is definitely not fun.
  • Give yourself time to settle in: Moving to a new location and settling in is not trivial. There are a lot of little things that add up. Moving your stuff, finding a new apartment, getting your car registered, getting a California driver’s license (they make you take the dreaded written exam), getting your insurance and bank services transferred over and on and on. The list gets pretty long and you really need to find time to get all of this taken care of before the start of class, while drinking from the fire hose at your new job.
  • Enjoy the summer activities: The fun starts well before Orientation weekend. This summer there were at least half a dozen happy hours and dinners, a picnic and a few other outings for the Class of 2014 – all before we had even started reading a single page from our textbooks. These events really help you to get to know your classmates and get comfortable in your Haas community. Add to that the all-day Accounting Review Workshop, and Haas starts filling up your calendar pretty quickly
  • Enjoy the sunshine: If you are moving from some of the sunshine deprived cities and states, you need to give yourself time to just stare at the sunny blue sky. There has not been a single cloudy day in the past two weeks and I find myself just staring out of the window trying to convince myself that it can actually be sunny most everyday.

That’s all folks!!

The second year beckons!

Back to school, as the summer draws to a close,
I reminisce over the first year, and my satisfaction shows,
For twas’ a year of new friends and learning intense,
And new vistas interesting, discovered through the Haas lens.

As I step onto the hallowed steps of our alma mater,
I sense new confidence, and hear conversations smarter.
A renewed excitement ignites the ambient air,
For the second year has renewed the first year’s dare.

Now, it’s not everyday that you see a roomful of adults ecstatic about having woken up bright and early on a Saturday morning after a week of intense work. But that was precisely the sight I was greeted with as I entered the classroom for Corporate Financial Management, the first class of my second year.

This semester, I plan to take Corporate Financial Management (CFM) and Negotiations and Conflict Resolution. Although CFM was an obvious choice for the quant jock/finance enthusiast in me, I’m particularly excited about Negotiations. Having transitioned into a new product management role in my organization, I can clearly see the need for sprucing up my negotiating and conflict resolution skills. And guess what, true to my enthusiasm, I’ve already started on my required reading for the course!

And yes, club activities have already begun. The Haas Tech Challenge this year has VMWare as its primary sponsor, and Amazon and as its platinum and gold sponsors respectively. All you Cloud Computing enthusiasts, fire up your thought engines – the event starts end September!

So here’s to a brand new year, fellow Haasies, one that shall pave new roads for us all!

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!

The Best Feeling

Remember the high you get after the last exam of the semester? I have it now and it feels good.

I turned in my Microeconomics (ME) final take home last night and submitted the final paper for Leading People (LP) this afternoon. This officially concludes Fall Term-A.

So what did we learn? We learnt that even people who make completely crazy choices are considered to be rational as long as their preferences are complete and transitive – that’s from ME. The LP class taught us that if you are not deliberate about building the culture within your organization, then the culture builds itself – and this is usually bad, m’kay? Of course we learnt much more than that thanks to our brilliant professors – Nancy Euske (LP) & Shachar Kariv (ME). We’ll miss you!

On top of that, our cohort got the weekend off – which means no flying today. Awesome, right? Today was supposed to be the in-class finals day. But since LP does not have a final exam, our ME prof gave us an option to go with a take home exam instead of an in-class exam. No guesses for what we chose.

I can feel a huge sigh of relief rippling through my entire cohort and from Facebook, I know exactly what they are thinking. Here’s what some of them had to say today.

Ankit says ‘The feeling after finals is incredible! Loving an awesome Saturday in Seattle :-)’
[Ankit is a fellow Microsoftie who also commutes from Seattle. I will write more about how we coordinate our travel arrangements in a later post.]

Lahary says ‘It feels good seeing the kids swim after all these weeks 🙂 I’m realizing how much I miss my Saturdays…’
[Lahary is a Senior Program Manager at HP and has two kids aged five and three. She will forever have my admiration for the amazing job she does of juggling work, family, kids & school]

Sandeep says ‘Final OB paper and micro-econ finals done! Leaving civilization and driving towards the coast for some RnR at some BnB. Should I go north to Mendocino or go south towards Cambria. How indifferent am I towards them? What is my budget and can I use mixed Nash here. Darn, I need to get micro [out of] my head…’
[Sandeep is a Project Lead at Cisco and as you can see he already drank the ME kool-aid. You do us all proud, Sandeep!]

To my cohort, I have only one thing to say to you tonight – Enjoy the free weekend, Over-achievers. You deserve it!

I hope the rest of you are making the best of this weekend as well – and while you do that, I’m going to go watch the Netflix movies that have been laying unwatched all week.

Good night!
– S

This post was written while listening to ‘Blame it’ by Jamie Foxx

Seasons of Change

What an exciting year it has been so far. With elections over and Obama as the new President Elect, it certainly is a “time of change.” Note: I can’t help but wonder whether this phrase alone will be repeated a million times over in the next weeks/months/years–I’m already sharing in that conspiracy. 🙂

Speaking of change, since my last post, it’s already midterms in the second set of first-year Fall classes (say that ten times fast). I think I’m already looking forward to Thanksgiving and a brief break (and turkey).

For me, Accounting has been a bit dry– we’re preparing for a midterm this Saturday, and some problems take a while– but practice makes perfect, I suppose. My wife is actually a CPA– though she’s now switched to something else that is detail-oriented: pastry and baking arts (go figure)– and has been able to give me some tips. One of her best ones was to just write off mismatches as “immaterial” (don’t worry, she was joking). 🙂

From my perspective, it definitely has made sense that we understand how to read and use financials, but I share many classmates’ frustrations in learning the sometimes painful ins and outs (read: the rules and procedures).

In Marketing, there are reinforcement of concepts from our previous Organizational Behavior class (like the adoption curve, with chasm included; Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, etc.), which makes sense if you expand OB to the behavior of our customers. The marketing class has also had many eye-openers for how to properly scale opinions on differentiators, create marketing strategies and identify routes to success and common pitfalls (e.g. customer vs. product-focus), etc. Speaking of which, BusinessWeek had a recent marketing-related article on how luxury brands are having to act more rational in this economy (– it’s always nice to tie in current stuff!

By the way, we here on the blog site welcome constructive comments! Feel free to let us know what thoughts we may have piqued– or whether you agree, disagree, or have your own thoughts. Always nice to hear from other students, prospective ones or alum.

– Tim
P.S. Loved that extra hour of sleep from “Fall back” (daylight savings).

The Circle of Life (at Haas)

Hello, Haas-keteers and other parties of interest!

Just wanted to greet everyone, as one of the newbie bloggers this year. Standard bio coming soon in the “Meet the Bloggers” link, for those who care about that kind of stuff. The main thing to note is that I’m a first-year EWMBA student that started Fall 2008, and hopefully can echo some of the first-year’s experiences, along with Divyang who will introduce himself later (coming soon to a blog near you).

To briefly give some background, my name’s Tim Lee— it’s an easy name to forget, because it’s about as plain a name as one can find in the world, but try to keep up (grin). I’d like to say I’m all about business–and I am serious about that endeavor without a doubt, as a director for the consulting division at my company–but I still encourage everyone to live it up!

For me, I also enjoy basketball, skiing, wine, alternative rock, action and drama movies, and many other activities (when not fully blasted by work and school). I ran the SF half-marathon this year and last year (not competitively at all), and try to stay involved at church and with community work; recently I’ve been trying to do some small-time fundraising with StandUp2Cancer with a humble team of my own (if you’re interested, let me know).

To keep this a little less formal, I’ll let you in on a tiny secret. One of my nicknames in the past from co-workers was “Tim Shady.” It wasn’t because of bad ethics, mind you, but instead derived from a crazy evening with my peers back in 2000–my karaoke rendition of “Lose Yourself” by Eminem (AKA “Slim Shady”). The rest is history! Good times indeed…

There. Now you know me that much better.

That being said, what a time it’s already been here at Haas! It’s only been a month and a half since I’ve officially started as a student once again, but it already seems like ages. The reason is, in taking core classes, the semesters are each split in half for first-years. So, we’ve already finished mid-terms and have finals in two weeks. Only to have mid-terms again a month later, and (you guessed it), finals again in December! Two months ago, I would have said that’s a piece of cake. But it’s not. It is definitely do-able for ye smart lads and lasses, but as people here will tell you: it’s all about time management. The best part is you meet great people along the way; the learning experience extends from the classroom to every exercise and event that passes. I’m truly happy to be a part of it!

I depart you with this quote/challenge – for current and prospective Haas students:
“If you had one shot– one opportunity–
to have everything you ever wanted, in one moment,
would you capture it or just let it slip?”

– by (you guessed it) Eminem (from the song, “Lose Yourself”)

Oh yeah, and uh… “Props to the Class of 2011!” Enjoy!
– Tim