Mythbusters – Haas EWMBA Edition

Mythbusters is an awesome show on the Discovery Channel. The premise of the show focuses on proving and disproving common myths using various scientific methods. After a long unintentional Mythbusters hiatus, I happened to catch an episode yesterday on my plane ride to Taiwan (more about that later). The show got me thinking about frozen newspaper boats (great episode) and the many myths of the Haas EWMBA. I’m not going to lie; I thought I had a good idea of what I was getting myself into when I started this part-time program over three months ago. But, just like the show, some of these myths were ‘busted’, albeit not always in a scientific way. So, I present to you: Mythbusters – Haas EWMBA Edition.

Myth #1:
I was a Haas undergraduate business major. As a Haas EWMBA student, I will be relearning mostly the same things, just with a new set of classmates.
We probably learned 16 weeks of undergraduate microeconomics material in the first class. In financial accounting, most (if not all) of what I learned as an undergraduate isn’t even part of the core curriculum as an EWMBA. It was the pre-course workshop. The learning approach is also quite different. As an undergraduate, it was more about memorization and number crunching, whereas, the current curriculum is catered towards every day management and decision making. And trust me, it’s not any easier the second time around.

Myth #2:
I work in marketing/advertising. Why do I need to know (insert core class)? Can’t I just hire a (insert subject matter expert) if I need one?
The beauty of the part-time program is to be able to apply what you learn in class immediately at work. Just this past week, I referenced every single class I’ve taken thus far. I was on a conference call with a client and was able to explain the budget accrual process and the back-end accounts receivable reversals. Next, in a request to the yield management team for a discount pricing exception, I calculated the opportunity cost as part of my argument for approval (and approval was granted). Lastly, I put together a 90-day plan for management development focusing on early wins and excellence in execution. Instant application is amazing and totally under rated. Meghan, Nancy and Suneel would be so proud!

Myth #3:
It is impossible to take personal vacation during the school year.
As I mentioned earlier, I am currently in Taiwan and will be going to Japan in a couple of days. I’m taking advantage of no classes on Thanksgiving weekend and celebrating turkey festivities with peking duck and sashimi. Some of my fellow classmates are doing the same with trips to Belgium and Hawaii, to name a few. With the ease of emails, conference calls and PDF notes, it’s easy to stay on track with homework and in touch with group members, even if you’re 5000 miles away. Heck, I have classmates who travel to Argentina and China for work during a normal week and they still manage to not miss a beat.

Consider these myths BUSTED.

Pricing Simulations, Fast Fall and Rolling Days

Looks like I’ve been MIA for a little while, but the rest of the gang has been more than holding fort. First, of course– I’m glad to see such fresh enthusiasm and want to give my own hearty welcome to our newest bloggers! Awesome posts, team, if I do say so myself.

Getting back in the swing of things, it’s been an excellent experience — doing simulations in my Pricing class this semester with our award-winning professor. Not only have we engaged in price wars (or for the bolder of us — price leadership!), but we’ve also done simulations in price matching, auctions, bid negotiations and more. My only downer is that we compete against our classmates in simulations and, while we mix teams every time, my teams seem to always come in second. And we all know that we can’t settle for that! 🙂

We’ve also had some guest speakers from companies that have leveraged our illustrious professor’s knowledge in how to price their products, and a consulting company that uses similar methodologies in evaluating pricing strategies. Incredible and fun stuff. My class team is on our way on our own group project to do the usual conjoint analysis and evaluate the pricing packages of a well-known video streaming company with our own recommendations.
As usual, it’s hard to believe how quickly time flies. We’re already looking ahead to final exams and projects, and bidding for Spring courses. I can’t start the will-miss-you shuffles yet, but I can say I had a few select Haas-mates over for a party the other day and can’t help but wonder where we’ll all be in 5 to 10 years.
I gained an extra hour from “Fall Back” (Daylight Savings) and I get this Thursday evening’s class off for Veteran’s Day. Looking forward to using that extra time (like found money) for catching up on things once again (like blogging). Good luck, fellow classmates, and Happy November!
Hope to shake things with you again soon on the blog. Until then, onward..
– T

I feel like Neo!

Okay, let me explain. Remember that scene from Matrix when Neo comes onboard and starts training. He emerges from one training session and says, ‘I know Kung Fu’. That’s exactly how I feel. Not about Kung Fu. About Mergers & Acquisitions. We just finished the M&A final and I now want to announce to the world, ‘I know M&A!’. That’s right.

After taking the 10-week course, I feel I’d know what to do if I was ever in a M&A situation – either as an acquirer or a target. Prof. George Geis did a great job structuring the class. The course project (which I thought was the best part) required us to identify an acquirer company and a target company. We then had to put together a pitch book for the execs of the acquirer company making a case for why the deal is a great idea and recommend a deal structure. As usual, I learned A TON working on the project. During the team presentations, which took place during the last two classes, each of the students was asked which deal they would be willing to support by distributing $10 million among their top 3 choices. And my team won the highest amount of money! My project team had suggested that Oracle should acquire Informatica.

Wouldn’t it be fun if the deal actually happened in real life?

To Study Abroad or Not?

It’s been far too long since my last blog post, which dates back to early in the summer. I just needed a mental break from having to think about school, and the summer was the time I gave myself to relax and decompress. I had every intention of writing regularly upon the start of school, but my course-load and work schedule combined for a horrendous September. It was my own doing though, scheduling 3 classes that all started in late August, including a course that met for 4 consecutive Sundays from 9-5pm, except for Labor Day. At least I can say that I’ve found my limit in terms of the amount of course-work I should take at one time. Good knowledge for the future as I plan the next few semesters.

What these next 1.5 years has in store is very much open. I still harbor desires to study abroad. The choice of cities is somewhat limited by the few other programs around the world share the desire to exchange part-time students. There are four exchange programs available to EWMBA students, of which I would likely choose between Barcelona and Spain. I’m not saying that these programs are anything to sneeze at, and indeed, Barcelona is a top destination for me to begin with. The lack of opportunities in east Asia is somewhat disappointing though. Specifically, I would have preferred a Mandarin-speaking country such as Taiwan or China which would provide me with an opportunity to immerse myself in an environment that would improve my Mandarin.

I never considered studying abroad as an undergrad, and indeed, I never had much of a desire to travel. I was a stereotypical California kid who felt that I already lived in the best place in the world and didn’t feel the need to explore beyond the west coast, let alone a different country. I’ve since learned the value of exploring beyond my comfort zones, and thus want to take advantage of this opportunity. It’s a difficult task though, to balance the desire to expand my horizon beyond a California-centric view of the world with the need to honor my commitment to my personal and work life.

Knock Knock…

Who’s there? Joann. Joann Who? Joann Hu! (really, that never gets old)

I’m another one of the new kids on the blog. I’ll piggy-back off of Jennifer’s post and share a little bit about myself. I was born in Taipei, Taiwan. I currently live and work in San Francisco. My Starbucks drink of choice is a double tall no foam soy latte. I hate parsley and cilantro. I was an undergraduate Haas student. And, as Sonny mentioned in her previous post, I also used to write for The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s independent student newspaper. I was a sports writer and had the opportunity to cover a variety of sports, including men’s soccer, tennis and women’s softball. I even had a chance to interview Natalie Coughlin, the 11-time Olympic medalist, while she swam for Cal. As you can tell, I’m a pretty big Golden Bear sports fan.

Last Saturday, Cal football hosted UCLA for our annual homecoming game. Coincidentally (or not, thanks to the EWMBA program office), the weekend cohorts finished their first session of classes and we were done for the day at noon after our Microeconomics final. How did I celebrate the end of MC=MR and Performance=A*S*E? With a 35-7 win alongside 60,000+ of my closest friends at Memorial Stadium, of course.

My first piece of advice (of many more to come in the future): Attend a Cal football game. It’s an all-around great experience. Even if you’re not a football fan, the Cal Band puts on fantastic half-time performances, such as last week’s “Sounds of Latin Music” and the famous video game show. I believe the athletic department may even offer discounted student tickets (3rd degree price discrimination). If and when you do attend a football game or any other Cal sporting event, I would advise you not to wear anything red, or be prepared to spend the rest of the game shirtless/hat less/sock less.

If you need any other game day fashion advice, I’m here to help. GO BEARS!

Introducing the First Year Bloggers!

Following the yearly tradition of bringing in new bloggers from a fresh batch of EWMBA’ers, we have selected three talented first-years (class of 2013) to join the EWMBA blog team. There was quite a bit of interest to join the blog team this year and the applicant pool was strong. Needless to say, this made our job of selecting the bloggers very challenging – but we got it done.

Without further ado, I introduce the new bloggers…

*drumroll, please*

Joann Hu
Archit Lohokare
Jennifer Caleshu

Please join me in welcoming them. Each of them has had previous experience with blogging and in Joann’s case, writing for The Daily Cal (isn’t that fantastic!).

I am very much looking forward to reading all about their exploits. I hope so are you.

Second Year – First Impressions

After three weeks of classes, I can already tell second year is going to be different. Very different. Good different.

To begin with, we had to put major thought into the classes we wanted to take this semester – long discussions on which ones to pick, what order works best, class combinations, etc. There was an initial bidding process to pick classes that happened back in May. More than anything the bidding process was a great lesson in Game Theory – how to distribute your bidding points to maximize the chances of getting the classes you want? I will share my experience in a later post. For the first three weeks after classes started, we had an opportunity to revise our class selections. Watching the class waitlists move in real-time during the last week of the add/drop period was no less exciting than watching the stock market. I’m super delighted that I got into all the classes I wanted: Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Financial Management & Behavioral Finance.

The class format is different too. We no longer have the same folks in each of our classes. Apart from the weekend-ers, we also have some weekday and third-year students in our classes now. This provides a great opportunity to network with people I rarely got a chance to meet last year. Also we finish classes 2 hours early at 4PM on Saturdays instead of going till 6PM.

In addition to classes, second year is also when most folks start looking into joining clubs and other activities outside classroom. I still haven’t had to chance to give serious thought to which clubs I want to be part of and how I will manage club participation being long distance. Now that my class schedule is decided and I have a good idea of the course workload, I plan to spend more time strategizing about my extra-curricular activities.

Looking back, I feel we were babied quite a bit in our first year. Our course schedule was pre-set. Our professors were decided. We took all our classes with the same cohort the whole year. All we had to worry about was our course work. Now it feels like we are stepping into the real world where the decisions we make will majorly shape our MBA experience. Or this is the step before stepping into the actual real world.

Two things have stayed the same from last year – I’m still having lots of fun and the workload is equally heavy. I had heard that the workload was going to drop off pretty dramatically starting second year. Appears to not be so in my case. I was even forced to break my Farmville addiction two weeks ago – which is tragic!

But I still think those guys at Zynga are pretty fantastic. 🙂

One month in – Reminiscing

It’s about a month into the semester already and I’m reminiscing on the past two years. After having attended Orientation as a committee member, I had to look back at my own class’ orientation and the statements that stuck with me.

Thinking back to Class of ’11 Orientation, some quotes from our starting weekend two years ago are still useful today for students at Haas and everywhere… with a few extra subtitles:

  • “As a full-time professional, part-time student, you now juggle three things: life, school and work. One of the three is bound to suffer.” (..without the right support system in place..)
  • “You either are owners or visitors. You decide, and everyone else knows what and when you’ve decided it.” (.. just remember this, if you try to slack off at work or school or life..)
  • “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” (Gandhi’s words still hold true)
To this, I add a few of my own (semi-humorous) tidbits of wisdom from the multiverse:
  • “Why.. so.. serious?” (The Joker in Dark Knight Returns; don’t forget to have a little fun..)
  • “If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it, or just let it slip?” (Eminem in Lose Yourself; recently wrecked at an Orientation party near you 😉 But hey, it fits with the entrepreneurial theme)
  • “If I was you and you were me, you’d wanna be winning. If you want something bad, yo, you gotta wanna give your all.” (On Our Own, Bobby Brown – 90’s flashback – Ghostbusters II, anyone?)
  • “It’s the end where I begin..” (by The Script — for my third year’s and graduating buddies)
Hopefully a little light motivation for our fellow students and blog readers. Go get ’em. 🙂
– Tim

Switcheroo – Weekend vs. Evening

This semester, I’ve pulled the old switcheroo and moved from all Weekend classes to all Evening classes. I’m sometimes asked by prospective or new students which is preferred. With that in mind, here’s a little something to help – you’ll see it’s mainly all about trade-offs, just like everything else in the business world.

Weekday/Evening Classes
  1. You get to have an actual weekend! (though you may have to study on the weekends, if your week nights are busy)
  2. You may get a bit more of a Berkeley student feel with more undergraduates or full-time MBA’ers on-campus; and, all sessions are at UC Berkeley
  3. There’s a shuttle for South Bay and Peninsula folks for those who don’t like to drive themselves (but no meals are provided – you can walk around near-Campus eateries and choose your own food on your own dime though)
  4. You can attend weekend events, while Saturday folks are in-class (But you may miss week-day events like Taste of Haas – which is on a Thursday)
  5. There are more elective classes to choose from than weekend, just by factor of more days in the week (Mon – Thurs).
Weekend Classes
  1. Snacks, lunch and coffee are provided (But no bus shuttles; parking or carpool only – there’s the tradeoff)
  2. For core classes (1st year), you get a longer Winter break because class sessions are longer (but that may be more painful during the actual class session)
  3. One day of the week (primarily) is dedicated for class, allowing you to focus on school (not coming right after work); also helpful in case you have a dynamic weekday work schedule or travel a lot for work
  4. 1/2 time in alternate location in Santa Clara, which is closer for South Bay folks (it may be further for others)
  5. You can attend week-day events (but not weekend events; some business conferences are held on Saturdays)
There may be other factors. If I remember them, I’ll recant later– or perhaps my fellow bloggers have some add’l thoughts? No matter which route you choose, you’ll get to share in the experience of part-time student, full-time professional and meet amazing and fun people. I definitely like being able to try evening and meet even more friendly folks to network with.
And of course, even though you have to choose evening vs. weekend for your first year, you do get an option to switch after core classes are done or undeclare during any given semester in your 2nd or 3rd year (which allows you to choose from any courses that are offered on any day).
I for one am really enjoying the #1 aspect of taking evening courses and having more relaxing weekends. We’ll see if that lasts come midterms!
– Tim

Class of 2013 Orientation

Hard to believe it’s been over a month since our last student post. Everyone is recuperating during the Summer for the most part, though Fall is right around the corner.

Last weekend was the official kick-off for the new student class (Class of 2013) — starting with Orientation. Welcome to Haas, new students! Officially, this kicks off the school year and the Fall semester as well . In fact, the core classes for the new, lucky Blue cohort should be starting tonight. Meanwhile, 2nd and 3rd years (like myself) still have another 1-2 week’s worth of rest.

That is, unless you’re still wrapping up Summer School. Competitive Strategy this Summer has been enlightening, but extremely fast-paced, given the Summer schedule. Very worthwhile, so it’s convenient that it will now be a part of core classes for the new and future students.
Orientation was filled with a number of activities to prepare the students for their time here and making the best use of it, so they can do more beyond (the end goal). Of course, intra- and cross-cohort networking, bonding, and fun are also key elements.
Last Friday, during the first dinner of Orientation, Dean Lyons (picture above) went over our four defining principles at Haas, which capture what Berkeley-Haas means when it develops future leaders:
  • Question the Status Quo
  • Students Always
  • Confidence without Attitude
  • Beyond Yourself
While these all exemplify the Haas way, we also like to enjoy ourselves and shake things up. I don’t want to spoil it for future prospective students, but Orientation is always memorable. I was fortunate to get to partake in a few festivities, including the party on Saturday, as a co-chair of our EWMBAA Admissions Committee along with many, many volunteers (to whom I extend a big thanks!).
Congrats to the Gold cohort who won prizes during one of our little competitions also.
This year was a Hawaiian/Luau theme (see picture: me posing with our beloved Program Office folks, in front of a backdrop they created with friends). While the Admissions Committee worked closely with the Program Office to coordinate student-led events during Orientation, there were so many things going on behind the scenes, that we have to take our hats off to them on providing a great atmosphere and experience for the students.
All in a day’s work at Haas. We come prepared and strive toward being a part of something grander. Have a great start to the new year, everyone!
– TL