HTC & DMEC Alumni Mixer @ Abobe SF

Lastnight 60 HTC & DMEC members and alumni from a wide variety of companies around the Bay Area descended on Adobe’s San Francisco office for an informal mixer.

Adobe generously sponsored the event, providing delicious food and an abundance of beer and wine in a very cool venue, while Diageo hosted a Don Julio tasting station where attendees could learn about tequila and taste 4 varieties of Don Julio!

Everyone had an excellent evening of eating, drinking, tequila tasting and meeting new people and networking (perhaps the tequila helped ;-) )! The evening was a huge success!

One Semester Done Already!

I can’t believe how quickly this semester has flown by! As of last Monday I was on holiday, and have actually spent the last week up at Lake Tahoe with about 30 Haasies. We had a huge house just a few minutes from both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, the 2 resorts where our season passes worked. Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of snow yet, but we had a great time. We generally spent the morning on the slopes, before relaxing at our house around the bonfire or in one of our 2 hot tubs! It was an excellent way to kick start the holidays.

Now everyone is heading off on treks all around the world (South East Asia, Brazil, Columbia … the list goes on), and I’m off to explore California – Christmas in LA with family, followed by surfing in San Diego, and snowboarding at Mammoth for New Year’s. What an amazing place!

Prior to the holidays beginning, it was a busy few weeks for all of us. On top of working hard in our classes and studying for exams, other aspects of campus life did not slow down. Our ‘Golden Egg’ cohort competition came to an end, with my cohort (Go Gold!!) winning the competiti0n thanks to an extremely strong win in No-Shave November and the total number of service hours, and second place in the Walkoff – the final event that involved putting together skits in the theme of Haasily Ever After. Company and club events also continued – in just the final week of class I attended the GigaOm Net:Work Conference in the city as a volunteer (and got to meet all of the speakers from Bay Area tech companies such as Google and Box.net), and went to visit Facebook HQ in Palo Alto.

Semester then wrapped up with a masquerade ball in the city where everyone had an amazing night. It has been a wonderful first semester – I’ve learnt a lot, had heaps of fun and made lots of great friends. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again in January.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Ben

Fall A Is Flying By

I can’t believe it, but next week it is already time for Fall A midterms (The first semester is divided into 2 halfs)! It really has been a fast paced and exciting start to B-School, both in terms of the classes and the huge amount of other things going on. I’ve been loving how interrelated the classes are – something you learned in microeconomics or statistics is suddenly the best tool to solve a case in leading people. While on the topic of leading people – I’m finding it so different to any classes I have taken before. We’re learning about management and leadership skills but in a very interactive way. Assignments often involve taking surveys with the results reviewed in class to demonstrate biases and stereotypes.

Enough about class though and more about everything else that is keeping me busy and making time fly by. Firstly there are the clubs. I’ve joined quite a number of industry and social clubs (High Tech Club, Digital Media and Entertainment, Marketing, Beer, Wine, Redwoods … I think that’s it) and am looking forward to being involved. Both in terms of organising conferences, going on treks to companies, generally networking, and of course visiting local breweries and wineries. :-) Related to the clubs, there are also optional speaker series which bring in speakers from various industries every week. I’m attending the Marketing series in Fall A and Topics in Tech in Fall B, so learning a lot!

Finally, there is the social scene – and it never disappoints. Every week there is Tuesday Night at Bears Lair, and every Thursday there is Bar of the Week. Then there are all of the impromptu events at people’s houses, Consumption events at Campus, and of course weekend trips. Last weekend for example was Labor Day long weekend. There were groups that went to Napa and Lake Tahoe and other places, but I chose to go in a group of 16 partners and Haasies to Lake Shasta, about 4 hours away, for a weekend of houseboating and wakeboarding and it was incredible … if a little exhausting :-) We had an amazing time relaxing in the sun and swimming in the beautifully warm water.

Looking forward to all that the rest of Semester has to offer.

Ben

2 Weeks Of Classes

Fall A classes finally started last week. The actual classroom experience doesn’t take up too much time in the MBA life, but there’s a lot of preparation involved; readings, cases…A very pleasant surprise came in the form of a subject called “Leadership Communication” in which we will be training our soft skills in general, and communication skills in particular, through speeches and improvisation exercises. The first class was a blast.

Club fair was also held this week, over the course of 2 lunchtimes.  It was an opportunity to talk to representatives from all the clubs present at Haas, and to better decide which ones to sign up for. Which, in my case, turned out to be a lot…

The one area I’m mostly focused on is Cleantech, and the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC, http://berc.berkeley.edu/) is a very active club and spans across many other schools and institutions in campus. They held their Annual Lecture this week, which gave us the opportunity to listen to Samir Kaul (Founding General Partner at Khosla Ventures) and Chris Somerville (UC Berkeley – EBI Director) in conversation about the current clean energy and technology landscape. According to them, Cleantech is one of the best fields in which to invest given its potential, its market size and demand and and the rising issue of energy dependability. Small companies, like the ones Khosla Ventures and many other firms manage and invest on, can also easily have more than one successful technology or idea within a brief period of time, unlike other sectors like Healthcare or IT. Even though infrastructure (scale) and consumer behaviour remain the main hurdles in Cleantech, and will continue to be so for years to come, small companies can innovate, and are innovating , at a very fast pace and will be able to provide the technology to bigger companies which have already got the scale, supply chain…in place. Or as I like to summarize it: Cleantech – it’s bound to happen.

Another culinary note to end this post: some of my recent out-of-class activities have included another great San Francisco’s Mission taco and pub crawl, brunch excursion to Sausalito, soaking in the sun at Russian River and hiking at Briones Reservoir. After the hike, we grabbed a fried chicken sandwich from famous Oakland spot Bakesale Betty’s- delicious!

So much to start with…

Dear World, here starts my blogging life as a Berkeley MBA student! It has been already almost 4 weeks since I arrived in the Bay, and in this time there have been countless “wows!” escaping from my mouth. The most important activity has been Orientation Week, which took place between August 15th and 19th. O-week was packed with presentations, games and other tasks to ensure we got to know the school, our cohorts and our study groups. It was tons of fun, too! We had scavenger hunts, happy hours, cohort olympics and a Community Impact day in which we all did volunteer job at a local community. Not to mention the epic, 80’s-themed finale party…

However, my favorite picks from O-week have to be the amazing speakers that we had the privilege to hear from, in particular Biz Stone (co-founder of Tweeter) and Tom Kelley (IDEO GM). I think their presentations truly embodied the fascinating ocean of innovation, entrepreneurship and brilliant ideas that the Haas School of Business swims in…A combined 3 hours of wisdom in a nutshell: you can manufacture opportunity if you think like a traveller, cross-pollinate from everywhere and ask the right questions.

Like Ben, I also went to Outside Lands, I saw my first ever MLB game at the Oakland Coliseum, and literally ended up crawling in San Francisco’s mission district after a great afternoon of discovering local food and drink spots with classmates. Socially speaking, there have been an incredible amount of activities going on…

Another one of my favorite recent activities! After discovering a local Spanish produce shop and buying a 12-servings paella pan, I had a big group of fellow Spaniards over today to enjoy some jamón, tortilla, vino tinto and, of course, paella! First of many for sure…

I was gladly surprised to see how many of my classmates know/are interested in Spanish language, so I started a skills-exchange group in which I teach conversational Spanish and our classmate Abby teaches us the principles of yoga. Talking about win-win situations! Hopefully in the future some of the other participants will teach us some of their amazing skills: karate, juggling, salsa dancing, slacklining…

All settled in!

It’s been 3 weeks since I arrived in Berkeley from Sydney, and it has been an amazingly jam-packed and fun couple of weeks settling in. There is so much to do exploring both Berkeley and the Bay Area in general – I can see now that I am going to be doing a lot of weekend trips to nearby destinations like Napa Valley, Point Reyes, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and so on in the coming months!

My first 2 weeks involved Math Camp (Accounting and Finance refresher classes to make sure you’re up to speed for the semester) in the morning. I was pleased to discover that the professors for Accounting and Finance were both energetic and made the lectures entertaining – I never thought I’d enjoy learning accounting! :-) My afternoons were spent exploring Berkeley (or San Franciso) – there is so much more to Berkeley than I initially realised. There is the slightly quirky and unique Telegraph Ave area where tie-dye reigns supreme, as well as the cute areas along College Ave in Elmwood and Rockridge, Shattuck Ave in downtown Berkeley with its bars, and of course the Gourmet Ghetto restaurants of north Berkeley. My wife, Jacqueline, and I were happy to find a nice little apartment on College Ave in Rockridge so I’ll be biking to class! In the evening, the socialising with my new classmates really got underway. They are a fun and diverse bunch, and we had a great time trying out the different bars around town, as well as playing some sport in the parks. One afternoon about 40 of us even went on a Taco Pub Crawl around the Mission District of San Francisco, which was a great way to see a cool part of the city. In amongst all of this, we also had the chance to visit Facebook in Palo Alto, and the GooglePlex in Mountain View.

Last weekend was the Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate Park, which quite a few of us went to. Although it is a 3 day event, I only went on the Saturday and it was awesome. There was gourmet food and wine, it was a beautiful sunny day, and we rocked out to Ok-Go, Arctic Monkeys, The Roots, Girl Talk and many more late in to the night!

The past week has been taken up by Orientation Week, and it has been intense! Each day there were presentations on everything from the career search to setting up your computer to scavenger hunts around campus – the list goes on and they kept us busy. We also had talks from Biz Stone of Twitter fame, and Tom Kelley from Ideo, both of whom were very engaging and spoke about there experiences and how they are ‘Students Always’ and ‘Challenge the Status Quo’. Biz has actually just been named Executive Fellow at Haas which is exciting. In addition to the presentations, a couple of highlights from the week were:

  • ‘Cohort Olympics’ which involved the 4 cohorts competing in Olympic sports like cupcake eating and slosh ball;
  • An Eighties themed finale party with more spandex then I’ve ever seen and an amazing cover band; and
  • Tailgating at the Coliseum before watching an Oakland A’s baseball game.
Overall, the past three weeks have been incredible, and I am excited to get into class which starts next week

GO BEARS! ;-)

Ben B.