The power of the network

Hello again and of course welcome to the class of 2011! I have been back at work for a few months now and actually shouldn’t be posting on this student blog anymore, but I wanted to share an episode that really proved to me just how incredibly powerful the Haas network can be.

About a week ago I was researching a new topic for a consulting project and sent out a brief note through my class email list asking for any ideas or hints about the topic. I was hoping to maybe get one or two contacts or a helpful article (it wasn’t the most mainstream topic), but within just a few hours I received a total of 10 responses, all of which were extremely helpful and insightful.

As you can see, the network is alive and working. And it also serves as a hub for meetings and visits: Being in Berlin I have already had the pleasure to meet or host several of my traveling classmates and I look forward to an Oktoberfest meet-up in Munich soon.


Janet Yellen at Haas

Great speech last night by Janet Yellen, CEO of the San Francisco Federal Reserve and a member of the Federal Open Market Committee. Yellen had been a professor at Haas before joining the Fed and came back to Haas to discuss the current economic situation in an event that attracted quite a large crowd and received plenty of news coverage.

Overall she struck a cautiously optimistic tone. Some great insights into the risks of deflation and inflation and what tools (both conventional and unconventional) the Fed has to fight inflation going forward and to stave off deflation in the short-run.

Janet was a great speaker and clearly an extremely intelligent person. This was probably one of the last speakers I could see before graduating, and while I am busy finishing papers and projects, I am so glad I went to see her speak.

A video of her speech is online at


Online Worlds

In yet another CEO event, yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with Craig Sherman, CEO of Gaia Online, as part of my Media & Entertainment class. Gaia Online is one of the most successful social networks/online worlds in the US, mostly populated by teens and (very) young twens.

Craig discussed many of the aspects of monetizing online properties, we were able to challenge him on strategic decisions and he gave us great insights into how young people use social platforms and how their particular use patterns can be used to deliver unique value to both users and advertisers.

Another very interesting speaker in a class that brings in some of the leading experts in the digital media space into the classroom.


Looking back

With my two years at Haas are coming to an end, I have recently started to reflect back on my time here in Berkeley and on the intense period of time ever since I have started applying to business school.

When I started the application process in the summer of 2007, I spent a long time thinking about my goals for business school. I will use this post (warning: long post) to share some of those goals and whether I was able to achieve those goals here at Haas. In case you don’t want the read through all the details, here is the short summary: Mission accomplished.

Like most people applying for an MBA program, I wanted to develop and refine my leadership skills. In my career goals essay I wrote that I wanted to “
improve my interpersonal skills and gain confidence leading teams through applying my leadership skills in clubs and through classes…“. Let’s see: I ran for and won an elected office, held speeches in front of 240 classmates and really enjoyed the leadership communications class, the Peers @ Haas coaching program and my Power & Politics class. As a member of the MBA Association, I was the voice of the international student community and led a workshop at the Graduate Business Conference. I organized events for the international student community, led a consulting team, and developed and delivered a communication skills workshop. Confidence building? You bet. Improve my interpersonal skills? Absolutely. Applying my leadership skills? Sure.

International exposure
From my application:
“The program will allow me to meet people from different backgrounds, to learn from their experience, and to contribute my own perspective. At the same time electives like the International Business Development program, international study trips and the possibility to spend time at a business school in another country will help me to build on my existing international experience and to improve my understanding of doing business all over the world.
I went to class with students from more than 40 countries. I traveled to Japan with some of my Japanese classmates and really got to know the country and its culture, worked in Finland (IBD) and Italy (Internship), and explored Mexico. I worked on project teams with people from at least 5 countries and lived with housemates coming from 4 countries and moving to 4 (different) countries after graduation. I also worked on case studies dealing with companies from at least 10 countries, learned from professors from countless places all across the world, and saw speakers from a variety of countries who are doing business all over the world. Oh, I also spent 2 years in the US. For me, that counts as international exposure. Meet people? Check. Build international experience? Check. Improve my understanding of doing business all over the world? Check again.

Business fundamentals
Even though I had worked as a management consultant for two years before coming to Haas, with my background in Computer Science, I felt I could use a more structured and formal introduction into business and economics. I also really wanted to better understand the various functions within a company, and the different economics and strategic challenges of various industries. “At the current point in my career the Berkeley MBA will give me a solid foundation to take on new business challenges of various sizes and shapes: It will be a good opportunity to deepen my understanding of business fundamentals
Without going into too much detail about my classes here: Check. I also worked on consulting projects in mobile communications, social networks, payment services, building materials, and renewable energy. Check again.

I won’t copy anything from my applications essays, because that would sound really cheesy, but I met a bunch of wonderful people here at Haas and have been able to build up an extremely strong network and to make great friends. Fortunately some of my good friends are going to Europe after graduation, but I am sure I will stay in touch with many of my class mates in the years to come.

Giving back:
I knew I would get a lot out of my years at Haas. Over my two years at Berkeley, it also became increasingly clear, that I wanted to give back to the wonderful community and to contribute to the success of the Haas School. I was amazed by how much every single one of us was able to do to make Haas a better place and by how much room the administration gave me and others to improve the student experience at Haas, to support our classmates, and to form a stronger community.

To sum things up: Has Haas delivered? Yes. Has the program enabled me to achieve my goals and aspirations? Yes. Have I been able to grow during my two years? Absolutely. So once again, mission accomplished.



My housemates surprised me with a great surprise party for my birthday last Monday, I had a surprise guest for the week, and on Friday the European Business Club got together for a German (Bavarian) brunch: A Weißwurstfrühstück (White Sausage Breakfast). I had brought a few glasses of special sweet mustard from my last trip to Germany, Dittmer’s (a German butcher shop) provided the sausages and Esther’s German Bakery had wonderful Pretzels.

A nice way to bring together Europeans and current students planning to go to Europe over the summer or after graduation.

The picture on the right shows one of the bags of Weißwurst (we had a total of almost 20 pounds) before it was cooked. And in case you want to know all about Weißwurst now, check the Wikipedia article.