Winners: Students Reel in Second Place in Impact Investing Competition

Zach Knight and Chad Reed tapped their storytelling skills to connect to their audience in their presentation on  myCatch.

Zach Knight and Chad Reed, both MBA 15, tapped their storytelling skills to connect to their audience in their presentation on myCatch.

The Competition: Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge

The Outcome: $5,000 and access to an impressive network of potential investors

Chad Reed and Zach Knight, both MBA 15

Chad Reed and Zach Knight, both MBA 15

The Team: Zach Knight and Chad Reed, both MBA 15

The Field: More than 220 MBA students from 39 institutions across the globe submitted applications. Ten teams were selected and presented at Morgan Stanley headquarters in NYC.

The Challenge: The challenge seeks outstanding proposals for novel investment strategies to meet some of the most pressing global challenges. As the world’s population approaches 9 billion people by the year 2050, the challenge of meeting human demand for scarce global resources will intensify. Finance has a key role to play in meeting this challenge. Moreover, an increasing number of institutional investors are seeking sustainable investment opportunities for their portfolios. Teams are encouraged to think beyond venture capital fund vehicles and strategies.

What made them winners (in the team’s own words): We tackled a challenge no other team addressed — lending to small-scale, sustainable U.S. fisheries — in an innovative and creative manner. Our financial instrument acumen was second to none, and our entertaining presentation told a compelling personal narrative.

The Haas Factor: Pitching a new and creative financial instrument, as exciting as that can be for us finance nerds, really needs a humanizing story to connect with a larger audience. By focusing on an individual who will both benefit from our work as well as provide returns to our investors, storytelling became an crucial element of our success as we were the only team to employee this strategy. Our story focused on Larry Collins, a small Bay Area crab and sole fisherman, who has been left behind by rights-based solutions to fishing.

Another key Haas value that was stressed throughout our core classes was that feedback is a gift.  We pushed all our classmates, professional contacts, and even first-round judges for feedback.  This was certainly helpful as we entered the final round of Q&A.

The Haas Impact Investing Network: While Chad and I are not members of the network, our classmates who are involved in the Haas Impact Investing Network were able to provide meaningful feedback throughout the process, including help with our final pitch. Their feedback was essential to our last-minute final touches, pushing us with some tough questions (as the Q&A part is usually the make or break with these competitions) and providing general feedback on our idea.

Most memorable experience from the competition: We saw great speakers, met interesting contestants, and got excellent presentation experience, but the most memorable part of the competition was seeing a room full of more than 200 people at a major Wall Street bank brought together by an interest in impact investing. We both very excited to see that our passion for the impact investing space, which is a key reason we both choose to come to Haas, was shared by so many.

Portland Trek: MBA Students Head North for Nonprofit Insights from Nike, Mercy Corps

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By Guest Blogger Andrew Lee, MBA 15

Last month three Berkeley MBA students trekked to Portland, Oregon, as part of a Net Impact visit to the Rose City. Nick Wobbrock and Andrew Lee, both MBA 15, and evening and weekend student Vishal Kudchadkar, MBA 14, were eager to gain insights from contacts at the Nike Foundation and Mercy Corps. Additionally, the Berkeley MBAs invited the local Portland State University MBA Net Impact chapter to join us. In total, 10 individuals joined our visits.

At the Nike Foundation the group first took a campus tour. Lush and perfectly manicured sports fields surrounded us. Afterward we heard from Julie Addicott, a member of the foundation’s Global Communications team. She detailed the foundation’s main initiative, strengthening the “girl effect.” This is the powerful belief that adolescent girls are the key to ending the cycle of generational poverty in Africa. If you can change the course of a girl’s life at age 12, educate her, and prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, you can remake a continent. Much of the foundation’s efforts over the past decade have focused on driving resources to this agenda and getting the word out. Moving forward, the foundation plans to incorporate more initiatives that utilize Nike Inc.’s core competencies of storytelling, much like the Ethiopian radio drama the Foundation backed (

Following a quick lunch and commute from Beaverton, where Nike is located, to downtown Portland, the group visited Mercy Corps, an international development organization that saves and improves lives in the world’s toughest places. We heard from the social ventures and also market development teams. They provided an interesting perspective on international development because both teams employ market-based approaches, which is different than the traditional, and unsustainable, charity model of international development.

At the end of the day we reconvened with the PSU MBAs and Mercy Corps folks for a happy hour at the Thirsty Lion pub. A wonderful visit to the Pacific Northwest!

Designing Women: Leadership Conference [re]Frames the Conversation

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This year Berkeley MBA students brought the design-thinking skills they gained at Haas to hundreds of women from around the Bay Area who attended the annual Women in Leadership Conference. We interviewed Stephanie Curran, MBA 14, who co-chaired the conference with Lauren Fernandez, also MBA 14, about how they came up with the conference’s theme, “Design Your Future,” and their decision to focus on design thinking as they planned the conference.

What has been your experience with design thinking at Haas, and why you were inspired to share that through the conference theme?

I was first introduced to design thinking at a case competition shortly after I started school. We used “divergent” thinking to brainstorm the feelings one has when buying cell phones, which led us to create a story around the anxiety our proposed consumer segment goes through when purchasing a new cell phone for themselves and their family members. The Haas team was the only team that took this emotional approach, and the judges were incredibly impressed by our depth of consumer insight, ultimately declaring us winners of the competition. Soon after, I took the core MBA class Problem Finding, Problem Solving, where design-thinking tools were further explored and I was able to expand on my previous experience.

After that, I was sold on the power of design thinking and  began to apply it to projects I worked on for Berkeley Board Fellows, IBD, and elsewhere, always with success.

How did you end up applying design thinking to planning the Women in Leadership Conference?

Lauren and I actually used this diverging brainstorming activity as we were trying to come up with themes for the WIL Conference. We highlighted six topics that were trending and then spent two hours post-it note brainstorming to think about all the different things that fell into these topics. “Design Your Future” was one of the results, and we both felt strongly that exposing people to tools of design thinking and how they can apply to your life both professionally and personally was incredibly important.

Did this lead to any changes to the conference from previous years?

As the conference planning began to take place we used the theme to structure both the panels and interactive workshops. The panels had been traditionally industry focused and we decided to switch them to a functional focus. We wanted to give attendees a broad overview of all the different roles that can fall under one function like marketing, consulting or finance. This way if one worked or aspired to work in marketing, they could get a better idea of what “marketing” means across different industries in one panel.

The afternoon workshops focused on teaching attendees specific tools that are key to design thinking, whether it be reframing problems or learning how to tell stories. We wanted to ensure that at the end of the day attendees would be able to walk away with a “toolkit” around how to “Design their Future” going forward.

Did you do anything else differently?

On the day of the conference, we also conducted an interactive design thinking whiteboard activity designed by our classmate Lindsey Schatzberg, also MBA 14. In the morning, attendees were challenged to think about some opportunities they were facing in life, both personally and professionally. These opportunities were aggregated into four distinct themes around lunchtime and the afternoon then focused on attendees providing solutions and thoughts focused around these themes.

This activity was incredibly important because for most attendees this was their first exposure to design thinking and it allowed them to see the entire solutions based process of design thinking come to life.

What were key takeaways for you from the conference?

We received incredible feedback both at the conference and after on the keynotes, panels, workshops and everything in between. It was extremely rewarding for both Lauren and me to see a year of hard work play out and go off without a hitch. I know we are both so thrilled to have been a part of such a wonderful experience and that we had an amazing team to work with. The other ladies on the Women in Leadership board were incredibly instrumental in making this conference come to fruition.

Winners: Berkeley-Haas SmartBod Team Takes 2nd in SXSW Challenge

SXSW Winners

SXSW SmartBod Winners: Bobby Davis, MBA 15; , Arlene Hadi; Liz Klinger; and James Wang, MBA 15. (Leo Chen, EECS 07, not pictured.)

The Competition: South by Southwest 2014 Business Startup Challenge

The Outcome: A Berkeley-Haas team took second place in the competition at University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business on March 8.

The Team: The winning team, a vibrator startup called SmartBod, consisted of Berkeley MBA students James Wang and Bobby Davis, both MBA 15; Liz Klinger and Arlene Hadi; and Leo Chen, EECS 07 (who was unable to attend the event).

“I think it’s worth noting that our entire team came together through Haas connections; Bobby and I are in the same MBA year, and Leo was introduced through another MBA classmate,” Wang points out. In addition, Klinger is Wang’s partner, and Hadi is Davis’ partner.

The Field: Competing teams came from Stanford, MIT, Ross, Darden, McCombs, and Chicago Booth.

The challenge: Teams had to make a 10-minute pitch for their startup ideas, business models, and progress to experienced angel and venture capital judges.

“Most competitions have shorter pitches, so mostly cover just the high-level idea of a startup,” says Wang. “Since this competition involved a longer pitch format, we had to get pretty detailed on not just our broad concept, but how we would execute, market, and make money from it. With experienced judges and a lot of fodder, all the teams got really good (and difficult) questions during the Q&A portion as well.”

What made them winners: “As a VC, you see the same idea over and over again—they loved that this was something they haven’t seen before, and feel that it’s a viable business versus one that just chases a hot trend,” says Wang. “Again, I think our willingness to challenge conventional wisdom came through here.

“Additionally, they really liked that we were a strong, diverse team where everyone brought something to the table. (We have two electrical engineers, a systems engineer, a data and software specialist, and a designer).”

The Haas Factor: “The Defining Principles are core to how we’re approaching our startup and how we got into it in the first place,” Wang says. “Our startup is a smart vibrator company (yes, those types of vibrators). It’s not a typical startup, but we feel like we can bring a great product to market—we’re definitely questioning the status quo with what we’re doing.

“Additionally, even during the Q&A session, I think it came through that we were very open to feedback (Students Always) and very focused on providing reasoned, logic-based answers and not just opinion (Confidence Without Attitude).

“Finally, a big part of what drew us all to this project is the fact that it’s not just a business—we’re able to go beyond ourselves and help remove harmful taboos and misunderstandings around the topic of female sexuality.”

Where the idea came from: “It was mainly from Liz’s experience. She’s studied human sexuality from an artistic, philosophical, and sociological perspective for nearly a decade now since college, and in the past few years has sold sex toys as a sales consultant. She has gotten to talk with a lot of women about vibrators and has seen basically all the products on the market. When Startup Weekend Berkeley rolled around (a weekend “hackathon” where you build a startup from scratch) she was ready with her idea, and we were off to the races from there,” Wang explains.

Most memorable SXSW experience outside of the competition: “Some members of our team got to meet Grumpy Cat. During a panel that one of our teammates attended, Shaquille O’Neal popped in as a surprise guest. That same teammate, tagging along with a new friend from the pitch event, ended up at a small, intimate dinner event with Hunter Biden (Joe Biden’s son),” Wang recalls.

“Personally, even though I was in Austin for less than 24 hours, I ended up having a long talk with my UberX driver on the way to the airport –he’s a music photographer in Austin now, but turned out to have worked at Google, and we ended up talking about the future of smart medical devices, artificial intelligence, and the different management styles of companies in the Valley. You never know who you’ll meet at a place like SXSW!”

Learn more about SmartBod at

Berkeley MBA Students Mix with Big Leagues on East Coast Sports Trek

Students at Major League Peter Garai, Albert Cheng, Juan De Jesus,  Anne Lewandowski, Juan De Jesus, Brandon Doll, and Ryo Itoh.

Students at Major League Peter Garai, MBA 15; Albert Cheng, MBA 16; Anne Lewandowski, MBA 14; Juan De Jesus, MBA 15; Brandon Doll, MBA 14; and Ryo Itoh, MBA 15.

A small team of Haas students tackled the contact sport of networking on the East Coast at the end of last month while attending the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and meeting with New York execs from the major sports leagues.

It was Berkeley MBA student Brandon Doll’s second time at the Sloan conference. Last year, after attending “from more of a sports fan’s perspective,” Doll was inspired to pursue a career in the sports industry. “It was a different experience this year. My strategy for the conference was a lot more targeted in terms of what panels I attended and who I was looking to connect with,” says Doll, MBA 14.

Doll, who currently has an internship with the Oakland Raiders, targeted people at sports technology companies and executives working for professional teams and leagues in business development, a job function he hopes to pursue after graduation.

Doll’s interest in sports stems from his grandfather, Don Doll, who played in the NFL for six years and then coached pro footbal for 25 years: “ I grew up in a family where sports were very important. For my grandfather, it was his livelihood.”

Sports also have a played an important role in the life of Paul Simpson, a student in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. Simpson played college basketball, and in addition to founding a tech company, is a founding partner of EDGE Basketball Academy, which trains high school and college students in basketball and provides academic mentoring and support.

Simpson, EMBA 14, was especially fascinated by not only the use of analytics on display at the conference but also the advancement of analytics across sports.

Moneyball 2.0

“Think of it as Moneyball 2.0,” says Simpson. Teams have gone from using analytics to choose players, as featured in the book and movie Moneyball, to using analytics to determine the best combination of players to put on the field, how to best encourage fans to attend games instead of watching on TV, and how to drive sales of specific foods, he explains.

Meanwhile, a panel on how team owners manage transition applied directly to Simpson’s daily experience as CEO of a tech company.

In particular, Simpson recalls, Vivek Ranadivé, owner of the Sacramento Kings, said owners want to do things that matter, and that drive helps them lead in a way that communicates to employees that “transition can be the catalyst of hope.”


Students at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: Ryo Ito, MBA 15; Brandon Doll, MBA 14; Juan De Jesus, MBA 15; Peter Garai, MBA 15; and Paul Simpson, EMBA 14.

After the Sloan Conference, several Haas students traveled to New York to meet with execs from the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, and Major League The meetings were organized by Doll and Juan De Jesus, MBA 15, who worked for Major League Baseball before coming to Haas.

“The trek was a great opportunity to apply some of the key management concepts that we have learned at Haas to the sports business,” says De Jesus.  “I now have a better understanding of the key issues that all the leagues are trying to solve and am excited to ideate potential solutions while at Haas.”

“It was really interesting to compare the different leagues,” adds Anne Lewandowski, MBA 14, a huge Red Sox fan and active member of the MBA students’ Sports Business Club. “You could see the spectrum business savvy, how international they are, and what they are doing with technology and marketing,” she says, noting looked like a San Francisco-style startup while the offices of the other leagues felt more corporate.

No More Old Boys’ Club?

Lewandowski was pleasantly surprised by the number of women they met. She especially enjoyed meeting one female executive in major league baseball who also had held high-level positions at two top professional teams. The executive described how she successfully negotiated a contract with a baseball player when she was with a team by taking a more empathetic approach to negotiations rather than just focusing on dollars.

“I could have talked to her for hours. She was so interesting,” says Lewandowski, who hopes to land a job in corporate strategy but is not yet sure in what industry.

“Even if I don’t ultimately make my career in sports, this trip was just one of those great experiences that crystallized that our classmates really did go beyond themselves, especially Juan and Brandon, in terms of organizing this trip and getting these meetings,” she says of the New York sports trek. “It showed the strength of the Haas network and my classmates’ willingness to stick their necks out and help us have a really fantastic experience.”

Driving the Energy Efficient Data Center

Li EDF Climate Corps

Louis Li, MBA 14, gained insights on the ROI of going green, thanks to a summer internship at Verizon as part of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)’s Climate Corps. Climate Corps dispatches students to corporate clients as energy problem solvers and shared this interview with Li on the EDF Climate Corps Blog:

Name: Louis Li

Hometown: Hong Kong

School: Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

Host Organization: Verizon

Q: What is one interesting fact about you that might surprise people?

A: In the past seven years, I have worked and lived in several very different places. I have worked in Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangladesh and currently reside in the United States. I am currently attending school in California, and spending the summer working for Verizon in New Jersey.

Q: Why did you want to join EDF Climate Corps?

A: I am very interested in the intersection of the environment, business and technology. EDF Climate Corps links my three interests together, providing insight into the business case for energy efficiency. Also, investing in energy efficiency is one way to have a great environmental impact. In terms of professional development, EDF Climate Corps is a great program that provides training, and places fellows with companies and organizations where we can make a meaningful impact.

Q: What did you work on this summer?

A: I have primarily focused on energy efficiency opportunities at data centers. I am also involved in a solar energy and fuel cells project, which will help provide power to roughly 20 Verizon facilities across the United States.

Q: What is the most difficult part about tackling the energy efficient data center project in your opinion?

A: One of the most difficult parts is finding the best way to fast track a project. I think that people want sustainability improvements, but they also have many other priorities.

Q: Have you found ways to overcome this?

A: I think it is very important to have an internal champion for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. My supervisor, Alan Scott, is quick to make new connections with key stakeholders within the business who can also help drive results. Second, I must be thoughtful when I shape the project scope and identify what my priorities are in order to execute in a timely manner. I also must consider other people’s time and make sure I focus on high value projects. And in order to attain approval for moving a project forward, we must reveal the project’s value to our customers and the business.

Q: What is one thing you have learned this summer?

A: I have learned a tremendous amount about energy efficiency, especially in regards to data centers. I also gained a tremendous amount of experience in understanding the return on investment of going green. And in my conversations with Verizon’s IT team, I have learned much about real world applications and strategies for success.

Q: What have you learned from your supervisor, Alan?

A: I have learned a lot just by looking to Alan as a mentor. Alan is always meeting new people and networking in a large organization to help solve challenging problems. He is continuously working to improve the sustainability of the business, and keeps customers at the forefront of what is important. Alan knows how to quickly explain what he is trying to accomplish and how to achieve results.

Q: What is the best part of working at Verizon?

A: Sustainability is embedded in the culture here at Verizon. The company has a dedicated sustainability team overseeing many different green initiatives, from clean energy to paper reduction. They work hard to provide powerful solutions for real-world issues. There are also more than 12,000 employees that are part of Verizon’s “Green Team,” which practices and promotes “working green and living green,” so it is energizing to be around so many people who share my values.

Q: What is the mark you want to leave on the world?

A: I want to solve environmental and business problems at the same time. This is the reason I joined an MBA program with a focus on clean energy. It has been inspiring to part of the team here, and I hope to one day inspire others.




MBA Internships: Broadening Investment Banking Skills

Landon't Berkeley MBA: broadening investment banking skills, rooting for the Bears

Landon Mizuguchi’s Berkeley MBA: Broadening investment banking skills, rooting for the Bears

Experience in M & A due diligence for a “Big 4” firm sparked Landon Mizuguchi’s interest in getting involved with a wider array of financial transactions.After speaking with friends and soon-to-be classmates, I knew that investment banking was a perfect fit–I could develop skills in valuation and business strategy, and continue to work on M&A transactions, while also advising clients on IPOs, takeover defenses, debt offerings, and all things corporate finance.” This summer he interned in the San Francisco office of a global investment bank.

Student: Landon Mizuguchi, MBA 14

Thrilled to be with this investment bank because: “This firm has such a strong culture of promoting teamwork, doing right by clients, and adhering to a set of business principles that resonate with me personally.  And the people are quite similar to those at Berkeley-Haas: insightful and impressive, yet pleasant and down to earth.“

Can’t believe he’s getting the chance to: Participate in live M&A negotiations. “This experience provided me with invaluable insight into the tactical approaches and preparation necessary to execute large-scale transactions.”

New skill applied: Financial modeling. “Over the course of the internship, I worked on several financial analyses, including discounted cash flows, merger consequences, comparable companies, and leveraged buyouts.” He says his Corporate Finance and Mergers & Acquisitions courses provided the theory and context necessary to conduct these analyses in practice.

Banking Geeks Out: “Our SF office periodically holds ‘Geek Out’ sessions where an employee presents the art or science behind an interesting topic. One Managing Director (“MD”) shared his secrets behind earning/using Frequent Flier Miles, and, during our internship, summer analysts/associates taught the office about subjects ranging from unique forms of electricity, to the art and history of DJ’ing.”

Advancing career goals by: Learning. “I am working on interesting transactions with incredible people who have loads of experience, so whether I remain in investment banking or pursue another path, this internship has been wonderfully rewarding for my career.”

MBA Internships: Inspired by Education Technology

Annie Hsu_Internship

It was on Mount Kilimanjaro that Annie Hsu found inspiration to pursue education technology–when she got to know a young porter on the trek. “I asked Noah about the difficulty of his work and his response was, ‘It’s our job to carry things, so we must have the spirit to carry things,’” says Hsu. “His remarkable drive and attitude made me wonder what such a young man could accomplish if he had access to better resources and opportunities.”

Student: Annie Hsu, MBA 14.

 Interning with: Chegg, a website dubbed “The Student Hub,” Santa Clara, CA. On fellowship through Education Pioneers.

 Education because: “Being a student is a life journey filled with lessons, growing pains, and challenges. Chegg helps students succeed in high school and college with scholarships, college matching, study help, and discounted textbooks, while Education Pioneers prepares leaders to transform the education system so that all children receive a high quality education.”

 Can’t believe she’s getting the chance to: Take on a mission she could personally relate to: discovering how to increase engagement of high school students. “I recruited high school students for focus groups and was fascinated with what I learned about their priorities, pain points, and dreams. I was encouraged to ‘think big’ on ways we could help them and  felt pleased to have created a solution that increased the relevancy and impact of Chegg products.”

A year ago, would not have known: “What it would feel like to work at a young VC-backed company that is still growing and evolving at a rapid pace.  At Chegg, the environment is conducive to creativity and ideation, which can be incredibly exciting. However, for these ideas to take flight and have actual impact – I realized buy-in from key players was critical; and the only way to get this buy-in is to take the time to get to know these key players and truly understand their unique values.”

From the classroom to real life: “In my Opportunity Recognition class, we studied entrepreneurship, startups, and technology in the Silicon Valley. Books like Randy Komisar’s “Getting to Plan B” and case studies on startups taught me about the valuable lessons that could be learned from failures and tactics on pivoting until you succeed. “At Chegg, there were many instances where I had to alter my approach until I got it right. For instance, I started my project operating in a relatively formal manner – one that I was used to with my previous Fortune 500 clients. One day, I was told to make the tone of my work ‘more fun’ which made me realize I was dealing with a very different culture and set of company values. I loved the opportunity to express a different side of myself and apply new skills.”

Inside Chegg: “Since Chegg’s customers are students – the interns are the target audience. We felt like the stars, since everyone wanted to know how we think and what we like. I got pulled into meetings to give product feedback, brainstormed on-campus marketing events, and shared feedback on my favorite music, apps, and news websites.”

Advancing career goals by: “Diving deeper into the possibilities of improving personalization and learning outcomes for students through technology. Also, through Education Pioneers, I’ve met people passionate about transforming the education system. We had heated discussions on teacher effectiveness, power and privilege, and the opportunity gap. I was inspired by the passion and learned a ton about the key issues in education.”

Airline Internship Helps MBA Skills Take Flight

Josh Polsinelli

Free time from a finance internship: “Everything stops in Brazil when a significant football match takes place.”

From meetings with the CFO to football matches, how an internship with Azul Airlines in Brazil is expanding one student’s understanding of corporate intricacies and national culture.

Student: Josh Polsinelli

Interning with: Azul Airlines, Barueri (São Paulo), Brazil. “I’m working with corporate finance to help analyze potential investments and the effectiveness of existing projects. ”

Excited because: Azul founder and CEO David Neeleman also co-founded JetBlue. “I’m amazed at what JetBlue did to the airline industry in the US in the early 2000s, shaking up a largely stodgy industry and being profitable in doing so. And, by living in Brazil during a historic time, I’ve been able to appreciate both the country’s excitement (forthcoming World Cup and Olympics) and its challenges (massive protests) and understand why Brazilians are now making themselves heard.”

Getting the chance to: See Brazil. “Free flights are definitely the top perk of working for an airline so I’m traveling to different parts of the country almost every weekend. Work is pretty amazing too – Azul is a fast-growing company on the verge of some big things and I’m able to work closely with the CFO to develop projects that are going to have a real impact.”

Well prepared, not winging it: “A highlight has been putting together and presenting a competitive analysis showing where Azul is succeeding and where it can improve as measured against some of its peers. For my presentation to a 30-person group that included the CFO, I drew on things I learned in Leadership Communication. Effective non-verbal communication is critical when making a presentation in English to a largely Portuguese-speaking audience! Corporate Finance has been essential as well; I’m applying lessons I took from that class almost daily.”

Inside Azul: “For a company with 10,000 employees, Azul retains a small-company feel where impromptu meetings and office drop-ins are common. Even the senior team here is incredibly open–I’ve had the opportunity to sit with many of the officers for a casual conversation or a chat about the aviation industry.”

Advancing career goals by: “Getting hands-on experience at a fast-growing consumer-focused company. My time at Azul is helping me transition from a career in financial services to a role where I’m able to better understand the intricacies and operations of a company.”

MBA Internships: Nike

MBA internships Nike Sarah Swigart

Sarah Swigart, MBA 14, is inspired by the Nike motto: If you have a body, you are an athlete

Student: Sarah Swigart, MBA 14, long distance trail runner (50K) and cyclist (CA to DC), marathoner, and triathlete in the Half-Ironman World Championships.

Interning with: Nike, Portland, Oregon.

Nike because: “They are pushing the limits in brand marketing and in materials innovation and manufacturing. As an athlete myself, I am energized by the way Nike challenges its employees to  genuinely serve the athlete.”

Thrilled to be getting the chance to: Prepare materials for the CEO. “My group, Corporate Strategy, supported the Executive Team’s annual strategic planning summit. We met with leadership across the organization to tee-up topics that would be discussed and prioritized for the next year. I learned so much listening to these leaders evaluate risks and opportunities.”

Applied learning: Facilitating cross-functional ideation meetings. “As a side-project, I am working with a team of 10 undergrads and 3 MBAs towards an end-of-summer presentation about a Nike-internal issue. Problem Finding Problem Solving gave me tools to facilitate constructive and creative brainstorming sessions. I understand when to open perspectives with wild ideas and when to laser-sharpen focus on feasible solutions.”

Inside Nike: “My team celebrates birthdays by hitting the gym, rather going out for lunch.”

Advancing career goals by: “Transitioning from a consulting role to an internal strategy position. While I possessed the analytical consulting skills my manager was seeking, I believe it was the credibility of the Berkeley MBA that gave Nike confidence in me as a candidate from the disparate field of healthcare.”

Earlier this summer, Swigart was part of an IBD team researching operational leasing best practices for a private equity firm interested in the automotive space in China. Read about the team’s work in this Haas in the World post.