Video: 7 MBA student veterans share their stories of transitions and tranformations

We spoke with seven students—all of whom have been deployed to war zones and other hotspots across the globe—who inspired us with their stories.

These veteran scholars were all leaders in the military. In their transitions from the military to MBAs, they discovered they bring strong skills to contribute to their teams at school and in their careers. At BerkeleyHaas, they say they are adding more depth and new dimensions to their leadership experience.

Between the full-time, part-time, and executing Berkeley MBA programs, along with the undergraduate programs, we have 60 veterans at Haas this year. We thank them for their service.

Student veteran Mike Christman, MBA 16, to be honored at 49ers game

Mike_Christman_headshot_casualIf you tune in to the San Francisco 49ers game on November 23rd, you’ll see 1st-year MBA student and former Marine Captain Mike Christman on the field at half-time.

Christman, MBA 16, will be honored at the game as an NFL-Tillman Military Scholar. He was selected as one of 60 Tillman Military Scholars, a program that recognizes veterans for their leadership and academic excellence.

#1a Mike ChristmanChristman served as a AH-1W Cobra Helicopter pilot and forward air controller, deploying for two tours in Afghanistan and one in Southeast Asia. While in Afghanistan, he also embedded with a battalion from the Republic of Georgia.

He sought a Berkeley MBA in order to pursue pragmatic solutions to global social issues that contribute to conflict. As a student, he says he’s learning a new kind of leadership.

“I think for a lot of us, we really enjoyed the leadership part of the military, but we get that in a whole different way here,” Christman says. “In the military, you get the top-down leadership style. But you really have to transition to lead without authority, to lead your peers again—which is very tough, but very rewarding.”

#1 Travis DziublaAnother 1st-year student, Travis Dzibula, MBA 16, also received a scholarship from the Pat Tillman Foundation this year. Dziubla served as Navy Lieutenant aboard the submarine USS La Jolla.

The foundation was created by the family of Pat Tillman, an Arizona Cardinals player who put his NFL career on hold post-911 to join the Army. He was killed in 2004 by “friendly fire” while protecting fellow soldiers during an ambush.

Tillman Military Scholars were awarded $1.4 million this year to pursue degrees in medicine, law, business, government, education, technology, and the arts. Of the 60 scholars chosen from 7,500 applicants, nine scholarships went to MBA students—two at Haas. A third student, Ryan Evans, MBA 15, received a Tillman scholarship last year.

The ceremony for Christman is part of the NFL’s annual Salute to Service. For every point scored at 32 games in November, the league will donate $100 to the Pat Tillman Foundation and two other veterans groups.

Saluting Haas Veterans

On this Veterans Day, we would like to recognize all the men and women who have served in uniform past and present. We are fortunate to have veterans among our student ranks here at Berkeley-Haas. They exemplify our Defining Principle of Beyond Yourself and their global perspective and leadership enrich our community. Thank you for your service.

Vetted: Jeff Allen

This week we are showcasing students at Haas who are veterans of the U.S. military. Today, meet Jeff Allen, MBA 13, from the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program:

Service: Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army and Washington National Guard.

The path to military service: “I grew-up near Fort Bragg, NC, during Vietnam, saw the difficulties military life put on the soldier, family and community, and remember thinking, ‘I will never serve in the Army.’  But, as I grew, I saw wonderful examples of Service and it instilled a sense of duty. I went on to gain acceptance into West Point and then into Army Aviation. My active duty service was primarily at Fort Lewis, WA, and ended with a deployment to Operation Desert Storm.”

Invaluable experience: “Following active duty, I began a 20 year career in financial services practicing as an advisor with Merrill Lynch, McDonald Investments, and UBS. After establishing my practice, I rejoined the Army through traditional service in the Washington National Guard. I balanced a dual career during which I worked through two bear markets and two deployments—and some rewarding experiences. In 2005 my WA Guard unit mobilized to help in Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. In 2010, in my final military role, I volunteered to mobilize to support four deployments drawn from my Guard unit, looking after soldiers downrange, their families at home, and rebuilding a leadership team to train those who did not deploy. God bless the citizen soldiers and their families.”

B-school because:  “Sometime during the turbulent decade that began in 2000, I got the crazy idea to conduct a career ‘pivot.’ I wanted to prepare myself for life’s next adventure and needed to retool and hone my management skills.”

Chose Haas for: “Its distinctive leadership in strategy, entrepreneurship, and innovation, which challenge executives to challenge the status quo.  Most people do not realize that military leaders are seldom told how to accomplish the mission. Berkeley-Haas is an excellent environment in which to practice leadership while being a free thinker.”

Opportunity capture: “Through the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program, I have built strong connections with people who enhance my learning experience with their skills and will forever be a part of my network. My past career was very local and I now need to be better connected on a national or even global level. The resources and people willing to help at Berkeley, Columbia, and West Point are endless and there is a welcome mat out at most American corporations for the talent and leadership veterans can bring.”

Meet other Haas vets:

Brandon Doll, MBA 14, U.S. Navy

Stephanie Knoch, MBA 13, U.S. Navy

Robert Shaye, MBA 14, U.S. Coast Guard

Vetted: Robert Shaye

U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Robert Shaye in Panama

This week we are showcasing students at Haas who are veterans of the U.S. military. Today, meet Robert Shaye, MBA 14:

Service: Lieutenant, U.S. Coast Guard.

Inspired by: The humanitarian aspect of the Coast Guard and the leadership opportunities. “During my first assignment onboard a Coast Guard cutter, our crew saved over 400 Cuban migrants and 14 New England fishermen and participated in counter-narcotics operations in the Southern Caribbean.”

Invaluable experience: “I was 24 years old when I began my second assignment, to develop and execute a training program for 800 cadets each summer. I learned how to set organizational goals, overcome challenges, and inspire others.”

Life lessons: “Everything I have achieved in my Coast Guard career has been with a team. The strong sense of teamwork in our study groups, cohorts, and class is one of the reasons I love Haas so much.”

B-school because: “I have always been interested in business even from a young age. Living in San Francisco from 2008-2012 especially fueled my passion for entrepreneurship and technology.”

 Haas because: “I applied to and visited six MBA programs but none of them provided the rich culture and close-knit community that Haas offers. I could tell instantly that the student body was close and so was the Veteran’s Club. During orientation, I was thrilled to find out that there were 10 U.S. veterans in our class and that the number will likely grow next year.”

Defining Principles in Action: Before I enrolled I was told that Haas takes its Defining Principles seriously. After only two months in the program I could not agree more. Classes such as Leadership Communication teach us Confidence Without Attitude, and the Problem Finding Problem Solving course teaches us how to Question the Status Quo. I’m happy to say that these principles are readily visible in the students, faculty, and administration.”

Meet other Haas vets:

Jeff Allen, MBA 13, U.S. Army, Washington National Guard

Brandon Doll, MBA 14, U.S. Navy

Stephanie Knoch, MBA 13, U.S. Navy


Vetted: Brandon Doll

Former Ensign Brandon Doll (left) reviews his ship’s position aboard the USS Boxerin 2007 

On this Veteran’s Day, we would like to recognize all the brave men and women who have served in uniform past and present. At the Haas School of Business, we are fortunate to have several veterans among our student ranks. From the classroom to the courtyard, their global perspective, leadership, and resilience enrich our community.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, we invite you to learn more about our Haas Veterans Club and about a few of our vets, who will be featured on this blog over the course of the week. Today, meet Brandon Doll, MBA 2014:

Service: United States Navy, Surface Warfare Officer

Inspired to: “Follow in my grandfather and great-grandfather’s footsteps, receive a world-class education at the U.S. Naval Academy, and serve my country in return.” The events of September 11th changed Doll’s idea of service completely. “I was given the chance to serve my country in a true time of need.”

Invaluable experience: “I flew on to my first ship, the USS Boxer, on its way to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On my first day, I was put in charge of a division of thirty sailors during wartime operations in foreign waters. This was the greatest leadership challenge I have ever faced.”

B-school because: To complement Naval officer skills and make a successful transition to the corporate world.

Haas because: “Coming from the U.S. Navy, an institution rich in tradition and values, I sought a similarly ethical and value-centric entity in a business school. Just as the Navy emphasizes ‘Honor, Courage, and Commitment,’ Haas truly embodies its Defining Principles through faculty, curriculum and culture.”

A classmate’s thoughts: “Brandon’ s unique leadership and organizational experience brings a valuable new perspective to our discussions both inside and outside the classroom,” says Spencer Kellogg, MBA 14. “Our conversations about leadership, obedience, and motivation stand out as particularly insightful.” Adds Kellogg, “Brandon’s also among the better dancers at Haas.  Not sure where he learned that.”

Read about more Haas vets:

Jeff Allen, MBA 13, U.S. Army, Washington National Guard

Stephanie Knoch, MBA 13, U.S. Navy

Robert Shaye, MBA 14, U.S. Coast Guard