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The Berkeley Evening & Weekend
MBA Program has created new
course formats and career services
to expose students to a greater variety of topics and career opportunities during their time at Haas.
When Himani Trivedi, MFE 04,
began working at Symphony
Asset Management in 2005, she
had no idea how valuable her Berkeley master of financial engineering degree would be to navigating through a financial storm.
The Berkeley Evening & Weekend MBA Program has created new course formats and career services to expose students to a greater variety of topics and career opportunities during their time at Haas.
One new offering this fall combined marketing research, customer behavior, and brand advertising in three five-week segments, each taught by a different lecturer. "Our goal is to balance providing the fundamental business disciplines and giving students an opportunity to explore some topics of interest," says Dave Gent, Evening & Weekend MBA Program executive director. "What is truly exciting about the Evening & Weekend Program is that students are able to take what they learn and apply it the next day in their workplaces."
Last fall, Gent teamed up with
Lecturer Frank Schultz to teach a
new advanced leadership course
designed specifically for working
professionals. In another first, the
Evening & Weekend Program is offering intensive classes modeled on executive education courses, including a one-week course on Health Care in the 21st Century with Kristi Raube, executive director of the Graduate Program in Health Management. Another exec ed-style course, Competitive Strategy, was crosslisted with the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program—another first for Berkeley-Haas.
The Evening & Weekend Program also is rolling out the school's recently launched Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD) initiative to its students, with the debut of new Problem Finding, Problem Solving and experiential learning courses.
The Career Services Office, meanwhile, has been responding to the changing needs of working students, who are showing greater interest in making career moves than they did during the worst of the down economy. Career Services has expanded its pool of peer coaches, created a new experienced-hire email, and produced QuickVids (YouTube-type videos) on cover-letter writing, company research, and networking.
In January, Career Services organized an executive recruiter experienced hire networking event, following on the heels of a Career Night for evening and weekend students in October.
"There is no one recipe for
success for career changers," says Terry Padden, MBA 11,
who spoke on his career change from mechanical engineering to investment banking at the Career Night. "But there was one 'best practice' that held true for all of the panelists: Leverage the Haas network."
When Himani Trivedi, MFE 04, began working at Symphony Asset Management in 2005, she had no idea how valuable her Berkeley master of financial engineering degree would be to navigating through a financial storm. Her skills allowed the young portfolio manager to quickly discern how to help raise what has grown into $4 billion in assets for the firm. Even more critical, her knowledge positioned her as one of the key orchestrators of Symphony's rise to the top of the collateralized loan obligation (CLO) game after the 2008 downturn.
"CLOs are structured products in which managers, with the help of investment banks, raise money from investors with varied risk appetite," she explains. "These structures can be quite complicated, requiring an understanding of exactly how the math works." Most firms were not paying much attention to such details, which led almost 80 percent of CLOs to fail to deliver expected returns during the financial crisis. But Symphony, backed by financial engineers like Trivedi working with analysts, maneuvered through this period to land in the top 10 percent of managers delivering what they promised to investors.
Stories like Trivedi's affirm that despite the lurching of global markets in recent years, the Haas School's top-tier Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) Program—overseen by executive director Linda Kreitzman since 2006—continues to serve as a pragmatic and sophisticated training ground for students seeking careers in financial markets and management. As the program celebrates its ten-year anniversary in March with the graduation of its tenth class, it remains a leader in providing the requisite quantitative knowledge of mathematics, computing, finance, and economics to enable students to make sound decisions on pricing.
"We stand out in our ability to help students understand how models work in the real world, where people are not always the rational actors of economists' dreams," says Adjunct Professor John O'Brien, who helped develop the program with Kreitzman and Professor Emeritus David Pyle.
The first such program in the United States to be run out of a business school—not an economics or mathematics department—the Berkeley MFE is unique in teaching students about the impact of their models and products by framing courses within the context of economics.
Yet the MFE has continued to
respond adroitly to the changing economic landscape. O'Brien started
teaching a Success and Failure in
Financial Engineering course to give
students insight into the challenges that might confront them in future careers. With systemic risk resulting from the misuse of derivatives now "the single most important issue" in global finance today, he notes, the program has also augmented the study of risk management in its courses.
Given the failure of regulations to
stop the unbridled use of risky derivatives,
the program is developing a
course on regulation that will run in
2012. In February 2012, the program
also will host a conference
specifically focused on ethics—a
topic that already is included as an integral part of MFE courses. And in another sign of changing times, the program is placing graduates in jobs at the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time this year.
Kreitzman dedicates substantial
time to placing students in internships
and full-time positions. "The
approach we've been adopting is to
work with the students one on one
to optimize their best opportunity," says Kreitzman. "At the same time, we let firms handpick directly those they feel best fit their needs." As a result, despite the recession, the program is still placing 100 percent of its students in jobs—a strong sign
of the continuing success of the Berkeley MFE indeed.
President Barack Obama in February announced his intent to nominate
Haas Professor Carl Shapiro as a member of the Council of Economic
The council advises the president on both domestic and international economic policy. Shapiro is currently on leave serving as a deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice. A professor at Haas since 1990, Shapiro has helped establish UC Berkeley as a leading force in patent reform. He is a co-author of the 1999 acclaimed book Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy.
In February President Obama also announced his intent to nominate Haas Professor and former Dean Laura Tyson and alumnus Paul Otellini, MBA 74, CEO of Intel, to the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Haas has created new positions to direct strategy, outreach, and marketing for two faculty groups: Finance and Marketing. The new positions' responsibilities include outreach to alumni and the business community as well as expanding partnerships with other departments including Career Services and Admissions. Bill Rindfuss came from a corporate finance career at JPMorgan to serve as executive director, strategic programs, Haas Finance Group. Last fall Marjorie DeGraca took a similar role in the faculty's Marketing Group, adding to her responsibilities as executive director of Evening & Weekend MBA Admissions. DeGraca helped launch the new course Chief Marketing Officer Insight Series in February with Del Monte CMO Bill Pierce. Each of the nine CMOs participating meets with five students over dinner after giving a talk to the 50 students in the class. Rindfuss helped prepare students for investment banking internship interviews through a new series of teach-ins in the fall. This semester he is working with the finance faculty on the curriculum's strategic direction.
Five Berkeley MBA students were named "America's Most Innovative MBA Team" in the Innovation Challenge competition in December, thanks in part to the school's new curriculum.
The team bested more than 100 competitors
from more than 50 business schools,
crediting Haas' new Problem Finding,
Problem Solving class as a factor in its success. "The course gave us a great set of tools
to brainstorm and ideate in the early going
of the project," says Blake Holland, MBA 12.
Holland's teammates were Rhul Bijor, Brandon Piper, Nancy Unsworth, and Scott Van Brunt, all MBA 12.
The challenge was one of many recent competition victories for Berkeley-Haas. They include:
- 1st, Elite Eight Brand Management Case Competition
Alicia Chen, Anne-Elise Fettig, Jessica Huard, Vannie Shu, and Stephanie Tsai, all MBA 12.
- 1st, Wells Fargo MBA Case Competition
Matt Acalin, Claudia Dias, Andrew Hamilton, and Mike Young, all MBA 12.
- 1st, UNC Real Estate Development Challenge
David Sterlace, MBA 11, and Gretchen Heckman, Meaghan Kroener, and Joseph Rehrmann, all MBA 12.
- 1st, Haas Education Leadership Case Competition
Bruce Dos Santos, German Freiwald, and Moritz Plischke, all MBA 12, and Paul Perry, MPP 11.
- 2nd, National Real Estate Challenge
Greg Beloff, Jennifer Cofield, Jaime Choy, Miki Dutt, and Chris Nehls, MBA11; and Dan Byrnes, MBA 12.
- 3rd, Wharton Buyout Case Competition
Allan Riska, Derek Simmons, Serge Stanek, Jonathan Stull, and Zoe Zhu, all MBA 12.
- 3rd, Alpha Challenge Long-Short Stock Pitch Competition
Chris Anderson, Robbie Bhathal, and Tarun Pandit, all MBA 12.
- 3rd, Wake Forest Biotech Case Competition
Liora Bowers, MBA/MPH 11; Jonathan Heller and Huzefa Neemuchwala, both MBA 13; Meean Ramachandran, MBA/MPH 12; and Heather Stamper, MBA 11.
- Cleantech Open Business Competition
Regional finalist, $30,000 prize: Ryan Hanley, MBA 11.
Haas Professor Emerita Janet Yellen, CEO of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, was sworn in as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Oct. 4. Nominated by President Barack Obama, Yellen will hold a four-year term as vice chair and 14-year term as a Fed governor.