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September 26, 2008

Interview with 2nd Year Berkeley MBA/MPH Student

One of my former clients, who wishes to remain anonymous, was kind enough to answer my questions regarding his experience in the University of California Berkeley's Haas School of Business and the School of Public Health 2 1/2-year MBA/MPH concurrent degree program. Below he discusses subjects both relevant to those specifically interested in the joint program as well as those interested in the Haas MBA more generally.

Interviewee ("MBA/MPH") background: He is a 2nd year student in the UC Berkeley MBA/MPH program. He has over seven years business experience. He was born and raised in Japan and he worked as a management consultant focused on the healthcare industry and was a manager in a consumer goods company. In the latter position, his areas of responsibility included consumer research and market/target strategy development for a global brand in the Japanese and Korean market. Upon graduation, he aims to contribute to improve the quality of service and financial stability of healthcare providers.


ADAM: You are in the MBA/MPH Program. How is that different from the regular MBA Program? How many students are in your program?

MBA/MPH: You will find a couple of points that differs from MBA program; 1) it requires 2 1/2 years for graduation, 2) students are required to take acertain amount of units from school of Public Health and 3) internship is required (though 99% of all Haas students do it anyway) for graduation. Typically, we have around 10-15 MBA/MPH students every year and most of them have a fair amount of work experience in the healthcare industry.

I believe the program gives unique advantage to students such as 1) strong academic background for healthcare system and health, both of which are indispensable to work at and lead the healthcare industry, 2) good friendship with talented classmates in a small class setting, 3) alumni network and strong reputation in healthcare industry that allows us to have various opportunities to meet industry leaders, 4) career opportunities both from MBA and MPH side (some employers are knowledgeable about our program and really value MBA/MPH dual degree students), and 5) opportunities to expand your personal network in MPH field (i.e. non-MBAers).

ADAM: What were some of the courses you took in your first year? What courses do you plan to take in your second year?

MBA/MPH:In my first year, I took Haas core courses except for Macro economics, which I waived by passing a waiver exam. Plus, I took “introduction of U.S. healthcare system”, “strategic management of healthcare organization”, and “Social Sector Solution (class- consulting project for not-for-profit organization with McKinsey consultants)”, all of which were required course for MBA/MPH students. I also took “consumer behavior” from Haas and “healthcare information services”, offered by the School of Information. Haas is well integrated with other schools and I can easily take courses from those schools. That allows me to get to know more people with different background and interest and provides me with a unique perspective.

In this semester, I am taking courses mostly from the School of Public Health including epidemiology, international healthcare economics, independent study with a professor about healthcare quality. Also, I am taking healthcare finance and service strategy courses from Haas. And, I take beginning Danish solely from my interest (that does not count as units for graduation). I am planning to take a course from the School of Architecture in Spring on top of courses from Haas.

ADAM: What did you do last summer?

MBA/MPH:I split my last summer between two internships. In early summer, I went back to Tokyo and I worked at a consulting firm in Tokyo on a project for a pharmaceutical company. I came back to the U.S. and have been working for a health systems company as a project management intern.

ADAM: What does Berkeley’s slogan, “Leading Through Innovation,” mean to you?

HAAS 2Y: First of all, innovation does not mean just “technology innovation” and it should be understood to have a broader meaning. Innovation, I believe, should be in any industries in various ways. Leading through innovation for me is to have a mindset to challenge the status quo, to think through and accept the diversity for new idea generation, and to influence the organization so that it commits to make things (or even the world) better. Haas is a place to incubate innovation. In my personal view, Haas has a real variety of people with different values, backgrounds and expertise. And, we have a culture of understanding each other. In addition, UC Berkeley has many cross-listed programs with other schools (e.g. School of Engineering, School of Public Health, School of Information etc.) that helps us to foster new ideas.

ADAM: How important is team/group work at Haas?

MBA/MPH: First, no business is done by an individual and no business is done only with math or calculation. I think students at Haas understand that and we seriously value collaboration and others’ point of views. I don’t know about other schools, but we are basically not so keen on getting an “A”, rather, we value getting unique insights or trying something that inspires us. We have a fair amount of work for each group we are assigned by the school (especially in the first semester) and obviously it is not easy at first due to differences of background, expertise and culture of each student. But, we are get used to it as we know each other well and understand each other’s value.

ADAM: Are you active in any clubs?

MBA/MPH: I am a member of H2B2(Haas Healthcare and Bio Business), Soccer Club, and Net Impact Club. I participated in Net Impact case competition held in Boulder, Colorado with 3 classmates in the summer. I was also on the mentoring committee for incoming student this summer. These club activities helped me to expand my network of friendship.

ADAM: Are there any common characteristics you find amongst your classmates?

MBA/MPH: I don’t know about others school so my answer may be subjective. I view everyone here as having the idea of what he or she wants to do, and has passion for that. Good example is that a fair amount of students at Haas have their career interest at not-for-the-profit, CSR and social ventures and they inspire other students.

The other point is that, students here are basically very nice. Not only they are nice from their nature, but also I guess the fact that we know each other well helps a lot. We have many opportunity to know students each other as we only have 240 MBA students in one year.

ADAM: Why should someone considering an MBA choose Haas?

MBA/MPH: If you just want to spend 2 years (or 2.5 years in my case) just as a prep school for I-bank or consulting, then Haas may be just “one of many options.” Having spent 1 year here in Berkeley, I am pretty sure that my experience in business school is absolutely more than that. Studying and collaborating with classmates, I learned from the various values, ways of thinking, beliefs, communication styles, and expertise in business and cultural context of my classmates and professors. I am sure that, here at Haas, I have made life-long friends from all over the world.

In addition, our MBA/MPH program, as mentioned above, is simply great. It has been honestly much better than I had expected. I am sure that the program fit my academic interest very well (there are lots of things we can learn only because we are in the School of Public Health, and these are absolutely good to know or a must to know for working in the healthcare industry). The program expands my possibility of networking and career as well. If you are interested in healthcare industry, MBA/MPH is an option you may want to consider.

Lastly, not the least, the Bay Area is simply perfect. Great nature, great city (San Francisco), laid back culture, great food (vegetables and fruits are amazing) and sunny and mild weather.

ADAM: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to Haas?

MBA/MPH: Many people might have already told you about this, but, again, I think you need to spend your best effort to know Haas thoroughly before you apply. And, you should ask yourself if you fit to what Haas offers and to your future classmates. Meet alumni or current students and feel Haas by yourself. If you visit school or meet alumni, it is a good idea to prepare before meeting by carefully reading through website or other publications. It should help you to identify what you need to know about Haas more and helps you ask the right questions to students or alumni. I personally believe that just a strong GMAT cannot differentiate you from others.

Finally, I would recommend checking the official website of our program (http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/advantage/health/) if you are interested in applying MBA/MPH program or knowing more about the difference between the MBA program and MBA/MPH program.


I want to thank "MBA/MPH" for taking time out of his busy schedule. You can read my analysis of the Haas MBA questions for Fall 2009 entry here. Japanese interested in Haas should visit http://groups.haas.berkeley.edu/japan/.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. Before emailing me questions about your chances for admission or personal profile, please see "Why I don't analyze profiles without consulting with the applicant." If you are interested in my graduate admission consulting services, please click here.

-Adam Markus
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