Daniil Pushkin, MBA 21, clearly remembers the night he got the call from Berkeley Haas admissions.
“I was in the middle of nowhere in a small Russian town working with a client, living in a hotel,” says Daniil, a former Moscow-based McKinsey consultant. “I was sitting in my room working on a presentation at 1 am, when I got a call from a person from Haas who congratulated me that I was off the waiting list.”
The news was especially sweet because it meant he’d be able to join his girlfriend, Eugenia Zanina, who had already been admitted to the full-time MBA program. Her work with Boston Consulting Group meant they were often apart, but now the wait was over. “I was so happy,” says Daniil, who woke Eugenia up at her client site in Uzbekistan, where the local time was 4 am.
There was one big thing to take care of before they headed to Berkeley: They decided to marry in July 2019. “We just wanted to reassure our parents that we were going far away from them as a married couple,” Daniil says. “That was important for us and for our families.”
The pair first made each other’s acquaintance as undergraduates at Moscow State University. Years later, they ran into each other in a Latin dance class. “We just started to walk together home. Then we started dating,” Daniil says. “That was eight years ago.”
As consultants based in Moscow, travel was a constant and they went for days without seeing each other. They spent weekends catching up. “We traveled a ton, which is one more reason we really wanted to go to the same place and live in the same house,” Eugenia says.
In Berkeley, the couple is enjoying life together, both in and out of class. They are in the same cohort and coordinated their schedules to include electives like Haas@Work and marketing analytics. Daniil, who is earning a dual MBA/MEng degree, also takes financial engineering courses.
While they’re both happy to be together, Eugenia worried that they wouldn’t get to know their classmates if they didn’t branch out. So they decided to sit apart sometimes and to join different course subgroups.
“The person who’s making me better”
At home in the Berkeley Hills, they relax, admire the Bay view and sunsets and the deer that wander through their yard. They also try to hike once a week near the ocean. “It’s so peaceful,” Daniil says. “All our life we’ve lived in a big city with limited flora and fauna. The weather was also not very good usually. Here we just enjoy this peaceful atmosphere.”
Asked what they love about each other, Eugenia notes Daniil’s positivity. “He literally brings good vibes to every day of our life,” she says. “It gives me an opportunity to feel life in all its bright colors.”
Daniil calls Eugenia “the person who’s making me better.”
“I’ve changed a lot in eight years,” he says. “I can definitely say that I am a better version of myself, and that’s thanks to Eugenia.”