Student Treks Forge Knowledge and Connections

From evaluating market opportunities in India to exploring international development in Kenya, Berkeley MBA students made the most of their winter semester breaks.

On a trip aimed at better understanding New York City's financial services landscape and building East Coast-West Coast relationships, about 40 students from both the Full-Time and Evening & Weekend MBA Programs journeyed to Wall Street. For the first time in the trek’s eight-year history, students split into buy-side and sell-side interest groups, led respectively by Wendy Walker and Sam Snyder, both MBA 11. Students met with firms including Goldman Sachs, Barclays, and RBC Capital Markets.

Another team of finance trekkers went to Hong Kong, meeting with executives at such firms as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Fidelity.

In search of something new in New York, the Haas Marketing Club organized the first-ever marketing trek. Sparked by an interest in obtaining exposure to companies that do not traditionally recruit on the West Coast, the trek’s eight students, led by Kitty Sullivan, MBA 10, met with Lord & Taylor leadership and the global media group at Time Warner.

Global Initiatives at Haas piloted an international development trek, led by Judy Chang, MBA 11. Eight students devoted two weeks to learning about the business models, opportunities, and challenges organizations face in the emerging market of Kenya. The on-the-ground experience, says Rumana Hussain, MBA 10, "created a vivid sense of possibility – and revealed the tangible ways in which one can make a difference."

Sixty students traveled to Shanghai and Beijing on a China trek organized by Freeman Ding, Nan Duan, Bernie Murphy, Fan Yang, and Haiping Wang, all MBA 11. The students visited firms that included Johnson & Johnson, GM China, Frog Design, and Google China; connected with alumni; and braved the brutal cold to experience Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall.

Another new trek took about 35 travelers – students and a few partners — to Brazil. The trek incorporated fun (samba school and beach time) with corporate visits to such companies as Cosan and Natura.

And on an individual journey, Aliza Gutman, MBA 10, spent her break working on a project with a mobile payments start-up in Bangalore, India. Charged with assessing a new product idea and its feasibility for the company, she conducted market and competitive research and interviewed leading online retailers to develop product and marketing recommendations.