Alumni Stories - Max Wesman of Berkeley-Haas

Alumni Stories - Max Wesman of Berkeley-Haas

TopMBA has been speaking to MBA graduates from some of the world’s top business schools, to find out how their experiences have helped their careers. Max Wesman is one such graduate. After completing his MBA at the Haas School of Business , he went on to work for HP and Inflection. He’s now the vice president of product management at GoodHire, a firm specializing in employment screening services. We spoke to him about his time at Berkeley-Haas, and the effect it’s had on his subsequent career:

How and why did you choose Haas School of Business?

My decision to attend Haas came down to a number of factors, some of which were unique to me and my career path and personal objectives, and others which were elements of the school itself.

At the time when I was looking to apply to business school, I was living in New York. As a San Francisco native, I had a strong desire to come back to California and eventually settle back down in the Bay Area to be closer to my family and break into the technology industry, which had been a goal of mine since middle school. As such, Haas was immediately on my radar due to its location alone, but I wanted to learn more about the school.

Through online research on the school’s site and various third-party blogs and guides, I got to know a lot more about Haas’s curriculum, core values, extracurricular opportunities, and the career paths of its graduates. I also spoke to a few graduates of the program to get a sense for their experiences at the school.

From there, I took a trip to campus for a tour and to sit in on a class. It was on that tour that I really fell in love with the school. I felt an immediate connection to the energy in the classrooms and on campus. Students were incredibly warm with one another and welcoming to me as a random stranger sitting in on their classes. I liked the intimate feeling that the small class size created and knew almost instantly that I would fit in incredibly well.

My strong feelings about the school were only magnified when I, fortunately, was accepted into the program and came back to campus for the Days at Haas admissions weekend. I had such a fun and engaging experience with my class-to-be, and the current students and faculty, that I had almost no choice but to accept my offer.

Did you consider any other schools?

Max Wesman

I applied to a number of top programs across the country and was offered admission into a couple of other schools. The main factors that sold me on Haas were the location, accessibility to the Silicon Valley tech sector, the small class size and student to faculty ratio, and, most importantly, the cultural connection I felt with the students. While I enjoyed my visits to the other campuses and met some great people, I ultimately felt the strongest “fit” was at Haas.

How did you finance your studies?

I financed my education through a combination of my savings, federal loans, and my parents’ assistance.

What were you doing before your MBA?

I worked as a management consultant for three years at Deloitte. While at Deloitte, I focused mostly on projects in the technology, media, and telecommunications practice, but I also worked on a number of exciting workplace transformation projects helping companies re-think their real estate strategies and remote work programs. One of my goals entering Haas was to find a way to meld my experiences at Deloitte to find a career path that let me use technology to help inspire collaboration and enhance workplace culture.

Did your MBA influence the path your career has taken?

When I arrived at Haas, I definitely had a general idea that I wanted to work in the technology space, but I wasn’t sure what role I would really fit into. Through speaking with students and alumni, and attending company presentations, I honed in on product management as the perfect next role and career path for me. Being at Haas gave me the opportunity to not only learn about the role, but also explore if it was right for me. With the help of the Career Management Group, I was able to adjust my resume, work on my story, and eventually land a product management internship at Microsoft and then a full-time role at HP.

How has your MBA prepared you for your current role?

When I was at Haas, there wasn’t a defined set of classes for product managers (that has since changed). In my case, I used my MBA to take classes in areas that I believed would help me gain the tools I needed to be successful in my next role post-graduation. Some of those classes included ‘Corporate Strategy’, ‘Market Research’, ‘Power and Politics’, ‘Financial Modeling’, and ‘Building a Lean Start-up’. Further, through connections made at Haas, I got a part-time internship at a local technology company in Oakland to get a sense for what life in a start-up was really like.

What attracted you to your current position?

For me, product management represented the perfect marriage of the skills I gained from consulting - analytical rigor, multi-channel communications, project management, and quick learning – with my desire to get closer to customers in order to make a tangible impact on their lives through technology.

Did you participate in any extracurricular activities during your MBA? How have they shaped who you are?

I participated in case competitions and a number of clubs, including the Tech Club, Culinary Club, and Beer Club, but my largest contribution was acting as co-president of the Digital Media and Technology Club, where I helped run the organization and put on the largest student-led conference on campus, >Play.

I think all of these experiences were helpful in pushing me to learn how to prioritize my time and manage sometimes tricky interpersonal situations within organizations, while also having a great deal of fun.

Is there anything that you consider to be a "beyond expectation" experience, while you were at Haas?

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in my International Business Development (IBD) project working with an amazing team of fellow students to help an NGO in South Africa, LoveLife. Not only was the experience working with the organization throughout the semester exciting and rewarding from a learning perspective, but the in-country visit to South Africa was a life-changing opportunity that I still feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to partake in.

Amelia Hopkins
Written by Amelia Hopkins

Amelia Hopkins is a writer for TopMBA, covering the latest news in business and business education. A graduate of the University of Leeds and Yorkshire native, she enjoys reading, travelling and talking incessantly about the countryside.

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