Get, Set ‘n’ Go – Haas

It was a kick-ass start!!

It’s official – I’ll be joining a part time MBA program at Haas School of Business in UC Berkeley this fall. This weekend was the formal orientation to the program, which was attended by all 240 students who would be divided into 4 ‘cohorts’ or classes. We were all put up in the Doubletree Inn in Berkeley for two nights. Our stay was interspersed with presentations, talks about networking, panel about Berkeley clubs, wild dance competition, team building activity, case study and yes, networking. Any remaining concerns that I had about the program, the people and the potential return on a $90K investment were gone.

I am truly amazed by the different types of people I met. As cheesy as it might sound, I have to give you small sampler – I met a journalist, an entrepreneur, an almond grower, a solar product manager and an ex-politician – all in the same weekend. I realized how limited my circle had been, living in a world of techies all my adult life. For the last year or more, I have been trying to meet people interested or involved in alternate energy technologies. Within a weekend, I have multiple leads. (Looks like this thing called networking might actually work!)

This blog will probably take a bit of a turn as I start this program. Rightly so, this is going to become a big part of my life from now on. But as the first post about Haas, I do want to share my fondest memory of the weekend. This was a team-building activity we did Saturday morning. Groups of 8-9 students were given cardboard, markers, glue, tape, 6 eggs and 50 minutes. We had to come up with a home for the eggs – a structure which protects these eggs from a flurry of tennis balls being fired at 100 mph from 12 cannons 15 yards away. Points were given for aesthetics, surviving eggs and the height at which the surviving eggs were placed (higher the better).

Our answer to this complicated structural engineering problem was named “Chateau Ghetto” on “9 Ho Row”. It is the most authentic ghetto representation of a chateau that I have ever seen filled with graffitti, broken windows and what not. It was probably the ugliest model amongst all the 12 teams. Anyway, 50 minutes later, we placed our colorful pyramid, along with the others, at the mercy of 12 tennis ball cannons (Loved shooting those cannons). Every team got 20 shots to do as much damage to the enemy eggs and structures, while hoping that our own chateau would sustain all shootings with grace and protect all its inmate-ggs.

Our strategy was make it so ugly that shooters would ignore it. Although it was not stated so elegantly, we knew what we were doing :). And guess what…it worked. We won the 1st place in the competition, and probably why I am still so excited about it. What a great team – Brian, Christina, Marcella, Glenn, Chris, Andy, Luchen, Jake, Bob and me. I hope I get a chance to work with these flos again. By far the most interesting team-building activity I have participated in.

Truly a great weekend, and I am supercharged about the next 2 1/2 years!

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