Student Perspectives

Student Perspective

Katie Pickrell

Katie Pickrell

MBA 16

Strategic Investments and Analysis
PG&E

Preparing to bring new energy technologies to market

There were Berkeley Haas grads at every energy company I looked at during my internship search. That includes John Woolard, the former VP of Google Energy. The Bay Area is the best place to be in the energy field.

Building connections across campus

Energy touches on so many disciplines—technology, law, policy, business, economics—that being able to connect with students and take classes in other graduate schools is essential. A Law School and School of Public Policy class on energy policy was terrific.

The existence of the Berkeley Energy Resource Collaborative—BERC—was one of the things that brought me to Berkeley Haas. It was an amazing opportunity to connect with graduate students and faculty from across Berkeley, as well as Bay Area professionals who share my passion for the energy field.

Google did a presentation on campus, and even though there was no one on the panel from the Energy Group, I connected with one of the Haas alums on the panel. That led to my internship.

I couldn’t wait for Cleantech to Market, where I would be working with a multi-disciplinary team of graduate students on a project to bring composites—hard plastics that typically can’t be recycled—out of the garbage and into the recycling center.

Adding business perspective to technical expertise in energy

I’m lucky to have found a niche—energy—that I’m passionate about. In my previous jobs, I’d been very involved in the technical side. Getting my MBA at Berkeley Haas gave me the business and economic skills to help bring new energy technologies to the marketplace.

I’d worked in the energy field, and in Energy & Environmental Markets, Professor Severin Borenstein taught the academic theories behind what I had learned on the job. It was terrific to be in a class so closely aligned with what I want to do in my career.

When I interviewed for engineering positions, the bar was set pretty low in terms of interviewing skills. The standards are higher when you’re seeking an MBA internship. The Career Management Group was instrumental in helping me raise my game.

Classmates who offer challenge and support

Getting your MBA gives you two years to think big thoughts and try them out. New ideas get unconditional support here, and there’s no pressure to get it right the first time. For me, that kind of thinking is a huge change.

One of my classmates was an aide to Senator Barbara Boxer. When I had to frame policy recommendations that would appeal to legislators, he gave me the kind of advice I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere.

We joked about classmates who are always ready to go rogue on the rules, “status-quo questioners.” That attitude is encouraged and it was one I tried to cultivate in myself, Questioning the Status Quo and taking more risks.

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