Student Perspectives

Student Perspective

Leah Finn

Leah Finn

MBA 18

Product Manager, Recruiting Product

A satisfying switch to product management

I started my MBA studies knowing a lot about what I didn’t want: another job in the higher education sector or a career in consulting. It was my internship that revealed exactly what I wanted: a career in product management in the tech sector.

Studies ignite passion for product management

In my first year at Haas, a product manager from Slack came to campus and talked about what goes into designing a good product. That is what got me thinking and asking questions about product management.

The proximity of Berkeley Haas to so many leading tech firms—established and startups—is incredible. I got to meet and listen to product managers from FitBit, Slack, Google, Facebook, and so many others on campus.

Berkeley Haas offers many classes that teach skills that are useful for product managers. For example, Power & Politics and Negotiations gave me useful skills in how to use influence to get what you need in situations where you don’t have actual managerial authority in handling conflict.

Learning the power of teamwork

In product management I not only contribute to the end result, I can see the effect it has on the business and our customers. I also love the team piece. We all have a high degree of autonomy and independence to figure things out, but we know that we also have responsibilities to the rest of the group to move the project forward.

As a team leader, you need to build trust. You need to demonstrate your credentials and knowledge, but even more importantly, you need to demonstrate that you understand the team’s needs and give them the support that leads to success for everyone.

All of the many teamwork opportunities at Berkeley Haas taught me, not only how to ‘make it work,’ but to make it work and deliver a high-quality product.

Hands-on learning happens everywhere

Being the lead for the Marketing Team at LAUNCH—Berkeley’s startup accelerator—was a ton of work and a great learning experience. The biggest lesson I took away was the importance of motivation, especially when you’re trying to keep a team focused and engaged over a long period of time.

My IBD experience took me to China, and by that, I mean all over China. Our team helped our client create a domestic go-to-market strategy in the cut-flower space. We traveled to Kunming, Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong. I never imagined having such a cool experience as part of my MBA studies.

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