Attaining Business Career Goals After Berkeley

Reflections on my time in BHGAP during the Spring 2022 semester

Fascinated by the ever-changing technology landscape and its impact on society, I pursued computer engineering in India at ITM Group of Institutions. After graduating, I worked as a software engineer at Ericsson for a couple of years.

I soon realized that I was intrigued by the complex business problems that technology could simplify and solve, so I began to transition my career toward a business role. To do so, I went back to school and earned my Master in Business Administration from SP Jain School of Management in India.

I then went on to work at Diageo as a senior manager of digital marketing and then at Anheuser Busch (AB InBev) in the beverage industry as a marketer where I led digital marketing efforts and technology innovation.

To accelerate my career in a global fast-moving and entrepreneurial environment, I decided to be closer to a thriving innovative community. This led me to UC Berkeley, which is close to the heart of Silicon Valley. Being uniquely designed by offering courses that focus on entrepreneurship and innovation—with a lot of industry immersion and external speaker sessions—the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP) provides all the opportunities to get acquainted and well-integrated with the innovation ecosystem.

So after a long corporate stint, I wanted to be back in the classroom to unlearn and relearn new skills in the collaborative company of a dynamic, international cohort at the top innovation hub of the world. And BHGAP provided me with exactly that.

Courses, Experiences With an Entrepreneurial Focus

I chose courses that would help me further develop a strategic mindset that is required to succeed as a future business leader. Courses such as Product Management, Opportunity Recognition: Technology and Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and International Marketing were interesting as I gained exposure to strategies and frameworks that drive new ideas and product innovation. The courses covered topics from conception to go-to-market stages.

Meru Sharma standing in front of Skydeck logo

These courses also gave me a larger business perspective to bring a new idea to life as I embarked on the next phase of my career—as the global innovation manager at AB InBev.

I was fortunate to leverage the exhaustive industry experience and expertise of my Haas professors who were committed to our success and provided mentorship and guidance to help us navigate the next steps in our careers.

From time to time, I scheduled one-to-one interactions with Professor Vince Law (who taught Product Management) and Professor Wasim Azhar (who taught International Marketing) for their coaching and tips, which were helpful in understanding the U.S. job market. They also helped shape my career choices as I began to figure out the next role after my program.

Taking Time to Enjoy Berkeley

Meru Sharma on a snowmobile

I was definitely busy while taking amazing Haas courses and participating in this fascinating internship, but I still made time to hang out after class with my new friends! Here are some of my top places to visit in Berkeley that you should put on your to-do list:

Basking in the sun while taking a stroll around Sather Gate and Haas courtyard
Taking the elevator up to the Campanile observation platform for a breathtaking view of San Francisco
Hanging out with friends at Caffè Strada
Eating at Toss Noodle Bar on Shattuck Avenue with its scrumptious noodle entrees
Enjoying hot chai (Indian tea) at Bollywood Café on Euclid Avenue
Ordering Artichoke Basille’s Pizza on Durant Avenue with its big pizza slices!

I also spent most of my weekends and summer break beyond campus exploring new restaurants in San Francisco, taking trips around California—like the must-visit freshwater Lake Tahoe and visiting the upscale Beverly Hills area in Los Angeles—snorkeling in Hawaii and reliving my childhood by re-visiting Walt Disney World in Florida.

Back to Work

After graduating from the program, I joined AB InBev in the Bay Area as a global innovation manager. In my role, I drive technology innovation by identifying new opportunities to innovate and accelerate. I specifically focus on the process from ideation to launch by partnering with the Silicon Valley ecosystem of venture capitalists, Big Techs and startups.

Pursuing BHGAP accelerated my career in the innovation space by providing exposure to the most talented startup minds, innovation think tanks, faculty and peers. With a program that is specialized in entrepreneurship and innovation and provides access to the best faculty at Haas and guest speakers from industry, I am able to operate with a growth mindset and leverage the network to excel in a thriving ecosystem of technology and innovation.

Looking ahead, I see myself working at the intersection of technology and creativity, identifying and driving new ideas around emerging technologies that will address the consumer’s needs of today and tomorrow.

My Advice to You

As a visiting international student, I found it best to:
be curious to learn new skills
keep an open mind to new perspectives
push my boundaries—both inside and outside the classroom
connect with fellow classmates on a personal level, learning about their culture and more!

These would be my tips to anyone starting this program! Also, don’t forget to take trips as California has a lot to offer in terms of natural landscapes.