You may be asking yourself, what is an MBA trek? Is it like “Star Trek”? Well, kind of. An MBA trek is an off-campus event aiming at extending our networking reach. Usually our alumni (our inside men!) will help organize a trek to desirable companies so our students can get an inside look at how businesses run. Treks combine company-visiting, culture-exploring, networking, and, perhaps most rewarding, gift-taking! Last Friday, I joined the trek to Brocade headquarters in San Jose, CA. Located in the beautiful Silicon Valley, Brocade was awarded one of Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For last year. Let me be your guide as I share my journey with you.
Beginning bright and early at 8:45 am, fourteen first-year MBA students from UC Davis and six second-year MBA students from UC San Diego checked in at the receptionist desk of Brocade, As we sat around at four big desks, chatting excitedly, Recruiter Jenny Deng, also an alumna, introduced the University Development Program (“UDP”). In this exciting 10-week internship program, Brocade hopes to build up strong relationship between interns and the company, and hopefully from these interns hire newly graduated MBAs who will be stellar co-workers at Brocade in the future. The program will culminate with interns giving presentations in front of Brocade’s CFO and other executives. The UDP focuses included positions in Finance and Project Management.
Next, Jim Jones gave a thorough introduction about Brocade, what Brocade makes and sells, and how technology drives and changes people’s lifestyle. Brocade grew up quickly with success of its business partners, Huawei, ZTE, Cisco, VMware, NetApp, etc.
After that, the most important networking part of the trek has arrived: talking closely to the finance and product management staff at Brocade. A Product Manager came to our desk first and shared a thrilling new technology he is working on, a virtualized router. Every student was influenced by his enthusiasm in the new technology and the incoming change it may bring to the world. This experience encapsulates the main reason why I love Silicon Valley; passionate people are everywhere and believe they are part of a paradigm shift. Half an hour later, hosts at the four desks switched, and students shared some take-aways. Brian Jansen, another alumnus, came to be our second desk host. He explained how finance staff, especially financial planning and analysis (“FP&A”) collaborated with engineers and marketing. He also talked about his rotation experience, how he adjusted himself in investor relations and product finance roles.
We not only received irreplaceable experience from our trek, but Brocade also gave us gifts! Jenny had prepared surprises for all students. I got a thermos flask and a leather-cover notebook with cap lifter and laser light inside. Wow!
The last part of MBA trek was company tour. Jenny guided us on a tour of the facilities. We saw for example a data center in a transparent huge room. We also toured buildings which earned LEED green rewards as well as a nice cafeteria (of course!). Also we got a sneak peek at the state of the art fitness center. Yes, you can definitely sense a free style culture at this impressive high-tech company. I was excited to hear anyone can head for a quick work out during working time as long as you can finish your tasks. (This is another reason I love Silicon Valley!)
An MBA trek is interesting and the best way to learn about a company and network with people on the inside. It is a mutual marketing; the company gets to share the amazing benefits it has to offer, and MBA students get to share how individual skills can fit into and enhance a company’s mission and culture. At the GSM, we are always looking forward to the next MBA trek! Our mission: “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”