A self-professed “Navy brat,” Olivia Anglade grew up in Seoul, Korea, went to Stanford as an undergrad with an Army ROTC scholarship, picked up a master’s degree in engineering while at Stanford, and then set off to serve her country in exchange for the education she’d received. “I can do this,” thought Anglade. “Serve my country, have school taken care of, have a guaranteed job when I’m done and apply the skills I learned at school.” And so she did—commissioning in the Army as a project manager for construction units mostly in Hawaii. “My soldiers were carpenters, electricians and plumbers, and we built stuff,” she recalls.
When a 2010 earthquake struck in Haiti, where Anglade’s family is from, it was a pivotal moment, she says. “That’s when my professional expertise as a builder and my personal background collided. I had always thought I would work in Haiti, and there was now no excuse—I could actually apply my skills to helping the country.” She transitioned out of the Army and worked as a contractor for USAID in construction for two years in the disaster-ravaged island nation. “It was an incredible opportunity for me to understand the history of Haiti and the infrastructure and to apply my own expertise in rebuilding the country,” she says.
She found the work enormously rewarding and frustrating at the same time. “There are huge swings of optimism and despair,” she says. As she began to consider options for her next step, she landed on an MBA as a natural progression for her career. To date, her entire career had been in public infrastructure. “I didn’t know what the private sector looked like, period.”
Because she’d already been working for seven years, the general age of students, compounded with class size, were her most important considerations in choosing UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “I knew I wanted to go to a school where I would get to know my classmates very intimately and they will get to know me—I did not want to just be a body walking around.”
She confesses that an element of weather also came into play. “Having lived in islands that begin with ‘H’ for the past seven years, I was not ready for a harsh climate.” Finally, Haas’s defining principles also resonated—particularly “confidence without attitude.” As a veteran who had lived in one of the poorest countries in the world, Anglade has seen a lot of things many students haven’t. “But at Haas, it’s not having to prove that thing, it’s just being who you are surrounded by people who are curious about that.”
Anglade was struck by the “soul searching” element she encountered in her work with the Haas Career Management Group. With this guidance, she was able to identify that she gets greatest fulfillment through service. Client service as a consultant promised to give her exposure to many different industries and functions she had never experienced. “Within a month, I landed on the idea that consulting would be a great path for me,” she says. Longer term, she has her eye on something in the social impact or nonprofit world, but she recognizes that to truly have an impact on a small organization, she would benefit from greater exposure and broader breadth first.
She also credits the resources of the Consulting Club and Career Management with helping her prepare for intern recruiting. She also praises the Haas alumni network. “Alums from the Bay area would always reach out,” she says. “The commonality I found with them was great. They greet you with open arms. ‘I’ve never even met you before. This is great!’” she remembers thinking during such encounters.
In terms of classes that most prepared her for full-time work at BCG, two immediately come to mind. The first is an Excel modeling class taught by Professor Sarah Tasker, which helped her understand how to design financial models with a focus on usability—specifically how to create models that the client can use, that are clear and concise and that limit the potential for mistake. “I am going to walk into BCG with what I learned in that class in my back pocket, and that is going to be incredibly valuable,” she says. Another, “Negotiation” taught by Juliana Schroeder, already came in handy when she sublet her apartment to a classmate.
Anglade was a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow coming into Haas, which meant she got to take part in a Consortium Orientation Program (OP) even before classes started. At OP, she connected with Starbucks, who actively tried to recruit her for a construction role. If she had just been returning to the United States to work in a construction role, it probably would have been perfect, she says. But because she knew she wanted to branch out and take a risk, she persevered through the official first-year recruiting process. That said, having an offer from Starbucks really enabled her to narrow down the number of consulting firms she targeted. “I told myself, ‘I am only going to apply to consulting firms I can really see myself at, because if not, I will go to Starbucks.’” This positioned her to really evaluate consulting firms in terms of culture and take her time in making a decision. Her summer at BCG made her know she wanted to return. “The people and the culture I found aligned really closely with Haas,” she says. “Honestly, clients will change, but what is steadfast is the people.”
“Haas helped me figure that out, too,” she says. “What is important to you? You can have the best job in the world but if the company culture isn’t good, you are going to leave.”
And so she’ll start at BCG, but not until January 2017. “This is also a reflection of my experience at Haas,” says Anglade, who describes herself as a go-go- go person with zero white space on her calendar. “Thinking about taking seven months off before work terrified me,” she says. But Haas has enabled her to be more reflective. BCG offers five options for start dates rather than receive all full-time consultants at once. “If you choose the January start date, BCG provide a fellowship to do a language immersion program anywhere in the world in any language of your choice,” she says. So she will travel to Morocco to learn French as part of her time between now and January. She’ll also devote a month to spending time with her 86-year-old grandmother, work with classmates on some startups, maybe do some nonprofit strategy-type work and also visit family in Belgium, Abu Dhabi and Montreal.