Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class Of 2020

Afnajjer Hernandez

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Passionate, relentless and AFfable. Pursuing a life of impact in cleantech and diversity & inclusion.”

Hometown: Orlando, FL

Fun Fact About Yourself: My name is an acronym of my mother’s relatives.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Central Florida, Finance & Real Estate

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Lockheed Martin Energy – Senior Strategic Planner

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It was helping someone who worked for me to find his true passion has been the most fulfilling part of my career so far.

I was fortunate to be promoted to lead financial analyst at Lockheed, in charge of a team consisting of an analyst and an intern. During this time, I granted my team full autonomy and encouraged members to find the best ways to solve problems. The intern in our group began to fully immerse himself in developing high-quality macros (shortcuts for common tasks) for our reporting systems. Some were so advanced that we were worried about maintaining them after the summer. After the summer break, we reconnected and he told me that he had spent the summer thinking about pursuing his passion: information technology. When he arrived back to campus, he declared a second major in Information Technology, turned down a full-time job offer, and began his internship in that sector.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? In one word, it would be altruistic. My classmates have shown such empathy and care for one another that I am amazed at how tight-knit our community has become in such a short amount of time. That altruism is also forward looking. My classmates are all looking for careers where they can make a positive impact on society through business.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?  A number of factors guided me to Berkeley Haas, but the Defining Leadership Principle: “Beyond Yourself” is what made me feel at home. As I conducted research on Haas, I reached out to students to gain some insight on their experience. What stood out to me was the way in which two out of three students ended our conversations. As we ended the call, I thanked them for their time. They responded with, “Not a problem! Just remember, help those behind you when you’re in my shoes.” Even during a casual informational call, the students never forgot to go “beyond yourself”.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am looking forward to joining the Berkeley Energy Resource Collaborative and plugging into the diverse and talented cleantech ecosystem at UC Berkeley.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’m a believer in the motto “the more I learn, the less I know.” As I transitioned into a strategic planning role at Lockheed Martin Energy, I began using different tools, models, and frameworks that I had not previously encounter in a finance role. I quickly understood that for me to advance my career in business, I needed a better understanding of the complex models and frameworks used to run a large organization.

I also became aware of the complexity of the cleantech market and the different market dynamics that influence technology, policy, and business models. An MBA with a specialty in clean energy would give me the functional and industry expertise I wanted to excel in the market.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment?As a true analyst, I built a few financial models that projected cost of attendance and future earnings in a sector and made sure the IRR was well above my IRR without an MBA.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

University of Texas, McCombs School of Business

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I used a worksheet with different parameters and weights to each parameter to assess which school would be the best fit. Below are a few of the highly weighted parameters.

  • Alumni strength in cleantech
  • Partner consideration
  • Career placement in cleantech
  • Size of class
  • Geographical region

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?I was 13 when I went on my first trip to feed the homeless, handing out bagged lunches in Orlando. Until then, my only previous interaction with the homeless had been when they asked me for money or when I saw them gathered under a highway bridge

That day, I spoke with a woman who lived in Lake Eola Park. She walked me through her life story and explained how careless mistakes and trusting the wrong people led her to where she was today. I was taught that everyone goes through challenges and that our loved ones help us through tough times. This woman didn’t have that benefit though, and her story shook me greatly. From that day on, I have volunteered to feed the homeless and made sure to listen to their individual stories. Through this work, I have developed strong interpersonal skills that I use in my professional life. More importantly, it has made me an active and empathetic listener, further encouraging people to share with me.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to continue my career in the cleantech/renewable energy sector.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I envision myself working at a late stage cleantech startup as well as assisting the inclusion of Hispanic Americans into the sector.

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