2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: David Bolívar, U.C.-Berkeley (Haas)

David Bolívar

University of California-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“A trustworthy, hardworking, friendly, family-oriented Peruvian with a student always mentality and passion for finance.”

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Fun fact about yourself: I tore my left Achilles playing soccer on the same field I tore my right Achilles a year later. After years of not playing, I’ve come back to play soccer with the Haas Soccer Club and played in the MBA tournament at UT Austin.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Universidad del Pacífico, BS in economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked at Enfoca, a private equity firm based in Lima, Peru. I was an investments and value creation junior associate.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Uber, San Francisco CA. I worked in treasury & investments.

Where will you be working after graduation? Google, Sunnyvale CA, Treasury Rotational Program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • VP of International; MBA Association (Full-Time MBA Student Government)
  • Peer Advisor; Career Management Group for Graduate Students: Advised international students and students interested in Finance Roles in Technology.
  • Instructor for undergraduate course, Real Estate & Urban Land Economics and MBA course, Fixed Income
  • MBA Advisor to Haas Undergraduate Consulting Club
  • Leader of Beginner Spanish Language Circle
  • Student Interviewer for the Full-Time MBA Admissions Committee
  • Co-led a trek to Peru over the 2020 winter break for nearly 40 Haasies
  • Awarded the Berkeley Haas Leadership Award

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  As a peer advisor, I’ve been working with international students as they embark on their internship and post-MBA career paths. For many international students, the interviewing process in the US is different from what they’re accustomed to back home and it’s vital for them to get comfortable speaking about their accomplishments. I have been coaching students to deliver engaging and concise stories that highlight their career and personal achievements. I have been thrilled to see the development of my fellow international classmates who are navigating the US job and internship interview process. In addition to my peer advisor work, I’m also proud of the work I’ve accomplished as the MBA Association’s VP of International. I helped more than 60 students receive a one-time reimbursement of the F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) fee. Given the pandemic and its impact on the internship/job market, I’m happy that the MBAA could provide some financial relief to my international classmates interning in the US, particularly those working in unpaid internships and relatively lower-paying jobs.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my tenure at the BofA Merrill Lynch Investment Banking team in Peru, I worked with Peru’s Ministry of Finance to issue the largest international bond in Peruvian Soles history. We were able to reach investors worldwide and obtain a very favorable rate in local currency for the country. Given the Peruvian economy’s informality, which hampers fiscal collection, the government requires creative ways to raise money at inexpensive rates to sustain the country’s economic objectives and investment plans.

Why did you choose this business school? The network at Berkeley Haas is one-of-a-kind. As a finance professional looking to pivot to tech, having access to alumni from leading tech companies has been greatly beneficial to me. It was not hard to find UC Berkeley or Haas alum working in the tech industry. For example, when I was applying to Google, I had little time to prepare for my final round of interviews. On short notice, I reached out to two Haas alumni working at Google. They quickly responded and made themselves available for a call. Their candor and expertise helped me immensely during the recruiting process.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Consumption Functions are one of my favorite events at Haas and the one I miss the most. This event happens on the first Friday of every month and is organized by the MBAA or an affinity or career club. It’s a chance for MBA students to come together to socialize, enjoy food, and listen and dance to music. I have fond memories of The International Consumption Function, where several international classmates set up tables and shared their local cuisines with the Haas community. At the last event, the Peruvian Haasies didn’t miss the opportunity to serve lomo saltado, aji de gallina, chicha morada, and other Peruvian delicacies. The Peruvian table was a success as I saw many of my classmates line up for seconds!

What is the biggest myth about your school? There is a perception that those seeking finance careers shouldn’t consider Haas, but this is far from the truth. On the academic side, you have courses such as Professor Goodson’s M&A and Value Creation and Professor Manso’s Corporate Finance. Both have brought new perspectives and tools on how to think strategically as a future finance manager. Moreover, the Haas network has people from a broad spectrum of industries, including Haasies working in finance.

What surprised you the most about business school? I came into Haas thinking that my classmates would come solely from business backgrounds, but that hasn’t been the case. From Navy Seals to educators to dermatologists, I’ve been blessed to learn from my classmates’ experiences and perspectives. This has been one of the biggest takeaways of the MBA experience.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Speaking to current students and alumni from Peru was instrumental during the application process. They helped me better understand Haas’ Defining Leading Principles (DLPs) and encouraged me to weave the DLPs into my personal essays. Based on this advice, I wrote about how an injury taught me about discipline and how to be “student always” outside of work.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My classmates at Haas have impressive backgrounds and have accomplished so many things. I commend my classmates who have brought their families to the U.S., have managed to be successful parents, students, and interns, and have applied to jobs during a pandemic. A remarkable achievement.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Last spring, our MBA experience went online. The transition to remote instruction was an adjustment for professors and students alike. By fall semester, I saw a difference in how Zoom classes were managed. The professors began incorporating pre-recorded videos to review the conceptual pieces before the class and focused the live sessions on discussing cases or readings together in class. The silver lining of the virtual experience is that I have more time and can register for additional courses since I don’t have to commute to campus. I’ve been able to take the maximum 16 credits at Haas and register for courses at partner schools through the GNAM program. Some of my classmates ask me how I can take on so many credits and extracurriculars. My answer: “I worked four years in investment banking”, a profession that requires most people to work beyond the 40-hour work week.  Furthermore, I really enjoy pushing myself. However, I don’t necessarily recommend this to everyone. We each come to business school to build our own experience based on our priorities and interests.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents have made great sacrifices for me to have all the tools I require to pursue my goals. They’ve always been my inspiration to keep pushing myself to fulfill my dreams. Coming to a top business school in the US and continuing my post-MBA career have been my objective for a long time. Being the first person in my family to attend a graduate school in Peru or abroad brought additional motivation. My parents have stuck with me through the highs and lows of the MBA application process, and they are a major reason I’m here at Haas today. I also want to thank my wife Deborah, to whom I got engaged and married while studying at Haas. Her unwavering support and encouragement were crucial to my success. She has put up with my hectic schedule ever since I was an investment banking analyst. We now live together in the UC Village (University housing for families with children and married couples).

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Work on projects or programs that reduce Peru’s inequality.
  2. Lead an M&A transaction or capital markets issuance for a tech company in the US.

What made David Bolivar such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“David Bolívar has been an outstanding student leader and an exceptionally active member of the Berkeley Haas community. He has been successful academically and in his career pursuits and will begin his post-MBA career in a highly coveted position with Google. In just two years, David has served his community in a variety of ways, with roles as a graduate student instructor (teaching assistant) in Finance coursework, a 2nd-year student peer advisor for Career Management, and as a volunteer mentor for undergraduate students.

A native of Peru, David was elected by his classmates to the position of VP International in the Haas student government, in a year in which changing immigration requirements, shifting travel bans, and pandemic-related challenges created significant stress for the international student population. David did an excellent job in supporting and advocating for his global classmates. He partnered closely with the MBA Program Office and the Career Management Group to ensure that student concerns were brought forward and addressed. He was a great thought partner in planning for the needs of students from orientation through graduation. David consistently served as a bridge between and among students and between students and the Haas administration. He helped ensure good two-way communication during a challenging year and did so with clarity and positivity. He’s a great example of the Haas Defining Leadership Principle “Beyond Yourself!”

— Amy Hornstein Appel
Director of Student Experience



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