Haas School of Business Statistics Waiver Exam

I recently cleared Haas School of Business Statistics Waiver Exam. This exam is needed as pre-requisite for admission into full time MBA or EWMBA (Evening and Weekend MBA) program by Haas. There was very little information on haas site and internet about what to expect from this exam and how to approach this.

Here’s my take on the exam, various options and tips for it.

1) Yes, you have to show proficiency in statistics.

  • If you dont do that you will not get admitted. It did happen to one person who was rejected because he did not clear the statistics waiver exam and there were no other exams scheduled after that exam.

2) Options to show statistics proficiency

  • Take the stats waiver exam by Haas
    • Pros:
      • Offered every month: Starting from results for R1.
      • No cost
      • Not too hard if you prepare well.
        • Lot of people, including me cleared this after 1-2 weeks of rigorous preparation
      • Very well defined course: http://ewmba.haas.berkeley.edu/WaiverExams.pdf
    • Cons:
      • .The course material can be bit daunting especially if you do not have math background (but still it;s not that hard if you are willing to work for it. Everyone should go for it)
      • For R3/R4 candidates: you might only have 1 chance and 2 weeks to prepare for it after you know your admit decision.
    • Tips
      • Prepare only the topics mentioned at http://ewmba.haas.berkeley.edu/WaiverExams.pdf
      • Prepare from the 1st book mentioned at the link above: D. Anderson, D. Sweeney, T. Williams, Statistics for Business and Economics (South- Western Publishers)
        • You can get copy of this book online/craigslist if you search hard.
        • Chapters to prepare: 3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 14 & 15.
        • Basic mean, median mode, probability, combinations are ~50% of questions.
        • Have an eye on Skewness.
        • Learn to look up the tables (F, t and normal) – there will be simple questions from that.
        • Know your ANOVA Table for linear regression.
        • In the exam Haas does give you a calculator or pencils if you forget to bring yours.
    • Final verdict
      • Work hard and prepare for it and clear this.
  • Take “Data and Decision” workshop by Haas
    • Pros:
      • Good course which will build foundation for future.
      • Offered after results for final stats waiver exam are available.
    • Cons:
      • 6 weeks course
      • costs – 1000 USD
    • Final Verdict:
      • Take this as last recourse if you failed to clear stats waiver exam or could not enroll into other local college cheaper courses.
  • Take “Stats” courses by community colleges. Haas has a list of approved colleges
    • Pros:
      • 6 weeks course which you can take at your own pace.
      • Cheap – overall cost of ~200 USD
    • Cons:
      • Still expensive that free waiver exam.
      • Need to get transcripts from the college and submit it to Haas.
      • R3/R4 candidates may have to enroll before knowing results for final stats waiver exams, otherwise they may miss the enrollment dates.
    • Tips:
      • Though Haas says you must take this course for atleast 3 months. They are very flexible and will admit transcripts even if you powered through it in short time.
    • Final Verdict:
      • Take this if you cannot clear stats waiver exam and have time to enroll for this.


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Haas Evening and Weekend MBA (EWMBA) – Interview Experience

I recently got admitted to Haas EWMBA. Woo hoo!! It was a long and arduous journey. I am capturing various elements of my journey in different posts.Here are my thoughts on Haas EWMBA interview and interview process.

I got my interview call on 2nd May & my interview was scheduled for 17th May @ 1:30 PM. I had not prepared a lot for interview till then.

Dress code: My first order of business was to figure out the dress code. After some searching it became clear that wearing a suit is mandatory. I am a Tech guy. I have not wore a business suit in like 10 years. I did not know what qualifies a proper business suit and what does not. So here’s a primer for those who might be in same boat business suit are dark suits. They can be grey, navy blue, even brown is ok (though it is not preferred, but it not a no-no as well). They can have stripes as well. Try to avoid Jet Black, light colored suits like light earth colors, cream etc and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Lot of people obsess about this, but as long as you come across as smart and nattily dressed you should be good.

In my case I went to Macys and purchased a grey suit with pin stripes at the last moment. I did not have chance to get it altered (As per Macys it would have taken 8-10 days to get them altered). It’s sleeves were bit long for me. I hid it when I was sitting in the waiting room by keeping my arms folded & In the interview when interviewer is sitting across the desk, I dont think they will notice that. & she did compliment me on my dress when I was leaving by saying something like you will be overdressed when you I go and visit the campus.

Bottom line: Wear a suit, look smart and dont worry if it’s not too perfect.

Preparing for the interview:

Here are the key questions to prepare for:

  • Walk me through your resume.
  • Goals
  • Why MBA
  • Why Now
  • Why Haas
  • Fit for Haas : Examples of 2 of 4 defining principles.

 My Interview Experience:

My interviewer was Ellen Bull. She is very nice lady. She was very polite and made me very comfortable by asking general questions. I led the conversation by talking about graduations happening at Haas, me not able to visit a class because all classes were done and other general stuff. Key thing was as we walked from my waiting area to her office we talked about lot of general stuff and she was very nice about it.

In the interview office we sat across a table. She already had my resume (I was carrying it as well, just in case). Her style of making we walk through the resume was very conversational. Rather than having me give 3-6 minute speech, she led me by looking at my first change and left it open. (This pattern will repeat multiple times in the interview. It took me some time to realize that initially but later I was doing it naturally.)

After some awkward gap, I took the lead and told her why I made the change. Then I talked about my next job and how I became a lead and challenges with that. She picked upon those challenges and asked me few more questions. But it was all conversational, I did not have to recite what I had rehearsed at any point of time. We talked about my international change and my current position, a leadership example and my goals. It was not too tricky so far.

Then she asked me what do I do for fun. I told about my reading habit and talked about the book “Born to run” . I took that opportunity to talk about something interesting “bare foot running”. She knew about it and did not believe in it. Good part was we ended up having very interesting discussion on why I think it was good and why she felt it was a sham. As I look back I am very happy that I brought that up as it sparked an interesting conversation.

Then she asked me what will my manager think about me. I was not prepared for this, I just answered honestly I expect that he will say I am very dependable and gets the job done. (I think It was a lame answer but I believe it was truth and when you are not prepared only truth comes out :-) ..and again she left it open by saying “that means..”  so I added few more words by saying I make sure job is highest quality, people are happy, star performers are rewarded etc (and few more things which came to my mind)… that apparently satisfied her.

Then she asked what will my friends will say about me. I told her that someone who people love having conversations with and can have interesting conversations. (again not too strong…but you know the story)..

Then in the end she asked me if I would like to add any more to my application. I said nothing specific other than I really liked the program and would love to join and contribute to it. We were already 7 minutes over at that time…

With that we stood up and she walked me till the office gate and we again had bit of chit chat on what my plans for the day were and how I would look overdressed when I go to visit campus.

Overall in hindsight it was “ok” interview. Not the best. But along with the whole application I think it was just good enough to get me in :-)

Hope this gives you some tips on the interview and gives you a sense of how interview is just an aspect of the application and you dont have to be perfect…Just relax and be yourself…the interesting yourself …and you should be fine.

Good Luck!






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Evaluation Day @ Foster School of Business Evening MBA

I recently got chance to participate in Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day exercise as part of my application to evening MBA.

It was a hectic 5 hours experience. I was bit nervous going in and not knowing what to expect. However admission officers Andy Chen and Tim Hossain were nice and did a good job at putting us a ease. However the day went fast. Once we started it was not all that difficult and was bit of fun too.

Here’s what happens in Evaluation Day:

  1. You need to introduce yourself
    • You will have upto 3 minutes for the task
    • You need to explain why you are a good candidate for UW Foster Evening MBA Program.
    • You can be creative and unique – (Though in my experience none was too creative)
    • Here are few ideas you can consider:
      • Who you are today, where you are in your career and who you hope to be in 3 years from now when you finish the Foster Evening MBA Program.
      • What do you bring to the program by way of your experiences in life and work.
      • Why would other candidates like to have you as a member of their class/team.
      • Name three things you are most proud of.
  2. Case Discussion
    • You will be given a case and a question for the case. As a group (group of 13-15) you will need to discuss the case and come up with top recommendation for evaluation committee.
  3. Team Consensus
    • Here you will be given a scenario like “Lost at a sea” or “Lost in a desert” along with few items you have at your disposal. Now as a group (smaller group of 6-7) you will need to discuss which of the items are most important and rank them in their importance order.

My Experience:

Everyone was bit tensed about the program. No one knew what to really expect as there is very little information UW provide in the evaluation day invitation list.  Also there is very little information available on internet as well.

I had known they will ask for introduction so I had prepared my 3 minutes speech, though I did not know how good it was. I had heard about case and scenario but did not know what the questions were and if there was a good or bad way to answer them.

So here I was on morning of evaluation day. Most people were wearing dark suits with tie , shirt and pants..aka business formal. There were  very few people were not in suits (as far as  I remember 2 guys and 2 girls. Guys were in pant and shirt and girls were in a-line party kind of dress with black small jacket on top: they were looking nice but not formal). And then there were few people who were not in dark suits (me being one of them…:-)..)…Since there were few of those I was not feeling very awkward.

Though one thing to note is none of admissions committee folks and judges were in suit. One of the ad com lady was in pant + shirt, guys were all in pant + shirt (no tie or suit). One of the judges was in khakis and t-shirt. So I imagine getting dressed in dark suit was not a must.

Moving on, next we had brief talk by chief admissions officer or someone like that (That officer was dressed in loose coat which was not looking great. Most of the candidates were better dressed than him. I was not at all impressed. I was hoping foster officers would try to maintain a standard especially at occasion like Evaluation day). After that were taken to our group rooms.

In the groups our first task was to give our introductions. Most people took approx 1 – 1.5 mins and talked about where they come from, why are they pursuing the MBA and some interesting facts.  After each candidate was done judges asked one question like how would you contribute to the MBA program, for me: how would you deal with candidate who is performing poorly in office, what are you most proud of etc etc. That took additional 30sec-1 min per person.

We were all finished in 30 mins. Then ad com gave her exercise to talk about what do we do for fun…just to keep us busy. We were done with that in also 15 mins…with 15 mins to go ad com asked us to just talk among ourselves…:-)

Then came the next exercise of going through a case. We were given 10 mins to read the case (posted scanned copy below). Then as a group we discussed some of the solutions, group had very varied ideas. Key was could you build some support for your ideas. One person realized we were just discussing and not converging so he went to board and picked up the marker and started writing ideas coming up. Guy at the board was good..but he was not able to follow every ones rambling. I tried to lead team to capture the key essence of the ideas and told him what to jot down…thus tried to play bit of leadership role their.  Eventually we captured some ideas and tried to convert them to a proposal and presented them.

Then case discussion of scenario (Lost at sea for us). They explicitly asked us avoid majority voting to build consensus.  I think what they were looking for was how well are you able to frame your arguments and convince others and how well are you able to get convinced by others if their arguments have merits.


  • Introductions:
    • If you prepare your introduction well then everything else is really not very difficult.
    • For introduction talk about your strong points and sell yourself.
    • Everyone in my group only took 1-2 min..so I automatically shortened my intro as well. Dont do that mistake, use full 3 minutes.
  • For case studies:
    • Focus on key question at the end and lead team towards solution for that problem.
    • Contribute to discussion.
    • Play leadership role by keeping notes, finding essence of people’s ideas or anything.
  • For Scenario:
    • Try to successfully convince some people of your ranking of an item.
    • Reason with people about their ideas well.
    • If possible become lead to keep notes of other ideas and come up with strategy to come up with group decision.

 Final Thoughts

I think evaluation day is way to judge your skills and to weed out those that are egregiously bad. For majority, its just one of the inputs to the whole MBA application. Dont sweat about this a lot, prepare a bit and you will do just fine.

Here are posts with scanned sheets of questions and answers we got as part of this evaluation day. I hope this makes life easier for future candidates.


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Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day Scenario – Lost at Sea

Also look at my full post on Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day



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Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day Case Study

Also look at my full post on Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day


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Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day Exercises and Introduction Format

Also look at my full post on Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day

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Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day Structure

Also look at my full post on Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day

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Greenplum Announces Big Data Analytics Platform

GreenPlum (A division of EMC) recently announced their Big Data Analytics Platform. Take a look @ http://www.greenplum.com/social-meets-big-data/

Here are the key announcements:

  1. They are releasing their Social Big Data Analytics Platform called Chorus.
  2. They have created a new SKU called UAP (Unified Analytics Platform) which combines their GreenPlum Database, Apache Hadoop Distribution (& not EMC’s MapR distribution) and Chorus Analytics Platform.
  3. They intend to make Chrous Open Source in 2nd half of FY12.
  4. They have acquired company called Pivotal Labs which specializes in helping organizations with Agile Development.

Here’s my take on few of these:

  1. It’s very interesting and unique of Greenplum to combine Big Data Activity with Social. If we look deeper into it, we see that social is a more of a collaboration tool to facilitate communication between different parties involved in Data Analysis. It’s modeled around Facebook Wall concept with added ability to attach data analytics specific files to the comments.
  2. At the core this is an integration platform. It does not provide analytics capabilities. It allows you to integrate with other analytics provider in an easy to do way and move your data and analytics results seamlessly between data source and analytics provider. The demo they showed used Alpine Data Labs product Alpine Miner for actual Data Mining and Analysis. Chorus provided platform to export data to Alpine Data Miner and to pull results back.
  3. It does not introduce new capabilities. Everything which it lets you do, you could have done otherwise as well. Platform nature of it will make it easier.
  4. They want to promote Chorus as open source akin to Android. I believe (in my personal opinion) that key reason behind this is to enable more analytics and data providers to join this platform there by increasing the stickiness of this platform.
  5. Pivotal Labs is a very interesting acquisition. Greenplum claims that generating insights from raw data will be in process similar to software development process. And as Agile Methodologies can speed up the software development process their belief is that same (or similar) methodologies can speed up data insight generation process. I personally believe they want to leverage Pivotal labs experience in guiding organizations with software development process for data insight generation process as well. We should keep an eye for more products around this.

Let me know if you have any comments either good or bad.

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How to use “Ant” program on Ubuntu/Linux machine behind proxy

Lot of people need to use Ant program on machines behind proxies. Here I tell you how to configure your machine to get Ant to use right proxy.

There is a great topic on configuring proxy for Ant @ apache: http://ant.apache.org/manual/proxy.html. Start by visiting this for basic information on how to configure proxy. However only issue is steps listed in this article does not work all the time and fails to clarify few important points.

If the above link does not work then here are few more things to try:

1) Understand the difference between System Proxy and Ant Proxy. All the proxy configuration you do via command line to Ant like “Ant -Dhttp.proxyHost=<host> -Dhttp.proxyPort=<host>” or using environment variable like “ANT_OPTS=-Dhttp.proxyHost=<host> -Dhttp.proxyPort=<host> “ configures Ant and not the system which ant uses to access network. As a result setting proxy at ant level does not work.

2) Ant uses JVM to access network as a result java network properties need to changed to configure proxy. The file to set proxy for Java is @ /etc/<java directory>/net.properties. This mean /etc/java-6-sun/net.properties for sun java. and /etc/java-6-openjdk/net.properties for open java.

3) This net.properties file is very self explanatory. Just change comment out and set http.proxyHost and http.proxyPort  to your proxy server and port address and you should be good to go.

4) Also you can validate the proxy configuration ant is using by executing “ant -diagnostics” command. This lists proxy it’s trying to use at the very end of the output.

5) Lastly, somehow for me java was not able to work with proxy name and I had to replace that with proxy ipaddress which I was able to ping (and got that address from another machine on the network). Once I did that replacement for http.proxyHost then it started working. Something to keep in mind. I hope this last step is not required often.

Hope this article helps you debug and fix your proxy issues with ant.

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ls -R on Ubuntu does not recursively find files matching the pattern in sub directories


ls -R – Lists all files recursively.

ls a* – Lists all files matching pattern “a*”.

However: ls -R a* does not list all files in sub directories matching patter “a*”.

Why it happens

This happens because of specific implementation of linux.  It’s the shell (ie Bash) that expands the “A*” to the names of all files/directories in the current directory that start with “A”, prior to passing the expansion result to “ls”.

So, let’s say I have, in my current directory: A1.txt A2.txt A3 – a subdirectory Than, “ls A*”, will actually be performed as “ls A1.txt A2.txt A3″ (“ls” gets 3 input parameters, not just the ‘A*’).

How to Fix

You cannot use ls to do recursive selective file listing. Instead use command “find”.

use: find . -name ‘A*’


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