Mark Murphy is currently an MBA student at Berkeley Haas and previously worked at RBC Capital Markets and Goldman Sachs. He talks about his interest in startups, tips for incoming MBA students, and his experience with WeFinance.
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What were you doing before your MBA?
After undergrad, I worked at Goldman Sachs. I started out in Corporate Treasury, focusing on the secured debt portion of the balance sheet. Later, I moved into a group called Global Liquidity Products, which is the execution side of all the secured funding trades.
Afterwards, I moved to RBC Capital Markets to work for one of my former managers at Goldman Sachs. I ran the sales effort for the secured lending book — basically the other side of the trade I was doing at Goldman — where we mostly lent money to structured credit hedge funds as a source of leverage for them.
What motivated you to do an MBA?
When I left Goldman Sachs, my plan was to work at RBC for a year or two and get an MBA afterwards. Why? It was just something I saw myself doing coming out of undergrad since I knew I wanted to transition from working at multinational banks to a more entrepreneurial environment.
Are you looking to join a startup or found your own company after Haas?
I’m debating between a few different things; ideally it would be to start my own company but it depends on if I find an interesting business idea in the next few years. Otherwise, I’m looking at internships in early-stage startups or in venture capital.
Is there a particular industry in tech you’re interested in?
I’m very interested in FinTech since I think my background lends itself to the space. I actually spent the summer working at Avant and it was a great learning experience. I’m also interested in eSports and Internet of Things.
I know you’ve only been here for 3 or 4 months, but what’s been your experience at Haas?
It’s been amazing! They’re definitely dedicating a lot of resources to entrepreneurship and building an environment to support it. There’s good resources in terms of mentoring through the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, a multitude of competitions, and great access to venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
Being in the Bay Area has been very good for networking as well.
Are there any tips you would have given yourself from 3 months ago, before starting at Haas?
I would say to not over extend yourself coming into business school — that’s a pretty typical piece of advice that I didn’t really heed. I signed up to intern for various startups but I found out that I didn’t have time. Haas throws you into the deep end with events, clubs, classes, and everything else. I definitely underestimated the time I would be spending on that stuff.
I pulled back from a few startups to not burnout.
Speaking of that, do you have any other tips to avoid burnout?
I think it’s important to prioritize getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and working out. Ultimately, your to-do list in business school is never ending so you can’t really put off these things — you just have to get comfortable with that fact.
You’re from the East Coast, what made you come out west for your MBA?
Most of the schools I got into were actually in the East Coast and it was definitely a tough decision because I’m really far away from my family now. When I came to visit Haas, it just felt “right” environment-wise. Meeting people, they were very genuine and it seemed like I could build great relationships here.
Ultimately, I wanted to have exposure to the Bay Area because one of my main drivers of doing an MBA was to explore the startup scene and entrepreneurship — this is definitely the best area for that.
Do you think you’re staying out here after MBA?
Yep, at least for the short-term, so maybe 3 to 5 years? After that, I don’t really know.
In the long-run, I see myself back in NYC at some point though.
Was it hard to adapt culture or environment-wise from NYC to San Francisco?
Not really. I think it would be a LOT harder the other way around.
New York was super intense and I had a very demanding job, so this is definitely a welcomed change of pace. It’s a lot more laid back here, plus the weather is nicer!
I’ve been seeing a lot of ex-finance professionals moving towards startups. Do you think there’s any particular skills or perspectives they bring to the table?
I think going through a top-tier investment banking analyst program builds a really good skill set in a lot of different things but I think a lot of it has to do with disenchantment of the finance industry — a lot of the appeal is gone.
People are being driven towards startups because it allows them to work on something that’s closer to their true passion, while avoiding crazy hours.
Do you think there’s any major mistakes MBA students make during the program?
I think one of the biggest mistakes MBA students make is not considering the total financial cost of going to business school and whether you can achieve your desired career without business school.
For me, I put a high value on the experience; I wanted to have a few years to think about what I really wanted to do and be in a learning environment again.
I think the grass may be greener on the other side; some people go to business school and realize they loved what they were doing beforehand.
What was your experience with WeFinance?
It was great and the process was smooth. I used WeFinance to borrow a bit of money from my family to have a buffer for expenses. The process was straightforward and seamless.
What do you look for in financial products?
The best part of WeFinance was the flexibility to set my own terms. Look at the other options available: you can either take student loans (which all had a higher rate) or go to a personal lender (high rate with amortization; you would have to start paying back while you were in school).
The fact that I could structure the loan in a way that worked for me made WeFinance a great option.