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COBE Success Story

Certificate of Business Excellence: the Online Experience

headshot of Pratik Jaiswal

Q&A with COBE Alum Pratik Jaiswal

In 2019, Pratik Jaiswal joined the Berkeley Executive Education learning community. Pursuing the Certificate of Business Excellence (COBE), he enrolled in his first program, in-person Negotiation and Influence. The in-person classroom experience was interactive and provided a great sense of connection to his peers, says Pratik. The following year, as the shelter in place went into effect, Pratik shifted to Berkeley Executive Education’s online programs to continue his certificate journey.

Compared to in-person vs online, how do you find the online experience?

“I find it to be global and an opportunity equalizer. When I want to learn something, I’m not restricted to a location – I don’t have to travel for an hour, I just need online access.”

How would you compare our online experience to other online programs you’ve taken?

“I actually like the UC Berkeley online platform. It’s very user-friendly, it’s open and structured at the same time. I don’t even feel like I’m in a virtual classroom. I feel like I’m in the classroom – it’s very interactive.”

What made you sign up for online programs?

“We are in a pandemic-stricken world. This forced me to join an online program, and I’m glad I did. This has been a great learning experience. I have enjoyed the digital platform. There are fewer constraints associated with an online program. The future is digital. Everyone is moving on to an online platform and online education. I’m glad I took an online program at UC Berkeley.”

What were your expectations of the online experience?

“The in-person experiences always connected people and were interactive. Initially, I thought I wouldn’t be able to experience this with an online platform. But the UC Berkeley online platform is so real that you don’t feel like you’re in a virtual setup. There are online discussions going on while the professor is teaching, the students are asking questions and answering themselves, and that has been a great learning experience. I have taken away much more from the online program than I expected.”

Did you take the virtual tour with CEO, Mike Rielly?

“I thought it was very immersive. He took us through the rich history of UC Berkeley, which I felt very connected to and felt very proud that I’m associated with such an institute. He showed us the cultural side of UC Berkeley and the out of box thinking that has been associated with UC Berkeley. I felt connected not just to the classmates that are connected to me, but also to the whole UC Berkeley campus.”

Did you make use of faculty hours? How was that experience?

“I actually would encourage everyone to use faculty hours. Faculty hours allow you to get one-on-one coaching. I found it to be very useful. It was a way to interact and connect with the faculty. It was also a way to get professional feedback.”

Do you feel like you’ve had the chance to connect and build relationships with your classmates?

“Yes. It’s not just the interactions in the classrooms where you break out into projects or certain assignments, but also the interaction outside of the coaching sessions of the programs. We’ve had networking sessions, we have social media groups that we are a part of, we talk often outside the class as well. We share ideas, we share feedback and day-to-day challenges. It has been a pretty good way to connect to classmates, and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Have you felt connected to the COBEs?

“I’m part of the program so I certainly like the group. We’re going through a journey together. We are a part of social media groups, we interact a lot and share our experiences like the previous COBE classes that we have done. We can not only get feedback from the faculty but also our peers – this helps the COBEs create a more beneficial way of planning our own personal journey.”

What are some aspects that this program has done well in terms of the delivery of online programs?

“The UC Berkeley online platform is great. It is very innovative and it feels real and very user-friendly. There is a way to connect. There is a way to ask your questions and interact. It is open, but it is also very structured, so it’s not chaotic. A person does not feel like they aren’t in a real-life setting.”

Do you find there to be a diversity of participants in the program?

“The benefit of this online program is that you get attendees from all over the world. People are attending from Asia and Europe. You do not have the constraint of location anymore. What that does is that it makes the program global. I’m able to interact with people from Asia and see how they’re finding a solution for a particular problem and compare it to the USA. The diversity is certainly there - not all the people are from the same background. You get different perspectives, different cultural perspectives, different professional perspectives as well. This has been tremendous and the return on investment in this program has been wonderful.”

Would you recommend this online experience to a friend or colleague?

“I did already and I will. I have recommended my wife, my family, to take an online program. I myself have seen the return of investment - it has made a tremendous change in my professional and personal life. It has certainly helped me bump up my career. This particular COBE program has put everything together in a compact way, and this has helped me grow in my career.”