Historic Percentages of Women, International Students Begin Full-Time Berkeley MBA Program

The full-time MBA students who began classes at the Haas School of Business this week include a record 43 percent women.

Not coincidentally, the 241 new students come from an applicant pool that also had one of the highest percentages of women ever, says Stephanie Fujii, assistant dean of the Full-time MBA Program and Admissions.

 “Our goal every year is to strengthen the diversity of the applicant pool across many dimensions, and we are thrilled to see our efforts reflected in this class,” says Fujii. “We continually hear from our students and alumni that working with people who think differently, and who have experienced the world differently, was critical to their development as leaders.”

The incoming class also includes a record percentage of international students:

  • Forty-three percent of students are from outside the U.S., coming from 38 different countries. If dual citizenship is included, they represent 46 countries.
  • More than two-thirds speak two or more languages
  • Among the 42 languages spoken are Georgian, Sinhalese, Farsi, Polish, and Haitian Kreyol.

Of the U.S. students, 41 percent are minorities (defined as African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, Native American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, East Indian/Pakistani). 

Haas leaders—including Dean Rich Lyons, admissions and program staff, faculty, and students—have made it a priority to improve gender balance at the school.

Lyons was among a group of 14 top business school deans who met at the White House earlier this year to begin laying out best practices for cultivating women leaders and improving workforce conditions for women and families.

Students and alumni have also played a significant role in efforts to increase the ranks of women at Haas over the years.  This year, a group of male and female students came together of their own accord to work on gender balance and to highlight the strong and inclusive culture at Haas.

Julie Barmeyer, MBA 15, and president of the student group Women in Leadership (WIL), said Haas culture had been a big selling point for her, even though women were only about 30 percent of her class. "The four Defining Principles resonated with my personal mantras. When I made my final decision between Haas and a peer, it boiled down to coming to a school where I felt like I could be 100 percent myself and thrive," she said. "My female classmates are incredible—they are the most talented, brilliant, and accomplished group of women I have ever been surrounded by."

WIL organized several events for newly admitted women, including a talk by Haas Assistant Professor Kellie McElhaney on her research and teaching about women and business, and discussions with male and female students about Haas culture.

Based on feedback from students, the school also increased efforts to build relationships between newly admitted women and female faculty and senior staff, as well as with alumnae in leadership roles.

"We are always looking for ways to build a community among our admitted students, to bring them into our culture and family at Haas," Fujii said. “Women in particular were interested in connecting with other women and senior leaders who could talk about their experiences and the community at Haas.” 

Akilah Huguley, MBA 15, and the class vice president of admissions, says there have been many thoughtful conversations over the past year about gender balance and why it's important to MBA programs across the country and specifically to the Haas community. "I don’t believe any of us can say we weren’t surprised to see that 43 percent of this class is female. But what a pleasant surprise it is," she says. "However, I do not believe this number happened by chance."

Berkeley-Haas remains one of the most selective MBA programs. The new full-time MBA class is a highly academically accomplished group, with an average GMAT score of 717 and an average GPA above 3.6. They come from a wide range of industries and bring fascinating experiences to share. Students in the class have:

·       Started a franchise of private schools in Pakistan

·       Co-founded a company that has provided electricity to more than 10,000 rural Mexicans

·       Won three US national championship swimming titles

·       Been nominated for the General MacArthur Leadership Excellence Award

·       Received a medal for distinguished leadership commanding a team of Green Berets through 200 missions in Afghanistan, liaising with tribal leaders, helping to establish a local police force, and improving the employment situation among Afghan leaders

·       Helped convince Goldman Sachs, IFC, and commercial banks to fund $600 million in loans for the first financing mechanism dedicated to lending capital to women entrepreneurs in developing countries

·       Developed a motorcycle ambulance program for women in Uganda


Prof. David Levine Wins Research Competition

Haas School economist David I. Levine and his research team are one of three winners of the Random Controlled Trials competition sponsored by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. The win provides the researchers with a $96,000 grant to help conduct a new study, “The Effects of OSHA Inspections: Results from a Natural Field Experiment.”

The research team includes Michael W. Toffel, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, and Matthew S. Johnson, a PhD candidate in the economics department at Boston University.

The competition garnered 50 submissions and is designed to select and fund low-cost, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in areas of high policy importance. The coalition is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that “seeks to increase government effectiveness through the use of rigorous evidence about what works.”

Levine, the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor at the Haas School, and his team seek to determine if inspections by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are effective in promoting safe workplace practices. By using a sample of some 29,000 business establishments eligible for a randomized inspection, the study will test whether being randomly chosen for inspection affects the business' subsequent injury rates and also business outcomes such as workplace survival and employment over a multi-year period.

The large sample will allow the study to identify the types of workplaces where inspections are notably more or less effective and how to improve inspections in the future.

The study cost of $153,000 is being partially funded by the coalition's $96,000 grant award.

A prior study by Levine, Toffel, and Johnson used a randomized design to evaluate the effects of inspections conducted by California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA). The study, published in Science in 2012, found that these Cal-OSHA inspections led to significant reductions in injuries without any detectable harm to plant survival, payroll, or employment.


Social Entrepreneur Priya Haji, MBA 03, Passes Away

Priya Haji

Haas alumna Priya Haji, MBA 03, the co-founder of Free at Last, World of Good, and SaveUp, passed away unexpectedly on Monday, July 14. She was 44.

Born in Detroit, Haji earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and pre-med at Stanford. After earning her MBA at Berkeley-Haas, she pursued her vision of improving economic opportunity and equality by co-founding three companies.

Free at Last is a national model program for substance abuse treatment and HIV/AIDS intervention in the African American and Latino communities. Under Haji’s leadership, the company served 3,000 people per year in East Palo Alto and raised more than $20M in special investments.

World of Good, a retail marketplace and wholesaler of sustainable and fair trade products, improved the lives of thousands of women artisans in 55 countries. It was acquired by eBay in 2010.

SaveUp, where Haji was serving as CEO at the time of her death, is the nation’s first rewards game for saving money and reducing debt.

Haji fully embodied the Haas School’s Defining Principles, especially Beyond Yourself as she was a consistent contributor to the Haas community. Haji shared her wisdom and insight at various events, most recently by delivering a keynote address at the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) in April 2014. Haji won the GSVC competition in 2005 with her startup World of Good. She also inspired students and served as a mentor for the Young Entrepreneurs at Haas (YEAH) program.

“Like many other Berkeley MBAs in the past decade, I was so inspired by Priya’s vision and leadership,” says Ellen Martin, MBA 07, who met Haji when she served as her Berkeley Board Fellow for World of Good. “She really pushed us all to approach entrepreneurship—not just social entrepreneurship—in an entirely different way. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude for that.”

Haji’s honors include being named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum; a Social Innovation Leadership Award by the World CSR Congress, a non-profit organization whose annual conference celebrates corporate social responsibility; and inclusion in GOOD magazine’s GOOD 100, a list of people driving change in their communities in creative and inspiring ways.

“Priya was such a vibrant force in life—undaunted by challenges, willing to give voice and energy to her ideals and vision,” says Haas Lecturer John Danner, who taught Haji in his “Workshop for Startups” class where she co-developed World of Good. “What a profound loss first to her family but to all of us as well who were touched by her example.”

Haji is survived by two young children: a two-and-a-half-year-old son, Zen, and an 11-month-old daughter, Omi; her parents, Karim and Asha Haji; and a sister, Amina.

A celebration of her life will be held at Haas in the coming weeks. Details will be published as they become available. Friends are encouraged to share memories on a Facebook memorial page: https://www.facebook.com/priyahajimemorial.

The Priya Haji Memorial Fund has been established to honor her inspiring life and will support an MBA student focused on entrepreneurship and social innovation. Donate at http://givetocal.berkeley.edu/fund/?f=FM8347000.

Beckman and Rochlin Named UC Berkeley Teaching Fellows

Haas faculty members Sara Beckman and Dave Rochlin have been selected as UC Berkeley Lecturer Teaching Fellows for the 2014–2015 academic year. 

The Lecturer Teaching Fellows Program supports participants in generating dynamic tools and resources for enriching and/or innovating teaching practices on campus.  Ten to 12 Fellows are selected each year to participate in workshops and work in teams on areas of interest to the university. Beckman and Rochlin will focus on improving student self-reflection as a teaching and assessment tool.

Beckman is a pioneer in design thinking and, after many years of teaching courses in new product development (NPD), created the Haas School’s Problem Finding, Problem Solving (PFPS) course, a core course in the Berkeley MBA innovative leader development curriculum that gives students a deeper understanding of how to frame and solve problems by leveraging tools and methods from critical, design, and systems thinking. While she continues to teach at Haas, Beckman was also recently named chief learning officer at the College of Engineering’s Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation where she has created a minor in design and innovation and aims to enhance experience-based learning.

Rochlin has served as both a lecturer and the executive director of the business school’s Haas@Work applied innovation program since 2010. The program develops and delivers project-based courses through partnerships that allow prominent international corporations to work with the school’s students and faculty to identify and drive new innovation initiatives.  Recent partners in these efforts  include SAP, PayPal, Citi, HP, Nike, Nissan, and Verizon. 

Beckman and Rochlin have been using student self-reflection as a key learning and evaluation tool in  their NPD, PFPS, and Haas@Work courses.  In addition to asking students to thoughtfully evaluate their learning during the semester, at the end of the semester they use self-reflection papers to encourage students to synthesize course goals and learning and to think more deeply about how the materials and frameworks they have been working with can be applied in their lives and future work.

“Self-reflection is complicated because it’s both an assessment tool and a learning tool,” says Rochlin. “What we are trying to do is find the right balance between the two.”

“Particularly in experiential learn-by-doing models, students tend to focus on the ‘doing’ at the expense of learning,” Rochlin adds. “We believe that better-crafted and articulated reflection assignments will make students more open to learning and transformation. For Haas students, this should also carry over into their professional lives, reinforcing the School’s Students Always Defining Principle.“

Beckman and Rochlin hope the tools they develop as part of their participation in the Lecturer Teaching Fellows Program will be useful both at Haas and across campus, including for the new undergraduate minor in design and innovation,  which will serve students in all departments.

Sara Beckman and Dave Rochlin, new UC Berkeley Lecturer Teaching Fellows for 2014–2015.

Gratitude or Guilt? People Spend More when They “Pay-it-Forward”

As shoppers across the nation embark on holiday shopping deals, Minah Jung, PhD 15, and Leif Nelson, associate professor of marketing at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, took a look at what happens to commerce when there’s no set price tag. In their study of consumer behavior, they found that shoppers spend more money when they participate in a chain of good will known as “Pay-it-forward” than when they can name their own price.

“It’s assumed that consumers are selfish and always looking for the best deal, but when we gave people the option to pay for someone else, they always paid more than what they paid for themselves,” said the study’s lead author, Minah Jung. Jung is also a Gratitude Dissertation Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center that focuses on the science of a “meaningful life,” including psychology, sociology, and neuroscience.

The study, “Paying More When Paying for Others: Consumer Elective Pricing with Pay-It-Forward Framing,”  is co-authored by Ayelet and Uri Gneezy, both professors at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management and was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Association for Consumer Research, and other conferences.

The results shed new light on the psychological and social forces – such as fairness, obligation, and reciprocity – that guide consumer decisions beyond getting the best deal. For example, the study found that people typically overestimate the financial generosity of others, until they learn what others have actually paid.

“People don’t want to look cheap. They want to be fair, but they also want to fit in with the social norms,” said Jung.

Pay-it-forward vs. Pay-what-you-want

Pay-it-forward is a pricing scheme in which patrons are told that a previous customer has paid for them. The new customer then gets the opportunity to pay for someone else. Such random acts of kindness have been reported at toll bridges, coffee shops and drive-thru restaurants, and they drive the business of Berkeley’s Karma Kitchen.

Alternately, “Pay-what-you-want” is an economically similar approach in which the consumers have the option to pay any price they want. It’s used by such profitable companies as video game distributor Humble Bundle.

In eight separate experiments, Jung and co-authors compared how more than 2,400 individuals responded to these two elective pricing models at such venues as San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, the farmers market at Oakland's Jack London Square and in laboratory settings. At the museum and at the farmers market, consumers consistently paid more for another customer than for themselves when purchasing a cup of coffee or the price of admission.

The same dynamic occurred in lab settings in which UC Berkeley students were given coffee mugs sporting the “Cal” logo. While some were given the choice to pay what they wished for the mug, others were told someone else had paid for the mug and that they could pay for someone else’s mug. Again,
those who paid it forward spent more. In a twist, however, students who were told exactly what the previous person paid adjusted their payment to the same amount or a little less.

The researchers also tested the hypothesis that participants under the pay-it-forward scenario might be influenced to pay more if they become acquainted with the person who had previously covered their cost. However, they found no difference in the amount students shelled out, even after meeting their potential benefactor.

Better to give than receive

That said, the study found that participants gave more when they could write a message or the amount they had paid on a note to the recipient. Moreover, at Berkeley’s Karma Kitchen, where there are no prices on the menu because meals are paid forward by prior customers, diners were handed one of two cards after their meal. One emphasized the gift of giving, and the other of receiving. Those who were reminded of the principle of giving ultimately shelled out more.

"The results suggest that businesses that rely entirely on consumers’ regard for others or ‘social preferences’ for non-selfishness can survive and even thrive,” Jung said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

The study is funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and Greater Good Dissertation Fellowship, the Haas School of Business’ Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, and the Barbara and Gerson Bakar Faculty Fellowship.

See the Abstract

Minah Jung.

Haas, Cal Communities Collect Aid for Philippines

Shortly after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, Minnie Fong, MBA 13, reached out to classmates via the school’s Facebook page to encourage them to donate to disaster-relief efforts. Fong has several family members living in Tacloban, the country’s hardest-hit city. Her cousin’s brother-in-law serves as vice mayor of the town.

So many alumni responded with offers of help, some wanting to give her a donation directly, that she set up a PayPal fund for contributions. “I didn’t expect people to give money to me,” she says. Instead, she organized the small fund to meet Tacloban's most pressing needs.

Fong has dedicated much of the past few weeks to fundraising and boosting awareness for disaster relief. In addition to doing two TV interviews with local CBS affiliate KPIX and participating in the station’s telethon on Friday, November 15, Fong has done three radio interviews.

“People have been giving so generously of themselves,” she says of the grassroots effort that has swelled within her alumni network. Fong estimates that as of Thursday, November 14, classmates have donated more than $1,600, nearly 71,000 pesos, through PayPal. Funds will buy food, water, and medicine that will be distributed through the vice mayor's office. Visit the Donation Drive for Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda Victims in Tacloban Facebook page to learn how the money is being spent and where the goods are being distributed. The group is also sourcing solar lamps and rebuilding kits.

On campus, three Haas student organizations—Partnership for Pre-Professional Pilipin@s, the Haas Business School Association, and Berkeley Women in Business—are collaborating with the UC Berkeley Filipino-American community to support the University's #Act4thePhilippines effort.

This fundraising campaign seeks to raise $10,000 in monetary donations to help fund  the immediate relief efforts of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) to support national grassroots and rehabilitation organizations on duty in the affected areas. Stanford University and San Francisco State University are key partners to this project as well, in addition to growing involvement from the City of Berkeley and the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.

As part of Cal's #Act4thePhilippines, Pilipino student organizations are selling hand-painted ribbons and accepting donations at Sproul Plaza until November 26. They are also hosting a moment of silence for victims on November 20 from 11:00 to 11:15 a.m. at Upper Sproul and a Candlelit Night of Solidarity on November 21 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. also on Upper Sproul. They ask the campus community to wear white shirts during the candlelit event; donations will be accepted on site.

Learn more on the Haas undergraduate students' blog.

If you are not on campus, but would like to donate, visit https://www.youcaring.com/Act4thePhilippines.

Minnie Fong, MBA 13, does a live interview with the local CBS affiliate to raise awareness for Philippines disaster relief. Fong plans to see family in Manila over Christmas and hopes to visit Tacloban or another city to volunteer.