Four Haas women awarded finance scholarships

Four Haas students—with career goals ranging from starting an investment fund to helping to grow immigrant-run businesses—have been awarded scholarships by The Financial Women of San Francisco.

A total of 13 undergraduate and graduate students were honored at a June 7 gathering at the City Club in San Francisco. The 30-year-old scholarship program was created to honor women leaders who are pursuing careers in finance, and the scholarships all include a pairing with a mentor

Jie Wang, MBA 20
Jie Wang, MBA 20

Jie Wang, MBA 20, a native of China who received a $15,000 scholarship, holds both an English literature degree from Nanjing Normal University and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Notre Dame. She previously worked as an international tax consultant at Deloitte. At Haas, she is the vice president of communications for the Asia Business Club and teaches federal income tax as a graduate student instructor.

Having lived mostly in the South and Midwest, she said she was drawn to the Bay Area for its job opportunities and the chance to make an impact. “Lots of exciting things are happening here,” said Wang, who is interning as an investment banking associate for Deutsche Bank in San Francisco this summer and is interested in the long-term in working on educational development for underprivileged women.

Three undergraduates, Sally Liang, Deeksha Chaturvedi, and Kyung Hee Egoian, all BS 20, were each awarded $10,000 scholarships.

Sally Liang, BS 20
Sally Liang, BS 20

Liang has worked as a finance coordinator for the UC Berkeley student-run Basic Needs Center. She said she’s dedicated to continuing her work in food security and holistic wellness in a nonprofit field.

“Investing my skillsets in a nonprofit would be a good way to put my business education to use and help the next generation resolve their basic needs insecurities so they can become more well-equipped during and after college,” she said.

Last summer, Liang was a finance operations intern at Tesla. This summer, she’s interning with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in corporate tax and plans to get her CPA license after graduation.

Deeksha Chaturvedi, BS 20
Deeksha Chaturvedi, BS 20

Chaturvedi, president of the Berkeley Women in Business club, will be interning this summer in San Francisco at Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division and aspires to run her own investment fund.

She said she is interested in gender equity and helping domestic violence victims gain financial independence. “I started volunteering with human trafficking victims and this opened my eyes to the injustices many women in our community face,” Chaturvedi said.

Kyung Hee Egoian, BS 20
Kyung Hee Egoian, BS 20

For Egoian, pursuing higher education has been a life-long dream. Formal education wasn’t an option in the small town in Korea where she grew up, she said.  Studying finance became her passion and focus when she moved to the US.

While raising her two children, Egoian worked for 13 years as a finance and administration manager at Save the Bay, a nonprofit aiming to restore and protect SF Bay for wildlife and people. After graduating from Haas, she plans to continue using her business and finance knowledge to help immigrant-run small businesses grow and succeed.

“I enjoyed my work so much that I never once looked at the clock to see if it was time to go home,” said Egoian. “I loved helping people, my staff, and working for a cause to improve our community.”

Africa Business Forum to focus on opportunity, innovation in a growing economy



<em>The team of organizers for this year's Berkeley Haas Africa Business Forum</em>
Organizers of this year’s Berkeley Haas Africa Business Forum: Clockwise from back row L-R: Abigail Adu-Daako, Bosun Adebaki, Cheikhou Diaw, Zaidat Ibrahim, Kaffa Sakho, Roland Ekop, and Sarah Lebu, Ibrahim Balde, Iman Umer, and Stan Cataldo Gonzalez.

Solar-powered motorcycles zipping around Kenya. Elementary school students using robots to solve problems in Uganda. Honey-spun band-aids designed to more quickly heal diabetics’ wounds in Egypt.

Investors, startups, and entrepreneurs increasingly have their eyes on Africa, where innovation and creativity combined with fast growth and a young population are among the strengths to be explored at the 5th annual Berkeley Haas Africa Business Forum on April 6 at Haas.

This year’s conference — called “Africa on the Move: Enabling Homegrown Innovation” — focuses on the rapid development on the continent and how policymakers and business leaders can serve as a resource and support innovation and growth in areas from mobile money to solar power and battery storage.

The goal was to organize a bigger conference than in previous years: more speakers, panels, keynotes and attendees. About 200 people and 18 speakers representing firms such as IFC and Convergence Partners are expected to attend.

Cheikhou Diaw, MBA 19, and Zaidat Ibrahim, MPH 19, co-chairs of the conference planning committee, have been organizing the forum for the past year, alongside a team of undergraduate students and public policy and public health students.

“It’s really important for us to make sure that people in the Berkeley community and the Bay Area understand that Africa is more than a place with safaris or a place full of poverty and disease,” Diaw said. “There are billions of opportunities. Making people aware of those opportunities is something I’ve been trying to do since I joined Haas.”

A different perception

Six of ten of the world’s fastest growing countries are African: Ghana, which is boosted by oil and gas expansion, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Senegal, and Tanzania, according to the World Bank.

“Fast growth and a young population means that there’s tremendous business opportunity and this will continue over the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years,” Diaw said. “We should have a different perception of Africa in the West.

Throughout the day, forum attendees can take part in four panels, a morning hackathon, and two keynotes, discussing policy, financing, and entrepreneurship unique to Africa and its challenges.

Some panels will center around what government can do to help businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as how investors and financial institutions can support ideas and bring them to life.

This year’s interactive session will be the first non-technology hackathon, encouraging groups to come up with a public policy innovation. Judges will pick the winning team and award a prize, and the group will talk about the idea in the policy panel later in the day.

Some of the forum’s speakers include Andile Ngcaba, founder and chairman of the investment group Convergence Partners; Benjamin Fernandes, founder of fintech company NALA; and Nichole Yembra, founder and managing director of The Chrysalis Company.

Get more details and purchase tickets here. (20 percent off with code ABFHAAS19)

2019 Women in Leadership Conference to focus on accountability, action

The WIL leadership team
Women in Leadership (WIL) conference team members: Left to right: Sandra Tamer, MBA 19, Lauren Grimanis, MBA 20, Mila Pires, MBA 19, Annie Powers, MBA 20, Geena Haney, MBA 20, Kate Hancock, MBA 19, (conference co-chair) Jordan Baxter, MBA 19, (conference co-chair) Lipika Grover, MBA 20, and Erin Casale, MBA 19.

If 2018 was the year that the world woke up to the #MeToo movement’s allegations, marches, and debates around diversity and equity, 2019 is shaping up as a year of accountability and action.

That’s where the Berkeley Haas Women In Leadership team drew its inspiration as members organized the 23rd annual conference, to be held this Saturday, March 16, at Berkeley Haas. For six months, a leadership team of seven second-year MBA students and partners have been prepping for Haas’ longest running student-led conference. Organizers are expecting more than 300 people will attend, with 20 speakers lined up to talk about everything from inclusive culture to imposter syndrome.

This year’s theme is “Your Stories, Your Growth.”

“We recognize that everyone attending this conference brings something to the table, and we created this theme to inspire people to recognize the value of their own stories, and share them with others,” said Erin Casale, MBA 19, a WIL leadership team member who worked in management consulting before coming to Haas. “Stories inspire change, and that’s our ultimate collective goal.”

Pioneering women leaders

After breakfast and a welcome address from Dean Ann Harrison, the day will feature a keynote, talks, and four breakout sessions. Sessions will cover, for example, how millennials can drive corporate change for gender equity and how to fight imposter syndrome (and learn what kind of imposter you are). Another session, led by two T-Mobile senior employees, will allow attendees to practice having courageous workplace conversations.

Among the list of speakers and companies participating, many are women who broke into senior positions in industries or roles that were historically closed to women. They include Sandra Lopez, vice president at Intel Sports and Teri List-Stoll, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Gap Inc., who will give the day’s final keynote. Other speakers include Tyi McCray, the interim director of diversity and belonging at Airbnb, Brandi Pearce, the faculty director of Teams@Haas and a lecturer in the Management of Organizations Group at Haas, and Elena Gomez, CFO of Zendesk.

Coming away with a “clear next step”

For Casale, a big part of planning this conference required reviewing formal written and informal feedback from last year. The goal was to make this year’s conference unique and fun, especially given the current climate in which #MeToo news dominates the headlines regularly. “We wanted to make sure people didn’t feel tired or worn out from current events, but rather  inspired to take action at work and in their lives,” Casale said.

She added that business schools can do a lot to improve equity fluent leadership, a term coined by Kellie McElhaney, the founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at Haas, which emphasizes the value of different life experiences, encouraging people to use their power to remove barriers, increase access, and drive change for positive impact.

The hope is that attendees will walk away from the conference ready to start a hard conversation at work—or share an inspiring story with friends or coworkers, Casale said.

“For us, it will be a win if attendees come away with a clear next step of what they can do to set themselves and their peers on a better path toward equity and inclusion,” she said. “We want people to feel equipped for change and inspired to start it.”

Tickets are available here.

New conference explores the impact of artificial intelligence on business

Berkeley MBA students organized the new AI conference with UC Berkeley computer science and engineering students.

Artificial Intelligence experts debated the promise of smart machines as well as their potential to wreak havoc on the economy at last week’s pioneering Berkeley conference on AI and business.

The “AI: Shape the Future” event, organized by students from Haas and Machine Learning at Berkeley and held April 13 at Pauley ballroom, drew a crowd of more than 250 people. Haas Prof. Laura Tyson, who has written extensively about the impact artificial intelligence will have on jobs and the economy, joined AI experts and UC Berkeley Professors Michael Jordan and Andrew Critch as speakers. AI experts from Amazon, General Electric, and Google, along with Berkeley Haas Dean Rich Lyons and Information School Dean AnnaLee Saxenian, also spoke.

Uncertainty around the future of work

The discussions revealed a divide around how computer systems capable of intelligent behavior—such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation—will impact the job market and the future of our world.

<em>Prof. Laura Tyson</em>
Prof. Laura Tyson

Tyson, the faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact at Berkeley Haas and former chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers, said she doesn’t worry that AI will cause mass unemployment. But she is concerned about the future of the job market overall and the quality of jobs that will be created due to new technology.

“The question is, as more and more intelligent machines can do better than humans at more and more jobs, what happens to societies that depend on income generation?” Tyson said.

Automation has already replaced many routine jobs, she says, particularly middle-income jobs, such as those in manufacturing, and lower-end tech jobs, such as data processing and basic coding.

In the future, she adds, the new jobs created by AI won’t necessarily be located in the places that are losing jobs to automation.

“The evidence shows concern about the quality of jobs that we will have left,” she said.

The conference was organized by three Haas students: AJ Christensen, MBA 19, Brian Polidori, MBA 19, and Daan Kakebeeke, MBA 18, who met through their interest in data science. The Haas students worked with Franklin Rice, BS 18, (electrical engineering & computer science), who is a member of the student group Machine Learning, and got additional support from the UC Berkeley School of Information as they set out to create a new conference that would bring business and engineering students together to explore AI through a new lens.

“You have engineers on one side who understand the machinery, and then you have business students who understand the world in which machine learning is being deployed, but don’t understand the machinery at all,” Christensen said.

“We’re bringing together diverse perspectives on AI from multiple corners of UC Berkeley and Silicon Valley to bridge this gap, break past the clichés and technical details, and help all students to start thinking about AI in a more comprehensive, nuanced, and thoughtful way,” Kakebeeke said.

AI technology is immature

The sessions focused on three areas: opportunity recognition in AI, the impact of AI on the economy, and new laws and policy.

Gert Lanckriet, head of machine learning at Amazon Music and professor at University of California, San Diego, said the growth of AI is fueled by the exponential increase in data that’s zipping across the internet.

“The more data, the better AI can be,” he said.

But Michael Jordan, director of the UC Berkeley AMPLab and an AI pioneer, argued that technology such as speech recognition and computer “vision” is still immature, lacking the understanding and creativity that humans are capable of. He warned that machine learning can sometimes do more harm than good.

“What we have as AI is not as far along as people think,” Jordan said. As proof, Jordan shared a story about how an AI-enabled machine misdiagnosed him with calcium buildup based on data compiled from other patients. The doctors used that data to recommend a dangerous operation. “Based on that (recommendation) I could have died,” he said. “Around the world that same day people got that same diagnosis, that same false positive,” and they may have had the risky operation, he said.

Critch, who co-founded the Center for Human-Compatible AI, warned that smart machines have the potential to wreak havoc, and asked how we will prepare as a society. “I see it as my job to prepare for the eventual arrival of AI that is generally smarter than humans or sufficiently smart to pose an existential threat in some manner,” said Critch.

Men invited to join the conversation at Women’s Empowerment Day

Lecturer Krystal Thomas, center, talks with students at Women’s Empowerment Day 2017.

At a time when the #MeToo movement has left many men wary of workplace relations, organizers of this year’s Women’s Empowerment Day invited men to join the cause of supporting and mentoring undergraduate women.

More than 100 women were nominated by the faculty to attend the 6th annual conference on Friday, April 13, at Spieker Forum in Chou Hall. This year, the undergraduate women were asked to invite a total of 40 male students as guests.

Lecturer Krystal Thomas, BS 94, and Asst. Dean Erika Walker, who directs the undergraduate program, co-founded the event in 2013 to connect Haas alumnae to current students. The goal is to provide support, mentorship, and expand networks for young women planning careers in business.

A scene from Women’s Empowerment Day 2017

Including men in the conversation

Thomas said the decision to open the event to men came after she received feedback from female students who wanted to better understand how to build collaborative, collegial working relationships with male colleagues in the classroom and at their internships.

“We are including men in the conversation because frankly they haven’t been invited—they feel accused,” Thomas said. “A lot of young men don’t have the skill sets to deal with the environment.”

Throughout the day, students will participate in candid 45-minute career conversations with alumni mentors, including about a dozen women and three men. Ten students will also receive one-on-one life coaching sessions to provide specific tools to navigate career challenges.

Pressure to be perfect

Annie Wang, BS 19, said she’s looking forward to hearing career stories from powerful women at the event.

“I feel like women inadvertently feel more pressure and feel like they have to be perfect all the time, so it’s inspiring to hear stories about how that is not the case,” she said. Wang said she’s hoping to learn more about how women in the workplace combat “Impostor Syndrome”—feeling unqualified for their jobs, regardless of positive feedback.

She added that she’s happy that male mentors were invited this year. “I want to learn how to include men into the conversation and become allies with them,” she said.

Bank of the West is sponsoring this year’s event, with Beth Hale, executive vice president and head of the bank’s product management and payment solutions group, delivering a keynote on her personal journey.

Patrick Ford, MBA 17, who helped launch the “manbassadors” male ally program at Haas, will lead a breakout session for men on the benefits and challenges of workplace gender equity, exploring social expectations and unconscious bias.

“I think there’s a whole ecosystem of obstacles that women face in the workplace that men don’t, and that the challenges overlap and intensify,” he said. “The vast majority of men in office settings aren’t overtly sexist and aren’t sexually harassing anybody, but those men who are sexist play an outsized role in ruining office environments.”

Dan Mulhern
Dan Mulhern

“We silo ourselves in echo chambers”

Haas Lecturer Dan Mulhern said he got involved with Women Empowerment Day because he believes that men must be active participants in these discussions. In addition to teaching, Mulhern is a coach and has developed models for leadership and organizational culture. He will lead a talk on “Acts and Attitudes of Empowerment,” on Friday.

“Too often, we silo ourselves in echo chambers,” he said. “Change happens within open rooms and open minds.”

Emily Garcia, BS 17, recounted her experience at least year’s Women Empowerment Day on the Haas Undergraduate Blog, noting that she spent five hours with “some of the most amazing women I have ever met.”

“It wasn’t about distinguishing ourselves from one another,” she wrote. “It wasn’t about putting blame for inequality on men or any other group for that matter. It was about uniting ourselves together as women. It was about educating each other about an issue that truly does exist in society, and more specifically, in the business world. It was about inspiring each other to support one another, so that we can fight for the equality that is long overdue.”

MBA students present on sustainability, entrepreneurship at Cape Town summit

A hundred MBA students join forces in Cape Town.
A hundred MBA students join forces in Cape Town.

Growing up in a conflict zone in Turkey led Hejar Oncel to research the connection between water availability, wars, and sustainability.

“One of the reasons we have so many wars in the Middle East, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq is, basically, water scarcity,” says Oncel, MBA 18, who was joined by Hien (Sunny) Nguyen, also MBA 18, to present March 14-17 at the MBA World Summit in Cape Town, South Africa.

This year, a total of 100 MBA students from top business schools worldwide were selected to attend the summit, chosen from more than 3,000 applicants. The summit, founded in 2014, aims to create a global MBA leadership community by encouraging the students to debate “the most pressing issues of our times.”

The Haas students competed in two qualifying rounds before they were invited to the final event in Cape Town.

The summit agenda, crafted with the input of the MBA students, focused on three topics: collaboration culture, high-impact exchange, and interdisciplinary approaches to global business and societal issues.


Nguyen in Philippi, a township that has transformed into an entrepreneurial hub.
Nguyen in Philippi, a township that has transformed into an entrepreneurial hub

Throughout the week, Nguyen and Oncel joined other students on a Social Impact Day, traveling with local residents, visiting villages in order to get a better understanding of the business problems they face. They paired with aspiring entrepreneurs in the Khayelitsha community, one of the biggest entrepreneurial hubs in South Africa, to share ideas.

Nguyen’s summit topic is close to home. She is researching how to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in her native Vietnam. She said she grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs in a country where the GDP per capita was about $2,000 in 2016.

“Vietnamese people are very entrepreneurial. You can find a small business owner on every street corner,” she said. “What struck me the most is the missed opportunities due to a lack of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Vietnam, as well as many other developing countries. That is why I came to Haas—to find ways to tackle this problem.”

Oncel studied the link between water scarcity and conflict.
Oncel studied the link between water scarcity and conflict.

At Haas, Nguyen is president of the Southeast Asia MBA Association, which includes top MBA programs from across the U.S.

She co-chairs a business conference about startups in Southeast Asia and took part in the Global Network of Advanced Management (GNAM) to learn about entrepreneurship in Mexico and Latin America. She also represented Haas in the MISK Global Forum on innovation and entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia.

Before coming to Haas, Oncel earned a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston and held several engineering and technology management roles at National Oilwell Varco in Texas and Norway. He recently worked as a senior management associate intern at Bridgewater Associates. He says he’s interested in exploring how businesses can achieve profitability while focusing on water sustainability and optimization.

Oncel said Adj. Prof. Nora Silver’s class, “Large Scale Social Change: Social Movements,” was a starting point and an inspiration for his World Summit project. Silver is the founder and faculty director of the Center for Social Sector Leadership.

“She definitely reframed my way of perceiving business, management, and social change,” he said.

Organization leaders have a seat at the table and can influence policy, he said, and they should understand the impact that their businesses have on water and energy usage.

“I’m just trying to bring a Haas approach to a responsible business. I want to bring that perspective and explain why we can care so much about sustainability, environment, and human rights at Haas—and still create big companies that are creating value for shareholders,” he said.

22nd Women In Leadership conference to focus on evolution of gender equality

WIL Conference leadership team
Members of the WIL conference team

Uprisings around #metoo, women’s marches, and inclusion and diversity in Hollywood and beyond defined 2017, sparking fierce conversations on feminism, gender equity, and social justice.

The March 17 Women In Leadership (WIL) conference will continue that conversation, taking participants through three different stages of leadership and careers under this year’s theme, “Evolve.”

The 22nd annual conference is expected to attract more than 400 students, alumni, and other professionals to campus. It’s the longest-running student-led conference at Haas, providing a platform for students and professionals to hear from women leaders, understand challenges, and find ways to advance the conversation.

Co-chairs Mackenzie Cooke, MBA 18, and Mary Harty, MBA 18, have worked with a team over the last year to plan the conference.

“This conference differs from past conferences for its focus on the phases of a woman’s journey to leadership, which we hope will make it relevant for undergrads through C-suite executives,” Cooke said. “We want attendees to be exposed to a variety of perspectives to both educate them on issues with which they may not be familiar and challenge previously held beliefs. We want attendees to think the content is relevant and diverse, and we want them to leave feeling like this was a worthwhile investment of their time and energy.”

Making progress

Larissa Roesch
Keynote speaker Larissa Roesch

Throughout the day, attendees will move through Develop, Progress, and Advance workshops and panels to discuss gender roles, challenges in the workplace, and how men and women can be supporters and allies throughout their journeys. A morning session, for example, discusses the societal and cultural influences on women and how messaging influences their definition of self.

One of the unique aspects of WIL is the “story salon,” a live storytelling format that Cooke says is an integral part of the Haas culture. A group of women will be sharing their personal stories in a salon session called “Visualizing Ourselves as Leaders.”

The day will feature more than a dozen speakers, varying from executives and storytellers to startup leaders and consultants. One of this year’s keynote speakers, Larissa Roesch, MBA 97, is a founding advisory board member of the Center for Gender, Equity & Leadership, the new center on campus that collaborated with Women in Leadership. Roesch is currently vice president and portfolio manager at San Francisco-based investment company Dodge & Cox.

In her keynote, Roesch will be addressing what to focus on in order to achieve equal pay, diverse leadership teams, and more women in business. Research and technology over the years have helped advance those conversations, she said.

Roesch is no stranger to the conference. While at Haas, she helped plan the second WIL conference and was the first woman to serve as president of the MBAA. She joined Dodge & Cox 20 years ago, after graduating from Haas.

The WIL conference in its early years was a pretty novel idea, she said.

“The concept of women in leadership was less developed, although obviously it’s been a long trajectory,” she said. “One thing that I know has changed now is there are men in the Women In Leadership club and male students to help organize the conference. I think that’s really positive just reflecting the notion that it needs to be an inclusive discussion in order to affect change,” Roesch said.