Former Haas Dean Rich Lyons named new UC Berkeley chancellor

man wearing a suit and tie standing on balcony in front of trees
Rich Lyons at home in the Berkeley Hills. Photo: Keegan Houser/UC Berkeley

Rich Lyons, former dean of the Haas School of Business and UC Berkeley’s current associate vice chancellor and chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer, has been selected to become UC Berkeley’s next chancellor.

Lyons will assume his new role on July 1, 2024, when current Chancellor Carol T. Christ retires.

University of California President Michael V. Drake announced his selection and the UC Board of Regents approved the appointment during a special meeting held today at UCLA. Lyons, who has devoted most of his career to UC Berkeley, will be the university’s 12th chancellor, notably the first UC Berkeley undergraduate alumnus since 1930 to become the campus’s top leader.

“I am naturally humbled and thrilled to be serving alongside all of you in this role,” Lyons said after the appointment was announced. “The University of California, as we know, is not just one of this country’s most important assets; it’s one of the world’s most important assets, and we steward that asset, and that is an enormous responsibility.”

“The University of California as we know is not just one of this country’s most important assets; it’s one of the world’s most important assets, and we steward that asset, and that is an enormous responsibility.” – Rich Lyons.

Christ lauded his appointment. “I am both thrilled and reassured by this excellent choice,” she said. “In so many ways, Rich embodies Berkeley’s very best attributes, and his dedication to the university’s public mission and values could not be stronger. I am confident he will bring to the office visionary aspirations for Berkeley’s future that are informed by, and deeply respectful of, our past.”

Members of the UC community congratulated Lyons and spoke on his behalf during the meeting, including Jo Mackness, MBA 04, an associate vice chancellor at UC Berkeley and a staff advisor to the UC Regents. “As an economist, as a finance professor, you bring the financial acumen and the creativity that will be required to finance UC Berkeley’s future,” Mackness, who formerly served as chief strategy and operating officer at Haas under Lyons, said. “And as good as you are at vision and strategy, you understand Peter Drucker’s old adage that culture does eat strategy for breakfast, and you are deeply committed to creating an organizational culture where it’s OK to question the status quo.”

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, MBA 92, commended Lyons’ extraordinary talent for fundraising, recognizing the passion Lyons brought to Haas “and your belief and your faith in the business school and how effective you were at bringing other people along to help achieve the vision you set forth.”

Deep Berkeley roots

Lyons, who grew up in Los Altos, arrived on the Berkeley campus as an undergraduate. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business and finance with highest honors in 1982 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics from MIT in 1987. After six years teaching at Columbia Business School, Lyons returned to Berkeley in 1993 to join the faculty as a professor of economics and finance.

“No institution has come anywhere close to Berkeley in terms of shaping my life,” Lyons told UC Berkeley News this week. “There’s this favorite phrase of mine: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ Neither of my parents had a four-year degree when I arrived at Berkeley. For so many reasons, in so many ways, I could have never seen the life I have lived were it not for my undergraduate years at Berkeley.”

As an international finance professor, Lyons was a six-time recipient of the Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching—the school’s top teaching honor—and also won UC Berkeley’s highest teaching award in 1998. In 2006, he took a leave to serve as chief learning officer for Goldman Sachs, focusing on leadership development among managing directors and partners.

Lyons returned to Berkeley in 2008 to serve as dean of the Haas School of Business. During his tenure as dean, Lyons oversaw the construction of Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, a state-of-the-art academic building that opened in 2017. He also forged stronger ties with other UC Berkeley colleges and departments, with a focus on dual degree programs that combine business with STEM fields, including the new Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology program with Berkeley Engineering.

man speaking at a podium in Haas courtyard
Former Haas dean Rich Lyons at the naming ceremony for Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, which opened in 2017. Photo: Noah Berger

While leading Haas, Lyons is perhaps most well known for his creation of four distinct Defining Leadership Principles that spurred a sweeping cultural initiative at the school that stands out in the minds of many.

“We had never made anything explicit,” about the culture at Haas, Lyons said in an interview with Poets & Quants in 2018. “That felt like a giant opportunity so I began to ask myself, ‘What would being truly intentional on culture look like?'” The values that emerged: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself, have inspired and influenced students and alumni alike.

Speaking at today’s meeting, Lyons noted how the Haas culture has spread across the Berkeley campus, so “that when the chancellor of Berkeley says we are all about questioning the status quo—this mindset that there’s got to be a better way to do this—nobody bats an eye because it’s part of where we come from.”

An innovative changemaker

In January 2020, Lyons became Berkeley’s first chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer. In that role, Lyons worked to expand and champion Berkeley’s innovation and entrepreneurship activities. To that end, he helped launch the Berkeley Changemaker program in 2020, which now boasts some 30 courses that help undergraduates see innovation and entrepreneurship in action. The courses have quickly become among the most popular academic offerings on campus.

Lyons is particularly proud of the startup ecosystem on UC Berkeley’s campus. When UC Berkeley took the top spot last year for the number of venture-funded startups founded by undergraduate alumni, Lyons said he wasn’t surprised, noting that support for UC founders has accelerated dramatically over the past 20 years.

Noting Lyons’ unique focus on innovation in science and technology, Dean Ann Harrison, who succeeded Lyons as Haas dean, said he exemplifies “what is uniquely great about Berkeley.”

“This will be a historic new era, building on the strength of the foundation set by Chancellor Christ and leading to ever-greater achievements for Berkeley and its community,” Harrison said.  “As my predecessor in the Haas deanship, Rich inspires me every day; as a friend and colleague, he enhances my life and that of everyone around him. I am truly delighted by this news and look forward to collaborating with him on a whole new level.”

Gen AI, hybrid work, and DEIB are hot topics at 6th annual Culture Connect Conference

All of the speakers from day two of the conference pose for a photo on stage.
Photo: Jordan Joseffer

More than 250 business leaders and academic researchers gathered at Berkeley Haas from Jan. 9-10 for the sold-out Culture Connect Conference, sharing challenges and insights on creating high-performing, inclusive cultures in the age of generative AI and hybrid work.

The sixth annual conference, organized by the Berkeley Haas Center for Workplace Culture and Innovation (BCC), featured talks by top leaders from IBM, Lyft, Pixar, LinkedIn, Hubspot, and other leading companies, along with hands-on workshops and discussions. It was led by the center’s Co-Founding Directors Jennifer Chatman and Sameer Srivastava, and organized by Program Director Audrey Jones.

Chatman, the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management at Haas, said she was struck by the stories leaders shared of trying, failing, and trying again as they have experimented in real time with AI and hybrid work. 

“My biggest takeaway is that an experimental mindset is critical as organizations approach these very significant changes that everyone is facing today,” Chatman said. “Organizations are going through seismic shifts in how they are thinking about and conducting work. The conference was fascinating because leaders shared their stories—the good and the bad—as they navigate these changes.”

People sit at tables listening to a presentations in a large event room with big windows.
Photo: David Ho

This was the first year the conference was open to the broader public beyond invited presenters and BCC partners. Attendees included about 100 academics and 150 industry leaders from a diverse range of industries, including health care, biopharmaceuticals, media, tech, financial services, film, government, and nonprofits. Seventy companies represented.

“The combination of research-backed evidence from academics and practical advice from seasoned industry leaders is difficult to bring together but when it happens, it yields a level of insight that could not be achieved by either perspective alone,” added Srivastava, the Ewald T. Grether Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy. “We’re immensely grateful to every speaker, workshop leader, facilitator, and participant who contributed to making this a meaningful event of learning and connecting.”

A person reads a poster about leading culture.
Photo: Jordan Joseffer

Day 1: Diverse perspectives on organizational culture academic research

The first day of the conference emphasized research, with presentations from 34 scholars from around the world who examine culture through the lens of sociology, social psychology, and economics. Keynote talks included Paul Ingram of Columbia on how people tend to conceal social class identities; Doug Guilbeault of Berkeley Haas on how gender biases tend to be stronger and more persistent in online images than in text; Anita Williams Woolley of Carnegie Mellon on how the drivers of collective intelligence in teams differ from individual intelligence; and Leo Bursztyn of the University of Chicago on how to create social change by correcting misperceptions about prevailing norms. 

Former Haas Dean Rich Lyons, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Innovation & Entrepreneurship Officer at UC Berkeley, and Laura Hassner, executive director at UC Berkeley Innovation & Entrepreneurship, reported on the success of the UC Berkeley Changemaker program, a campus-wide certificate program including about 30 courses addressing critical thinking, communication, and collaboration—and enrolling about 20% of undergraduates.

Doctoral student Yingjian Liang of Indiana University Bloomington won the Edgar Schein Best Student Paper Prize. Second place went to Danyang Li of Berkeley Haas.

Day 2: Deep dives into three key themes 

Future of work and hybrid workspaces

Yamini Rangan speaks on stage.
Photo: Jordan Joseffer

The second day of the conference was attended by about 200 industry leaders and academics. HubSpot CEO Yamini Rangan, MBA 03 (left), sat down with Chatman (right) for a fireside chat. Rangan said companies should treat culture as a product that management consistently refine. “You have to evolve your culture every day, every week, like a product,” Rangan said. She also emphasized the importance of building a team of leaders, rather than building a leadership team to make culture inclusive. “Culture is how people behave when leadership is absent,” she said.

Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford, shared data on how firms are adapting to remote and hybrid work across different sectors of the economy. Bloom noted that the effect of remote work on productivity has been neutral, while the impact on productivity has been typically positive. “Organized hybrid has won,” he said. 

Kristen Sverchek, president of Lyft, detailed the company’s journey with hybrid work, and Martine Haas, a management professor at the Wharton School, offered a framework for thinking about a firm’s hybrid culture. 

Laszlo Bock speaks on stage.
Photo: Laura Counts

In a fireside chat with Srivastava (above right), Laszlo Bock, CEO and co-founder of Humu & Gretel.ai (above left), discussed how to help employees find meaning and connection while using hybrid work models. Bock, who formerly worked in People Operations at Google, shared an impactful exercise used at Google: Find three or four interesting stories about people within the company, and brief execs on these stories again and again so that they retell the stories. These stories aren’t PR, he said—they will resonate to help give a sense of a strong, cohesive culture.

DEIB focus

A panel of five people engage in a discussion on stage.
Photo: Jordan Joseffer

Shifting focus, Co-founder, Coach, and Consultant Kia Afcari (above left) moderated a roundtable on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. 

During the discussion, Reema Batnagar, vice president of people at Pixar (2nd from left), emphasized the importance of using personal stories as a way to foster inclusion and belonging at work. David W. Kim, chief DEI officer at NetApp (2nd from right), discussed why corporate leaders must maintain the momentum of their DEI efforts despite recent pushbacks. David Pedulla, a sociology professor at Harvard (right), highlighted the extent to which various forms of discrimination still persist in the labor market. 

Sa-kiera Hudson, an assistant professor at Haas (middle), shared recent research findings that emphasize the importance of understanding intersectionality, specifically how gender and race can work together to amplify or dampen various forms of bias. Hudson emphasized that people are complex and we should never assume that their experience within a group is aligned with their perceived identity.

Chris Bell and Jamie Woolf pose for a photo on stage.
Photo: Jordan Joseffer

CreativityPartners Chief Associate Chris Bell (above left) and Co-founder and CEO Jamie Woolf (above right) led a workshop on how to create a sense of belonging through mutual storytelling.

 

Generative AI’s transformative role

Nickle LaMoreaux speaks on stage.
Photo: Brandie Brooks

In a fireside chat with Chatman (above right), Nickle LaMoreaux, chief human resources officer at IBM (above left), described how she and her colleagues have been harnessing AI to transform the role of HR in the organization.

 

Three people engage in a discussion on stage.
Photo: Jordan Joseffer

MIT Professor Kate Kellogg (above middle) and Warwick Business School Professor Hila Lifschitz-Assaf (aboove left) discussed a generative AI field experiment conducted at Boston Consulting Group. Hatim Rahman (above right), an assistant professor at the Kellogg School of Management, shared research on the importance of technological certification in the labor market.

Two people engage in a discussion on stage.
Photo: Jordan Joseffer

Teuila Hanson (above left), chief people officer at LinkedIn, emphasized the need to take a people-centric approach when adopting AI tools and technologies, since human skills—including human intuition that AIs lack—are critical. “The future of work is still human,” she said.

A look back: Top Berkeley Haas moments of 2023

Gearing up to welcome a new year is the perfect opportunity to look back at highlights from 2023 at Berkeley Haas. A toast to 2023 wouldn’t be complete without marking the big celebrations, distinct milestones, grand achievements, and more than a few welcomes (alongside some farewells). In no particular order, here are our Top 10 picks for 2023.

    1. 125 years of reimagining business: We celebrated a BIG milestone with a big party on the 125th anniversary of the day that Cora Jane Flood announced the gift that launched the College of Commerce—now the Haas School of Business. Students, staff, alumni, campus and Haas senior leaders, and founding donor Flood’s family member gathered to honor the school’s trailblazers —and our ongoing impact on business and society
    2. Dean of the Year: Dean Ann Harrison was recognized by the business school publication Poets & Quants, which lauded Harrison for leading a major diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging effort; broadening the profile of the Haas faculty, school board, and student body; and helping fundraise a total of $227 million for the school, among other successes. She also made the cover of our fall issue of Berkeley Haas Magazine. Harrison returns from sabbatical in early January.
      Photo of Dean Ann Harrison on campus.
      Harrison gracing the pages of Berkeley Haas Magazine. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

       

       

    3. More major milestones: Berkeley Executive Education (BEE) celebrated its 15th anniversary and Cleantech to Market (C2M) turned 10. Exec Ed has provided top programs to thousands of individuals in leadership, entrepreneurship, and strategy and finance, as well as customized programs for companies, government, and university partners. Promising climate technologies that addressed everything from water desalination to Earth element extraction to lightening-fast battery charging took center stage at a bigger and better than ever December Cleantech to Market (C2M) Climate Tech Summit.

      large group of masters students on stage at Haas
      Students in the Cleantech to Market program at the 2023 C2M Summit.
    4. Our generous community: The Berkeley Haas Development and Alumni Relations team (DAR) team reported a record three-year period in the school’s fundraising history, raising more than $171 million from alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends. The funds raised this fiscal year—about $56 million—brought Haas to the finish line of its five-year campaign. 
    5. Student walking in front of Haas sign in front of campus
      Photo: Noah Berger

      5. Undergrad’s big shift: We began to bid farewell to our incredible two-year undergraduate program as the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program Office received its first round of applications from prospective first-year students for our inaugural Spieker class. The first class of four-year students will enter in the fall.

      Woman and man talking animatedly.
      Dean Ann Harrison with Ned Spieker, BS 66, who with his wife, Carol, funded the undergraduate program’s transformation.
    6. The rise of the Flex cohort: As part of the evening & weekend MBA program, students in the Flex cohort completed their first year of live remote courses, demonstrating an innovative educational model that will serve a greater range of students. Flex provides what many students say they need most: schedule flexibility in a top program. MBA student group gathered at Haas
    7. New brain power: Eight new ladder and 22 professional faculty members joined Haas in fall, bringing their intellect, passion, and unique perspectives to the school. With the new tenure-track arrivals, the ladder faculty—at 96 members—is now the largest it’s ever been and is closing in on Dean Harrison’s goal of 100. 
      A photo collage of all 8 new professors.
      From top row, left to right: New Berkeley Haas assistant professors Eben Lazarus, Cailin Slattery, Shawn Kim, Antoine Levy, Sam Kapon, Erica Bailey, returning professor Alexandre Mas, and new assistant professor Rachel Gershon.

    8. Making headlines: Our faculty were featured in national media outlets more than 500 times this year, bringing expertise to everything from the rising price of gas, to the Silicon Valley Bank fallout, to tech layoffs, to the future of AI.

      Image: AdobeStock

    9. Growth space: Construction continued on the new Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Hub, which will allow entrepreneurs at Haas—and across the university—to meet, brainstorm, and invent new startups. The Hub is expected to be completed in fall 2024.

      new entrepreneurship hub at Haas (rendition)
      A photo illustration of the home of the new hub, a Julia Morgan designed building under renovation. The building was constructed in 1908.
    10. Chart toppers: All of Haas’ degree programs once again performed well in key rankings. U.S. News & World Report ranked the EWMBA program #1 (again) and the undergraduate program #2; The Financial Times ranked the FTMBA program #7 globally and #4 in the U.S.; and the MFE program was ranked #4 by QuantNet.

UC LAUNCH teams gear up for Demo Day pitches

drone shot of Chou Hall and campus
2023 Demo Day will be held in Chou Hall.

Student-led startup teams tackling a diverse range of challenges—from carbon emissions to the use of AI in education—will come together to pitch this week at the University of California LAUNCH Accelerator’s Fall 2023 Demo Day

The event, a chance for startups to pitch their ventures to a panel of judges, will be held Thursday, Nov. 30, at Spieker Forum in Chou Hall. All eight finalists will compete for up to $50,000 in non-dilutive funding.

Rhonda Shrader, MBA 96, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, noted the strong turnout of women this year.

“For the first time in UC LAUNCH history, seven of the eight finalists have at least one female co-founder,” she said. “We are super excited to celebrate them on Demo Day.” 

Scaling a company

The UC LAUNCH program guides students through the steps of scaling a company using the lean methodology, with mentorship provided by experts in the field. All teams must include at least one current UC student, alum, or faculty member. More than 250 startups that have participated in the program have gone on to raise more than $1.4 billion collectively, according to UC LAUNCH organizers.

This year’s finalists include CarbonSustain, providing a way for companies to efficiently track and analyze carbon emissions. 

man wearing a light blue shirt standing in front of a tree
Paul Bryzek, MBA 24

Co-founder Paul Bryzek, MBA 24, said the team interviewed more than 85 potential customers, competitors, business owners, and subject matter experts while in UC LAUNCH. “Our interviews yielded 10 potential customers, three distinct customer target groups, an understanding of their willingness to pay, and gaps with the existing solutions,” he said. “We’re grateful for the mentorship from Rhonda Shrader and the UC LAUNCH volunteers who helped us to achieve product-market fit.”

Finalist Rumi’s platform helps schools integrate AI to enhance student learning through writing. 

Co-founder Mohammad Hossein Ghasemzadeh, MIMS 16, said the team did extensive research in forming the startup and believes that AI will play a key role in the future of education. “We’ve talked with over 150 instructors across the country, and we’re very excited to share our story and provide some insights into what the future of AI in education will look like,” he said.

Eight finalists pitching

Other LAUNCH finalists include OmBiome, a regenerative health company creating algae-based products for oral and gut health; Rely, simplifying property management for landlords and offers renters a comprehensive real estate meta-search engine; Materri, a materials marketplace focused on sustainable materials for footwear and apparel; Insta Chef, which is providing nutritious, easy-to-prepare meals to senior living facilities; Essence Labs, an AI-powered platform optimizing work schedules for female employees based on hormonal cycles; and AidRx, providing custom AI charting solutions to ease the documentation burden for pharmacists and other non physician clinicians.

The judging panel includes Ben Goldfein of WilmerHale, Jed Katz of Javelin Venture Partners, and Kat Mañalac of Y Combinator.

Register to attend Demo Day.

Berkeley named top university for number of venture-backed companies

PitchBook has ranked Berkeley #1 for its number of venture-backed companies founded by undergraduate alumni and #2 for its number of founders, according to the 2023 PitchBook University rankings.

The 2023 PitchBook rankings also named Berkeley the #1 public university for startup founders.

A total of 1,433 Berkeley undergrad alumni founded 1,305 venture-backed companies, a virtual tie with Stanford, whose 1,435 founders started a total of 1,297 companies, according to Pitchbook.

Taking into account all graduate alumni, Berkeley ranked #5 in startups and founders. Berkeley Haas MBA alumni ranked #9, with a total of 447 founders who started 413 venture-backed startups. (The ranking doesn’t include many more startups that have been founded without venture capital funding.)

The 2023 PitchBook University rankings are based on the total number of founders whose companies received a round of venture funding between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 1, 2023.

The analysis is based on PitchBook data for global VC investment, as well as the educational information of more than 150,000 founders. Since companies can have more than one founder, and founders may attend multiple schools, it is possible for the same company or founder to count toward multiple universities.

Read UC Berkeley’s article about this ranking.

Berkeley Haas is #10 in Bloomberg Businessweek ranking

Berkeley Haas rose to #10, tied with MIT Sloan, in the 2023 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking of full-time MBA programs. Haas rose four spots this year, up from #14 last year. 

Based on input from recent full-time MBA graduates, alumni, and employers, as well as school-provided data, Bloomberg rates MBA programs on what Businessweek considers to be the five fundamental elements of business school education: graduate compensation, learning, entrepreneurship, network, and diversity. Each area is weighted according to its importance among the alumni and employers who are surveyed for the ranking.

In these five areas, Haas ranked:

#6 in entrepreneurship

#6 in learning

#15 in compensation 

#15 in networking

#16 in diversity 

Among the top 25 schools in this ranking, only one school, Georgia Tech, beat Haas in the learning category. In diversity, Haas was rated third among the top 10 and fifth among the top 20 schools.

Bloomberg Businessweek is known as a volatile ranking — and this year was no different. Harvard Business School, Northwestern Kellogg, MIT Sloan, and Yale SOM dropped by multiple points, leaving room for other schools to rise into the top 10, including Virginia Darden and Michigan Ross, which moved up six spots. Stanford Graduate School of Business remained at #1.

Donors fuel three record years of Berkeley Haas fundraising

Haas campus at sunset with the Campanile
Haas at sunset. Photo: Noah Berger

Building on three years of fundraising momentum, Berkeley Haas raised more than $56 million for the school in fiscal 2023.

Under the leadership of Dean Ann Harrison, the Berkeley Haas Development and Alumni Relations team (DAR) team reported a record three-year period in the school’s history, raising more than $171 million from alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends.

“The Haas community continues to come together to provide incredible support to the school,” Harrison said. “These generous gifts will be used to help us continue to expand our faculty, enrich our students, and empower our alumni as we work for a more sustainable and equitable future. We are truly grateful.”

The total amount raised in 2023 includes $4.1 million from 3,554 donors to the Haas Fund, which is used to retain faculty and provide student scholarships, as well as to support alumni programs and career services.

Haas also achieved its UC Berkeley-wide Light the Way campaign goal of raising $400 million in July, six months before the close. Launched in 2014, The Light the Way campaign is a historic effort to raise $6 billion. The campaign ends on December 31, 2023.

More notable highlights this year for Haas include:

  • Raising four gifts of more than $5 million in a single year, a first in the school’s history.
  • Launching an HBCU MBA Fellowship with founding gifts from five alumni. The first-of-its-kind endowment will provide tuition support to MBA students who have attended a Historically Black College or University.
  • Funding a new Berkeley Haas entrepreneurship hub, which is slated to open in fall 2024. 
  • Posting more than $500,000 in challenge matches during an epic Big Give one-day online fundraiser.

Alumni engagement highlights from the past year:  

Alumni volunteers, advisors, mentors, and speakers again stepped forward to serve the school in the past year, in efforts including:

  • Serving as speakers at events and in classrooms, and as case competition judges throughout the year. 
  • Sharing their stories on 27 episodes of the OneHaas podcast (with a total of 21,622 downloads)
  • Advising students in all of our degree programs with career and admissions support.
  • Helping Haas organize and host its second annual virtual Alumni Diversity Symposium
  • Sourcing and sharing 619 job posts through the alumni—powered Hire Haas campaign.

Berkeley Haas also returned to a full slate of alumni events this year, hosting three special regional events with Dean Ann Harrison in London, Los Angeles, and New York. Over 2,400 Haas community members participated in our signature events, with more than 1,200 returning for the annual MBA Reunion Weekend and Alumni Conference.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of our generous donors and alumni volunteers who continue to support our short- and long-term vision as a top business school,” Assistant Dean and Chief Development Officer Howie Avery said.

For more information about investing in the school’s priorities and/or becoming a volunteer please contact Howie Avery or the Development and Alumni Relations office.

FlowGPT cofounder on his visionary AI project that’s speeding ahead in the AI market

Startup: FlowGPT
Co-founders: Lifan Wang, MBA 22, and Jay Dang, a former UC Berkeley Computer Science major

photo of a man in black and white
Lifan Wang, MBA 23, co-founder of startup FlowGPT (Wang used Lensa AI to generate the image.)

In this interview, Lifan Wang discusses how he met his FlowGPT co-founder, Jay Dang, at UC Berkeley, and why speed was critical for his startup in entering the AI market.

How did you  come up with the idea for FlowGPT?

We started this project in January. We both were power users of ChatGPT when it first came out. We would spend around 10 hours a day exploring different use cases of ChatGPT prompts and trying to leverage AI to increase our productivity. As we used it more, we realized that there are so many more use cases that people haven’t discovered.  So we started doing extensive research by talking to people who use ChatGPT and prompts. We talked with approximately 100 people from various online communities, such as Discord channels and found that people constantly post and share ChatGPT prompts with each other, which gave us the idea to create a dedicated platform for prompt creators to share their prompts.

How did you get started in entrepreneurship at Haas? 

Haas is a great place for aspiring entrepreneurs. I’ve taken several entrepreneurship classes, including a class with Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, that helped me understand the process of launching a startup — from searching for ideas to conducting user research to creating a prototype. 

Haas is a great place for aspiring entrepreneurs.

In the Business of AI,  taught by Pieter Abbeel, a renowned professor in the engineering school, I interacted with generative AI and learned about neural networks and the GAN (Generative Adversarial Network), which pits two different deep learning models against each other in a game. I also explored various technical imaging technologies. I firmly believe that AI, especially generative AI, is going to be a significant trend that will revolutionize the world.

Where did you meet your co-founder?

Jay and I met during our time at UC Berkeley SkyDeck, where we attended various events. Jay was seeking funding for his startup in his freshman year. As a part-time venture partner, I was interested in potential investment opportunities. He pitched me his startup, which connected to the work I had previously done in the industry. We had extensive discussions and got to know each other well.

Are you both seeking funding right now?

We secured our C round of funding in May and are currently preparing to launch a new funding round this month or next. Our user base has experienced robust growth, and based on the data we’ve gathered, now is the perfect time to accelerate expansion.

What are some of your concerns about the future of AI or its impact on work and society?

With every technological advancement, there are inherent risks. When computers were introduced, illegal activities emerged on websites and regulations evolved. Our aim is to empower people to be more productive and generate a positive impact while prioritizing safety. We must ensure the safe use of AI, which will become a powerful tool, similar to the internet and software. Many people are already leveraging new AI tools like ChatGPT and Prompt Engineering to increase their productivity. At FlowGPT, we use ChatGPT daily for coding, product management, messaging, and marketing, covering various aspects of our operations. AI represents the next generation of powerful tools that elevate human productivity to new heights.

Our aim is to empower people to be more productive and generate a positive impact while prioritizing safety.

Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Execution is crucial. That is the most important thing I learned from Jay, my co-founder. 

We launched the product in January, just one and a half months after ChatGPT’s release. Unlike many competitors, who were still in the ideation stage, we were already ahead. When competitors attempted to imitate us, we had already iterated three times and gained a million users. 

My advice is to start building right away. You don’t have to be an expert at product development to get started. During my time at Cal, I noticed many people getting stuck in the same phase. Some might say, “I’ve got all the business plans figured out, and all I need is one programmer to build the product.” However, as time passed, they were still searching for programmers. The ability to launch is crucial, especially in the initial stages.

 

Ned Augenblick receives 2023 Williamson Award, highest faculty honor

Associate Professor Ned Augenblick, a behavioral economist who studies the ways in which people systematically stray from rational thinking, has received the 2023 Williamson Award—the highest faculty honor at the Haas School of Business.

Headshot photo of Professor Ned Augenblick
Ned Augenblick

The award is bestowed on the faculty member who best exemplifies the school’s highest values, including excellence in research, teaching, and service to the school. It is named for long-time faculty member and Nobel Laureate Oliver Williamson, who died in 2020. 

Augenblick, the 7th recipient of the award, received multiple nominations from faculty colleagues who cited his contributions as a “super citizen” of the school. His leadership was particularly appreciated in helping to bring new faculty to Haas and his work on school culture.

At Haas since 2010, Augenblick holds a PhD in economics from Stanford University and teaches strategy and game theory in the MBA programs. His research employs theoretical models and experimental data to study deviations from rational thinking in a wide range of settings, from the voting booth to the stock market.  

Read more about the Williamson Award

Wendy Guild named new assistant dean of MBA programs

photo of a woman behind a painted background
Wendy Guild

Wendy Guild has been named the new assistant dean of MBA programs, overseeing the admissions and program teams of all three Berkeley Haas MBA programs.

Guild, who begins her appointment on May 30, comes to Haas from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, where as the assistant dean of MBA programs she led marketing, recruitment, admissions, student services, curriculum, and operations of full-time, evening, and global MBA programs.

In her new role, Guild will engage deeply with students, faculty, and leadership within Haas and across the university to create a vision for the future of the school’s full-time MBA program, evening & weekend MBA program, and executive MBA program. She will champion the student experience; develop strong relationships across the Berkeley campus; and support and advance a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging.

“I know Guild will build on her outstanding work at her previous institutions and bring her academic intelligence, administrative gifts, and zeal for education to our students,” Dean Ann Harrison said. “We are very much looking forward to welcoming her and collaborating on the next great era of the Berkeley Haas MBA.”

“I know Guild will build on her outstanding work at her previous institutions and bring her academic intelligence, administrative gifts, and zeal for education to our students.” – Dean Ann Harrison.

Prior to her career at Foster, Guild served as assistant dean of strategic initiatives at UCLA Anderson School of Management, where she strengthened program development, board engagement, and strategic initiatives management. She taught leadership in executive education at the Yale School of Management and served as a program director and faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver’s Business School.

Guild is also an impressive scholar, Harrison said.  She earned a PhD in organization studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where her research focused on creating engaging experiential learning content. At Foster, she taught numerous courses, with an emphasis on leadership, strategy, field studies, study tours, and sports and entertainment management.

Guild succeeds Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA programs, who is retiring.

Matt Solowan, MBA 23, on questioning the status quo and finding a fit at Bain consulting

Haas Voices is a first-person series that highlights the lived experiences of members of the Berkeley Haas community.

person sitting in commencement attire on Berkeley Haas sign
Matt Solowan, MBA 23, worked in marketing at L’Oréal before coming to Haas. They’re heading to Bain & Company in New York after graduation.

Matt Solowan, MBA 23, embodies the Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principle Question the Status Quo in both work and life.  In this Haas Voices column, Solowan discusses their commitment to workplace inclusivity, their work as a marketer at L’Oréal, and a love of all kinds of dance. Solowan will join Bain & Company in New York after graduating this month.

“Dance has always been a passion of mine. Growing up on Long Island, I did tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip hop lessons from a very young age. In high school, I was on the kickline team and we performed at football and basketball games and competed in local and national competitions. Dance was my entire life. But when I got to USC as an undergrad, I realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to do professionally, so I took it as a minor and then picked up economics, along with Italian, as a major.

As a junior at USC, looking for a summer internship, I remember this one interview I had with a bank. At that time, I presented quite femininely. I had longer hair and wore makeup. I sat down and saw this smug guy looking over my resume. I had a 4.0 as an economics major and he spent the entire time grilling me about my dance minor, correcting me that dance was my “hobby” when I called it a “passion.” That was all he could see. He didn’t care that I had a 4.0 in economics. I could tell he’d written me off the minute that I walked into the room.

I had a 4.0 as an economics major and he spent the entire time grilling me about my dance minor, correcting me that dance was my “hobby” when I called it a “passion.”

I left that interview feeling so dejected and made a point that this was the type of person that I would prove wrong in my career. Luck would have it that within the next week or two, I went to an event that L’Oréal was hosting on my campus.

At that time, I didn’t even know that you could market beauty products as a career. But when I met with the L’Oréal recruiter it was a total 180 from what I had experienced at the bank interview. Without looking back, I accepted an internship, which turned into a career working on the marketing teams across a handful of L’Oréal-owned brands, including IT Cosmetics, Maybelline, and Garnier.

Making a mark at L’Oreal

Here, I learned that having as many diverse voices as possible on work teams is so critical as it impacts everything from the makeup shades a company markets to how the company hires for its advertising campaigns. There is a pervasive culture in large beauty organizations, where beauty is viewed through the eyes of the white male gaze—white, European features, thinner, and younger women. But you have junior talent who are ready to break away from that and the old-school view of beauty.

Two models posing in an advertisement
Solowan (left) modeled in campaigns while working for L’Oreal brands.

On one brand launch I worked on I was given was a rainbow-handled makeup brush for Pride Month. I immediately flagged the launch as “rainbow-washing,” —which is when businesses use rainbow colors to suggest support for the LGBTQ community without making any tangible effort to positively impact the lives of LGBTQ people. I reached out to L’Oréal’s employee resource group for LGBTQ employees, who put me in touch with a local charity and I worked with them on a plan to have some of the sales from the brush tie back to a center for LGBTQ youth.

I was devastated when my plan was rejected by a company manager due to budget cuts. But then one of our key retailers put the brush on their website earlier than anticipated and immediate backlash from consumers started flooding in. I could have had a “told you so” moment.

Instead, I reached back out to that charity, and got things back in motion and we officially launched the brush tied to this charity. Doing what’s right isn’t always easy, which I experienced first-hand modeling for some of the brand campaigns. These multimillion, sometimes billion-dollar brands, often have employees shoot videos and images to post on social media. I was featured in quite a few of their marketing materials that went up on our Instagram. As a model, I would get very nasty hate comments from some of our consumers. That was very hard for me to reckon with. I was an employee of this brand putting my face forward and some of the consumers of this brand had a negative reaction to seeing me. 

 Doing what’s right isn’t always easy, which I experienced first-hand modeling for some of the brand campaigns.

But looking back, it is something I’m very proud of. I helped push a brand forward. My motto has always been, if I can have one person look at that image, and see themselves represented and feel like there is a space for them, that means much more to me than a hundred negative comments from people who really do not matter to me. It’s a trade off I’m willing to make. 

Why an MBA?

At L’Oréal, I met a few people I admired for the way they spoke and presented, and the way that they tackled problems. I found out that a lot of them had MBAs and had previously worked in management consulting. It was a formula that I thought might be a good path for me.

large group of people standing in front of a curtain
Solowan (back row, middle) with Q@Haas friends at the 2022 ROMBA Conference in Washington D.C. Solowan served as VP of Careers & Alumni for Q@Haas last year.

When I came into Haas I was determined to land an internship in consulting. One of the most helpful resources to me at Haas was the second year peer advisors who had just gone through the recruiting process. They were the ones who looked at my resume, reviewed my cover letters, and were practicing cases with me during the fall and into winter break. We have a very strong pay-it-forward culture at Haas. I ended up becoming a peer advisor myself, working with both the second-years in my class who were recruiting for full-time roles in consulting and the first-years recruiting for internships. I think that was one of the most rewarding things I did at Haas.

We have a very strong pay-it-forward culture at Haas.

Heading to Bain

I chose Bain over other firms I received offers from because, even though it has a generalist model and I am hoping to specialize in retail and consumer early on, I loved all of the people that I met at Bain during the recruiting process. They were in many ways similar to the people I know at Haas: very down to earth, very kind, very warm, very supportive. I knew that consulting would be a tough job. I knew the hours would be long. It’s a rigorous role to go into post MBA. I wanted to make sure that I was surrounded by a good support system and I felt like I had met people there who would be cheerleaders for me. That carried a lot of weight.”

U.S. News ranks the Berkeley Haas EWMBA Program #1 again

The Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program ranked #1 among part-time MBA programs in U.S. News & World Report, reclaiming its top spot.

The Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Program came in at #11 and the Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives ranked #9 in the 2023-2024 Best Graduate Schools report, published today. 

The changes in the part-time and full-time MBA outcomes are largely due to drastic changes in the rankings factors. 

The Berkeley Haas EWMBA Program, which includes our evening, weekend, and Flex cohorts for working professionals, regained the top spot after four years, thanks to its improved peer assessment and an increased emphasis on the significant work experience of Haas students. Chicago Booth dropped to #2 from #1. 

The FTMBA program tied with Columbia and Duke for the #11 spot this year. Columbia and Haas previously tied for #8, while Duke ranked #12 in 2022. U.S. News increased the weight of placement success—compensation and employment within three months of graduation—to 50%, compared to 35% previously. The weighting of quality assessments, including the peer and employer polls, decreased to 25%, compared to 40% previously. 

Haas reported significant increases in career outcomes for the FTMBA Class of 2022. Starting salaries were up more than $10,000 from the prior year, and 92.7% of graduates had started jobs three months after graduation. Amazon, Bain Consulting, and McKinsey & Co. were the top three hiring firms, followed closely by Adobe, BCG, Deloitte, and Google. While many Haas graduates benefit from stock options, which do not factor into U.S. News, and some take lower salaries initially to land the jobs of their choice, their lifetime career earnings are among the top three of all business schools, according to Payscale.

“The ROI of the Berkeley Haas MBA remains strong,“ said Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA Programs. “According to the Financial Times, our alumni reported earning the fifth highest salaries in the world three years after graduating.” 

View the ranking methodologies for full-time MBA programs and part-time MBA programs.

The Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives Program ranked #9 among EMBA programs, compared to #7 last year. This ranking continues to be based entirely on peer assessment by deans and full-time MBA directors.

In the U.S. News specialty rankings, based on peer assessment, the FTMBA ranked in the top 10 in the following areas:

  • #4 Real estate
  • #4 Nonprofit
  • #5 Entrepreneurship
  • #6 Business analytics
  • #8 Finance
  • #9 Management
  • #9 Marketing
  • #10 International

Overall, the five ranked Berkeley Haas degree programs appear in the top five in key rankings:

  • FTMBA: #4 among U.S. schools in the Financial Times
  • EWMBA: #1 among part-time MBA programs in U.S. News
  • MBA for Executives: #1 in the last published Economist EMBA ranking (2020)
  • MFE: #1 TFE Times and #3 QuantNet
  • Undergraduate: #2 in U.S. News 

Financial Times ranks Haas FTMBA #4 in U.S.

The Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA rose to #4 among U.S. schools and #7 internationally in the 2023 Financial Times Global MBA Ranking. Haas joined Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford as this year’s top four U.S. programs.

Haas raised its ranking due to improvements across several factors, including increased faculty research publications; greater gender balance in the student body, faculty, and Haas board; an improved alumni career progress rank; and a higher employment rate of 93% for the full-time MBA Class of 2022.

In addition, Haas ranked #6 globally for its efforts in lowering its carbon footprint, a new measure for the Financial Times, which is increasingly evaluating business programs based on their ability to advance environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts. Haas also improved its rating for teaching ESG concepts in its MBA program.

Alumni salaries continue to be a strong point, placing Haas fifth in the world for both average salaries and for weighted salaries that are adjusted for variations across different sectors—the two most important aspects of the ranking.

More than 50% of the ranking is based on a survey of FTMBA alumni who graduated in 2019; the remainder is based on data provided by participating schools. Last year, Haas tied for #9 in the US and tied for #14 internationally.

Read the article and full ranking.

Largest gift in Berkeley Haas history will transform undergraduate business program from two to four years

Berkeley, Calif.— The Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, today announced that its top-ranked two-year undergraduate business program will expand to become a four-year program, supported by the largest single gift in the school’s history.

In recognition of the $30 million gift from Haas alumnus Warren “Ned” Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BA 66, (political science), UC Berkeley will name the Haas School’s four-year undergraduate business program the Spieker Undergraduate Business Program. The first four-year cohort of students will enroll in August of 2024.

Haas alum Ned Spieker
Ned Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, gave a record $30 million to Haas to transform the undergraduate program. Photo: Karl Nielsen

“A four-year undergraduate business experience will provide remarkable new opportunities for students,” said Ned Spieker, a Haas School Board member who is founder and former Chairman and CEO of Spieker Properties, one of the largest owner-operators of commercial property in the U.S. “My hope is that this gift will help build a program that’s second-to-none in the world, cementing Haas as the top undergraduate business school for generations to come.”

“This is a historic, game-changing investment in undergraduate business education,” said Berkeley Haas Dean Ann E. Harrison. ”We are so thrilled that Ned and Carol have made a commitment to Haas toward building the next generation of business leaders.”

Historically, students have applied to the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program as sophomores and enrolled as juniors. Now, prospective Berkeley students will have the option to apply directly to Haas and enter as freshmen, giving them an additional two years for deeper learning, including career development, study abroad opportunities, entrepreneurship programs, capstone projects, mentorship engagements, and internships. While the majority of undergraduates will enter as freshmen in the future, continuing UC Berkeley and transfer students may continue to apply for acceptance to the program as sophomores.

Delivering impact

The Spiekers’ gift will be used to deliver impact in five areas critical to supporting the program, including:

  • Endowing a new scholars program
    The new Spieker Scholars Program will attract the best and brightest undergraduate students. These students have challenged themselves academically throughout their high school experience and demonstrated exceptional leadership skills through athletic and co-curricular pursuits, their commitment to creating a positive social impact in their communities, and their curiosity for learning outside of the traditional academic setting. Spieker Scholars, three to four chosen per class, will receive significant financial support and enrichment opportunities. In addition to the Spieker Scholars Program, this gift will fund an expansion of the scholarships available for students who may have financial barriers to attending UC Berkeley.
  • Building outreach and support
    Outreach efforts will be expanded to ensure that high-performing students from all backgrounds consider Haas. A first-year academic advisor will work with admitted students, providing the knowledge and resources required to navigate the university system. Students will also have access to preparatory courses that will build their foundational knowledge around business concepts and strengthen their quantitative skills.
  • Creating a life-changing student experience
    Haas will increase staffing for academic and admissions advising, mental health services and support, marketing and admissions, alumni outreach, and student orientation. These additional touchpoints will ensure that undergraduate students are maximizing their time within the ecosystem of Berkeley Haas and developing deep relationships with the alumni community.
  • Providing new co-curricular opportunities
    Funds will be used to support student activities such as experiential learning workshops, international research, travel opportunities, social gatherings, student conferences and competitions, and additional leadership opportunities.
  • Enhancing classroom technology and infrastructure
    To provide students a state-of-the-art learning experience, classrooms in Cheit Hall, where many undergraduate students take classes, will be upgraded with the latest audio, visual, and media equipment.

A crucial role in campus planning

Ned Spieker, who is also founder and chairman of Continuing Life communities, which operates large-scale communities for seniors in California, met his wife, Carol, at UC Berkeley. Their four children are Cal grads. Carol Spieker, an Emeritus Trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation, has served on the governing board of Filoli, a National Historic Trust property, and as chairman of the board of Sacred Heart Schools.

For years, Ned Spieker has played a crucial role in Haas campus planning, convincing the administration of the importance of maximizing its campus footprint. Spieker served as a catalyst and champion for the construction of Haas’ newest building, Chou Hall. Recently, Spieker shifted his efforts to the undergraduate program.

The undergraduate program has added three multidisciplinary programs and one minor outside of the core program over the past several years. The new programs include:

Early support

The expanded four-year undergraduate program has also received a number of gifts from other generous supporters, which helped bring the total raised so far to more than $45 million (including the Spieker gift). Early supporters include Janelle Grimes, BA 86, (political science), and Michael Grimes, BS 87, (electrical engineering and computer science). Michael Grimes, the M.E.T. program’s founding donor, played an instrumental role by working with Berkeley Haas as a founder of the four-year undergraduate program. Additional program supporters include Steve Etter, BS 83, MBA 89; Maria and Gene Frantz, BS 88; Joanne and Jon Goldstein, BS 82; Melissa and Clif Marriott, BS 99; Adria and Brian Sheth; Roshni and Jagdeep Singh, MBA 90; and Melody and Jerry Weintraub, BS 80, MBA 88.

The Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program was founded in 1898, the same year the business school (then called the College of Commerce) was established. As the second-oldest business school in the United States, Berkeley Haas provides research, thought leadership, and talent development to lead the way to a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Read an FAQ about the new program here.

 

Three alumni business leaders named as undergraduate & MBA commencement speakers

QuantumScape CEO and Co-founder Jagdeep Singh, EWMBA 90, will speak at the combined Berkeley Haas Full-Time and Evening & Weekend MBA commencement ceremony, and corporate leader, entrepreneur, and author Aaron McDaniel, BS 05, will address undergraduates at commencement.

Both ceremonies will be held at the Greek Theatre, with the undergrads tossing caps on Monday, May 16, and the FTMBA and Evening & Weekend MBA students graduating together on Saturday, May 21. 

A makeup commencement for the full-time MBA classes of 2020 and 2021—who had to forego in-person ceremonies during the pandemic—will be held Friday, April 29, at the Paramount Theater in Oakland. Laura Clayton McDonnell, MBA/JD 85 and a senior vice president of sales for the East, Canada, and Latin America regions at ServiceNow, will address the graduates.

Additionally, the PhD hooding ceremony will be held May 6, and Executive MBA commencement will be held June 4. Laura Adint, EMBA 14, an operations and strategy executive, is the commencement speaker.

Jagdeep Singh, EWMBA 90, to speak at FTMBA/EWMBA commencement

Jagdeep Singh headshot
QuantumScape CEO Jagdeep Singh

Singh is co-founder and CEO of QuantumScape, an energy storage company that supports the global transition toward a lower carbon future.  

Prior to founding QuantumScape, Singh was co-founder and CEO of Infinera Corp, a telecommunications equipment company and developer of the first large-scale, photonic integrated circuit. He led the company from startup through an IPO.  

Previously, he was founder and CEO of Lightera Networks, acquired by CIENA Corp. Before that, he founded and led several communications companies, including OnFiber and AirSoft. 

Singh is also founder and CEO of Deep Valley Labs, a venture laboratory and incubator focused on a hypothesis-driven approach to founding, validating, and spinning out high-impact technology companies. 

He holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University, and an MBA from Berkeley Haas.

Aaron McDaniel, BS 05, named 2022 undergraduate commencement speaker

Aaron McDaniel headshot
Aaron McDaniel, founding partner at Grow Scale.

McDaniel, BS 05, is a former AT&T sales executive, serial entrepreneur, and has been an entrepreneurship lecturer at Berkeley Haas for the past five years.

He began his career at AT&T and rose to regional vice president of sales at age 27, among the youngest at the company to do so. In this role, he managed a team of more than 60 people and oversaw all sales operations, IT support, and data and mobility solutions for small- and medium-sized companies. He graduated from AT&T’s flagship Leadership Development Program and was a member of AT&T’s Diamond Club for the top 1% of sales leaders worldwide. 

McDaniel went on to found and sell three companies, including Pong360, an e-commerce company that sells college and tailgating products; Tycoon Real Estate, a real estate crowdfunding platform; and Velocity Capital Group, a real estate private equity firm. 

He is currently  a founding partner at Grow Scale, a commercial real estate private equity firm, and co-founder of 10X Innovation Lab, a Silicon Valley-based consulting agency that offers entrepreneurship programs and services to government and corporate leaders.

Tapping his expertise as a sales executive and entrepreneur, McDaniel has authored three self-help books, including The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World, The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing, and Global Class, forthcoming this fall. It explores how the world’s fastest-growing companies expand globally.

Laura Clayton McDonnell, MBA/JD 85,  will speak to MBA classes of 2020 & 2021

Laura Clayton McDonnell photo
Laura Clayton McDonnell, senior vp at ServiceNow.

McDonnell is senior vice president of sales for the East, Canada, and Latin America regions at ServiceNow, and serves on the board of directors of Zuora.

With extensive sales management, global experience, and legal expertise, McDonnell has held executive positions at leading companies in the high-technology industry as vice president of Microsoft’s New York region; senior vice president of North American sales at at Aspect Software; vice president of strategic services at IBM; and vice president of business development at Rational Software. She’s also held various senior sales and legal roles at Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and Apple and practiced private, corporate, and securities law.

McDonnell received a BS with distinction from San Jose State University, and an MBA/JD from Berkeley Haas. She was admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and the State of California.

She received the 2008 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award and serves on the board of directors and membership committee of the Women’s Forum of New York and is a member of Women’s United of the United Way of New York City. She’s also an advisory committee member of the 92Y Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact.

Haas emergency closure update

Haas courtyard after water main break
Flooding in the Haas Courtyard after the water main break Monday. Photo: Kellie McElhaney

The Berkeley Haas campus remains closed following a break in a water main Monday that caused flooding on the stairs below Cronk Gate.

In a message to the Haas community Tuesday, Dean Ann Harrison and COO Courtney Chandler wrote:

  • Both water and electricity remain turned off on the Haas campus as crews work to inspect both equipment and our buildings for damage.

  • Yesterday’s flooding reached the high voltage room. Fortunately, the crew was able to turn off power before the water reached the main electrical equipment.

  • Cleanup of the courtyard is underway, but it remains closed.

Your safety is our top priority. We do not know yet how long our buildings will need to remain closed. You should plan on classes remaining remote for right now. We ask that staff and faculty continue to work remotely as well. We will email you tomorrow to provide an update for the remainder of the week.

We are so grateful to the emergency crews who immediately came to our assistance and have been working throughout the day.  And we are so grateful to all of you for your cooperation and your patience.

Full enrollment restored at Berkeley Haas 

In light of new legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Berkeley Haas will no longer reduce its enrollment by 70 students across its three MBA programs and the MFE program.

Per the UC Berkeley statement, sent late yesterday:

With the legislation passed and signed by the governor, the university will return to its original admissions/enrollment targets. In late March, as originally planned, we will extend admissions offers to more than 15,000 incoming freshmen and then to more than 4,500 transfers in mid-April.

The mitigation plans we previously announced and described are no longer needed and will not be implemented. All offers of admission will be for in-person only, as originally planned.

We will still have spring start admits — that occurs every year — but it will not be the significantly higher number the mitigation planning called for.

The approximately 400 graduate school enrollment slots will also be reinstated, in full.

Viva la mujer: A Women’s History Month message from Chief DEI Officer Élida Bautista

This month, as we celebrate Women’s History Month and prepare to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, we are called on to imagine a world where women across all intersectional identities have equal access to opportunities, income, safety, political representation, and choices.

Viva la Mujer image by Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes
“Viva La Mujer” graphic image credit: Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes

Throughout our history, despite seemingly insurmountable barriers, women across the globe have strived and sacrificed to be seen for our capabilities, and fairly valued for our contributions. Women of all intersectional identities have organized and been a part of many movements to gain equal rights, and to advocate for reforms that impact everyone, including safe working conditions and labor practices, improved accessibility for people with disabilities, obtaining and protecting voting access, and other civil rights. However, women—here in the U.S. and around the world—continue to face epidemics of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment.

Yesterday, President Biden signed the Ending Forced Arbitration Act, a landmark piece of legislation spurred by the #MeToo movement, ending the use of hidden language in contracts that prevented employees from suing in the case of sexual assault or harassment. It is a victory, with so many more battles ahead.

March 24 is All Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how far into the new year women must work to be paid what men were paid the previous year. On average, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar men are paid. Disaggregating the data shows a deeper disparity.

Asian American women are paid 85 cents for every dollar white men earn, making March 9 their Equal Pay Day. For Black women, Equal Pay Day doesn’t come until August; for Native American women, it’s September. For Latinas, the date comes near the end of October, with their average pay being 57 cents for every dollar paid to white men. The disparities do not stop there.

Women with disabilities make 72 cents for every dollar paid to men with disabilities; but as a whole, people with disabilities make only 68 cents for each dollar earned by able bodied people. Mothers earn 75 cents for every dollar fathers make.  There is not precise national data on equal pay for lesbian, bisexual, queer, or trans women, indicating our need to advocate to include all of our sisters in the data.

Important research insights uncovered by our faculty point to real-world solutions to pay inequity. In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Professor Laura Kray and post-doc scholar Margaret Lee highlighted their findings that women are given smaller teams to manage on average than men, which contributes to the pay gap; Kray is working with Dean Harrison to dig into why the pay gap between men and women MBA graduates increases over time. Assistant Professor Solène Delecourt is studying inequities in business performance; three of her recent studies have pinpointed the factors that cause women-owned businesses to underperform men’s around the world, and how that can be fixed. Former Dean Laura Tyson was the co-author of a key UN report on women’s economic empowerment. Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) and EGAL Assistant Director Genevieve Smith co-authored a teaching case focused on the importance of pay transparency in closing the gap.

We know the progress toward equity took a giant step backwards during the pandemic. By the end of January, men in the U.S. had regained all of the jobs they had lost since February 2020. But 1.1 million women who left the labor force during the same time had yet to return, pointing to long-standing structural inequities (with caregiving responsibilities topping the list) that make it harder for women to return to work. Recognizing that women in heterosexual dual-career couples, with or without children, still do most of the household/care work, EGAL developed 7 evidence-based ‘plays’ to support dual career couples. 

Burnout brought on by the pandemic has pushed many women to reevaluate and identify new approaches to career and personal life. That re-evaluation is the focus of this weekend’s “Re:set, Re:imagine, and Re:build,” the 26th annual Women in Leadership Conference at Haas. Conference organizers intentionally have integrated intersectional identities throughout the program. The conference will be held tomorrow, March 5, in Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum. You may register here.

We have incredible representation of women in senior leadership roles at Berkeley Haas, including our Dean, our chief operating officer, our chief financial officer and several assistant deans and program directors. Yet we have more work to do to achieve balanced gender representation among our faculty and students. Our senior leaders are working to continue to foster a climate of belonging, and strategizing on outreach, recruitment, and yield to increase representation of women among our faculty and students.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and its theme #BreaktheBias, I treasure all of the accomplishments of women around the world and I am grateful to have benefitted from the progress achieved by those who came before me. I also realize that “la lucha sigue” (the struggle continues), as we say in my community. Women with multiple marginalized identities often have even longer, bumpier roads to travel.

We each have the responsibility to continue unlearning the gender bias we have absorbed throughout our lives and we must hold ourselves accountable at an individual level. We have the power to use our leadership to create structural changes at all levels. Collectively, working together, let’s #BreaktheBias.

Sí se Puede,

Élida

Resources for further learning:

Promoting an Equitable Learning Environment

Stop AAPI Hate

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

National Domestic Workers Alliance 

Male allyship at work

81cents Pay Equity Advisors

Equal Pay Day 2022

“Viva La Mujer” image credit: Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes

Two Haas programs ranked in top five by TFE Times

The Berkeley Haas MFE Program ranked #1 again among financial engineering programs in The Financial Engineer (TFE) Times for the seventh year in a row. In a separate ranking TFE Times also ranked the Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Program #5 among MBA programs in the U.S.

TFE Times’ MFE ranking methodology is primarily based on data provided by participating schools and its ranking weighs admissions components (55%), career outcomes (40%), the number of courses available, and research expenditures (2.5%). 

The full-time MBA program has ranked #5 for the last two years of TFE’s Best MBA Program Rankings. The methodology for the MBA ranking is similar to that of the MFE ranking and applies 60% to admissions components and 40% to career outcomes.