Haas welcomes a record number of MBA students

A collage of photos of new MBA students during Week Zero.Berkeley Haas welcomed the two largest MBA classes in the school’s history this semester: 291 full-time students and 276 evening & weekend students, all with outstanding academic credentials.

“We’ve always had the demand and now we’re so happy to have the space to accommodate more students,” said Jamie Breen, the assistant dean of MBA Programs for Working Professionals at Haas. The extra space comes thanks to Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, the student-centered building that opened last fall.

“Haas is a truly unique and special community, and top students from around the world continue to choose us for the quality of our programs and our distinctive culture,” said Morgan Bernstein, executive director of Full-time MBA Admissions. “These students are already coming together as a class, preparing for what we know will be a rewarding time here.”

Full-time MBA Week Zero

The new full-time MBA students arrived last week for an orientation that included tackling a business case, hours of volunteer work at Alameda Point Collaborative, a rousing cohort Olympics, and a session on diversity and inclusion.

“Week Zero has been a great experience—just jam-packed with information and networking, so it was both exhausting and fun,” said Tiffany Tran, MBA 20, who is from Long Beach, CA., and most recently worked at Annie’s (now part of General Mills) as a senior sustainability analyst.

Full-time MBA students competing in the cohort Olympics.
Full-time MBA students cheering on their team competing in the cohort Olympics. All photos: Jim Block.

The cohort Olympics for the Class of 2020 was a highlight, she added. “My cohort, Oski, won the championships,” she said. “We’re quite proud of that!”

The class of 291 students—up from 284 last year—is comprised of 43 percent women, and 34 percent international students. As a group, they are academically exceptional, with average GMAT scores of 726 and average GPAs of 3.66.

About one quarter of the new students worked in consulting; 20 are from banking/financial services; 10 percent from high tech; 9 percent from nonprofits; and 7 percent from healthcare/pharma/biotech. The group includes 14 U.S. military veterans, representing the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy.

Interim Dean Laura Tyson welcomed the students, noting that the MBA program has transformed thousands of students lives in meaningful ways over the years. “Many, many people come to business school to transform, to make a change in their career path and their goals or their sector or their role in an organization, and that’s what we give people: the skills to do the transformation you want to do, and stay authentic to yourself,” she said.

Interim Dean Laura Tyson addresses the new class of full-time MBA students.
Interim Dean Laura Tyson addresses the new class of full-time MBA students.

The MBA program continues to select students who show leadership skills that reflect the school’s Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Beyond Yourself, and Students Always.

Oriol Pi Miloro, who arrived at Haas from Barcelona, said all of the students he’s encountered so far share a common awareness of the world beyond themselves. “Every single classmate I have met demonstrated a genuine interest on the most pressing issues of our society,” he said. “And they came to Haas to tackle these issues.”

Miloro said he’s looking forward to joining the Haas Finance Club, the Haas Impact Investing Network and Q@Haas, the LGBTQ club.

“This class is just an amazing group with such an interesting and diverse array of career and life experiences—and an enthusiasm for our school’s mission and Defining Leadership Principles,” said Peter Johnson, assistant dean for the full-time MBA program and admissions.

The class includes a ski instructor who worked with disabled people at Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra; a student who speaks seven languages, including German, French, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, and Spanish; a student who already holds a master’s in public administration and a juris doctorate and was admitted to the state bar in both New York and Washington, DC; a student who introduced a rural micro-flush toilet to schools in Ghana; and a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

A surprise visit from Wes Selke, MBA 07, and managing director of Better Ventures.
A surprise visit from Wes Selke, MBA 07, and managing director of Better Ventures.

Each day of “Week Zero”—which was co-chaired by second-year students Annie Sept, Elaine Hsu, and Antoine Orard—centered around one of the Defining Leadership Principles.

Sept said her first impression of the new class is that they are both extremely thoughtful and participatory and that they are “having a blast.”

“I’ve already seen a lot of cohesion and friendship,” she said. “People are comfortable saying vulnerable things to each other. There’s general support from classmates. They’re excited to be here for sure, and that makes us feel good.”

Entrepreneur Heather Hiles
Entrepreneur Heather Hiles

During the week, Heather Hiles, CEO and managing partner of Imminent Equity, spoke to the students about showing up as their authentic selves. Hiles, who was recently named among Vanity Fair’s “26 women of color diversifying entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, media and beyond,” spoke to the theme of questioning the status quo and highlighted a diverse career.

Hiles has founded non-profit organizations, written public policy, managed a large portfolio at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and raised the most money of any African American woman for her e-portfolio startup, Pathbrite, which helps students document their achievements. Most recently she founded the first women-led private equity fund: Imminent Equities, focused on emerging technologies.

Wes Selke, MBA 07, also joined the class for a debrief on a case they were asked to read about his company, Oakland-based Better Ventures, which is focused on social investments. Better Ventures invests in companies that measure their success not only by revenue and profitability, but also by their products’ quantified, positive social or environmental impact. Other alumni speakers included Tom Kelley, partner at IDEO and founder & chairman of VC firm Design for Ventures in Tokyo, and Manuel Bronstein, vice president of product for Google Assistant.

Evening & Weekend students stand strong with the "We are one Haas" message of inclusiveness.
Evening & Weekend students stand strong with the school’s “We are one Haas” message of inclusiveness.

Evening & weekend class arrives

Last month, a record number of Evening & Weekend students arrived for orientation, called WE Launch, July 27-29. With 276 students, this is the largest class in the program’s history. The class is 33 percent women and 39 percent international.

Evening & Weekend MBA students arrive on campus for WE Launch.
Evening & Weekend MBA students in the Ax cohort arrive on campus for WE Launch.

“Our orientation was such a strong bonding experience for our students, who are all starting to come together as a group,” Breen said. “The study teams plunged right in.”

The Evening & Weekend program has been ranked the #1 part-time MBA program in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report for the past six years.