New Berkeley Executive MBA class has record number of women

A diverse group of 72 students—including an Artificial Intelligence expert in the Pentagon, four doctors, a Catholic priest, and a rare wine expert—makes up the new class of Berkeley MBA for Executives who arrived on campus last week.

The 2019 class kicked off with a greeting and lunch with Dean Rich Lyons and multiple orientation sessions. Classes started last Thursday in data analysis, accounting, and leadership communication. Over the coming months, the new class will participate in five immersive experiential learning sessions.

“We’re really proud of this incoming class,” said Marjorie DeGraca, executive director of admissions for the MBA Programs for Working Professionals. “It’s an accomplished group with so much depth and interesting life and career experiences—and we’re so excited to welcome a record number of women to our program this year.”

EMBA students meet Oski at orientation. Photo: Noah Berger

Many EMBA parents

Class members have 72 children among them—including student Linda Liu, who is mom to Margie Jiang, a freshman at UC Berkeley. About a third of the new group comes from outside of the Bay Area, hailing from Southern California, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Jason Atwater, a Pennsylvania native who now works as a digital marketing manager for in San Francisco, said he was drawn to Haas in part for its Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.

“I wanted a program with ’emotion and strength of character to be a better human being’ attached to it,” he said. “Everyone I met seemed really motivated to learn and to be a better person. Not that other schools didn’t—but it stood out with every person I talked to at Berkeley. I had the strongest feeling that this is where I belonged for the next chapter of my life. “A large slice of the class—44 percent—was born outside of the U.S., in Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, China, Greece, India, Italy, Jamaica, and Mexico.

Adele Mucci, who is a native of Italy and vice president at JA Solar, is commuting from the company’s headquarters in Shanghai to Berkeley for the program, which she believes will help give her the tools to help her company strategize, move into new markets, and change its mindset.

She chose Berkeley for its commitment to sustainability and alternative energy.  “California and Berkeley are incubators for this kind of discussion and dialogue. I think for me this was something calling me.”

Adele Mucci is commuting to Haas from Shanghai, where she works for a solar startup.
Globetrotter Adele Mucci is commuting to Haas from Shanghai, where she works for a solar startup. Photo: Noah Berger

Record percentage of women

Women represent a record 39 percent of the class —up from 34 percent last year and 30 percent in 2016.

Jamie Breen, assistant dean of the MBA Programs for Working Professionals, credited the increase to various efforts they’ve made over the past few years.

“We’ve made our admissions strategy more inclusive and broadened our recruitment efforts, adding messaging that was more attractive to our female applicants,” she said.

Among the 28 women in the class is Molly Zucker, who earned a BA in rhetoric and communications from UC Berkeley in 2005 and found herself contemplating a business degree while running the online auction business at K&L Wine Merchants, her family’s business.

“We’re doing well but now it’s about how do we get to the next level?” she said. “I have no formal business training. I felt like I was lacking a bit and I wanted to go back and learn the principles of business and finance and take those back with me…. I want to talk the talk and walk the walk.”

Molly Zucker, EMBA 19, came to Haas to formalize her business education.
Molly Zucker (right) applied to Haas with a plan to formalize her business education. Photo: Noah Berger

An experienced group

With a median 13 years of work experience, the students’ resumes span across industries within 69 companies.

Three students work at Google and two are with Chevron, with others coming from Intel, PayPal, Amazon, PG&E, Walmart, United Airlines, Abbott, Shell, and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Perhaps the most unusual student story is that of John Gribowich, a 39-year-old priest.

Gribowich was assigned by his bishop to work at DeSales Media Group, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn. DeSales wants to develop new technology for Catholic organizations across the country—to help them to share data more effectively.

Gribowich, who was asked to consider an MBA to help work on the project, said he found the perfect mix of creativity and technology depth at Haas. “I said: ‘I’m just going to put all my bets on Berkeley,'” he said. “I knew the program was really good from the research I’d done talking to people. To me, there really wasn’t a second choice.”