Haas welcomes new evening & weekend, exec MBA classes to campus

70 students sit on steps at Haas
New EMBA students take a break from orientation to pose for a group shot. Photo: Jim Block

Berkeley Haas welcomed 354 new students in the MBA for Executives and Evening & Weekend MBA programs for in-person orientation in July, the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

These working professional students, along with Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) students who returned in June, are the first cohorts in 16 months to kick off the semester on campus.

Executive MBA (EMBA) Program

During orientation, held July 16-18 in Spieker Forum, a total of 71 EMBA students participated in bonding activities and workshops, including a scavenger hunt, a diversity and equity session led by Kellie McElhaney, executive director of the Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership, and a condensed version of a popular MBA class called The Science of Productivity and Performance, which focuses on strategies to yield high-performance at work and school.

Women make up 30% of the class and 17% have either served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. Members of the class represent 64 companies including Google, Facebook, Deloitte, Chevron, and Oracle and have an average of 13 years of work experience.

Emma Daftary, executive director of the 22-month EMBA program, praised students for choosing Haas and reassured them that they have what it takes to successfully complete the program. 

“If you hear a little voice called imposter syndrome, tell it to be quiet because you belong here,” Daftary said. “You’re here with people who are going to push you to be your best selves and we’re here to support you every step of the way.”

Susan Petty, director of EMBA admissions, noted that this class was the most geographically diverse cohort in the program’s history. Sixty-five percent of students live outside of the Bay Area, including Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Brazil, and about a third of the class were born outside of the United States, hailing from Ukraine, China, India, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Taiwan.

Why an MBA?

When Cassie Dickerson, EMBA 23, was applying to b-schools, a friend from her undergraduate days at Ohio State, Isaiah Samuel, EMBA 20, suggested she add Berkeley to her list. Dickerson attended a diversity event at Haas last fall and fell in love with the people and culture.

Light-skinned Black woman with curly hair
“Everyone I met exemplified Haas’ DLPs,” said Cassie Dickerson, EMBA 23.

“Everyone I met exemplified Haas’ DLPs,” Dickerson said, a technology business strategist for GoHealth. “People showed up as their authentic selves and that deeply resonated with me.”

Naveena Gopinath, an IT database consultant at OptumServe, said it was her father’s entrepreneurial spirit that inspired her to pursue an MBA.

“My dad was an entrepreneur who owned many businesses, including a real estate and an exporting business in India,” said Gopinath, EMBA 23. “Seeing him pursue his passions pushed me to pursue mine.”

Johnny Zaragoza deferred for a year to take care of his family during the pandemic.

Gopinath had her choice of top business schools, but ultimately decided to attend Haas because of the people she met and the school’s Defining Leadership Principles (DLPs). She had worked in a mission-driven workplace before and wanted a similar MBA experience. Now that she’s at Haas, she can only imagine how the DLPs will transform her, she says.

Johnny Zaragoza, EMBA 23, was accepted to Haas last year, but decided to defer for a year to take care of his family during the pandemic. 

Zaragoza, a controller at San Francisco-based management firm White Oak Global Advisors, said he chose Haas because he had a transformational experience during Block Zero. “The support you get from the program office, career management group (CMG), and your peers, is bar none.”

Evening & Weekend MBA Program (EWMBA)

291 students sitting on steps at UC Berkeley
The Evening & Weekend Class of 2024 gathered for their group shot on campus. Photo: Jim Block

Berkeley Haas’ newest EWMBA class also arrived on campus for WE Launch orientation July 23-26.

Collectively, the 283 students have an average of eight years of work experience and represent 213 leading global companies, including Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Uber, Microsoft, and Chevron. Women make up 40% of the class, a record high.

The class of 2024 is also geographically and internationally diverse. Forty-three percent were born outside the U.S. and speak 17 different languages. Almost a third of the class reside outside of the Bay Area, hailing from Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Japan, and Singapore. 

Student hula hooping while balancing a ball on her chest.
Students hooping during the Cohort Olympics. Photo: Jim Block

During orientation, students participated in workshops focused on leadership communications, inclusive leadership, and case-study methods. They also heard from Career Management Group (CMG) staff and received an introduction to Teams@Haas, an academic program designed to build stronger team outcomes. 

In his welcome speech, Prof. Don Moore, the associate dean of Academic Affairs, commended students for pursuing an MBA at a time when society is grappling with so many global challenges. 

“There is no better place to be than a dynamic university like Berkeley that has always been on the forefront of scientific and social progress,” he said. 

Moore added that Haas’ culture helps develop business leaders that the world could benefit from—leaders who question the status quo, who have confidence to create change but do it without attitude, who go beyond themselves by taking the long view in their decisions, and are students always. 

“We have such a diverse and accomplished class this year,” said Jamie Breen, assistant dean of the MBA Programs for Working Professionals. “And it is so great to have our second year students on campus for the first time as well. These are the leaders that business and society need.”

Members of the EWMBA 2023 class led many WE Launch events. Photo: Jim Block

Culture plays big role

After listening to the Haas podcasts, attending a diversity event last fall, and speaking with students and alumni, Dominic Williams, EWMBA 24, said he was “all in” and applied only to Haas.

Light-skinned Black man wearing navy shirt.
Dominic Williams, EWMBA 24, said he was “all in” and only applied to Haas.

“The school’s DLPs and its focus on inclusion resonated with me,” said Williams, a program manager for consumer goods at Google. “Now that I’m here, I feel compelled to share my perspective to advance the Haas community. I don’t think I would feel this way anywhere else.”

The school’s culture was also a big draw for Christy Tormey, EWMBA 24, who works as a lead strategic planning analyst at Chevron. 

“Question the status quo deeply resonates with me. As a woman mechanical engineer who works in an oil refinery, I challenge the status quo every day,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to gain a seat at the table and even harder to keep that seat. I hope to encourage and inspire all women to do the same, no matter what field of study or industry.”

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