This is the first in a series of articles we’ll be writing throughout the year to mark the 10th anniversary of the Haas Defining Leadership Principles by showcasing community members who embody our culture.
When Sean Li, EWMBA 20, asks Haas students to come on his podcast, there’s usually some hesitation.
“Many people tell me, ‘I don’t think that I’m that interesting,’” he said. “But trust me, everybody has a story.”
And he’s right. Tune into Li’s OneHaas podcast and you’ll hear from a U.S. kickboxing champ, a former Marine turned sommelier, and an entrepreneur who created caffeinated gum.
Produced by Li and Raymond Guan, EWMBA 22, OneHaas takes about 25 minutes to tell stories of current students to foster community among all MBAs on campus. Since launching in March 2018, Li has interviewed more than 50 students, and many people are listening. OneHaas has been downloaded more than 7,300 times in more than 50 countries.
With so many people tuning in, Li tries to interview a diverse mix of students from all degree programs and backgrounds. One interviewee, Dana Zhang, EWMBA 21, said the podcast has helped her to get to know fellow classmates.
“As evening and weekend students, we don’t have the luxury to spend as much time as we’d like on campus to get to know each other, so the OneHaas podcast has been a useful forum for me personally to get to hear from my classmates,” she said.
Not only are current students tuning into OneHaas, but so are prospective students, which is part of the reason why Li created it.
“I’ve had at least 20 prospective students reach out to me,” Li said. “They’ll write and say, ‘You know, this one episode that I heard really convinced me to come to Haas. Thank you.’ That really moved me.”
Creating the podcast wasn’t difficult for Li. He’d produced DIY videos for two automotive e-commerce businesses that he co-founded prior to coming to Haas.
Asking the right questions and convincing students to share their stories were the hard parts.
“In the beginning, it was like pulling teeth to get someone on,” he said. “But once I produced the first five episodes, people started to realize that I was serious and that the podcast sounded pretty professional.”
Now that OneHaas is gaining traction and helping to strengthen ties among students, Li is receiving more support from campus leaders.
This past fall, Li received $1,000 from the Evening & Weekend MBA Association, the student body government association, and a $5,000 grant from the Berkeley Haas Culture Fund for audio equipment.
Li will graduate this May, but he plans to support the continuation of the podcast long after he’s gone.
“I feel so privileged to have had this platform to interview all these amazing students and hear their stories. I hope more students will join the team and help carry the torch.”