Patrick Awuah & Steve Etter named 2019 commencement speakers

Patrick Awuah, MBA 99, founder of Ashesi University in Ghana, will be the speaker at the 2019 Full-time MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA commencement, while Steve Etter, BS 83, MBA 89, a founding partner of Greyrock Capital Group and a long-time Haas finance lecturer, will speak at undergraduate commencement.

The 2019 MBA commencement will take place on Friday, May 24, at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

The  undergraduate commencement will take place on Sunday, May 19, at 9 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Patrick Awuah, MBA 99

Patrick Awuah
Patrick Awuah

Born and raised in Ghana, Awuah came to Berkeley Haas after attending Swarthmore College and working at Microsoft. His son’s birth inspired him to want to give back to his home country by establishing a new university that would offer a liberal arts education.

In past interviews, he has emphasized the need to teach through critical thinking rather than through rote memorization, which was the general practice in Ghana. His dream was to develop ethical and entrepreneurial leaders who would go on to revitalize Ghana and the African continent.

At Haas, Awuah turned his idea into a project through the International Business Development (IBD) Program. For several years Berkeley MBA students helped build the business plan for Ashesi University, and Haas faculty served as advisers. Classmate Nina Marini helped launch Ashesi in 2002 in a rented facility with 30 inaugural students. Today, Ashesi has a new 100-acre campus outside Accra with an enrollment of more than 1,000 students who hail from 15 African nations. The school has more than 1,200 alumni.

“Patrick is an inspiring business leader who truly represents our Defining Leadership Principles,” said Laura Tyson, former Haas dean and faculty director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact. “We are very proud of all that he has accomplished and honored to welcome him back for commencement.”

Awuah, who was profiled in BerkeleyHaas magazine, has earned many accolades, including:

Stephen Etter, BS 83, MBA 89

Steve Etter
Steve Etter

Etter has spent the last 30 years of his career working in private equity. As one of the founding partners at Greyrock Capital Group, he helped raise and invest almost $1 billion over four funds.

Previously, he held positions at Bank of America, GE Capital, Citibank and PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he obtained his CPA. Most recently he has transitioned into the world of social impact investing.

For the last 24 years—48 consecutive semesters—Etter has been a professional faculty member in finance at Berkeley Haas. He has twice earned the school’s prestigious Cheit Award for Teaching Excellence from his undergraduate students.

Alumnus Kevin Chou, BS 02, cites him as an inspiration for his gift toward the funding of Chou Hall.

“The personal commitment and coaching Steve provides his students is extraordinary,” said Erika Walker, assistant dean of the undergraduate program. “Steve’s classes have inspired scores of students to go beyond themselves.”

Etter’s role at Haas goes beyond teaching. He coaches Haas external case competition teams, helps with professional job searches, and works with many student athletes who go on to professional sporting careers (including Jarod Goff, Jaylen Brown, Missy Franklin, Ryan Murphy, and Marshawn Lynch).

Riley Brown, BS 19, and a Cal varsity crew coxswain, said Etter helped her think more seriously and deeply about what set her apart as a student when she was applying to Haas. “He gives me incredible advice,” she said. “Every time he opens his mouth I have to listen because I know there will be a nugget of gold.”

Steve Etter with Cal athletes
Steve Etter with Cal athletes