Berkeley Haas Prof. Paul Gertler, an international expert on evaluating programs to fight poverty, improve health care and outcomes, expand financial inclusion, and support early childhood development, has been appointed as faculty director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI) as of July 1.
Gertler takes the leadership baton from IBSI Founding Director and Former Dean Laura Tyson, who launched the institute in 2013 to serve as both a central hub and a catalyst for expanding the school’s social impact programs. Tyson will retain her role at Haas as a professor of the graduate school and will be based out of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, where she chairs the board of trustees.
“Over the past seven years, IBSI has secured the reputation of Berkeley Haas as a leader among top-ranked business schools in the social impact space, and helped hundreds of Haas and Cal students launch careers focused on addressing social and environmental challenges,” Tyson said. “I’m thrilled to leave the institute in the capable hands of Professor Paul Gertler, who brings extraordinary research, expertise, and engagement on developing and implementing programs that fight poverty and improve public health and education outcomes around the world.”
Gertler said he plans to build on Tyson’s work by expanding the generation and use of scientific evidence to better understand the social impact of business decisions.
“Laura has always championed the purpose of business beyond shareholder value: that business decisions affect workers’ lives, customers’ lives, and the environment, and create culture norms that affect diversity and inclusion. She has also challenged the prevailing wisdom of business schools in championing a ‘shareholder lens,’ and it seems much of the establishment is now catching up to her,” Gertler said. “I hope to move that mission forward in this time of great upheaval.”
Gertler is the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics at Haas and scientific director for the Center for Effective Global Action. He’s an expert on impact evaluation, acting as principal investigator on large, multisite evaluations of programs to fight poverty and improve healthcare in Mexico, Rwanda, and around the world. He also served as the chief economist of the Human Development Network of the World Bank from 2004 to 2007. His recent research has focused on topics as diverse as how vocational training has helped women but left men behind; the relationship between childhood sugar consumption and obesity; and air conditioning and climate change. He has been a member of the Haas faculty since 1996, and holds a PhD in economics from the University of Wisconsin.
(Tyson) has also challenged the prevailing wisdom of business schools in championing a ‘shareholder lens,’ and it seems much of the establishment is now catching up to her.” —Paul Gertler
Since its founding, IBSI has grown from four centers and programs to six. It now includes the Center for Responsible Business, the Center for Equity, Center and Leadership (EGAL), the Berkeley Blockchain Initiative, and the Sustainable and Impact Finance Program (SAIF). The institute houses two pre-college programs for high school and middle school students, Boost and the Berkeley Business Academy for Youth (BBAY). IBSI will expand during this academic year, adding the Gilbert Center for Health Economics. There will also be work to establish a center related to financial innovation, regulation and inclusion, Gertler said.
As an influential economist with a vast network, Tyson’s leadership has been instrumental in building IBSI. She helped raise the funds to launch EGAL and secured funding for SAIF, which she launched last fall with Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse to drive research, education, and leadership in the growing field of sustainable and impact finance. Tyson worked with former Dean Rich Lyons to win the five-year partnership with Ripple as a partner in the University Blockchain Research Initiative to accelerate research and develop leaders in the area.
Tyson also built a financial inclusion research partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Other IBSI initiatives include the Jacobs Foundations Fellows, supporting full-time MBA students, the Social Impact Fellows, and a series of 26 IBSI Case Studies. IBSI’s affiliated faculty offer 29 courses in Berkeley Haas degree programs.
On a Zoom call last week with faculty, staff, and Haas leaders thanking Tyson for her service, IBSI Executive Director Cathy Garza commented on Tyson’s “students always” attitude. “She is ever-curious, absorbing the blockchain landscape, studying AI and the future of work in Germany, and delving into sustainable finance,” Garza said. “She’s always passionate about women’s economic empowerment, having co-authored the first ever UN high-level panel report on the topic.”
That holds on a personal level as well.
“As a leader, Laura is visionary, strategic, and thoughtful, bringing talent to bear on some of the thorniest problems of this generation,” said Kristi Raube, who served as IBSI’s founding executive director. “Most importantly, Laura was an example to so many of us, of how to be a strong woman who leads with intelligence and from her heart.”
Most importantly, Laura was an example to so many of us, of how to be a strong woman who leads with intelligence and from her heart. —Kristi Raube