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Startup Spotlight: Alokee wants to be your virtual realtor

Startup Spotlight profiles startups founded by current Berkeley Haas students or recent alumni.

Alokee

Team: Matthew Parker (co-founder and CEO), Hamed Adibnatanzi (co-founder and head of legal), Noman Shaukat (co-founder), Marcus Rossi (COO), and Mandy Kroetsch (CMO), all EMBA 23.

Photo of EMBA student Mandy Kroetsch
Mandy Kroetsch met Matt Parker in the EMBA program while she was bidding on houses.

When Mandy Kroetsch met Matthew Parker last year in the Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives Program, she was juggling classes while bidding on houses in southern California.  

“I was getting up at 4 a.m. and checking listings,” said Kroetsch, EMBA 23. “I found houses that came on the market before my agent even told me.”

Kroetsch started questioning the value of her real estate agent. Meanwhile, her challenges confirmed for Parker, a veteran Seattle real estate broker, that she probably didn’t need one.

So Parker decided to solve the problem by partnering with EMBA classmates to create startup Alokee. The company, which functions as a virtual real estate agent, empowers California home buyers to bid directly on properties.

The site is designed for people who grew up banking, paying bills, and shopping for most everything online without an intermediary, Parker said.

“Increasingly, Gen Z and other digital natives are baffled by why they have to talk to a real estate broker when they find all of the listings and tour the properties themselves and want to just make an offer,” Parker said.

“Increasingly, Gen Z and other digital natives are baffled by why they have to talk to a real estate broker.” —Matt Parker

Ease of use, money back

Launched nine months ago, the Alokee website is live in California, featuring photos of homes that have sold in San Jose and San Diego. The company plans to expand soon, and has a waiting list to beta test the site with customers in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada. 

Alokee’s selling point is its ease of use: Create an account, provide proof of funds for a down payment, and then “make 12-to-15 decisions” on offer price, a closing date, loan payment schedule and amount, and other sales decisions. A buyer could potentially be in contract to buy a house in a matter of minutes, Parker said.  

Matt Parker in front of brown wall
Matt Parker, CEO of Alokee

A second benefit is that the buyer receives a chunk of the agent’s fee in cash back after a sale. In San Francisco, for example, where the agent commission on a home sale averages $40,000, Alokee takes a set fee of $9,000 and returns $31,000 to the buyer. “We don’t want to chase down the big commissions,” Parker said. He added that the check comes at a perfect time, as buyers typically invest the most in their houses—additions like solar panels, window replacements, energy-efficient appliances, and insulation—at the time of purchase.

An EMBA team

Parker started Alokee with classmate Hamed Adibnatanzi, a legal affairs veteran. Adibnatanzi used his law expertise to make sure that the mass of paperwork required for any real estate deal on the site was simplified for a direct buyer and met federal, state, and local requirements. 

Meanwhile, the team is still sorting out the website’s technical complexities. Noman Shaukat manages the code behind the offers that flow through the site. “It’s a technical challenge, not a legal one for us,” Parker said.

Parker also asked Marcus Rossi, a former commanding officer with the U.S. Marines, to be Alokee’s COO and invited Kroetsch, a chemical engineer by trade, to join as CMO. “I told him I’d love to help,” said Kroetsch, who worked with a branding agency to come up with the name Alokee, which combines the words Aloha and key (meaning the key to a house).

We are working through the marketing plan right now, and I am happy to be a part of this team,” she said.

Learning to scale

This is Parker’s second startup. He came to Haas after starting national home improvement repair and renovation service ZingFix. At ZingFix, he realized that there are different skills required to manage a company as it scales across state lines. “A quickly-growing startup was a new business challenge for me,” he said. “The more people that joined, the more I realized that I would need an MBA to take care of our stakeholders.”

portrait of Homa Bahrami
Senior Lecturer Homa Bahrami coached the Alokee team.

Deciding on Haas, he said the program has provided priceless support for what he’s trying to achieve, from mentorship to participating in the UC LAUNCH accelerator program and competition, in which Alokee was a finalist. “Once you get to the finals of LAUNCH you get introduced to top-tier mentors and a storytelling coach. These people understand what you are doing, and they pick apart your business model,” he said. Senior Lecturer Homa Bahrami spent time coaching the team, helping them to develop a hiring framework. “Everything she told us was correct,” Parker said. “She’s probably in the top 10 smartest people I’ve met in my life.”

He added that Distinguished Teaching Fellow Maura O’Neill’s New Venture Finance course also helped them navigate as the company works to land a seed round of funding.  

While saving homebuyers money is a goal, Parker said the company will build more gender and racial equity into the home buying process by giving buyers direct bidding power. “Homes are how people stay in power and get in power,” he said. “We want to give all people the power to win in the real estate game.”

Why the tech layoffs offer opportunity for a reset: Q&A with Saikat Chaudhuri

Portrait of a man with glasses and blue suit jacket
Saikat Chaudhuri (Photo: Copyright Noah Berger)

While tech employment remains strong, a wave of layoffs is shaking up the industry. According to the tracking site layoffs.fyi, about 137,000 people have lost their jobs since layoffs started ticking up in May. 

To find out more about what is driving this shakeup, we spoke with Saikat Chaudhuri, faculty director of the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (MET) Program and of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Hub. Chaudhuri, an expert on corporate growth and innovation, mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing, and technological disruption, says the upheaval offers the opportunity for a reset and a chance to pursue growth in emerging areas.

The economy and labor markets are going strong. So why are so many tech companies laying off workers? 

Many people are confounding two different things. We should not mix up the events specific to the tech industry with all the other issues that are going on in the broader economy due to the challenges of macroeconomic shocks, like Russia’s war on Ukraine, the aftereffects of the pandemic including supply chain problems, and the general inflationary pressures. The technology industry is also affected by those events, but there are additionally more fundamental factors at play.

“I am not worried about the jobs coming back. What we are seeing are structural changes. The jobs will be shifting, and will grow in up-and-coming areas.”

What’s happening in the tech industry is really a natural shakeout after over a decade of phenomenal growth. It is not unlike when the dotcom bubble burst in 2001. The sector was overheated and it could not continue as it had. The same is true now, as many startup and unicorn valuations skyrocketed over the last years, especially because the pandemic accelerated the growth to record levels as the deployment of technology and digital transformation became necessary everywhere. On the bright side, it’s actually not all bad. While I recognize that layoffs are painful for many people right now, the industry as a whole needs this adjustment to bring us to a path of more sustainable economic growth in tech. Because what was happening, especially with hiring over the last few years, was just completely unrealistic.

Meta laid off 11,000 workers in November, or about 13% of its workforce. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

How did we get here?

During the pandemic, we went more digital. People worked remotely and they could work from anywhere—Hawaii, the countryside, anywhere. Tech became a big factor as the economy shifted entirely online: online retail, online banking, online instruction, online meetings, online therapy. It brought significant disruption to all industries. 

We need to keep in mind that the pandemic was a different kind of economic crisis. Usually in an economic crisis, everybody loses, but that didn’t happen here. Some industries actually gained significantly, especially most of the technology sectors. The growth rate that they experienced, whether hardware, software, e-commerce, healthcare apps, fintech, crypto—you name it—was completely unsustainable. Just take a look at tech hiring last year: Tech job postings hit their peak in March 2022 and have been declining sharply since. We hit the point where the trend reverses. It was going to happen, either now or a year or two from now. It coincides with what’s going on in the overall economy and world politics, leading to a perfect storm. 

“Once that first domino falls, it is easy for others to follow.”

This situation also poses a great excuse for employers. They say: A recession is coming. I will have to let people go.” Once that first domino falls, it is easy for others to follow.

Are you saying there was an inflation of the workforce inside the tech industry?

Yes. The reason for this is very simple: You don’t get penalized for growing your workforce while the sector is growing so fast. Everybody knows it will have to stop at some point, but there’s no penalty for riding the wave. 

In fact, there’s a loss for your firm if you don’t ride the growth. If you said, “We should be more prudent because some sort of adjustment is going to happen,” there’d be no gain and you’d be losing out on the potential benefits—profits, funding, talent. Because when the correction happens, you can simply lay people off by the thousands. Two years later, the same people who got laid off will come back to the industry (whether at the same kinds of firms or new areas that emerge), and the same VCs will invest. There are no consequences for these actions. That’s just the way of Silicon Valley and the tech world, as they go through cycles. 

 

In November, Amazon cut its corporate workforce by 10,000 people. (AP File Photo by Michel Spingler)

Is this correction just a tightening of the belt, or is the industry reorganizing itself to make room for a new wave of technologies that require new skills or a reallocation of resources?

There will be some reorganization happening, because some areas are growing faster than others. For example, Amazon decided that not all of its devices are doing so well. Companies have been carrying losses in some areas for a while. But it didn’t matter because there was so much growth overall, and they didn’t want to miss out on that wave. It is not unlike the dotcom bubble, where for instance network equipment companies were investing in an array of optical networking products that never properly worked, because regular routers and switches were minting money. 

“A re-evaluation of talent needs will also play a role.”

Moreover, re-evaluation of talent needs will also play a role. I’ve been puzzled for a while about all the anxiety surrounding the shortage of software developers, and the salaries they were being offered in the mad scramble to secure such talent. So much basic programming work has become well-defined, codified, and routine that those skills can be learned at scale by a wider base of employees. If you think about it, thousands of software developers, even at companies like Microsoft and Google, are engaged to implement enhancements to products such as adjusting fonts or updating visuals or adding simple features—not product design or creation of new functionality. Those jobs don’t require computer science graduates, as IBM realized five years ago, when they began hiring non-college graduates with programming experience, at that time out of necessity. 

In fact, there are tools now that can automate basic code writing, which are already being deployed. It won’t stop there, because we now also have algorithms which can do many sophisticated tasks; just look at Open AI’s ChatGPT, which is writing essays, poems, lecture notes, speeches, and other creative pieces at the click of a button!

Why now? Is there anything in particular that started this domino effect this year? 

Now, with increased scrutiny from investors and others who look at a firm’s financial viability, this overstaffing approach is getting reined in. There have been excesses in view of rosy projections and seemingly limitless valuations. Now the bubble has popped, as it does in every tech cycle, and it’s been a great opportunity (and excuse) for firms to make adjustments, tighten their belts, and reduce their workforce.

photo of five students who won top award at C2M
The winning Cleantech to Market (C2M) teams celebrate after making their presentations on Dec. 2. C2M is a partnership between graduate students, startups, and industry professionals to help accelerate the commercialization of leading cleantech technologies. Over 15 weeks, each team and their subject matter experts spend nearly 1,000 hours assessing these leading-edge technologies and investigating a wide range of market opportunities.

Where do you see opportunities?

The next wave of growth will come from emerging sectors, like cleantech and green tech, new materials, breakthroughs in the life sciences, and novel products and services resulting from the maturation of general purpose technologies like AI. Just like the dotcom era was about the internet and all that it spawned—cloud services, big data, the internet of things, and other advances in information technology—there will be a wave of new technologies that will disrupt a lot of different sectors. 

In many industries, the disruption has just begun and exciting new transformations are taking place that’ll unfold over the next decade—whether in education, healthcare, finance, automobiles, or aerospace, just to name a few. I am not worried about the jobs coming back. What we are seeing are structural changes. The jobs will be shifting, and will grow in up-and-coming areas. 

“If I could give one piece of advice, it’s this: Don’t get sidetracked by group think and FOMO. To become a leader, you’ll need to be comfortable charting new paths and challenging conventional approaches.”

What does that mean for the students at Haas, and those considering an MBA? 

For our own graduates, it would be healthy to see this as an opportunity. The most entrepreneurial people are the ones who look at these situations and say, “Change is good, and uncertainty has two sides. It’s what creates the opportunity for new things.” 

Instead of defining your career in terms of a particular job at a particular company, you could think about which problem you want to solve. That is where you will find the opportunity to lead and to make a real impact. 

It’s great to aspire to work your way up to an executive job at a large firm, and many of our graduates will do that and be very successful. Others will go against the grain. They will be the ones we hear about, because they actually change how Goldman Sachs works or McKinsey works or Google works for the next era. And of course there will be the entrepreneurs who will pursue startups that will redefine entire industries. 

Take Stuart Bernstein, BS 86, former Goldman Sachs managing director and partner who shook up investment banking with his passion for clean energy and the environment. A true leader by definition changes things. That’s why we pay attention to them and learn from them.

A lot of our students come in wanting to make an impact early in their careers. What does it take to get there?

If I could give one piece of advice, it’s this: Don’t get sidetracked by group think and FOMO. To become a leader, you’ll need to be comfortable charting new paths and challenging conventional approaches. Leaders have confidence, without attitude—confidence in their vision and in their ability to make it happen, and the humility to learn and acknowledge challenges and risks.

The good news is, you don’t have to be born with it. An MBA program like Berkeley’s gives you the opportunity to develop that kind of confidence. You can train yourself to see the opportunity in ambiguity, embrace serendipity, and take intelligent risks. 

Along the way you also learn key the business skills—finance, marketing, management, operations, and so forth—that you will need as a leader. All that will help you develop this vision for your path to make an impact, and the confidence and network to make it happen. 

Winners of this month’s LAUNCH Startup Accelerator Demo Day.

What opportunities are there at Haas and Berkeley to get ahead of the next wave?

As part of our strategic priorities, we are building a new entrepreneurship hub at Haas that will be a game changer for our students and students across Berkeley. It will draw people from all over the campus. The great thing about Berkeley is that it has so many top-rated departments, and we will be able to bring them to one place to talk to each other and collaborate. So many of our Haas signature programs are about this kind of cross-pollination. Take Cleantech to Market’s partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, or the Berkeley Skydeck accelerator, or the dual degree programs we have with Public Health, Engineering, Law, and that we are developing with the Rausser College of Natural Resources. 

The most pressing problems of global society today require interdisciplinary perspectives. The hub we are developing will not only allow diverse people to connect, but it will provide them with the space and resources to create community, build their ventures, and be discovered by investors. What is novel is that we will not only support those who have a good sense of the entrepreneurial path, but also those who simply would like to be exposed to what it’s all about—the “entrepre-curious,” as we call them. And anyone from around the university will be able to drop in to simply ask an expert for guidance on how to navigate the vast innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Berkeley based on what they need.

“While the tech industry is doing a reset, it may be a great time for you to do a reset as well.”

What’s your big-picture advice?

Silicon Valley is our backyard. While the tech industry is doing a reset, it may be a great time for you to do a reset as well. Beef up your skills, develop your leadership potential, build your network, and embrace your inner entrepreneur.

Three teams honored for innovation at Cleantech to Market Summit

students holding large checks on stage at Haas for winning at C2M summit.
Three teams were honored at the annual C2M Summit. Photo: Jim Block

Three teams that included Berkeley Haas MBA students won top awards at the annual Cleantech to Market (C2M) Climate Tech Summit last Friday.

C2M is a partnership between graduate students, startups, and industry professionals to help accelerate commercialization of cleantech solutions. Over 15 weeks, each C2M team spends nearly 1,000 hours assessing leading-edge technologies and investigating market opportunities.

Last week, teams presented their findings, followed by an audience Q&A. Dean Ann Harrison also took the stage, interviewed by Financial Times correspondent Dave Lee about the school’s work to put sustainability at the core of business education.

This year’s winners of the MetLife Climate Solutions Awards included:

Niron Magnetics: The team won $20,000 for working on powerful, low cost, and environmentally-sustainable permanent magnets to free electrification from dependence on rare earth elements. The team included Andrew Cahill, EWMBA 23, Ben Brokesh, JD 24, Campbell Scott, MBA 23, Yiannos Vakis, MBA 23, and Sepideh Karimiziarani, MS 22, Development Engineering.

Five students who won top honor at C2M summit
Team Niron Magnetics. Photo: Jim Block

GenH: The team won $10,000 for working on a rapidly deployable, fully modular hydropower system to electrify non-powered dams and canal heads to generate clean, stable, and cost-competitive renewable energy. Team members included Emily Robinson, EWMBA 23, Hon Leung “Curtis” Wong, MS 23, Development Engineering, Maelym Medina, MBA 23, and Santiago Recabarren, MBA 23.

four students standing in Chou Hall
Team GenH: Photo: Jim Block

Quino Energy: The team won $5,000 for working on scalable, non-flammable energy storage made possible by a proprietary zero-waste process that transforms coal and wood tar into designer flow-battery reactants. Team members included Dongwan Kim, MBA 23, Ingrid Xhafa, MS 23, Development Engineering, James Wang, MBA 23, Kennedy McCone, graduate student researcher, UC Berkeley College of Chemistry, and Noah Carson, EMBA 23.

four students standing in Spieker Forum
Team Quino Energy was the audience favorite. Photo: Jim Block

The Quino Energy team also won the Hasler Cleantech to Market Award as audience favorite based on online polling throughout the day. 

MetLife is a corporate sponsor of the C2M Program; The Financial Times served as an event partner.

Berkeley Haas welcomes new executive MBA class

The Berkeley Executive MBA Class of 2024
The Berkeley Executive MBA Class of 2024

This month Haas welcomed 76 new Berkeley Executive MBA students—a highly-accomplished cohort that includes a pediatric cardiologist, a Green Beret, and an Emmy-award winning animator. 

The EMBA Class of 2024 gathered on campus July 15-17 for an orientation that included workshops focused on academics and career management, a “life hacks” panel session with continuing EMBA students, a scavenger hunt, and a happy hour with alumni.

“We are thrilled that you have selected Haas,” said Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA Programs, in her welcome address to students. “The people in this room are going to be your life-long friends. You are going to share personal ups and downs, professional ups and downs. You will hire each other. You will invest in each other. And all together, this will become an incredibly important part of your life.”

A scene from Berkeley Executive MBA orientation
A scene from Berkeley Executive MBA orientation

The class represents a diverse range of backgrounds, industries, job functions, and countries of origin. The new students have an average of 14 years of work experience in industries ranging from tech to retail to consulting. All together, they work at 74 different companies, including IBM, Google, Amazon, Chevron, Salesforce, Intel, Walmart, and Ford.

Forty-six percent live outside of the Bay Area, hailing from around the country and world—including Nevada, Arkansas, Utah, New Mexico, Georgia, Hawaii, and Ukraine. And more than 60% were born outside of the U.S., including Bangladesh, Ghana, Germany, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. 

More than half of the new students hold at least one advanced degree, including eight PhDs, three MDs, and one JD. Their average age is 38, and women make up 41% of the class—a record for the EMBA program.

Students said they’ve returned to Haas for an MBA for many reasons: to change their  career path,  gain new skills, or move up in their existing jobs.

Los Angeles native Richard Golfin III, head of legal and chief compliance officer at Alameda Alliance for Health, said he had been deciding between Yale and Haas, but ultimately chose Haas for its rigor and its Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself

Golfin, who’s also a board member of local nonprofit The Bread Project, said he’s always looking for ways to grow. “As a young executive, I want to continue to improve and build myself as a leader and getting an MBA will do just that,” he said. 

Nina D’Amato, an associate chief information officer for Santa Clara County, said she was also drawn to the school’s distinctive culture and the people it attracts. “It’s all about finding the right fit,” D’Amato said. “I came to Haas because I wanted to surround myself with highly-intelligent and talented people who believe in and reflect those principles every day, just as I do.”

Rob Bajohr, a tech marketing executive, said getting an MBA would give him the quant and leadership skills that he needs to lead in the tech and automotive industries. 

“I went to school for design and that has been good in many ways,” Bajohr said. “But I didn’t learn about financial accounting or macroeconomics. The Haas MBA will increase my credibility and bridge the gap between my marketing background and my aspirations.”

Executive MBA students at orientation

EMBA 2022 grads told to ‘live life with no regrets’

64 graduates dressed in caps and gowns
EMBA Class of 2022. Photo: Jim Block

Graduates of the Berkeley Haas Executive MBA Class of 2022 were urged to have confidence in their degrees, to make a difference in the world, and to live life with no regrets during a joyous commencement last Saturday. 

It was a celebratory moment for families and friends, too, many of whom–including tots–crossed the stage alongside graduates.

Male graduate crosses stage with his two young daughters
Graduate crosses the stage with his daughters. Photo: Jim Block

In her welcome address at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall, Dean Harrison congratulated the 64 graduates for making the decision to invest in themselves and persevering through one of the toughest MBA programs during a global pandemic.

“We do not give out capes today,” Harrison said. “But maybe we should because what you showed was nothing less than a heroic commitment to your families, to the future, to going beyond yourself.”

Harrison encouraged graduates to look to the Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles as guide posts throughout their career and to stay connected to the school’s 40,000-strong alumni network, which she called one of “the greatest gifts of their degree.” 

three female graduates take a selfie
Three EMBA 2022 graduates take a selfie. Photo: Jim Block

Commencement speaker Laura Adint, EMBA 14, praised the class for successfully completing the program amid a pandemic. “The EMBA program is always hard,” she said. “It’s demanding, it’s challenging, it’s frustrating, it’s consuming, and to do it all in the backdrop of the most global event happening in our lifetime. I say ‘well done and congratulations.’”

Adint, an operations and strategy executive, noted the many challenges faced by graduates in the last two years, including adjusting to remote instruction during fall semester and postponing a few immersion trips. But she urged graduates to not regret a single moment of their program as “regret gives you nothing in return” and that their experiences positioned them to make a difference in the world.

Three women donned in academic regalia
Commencement speaker Seo Yeon Yoon, EMBA 22, with Assistant Dean of MBA Programs Jamie Breen, and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs Emma Daftary. Photo: Jim Block

Chosen by her peers as the student speaker, Seo Yeon Yoon reflected on the strong support she received from the class when she made the tough decision to drop her American name and change it back to her Korean birth name.

When I struggled, you made me believe that if I acted on bravery that resided in me, all will be well,” Yoon said. “You actively embraced my [Korean name]. You cheered me on…You amplified my voice.” 

“The legacy that you’re leaving behind today is of resilience and love. Proving that you can take the risk, acting on that resilience by moving forward in spite of the fear of the unknown. Believing that if you work and be kind, that success is guaranteed.”

Valedictorian Will Tuhacek thanked his classmates for helping him receive the highest academic honor. 

“I would not be here today if it weren’t for the 64 amazing EMBAs that we have,” Tuhacek said. “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” he added, quoting Sir Issac Newton. 

Tuhacek reminded the class that they’re now in the privileged position to be changemakers in their companies, communities, and the world. “Chance favors the prepared mind. Have confidence in yourself and in your degree. You are prepared and you can do anything.”

A woman and man dressed in academic regalia
2022 Cheit Award recipient Professor Veselina Dinova (right) with Jon Wong, this year’s Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor winner. Photo: JIm Block

Those honored at commencement included Distinguished Teaching Fellow Veselina Dinova receiving her second Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Jon Wong, EMBA 18, a former student of Dinova’s, who received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. 

Student Honors: 

Valedictorian: Will Tuhacek

Question the Status Quo: Jeremy Johnson

Confidence without Attitude: Tomás Klausing

Students Always: Kunal Cholera and Seo Yeon Yoon

Beyond Yourself: Lokesh Mandava 

Berkeley Leader Award: Lokesh Mandava and Martha Ivanovas

Operations exec named executive MBA commencement speaker

White woman with blonde hair dressed in black blazer and red blouse. Laura Adint, EMBA 14, an operations and strategy executive has been chosen as the 2022 Berkeley Haas Executive MBA commencement speaker. 

The ceremony will take place at UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall on June 4, 2022.

Adint, valedictorian of the 2014 EMBA class of 68 graduates, has focused in recent years on developing strategies for scaling organizations. Passionate about leading high performing teams, she said she’s applying many of the lessons from her Berkeley Haas program classes and classmates. (Read Poets & Quants profile of  Adint.)

Adint has held several executive leadership roles at prominent tech companies as vice president of sales operations & sales development at Drift; vice president of sales strategy and operations at Adaptive Insights, and vice president of sales operations at SugarCRM. She’s also held senior roles at Kelly OCG, Xilinx, Ford Motor Company, and Accenture. 

She holds a B.A.S. in mathematics and economics with highest honors from the University of California, Davis. She also received the 2010 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award. 

Viva la mujer: A Women’s History Month message from Chief DEI Officer Élida Bautista

This month, as we celebrate Women’s History Month and prepare to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, we are called on to imagine a world where women across all intersectional identities have equal access to opportunities, income, safety, political representation, and choices.

Viva la Mujer image by Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes
“Viva La Mujer” graphic image credit: Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes

Throughout our history, despite seemingly insurmountable barriers, women across the globe have strived and sacrificed to be seen for our capabilities, and fairly valued for our contributions. Women of all intersectional identities have organized and been a part of many movements to gain equal rights, and to advocate for reforms that impact everyone, including safe working conditions and labor practices, improved accessibility for people with disabilities, obtaining and protecting voting access, and other civil rights. However, women—here in the U.S. and around the world—continue to face epidemics of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment.

Yesterday, President Biden signed the Ending Forced Arbitration Act, a landmark piece of legislation spurred by the #MeToo movement, ending the use of hidden language in contracts that prevented employees from suing in the case of sexual assault or harassment. It is a victory, with so many more battles ahead.

March 24 is All Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how far into the new year women must work to be paid what men were paid the previous year. On average, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar men are paid. Disaggregating the data shows a deeper disparity.

Asian American women are paid 85 cents for every dollar white men earn, making March 9 their Equal Pay Day. For Black women, Equal Pay Day doesn’t come until August; for Native American women, it’s September. For Latinas, the date comes near the end of October, with their average pay being 57 cents for every dollar paid to white men. The disparities do not stop there.

Women with disabilities make 72 cents for every dollar paid to men with disabilities; but as a whole, people with disabilities make only 68 cents for each dollar earned by able bodied people. Mothers earn 75 cents for every dollar fathers make.  There is not precise national data on equal pay for lesbian, bisexual, queer, or trans women, indicating our need to advocate to include all of our sisters in the data.

Important research insights uncovered by our faculty point to real-world solutions to pay inequity. In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Professor Laura Kray and post-doc scholar Margaret Lee highlighted their findings that women are given smaller teams to manage on average than men, which contributes to the pay gap; Kray is working with Dean Harrison to dig into why the pay gap between men and women MBA graduates increases over time. Assistant Professor Solène Delecourt is studying inequities in business performance; three of her recent studies have pinpointed the factors that cause women-owned businesses to underperform men’s around the world, and how that can be fixed. Former Dean Laura Tyson was the co-author of a key UN report on women’s economic empowerment. Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) and EGAL Assistant Director Genevieve Smith co-authored a teaching case focused on the importance of pay transparency in closing the gap.

We know the progress toward equity took a giant step backwards during the pandemic. By the end of January, men in the U.S. had regained all of the jobs they had lost since February 2020. But 1.1 million women who left the labor force during the same time had yet to return, pointing to long-standing structural inequities (with caregiving responsibilities topping the list) that make it harder for women to return to work. Recognizing that women in heterosexual dual-career couples, with or without children, still do most of the household/care work, EGAL developed 7 evidence-based ‘plays’ to support dual career couples. 

Burnout brought on by the pandemic has pushed many women to reevaluate and identify new approaches to career and personal life. That re-evaluation is the focus of this weekend’s “Re:set, Re:imagine, and Re:build,” the 26th annual Women in Leadership Conference at Haas. Conference organizers intentionally have integrated intersectional identities throughout the program. The conference will be held tomorrow, March 5, in Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum. You may register here.

We have incredible representation of women in senior leadership roles at Berkeley Haas, including our Dean, our chief operating officer, our chief financial officer and several assistant deans and program directors. Yet we have more work to do to achieve balanced gender representation among our faculty and students. Our senior leaders are working to continue to foster a climate of belonging, and strategizing on outreach, recruitment, and yield to increase representation of women among our faculty and students.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and its theme #BreaktheBias, I treasure all of the accomplishments of women around the world and I am grateful to have benefitted from the progress achieved by those who came before me. I also realize that “la lucha sigue” (the struggle continues), as we say in my community. Women with multiple marginalized identities often have even longer, bumpier roads to travel.

We each have the responsibility to continue unlearning the gender bias we have absorbed throughout our lives and we must hold ourselves accountable at an individual level. We have the power to use our leadership to create structural changes at all levels. Collectively, working together, let’s #BreaktheBias.

Sí se Puede,

Élida

Resources for further learning:

Promoting an Equitable Learning Environment

Stop AAPI Hate

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

National Domestic Workers Alliance 

Male allyship at work

81cents Pay Equity Advisors

Equal Pay Day 2022

“Viva La Mujer” image credit: Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes

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 [email protected], 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.”

US News ranks all three Berkeley MBA Programs in top 10 

Student walking in front of Haas sign
Photo: Noah Berger

The Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Program ranked #7 and the Evening & Weekend MBA Program ranked #2 among part-time programs again in the US News & World Report, released today. The Berkeley MBA for Executives ranked #8 among executive MBA Programs.

In the top 10 specialty rankings, Haas placed:

#8 in Business Analytics

#4 in Entrepreneurship

#8 in Executive MBA

#7 in Finance

#9 in International (tied with Saint Louis University–Chaifetz)

#4 in Nonprofit

#3 in Real Estate

The full-time MBA rankings are based on data provided by participating U.S. schools and on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs, as well as surveys of corporate recruiters and company contacts. The score is calculated from placement success and starting salary (35%), student selectivity (25%), a peer poll (25%), and the average of the last three years of recruiter polls (15%).

Part-time MBA rankings are based on data from participating schools and on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited part-time programs. The score is calculated from  the peer polls (50%), student selectivity (27.5%), work experience (10%), and percent of MBA students who are enrolled part-time (12.5.).

The specialty and the executive MBA rankings are based entirely on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs.

The EWMBA ranked #2 for the third year in a row. The Full-time MBA ranked #7 for 13 of the last 14 years. The Berkeley MBA for Executives ranked #7 for the last two years.

View the full report here. (log-in may be required).

Teams pitch innovations at annual C2M Symposium

A sensor that can detect any type of gas leak and a chemical process that makes plastics biodegradable earned top prizes at the 11th annual Cleantech to Market Symposium. The event was held online for the first time on Dec. 4.

Cleantech to Market (C2M) is a 15-week accelerator course that invites graduate students, industry leaders, and researchers to come together to pitch cleantech innovations from existing startups, government sponsored programs, and incubators. 

Seven student teams–including 39 MBA and UC Berkeley graduate students from law, engineering, and chemistry–pitched promising innovations aimed at addressing everything from climate change to pollution. 

In her opening remarks, Dean Harrison called C2M “one of those stellar and uniquely Haas experiential programs that would be hard to imagine at any other university” given the school’s locale within the UC Berkeley campus and proximity to Silicon Valley.

“We’ve long recognized that when you bring minds together from across campus, you make magic,” she said.

C2M alum Stephanie Greene, MBA 12, a clean energy director at the Rocky Mountain Institute, and Janea Scott, vice chair of the California Energy Commision, also gave keynotes and spoke to the importance of developing and introducing cleantech innovations to battle climate change.

“Our students never cease to amaze me,” said Brian Steel, director of the C2M program. “In spite of the remote environment that we’re in, our students rose to the occasion and delivered top-notch presentations.”

Here are 2020’s C2M winning teams:

portrait: five males smiling
MBA students pitched Fullmoon Sensors, a high-performing sensor that can detect any type of a gas leak. From left to right: Gabe Lewis, EMBA 21; Jeff Sharp, Zuren Hsueh, Kair Dusenov, and Steven Brisley, all MBA 21.

Fullmoon Sensors, a high-performing gas detector that can identify any type of gas leak, earned the first inaugural Hasler Cleantech to Market Award, named after former Berkeley Haas dean William Hasler. Team members included Steven Brisley, Kair Dusenov, Zuren Hsueh, Jeff Sharp, all MBA 21; and Gabe Lewis, EMBA 21.

6 MBA students smiling, 2 women, 4 men
MBA students pitched Radical Plastics, a new technology that can make plastics biodegradable. From left to right, top to bottom: Branden Leonhardt PhD 22 (chemistry), Chris Jackson, PhD 21 (chemistry), Harshita Mira Venkatesh, Alex Russomagno, Greg Turk, all MBA 21, Lance Barnard, EWMBA 21.

Radical Plastics, a chemical process that makes plastics biodegradable, earned the People’s Choice Award. Team members included Harshita Mira Venkatesh, Greg Turk, Alex Russomagno, all MBA 21; Lance Barnard, EWMBA 21; Branden Leonhardt, PhD 22 (chemical engineering); and Chris Jackson, PhD 21 (chemistry).

Slideshow: Thank you veterans for going beyond yourselves

The Berkeley Haas community thanks our student veterans for their contributions to the greater campus and, more importantly, to their country.

“As we are experiencing a year unlike any other, it is even more important to recognize what we are grateful for and to express our gratitude to those who have served and continue to serve on our behalf,” said Dean Ann Harrison.

This Veterans Day, we asked four student veterans what dealing with times of uncertainty has taught them. Students interviewed include:

  • Manuel (Alex) Lopez, EMBA 20, former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant (E-5)
  • Samrawit (Sami) Tamyalew, FTMBA 22, former U.S. Army Field Artillery Officer/Operations Manager
  • Nick Clark, EWMBA 22, former U.S. Navy Submarine Officer
  • Keagan Akles, BS 20, former U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant

Check out what they had to say:

Investing in themselves: New Executive MBA class begins semester

Screenshot of EMBA 2021 students on Zoom call
EMBA students in the Class of 2022 gathered for a virtual orientation on Aug. 4, 2020.

Berkeley Haas’ newest MBA for Executives class convened online for a virtual orientation on Aug. 4, kicking off the fall semester with ice breakers and small-group activities to foster camaraderie among cohort members. 

Students in the EMBA program, 70 total, embark on a rigorous 19-month academic journey while working full time and, oftentimes, taking care of family. During orientation, students shared their reasons for coming to Haas, explored the school’s Defining Leadership Principles, and drafted cohort charters to guide their EMBA journey.

Members of the class have an average of 12 years of work experience and hail from more than ten U.S. states and three countries—Guatemala, Thailand, and Belgium. Women make up about a third of the class, and students who are first in their family to graduate from college, or first-generation students, make up 14%. Fifteen percent of the class have served in the military and 11% hold graduate and doctoral degrees in medicine, law, and philosophy (PhD). 

In her welcome remarks, Asst. Dean Jamie Breen commended students for pursuing an MBA during this unprecedented time. “All of you are truly incredible,” said Breen. “Investing in yourself during this time is even more remarkable.” 

She also outlined what the next year and half will look like for the class. “You’re going to go through a number of transitions during your journey, much of which you’ll experience with your classmates,” said Breen. “I encourage you to bring your experiences, your lives, and workplaces into the classroom. It’s going to be a fantastic 19 months.”

John Paul Young, chief technology officer at NOVA Research Company, which conducts public health and scientific research, said he really enjoyed orientation as it gave him the opportunity to get to know his classmates on a deeper level. 

“I found that the small breakout group interactions allowed us to connect with each other and access more of the spontaneous dynamic that would happen naturally if we were able to sit around a table together,” he said. 

Todd Ashline, an investment program manager at Banner Health, agreed. “I really enjoyed getting to know my classmates, hearing their life’s journey, and why they chose Haas,” he said. “I also enjoyed spending time with my study group discussing Haas’ Defining Leadership Principles (DLPs), and I’m eager to see how we’ll grow in the DLPs individually and as a team.”

Everyone here is showing up 100% to make the best out of these challenging times. It’s been genuinely inspiring to see my peers and colleagues at Haas stepping up with consistent kindness and generosity, and it absolutely calls upon me to give the same in return. —John Paul Young.

Why an MBA? Why Haas?

Many EMBA students said they’re pursuing an MBA to advance their careers within their company, expand their skill set, or switch careers entirely. 

Melissa Sharp, a political consultant and vice president at National Media, said she’s looking to pivot from politics and launch a career in corporate marketing. “I’ve always enjoyed the corporate strategy and organizational side of business,” said Sharp, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas Christian University’s M.J. Neeley School of Business. “I’ve helped my husband launch a few different companies and that really pumped me up and pushed me to consider a career pivot.”

Corrine Crockett, vice president of marketing for outdoor furniture company Outer, said she wanted to expand her “breadth of business knowledge outside of marketing and entrepreneurship.” She chose Haas for its connection to Silicon Valley and the school’s value-driven culture. Plus, she has a soft spot for Berkeley since her dad studied at Cal as an undergrad, said Crockett. 

Social life

From Zoom happy hours to fireside chats on Slack to spontaneous phone calls, EMBA students are finding creative ways to bond with each other online during this unprecedented time. 

We’ve made it a point to set time aside to connect with one another,” said Crockett. “We have to get creative!”

Young agreed. “Everyone here is showing up 100% to make the best out of these challenging times,” he said.  “It’s been genuinely inspiring to see my peers and colleagues at Haas stepping up with consistent kindness and generosity, and it absolutely calls upon me to give the same in return.”

Nine new professors join Berkeley Haas faculty

This fall, Berkeley Haas welcomes a diverse and international group of nine new professors, including a record five women. The new faculty members include one full professor, two associate professors, and six new assistant professors, who are from Italy, Argentina, France, China, Canada, and California.

In addition to the new professors, seven new lecturers have joined the professional faculty to teach classes in various programs.

Associate Professor Matilde Bombardini, Business & Public Policy

Assoc. Prof. Matilde Bombardini
Assoc. Prof. Matilde Bombardini

Though Matilde Bombardini grew up in Imola, a city in Northern Italy, UC Berkeley has long had a special place in her life and career. It’s where she came as an undergraduate student on an exchange program in 1998-99. 

“I took a graduate course in the Economics Department that opened the door for me to pursue a PhD at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Professor David Romer was one of my letter writers for PhD admission,” she said. Bombardini earned her PhD from MIT in 2005. 

Before coming to Berkeley, she was an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics.

Bombardini is conducting ongoing research on the role of corporate charity as a channel for influencing regulation, and as a tool for political influence in general. She is also researching the role of politicians’ information in congressional voting on China’s Normal Trade Relationship with the U.S. 

In her free time, Bombardini likes to ski, sail, hike, and enjoy the outdoors. “I am eager to explore the Tahoe area ski slopes, and the good weather in the Bay Area will make it easier to go back to sailing.” She is a beginner electric guitar player and likes all rock music. 

Professor Francesco Trebbi, Business & Public Policy

Berkeley Haas Prof. Francesco Trebbi
Prof. Francesco Trebbi

As a child in Italy, Francesco Trebbi played basketball on a kids’ team with Kobe Bryant, whose father was a star in the city’s basketball team at the time. An athletic career did not prove as promising as his ventures in economics have been, however. “Our team lost even with Kobe on our side, so you can just imagine how bad of a basketball player I must be!” said Trebbi.

Instead, Trebbi attended Italy’s prestigious Bocconi University, earning a degree in political economy, before going on to receive his MA and PhD in economics from Harvard University.

Before joining Berkeley, he was the Canada Research Chair and professor of economics at the University of British Columbia Vancouver School of Economics, and an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  

Trebbi’s academic research focuses on political economy and applied economics. He has studied the design of political institutions, elections, political behavior, campaign finance, lobbying, and financial regulation. He has also worked on the political economy of development, ethnic politics, and conflict. His primary teaching interests are in political economy, applied economics, and applied econometrics. Currently, he is working on new empirical approaches to the study of behavior of government officials, voters, and special interest groups. He also maintains an active research program on the political economy of non-democratic and low-income countries.

Trebbi also has an artistic streak. “I have only one modest talent outside of economics: I paint. Non-figuratively. Many economists I know have been inflicted with one canvas or two, which I think they keep in their homes and offices out of affection,” he said.

Associate Professor Ricardo Perez-Truglia, Economic Analysis and Policy

Assoc. Prof. Ricardo Perez-Truglia
Assoc. Prof. Ricardo Perez-Truglia

Ricardo Perez-Truglia grew up in the Ciudadela neighborhood near Buenos Aires, Argentina, moving to the U.S. for a PhD in economics from Harvard University. He joins Berkeley Haas from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he was an assistant professor of economics for four years. 

As a behavioral economist, one of Perez-Truglia’s main research interests is how social image and social comparisons shape economic behavior: What do others think of you? Are you rich? Smart? Hard-working? The desire to shape these opinions is a powerful driver of human behavior, he said.

His research often involves collaborating with private and public institutions, sometimes using large datasets to study the effects of policies, or conducting large-scale field experiments with their clients or employees. He studies a range of topics such as transparency, tax collection, and macroeconomic expectations. “My research is intended to inform firms and policy makers in the developed and developing world, leading to practical applications,” he said.

Perez-Truglia says he would be happy to talk to students about economics and social science research as well as two more personal topics: “I’m familiar with the challenges associated with being an immigrant and a first-generation college graduate, so I’m happy to discuss them with any of the Berkeley students who are facing the same or similar challenges.” 

He’s also happy to talk about Latin America—and his favorite sport, fútbol or soccer. “I’d love to play soccer with the students if they want. I am a huge soccer fan—my favorite teams are River Plate (from Argentina), FC Barcelona (Spain) and obviously, I care the most about the Argentine national team.” 

Assistant Professor Sydnee Caldwell, Economic Analysis & Policy

Asst. Prof. Sydnee Caldwell
Asst. Prof. Sydnee Caldwell

Sydnee Caldwell, who grew up in Fallbrook, Calif., is coming “home” to Cal. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a double bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and economics in 2008, before earning her PhD in economics from MIT in 2019. She joins Berkeley Haas after serving a year as a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research New England. 

Caldwell’s research focuses on topics of labor and personnel economics, and she is currently interested in how firms find and recruit new employees. She has also conducted research on the gender-wage gap, recently examining how it plays out in the gig economy. In a paper forthcoming in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, she looks at the differences between taxis and ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber from the driver’s perspective.

She says students should feel free to come to her with any questions they have about economics or data science, regardless of whether they are in her data and decisions class. “I am always interested in how companies and people use data to make decisions,” she says.

She’s also looking forward to hiking and skiing and spending more time outside now that she’s back in the Bay Area.

Assistant Professor Solène Delecourt, Management of Organizations

Asst. Prof. Solene Delecourt
Asst. Prof. Solene Delecourt

Solène Delecourt hails from Lille, a city at the northern tip of France. She earned her PhD in organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Delecourt’s research centers on inequality in business performance. She is passionate about using rigorous social scientific theories and methods to delve deeply into this phenomenon, particularly among entrepreneurs in emerging economies. Her research agenda focuses on what drives variation in profits across firms, and how to reduce inequality in business performance among entrepreneurs in different market settings—including India, Uganda, and the U.S. In the three papers that made up her dissertation, Delecourt used field experiments to understand how business characteristics, client search behavior, and peer-to-peer advice among entrepreneurs affect business success.

Delecourt wants students to feel free to come to her for discussions. “I would love to hear about their projects, especially as they relate to issues of gender inequality,” she said.

In her free time, she enjoys swimming and is excited for the numerous outdoor pools on campus. She also loves good bread and pastries and cannot wait to try out Fournée Bakery. 

Assistant Professor Douglas Guilbeault, Management of Organizations

Asst. Prof. Douglas Guilbeault
Asst. Prof. Douglas Guilbeault

Douglas Guilbeault is from Tecumseh, a small town in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. He received his PhD in 2020 from the Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania.

Guilbeault studies how people build shared concepts as they communicate in daily life, specifically within social networks and organizations. “Big problems on my list to tackle are: bias reduction in crowdsourcing, cross-cultural concept translation, equitable content moderation over social media, and enhancing scientific discovery,” he said. 

Guilbeault is developing a computational theory of how categories emerge, grow, and evolve in social systems, as well as how categories shape social systems themselves.

Guilbeault looks forward to meeting his new colleagues. “I am most excited by the dynamic network of colleagues that I will get to exchange ideas with and learn from,” he said. “The Management of Organizations group at Haas is absolutely distinct in its integration of both macro and micro perspectives on organizations, and my work explores this interface.”

When he’s not conducting research or teaching, Guilbeault makes music and writes software that produces digital art. He also loves running, biking, hiking, and seeing live music.

Assistant Professor Xi Wu, Accounting

Asst. Prof. Xi Wu
Asst. Prof. Xi Wu

Xi Wu is originally from Beijing, China. She received her PhD in accounting from New York University’s Stern School of Business after studying mathematics and economics as an undergrad at Cornell University.

Wu’s research focuses on the intersection of securities regulation, corporate governance, and valuation. Her current research studies how regulations affect firms, how managers and creditors use information to address agency issues, and how to use newly-available data to value firms and cryptocurrencies. Her recent work shows that more heavily regulated companies fare significantly better during extreme economic downturns—including the coronavirus pandemic.

Since she is currently studying the valuation of cryptocurrencies and the market of initial coin offerings (ICOs), Wu says that being close to both the San Francisco Bay Area and the Silicon Valley is of huge value to her, and she is excited about the potential of connecting fintech research to the practical world. 

Wu enjoys hiking and skiing in her free time.

Assistant Professor Luyi Yang, Operations & Information Technology Management

Asst. Prof. Luyi YangLuyi Yang, a native of Shanghai, China, joins Haas from Johns Hopkins University, where he was an assistant professor at the Carey Business School for the past three years. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago Booth School of Management in 2017. 

Yang’s work is focused on developing  new theories for understanding emerging business models and policy initiatives in service operations. On the business front, he has studied innovative mechanisms for managing queues—which are often a key feature of service systems—such as line-sitting, mobile ordering, and referral priority programs. On the policy front, he has studied the welfare implications of expanding patient choice in elective surgeries, as well as the pricing and environmental implications of the right-to-repair legislation, which gives consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer electronic devices.

Yang is excited to experience the innovative culture of Haas. He said students should come talk to him about their startup ideas and new business models. “Over the years I have engaged many startups in my research and teaching. If you have an innovative idea to start a new business, we should talk!” Yang said. In his free time, he likes travelling and hiking.Assistant Professor Biwen Zhang, Accounting

Asst. Prof. Biwen Zhang
Asst. Prof. Biwen Zhang

Biwen Zhang is from Nanchang, the capital and largest city of Jiangxi Province, China. She completed her PhD in accounting in 2020 from Simon Business School at the University of Rochester.

Her main research interests are in the areas of financial intermediaries and corporate governance. Specifically, her current research revolves around the economic implications of conflicts of interest faced by capital market participants.

In her free time, Zhang likes to play table tennis and badminton.

New Professional Faculty

New lecturers this fall include Ahmed Badruzzaman, Deborah Krackeler, Don Hanna, and Sachita Saxena, who will each teach a course in the Undergraduate Program; James Zuberi, who will teach a course in the Executive MBA Program; and Temina Madon, who will teach in the Full-time MBA Program. Sasha Radovich will join in the spring to teach a class in the Undergraduate Program.

Berkeley Haas Executive MBA Program ranked #1 by The Economist

Executive MBA Program
Executive MBA students enrolled in a [email protected] course. Photo: Noah Berger

The Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives Program placed #1 worldwide, according to The Economist “Which MBA?” 2020 ranking, published today. 

The Haas program got the top rating in career development. According to EMBA students and alumni, the program excels at meeting their pre-EMBA career goals. The program was also rated highly for alumni career progression and salaries, as well as for the strength of its alumni network. Additional highlights include the program’s and students’ culture and the quality of students and of faculty teaching in the program.

The Economist gathered data from participating schools and surveyed their current students and alumni who completed their EMBA course between July 2016 and June 2019. The ranking gives equal weight to Personal Development and Educational Experience, which includes quality of the students, faculty, and program as well as student diversity, and to Career Development, which encompasses career progression, salary, and networking. The Berkeley Haas program topped in this ranking, which focuses on two broad measures: personal development/educational experience and career development.

In 2018, the Berkeley MBA for Executives ranked #4 in the world. That was the first year the Berkeley Haas program was eligible to be ranked since it founded its stand-alone program in 2013.

The full report is available here.

A cardiac surgeon asked for help during the COVID-19 crisis. His classmates stepped up.

As the coronavirus spread in California last month, Kapil Sharma, EMBA 20 and director of cardiac surgery at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, worried that keeping critical medical supplies in stock would be nearly impossible.

“Last week, it was blood shortages, which seems to have stabilized now that elective surgeries have stopped,” Sharma, EMBA 20, wrote on March 22 on the his Executive MBA class Slack channel. “If your company has access to any sort of protection like masks or hazmat suits, many facilities are at critical lows.”

EMBA student Kapil Sharma in the operating room
Cardiac surgeon Kapil Sharma (right) performing heart surgery at Mercy General in Sacramento.

What would be ideal, he wrote, would be a website where companies could post what they’re able to donate, and hospitals could list their needs. What happened next surprised everyone.

Within two days, 20 of the 67 executive MBA students in the 2020 class came together to try to hammer out a solution to connect donors with people and organizations in need. Those discussions, over several weeks, led to the founding of nonprofit startup One Link.

‘That need (to solve a problem) helped us to put something together and form the team,” said Naresh Vemparala, a program director at Partnership HealthPlan of California, who is now leading the project management team for nonprofit One Link. “We said: why don’t we do it? Why don’t we bring these two sides together?

That need (to solve a problem) helped us to put something together and form the team. We said: why don’t we do it? Why don’t we bring these two sides together? —Naresh Vemparala

Naresh Vemparala, EMBA 20
Naresh Vemparala leads the One Link team.

The EMBA startup has three short-term goals: to build a marketplace platform for desktop and mobile devices that connects donors and recipients—and scales beyond the current crisis; to connect to corporate responsibility units within companies; and to build effective social media campaigns to create awareness of supply and demand problems in real time.

“The glue that brings us together”

One Link’s founding came at a difficult time for this EMBA 20 class. The students had been looking forward to their third term, which included an immersion week, a program staple that was postponed after the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“It was a shock to the system for our class,” said Margaret Park, a senior art director at Sephora, who is leading marketing and branding for One Link. “Suddenly we couldn’t leave the house, suddenly we had a forced break from school. Juggling everything before was such an incredible struggle, but then we had an unexpected seven-week hiatus.”

Photo of Margaret Park, EMBA 20
Margaret Park, EMBA 20, is handling marketing for One Link.

During that break, it was inspiring how quickly everyone came together, said Marisa Hewitt, director of business operations at BioMarin, who is charged with business development for the startup.

“In how many organizations can you go from an idea to a team with so many different skills in just a few days?” she said. “Our classmates are all people who care about what we’re learning in business school and want to do something with it. That’s the glue that brings us together.”

A simple design

The 10-person leadership team for the startup now meets on Zoom every Monday night to discuss its progress. Members spend hours every week working on One Link for free—in addition to their jobs and school work.

The project quickly became a second full-time job for Sumit Patankar, director of supply chain strategy at Applied Materials, who is leading the One Link development team with his wife, software engineer Shalaka Borker, head of data engineering at Roofstock.

Patankar hired a team of developers in India, who have asked that the platform be released in India to help during crisis times. The marketplace design will be simple, he said. Initially, it will provide ways to donate 10 to 15 types of items, providing the option to match people and organizations that are geographically close to each other so drop offs are simple.

To simplify logistics, One Link is working on partnerships and possible discounts with Amazon, FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service, and UPS.

Photo of Sumit Patankar
Sumit Patankar, EMBA 20, leads development for One Link, working with an offshore team.

They are also building a way to gauge the level of need posted by an organization so donors can prioritize. That need level—critical, moderate, or low—will be based on information an organization provides. They plan to offer donors the option of giving only to a nonprofit organization, or to an organization that’s within 10 miles of their location.

Team member Jessica Patterson, CFO of the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada, is finalizing the process of incorporating One Link as a nonprofit, hopefully by early May. The company plans to launch soon after clearing the legal hurdles.

Keeping One Link going after the pandemic

The goal is to keep One Link going long after the COVID-19 crisis is under control, and to make the platform available internationally to help during hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, or future disease outbreaks. The group plans to raise money to expand the startup’s platform.

“We want it to be an EMBA 20 legacy—to feel that we’ve done something of value to society,” Vemparala said.  “We will be impacted one way or another due to COVID-19 and if we look back, the one thing that will be in mind is what have we done and how did we react to it?”

Emma Hayes Daftary, executive director of the EMBA program, said the 2020 class is living out the Haas Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself in real time.

“It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve found a way to go beyond themselves in this challenging time,” she said. “They have rallied in a way that will make a real difference.”