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.
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.”
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.
Professor Francesco Trebbi, Business & Public Policy
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 Matilde Bombardini, Business & Public Policy
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.
Associate Professor Ricardo Perez-Truglia, Economic Analysis and Policy
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
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
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
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
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
Luyi 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
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.
OneHaas is a podcast that tells the stories of Haas alumni.
Lisa Rawlings, EMBA 19, speaks with OneHaas Podcast creator and host Sean Li to talk about her vision and goals as the new president and CEO of the National Urban Fellows (NUF) OrganizationNational Urban Fellows is a rigorous, full-time graduate program comprised of two semesters of academic course work and a nine-month mentorship, leading to a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the City University of New York’s Bernard M. Baruch College, School of Public Affairs.
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.
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.”
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
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.”
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.
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.”
The Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Program placed #7 and the Evening & Weekend Program ranked #2 again in the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking published today. The Berkeley MBA for Executives program ranked #7, the same as last year. The EMBA ranking is based entirely on a peer poll among deans and FTMBA directors.
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.).
Haas also ranked in the top ten of the following specialty rankings, based on a peer poll among deans and FTMBA directors:
#2 Real Estate
#9 Business Analytics
Last year, the FTMBA placed in a three-way tie for #6. It ranked #7 for 11 years prior to that.
A total of 72 students in the Class of 2019 graduated from the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program Saturday, surrounded by friends and family.
“Today is a celebration of your personal achievements,” Haas Dean Ann Harrison said. “Finding ways to balance (work, family, and school) commitments is nothing short of remarkable, and we applaud you.”
SuiteSocial Co-founders: Jennifer DeAngelis, MBA 19 and Lea Yanhui Li, EMBA 19
Jennifer DeAngelis presenting at TechCrunch Disrupt. Photo credit: David C. Hill.
When Jennifer DeAngelis worked in digital media, she kept hearing from clients concerned about trust issues: brand owners felt that influencers didn’t do enough for the amount of pay they received. Influencers said brands expected too much for the pay they were willing to give.
“On top of that, there was the issue of fraud: influencers buying followers to attract brands,” she said.
DeAngelis thought she could offer something better. She connected with Lea Yanhui Li, EMBA 19, a former Oracle software and technology engineer, and together they createdSuiteSocial—an online marketplace that influencers and brands can use to collaborate. Using artificial intelligence, SuiteSocial helps brands find relevant influencers for their online campaigns and empowers influencers to promote their talents and assess a fair payment for their posts.
DeAngelis knows how to think and act as both a social media influencer and brand strategist. When she was 21, she vlogged about her Peace Corps experience in Albania on YouTube. After her video received more than 100,000 views, she realized that she had a knack for creating engaging content. She previously worked creating digital campaigns for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, The Four Seasons, and Bass Pro Shops. Today, she is considered a “micro-influencer,” someone who has 10,000-30,000 followers on her social media platforms.
At Haas, she took Entrepreneurship 295 and Network Effects with Lecturers Kurt Beyer and Prashant Fuloria, which gave her the confidence and business acumen to develop SuiteSocial.
Along the way, she sought advice from mentors, including Michael Wilson, eBay’s employee #5, and Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program. It was Shrader who encouraged DeAngelis to participate in the LAUNCH Accelerator Program, where she won $10,000 in seed funding. Thereafter, DeAngelis won $5,000 from the Trione Student Venture. Soon, she plans to begin fundraising for more capital.
Co-founders Lea Yanhui Li and Jennifer DeAngelis at Techstars LaunchPad Propel Day.
Since launching SuiteSocial, DeAngelis and Yanhui Li have acquired five clients, including credit card company TomoCredit, on-demand car rental startupKyte, and New York-based barbecue restaurant, Smok-Haus. (TomoCredit and Kyte were founded by current and former Haas students.)
TomoCredit’s CEO Kristy Kim said SuiteSocial has been a great platform to promote her credit card. “Thanks to SuiteSocial, TomoCredit was able to find the right Instagram influencers to work with.”
Ultimately, DeAngelis’ wants SuiteSocial to be a one-stop shop for content creators and brands. “We want to be so much more than just matching brands and influencers,” she said. “We want to be the platform destination where brands and influencers can go and fulfill all their business needs, replacing traditional agencies.”
Berkeley Haas is among the first business schools to receive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) designation for MBAs. The designation makes all international students who graduate eligible to apply for an additional 24-month visa extension during post-MBA employment.
Haas’ STEM OPT extension is retroactive to December 2018.
All current international full-time MBA students studying on F-1 visas will be eligible to apply for the extension while they are in their first year of work authorization after graduating from the MBA program, said Peter Johnson, assistant dean of the full-time MBA program and admissions. Approval of the extensions will depend on the individual training plans that employers and MBA graduates submit, Johnson said.
“We anticipate that this will lead to expanded opportunities for our international graduates who pursue jobs incorporating business analytics, modeling, forecasting, and other skills developed through our program,” he said.
The MBA programs received the STEM designation after a campus review of how the programs are categorized by the National Center for Education Statistics under a Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code.
The new code defines the Berkeley Haas MBA as “a general program that focuses on the application of statistical modeling, data warehousing, data mining, programming, forecasting and operations research techniques to the analysis of problems of business organization and performance.” After the review, the Haas MBA degree programs were changed from “Business Administration and Management, General,” to “Management Science,” which is considered a STEM program.
The BIO STEM OPT webpage outlines the extension rules and application process for F-1 students, including information about the responsibilities of employers in the process.
In the summer of 2009, Kirsten Berzon and her wife, Kathy, could be seen embracing everywhere around San Francisco. Larger-than-life pictures of the couple covered the sides of MUNI buses and shelters, reflecting San Francisco Pride’s “To Form A More Perfect Union” theme.
At that time, Berzon was a board member for Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA), an organization that advocated for civil marriage equality in every state and at the federal level. For nine years, she fought for the freedom to marry—until the Supreme Court in 2015 struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalizing it in all fifty states, and requiring states to honor out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses.
We talked to Berzon, associate director of events and experiential learning for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program, about growing up in Oakland and Berkeley, where her parents owned a well-known local cafe, her history of social justice activism, and weathering turbulent LBGT rights politics.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Ames, Iowa. My mom was a professor in the English Department at Iowa State University. We moved to Oakland when I was four and a half, so I consider myself a California native.
I actually grew up in Oakland and Berkeley, because my parents are divorced, so I spent half the week in each city. In Berkeley our family is a little famous because my parents owned the Homemade Café, a breakfast/lunch greasy spoon. They opened in 1979 and it’s still going strong. They sold it in 2011.
You come from a family of social justice advocates. What was that like?
My dad went to Rutgers University in New Jersey and was the president of the campus chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), an organization that did a lot of work against the Vietnam War in the ’60s. In addition to SDS, my mom was also heavily involved in the civil rights movement. I think that’s where it started. My whole life, my parents, and my aunt and uncle, my dad’s siblings, were very active, so any topic you can think of—the pro-choice movement, or the war in Iraq, LGBT rights—they’re out there. Since Trump got elected, I think they’re sort of reliving their activist days. I’ve heard my dad say things like, “I thought the ’60s were over. I can’t believe that we’re still fighting for these same issues.”
So how old were you when you came out?
I was 20. It was the summer between my junior and senior year in college. I’d never dated boys, wasn’t even remotely interested except for one sixth grade crush. Also, I didn’t have any interest in girls. When I went away to college, my freshman year I thought, “Okay, I guess I’m supposed to have a boyfriend.” So my roommate and I decided we were going to try and find boys in the dorm to be friends with as a starting point, and we did. And I still didn’t have any romantic interest in them. That kind of went nowhere, but my second year in college I met a woman in the dorm who became my best friend. I also fell in love with her. She was the first lesbian I knew who was my age.
Were there issues when you came out?
It was really hard when I came out to my mom and she said, “Well, you don’t know.” She knew that I was in love with my friend, but she thought that it was a phase, and that it was about that particular person and not about coming to terms with my sexuality.
So how did you finally convince your family?
We got into a lot of discussions and eventually my mom came around, but what I realized is that everyone in the family had to go through their own coming out process. It wasn’t just me. And that was hard to take. It was actually my stepmom, when I came out, who said, “Well, we knew that a long time ago.” And I asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?” While it wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped for, that was a blip on the radar I would say. They are the most loving and supportive family and I am so grateful. My mom and I have marched in the San Francisco Pride Parade multiple times with PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians & Gays, with people crying and screaming as we went by. It’s such a euphoric feeling.
Can you talk about why you got involved with Marriage Equality USA?
Marriage Equality USA was a very small volunteer driven organization that for many years had little or no paid staff. Our mission was to change hearts and minds by talking to people, one conversation at a time, about why marriage mattered. I believe that is what changed the tide so incredibly quickly on this issue. People realized that all we wanted were the same legal rights that any heterosexual married person had.
What do you remember about the day that the California Supreme Court granted the rights of marriage to same sex couples?
It was May 15, 2008. I remember that day very clearly. It was a few months before I started working at Haas. I remember sobbing at my computer, overcome with joy, and being totally distracted, thinking, “Oh my God, I’m supposed to be at work.” I read every email and article I could get my hands on and listened to the radio analysis of the decision. I couldn’t understand how the world could keep going like everything was normal, when my life and the lives of so many marriage equality activists like me had changed so dramatically with this victory.
My wife and I got married in August of 2008, along with 18,000 other couples in California, in what became known as the Prop 8 window.
But then Prop 8 passed in November 2008, a ballot measure that eliminated the rights of same sex couples to marry in California. What did you do?
That was a very, very dark time. You felt like you were just trying to live your life and yet there was just so much hate out there. I was working at Haas when Prop 8 passed. Obama had just won his first election, and I was elated. But Prop 8 had passed, and I was destroyed by that. Having those two emotions at the same time was really hard to reconcile.
Considering all that you’ve worked for, including the eventual Supreme Court decision to strike down all same sex marriage bans in 2015, how much does the current political environment worry you?
I’m incredibly nervous. We won marriage, which was huge and what we’d been fighting for for years, but you can still be fired for being gay in 26 states. Brian Silva, the former executive director of Marriage Equality USA, calls it “lived equality.” He’d say, “If you can get married to your same-sex partner on a Sunday, but bring a picture from your wedding into work on Monday and get fired, we have a lot of work left to do.” While we were all incredibly thrilled that we gained the freedom to marry, there are still so many LGBT civil rights battles yet to be won. I’m worried and I don’t think marriage equality is a given anymore. Just like I’m worried about Roe v. Wade, as a former reproductive rights activist. I don’t think either of those hard won rights are safe in the current climate.
A trip to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, over Memorial Day weekend led Lisa Rawlings, EMBA 19, to redefine courage.
“Putting myself in my grandparents’ shoes, I realized that courage was not always resistance, but sometimes it was simply endurance, which often required unthinkable compromises to their dignity to save their lives and those of their loved ones,” said Rawlings, whose African American grandmother was born in Alabama and left for Memphis as a teenager.
Left to right: Claire Veuthey, EMBA 19; Travis Adkins; Lisa Rawlings, EMBA 19; John Gribowich EMBA 19; Alexei Greig, EMBA 19; Suprita Makh, EMBA 19; Vansh Makh (Suprita’s husband); and Adam Rosenzweig, EMBA 19, gather in front of the City of Saint Jude Parish in Montgomery, the final campground site for the people who marched from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.
John Gribowich (who is also a Catholic priest) at the Brown Chapel AME Church, which was the staging area for the beginning of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery.
The outside of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also called the lynching memorial. "Certain places come to encapsulate large, complex issues: the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Berlin Wall, Robben Island," said Adam Rosenzweig. "Without visiting the place, you can’t fully understand the issue. The National Memorial for Peace & Justice has become such a place for anyone seeking to better understand the legacy of racial terrorism in America."
More than 4,300 documented lynchings of African Americans took place between 1877 and 1950. "I was taken aback by the horror we are able to inflict on each other," said Suprita Makh. "I knew this on an intellectual level but it was something else to be confronted with in person, to put names and faces behind numbers."
Jars that contain samples of soil from confirmed lynching sites in Alabama. The victims' names are on the jars. "The sadness and pain I felt while reflecting on the sheer number of people tortured, humiliated and murdered during lynchings or protests... I will not become jaded to the utter terror black Americans experienced for centuries here and continue to experience today," said Alexei Greig.
"In my mind lynchings had been horrendous acts carried out by tens or a few hundred white men in response to perceived slights," said Alexei Greig. "Learning that they were a class of lynchings that were public events with crowds of thousands, with audiences of women and children who took joy in the spectacle was beyond sickening."
"I took this trip to honor the legacy and sacrifice of my grandparents...and all of those before them," Lisa Rawlings said. "I think especially of my grandmother who was born in Alabama and left for Memphis as a teenager. She never looked back and never spoke about her life in Alabama."
"I thought we would have to look harder for signs of “the old South," Adam Rosenzweig said. "I expected that time and modernity would have forced the most visible elements of slavery and racism underground or into sanitized museum exhibits. This was not the case."
The group walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which is named after a Grand Wizard of the KKK. "This shocked everyone in our group," said Adam Rosenzweig. "We all knew the name of the bridge, but we didn’t know who it was named for. It’s a powerful and not uncommon symbol of the centrality of white supremacy in Alabama."
"I’d like to think I would have been part of the freedom fighters, willing to risk my life for equal voting rights," said Claire Veuthey, (left). "But I’m not that brave. I’m pushing myself to consider: what’s the analogy today? What’s the injustice we’re too timid to call out, too frightened to push back against?"
"I still will never comprehend the full extent of the injustice and ongoing plight that exists for people of color," said John Gribowich, left. "I can only try my best each day to be a bit more empathetic and challenge how I am selflessly using my white privilege for the betterment of society."
Rawlings was among a group of six students in the MBA for Executives program who traveled to Alabama to connect the history of racial injustice in America to the present day. Rawlings was joined by Adam Rosenzweig, John Gribowich, a priest who made the same trip last year, Alexei Greig, Claire Veuthey, and Suprita Makh, all EMBA 19.
In Montgomery, the group visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also called the lynching memorial, which opened in 2018 and was built by the the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative. They toured the City of Saint Jude Parish and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the first church where Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor. After visiting the Lowndes Interpretive Center (in 1965, 80% of residents in Lowndes were African-American and not a single one was registered to vote), they walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the scene of the stand-off between the marchers for voting rights and law enforcement on Bloody Sunday in 1965.
(All photos by John Gribowich and Adam Rosenzweig)
Kellie McElhaney, distinguished teaching fellow and founding executive director of the Center for Equity, Gender, & Leadership at Berkeley Haas, has been named among the “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” by the San Francisco Business Times.
McElhaney was featured among more than 100 Bay Area women leaders in real estate, law, tech, finance, health care, and education, among other industries. The women chosen all share a passion for what they do and are leaders in their organizations and their communities, according to the SF Business Times.
Over the years, McElhaney has been interviewed as an expert on gender equity and inclusiveness, women in business leadership, the gender pay gap, and #MeToo by media outlets ranging from Bloomberg and The Washington Post to NPR and Forbes.
McElhaney, who earned a PhD from the University of Michigan, told the SF Business Times that her biggest professional accomplishment was being dubbed “chief inspiration officer” by her MBA students. She said she’s also proud of teaching more than 1,000 Berkeley students a year to be “equity fluent leaders,” a term she uses to describe leaders who understand inclusiveness and how to lead people from all gender and ethnic backgrounds. McElhaney is currently teaching “The Value of Equity Fluent Leadership” across all degree programs.
She said the biggest challenge of her career was finding her voice to stand up to gender discrimination and harassment. “I’ve learned that I need to practice what I teach, and that by speaking up, I help countless women, not just myself.”
Her sister, Mary Lynne, is her personal hero, she said. A triathlete who weathered difficult professional and personal circumstances after she came out, her sister was able to reclaim “her authentic self,” McElhaney said.
“She’s a fearless big sis crusader for me and always has my back,” she said.
McElhaney, the mother of two college-age daughters, serves on the board of Sierra Global Management LLC and is involved in the community as a board member of the national nonprofit Empower Her Network. She also serves on the gender equity committee for the California Athletics Board.
The new class of 68 Berkeley MBA for Executives students who arrived at Berkeley Haas this month is an accomplished professional group that includes a cardiac surgeon, a professional chef, a healthy snack entrepreneur, and a rocket scientist.
“We’re so excited to welcome this interesting new class,” said Susan Petty, director of admissions for the Berkeley EMBA program. “They have talents in so many areas inside and outside of their professional lives, and their backgrounds are incredibly diverse.”
Students average between eight to 22 years of work experience in industries ranging from tech and retail to energy and consulting. The group works at a total of 65 companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Abbott, Intel, Google, Chevron, Sephora, CVS, Applied Materials, and McKesson.
About 34 percent of the class arrived from outside of the Bay Area, hailing from Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Washington DC. More than half (54 percent) were born outside of the U.S., including China, Canada, Romania, Israel, Iran, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. More than half are are multilingual.
The average age among the students is 37, and about a third are women.
Students said they’ve returned to Haas for an MBA for many reasons: to change a career path, start a company, or gain new skills to move up in their existing jobs.
Ben Nagar, a software engineer at Facebook who is from Israel, started a mobile payment company that he ran for three years, shutting it down in 2015.
“It was a great experience, but I needed more tools,” he said.
Nagar said he came to Haas to learn more about business operations, entrepreneurship, and innovation. “I like the mentality of the school and the pride in culture here,” he said. “It’s innovation oriented. I felt like it was the right place for me.”
Paris Latham, who works at Oakland-based Nelson-Nygaard, where she’s using data and maps to create more livable and connected communities, said she wanted MBA skills “to implement change for good in a larger way.”
Latham, who grew up in Berkeley and whose mother earned both an MBA and a law degree from UC Berkeley, said she’s especially excited about the EMBA immersion trips, experiential learning weeks that comprise a quarter of the EMBA curriculum. “I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone,” she said. “Everyone is really serious about the program and it’s nice to know that there will be an unmatched level of commitment.”
Shahed Behed Behjat, who serves as the Oracle lead at aerospace company PTI Technologies in Oxnard, California, said he’s hoping to start a group fitness company based on traditional Persian fighting methods that combine movement with weights.
He said he chose Haas because he wanted a residential MBA program. “If I’m going to come all the way to graduate school I wanted to meet the people and get to know them,” he said. “For me, that’s 50 percent of the experience.”
Some facts about the Class of 2020:
Three students have four children each—and the class has a total of 73 children. One student has a son who will enter UC Berkeley this fall as a freshman in the College of Engineering.
28% of the class is the first generation in their families to go to college, and 33% hold at least one advanced degree, including two PhDs, two MDs, one JD, and a pharmacy degree.
12% of the class has served in the military, including the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. One student led special ops forces through combat missions, and another carried out the largest drug bust in U.S. history, Petty said.
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’re featuring profiles and interviews with members of our Haas community.
Twenty years after founding 180 Snacks, a healthy snack company he started up in his kitchen, Michael Kim, EMBA 20, decided to seek a formal business education. His goal was to leave his $30 million company in good shape for his children.
Kim, who arrived in the U.S. from Korea as a child and attended UCLA as an undergrad, launched 180 Snacks in 1998 for personal reasons. He wanted to feed his four kids an alternative to the sugar-packed Twinkies, Hostess donuts, and candy bars that he grew up with. The trick was making his snacks not only healthy but delicious. Today, the Anaheim-based company’s products—organic Almond Square Crunch, Pistachio Squares, Nut & Seed Crunch, and the latest, the Skinny Rice Bar—are sold online and at big retail chain stores including Costco, Trader Joe’s, and CVS.
We spoke with Kim about his childhood as an Asian immigrant, the hurdles he faced, and why he enrolled in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.
Where did you grow up and what was your experience growing up Asian in your community?
I was born in Seoul, Korea, and lived there until I was 10 years old, when my parents emigrated to Southern California. I lived in many places as a kid, usually in the rougher area of Los Angeles. We were a typical Asian American family. My parents went through tough times, working 12 hour days, carrying multiple jobs, and they finally managed to own and operate a small beauty supplies shop. Growing up in America was tough, mainly due to racial discrimination, but I was determined to make the best out of the cards I was dealt.
Did you learn about Asian American history at all in school?
No. When I came to the U.S. in the early 1970s, as many Asian families did, Asian history wasn’t of interest yet in schools. As part of the first wave of new immigrants, my parent’s priority for their children was to assimilate by making sure we learned English and adapted to American culture quickly. They believed that was the expressway to college and the guaranteed path to success in America.
You have four children in their 20s. Was their upbringing different from yours?
They were all born in the U.S., so their first language, unlike mine, was English. They grew up in Southern California, surrounded by a large Asian population, so it was very competitive—in fact, too competitive—so we moved to Mission Viejo, California, to give them a more normal childhood. My two sons have since graduated from university (UC Irvine and UC Berkeley) and I have two daughters who are still in school (at Wellesley College and UC Riverside). My children understand about 90 percent of spoken Korean, but they can only speak about 40 percent. They’re working on it!
Why is that important to you?
As a Korean American, I believe that understanding the mother language and ancestry is of paramount importance. I want my children to know that they are 100% American and, at the same time, they are 100% Korean. We take many trips to Korea and to many other Asian countries so that the Asian heritage is ingrained in their identity, alongside their pride in being American. I am the 29th generation of the Kim family and I want my children to be proud to be the 30th generation, and for their children to be the 31st generation of the Kim family.
How did 180 Snacks break into Costco?
It started in the Fall of 1998 when I approached the regional Costco buying office, at a time when being an Asian American and selling to the mainstream U.S. market was not so well received. When I got there, they saw a young Asian fellow and said, “Delivery is in the back.” They assumed I was a delivery guy because I wasn’t white. However, after the meeting with the buyer and some trial sales, my product was well received. The real shocker came when the buyer gave me a whole truckload for an order, which was impossible for me to fulfill. My journey into the world of Willy Wonka’s snack factory had become real.
What brings you back to get an MBA after running a successful business for years?
With my company, I did everything instinctively. I came back here to see if I did it right—so this is more of a confirmation for me. My sons Timothy and Eugene are now training with me to be the company principles. But we’re a small family that sells to major chains so I want to make sure that when I leave this company everything is set up the way it should be. At Berkeley Haas, I am wearing different shoes than the rest of my cohort. So many people here want to be entrepreneurs and live the American dream. I hope that my experiences encourage future entrepreneurs, and that I can be a reference and share my experiences. This is just one small way I can give back.
Who are your Asian heroes?
I read a lot of Confucius and Taoist teachings growing up. The teachings of these great teachers share many similarities with our Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.
Berkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison grew up with an insatiable curiosity and a dream to make the world a better place.
No surprise, then, that she ended up at Berkeley—first as a double major in history and economics and later, after receiving a PhD in economics from Princeton, as a professor in the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics from 2001 until 2011. She then joined the World Bank as director of development policy and after that the Wharton School of Business, where she gained international acclaim for her research on foreign investment and multinational firms. On January 1, Harrison “came home” to Berkeley once more—this time to serve as the 15th dean of Berkeley Haas.
She recently spoke to BerkeleyHaas magazine about her early years on campus, her groundbreaking research, and her plans for strengthening Haas as a leader in 21st century business education.
What was your experience as a Cal undergrad?
Being a Berkeley student and growing up in the Bay Area pretty much shaped who I am today. I had an independent streak and had hiked all over California by the time I was in junior high. I remember campaigning door-to-door in support of a statewide ballot initiative to protect our coastline. When I came to Berkeley, I lived in a co-op on the North Side. I was—and still am—into modern dance and loved that I could take dance classes on campus from former stars with the Martha Graham company and go to Zellerbach Hall and see great performances. I wrote dance reviews for the Daily Cal and was elected to the ASUC senate.
How did you get interested in economics?
I started off as a history major with a plan to go to law school. But then I took economics and loved it. One day I saw a posting for someone to do the grading for Econ 101A and the professor, Leo Simon, hired me—although he was taking a bit of a risk since I was an undergraduate. He became my mentor and convinced me to get a PhD. He really changed my life. After college I became a health economist at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. It opened my world to the power of data. Kaiser had millions of members, and I would stay in the office until 10:00 p.m., just analyzing the data.
How did your time at the World Bank shape you as a leader?
It taught me diplomacy, patience, and how people can do amazing things when they have the will to work together. After the financial crisis a decade ago, the bank’s lending tripled but its overall budget stayed flat. So, there was a lot of competition internally for fewer resources. The different parts of the bank were able to overcome that because of the strong relationships between people.
You are a much-cited scholar in your field. What inspires your research?
As a trade economist, I’m interested in real-world questions and their policy implications. What I find most interesting are big-picture policy issues. During my first business trip to India in 1986, I was part of a team that helped the Indian government formulate policies to increase competition and reduce monopoly power. To be able to take part in a project that helps economies solve problems in real time is very satisfying.
The question I have been most obsessed with recently is whether rising international competition has led to job losses and stagnating wages for the American worker—and whether free-trade economists miscalculated the costs of globalization or whether trade is just a scapegoat. I’ve concluded through my research that China is not the culprit. The cause of all those job losses is automation. The Factory-Free Economy, a book I co-edited with French economist Lionel Fontagné, looks at what will happen to high-income economies when many tasks become automated and jobs that used to exist are done by machines.
The Full-time Berkeley MBA and the Berkeley MBA for Executives rose to their highest ranks ever in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking published today.
U.S. News ranked the Full-time Berkeley MBA #6 for the first time—tied with Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Columbia Business School; the Berkeley MBA program had ranked #7 for the prior 11 years.
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%), peer poll (25%), and the average of the last three years of recruiter polls (15%).
The Berkeley MBA for Executives rose to #7, up from #9 last year, in the EMBA ranking. The EMBA ranking is based entirely on the peer assessment by business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs.
The Evening & Weekend MBA ranked #2 with an index of 99 (out of 100) points, after being ranked #1 for the past six years. The part-time MBA ranking is based on a peer assessment score by deans and MBA directors (weighted 50%), various student quality measures, and percent of MBA students who are part-time (12.5%).
In the specialty rankings, Haas placed as follows:
Be open to risk, embrace adversity, and go beyond yourself were inspiring messages delivered to 69 students in the Berkeley MBA for Executives (EMBA) Class of 2018 who graduated last Saturday.
“We live in challenging times,” said commencement speaker Tootie Tatum, EMBA 15, CEO of Blackhawk Genomics. “There’s no shortage of tribalism, cynicism, or discord. You are truly empowered to change that tide in the world because if you don’t, who will?”
At a ceremony packed with students’ friends and family in Hertz Hall, Dean Ann Harrison praised the class for persevering through 19 months of a rigorous management and leadership curriculum—all the while managing demanding jobs, and maintaining active family and social lives.
“Many of you traveled long distances to take classes,” said Harrison, who presided over her first commencement as new dean. “This wasn’t always easy. Finding ways to balance all of these commitments is nothing short of remarkable, and we applaud you. After this, you can accomplish anything.”
Jessica LaBounty, chosen as the class student speaker, described the support that her classmates provided each other. “Our cohort family has become a new and powerful kind of mirror,” she said. “In this mirror, we have the opportunity to see ourselves not as our families see us, not as our work colleagues see us, and certainly not as we see ourselves. This Haas mirror has the remarkable ability of showing us who we are capable of being. This mirror, this faith we have in each other, is full of optimism and bravery.”
Together, the group experienced the Haas School’s unique brand of experiential learning, which comprises 25 percent of the curriculum. At the heart of this EMBA format are five immersive learning experiences led by Haas faculty on location: leadership communications in Napa, applied innovation in San Francisco, entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, business and corporate social responsibility in Copenhagen, and policy in Washington DC.
Distinguished Teaching Fellow Veselina Dinova received the Earl F. Cheit Award For Excellence In Teaching for her instruction.
“In (the course) Financial Information Analysis, Veselina made the fine print of financial statements come alive with her infectious enthusiasm for this characteristically dry topic,” Jay Stowsky, senior dean of instruction, said before presenting the award.
The award for outstanding graduate student instructor went to Auyon Siddiq, who was the GSI for Prof. Lucas Davis’ Data & Decisions course.
Stowsky also delivered the Valedictorian Award to Jim Griffin. “Our valedictorian award goes beyond celebrating the student with the highest GPA,” he said. “It also celebrates the student who excels in an intense and accelerated environment. Not only did Jim excel in the program—he encouraged others to excel as well.”
The ceremony included Haas’ Defining Leadership Principles Awards, which went to Michael Guimarin (Question the Status Quo), Kate Mansalis & Ron Sasaki (Confidence Without Attitude), Jim Griffin (Students Always), and Laura Hassner (Beyond Yourself). A 5th Principle award, for embodying all four principles while always choosing graciousness, went to Wendi Chiong and Brian Tajo.
Tatum, who holds a PhD in biomedical sciences and has made her mark in genomics, urged graduates to be open to risk, and welcome adversity with open arms. But she also noted that there’s a safety net available to them if they fall.
“Know that this Haas fellowship that you are now a part of is for a lifetime,” she said. “Everyone here who has come before you, we are really your safety net.”
Harrison closed the ceremony with a reflection on Martin Luther King Jr.
“Think every day about how you can go beyond yourself,” she said. “In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrated on Monday: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?'”
Chris Larocca and Trevor Buehlchaired this year’s EMBA student campaign, raising almost $60,000 to support faculty and student excellence at Haas.