From Russia with love: Daniil Pushkin and Eugenia Zanina, MBA 21

Daniil and Eugenia, MBA students, married before coming to Haas
Daniil Pushkin and Eugenia Zanina, MBA 21, in Moscow before their wedding.

Daniil Pushkin, MBA 21, clearly remembers the night he got the call from Berkeley Haas admissions.

“I was in the middle of nowhere in a small Russian town working with a client, living in a hotel,” says Daniil, a former Moscow-based McKinsey consultant. “I was sitting in my room working on a presentation at 1 am, when I got a call from a person from Haas who congratulated me that I was off the waiting list.”

The news was especially sweet because it meant he’d be able to join his girlfriend, Eugenia Zanina, who had already been admitted to the full-time MBA program. Her work with Boston Consulting Group meant they were often apart, but now the wait was over. “I was so happy,” says Daniil, who woke Eugenia up at her client site in Uzbekistan, where the local time was 4 am.

There was one big thing to take care of before they headed to Berkeley: They decided to marry in July 2019. “We just wanted to reassure our parents that we were going far away from them as a married couple,” Daniil says. “That was important for us and for our families.”


Daniil and Eugenia at the Golden Gate Bridge
Daniil and Eugenia, avid Bay Area hikers, at the Golden Gate Bridge.

The pair first made each other’s acquaintance as undergraduates at Moscow State University. Years later, they ran into each other in a Latin dance class. “We just started to walk together home. Then we started dating,” Daniil says. “That was eight years ago.”

As consultants based in Moscow, travel was a constant and they went for days without seeing each other. They spent weekends catching up. “We traveled a ton, which is one more reason we really wanted to go to the same place and live in the same house,” Eugenia says.

In Berkeley, the couple is enjoying life together, both in and out of class. They are in the same cohort and coordinated their schedules to include electives like Haas@Work and marketing analytics. Daniil, who is earning a dual MBA/MEng degree, also takes financial engineering courses.

Daniil calls Eugenia having coffee
Daniil calls Eugenia “the person who’s making me better.”

While they’re both happy to be together, Eugenia worried that they wouldn’t get to know their classmates if they didn’t branch out. So they decided to sit apart sometimes and to join different course subgroups.

“The person who’s making me better”

At home in the Berkeley Hills, they relax, admire the Bay view and sunsets and the deer that wander through their yard. They also try to hike once a week near the ocean. “It’s so peaceful,” Daniil says. “All our life we’ve lived in a big city with limited flora and fauna. The weather was also not very good usually. Here we just enjoy this peaceful atmosphere.”

Asked what they love about each other, Eugenia notes Daniil’s positivity. “He literally brings good vibes to every day of our life,” she says. “It gives me an opportunity to feel life in all its bright colors.”

Daniil calls Eugenia “the person who’s making me better.”

“I’ve changed a lot in eight years,” he says. “I can definitely say that I am a better version of myself, and that’s thanks to Eugenia.”



Laura Clayton McDonnell, Diane Dwyer named 2020 commencement speakers 

Two pioneering women in tech sales and broadcast television will serve as commencement speakers for the full-time, evening & weekend and undergraduate programs this May.

Laura Clayton McDonnell, MBA 85,  a visionary sales executive who has held leadership roles at two of the world’s top tech companies, was chosen as speaker at the 2020 Full-time MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA commencement; Diane Dwyer, BS 87, former KTVU and NBC broadcast journalist, was chosen to speak at undergraduate commencement.

The MBA commencement will take place on Friday, May 22, 2020, at the Greek Theatre.

The undergraduate commencement will take place on Monday, May 18, 2020, at the Greek Theatre. 

“We are so thrilled to welcome two successful female alumnae who represent our Defining Leadership Principles to speak at our commencements,” said Haas Dean Ann Harrison. “Laura questions the status quo as a business leader in so many ways and Diane, as a professional faculty member, is a student always.”

Laura Clayton McDonnell
Laura Clayton McDonnell

McDonnell, who is vice president of enterprise sales for management software company ServiceNow, was previously vice president of Microsoft’s New York region. Managing a team of more than 230 people, she was responsible for increasing sales revenue and expanding Microsoft’s influence in the region by building relationships with key stakeholders, such as New York City’s Department of Education. 

McDonnell also piloted innovative programs such as Microsoft’s Tech Jobs Academy, an educational program that offers free tech training to underrepresented communities. 

At IBM, where she previously worked for 11 years, she rose to vice president of strategic services for North America, before taking on a role as senior vice president of North America Sales at Aspect Software.

Dwyer, a professional faculty member at Haas who teaches Innovations in communications and public relations, has been a broadcast journalist for 25 years, reporting important stories from the inauguration of President Bill Clinton to the Oakland Hills Firestorm.  

Diane Dwyer
Diane Dwyer

She began her career as an anchor and reporter at KXLF in Butte, Montana, in 1988. Two years later she and joined the KTVU-Channel 2 newsroom, where she launched and co-hosted the Morning Show on KTVU with Ross McGowan for several years. 

She then moved to San Jose to become the weekend news solo anchor for NBC Bay Area. Her reporting won her two Emmy awards and other prestigious awards from the Associated Press and the National Academy of Radio and Television Artists. In addition to teaching, Dwyer runs her own consulting business, Dwyer Media Consulting.




Alum Dan Kihanya’s plan to get black entrepreneurs’ startups funded

Dan Kihanya, founder of Founders Unfound
Dan Kihanya, founder of Founders Unfound

Attracting funding is difficult for any aspiring entrepreneur. But for underrepresented minorities, the challenge can be even more daunting: just 1% of venture-backed founders in the U.S. are black and about 1.8% are Latino, according to a 2019 study.

That’s a big reason why Dan Kihanya, MBA 96, a serial entrepreneur who runs a mobile banking startup, decided to build Founders Unfound, an online platform to showcase underrepresented minority founders whose startups are ready for seed funding. The site features company information, a blog, and podcasts.

“My approach is to find companies that are at the stage of being venture backed so we can highlight them through the lens of getting the attention of investors and the larger startup community,” said Kihanya, whose father is from Kenya and mother is of English and Scottish descent.

The podcast interviews veer in interesting directions, covering everything from family background and life challenges, to sources of entrepreneurial inspiration, to the complexity of taxes and global manufacturing.

Building something that lasts

Interviewees so far include Stella Ashaolu, founder of WeSolv, which uses data analytics to help large companies improve workforce diversity; Baratunde Cola, founder of Carbice, is developing technology to prevent electronic devices from overheating; and AK Ikwuakor, founder of ELETE Styles, is designing fashionable professional clothes for the athletic build.

In one podcast, Ikwauakor, a former collegiate track and field star at the University of Oregon, discussed the link between sports and startup perseverance, comparing the pain of completing the 400-meter hurdle race to the pain of being rejected when someone doesn’t like your presentation. “It’s really about success in life…are you willing to go through the pain, the discomfort, the doubt?” he said.

Cola, who grew up in Pensacola, Florida, with a dad whom he described as a “street entrepreneur from the Bronx,” detailed his decades-long commitment to creating a new kind of thermal material for his startup, Carbice.

“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and build something that would last,” said Cola, who earned a PhD at Purdue.

A mechanical engineering undergrad who formerly worked in the Detroit auto industry, Kihanya moved to the Bay Area to enroll at Haas. “I was drawn to the place where you start something from scratch,” he said.

And Kihanya did. In 1996, he co-founded internet loyalty program and took it public. A top performing IPO of 1999, MyPoints was acquired by United Airlines’ Loyalty Services Division in 2001.

Showcasing black founders

Kihanya went on to serve as an advisor to many startups, as well as a venture partner for Stockton Ventures on the East Coast. In 2017, he founded Wizely, which provides millennial consumers in India with mobile banking services, and today he commutes between his home in Seattle and Wizely’s India-based headquarters.

Before launching Founders Unfound, Kihanya considered simply increasing his angel investing and mentoring. But he ultimately decided that a digital platform, coupled with social media campaigns, would be a more powerful way to showcase a growing pipeline of black founders.

“I’m at the point in my career where it’s giving-back time,” he said.

When choosing a team of advisors for Founders Unfound, Kihanya turned to Haas, appointing Élida Bautista, the school’s director of inclusion and diversity, and Laurence “Lo” Toney, MBA 97, managing partner at Plexo Capital, whom Kihanya met at Haas.

For now, the website focuses on entrepreneurs of African descent, including Afro-Caribbeans and African-Americans. Kihanya plans to expand to include interviews with Latinx founders this year.

Another goal is to post 100 interviews—as fast as possible.

“If we had 10,000 listeners, 100,000 downloads, and if it’s the right audience, that’d be tremendous,” Kihanya says. “If an interviewee comes to me later and says, ‘This employee, or that investor, or this partner came to me because they heard me on Founders Unfound,’ that’s how I’d judge success.”


Haas launches deferred MBA admissions program

Undergrad students
Undergraduates will be able to apply early to the Full-time MBA program under the new Accelerated Access Program. Photo: Noah Berger

A new Berkeley Haas program will give undergraduates the option of applying early for a coveted spot in the full-time MBA program and deferring for two to five years to gain the required professional experience.

Accelerated Access, which launches today, will be initially open only to UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students in their final year of study, with a plan to expand to students throughout the University of California system and then more broadly in the future. A kickoff event will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 28, in Chou Hall from 6-8pm.

“Accelerated Access is an innovative way for students to secure a seat in our MBA program, providing a way for them to pursue full-time work that aligns with their passions, with reassurance that they will be able to return to a top-ranked MBA program in a few years,” said Morgan Bernstein, director of strategic initiatives, who is spearheading the launch.

Reaching across campus

Morgan Bernstein
Morgan Bernstein is spearheading the new Accelerated Access Program.

Under Accelerated Access, undergraduates will apply to the MBA program during the final year of their bachelor’s program. Successful applicants will gain conditional admission, and can enroll after a flexible two-to-five-year deferment period for professional experience.

Haas Dean Ann Harrison said Accelerated Access is another way that Haas is reaching across campus to offer new opportunities to students who previously might not have considered an MBA.

“We’re so excited to offer this program exclusively to UC Berkeley students this year,” she said. “We have so much talent here in the Berkeley community—and this is another way that we are cultivating and committing to that talent.”

Bernstein has been introducing the program across campus in recent weeks, and says the early response has been enthusiastic.

“We believe that this program will increase the diversity of our class, compelling students from a wide variety of academic disciplines to consider an MBA—from students in environmental science who want to pursue careers in sustainability to engineering students who want to complement their technical skills with a business foundation,” she said.

Application fee waived

There are two application deadlines in the pilot cycle: Thursday, April 2, 2020 and Thursday, June 11, 2020. The application process is similar to that of the full-time MBA program, with requirements including a resume, two letters of recommendation, two short essays, undergraduate transcripts, and either the GMAT or GRE standardized test. An interview will be required for admission.

Haas will waive the $200 application fee for UC Berkeley applicants this year and will be making up to five $100,000 scholarship awards to celebrate the launch as well as the 10th anniversary of the Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always and Beyond Yourself.  Embodiment of the principles will be among the criteria that are considered for the awards.

Shaibya Dalal, who earned a BA in political science in 2011 from Berkeley and returned in 2018 as a full-time MBA student, said she couldn’t be happier that she chose Cal twice.

“The MBA culture at Haas is incredibly collaborative—whether you need notes from a class, advice for your start-up, or even help moving furniture, you can rely on Haasies,” she said. “My peers are kind, generous, open-minded, and intellectually curious. Constantly being around such brilliant people has challenged and stimulated me in completely new ways.”

For more information about the program please email


Strong salary bump for FTMBA Class of 2019

Full-time MBA students at 2019 commencement. Photo: Noah Berger
Full-time MBA students at 2019 commencement. Photo: Noah Berger

Class of 2019 full-time MBA graduates got a healthy salary bump this year, jumping to a median starting salary of $140,000 from $125,000 last year.

“The Berkeley MBA is demonstrating its value in the market, with starting salaries for our MBA grads increasing by 12%,” said Abby Scott, assistant dean of Career Management & Corporate Relations. “Compensation packages from consulting firms and financial services firms are the biggest contributors to that increase—as more students headed to the top firms in those fields this year.”

About 93% of the job seeking population, or 211 students, received job offers within three months of graduation, and 91% had accepted offers within three months of graduation.

In addition to record strong base pay, 76% of graduates received signing bonuses that averaged $29,141, and 46% of the graduates received stock options or grants. (Option values, which are hard to quantify, are not included in the compensation totals in the 2019 employment report.)

Top employers of Haas graduates this year included Adobe, Amazon, Bain, Ernst & Young (including Parthenon), Boston Consulting Group, Cisco, Deloitte, The Clorox Company, Google, LEK, McKinsey & Co., PWC, and Visa.

Tech, Consulting top sectors

Christina Chavez took a job at Google after graduation.
Christina Chavez interned at Google and took a job at the company after graduation.

Technology was again the most popular sector for new Berkeley MBAs, pulling in 33 percent of the graduates.

Christina Chavez, MBA 19, headed to Google, where she interned in 2018, as an agency development manager, working with the same team under the same manager. “A few different things appealed to me about Google,” she said. “They have a transparent culture and it’s a fairly flat organization for a large company. You have a lot of autonomy to shape your career and your role and that was really appealing to me.”

About 25% of students accepted jobs in consulting, followed by 15% in financial services and 9.7%t in consumer packaged goods/retail.

Joining a group of graduates who went to McKinsey was Kelly Lamble, MBA 19, who landed a job as an associate in strategy and corporate finance at McKinsey’s New York office.

Lamble arrived at Haas focused on impact investing and social entrepreneurship and interned at financial services startup Branch International, spending five weeks in Kenya with the company. But her journey ended up leading her to consulting, where she thought she could gain the professional skillset she needed to transition from finance to strategy. “I was looking at all of the top consultancies,” she said. “McKinsey was the right fit for me.”

“A tangible impact from the work”

Rob Zuban works at Ford.
Rob Zuban, a former consultant, now works in product marketing at Ford.

Close to 20% of graduates chose the entrepreneurship/startup route. Fifteen percent of the job- seeking population took jobs at startups, while 5% of the class started their own companies, like Ludwig Schoenack, MBA 19, a former McKinsey consultant who co-founded car rental app Kyte.

An increasing number of students are interested in both interning and working at transportation-focused companies, including Rob Zuban, MBA 19, who joined Ford as a product marketing manager in the company’s cross vehicle and connected technology group. Zuban said he got an MBA to transition out of strategy consulting, where he’d spent six years. “I realized that I wanted to see more tangible impact from the work I was doing, and be closer to the customer.”

At Haas, he pursued opportunities in mobility and clean energy, participating in Cleantech to Market, and working with the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC). With Ford, he’ll rotate among divisions during his training program, beginning in marketing. In his current role, Zuban helps launch new assisted driving features such as hands-free driving.

“Ford makes products that people use daily, which appealed to me,” he said. “It’s exciting to launch new technology features, especially on our upcoming electric vehicles that can drive customer adoption.”

Startup Roundup: TomoCredit and SuiteSocial

The startup roundup series spotlights students and recent alumni who are starting a new business or enterprise.

Woman holds green credit card
Kristy Kim, Co-founder of TomoCredit, participates in Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars Program in New York. Photo courtesy: Kristy Kim.

Co-founders: Kristy Kim, MBA 20 and Dmitry Kashlev, (of MIT/Media Lab)

 All Kristy Kim, MBA 20, wanted to do after she finished her undergraduate program at Berkeley was buy a car to travel for her new job as a mergers and acquisitions analyst.

 But every time she applied for an auto loan, she was denied for the same reason: she had no credit history in the U.S., a common problem for international students and 20-somethings.

She decided to solve it with her new company TomoCredit. Unlike traditional credit card companies that issue credit based on history and FICO scores, which are used to assess credit risk, TomoCredit uses cash flow data to determine an applicant’s creditworthiness. Using a data aggregator called Plaid, Kim and her team can evaluate six-month’s worth of banking data to determine if a person qualifies for the credit card and sets a credit limit.

 “I want TomoCredit to be the go-to credit card for millennials,” Kim said. “We are taking a really bold step by saying no to the industry and the FICO score system and instead relying on cash data to make credit decisions. We think it’s the right way for the new generation.”

 In partnership with Evolve Bank & Trust and Mastercard, TomoCredit launched on October 15. Customers can apply for the card by signing up on the website

Image of TomoCredit website

 TomoCredit, short for Tomorrow’s credit, offers consumer benefits, including up to 20 percent cash back and discounts with select retail stores, Kim said. The company makes a profit through interchange fees, which merchants pay every time a customer uses a credit card.

 TomoCredit was one of nine startups included in this year’s Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars Program. The 13-week program provides access to mentors and investors from the most influential FinTech and startup companies in the U.S.

 “Barclays Accelerator is the top FinTech accelerator in the world, offering resources that we simply don’t have in the Bay Area,” said Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program. “Since their inception, I’ve worked with them to propose several UC Berkeley teams, but none were the perfect fit until now. Kim is solving a huge problem in a unique way—that’s an irresistible combination that can best leverage the network and resources in a global financial hub like New York.”

 Kim credits Lecturers Kurt Beyer and Gregory La Blanc for helping her to develop and refine TomoCredit’s business model. 

 “His Entrepreneurship and Innovation course was the best class I took in my undergraduate career because he invited entrepreneurs to campus and that was really cool,” she said. “It was the first time I thought about starting my own startup.”

 Years later, Kim co-lectured Blockchain and Cryptoeconomics with La Blanc and surveyed roughly 200 students about their experiences with accessing credit. Those surveys would serve as market research for her fledgling company.

 Kim has secured seed funding from high profile FinTech investors in New York and Silicon Valley and has collaborated with micro-influencers through SuiteSocial, (see below) an online marketplace for influencers founded by Haas alumni, to get the word out about her credit card.

 “We hope more people will think of us and use TomoCredit as their primary card.” Kim said. “Once you find a credit card that knows how to underwrite you, you’ll never want to go back.”

Co-founders: Jennifer DeAngelis, MBA 19 and Lea Yanhui Li, EMBA 19

Woman giving a presentation.
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 created SuiteSocial—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.

Two women pose for picture.
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 startup Kyte, 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.”

MBA team wins “future of mobility” case competition

Students holding check
The first place team in the Future of Mobility Case Competition. Holding check, left-right: Andy Min, Johnny Lin, Rebecca West, and Yifeng Wang.

A team of MBA students working with a Berkeley architecture student placed first in the University of Michigan’s Future of Mobility Case Competition for designing a mobile network that would allow customers to access multiple modes of transportation on demand. The 3rd annual case competition was held in Ann Arbor on Nov. 8 and sponsored by Ford Mobility.

The Team: Johnny Lin, MBA 21, Rebecca West, MBA 21, Andy Min, MBA/MEng 21, and Yifeng Wang, MA (architecture) 21.

The Field: Eight teams were selected from a pool of 24 teams to compete for a $5,000 prize. Finalists included the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business, and the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business. 

The Challenge: Create a new profitable business venture that focuses on customer experience and innovation within the current transportation ecosystem, which includes cars, buses, e-scooters and bikes.

The Team’s Plan: The Haas team designed a mobile network that customers could use to access different modes of transportation at any time using the FordPass App. By re-purposing the car share program, vehicles would not only serve as short-term rentals, but also as a pick-up and drop-off location for Ford’s SPIN scooters. Trunk space would act as a storage and charging station for scooters. This transportation network would allow Ford to meet customer needs for multiple transit modes.

What set them apart: Drawing from all of their experiences, both professional and educational, the Haas team presented a unique proposal. Lin contributed to the development and structure of the presentation; Wang, with his environmental and service design background, worked on the customer experience; Min, drawing on his Marine Corps experience and MBA courses, identified technical specifications for the project; and West, using her economic development background, identified stakeholders and community growth opportunities.

“Our team stood out because of our diverse perspectives that led us to a very creative solution and presentation,” said Rebecca West, MBA 21. “We approached the initial prompt from four very distinct backgrounds, and through Andy’s leadership, were able to weave them all together. Johnny and Yifeng then drove the development of the presentation forward.” 

“I was so impressed by all three of my teammates,” said Johnny Lin, MBA 21. “We each lead from and collectively integrated our different experiences.  Our solution focused on the user experience, civic responsibility, engineering, and profitable business, and it was really thanks to every member of the team that we were able to deliver a winning proposal.”

The Berkeley factor: “The course Reimagining Mobility taught by Prof. Purin Phanichphant (taught through the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation) helped us gain empathy with users and put people in the center of our design,” said Yifeng Wang, MA 21.

The most memorable experience from the competition: Andy Min, MBA/MEng 21, said the brainstorming session was the most memorable experience. “We all had differing approaches and ideas, but we were able to come up with a solution that melded those thoughts together,” Min said. 

Berkeley Haas receives STEM designation for MBAs

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.

Learn more about the Berkeley Haas MBA programs:

Full-time MBA Program
Evening & Weekend MBA Program
Executive MBA Program



MBA team wins first place at National Real Estate Challenge

Eight people holding plaques and check.
MBA team wins first place in National Real Estate Challenge held at the University of Texas at Austin on Nov. 21. From left to right: David Eisenman, Maribel Garcia Ochoa, Jon Lam, Abby Franklin, Lecturer Bill Falik, Matt Tortorello, Andrew Sublett and Eric Valchuis.

Haas took first place in the 17th annual
National Real Estate Challenge for the second year in a row, taking home a $10,000 prize. Teams from the nation’s top-ranked business schools competed at the University of Texas at Austin on Nov. 21.

The Team: David Eisenman, MBA 20, Andrew Sublett, MBA 20, Matt Tortorello, MBA 20, Eric Valchuis, MCP 20 (city planning), Maribel Garcia Ochoa, JD 21, and Jon Lam, MBA 21 & MRED+D 20 (real estate development and design).

The Field: Finalists included Haas, Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and UPenn’s Wharton School. 

The Challenge: Playing the role of a real estate investment firm, the Haas team had to decide if it should buy 1,000 mixed-income housing units in Lakewood, a fictional city modeled after New York. The firm would receive a tax abatement from the city if it converted a portion of the units into affordable housing.

The Team’s plan: The team weighed the pros and cons of investing in a housing portfolio that included market-rate and affordable housing units. After careful consideration, the team decided to invest in the Lakewood property.

The Haas Factor: The Haas team received coaching from Professor Nancy Wallace, Lecturer Bill Falik, Abigail Franklin, an investment banking and real estate student advisor, and Haas alumni.“Questioning the status quo and having confidence without attitude set us apart from the pack,” said Eric Valchuis, MCP 20. “We prepared for this challenge for months and delivered a story-centered presentation to the judges.”

The team also benefited from Berkeley’s unique Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Real Estate program, allowing us to take classes at Haas, the College of Environmental Design, and Berkeley Law, Valchuis said. “As a result, we demonstrated a cohesive understanding of the social, political, and financial impacts of our investment that may have been more difficult for other schools to match.”

Full-time MBA program remains #8 in Poets & Quants ranking

The Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA placed at #8 again in Poets & Quants’ 2019 ranking, published on Nov. 15.


The meta ranking is based on the results of five other rankings published in US News, Forbes, the Financial Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the Economist. U.S. News is given a weight of 35%, Forbes, 25%, while both The Financial Times and Bloomberg Businessweek are given a 15% weight, and The Economist, 10%.

View the full report and methodology.

Haas takes first place in Duke Energy Case Competition

MBA students hold check.
The Haas team places first in the Duke Energy Case Competition.  Third from left: Haas students Alan Southworth, Will Bowman, Rebecca West, and Simon Greenberg. Photo courtesy: Will Bowman.

A plan to transform a Nigerian energy company into a sustainable and profitable virtual utility company landed a full-time MBA team first place in Duke University’s
Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition. The 7th annual case competition was held in North Carolina on Nov. 5.

The Team: Will Bowman, Alan Southworth, Rebecca West, and Simon Greenberg, all MBA 21. 

The Field: Nearly 40 MBA teams from Europe and North America competed for a $10,000 prize and the chance to meet recruiters from top U.S. energy companies. Finalists included teams from Haas, Yale SOM, University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

The Challenge: Develop a strategy to help a Nigerian energy company find high-skilled workers for their solar energy project and devise a long-term plan to finance the project, all the while transforming the company into a sustainable virtual utility in the country. (A virtual utility is a company that generates electricity in one place and then sells it to someone in another place without owning or controlling the distribution wires.)

The Team’s Plan: The Haas team proposed a three-pronged strategy that included developing an apprenticeship program to find high-skilled laborers, selling health benefits by replacing diesel energy with solar, ultimately reducing pollution, and identifying target customersNigerians who lived in residential estate communities or “gated communities.”

“Our secret sauce was to think creatively about how to monetize benefits from solar and storage which are often left on the table right now,” said Simon Greenberg, MBA 21. “I think we won by taking those novel ideas and thinking not only about how to apply them in the market now, but also about how the company can use them as engines of growth in the future.”

What set them apart from the pack: “We brought more creative ideas and worked hard to test those ideas with those who are on the ground,” said Will Bowman, MBA 21. “We came up with a vision-driven proposal and provided concrete recommendations to make the Nigerian company a virtual utility.” The team spoke to Nigerian bankers, former officers of the Gates Foundation, freelance Nigerian electricians and other solar companies in Nigeria and Africa to assess if their proposal was plausible and profitable. 

Rebecca West, MBA 21, said it was the composition of the Haas team that also set them apart from the rest of the competition. “We had three of us dive deep on each of the three content areas, and then Will drove the overall strategy and managed the project and the process,” West said. “It was very helpful to have someone who looked at the bigger picture, and continually pushed each of us to make improvements on our sections and dive deeper. Additionally, Alan and Simon are incredibly talented and have a deep knowledge of the industry. They could think critically about some complex problems, in such a way that we could come up with a cogent and creative strategy!”

The Haas Factor: A BERC Energy workshop helped shape their ideas. They learned how to monetize benefits of natural resources and renewable energy. 

The most memorable experience from the competition: Alan Southworth, MBA 21,  recalled his teammate Will Bowman posing a question to the judges about whether they have ever been to Coastal Maine. “Everyone in the room was taken aback; the case was about solar panels in Nigeria,” said Southworth. “Will proceeded to give an impassioned speech about sometimes having to take an indirect route to get to the hardest to reach places. The metaphor landed and I think he even received a standing ovation from one of the members of another school’s team. I can’t say whether that answer was the reason we won, but it was absolutely the moment that generated the most buzz among the crowd for the rest of the evening.”


Veterans Day 2019: Why we serve

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

“Every year, our student veteran community grows, enriching our campus with unique insights, wisdom, leadership, and unyielding dedication to helping others,” said Dean Ann Harrison.

This Veterans Day, we asked four student veterans about what it means to serve and how they continue to serve their communities. Students interviewed include:

  • Ami Patel, FTMBA 21, former U.S. Army captain & Black Hawk pilot
  • Andrew Price, EWMBA 20, former U.S. Coast Guard commanding officer
  • Joseph Choi, FTMBA 21, former U.S. Navy Seal officer
  • Adan Garcia Nevarez, BS 21, former U.S. Marine Corps squad leader

Check out what they had to say:

Haas names 13 Finance Fellows

2019 Finance Fellows: L-R back: Julian Downey, Rahul Venkateshwara, Erika Hirata, Huai-Ping (Andy) Chen, Dalmia Akshay L-R front: Trevor Cleary, Dai Shi (Boris) Wang, Sameer Goyal, Ha Du, Julian Darby, Daniel Cerda, Steven Gan (standing); missing: Anjani Vedula. Photo: Jim Block
2019 Finance Fellows: L-R back: Julian Downey, Rahul Venkateshwara, Erika Hirata, Huai-Ping (Andy) Chen, Dalmia Akshay L-R front: Trevor Cleary, Dai Shi (Boris) Wang, Sameer Goyal, Ha Du, Julian Darby, Daniel Cerda, Steven Gan (standing); missing: Anjani Vedula. Photo: Jim Block

Before arriving at Haas, Ha Du, MBA 21, worked at J.P. Morgan for more than four years, first as an analyst in asset management, and then as an associate supporting the company’s CFO on financial analysis and business management.

Now, Du is deep in a career transition to investment banking, which she believes will let her build on skills she has developed so far.

“I enjoy solving problems for clients and I want to work on complex financial transactions and help companies to think through their strategies,” says Du, who is one of 13 full-time MBA students named as 2019 Finance Fellows at Haas.

An international group

The 2019 Finance Fellows are an especially international group, coming from the United Kingdom, Canada, India, Singapore, Vietnam, Brazil, and the U.S., notes William Rindfuss, executive director of strategic programs for the Haas Finance Group. Student interest grew this year, particularly in the area of entrepreneurial finance, in which a record six students with career goals in venture capital, impact investing, and fintech won fellowships. One student, Boris Wang, is already working to launch fintech startup Valuation Inc.

These 2019 Finance Fellows named last month include:

Investment Banking Fellowship:  Trevor Cleary, Ha Du, Sameer Goyal

Investment Management & Quantitative Finance Fellowship: Julian Downey, Steven Gan

Entrepreneurial Finance:  Dalmia Akshay, Huai-Ping (Andy) Chen, Julian Darby, Erika Hirata, Rahul Venkateshwara, Dai Shi (Boris) Wang

C&J White Fellows: (selected last winter) Daniel Cerda and Anjani Vedula

Haas awards Finance Fellowships every year to full-time MBA students, who apply for the awards. Fellows receive a cash grant and priority enrollment for electives and are also assigned a mentor, usually a Haas alum working in finance, who provides career advice and support. Candidates are evaluated on their experience and preparation in their stated area of interest, the clarity of their goals and career plans, and interviews.

Julian Darby, MBA 21, worked in investment banking in London before arriving at Haas, but said he found his passion through volunteer work as a board member at a school in an underprivileged neighborhood. The school had a financial education program for elementary students to teach them the habit of saving. “The older children acted as bank tellers and the younger ones were rewarded for the frequency of deposits, rather than the amount,” Darby recalled, adding that parents noticed and in turn asked the school principal about learning good financial habits themselves.

Seeing the parents’ response sparked his interest in financial inclusion to help individuals find ways to save, pay down debt, and manage expenses, he said. Darby hopes eventually to work for an organization, likely in fintech, that drives individual financial independence.

Haas ranks #8 in Bloomberg Businessweek

The Berkeley Full-time MBA Program ranked #8 in Bloomberg Businessweek’s annual MBA ranking published Nov. 4.

Schools were evaluated in four aspects of the MBA experience that were weighted based on this year’s employer and alumni input: compensation (37.30%), networking (25.70%), learning (21.30%), and entrepreneurship (15.70%). Haas ranked #10 in compensation, #13 in networking, #18 in learning, and #4 in entrepreneurship.

The ranking is based on feedback from MBA employers, recent full-time MBA graduates, and alumni who graduated in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Participating schools also provided salary data of the 2018 graduating class, which factored into the compensation aspect.

Last year, Haas ranked #6 in this ranking. In comparison, it also ranks #6 in this year’s US News & World Report ranking.

Haas unveils revamped sustainable and impact finance program

Katharine Hawthorne, MBA 20, came to Haas to build a career in impact investing.

Katharine Hawthorne, MBA 20, came to Haas to build a career in impact investing.
Katharine Hawthorne, MBA 20, came to Haas to build a career in impact investing.

She’s found plenty to dive into so far—as co-president of the Haas Private Equity Club, a principal of the school’s student-run social impact fund, and a summer intern at Patamar Capital in Jakarta, helping to make investment decisions in high-growth companies in South and Southeast Asia.

Now in her second year at Haas, she’ll be able to go even deeper, in a newly expanded sustainable and impact investing program that Berkeley Haas rolled out last week. The program, called Sustainable and Impact Finance, or SAIF, is focused on three sectors: sustainable investment, impact investment, and impact entrepreneurship.

Moving to the next level

By creating the new pathways, the program will better position students who aim to work in sustainable and impact finance as public fund managers or private equity investors, or in the startup world.

Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse spent the past year developing the new program with Prof. Laura Tyson, faculty director for the Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI).

SAIF includes new courses, expanded activities, research projects, internships, and student investment fund management opportunities in impact finance, which differs from traditional investment finance because investors aim for both positive financial return and a positive impact on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes, as well as social justice. In class, students learn how to evaluate a company based on its ESG performance.

Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse
Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, faculty director of the new Sustainable and Impact Finance program.

“With SAIF, we’re continuing the Berkeley Haas tradition of thought leadership in sustainability and impact in finance and entrepreneurship,” Tyson said. “There’s deep interest in sustainable and impact investing careers at Haas, and our existing courses and activities, including the student-run Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund, have been enormously successful.  SAIF will build on this strong foundation, enabling us to move to the next level in an organized, targeted, and meaningful way that keeps pace with rapid changes in sustainable and impact investing and impact entrepreneurship.”

“Haas needs to continue to lead the way in these areas,” said Morse, faculty director for SAIF. “The world is changing and we have issues of climate change, supply chain transparency, gender diversity, and social justice to take care of and this should be fully integrated into the business curriculum.”

A pioneer in corporate social responsibility

Photo of Prof. Laura Tyson
“We’re continuing the Berkeley Haas tradition,” – Prof. Laura Tyson, who worked on the SAIF initiative for the past year.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Haas was ranked the top graduate business school in sustainable finance and investing, according to data from the QS World University Rankings. The school is a pioneer in social impact investing, with efforts beginning during the late 1950s when late Dean Budd Cheit launched the first courses on corporate social responsibility. Haas now offers a total of nine courses devoted to the topic, more than any other school, as well as several others that cover related topics such as social impact metrics and impact ventures.

SAIF’s three tracks are designed to emphasize different aspects of impact investing. The course pathways are:

  • Sustainable investment: This track trains students to be managers of and investors in sustainable/responsible/ESG investment portfolios, primarily in publicly traded stocks and bonds. First-year courses include “Financial Information Analysis” and “Sustainable Portfolio Construction,” followed by a full year of investment work with the $3 million Sustainable Investment Fund. The fund, formerly called the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund, was founded in 2007 and has graduated over 90 students. Enrolled students become fund managers, analyzing investments and constructing and managing a portfolio.

    Haas students who manage the sustainable investment fund.
    MBA students who have managed the Sustainable Investment Fund at Haas, formerly called the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund. Photo: Jim Block
  • Impact investment:  Impact investing, a term coined by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2007, includes investments that generate financial returns and create a positive impact. This track prepares students for investment careers in private equity, venture capital, and real assets. Courses include “Impact Finance & Entrepreneurship” and “Impact Venture Partners: Portfolio.” Another course, “Impact Investing Practicum,” places student teams with impact investors to complete pre-vetted projects. Haas has placed seven teams, a total of 20 students, over the past several years in projects for clients including Omidyar, Salesforce, Patagonia, Cambridge Associates, and Gratitude Railroad.

    Photo of Jessie Tang, MBA 20
    Jessie Tang, MBA 20, worked on an impact investing project for Gratitude Railroad.
  • Impact entrepreneurship: This track helps students understand social impact financing from both a fund perspective and a startup perspective. Courses include “Impact Startup Launchpad” (previously Social Lean Launchpad), and “New Venture Finance.” Haas entrepreneurship lecturer Jorge Calderon leads the pathway, which includes management of a new fund called Berkeley Impact Venture Partners. The fund has a dual strategy: The “catalyst fund” provides startup teams at the pre-seed stage with $5,000 grants, while the “scale fund” helps startup teams, on or off campus, that are further along in their development with larger market rate equity investments. Electives for students in this track include “Food Innovation Studio,” “Impact Disco,” and “Social Impact Metrics.”
Haas entrepreneurship lecturer Jorge Calderon leads the entrepreneurship pathway
Haas Lecturer Jorge Calderon leads the impact entrepreneurship pathway of the new SAIF program.

Jessie Tang, MBA 20, said the pathways are a great way to formalize all of the program’s offerings. “I like that they’re trying to put more of a framework around this,” said Tang, who was on a team assigned last spring to an Impact Investing Practicum project with Gratitude Railroad, an alternative investment platform committed to solving environmental and social problems. “They’re working out ways to help the students navigate the course offerings in a better way.”

Growing interest in impact investing careers

Additional members of the SAIF team, who helped develop parts of the program and will also teach courses, include William Rindfuss, executive director of strategic programs, Julia Sze, a lecturer in social leadership, Ben Mangan, executive director for the Center for Social Sector Leadership, Nora Silver, founder and faculty director with the Center for Social Sector Leadership, and Assoc. Prof. Panos Patatoukas, who is launching new research on impact finance.

Tang, who will be the Graduate School Instructor (GSI) for the Impact Finance & Entrepreneurship class Morse is teaching this fall, is among a growing group of Haas students and alumni working in social and impact investing, including Patrick Hamm, MBA 20, who was a research analyst intern at Parnassus Investments, a pioneer in socially responsible investments, in San Francisco last summer; Adrian Rodrigues, MBA 18, who is co-founder and managing partner of Hyphae Partners, which works with businesses to develop and finance regenerative business models; Zeina Fayyaz Kim, MBA 16, an associate partner at NewSchools Venture Fund in Oakland, a national nonprofit venture philanthropy fund focused on public education; and Zach Knight, MBA 15, who is a co-founder and partner of Blue Forest Conservation, which works to protect forest health through a forest resilience bond.

Haas performs well in two new rankings

The Full-Time Berkeley MBA program is ranked #9 in the world by QS and is #11 in the US on Forbes’ list of Best Business Schools 2019.

The QS ranking is based on an employer survey, an academic survey and data provided by participating business schools. Each ranked school’s overall score factors inemployability (40%), return on investment (20%), entrepreneurship and other alumni outcomes (15%), thought leadership (15%), and class and faculty diversity (10%).

The Forbes ranking, published on September 18, is based on the five-year return on investment achieved by MBA graduates from the class of 2014. It weighs the salary increases post-MBA against the opportunity costs of forgone salary, tuition, and required fees. Forbes included more than 100 schools in its ranking and reached out to 17,500 alumni around the globe for the 2019 ranking.

The Berkeley MBA class of 2014 reported a five-year salary gain of about $75,000 on a pre-MBA salary of $88,000, compared to a 2018 salary of $205,000. Alumni reported a payback time of 4.1 years.

Forbes has ranked the top MBA programs based on their ROI biennially since 1999.

Haas welcomes more than a thousand new students to campus

photo of the new MBA class
The new full-time MBA class! Photo: Benny Johnson

Haas welcomed new students in the full-time MBA, undergraduate, and PhD programs to campus this month for orientation and the start of fall semester. New students in the evening & weekend MBA program arrived earlier this summer, beginning classes July 29.

Full-time Berkeley MBA Program

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Photos of the Cohort Olympics by Jim Block.

The theme of diversity and inclusion in business ran throughout orientation, also known as Week Zero, for the 283 new students in the full-time MBA class, with sessions on diversity and leadership led by Director of Inclusion & Diversity Élida Bautista, and new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer David Porter.

“We chose the diversity and inclusion theme intentionally this year and we wove it throughout the week,” said Peter Johnson, assistant dean full-time MBA program and admissions. “We want to help our students better understand the business case for diversity and the importance of becoming leaders who are able to effectively guide a diverse and inclusive organization.”

The week kicked off with alumni speaker and Cisco executive Nikita Mitchell, MBA 15, and continued with a business case reveal Tuesday and surprise visitors: executives from global investment management firm BlackRock (students had read a case about BlackRock’s diversity efforts before arriving). Weijian Shan, chairman and CEO of PAG Group, launched the fall Dean’s Speaker Series, discussing his new book “Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America.” (Watch the video of Shan’s talk here.)

Class members also met their study teams, worked together at an urban farm at the Alameda Point Collaborative, and competed in the annual Cohort Olympics.

Photo of BlackRock's Frank Cooper, who surprised the MBA students
Frank Cooper, global CMO of BlackRock, makes his way to the stage, as surprised students react to BlackRock’s visit. Photo: Benny Johnson

The incoming class of MBA students is comprised of 37% women. U.S. minorities are 30% of the class overall, and underrepresented minorities comprise 14% of the class (or 22% of just the U.S. students). They include a total of 41 African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students—a sharp increase from last year, when they were 7% of the class (11% of the U.S. students). The group is 35% international, hailing from 39 countries; India, China, Brazil, Peru, Canada, Japan, and Mexico are the top represented countries.

Dean Ann Harrison photo by Jim Block
Dean Ann Harrison: “We have really high expectations of you.” Photo: Jim Block

Dean Ann Harrison, addressing her first entering MBA class as dean, urged students to take time to really get to know each other, and to take advantage of the Haas alumni and broader UC Berkeley network. “This place is awesome, and it’s also awesomely demanding,” she said. “We have really high expectations of you. How hard you work this year will immediately pay off.”

Students in the class have an average of five years work experience, 20% in consulting, 17% in finance and financial services, and 11% in the nonprofit world. The class includes 24 veterans.

Morgan Bernstein, executive director of full-time MBA admissions, called out many students by name during a reception, including Manny Smith, who competed at the Team USA World Sprinter Championships and was the Armed Forces Men’s Track Champion in 2017; Randall Nixon, a Division 1 football college quarterback; Margie Cadet, a trained doula who helped expectant mothers; Jung Bahk, a back-up dancer for K-pop singers; and Daniela Kurinaga, who helped give 600 small & medium enterprises their first access to credit at Banco Credito del Peru.

MBA students break into study groups to get to know each other.
MBA students met their study groups during orientation. Photo: Jim Block

Students said they are excited to begin classes.

“If Week Zero is a representation of what the next two years at Haas will be like, it will likely be the best two years of my life,” said Soniya Parmar, MBA 21, who is from India.

Undergraduate Program

The new class of undergraduate students—an international group of music lovers, cooks, speakers of multiple languages, athletes, travelers, and photographers—kicked off orientation Tuesday in Spieker Forum in Chou Hall. Dean Harrison welcomed the students, professional faculty members Todd Fitch and Krystal Thomas led a discussion on thriving in the Berkeley Haas community. Chief DEI Officer David Porter and Derek Brown, a Berkeley Haas PhD candidate, steered sessions on team building and leadership.

Of the 362 incoming undergraduate students, 265 are continuing UC Berkeley students and 97 transferred into the program. Continuing students held an average GPA of 3.67 and transfer students’ GPA averages 3.89.  The class was accepted from a total of 2,663 applicants.

In addition, 49 undergraduate students in the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology program (M.E.T.) started this week. The program, a collaboration between the Haas School of Business and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, grants graduates two degrees—in business and in engineering—in four years, with the goal of providing deep leadership and technology skills.

Over the summer, 28 new students arrived in the undergraduate Global Management Program, a selective, four-year international Berkeley Haas program that launched in 2018. On top of an already demanding undergraduate curriculum, students must fulfill a language requirement, study abroad their first semester, and take specialized global business courses.

“We’re so proud of this international, talented new class,” said Erika Walker, assistant dean of the Haas Undergraduate Program “They’ve achieved amazing feats academically and are going beyond themselves in so many ways inside and outside of the classroom. We can’t wait to see what they do.”

All of the new undergrad students received new Berkeley Haas backpacks.
Entering undergrad students show off their new Berkeley Haas backpacks. Photo: Dinko Lakic

Evening & Weekend MBA Program

The 279 new students in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program gathered for their WE Launch orientation July 26-28 at the Doubletree Berkeley Marina, where they were assigned to a cohort of 70 to 75 students for their core courses.

Students in the EWMBA program balance their classes while working full time. Class members work for a total of 216 companies—23% in high tech, 11% in computer related services, and 9% in consulting. The top job role is engineering (18%), followed by marketing and sales (15%).

New evening and weekend students gather
The 279 new students in the EWMBA class participate in We Launch orientation before starting classes. Photo: Jim Block

Seventy-nine percent of the class lives and work in the Bay Area, although the students hail from 21 countries. More than a third of the class are women and the median student age is 30.

A few fun facts: one student was an extra in the 2011 Steven Soderbergh movie “Contagion,” while another founded the Bay area’s Greenfoot Hiking Club, which has more than 350 members. The class also includes a former pro baseball player and an opera singer. Many of the students are multi-lingual (one even speaks seven languages).

PhD Program

Twelve new students began the PhD program this year, bringing the total number of the students in the program to 71.

New PhD student photo of the class
The new class of PhD students. Top row, left to right: Top row, l-r: Pavel Bacherikov, Yixiang Xu, Shoshana Jarvis, Charlie Townsend, Jaeyeon Lee, Yunhao Huang. Bottom row, l-r: Morgan Foy, Saqib Choudhary, Sandy Campbell, William Ryan, Summer Zhao, Konhee Chang Summer Zhao. Photo: Jim Block

The new students are international, hailing from China, Russia, Korea, and India and from universities including Carnegie Mellon, Higher School of Economics Moscow, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Duke, UC Berkeley, and Tsinghua University.

Their research areas range from the impact of gender bias on women to why people make systematic errors with certain types of choices. “It’s always so exciting to follow our students as they work their way through this rigorous program, to learn about their fascinating research, and ultimately how it contributes to their field,” said Melissa Hacker, the program’s director of student affairs.

UC Berkeley launches joint master’s degree in business and engineering

photo of Berkeley students holding a laptopThe Haas School of Business and College of Engineering have joined forces to launch a concurrent MBA/MEng degree program to equip innovative leaders with the skills to take on complex and technical challenges.

The new program, enrolling for fall 2020, will allow students with sufficient undergraduate technical training to earn both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Engineering degree in just two years.

The MBA/MEng program is designed for early-career professionals who wish to take their careers to a higher level of leadership, whether at a major firm, a startup, or as an entrepreneur, said MBA/MEng Program Faculty Director Candace Yano, a professor with joint appointments at Haas and Berkeley Engineering.

“The program will prepare students to meet industry demands for graduates who are both business- and technology-savvy and can lead technical innovation efforts—a combination of skills needed in Silicon Valley and beyond,” she said.

Haas Dean Ann Harrison said the program will draw from the strength of both schools, allowing students to learn from some of the world’s top minds from a wide range of disciplines. Students will have access to both UC Berkeley’s rich intellectual resources and the Bay Area’s innovation ecosystem.

“With this exciting new program, we’re leaning into our Berkeley strength and uniting two of our top-ranked programs at the engineering and business schools to fill a need to educate leaders who are fluent in both worlds,” Harrison said.

Berkeley Engineering Dean Tsu-Jae King Liu said this kind of technical and business fluency is essential for driving innovation.

“Today’s business leaders increasingly need to understand and harness the transformative potential of engineered devices, systems, and processes,” she said. “This concurrent degree program is aligned with our college’s mission to train graduate students who not only have expertise in their respective engineering subfields, but who also have the skills to succeed as entrepreneurs and as leaders in industries where technological innovation offers a key competitive advantage.”

Graduates with advanced engineering and business skills are in high demand. Companies that have recently hired Berkeley Haas MBA graduates who also have a master’s degree in engineering include Google, Apple, Boston Consulting Group, Citibank, Eli Lilly, Genentech, KPMG, Marvell Semiconductor, and Microsoft. Their typical roles include product manager, principal architect, marketing analytics manager, senior consultant, and manager of strategy and operations.

The MBA/MEng program will launch with a cohort of 20 students and is expected to grow to 30 during the next few years. Applicants will be considered for admission to both departments by a combined committee (students accepted to only one of the two programs may enroll in that program).

The rigorous curriculum will include MBA courses in leadership, marketing, management, finance, data analysis, ethics, and macroeconomics, along with engineering courses in one of seven areas of concentration: Bioengineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research, Materials Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Nuclear Engineering. Students will also take courses in managing research and development, project management, and working in teams.

An integral part of the program is a second-year capstone project that asks students to solve real-world challenges for companies or nonprofit government organizations. Examples of these interdisciplinary projects include creating better solar and water reclamation opportunities for greener cities or completing the marketing analysis required to redesign a residential water filter for a manufacturer.

To be considered for the program, applicants must have at least two years of full-time work experience as well as sufficient undergraduate coursework to be successful in master’s level engineering classes. Depending on their intended field, that may include an engineering degree or a degree in physics or mathematics with coursework in computer programming. Applicants can submit either GMAT or GRE scores.

The new program was inspired by Berkeley’s undergraduate Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Program (M.E.T.), launched in 2017 and aimed at teaching undergraduates the skills of business and technology in one four-year bachelor of science degree. Haas also has interdisciplinary dual degree programs with public health (MBA/MPH) and law (JD/MBA).

The concurrent degree program was launched with the support of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in honor of its founder, Morris Chang.

Four Haas women awarded finance scholarships

Four Haas students—with career goals ranging from starting an investment fund to helping to grow immigrant-run businesses—have been awarded scholarships by The Financial Women of San Francisco.

A total of 13 undergraduate and graduate students were honored at a June 7 gathering at the City Club in San Francisco. The 30-year-old scholarship program was created to honor women leaders who are pursuing careers in finance, and the scholarships all include a pairing with a mentor

Jie Wang, MBA 20
Jie Wang, MBA 20

Jie Wang, MBA 20, a native of China who received a $15,000 scholarship, holds both an English literature degree from Nanjing Normal University and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Notre Dame. She previously worked as an international tax consultant at Deloitte. At Haas, she is the vice president of communications for the Asia Business Club and teaches federal income tax as a graduate student instructor.

Having lived mostly in the South and Midwest, she said she was drawn to the Bay Area for its job opportunities and the chance to make an impact. “Lots of exciting things are happening here,” said Wang, who is interning as an investment banking associate for Deutsche Bank in San Francisco this summer and is interested in the long-term in working on educational development for underprivileged women.

Three undergraduates, Sally Liang, Deeksha Chaturvedi, and Kyung Hee Egoian, all BS 20, were each awarded $10,000 scholarships.

Sally Liang, BS 20
Sally Liang, BS 20

Liang has worked as a finance coordinator for the UC Berkeley student-run Basic Needs Center. She said she’s dedicated to continuing her work in food security and holistic wellness in a nonprofit field.

“Investing my skillsets in a nonprofit would be a good way to put my business education to use and help the next generation resolve their basic needs insecurities so they can become more well-equipped during and after college,” she said.

Last summer, Liang was a finance operations intern at Tesla. This summer, she’s interning with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in corporate tax and plans to get her CPA license after graduation.

Deeksha Chaturvedi, BS 20
Deeksha Chaturvedi, BS 20

Chaturvedi, president of the Berkeley Women in Business club, will be interning this summer in San Francisco at Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division and aspires to run her own investment fund.

She said she is interested in gender equity and helping domestic violence victims gain financial independence. “I started volunteering with human trafficking victims and this opened my eyes to the injustices many women in our community face,” Chaturvedi said.

Kyung Hee Egoian, BS 20
Kyung Hee Egoian, BS 20

For Egoian, pursuing higher education has been a life-long dream. Formal education wasn’t an option in the small town in Korea where she grew up, she said.  Studying finance became her passion and focus when she moved to the US.

While raising her two children, Egoian worked for 13 years as a finance and administration manager at Save the Bay, a nonprofit aiming to restore and protect SF Bay for wildlife and people. After graduating from Haas, she plans to continue using her business and finance knowledge to help immigrant-run small businesses grow and succeed.

“I enjoyed my work so much that I never once looked at the clock to see if it was time to go home,” said Egoian. “I loved helping people, my staff, and working for a cause to improve our community.”

MBA grads: Be brave, embrace your power to change the world

Sora Elcan, EWMBA 19, holds up her baby.
Evening & Weekend MBA graduate Sora Elcan holds up her lil’ grad baby, Jackson Lee Elcan.

Berkeley Haas MBA students in the Class of 2019 were urged to be brave and embrace their power to make significant contributions to improve the world at Friday’s commencement.

The commencement was held under sunny skies at the Greek Theatre, where Dean Ann Harrison welcomed parents, friends, and family of evening & weekend MBA and full-time MBA students. “All of you have been transformed in some profound way. That is, after all, why you came here,” she told them.

Watch the video of 2019 MBA commencement.

Commencement speaker Patrick Awuah, MBA 99 and founder of Ashesi University in Ghana, told graduates the story of how he arrived at Berkeley Haas in his early 30s, with a new baby, having quit his job at Microsoft. He had a singular goal to prepare himself to start a successful university, and he built his plan for Ashesi during his entire time at Haas.

Patrick Awuah, 2019 MBA commencement speaker
“At Ashesi (University) today I see echoes of Berkeley.” – Patrick Awuah, MBA 99 and 2019 MBA commencement speaker. (Photo: Noah Berger)

“Ashesi started here, and I recognize the fact that there are not many places where this could have happened,” said Awuah, whose school has grown from 30 to 1,000 students. “We all had hope that it was going to be a remarkable institution, but it has exceeded even our loftiest dreams…At Ashesi today I see echoes of Berkeley: In our classrooms and the curriculum that we teach and the values we share; in the open embrace of equitable access to the opportunity for learning and development. I see echoes of Berkeley in how our community works and in our corporate culture. I see echoes of Berkeley in Ashesi’s people and leadership.”

Full-time MBA student speaker Bree Jenkins, who is co-founding the Hayward Collegiate Charter School, shared a personal story of feeling powerless as a teen.

FTMBA student speaker Bree Jenkins
FTMBA student speaker Bree Jenkins (Photo: Noah Berger)

“Age 15, days before my birthday, on a bitter December night, my mom leaves for a tour in Iraq. I honestly don’t know if she will ever come back. When this feeling of powerlessness grabs hold of you, it is usually dark. And you’re typically alone. Your whole body clenches. Palms sweaty. There’s a tightening of your stomach as you realize there is nothing you can do.”

Jenkins said the transformation from powerlessness to power has many faces. “As a new graduate of the Haas School of Business, it has your (face),” she said. “And as a black woman who represents just 1% of her class, yet has the privilege of speaking on your behalf, it has mine. Right now, we have power. And with this power, we share an incredible responsibility to this world and to one another.”

EWMBA student speaker Nancy Hoque (Photo: Noah Berger)

Calling out classmates by name, Nancy Hoque, student speaker for the Evening & Weekend MBA Program, addressed why they were brave for different reasons: for risking it all in changing a career, for joining her in protesting the immigration ban at the San Francisco Airport, for traveling across the world to help Syrian refugees, and for organizing female students to wear white on their commencement caps to symbolize the strength and unity of women who completed the program.

“Yes, absolutely they were all brave, because bravery entails taking a chance,” she said. “Grabbing onto that door which is cracked open and, regardless of the obstacles and unknowns, walking through it.”

MBA grad wtih flowers around his neck
Evan Krokowski, who graduated from the evening & weekend program, celebrates. Photo: Noah Berger.

Commencement Awards

Full-Time MBA Program

Student speaker Bree Jenkins (center) surrounded by the Defining Leadership Principles award winners
FTMBA student speaker Bree Jenkins (center) surrounded by the Defining Leadership Principles award winners. (Photo: Noah Berger)

Academic Achievement Award: Somiran Gupta

Full-Time MBA Defining Leadership Principle Awards:

Question the Status Quo: Tam Emerson; Confidence without Attitude: Somiran Gupta; Students Always: Mariana Lanzas Goded; Beyond Yourself: Matthew Freeman Hines; The Berkeley Leader Award: Bosun Adebaki

The Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching: Adair Morse

Cheit Award for Graduate Student Instructor: Margaret Fong


Evening & Weekend MBA Program

Evening & Weekend Program Defining Leadership Principles award winners.
Evening & Weekend Program Defining Leadership Principles award winners: Tess Peppers, Eppa Rixey, Michael Toomey, and Melanie Akwule.

Academic Achievement Award: Eppa Rixey

Defining Leadership Principles awards:

Question the Status Quo: Tess Peppers; Confidence Without Attitude: Aimee Bailey; Students Always: Eppa Rixey; Beyond Yourself: Michael Toomey; The Berkeley Leader Award: Melanie Akwule

The Earl F. Cheit Awards for Excellence in Teaching: Prof. Ross Levine (for weekend program) and Assoc. Prof. Yaniv Konchitchki (for evening program)

Graduate Student Instructor: Zachary Olson for the Data & Decisions course