U.S. News ranks Berkeley Haas FTMBA Program #7 in 2024

The Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA Program claimed the #7 spot among full-time programs in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report Best Business Schools ranking.

The FTMBA program moved up four slots to tie for #7 with the Yale School of Management and NYU’s Stern School of Business. Except for 2021 and 2023, the FTMBA has ranked #7 since 2019.

Meanwhile, the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program ranked #2 this year among part-time MBA programs. The Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives Program placed #7 among EMBA programs and is now the top executive MBA program at a public university in the nation. This ranking is based solely on ratings by business school deans and directors. 

The 2024 FTMBA ranking, released today, reflects positive changes that U.S. News made to its rankings methodology, said Haas Dean Ann Harrison. 

The ranking reflects all of the work Haas is doing to strengthen its programs and reputation, she said. “There are many different ways of evaluating a school, and rankings go up and down for all of us,” she said. “The change in the U.S. News methodology, with less emphasis on starting salary upon graduation, is a positive step.”

A few details on the rankings methodology used this year:

  • Employment rates at graduation – 7% weighted  (previously 10%)
  • Employment rates three months after graduation – 13% (previously 20%)
  • Mean starting salary and bonus – 20%
  • Ranking salaries by profession – 10%
  • Peer assessment score – 12.5%

Haas ranked #5 in salaries, which were ranked this year by profession (tied with Chicago Booth). Harrison noted that alumni accept jobs in a variety of industries, which logically means a variety of pay scales. 

“This is true for Haas, as well, where graduates prioritize where they can make the biggest impact, whether that is in consulting, product management, fintech, or by founding a new company,” she said. “I applaud U.S. News for taking into account the reality of the wealth of opportunities for a b-school graduate and comparing apples to apples across all the schools it surveys.”

Assessment by the school’s FTMBA peers was strong this year, at #7 (tied with Columbia) and the school ranked #9 for its recruiter assessment. Haas also had the highest GMAT score, tied at #1 with Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, and Columbia.

In specialty rankings, based solely on peer assessments, U.S. News ranked the full-time MBA program:

  • #4 in nonprofit
  • #4 in entrepreneurship
  • #4 in real estate
  • #7 in business analytics
  • #7 in management
  • #8 in finance
  • #10 in marketing

Berkeley Haas names 2024 commencement speakers

Berkeley Haas has named alumni leaders in C-suite talent recruiting, investment platform innovation, and novel gene therapy commercialization as the 2024 commencement speakers this spring. 

Monica Stevens, MBA 96, an executive search consultant in Spencer Stuart’s San Francisco office, will serve as commencement speaker for the graduating full-time and evening & weekend MBA classes. Jasvinder Khaira, BS 04, a senior managing director at Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset manager, will be the undergraduate commencement speaker. Richard Wilson, EMBA 15, senior vice president and primary focus lead of genetic regulation at global pharmaceutical company Astellas, will serve as the commencement speaker for the executive MBA class.

Commencement ceremonies will be held at the Greek Theatre for undergraduates on Wednesday, May 15, at 9 a.m., and the FTMBA and Evening & Weekend MBA combined classes on Friday, May 17, at 2 p.m.. The MBA for Executives Program graduates will celebrate a few weeks later on Saturday, June 1, at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall. 

Monica Stevens

portrait of a woman wearing a suit
Monica Stevens, MBA 96

As a member of Spencer Stuart’s Financial Services and Boards practices, Stevens focuses on executive search, leadership advisory, and succession planning work for C-suites and boards across corporate and commercial banking, payments, real estate, and risk. A seasoned banker and nonprofit board member with more than 25 years of experience in general management, customer relationship development, talent acquisition, and learning and professional development, Stevens is a champion of diversity and inclusion in business and in her community.

Before joining Spencer Stuart, Stevens spent more than two decades at Wells Fargo, where she held multiple sales, credit, and leadership roles in commercial real estate, capital markets, and global banking. Most recently, she was senior vice president and chief credit and risk officer in the company’s Merchant Services division.

At Wells Fargo, she co-founded the company’s first Black/African American employee resource group, and more recently, she served as co-chair of the Wells Fargo Merchant Services group’s Diversity Council. A champion of talent development, she ran, repositioned, and doubled the size of a program that recruited talent at various levels of the firm.

A veteran, Stevens is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She started her career as an officer in the U.S. Navy,  before eventually coming to Haas, where she received an MBA with a concentration in real estate finance. 

Stevens is a member of the Haas School Board, and she was awarded the school’s Raymond A. Miles Service Award in 2017 for her contributions in supporting and enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She was also previously a trustee for the Redwood Day School in Oakland, where she led the Diversity Committee.

Jasvinder Khaira

Jasvinder Khaira, BS 04

Khaira is a senior managing director and founding partner of the Tactical Opportunities Group, or Tac Opps, at Blackstone.  Tac Opps was founded in 2012 to invest across private investment opportunities outside of traditional private equity and private credit. Today, Tac Opps has $34 billion of assets under management.

Khaira was born in Singapore and raised in the Bay Area. He joined Blackstone in 2004 in the Private Equity Group after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley with degrees in Business Administration and History. In 2007, he joined a small team within Blackstone that eventually led the firm’s initial public offering. Before the IPO, he accompanied the firm’s founders on a roadshow that raised more than $7 billion.

Since helping found Tac Opps, Khaira has led more than 40 transactions for Blackstone totaling over $10 billion of equity invested. He was named the 2023 TMT Investment Leader of the Year and is a founding sponsor of the Berkeley Changemaker program, and a board member of the Berkeley M.E.T Program and the New York Philharmonic. Khaira is married and the father of three boys and lives in New York City.

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson, EMBA 15

As senior vice president and primary focus lead of genetic regulation at Astellas, Wilson is responsible for a portfolio of novel gene therapies designed to treat life-threatening genetic diseases.

Wilson has more than 30 years of experience in research, development, and commercialization of small molecules, biologics, and gene therapies. 

Prior to Astellas, he held leadership positions at a range of organizations, including BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Glaxo Wellcome (now GSK), BioChem Pharma, Theravance, and Innoviva. He has also delivered new medicines to market for diseases such as asthma, COPD, and PKU (a rare disorder that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in the body), in addition to leading R&D programs in anti-infective, cardiovascular, rheumatology, and urology disease areas. 

Wilson has served on a variety of advisory committees and boards, which include Berkeley Executive Education and the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, and currently teaches at San Francisco State University on lifecycle management in the pharmaceutical industry.

Wilson earned a BSc in chemistry from the University of Manchester before making his way to Haas, where he received his MBA in 2015. 

Berkeley Haas to host 2025 ClimateCAP Summit

two women with their arms folded. They're smiling
From L-R: Dean Ann Harrison and Executive Director of Sustainability Michele de Nevers.

Berkeley Haas has been chosen to host the prestigious 2025 Global MBA Summit on Climate, Capital and Business, or ClimateCAP, which prepares MBA students and business leaders to understand and respond to the business and investment impacts of climate change.

Haas was named host school during the 2024 ClimateCAP Summit held last month at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. At that event, the largest summit to date, Haas Dean Ann Harrison participated in a virtual Dean’s Roundtable on Climate and Business Education.

Asked by Professor Stuart Hart, a visiting lecturer at Michigan Ross, whether sustainability is “here to stay” or “something that you don’t want to bet the company on,” Harrison said:

“Business has to accelerate the transition to net zero. It has to reckon with the impact of climate change and shift away from fossil fuels. That is not a fad, it is not niche, and it is clearly, in my opinion, going to be a part of the business curriculum now and way into the future.”

“Business has to accelerate the transition to net zero. It has to reckon with the impact of climate change and shift away from fossil fuels. That is not a fad, it is not niche, and it is clearly, in my opinion, going to be a part of the business curriculum now and way into the future.” – Dean Ann Harrison

With more than 41 partner schools across the world, ClimateCAP hosts a summit every year at a different partner school. The event will bring up to 500 MBA students and business leaders from across the world to the campus for one weekend. 

woman standing at podium at conference with a large screen behind her
Haas was named the 2025 ClimateCAP host during the 2024 summit at Michigan Ross.

“We are so pleased that Berkeley Haas has been chosen to host ClimateCAP next spring,” said Michele de Nevers, executive director of the Office of Sustainability and Climate Change at Haas. “The conference will provide a terrific opportunity to bring hundreds of climate leaders to our campus to showcase Haas and California’s leadership on climate change.”

ClimateCAP aims to give students a deeper understanding of markets with the biggest financial and operational risks due to the climate crisis, and introduces them to promising innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities, de Nevers said.

The Office of Sustainability and Climate Change will organize the event alongside a planning committee consisting of faculty, staff, and students.

 

Classified: What Uber (and others) teach MBA students about smart online marketplace design

“Classified” is an occasional series spotlighting some of the more powerful lessons being taught in classrooms around Haas.

woman holding a microphone in front of classmates and team
Marissa Maliwanag, MBA 24, pitching Tables Together during the Online Marketplace and Platform Design course. Photo: Jim Block

 

It’s a recent Tuesday evening at Berkeley Haas, and Marissa Maliwanag, MBA 24, has just five minutes to pitch her team’s idea for Tables Together. It’s an online marketplace that big corporations like Google could use to donate surplus food from their employee kitchens to organizations that feed people in need.

“There are matches that need to be made and we want to create a marketplace and solve the problem,” Maliwanag said, ticking off the amount of food that goes to waste in the United States each year.

After a few quick questions for the team, the rapid-fire pitch slam—part of the MBA class called Online Marketplace and Platform Design—continues. Students pitch ideas, among them a private plane rental marketplace to a community for matching skiers and snowboarders with coaches to a marketplace for tailors of bespoke clothing for events like weddings.

four students standing in front of a classroom pitching an idea
MBA students have just five minutes to pitch JetJunction, a private plane rental marketplace, during the night’s pitch slam. Photo: Jim Block

All of the pitches serve as practice for the students who are working toward final projects, says Assistant Professor David Holtz, who teaches the class, an elective that enrolls 68 students. The group is a split of mostly full-time and evening & weekend MBA students, on a journey that covers all aspects of online platforms—from A/B testing, network effects, and platform monetization, to reputation systems and discrimination in online marketplaces.

The class aligns with Holtz’s career experience as a former Silicon Valley data scientist. Most recently, Holtz worked for Airbnb, where he first became intrigued by online marketplaces. “I was exposed to a lot of interesting problems including reputation-system design, algorithmic pricing, and experiment design,” Holtz, a member of the Management of Organizations (MORS) and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group at Haas, says. “To this day, these topics form the backbone of my research, because, in addition to being extremely interesting, they’re also extremely difficult to solve.”

Taking apart the case

During the first half of a recent class session, Holtz asked students to split into groups to discuss one of the week’s assignments: Pick a company on the a16z Marketplace 100 list—Andreessen Horowitz’s ranking of the largest and fastest-growing consumer-facing marketplace startups and private companies—and come up with a new market mechanism that the company might trial using A/B testing.  

One MBA student team wrote about the online specialty food marketplace Goldbelly, suggesting that the company might add a feature that prompts site visitors to indicate that they’re trying to buy a gift. Then, Goldbelly could customize searches and provide a more personal message option at checkout.

students sitting in classroom working on laptops
Students share their ideas for a new market mechanism that a company might trial using A/B testing. Photo: Jim Block

Holtz then runs students through a business case called “Innovation at Uber: The Launch of Express POOL, a case directly related to some of his marketplace research that examines experiment design in two-sided markets. Set in March 2018, the case follows Uber through the launch of a new product called Express POOL, which offers carpooling riders a cheaper ride if they agree to walk a short distance to and from pick-up and drop-off points and wait a few minutes before being matched to a driver. 

In this case, Uber had to decide whether to keep rider wait times at two minutes or change the Express POOL wait time to five minutes mid-experiment. The big dilemma? Uber benefited from a cost-per-ride reduction with a five-minute wait time but didn’t want to make a change that could hurt the user experience. “Even if the company did decide that a longer wait time was preferable, what did that mean for the ongoing experiment the company was running?” Holtz says. “Should they change the product mid-experiment or let the experiment continue running as originally intended?”

In this case, Uber had to decide whether to keep rider wait times at two minutes or change the Express POOL wait time to five minutes mid-experiment.

Holtz then shifts to a whiteboard, where he outlines different types of experiments (also called A/B tests) that marketplace companies like Uber use to test new features. 

First is the “bread and butter” user-level test, which Uber could have used to compare the behavior of riders with access to Express POOL to the behavior of those who did not have access to Express POOL. The second kind of test, a switchback experiment, would give all riders and drivers in a given market access to Express POOL for randomly selected 160-minute-long chunks. Over two weeks, Uber would switch Express POOL availability back and forth to compare behaviors.

The third type of experiment Holtz describes, which Uber did use with Express POOL, is a synthetic control experiment. It is the most accurate form of testing, Holtz says, but also the most complicated to run and the “noisiest.” Using the synthetic control experiment, Uber identified two sets of markets that, in aggregate, were as similar to each other as possible. The company then launched Express POOL in one set of cities, but not in the other. By comparing behavior in the two sets of cities, Uber could estimate the impact of both.

man in classroom teaching
The class aligns with Holtz’s career experience as a former Silicon Valley data scientist. Most recently, he worked for Airbnb, where he first became intrigued by online marketplaces. Photo: Jim Block

Holtz’s knowledge of how to apply A/B tests comes from deep research. He has conducted multiple large-scale experiments analyzing the effects of marketplace design choices on Airbnb. One study examined whether coupons would lead more Airbnb bookers to write more reviews—with the eventual aim of facilitating better matches on the platform and increasing revenue. Comparing behaviors of buyers who received coupons to those who didn’t, he found that the coupons led to additional reviews that were more negative, on average, and that the reviews didn’t affect the number of nights sold on the site or total revenue.  

In a separate, widely cited study, he and his co-authors examined the effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers at Microsoft. They scoured anonymized, aggregated data describing emails, calendars, instant messages, video/audio calls, and workweek hours of more than 60,000 U.S.-based Microsoft employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to estimate the causal effects of firm-wide remote work on collaboration and communication. Results showed that under firm-wide remote work, collaboration patterns become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts of an organization. 

Impressive guest speakers

For Lena Corredor, MBA 25, knowledge gained in Holtz’s class is providing an opportunity to explore the challenges of building a successful entrepreneurship marketplace, which is her startup idea.

“This class is really eye-opening for me because it’s not as straightforward as it seems,” she says. “When you think about the different sides of a marketplace, one would think if you build it, they will come, but it’s not the case. The design elements he talks about are very important to business success.”

During most classes, Holtz opens with a guest speaker, and his roster includes an impressive industry bench of leaders including Sudeep Das, head of Machine Learning/AI at DoorDash; Martin Manley, co-founder of Alibris and former U.S. assistant secretary of labor; Ania Smith, CEO of Taskrabbit; and Briana Vecchione, a technical researcher at Data & Society’s Algorithmic Impacts Methods Lab (AIMLab); among others.

man sitting in classroom gesturing as he speaks
Roberto Pérez, MBA/MEng 24, said they were drawn to the class in part because of the impressive guest speaker roster. Photo: Jim Block

Roberto Pérez, MBA/MEng 24, an entrepreneur in Mexico before coming to Haas, said they were drawn to the class for two reasons.  “First, I knew that the professor had a great background and first-hand experience on this topic,” they say. “Second, I knew that the class would have a lot of guest speakers and that was interesting to me as this level of exposure is very valuable.”        

Looking toward the future of online marketplaces, Holtz said he’s excited to see where entrepreneurs will take new technologies, such as generative AI, AR/VR, and blockchain-based tech. To that end, he said he expects the students will hear more from a group of investors and VCs who are guest judges at the last class—Raphael Lee, Vickie Peng, and Lindsay Pettingill.

“They weigh business pitches all the time and will have a better sense than anyone of where we are headed,” he said.

28th annual Women in Leadership conference to celebrate resilience 

At a time when the world—and especially the job market—is full of uncertainties, it can often seem impossible to rise above the challenges many women face, from the workplace to their personal lives. 

The 28th annual Women in Leadership conference aims to shed light on these challenges—and more specifically, the resilience that women exhibit. This year’s theme, “Leading with Resilience,” features speakers who will discuss their experiences in maintaining strength and overcoming adversity as women, from the personal to the professional to the physical. The conference will be held Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Haas School of Business, with an additional optional event the preceding evening at Ivy Room in Albany. 

“Thinking about the theme for this year, we wanted to focus on what was happening in the broader world and physical environment,” said conference co-organizer Jillian Geary, MBA 24. “And this topic of resilience kept coming up for a lot of us in the room.” 

Organized by the Women in Leadership club, the conference is one of the longest-running and highly attended events at Haas. 

The conference will feature speakers such as Yasi Baiani, co-founder and chief product officer at Raya; Shripriya Mahesh, founding partner at Spero Ventures; and more.

closeup of a female student
Jillian Geary

Geary, who worked for a diagnostics startup amid the pandemic, discussed how her background in health care helped inspire the conference themes of leadership and resilience. She noted that, especially during such a time of uncertainty, she discovered the importance of collaboration.“I think of this conference in a similar manner—that we are smarter when we come together and create an atmosphere for people to share the challenges they’ve been through, rather than solely share their biggest successes.” 

Co-organizer Alyssa D’Cunha, MBA 24, likewise noted that she hopes that the conference will help normalize difficult conversations surrounding hardship through a mixture of keynotes, a fireside chat, and panels on topics ranging from navigating male-dominated fields to living a balanced life.

She added that their ultimate goal is for attendees to leave the conference with a toolkit, having discovered their own resilience. 

close up of female student wearing blue shirt
Alyssa D’Cunha

D’Cunha, who has a background in mechanical and materials engineering, highlighted the significance of addressing how women can navigate and succeed in male-dominated industries. Kellie McElhaney, Haas lecturer and founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership, will lead a conference workshop on the topic.

“I remember having a less than ideal conversation about having reached parity already, and how there is no longer this equality or equity problem that we need to address going forward,” she said. “We want to talk about how you navigate conversations like that with your superiors and what it means to be equity fluent.” 

On Friday, Feb. 23, there will be a pre-conference “Story Slam,” inspired by Haas tradition of Story Salon, where students share their lived experiences with storytelling.

Conference tickets are available now.

2023 FTMBA grads land record number of VC jobs

two guys standing in front of a sedan
Will McKelvey, MBA 23, (right) met with 43 founders in five days on a cross-country trip to Berkeley in 2021 with his college roommate. McKelvey was planning on pursuing venture capital at Haas. He now works at VC fund Lerer Hippeau.

Before Will McKelvey arrived to enroll in the full-time MBA program at Berkeley Haas in 2021, he and his college roommate drove cross-country to California. Along the way, McKelvey, who was planning a career in venture capital, met with as many startups as possible—a whopping 43 founders in five days. McKelvey, an Ohio native, even launched a blog sharing his impressions of venture opportunities from Dayton to Detroit to Chicago.

“You can’t dabble in VC,” McKelvey, MBA 23, who became interested in the economic power of startups while working for Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna for four years, said. “If you decide it’s your thing, go all in. It’s not a space for tourists.” 

At Haas, McKelvey didn’t let up, interning at multiple venture firms and serving as co-president of the Haas VC Club. Now an investor at early-stage VC fund Lerer Hippeau, McKelvey is among a record number of 2023 Berkeley Haas MBA graduates working in the field of venture capital.

Will McKelvey is now an investor at early-stage VC fund Lerer Hippeau.

“VC is the second-biggest sector for finance jobs among our MBAs,” said William Rindfuss, a member of the Haas Professional Faculty who leads strategic programs for the finance faculty group and manages financial services recruiting at Haas. “Only investment banking drew more recent grads.”

Fourteen of the 2023 FTMBA graduates accepted employment in venture capital, a record high. Of that group, half work for venture funds, and half have joined venture arms of tech, health care, and financial services companies, Rindfuss said. 

Rindfuss attributes the growth to the support of the Berkeley Haas alumni network, comprehensive courses in venture capital, including New Venture Finance, an increase in campus resources for VC, and the school’s Bay Area location. 

Proximity to venture firms gives students the ability to explore VC through both in-semester internships and summer internships over the course of the two-year MBA program. Such a portfolio of experiences can lead to full-time offers. But as Rindfuss notes, landing a job in venture capital differs widely from investment banking.

Proximity to venture firms gives students the ability to explore VC through both in-semester internships and summer internships over the course of the two-year MBA program.

That’s where the students’ hard work comes in with landing internships and jobs. While big banks recruit on campus through a structured process, VC firms expect students to get their attention and come to them, which might mean writing whitepapers on emerging subsectors or reaching out to firms with project ideas in order to build their networks.

Just as the Haas Finance Club has long been a major source of support for Haas students pursuing investment banking, the VC Club has grown into a similar resource, Rindfuss said. The club leads an annual VC Speaker Series course, drawing senior partners and associates from Bay Area VC funds, who offer both big picture and tactical advice.

A pivot from tech to VC

For Aparna Chaganty, MBA 23, breaking into venture capital meant landing an internship with Bessemer Venture Partners. An engineer from India with a master’s in information systems (MIS) degree from Carnegie Mellon, Chaganty was a data scientist and product manager at Salesforce when she started exploring a career pivot.

Aparna Chaganty, MBA 23, works for Bessemer Venture Partners in India.

“I really enjoyed building new technology, but I also wanted to know what other paths there were out there,” she said.

Venture capital piqued her interest as a perfect way to combine her tech background with entrepreneurship. “I have always found the growth story of startups extremely inspiring,” she said. “In VC, you can be really close to bringing about change and creating new value in the economy.”

Chaganty ended up accepting a full-time role as an investor at Bessemer Venture Partners in India, an opportunity to return to her home country. Though it hadn’t been her plan at the start, she said she was thrilled by the opportunity to join after Bessemer raised its first India fund. “There is so much entrepreneurship coming out of India,” she said. “Being part of that zero-to-one story is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and being a VC at Bessemer gives me a front-row seat to witness and contribute to that change.”

Crafting your own opportunities

Alex Rohrbach, MBA 23, came to Haas after several years working as a consultant at McKinsey and at an on-demand staffing startup. 

portrait of a man in a blue shirt
Alex Rohrbach, MBA 23, is at Thomvest Ventures.

He discovered that both experiences were applicable in VC. “Very quickly, I could add value to busy VCs who needed extra help,” he said. By doing projects with multiple VC firms during the school year in his free time, Rohrbach got exposure to various funds and VCs, helping him learn how they think and structure deals. 

“Many MBAs don’t realize that they have a lot of skills they can apply on day one with a VC firm,” Rohrbach said. “Aspiring VCs can develop a thesis about an industry, source companies on campus, and help organize events. If you figure out what you’re good at, you can craft your own opportunities.”

Rohrbach graduated with a job at Thomvest Ventures, a 25-year-old San Francisco fund. He spent his summer internship with Thomvest but says it was never a direct path to full-time employment. 

“Each fellowship and internship was a stepping stone, but I didn’t know exactly where I would end up,” he said. In his first year at Haas, he got a fellowship at Pear VC, an early-stage venture firm. He also received a Haas Entrepreneurial Finance Fellowship, providing a $5,000 cash award and mentorship with a Haas alum. “Even more valuable than the money was the access to a mentor – in my case, Andrew Krowne at Dolby Family Ventures,” Rohrbach said. 

Rohrbach also consulted during his first year with Union Labs, a VC firm that past Haasies worked for. 

“I started to build a portfolio of work so that by the time I was interviewing for summer internships, I had a lot I could talk about,” he said. 

Rindfuss and others at Haas hope the number of students pursuing venture capital will only continue to grow as Haasies find homes at more VC firms and bring their experience and advice to future students. 

“As more of our graduates succeed in venture capital, we are developing a stronger pool of alumni that will support our students,” Rindfuss said. “It’s an exciting time.”

Berkeley Haas to offer new master’s degree in business and climate solutions

many students sitting in a classroom wiht professor at the front of the room
Senior Lecturer Andrew Isaacs teaches the Climate Change and Business Strategy class at Haas, which just launched a concurrent MBA/Master in Climate Solutions degree. Photo: Jim Block

The Haas School of Business and the Rausser College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley have launched a concurrent MBA/Master of Climate Solutions (MCS) degree program to prepare the next generation of sustainability and climate leaders.

The new program, enrolling for fall 2024, will allow full-time MBA students to earn both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Climate Solutions degree in five semesters, or two-and-a-half years. The application deadlines for the first MBA/MCS cohorts are January 4, 2024, and March 28, 2024.

The MBA/MCS degree is designed for early-career professionals who plan to take their careers to a higher level of business leadership, grounded in understanding of sustainability and climate change challenges and opportunities. 

Berkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison said the new program will draw from the strength of both schools, allowing students to learn from some of the world’s top minds in climate change, sustainability, and business. 

“Future business leaders will require a depth of training in both business and climate change to work across disciplines and execute competitive strategies,” Harrison said. “This new program will provide a breadth of skill sets, equipping our grads to lead in building a sustainable, low-carbon future.” 

“Future business leaders will require a depth of training in both business and climate change to work across disciplines and execute competitive strategies.” — Haas Dean Ann Harrison.

The program aims to develop critical skills and knowledge in climate data science, carbon accounting, and lifecycle analysis, as well as technological and nature-based solutions.

Students in the MBA/MCS cohort will spend the first year completing MBA core coursework at Haas before moving to classes at Rausser.  The rigorous MBA curriculum includes courses in leadership, marketing, management, finance, data analysis, ethics, and macroeconomics, along with sustainability courses. 

Doubling down on sustainability

Under Harrison’s leadership, Haas has doubled down on sustainability through the creation of the Office of Sustainability and Climate Change and by revamping all of the MBA core courses to incorporate thinking about climate change and other sustainability challenges.

The new MBA/MCS degree program follows Rausser’s launch of its new Master of Climate Solutions degree. MCS courses will translate the fundamental science and groundbreaking discoveries of UC Berkeley experts, enabling professionals to learn how to evaluate technologies, develop just climate strategies, and remove barriers to implementing practical climate solutions. The MCS core curriculum includes teaching in the climate and environmental sciences, climate economics and policies, technological, business and nature-based solutions, training in analytical and quantitative skills, and applied exercises and engagements that emphasize adaptive thinking and problem-solving.

“The Master of Climate Solutions represents a critical step forward in expanding the interdisciplinary and highly interconnected community of practitioners needed to solve the climate crisis,” said David Ackerly, dean of UC Berkeley’s Rausser College of Natural Resources. “Students in the concurrent program will be able to leverage the critical climate knowledge and tools taught in the MCS, as well as the leadership and business skills that are core to Haas.”

“Haas and Rausser both have such impressive track records in climate research,”  added Michele de Nevers, managing director of the Office of Sustainability and Climate Change at Haas. “This program combines our offerings at the master’s level, with a keen focus on professional students, who are clearly positioned to make an immediate impact, and who serve a critical role as translators of academic insights and enacting these insights in the world.”

Addressing the Climate Challenge

All MBA/MCS students will participate in a semester-long capstone program that gives students the opportunity to partner with organizations operating across the business, government, and non-profit sectors. A unique leadership course on organizational, political, and societal change for climate solutions will prepare students to be change agents and leaders in businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. 

“New research on climate solutions is still critical, but we already know many of the things we need to do to address the climate challenge,” said James Sallee, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and faculty director of the MCS program. “What we really need are people spread throughout society and the economy who are in a position to take action on climate, and who are equipped with the tools to make the right choices. Educating those students is the vision of the MCS program.”

Summer internships are also crucial to the MBA/MCS program. Students will complete two summer internships, which will allow for deep immersion in different disciplines and more time to build relationships.

Haas now has four dual degree programs, including the MBA/MPH (public health), the MBA/MEng (engineering), and the MBA/JD (law).

A look back: Top Berkeley Haas moments of 2023

Gearing up to welcome a new year is the perfect opportunity to look back at highlights from 2023 at Berkeley Haas. A toast to 2023 wouldn’t be complete without marking the big celebrations, distinct milestones, grand achievements, and more than a few welcomes (alongside some farewells). In no particular order, here are our Top 10 picks for 2023.

    1. 125 years of reimagining business: We celebrated a BIG milestone with a big party on the 125th anniversary of the day that Cora Jane Flood announced the gift that launched the College of Commerce—now the Haas School of Business. Students, staff, alumni, campus and Haas senior leaders, and founding donor Flood’s family member gathered to honor the school’s trailblazers —and our ongoing impact on business and society
    2. Dean of the Year: Dean Ann Harrison was recognized by the business school publication Poets & Quants, which lauded Harrison for leading a major diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging effort; broadening the profile of the Haas faculty, school board, and student body; and helping fundraise a total of $227 million for the school, among other successes. She also made the cover of our fall issue of Berkeley Haas Magazine. Harrison returns from sabbatical in early January.
      Photo of Dean Ann Harrison on campus.
      Harrison gracing the pages of Berkeley Haas Magazine. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

       

       

    3. More major milestones: Berkeley Executive Education (BEE) celebrated its 15th anniversary and Cleantech to Market (C2M) turned 10. Exec Ed has provided top programs to thousands of individuals in leadership, entrepreneurship, and strategy and finance, as well as customized programs for companies, government, and university partners. Promising climate technologies that addressed everything from water desalination to Earth element extraction to lightening-fast battery charging took center stage at a bigger and better than ever December Cleantech to Market (C2M) Climate Tech Summit.

      large group of masters students on stage at Haas
      Students in the Cleantech to Market program at the 2023 C2M Summit.
    4. Our generous community: The Berkeley Haas Development and Alumni Relations team (DAR) team reported a record three-year period in the school’s fundraising history, raising more than $171 million from alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends. The funds raised this fiscal year—about $56 million—brought Haas to the finish line of its five-year campaign. 
    5. Student walking in front of Haas sign in front of campus
      Photo: Noah Berger

      5. Undergrad’s big shift: We began to bid farewell to our incredible two-year undergraduate program as the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program Office received its first round of applications from prospective first-year students for our inaugural Spieker class. The first class of four-year students will enter in the fall.

      Woman and man talking animatedly.
      Dean Ann Harrison with Ned Spieker, BS 66, who with his wife, Carol, funded the undergraduate program’s transformation.
    6. The rise of the Flex cohort: As part of the evening & weekend MBA program, students in the Flex cohort completed their first year of live remote courses, demonstrating an innovative educational model that will serve a greater range of students. Flex provides what many students say they need most: schedule flexibility in a top program. MBA student group gathered at Haas
    7. New brain power: Eight new ladder and 22 professional faculty members joined Haas in fall, bringing their intellect, passion, and unique perspectives to the school. With the new tenure-track arrivals, the ladder faculty—at 96 members—is now the largest it’s ever been and is closing in on Dean Harrison’s goal of 100. 
      A photo collage of all 8 new professors.
      From top row, left to right: New Berkeley Haas assistant professors Eben Lazarus, Cailin Slattery, Shawn Kim, Antoine Levy, Sam Kapon, Erica Bailey, returning professor Alexandre Mas, and new assistant professor Rachel Gershon.

    8. Making headlines: Our faculty were featured in national media outlets more than 500 times this year, bringing expertise to everything from the rising price of gas, to the Silicon Valley Bank fallout, to tech layoffs, to the future of AI.

      Image: AdobeStock

    9. Growth space: Construction continued on the new Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Hub, which will allow entrepreneurs at Haas—and across the university—to meet, brainstorm, and invent new startups. The Hub is expected to be completed in fall 2024.

      new entrepreneurship hub at Haas (rendition)
      A photo illustration of the home of the new hub, a Julia Morgan designed building under renovation. The building was constructed in 1908.
    10. Chart toppers: All of Haas’ degree programs once again performed well in key rankings. U.S. News & World Report ranked the EWMBA program #1 (again) and the undergraduate program #2; The Financial Times ranked the FTMBA program #7 globally and #4 in the U.S.; and the MFE program was ranked #4 by QuantNet.

Cutting-edge climate tech takes the stage at 2023 C2M Climate Tech Summit

The C2M summit, held at Spieker Forum in Chou Hall on Dec. 1, brought together eight UC Berkeley graduate student teams (including many Berkeley Haas MBA students). All photos: Jim Block

Promising climate technologies that address everything from water desalination to Earth element extraction to lightening-fast battery charging took center stage at the 2023 Cleantech to Market (C2M) Climate Tech Summit.

The summit, held at Spieker Forum in Chou Hall on Dec. 1, brought together eight UC Berkeley graduate student teams who presented their findings from a year’s work on entrepreneurial projects for C2M company founders. Each team spent nearly 1,000 hours working with founders, assessing new technologies, and investigating paths to commercialization. 

Brian Steel, co-director of the C2M program, which is part of the Energy Institute at Haas, called this year’s summit the most successful to date and reflected on C2M’s growth since its 2008 founding. 

“One of the things that’s so energizing for us as faculty is that the students come to us now with such wonderful depth and breadth of knowledge because cleantech has been around for so long. We feel so fortunate that the world has caught up with the sustainability work we have been doing for 15 years.”

One of the things that’s so energizing for us as faculty is that the students come to us now with such wonderful depth and breadth of knowledge because cleantech has been around for so long. — C2M co-director Brian Steel.

A total of $70,000 in MetLife Climate Solution Awards was awarded to three startups, who were supported by three C2M teams. The three teams honored during the summit were:

  • ChemFinity Technologies, which produces high-performing, highly modular porous polymer materials, won $40,000. The team included Chris Burke, MBA 24; Ethan Pezoulas, PhD 26 (chemistry); Kosuke “Taka” Takaishi, MBA 24; Matt Witkin, MBA 24; Mingxin Jia, PhD 24 (mechanical engineering); and Peter Pang, MBA 24. (The team also received the annual Hasler Cleantech to Market Award, given to the audience favorite.)

    Left to right: Kosuke “Taka” Takaishi, MBA 24, explains the catalytic converter recycling process alongside PhD student Ethan Pezoulas and Matt Witkin, MBA 24.


    The students worked with Brooklyn-based ChemFinity co-founders CEO Adam Uliana and CTO Ever Velasquez, both PhD 22 (chemical engineering). Uliana described the membrane filters the company built as “atomic catchers mitts that are designed to capture just one type of molecule and can be used to tackle water desalination or mineral recovery.”

    Witkin, who worked in economic consulting on decarbonization projects before coming to Haas, said that he mentioned Cleantech to Market in his application essay, as “the perfect course where I could help these innovative climate companies find and scale their impact.”

    “It was an honor working alongside Adam from ChemFinity and my C2M classmates as we considered how ChemFinity could apply and grow its impressive separation technology,” Witkin said.

    six haas students wearing suits in front of a large check
    The first-place ChemFinity team: (left to right) Chris Burke, MBA 24, Kosuke “Taka” Takaishi, MBA 24, Mingxin Jia, PhD 24 (mechanical engineering), Peter Pang, MBA 24, Matt Witkin, MBA 24, Ethan Pezoulas, PhD 26 (chemistry).
  • REEgen, which works to reduce the environmental impact of rare Earth element production, which won $20,000. The team included Carlos Vial, MBA 24; Francisco Aguilar Cisneros, MPP 24; Jeffrey Harris, MBA 24; Kelly McGonigle, MBA 24; Orion Cohen, PhD 24 (physical chemistry); and Sho Tatsuno, MBA 24 (MBA Exchange Program, Columbia Business School). The United States now imports more than 80% of its rare earth needs from China, said Alexa Schmitz, CEO of Ithaca, NY-based REEgen. REEgen is creating a new kind of rare Earth element production using bacteria to leach, recover, and purify rare Earth elements domestically.

    six students wearing business suits holding a large check
    Team REEgen: (left to right) Francisco Aguilar, MPP24, Sho Tatsuno, MBA 24, Orion Cohen,  PhD 24, Kelly McGonigle, MBA 24, Jeffrey Harris, MBA 24, and Carlos Vial, MBA 24.
  • Tyfast, a battery technology startup, which won $10,000. The team included Ankita Singh, EWMBA 24; Erik Better, MBA 24; Nicholas Landgraf, EWMBA 24; and Sterling Root, EWMBA 25. Tyfast builds high-performance lithium ion batteries “to make diesel engines obsolete in construction equipment,” said Tyfast CEO GJ la O’, BS 01, (materials science & engineering). San Mateo-based Tyfast uses a raw material that enables a new class of rechargeable battery, promising to deliver 10 times the power and cycle life with energy density exceeding commercial lithium iron phosphate (LFP) technology.
four students wearing business suits holding a large check
Team Tyfast: (left to right) Erik Better, MBA 24, Nick Landgraf, EWMBA 24, Ankita Singh, EWMBA 24, Sterling Root, EWMBA 25.

Steel said he’s grateful to all of those who support the program, in particular the C2M alumni who return to Haas to serve as coaches, mentors, judges, or speakers—or just to enjoy being a part of the audience.

This year’s event kicked off with speaker Ryan Hanley, C2M 10 and MBA 11, the founder and CEO of Equilibrium Energy, a 100-employee climate technology startup. Barbara Burger, MBA 94, energy director, advisor, and innovator, and former president of Chevron Technology Ventures, also joined a fireside chat with Harshita Mira Venkatesh, MBA 11, who participated in C2M in 2020 and is one of the first business fellows at Breakthrough Energy, founded by Bill Gates in 2015.

“It’s always gratifying to have alumni who were on stage last year come back to support this year’s teams,” Steel said. “People who have been coming to the summit for years appreciate that we keep raising the bar: that our students’ presentations keep getting better and better. It’s very rewarding to have that acknowledgement and appreciation.”

Ginny Whitelow, a director at MetLife, worked with the C2M program as a mentor. “These UC Berkeley students have been so amazing to partner with and have given me an added sense of purpose in my work at MetLife that goes beyond my day to day job,” she said. 

Salaries jump to record levels for 2023 FTMBA grads

Salaries for FTMBA grads continued to increase this year.

Setting a record, annual base salaries for the Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Class of 2023 increased to an average of $162,831. That’s about $10,000 more than last year, with nearly 70% of the class nabbing signing bonuses averaging $36,777 as well. Notably, 39% received stock options or grants, adding significantly to total compensation. 

“We’re thrilled that starting salaries and compensation packages have continued to grow, reinforcing the strong return on investment on a Berkeley Haas MBA,” said Abby Scott, assistant dean of MBA Career Management & Corporate Partnerships.  “These outcomes are a testament to the high caliber of our students. Our alumni and career management team also play an instrumental role in helping them navigate paths to reach their goals.”

View the 2023 employment report.

Of the total class of 294 graduates, roughly 90% received job offers within three months of graduation, and even more secured opportunities within six months of graduation. Similar to previous years, more than half of the students accepted roles in the technology industry and consulting. A few more highlights from the Career Management Group (CMG):

  • Technology remained the largest industry employer, with about 30% of the class taking positions in the sector. Amazon was the top tech employer.
  • Nearly 28% of the class accepted consulting jobs; the largest number of graduates went to McKinsey (26 hires), followed by Bain (14 hires), this year’s two top employers overall.
  • Financial services hiring increased from 13.7% to about 14.5% of graduates; health care and biotech jumped from 5.1% to 7.5%. Energy-industry roles among grads jumped to 6.6% of graduates from 2% last year, reflecting the increase in climate tech. 
  • About 22% of graduates embarked on “impact careers,” defined as jobs in sustainability, climate tech, healthcare, edtech, and some areas of finance and real estate.
  • A growing number of students (4.4% of the class) accepted positions in real estate, typically in development and investment roles.

McKinsey, Bain top employers

This year’s top employers for Haas—companies that hired three or more graduates—included Amazon, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company, Deloitte, Bain & Company, EY Parthenon, PayPal, Apple, Evercore, Microsoft, TikTok, and Tesla.

Matt Solowan, MBA 23, is now a consultant at Bain & Co., after interning there while at Haas, finding the people at Bain similar to the people at Haas: “very down to earth, very kind, very warm, very supportive.”

Portrait of MBA grad Matt Solowan
Matt Solowan, MBA 23,  is a consultant at Bain.

While at Haas, Solowan said they worked closely with Julia Rosof, a career coach in the Career Management Group, to prepare for early recruiting opportunities scheduled during ROMBA, the annual LGBTQ+ MBA conference. “After that, I really leaned on the second-year peer advisors who provided me with on-the-job insights and helped to improve my casing and behavioral interview skill,” Solowan said.

In addition to consulting, the tech sector remained a top area of interest for FTMBA graduates, “so we were particularly pleased to see so many land roles this year, given all the churn in the field,” Scott said. 

Highlighting the power of the alumni network, Henry Gordon, MBA 23, landed a position as strategy and planning manager at drone startup Skydio, after chatting with classmate Harrison Zhu, MBA 23. Zhu, a product manager at Skydio, had interned there while at Haas. “I knew he really liked the company and when I was looking for roles this one popped up in my LinkedIn,” Gordon said. “I texted Harrison to ask about it, and three weeks later, I had a job.” 

man wearing a collared shirt in front of a tree
Henry Gordon, MBA 23, is a strategy and planning manager at Skydio.

Since joining Skydio, Gordon said he’s helped guide the company’s strategy as it pivoted from its consumer drone business to the enterprise market. “I was attracted to Skydio because of the enormity of the problems that they are trying to solve”—by providing drones to utilities, fire departments, and other industry customers. “About 30% of my job now is familiar, and the other 70% is totally new.”

Grads land in multiple regions

Lecturer Abigail Franklin, managing director of a program for careers in real estate who works with the Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics, said alumni working in real estate are particularly critical to her students’ success in finding roles. “Our 2023 graduates did so well in many geographic locations with the best compensation that I’ve seen in my 12 years here,” Franklin said. “It’s really a testament to the real estate alumni we have.”

One example, she noted, are the Haas alumni at privately owned real estate firm Hines, which hired two 2023 Haas MBA graduates this year—one in Chicago and another in Seattle, she said.

A number of 2023 graduates held out until the fall for the right opportunity, based on their specific career criteria—and the Career Management Group continues to support graduates until they find the right role, often reconnecting during future job transitions.

Before coming to Haas, Megan Nelson, MBA 23, worked for Uber in Australia. When she started in 2015, she was one of 20 employees in Sydney, a number that swelled to 400 people by the time she left as senior regional operations manager in 2021.

photo of a woman with long blonde hair
Megan Nelson, MBA 23, is chief of staff at JOLT.

Nelson decided to take a few months off after graduating from Haas before beginning her search for strategy and operations roles last August. With a goal to move back to Australia and work at a startup or scale-up, she jumped to apply for a position as chief of staff at Sydney-based startup JOLT, a company working to support the transition to electric by providing free, fast, and clean EV charging. 

Her new role at JOLT aligns with her love for working for a company at an early stage. “I am focused on a bit of everything, including expanding our CEO’s capacity so he can steer the ship. I’m supporting both Australia and our international markets, and helping build the internal operating structures to enable our teams to sprint.”

Classes at Haas provided a professional lens that Nelson said she applies in the workplace. 

“Haas built my confidence,” she said. “I realized that my background was really valuable. Hearing the perspectives of my peers in the classroom, the courtyard, and over drinks—the people were the best part of Haas. It’s having those rich experiences and interactions, and being able to share my own…it’s these types of learnings that have helped me the most.”

Berkeley Haas ranks #7 on LinkedIn’s inaugural “Best Business Schools” list

Photos Copyright Noah Berger / 2019

The Berkeley Haas full-time MBA program ranked No. 7 on LinkedIn’s inaugural list of the 50 best business schools in the country.

The list is built on exclusive LinkedIn data that examines career outcomes of MBA alumni, including job placement rates, advancement to senior-level positions, and network strength.

“As LinkedIn notes, MBA graduates benefit from the “career-boosting power of the MBA,” said Abby Scott, assistant dean of the Haas Career Management Group. “This ranking captures the depth of our network, recruiter interest, and notably both the C-suite track and entrepreneurial experience.”  

“Going to the Haas School of Business was a transformative experience for me,” Daniel Feldman, MBA 10, said in the LinkedIn article. “Yes, it is possible to acquire the knowledge in other ways. What cannot be replaced is the collaboration experience with some very smart people.”

The ranking is based on the following five pillars, including: 

  • Hiring and demand, which tracks job placement rates and labor market demand, focusing on recent graduate cohorts from 2018 to 2022. This assessment is based on LinkedIn hiring data and recruiter InMail outreach data.
  • Ability to advance, which tracks promotions among recent cohorts. It also traces how quickly all past alumni have reached director or vp-level leadership roles. This assessment is based on standardized job titles.
  • Network strength, which tracks network depth, or how connected alumni of the same program are to each other; network quality of the recent cohorts (2018-2022), measured by average connections alumni have with individuals in director-level positions or above; and the network growth rate of the recent cohort—before and after graduation. This assessment is based on member connection data.
  • Leadership potential, which tracks the percentage of alumni with post-MBA entrepreneurship or C-suite experience.
  • Gender diversity, which measures gender parity within recent graduate cohorts.

 

Berkeley Haas veterans reflect on service and journey that led to Haas

This Veterans Day, we asked some of the many veterans in our community to share their stories. 

Phil Ickes didn’t come from a military family. But a desire to explore the world—and make it a safer place–drew him to join the U.S. Army.

man with white shirt wearing a blazer and tie
Phil Ickes, MBA 24

Ickes, MBA 24, began his military career as an undergraduate in the ROTC program at the University of Pittsburgh. Between his junior and senior years, he studied Arabic in Jordan and volunteered at Syrian refugee camps, which he describes as a turning point.

“One weekend, I met a family that had been severely wounded by a car bomb while they were still living in Syria,” said Ickes, who grew up outside Pittsburgh. “Meeting that family made me feel compelled to do something about it.”

After graduating, Ickes joined the U.S Army, training in the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), a school jointly run by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Working as s a platoon leader, his team supported the U.S. Secret Service, protecting several presidents, vice presidents, and foreign dignitaries. 

As an EOD operations manager, he later directed an operations cell that supported more than 600 soldiers in full-spectrum bomb disposal.

In 2021, Ickes traveled to Syria and Iraq as an EOD company commander. “That experience definitely left me feeling like I left the world better than I found it,” Ickes says. “The act of disarming bombs and rendering explosive devices safe and leaving communities overseas safer than I found them was definitely very rewarding.”

Man in sunglasses wearing camouflage jacket and pants and green helmet
Phil Ickes helped to detonate bombs around the world while serving in the U.S. Army.

Working with robotics and machine learning in the military piqued his interest in tech, and drew him to apply to Haas, where he’s working toward a career in technical product management. 

Last summer, he interned at San Mateo-based drone startup Skydio. He said he believes drones have the potential to benefit fields including law enforcement, infrastructure inspections, mapping, and commercial delivery.

“I like products that make people or businesses’ lives easier or more efficient,” he said. “Usually these products are at the intersection of software and hardware.”

On making the transition from military life to an MBA program, Ickes said he immediately found a collaborative spirit and welcoming environment at Haas. 

“Everyone is ambitious yet laid back,” he says. “Nobody takes themselves too seriously.”  

“Join the Navy, see the world”

Just after turning 30, while working as an accountant in Santa Barbara, Emily Hawkins decided she wanted something more in life. 

“It was a great job, but it kind of felt like I was lacking purpose, and it was at that time in your life where your friends are settling down and having families,” said Hawkins, MBA 24. 

Emily Hawkins went from boot camp to an aircraft carrier and a seven-month deployment off the coast of Japan in 2010 and 2011.

She’d always been interested in the military and, after some research and inspired by the slogan “join the Navy, see the world,” she decided to enlist. 

“My plan was to enlist for one term, which is four years, learn some new skills, have an adventure, be part of something bigger than what I had been doing, and then return to what I thought of as my normal life,” Hawkins said.

Adventure is what she got. Hawkins went straight from boot camp to an aircraft carrier and a seven-month deployment off the coast of Japan in 2010 and 2011.

Hawkins and her team were called in to help with the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. “I had a chance to participate in the humanitarian operation, and it was amazing, and it kind of broadened my perspective of what a career in the military could be, and I was hooked,” Hawkins says. “And that was about 14 years ago.”

Hawkins is still serving in the Navy while earning her MBA, but her role has shifted from working on an aircraft carrier to serving as an officer in supply, logistics, and financial management. 

While she was accepted to three MBA programs, she chose Haas due to the support of the school’s Veterans Club. “They were by far the most engaged in terms of helping you with your resume, reviewing your essays, talking to you pre- and post-interview,” Hawkins says. “They were so engaged and so supportive that I knew there would be a good community for me.”

Veterans Day, for Hawkins, is a time to reflect. “It’s a time to think about how we as a society view military veterans and the programs we provide for them in terms of education, transition programs, and medical care.”

Berkeley Haas names 2023 Finance Fellows

The 2023 Finance Fellows: Back row (left to right): Erik Swisher, Renzo Viale Paiva, Gauri Deshpande , Marya Unwala, Martin Lima;  front row (left to right) Rogerio Rios, Venky Vuppalapati, Yvonne Mondragón, Isabella Fantini, Hector Alamillo, Daniel Espinoza Birman. Photo: Jim Block

When Yvonne Mondragón finished the Berkeley Haas undergraduate program in 2016, she worked for seven years in finance, planning a long-term career in investment banking.

“I knew I wanted to come back to school in order to pivot into investment banking and work in banking at the highest level,” she said.

Mondragón, MBA 25, is now well on her way, as one of 11 first-year full-time Haas MBA students named among Haas’ 2023 Finance Fellows.

As fellows, the students receive a scholarship award and are assigned mentors—Haas alumni working in finance, including recent graduates and senior executives.

The 2023 fellows include:  

  • Mondragón, for the C&J White Fellowship in Finance.
  • Isabella Fantini, Renzo Viale Paiva, Marya Unwala, and Martin Lima for entrepreneurial finance.  
  • Venky Vuppalapati, Gauri Deshpande, Hector Alamillo, and Erik Swisher for investment banking. 
  • Daniel Espinoza Birman and Rogério Rios for private equity and investment management.

About 45% of these new fellows are international, reflecting the percentage of the overall MBA class, said William Rindfuss, managing director for Strategic Programs with the Haas Finance Group. Several of the students bring work experience in different finance sectors from their home countries, and are looking to pivot to larger sectors in the U.S. 

Vuppalapati, who is from India, said he’s drawn to the excitement of technology investment banking, and closely tracks how world events, the day’s news, and government policy impact financial markets.

“When I think of investment banking, I also think about how much any one deal can impact different people and different industries,” he said. “Tech has the largest impact, so it feels like a great fit.”

Rios, originally from Brazil, said he’s fascinated by innovation in health care, which led him to pursue a MBA/MPH degree.

“Innovation and technology are going to shape the future, and I want to be in a place that would not only give me an opportunity to be close to financial markets but also provide a solid understanding of how business and tech intersect with health care.”

Inspired by the four Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles—Question the Status Quo; Confidence Without Attitude; Students Always; and Beyond Yourself—Rios added that he is seeking to make an impact on the world and give back to his family.

“I’m a first-generation student, so a lot of my efforts are in the spirit of giving back to them and to my community,” he said.

Mondragón, who is also a first-generation college student, said she hopes to serve as a role model.

“Having someone who looks like me in the finance space is so important,” she said.  “I have the lived experience of someone who did not benefit from this space. I grew up not having much access to any of the knowledge that I have now.”

Fantini said she is coupling passions for both technology and venture capital at Haas—and adding a lifelong interest in the food supply chain.

 “Haas has such an amazing focus on sustainability and food,” Fantini said. “I knew I could stay connected to Silicon Valley, stay connected to venture, and get even more connected to food resources by coming here for an MBA.”

Startup Spotlight: Hate nagging your team? Try installing Chaser

man wearing white t-shirt and dark jacket
Josh Martow, founder of Chaser

As the director of product in his last role, Josh Martow, MBA 23, dreaded nagging his team members to make sure work got done. When he arrived at Berkeley Haas, he started mapping out an idea to solve his own problem, which led to the launch of startup Chaser.

In this interview, Martow explains how Chaser makes people more productive.

Could you give us a quick synopsis of what Chaser does?

Chaser follows up with your co-workers on the things they need to do. There are other project management tools out there that are supposed to solve this problem, but they break down because most teams struggle to constantly keep them up to date; no one wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I’m going to check Trello.”

With Chaser, you can delegate a task to anybody from within Slack. Chaser sends them the task, collects progress updates, and follows up until it’s complete. It works like magic because your co-workers never have to open Chaser. They don’t have to sign up for it or even know what it is! Their tasks just arrive in their inbox, and they can click “complete” right there.

How did you come up with the idea?

At my last job, so much of my work as a manager required making sure work was being taken across the finish line, which meant following up with people a lot. It’s not fun to be a nag and feel like you’re a babysitter to your team. It’s also not productive. And on the other end, no one likes to constantly receive these types of messages. 

We’re doing with Chaser what Google did for calendars.

We’re doing with Chaser what Google did for calendars. It’s amazing that my friends and co-workers can put events right on my calendar for me and all of the sudden our calendars are synced up. Why doesn’t this exist for to-do lists? Imagine if your co-workers helped populate your to-do list for you and all you had to do was hit “complete” or “change date” and it would reflect on their end too, just like when you RSVP on Google Calendar, or move an event around.

How does a manager use Chaser?

So anyone can add Chaser to a Slack workspace. Once it’s added, just type “/todo,” tag the assignee, write the task, and include a due date, if there is one. The task will appear in your direct messages and Chaser will take it from there! You can follow along in your dashboard, which also lives inside Slack, while Chaser goes out and makes sure it gets done.

For now we’re actually offering Chaser for free, so everyone can give it a try here.

What was your background before coming to Haas? 

Before Haas, I was the first employee at a startup Thriver Technologies. I got to wear every hat there. Throughout my time there I led sales, product, growth, and business intelligence. I was just running around doing whatever I could to help set up everything the company needed. We grew it to 150 people and raised a Series B, and after five years, I really got bit by that entrepreneurship bug and decided I wanted to do this myself. I ended up teaming up with the director of engineering and we set off to start our own thing.

man speaking holding a microphone
Josh Martow presenting at the recent entrepreneurial network event, B-school Disrupt.

How has Haas helped you as an entrepreneur?

The two biggest things for me have been extracurriculars and classmates. For extracurriculars, some free accelerators connect you with mentors, help you hone your pitch, and help you figure out your business. After competing in one of the Demo Days, one of the judges, who was also a VC, ended up putting in $100,000 after hearing the pitch. 

But my favorite thing about Haas is the Haasies. There are just a ton of great people who are interested in and want to talk about startups, and everyone comes from such diverse professional backgrounds. Just having people to bounce ideas around with is just so valuable.

What made you want to get an MBA to launch a company rather than launch without going to business school?

I didn’t study business as an undergrad and I wanted formal business training. I also needed time to develop more clarity and conviction around what we wanted to build. 

But also, you hear that business school is a great place to start a company. And it’s 100% true. 

Not having a full-time job gives you the freedom to explore, and being around Haasies realy helps you with that exploration. Not to mention access to the resources available, the accelerators, and being in the Bay Area. All of these things kind of just make it the perfect place to start a company.

What advice do you have for people considering launching a business while earning an MBA?

The No. 1 piece of advice is to cut out the things that are not 100% critical, and don’t succumb to FOMO when you see classmates doing things you just frankly won’t have time for. I definitely did not appreciate this enough at the start and was signing up for more than I could handle and would often be disappointed when I needed to miss out on things. It would have been a lot easier if I came into it understanding that you can’t do it all while you’re trying to get a startup off the ground.

That said, it’s a great experience, and it’s immensely valuable to be in school learning while thinking about your business and applying the things in class to your business every day. 

Startup Spotlight: Xepelin’s rise in fintech services

Xepelin, co-founded by Sebastian Kreis, MBA 18, rocketed to No. 3 on Poets & Quants’ 2023 Top 100 MBA startups list this year. The company, based in Mexico City, has raised $567 million so far and will use the funds to invest in new markets in Latin America.

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Haas News asked Kreis a few questions about his startup’s success.

Tell us about Xepelin. Xepelin was founded in 2019, the year after I graduated from Haas. Our aim is to be the “digital CFO” for small- to mid-size companies, offering an online platform that helps businesses organize their accounts and automate payments to suppliers and payment advances from customers.  

You’ve had quite a lot of success getting the company funded over the past year. Tell me a little about that.

Last year, the company secured $150 million in equity and a $140 million credit line from Goldman Sachs that we are using to expand software, payment, and working capital services in Mexico. We are headquartered in Mexico City and now have 400 employees. 

How big is the market for your services and what’s your expansion plan?

The companies we are targeting account for over 60% of Latin America’s GDP. These companies present an enormous opportunity for us, with more than $10 trillion in unmet needs. High acquisition and servicing costs have kept them underserved. Xepelin is committed to equipping these companies with efficient access to software tools, payments, and working capital.

The companies we are targeting account for over 60% of Latin America’s GDP.

What resources at Haas helped you become an entrepreneur?

There were two resources I tapped at Haas: learning from entrepreneurs and investors in the Bay Area who had already built successful startups, and working on fintech projects with Lecturer Greg La Blanc. I traveled to Mexico several times while I was at Berkeley because of the size of the market. I studied the metrics, such as credit and software market penetration, before committing to building a regional company, starting in Mexico and Chile. 

Putting her story in the Haas story: 125th anniversary celebration honors founding donor Cora J. Flood

Exactly 125 years after Cora Jane Flood announced the gift that launched UC Berkeley’s College of Commerce, Haas students and staff packed the school’s sunny courtyard to celebrate this milestone.

Haas is not only the second-oldest business school in the country and the first at a public university. “Haas is the only leading business school to be founded by a woman, Cora Jane Flood, who was known as Jennie,” said Professor and Acting Dean Don Moore. “Haas is also the first top business school to be led by two women deans—Laura Tyson and Ann Harrison.”

Dean Ann Harrison unveiled a new plaque honoring Flood. “Now, students, staff, faculty, alumni, and visitors can learn her name and be inspired by her far-sighted philanthropy,” said Harrison, who is on sabbatical this fall but returned for the event.

Flood, the daughter of silver baron James Clair Flood, gave a gift of securities and real estate with an estimated value of $463,133.39, constituting the largest private gift received by the then-30-year-old university. According to the book “Business at Berkeley: The History of the Haas School of Business” by Sandra Epstein, “By 2013, the gift’s value had grown to over $25 million, comprising one of the largest endowments on the Berkeley campus.”

The courtyard event was part of an ongoing celebration this fall of Haas’s 125th anniversary. See photo highlights and check out the video and transcript below, and read more about how Haas has been reimagining business for more than a century in a special issue of Berkeley Haas magazine.

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Full event event video:

Transcript

Erika Walker, Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction

Good afternoon. I am Erika Walker, Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction at Berkeley Haas.

As we gather for today’s ceremony, we want to acknowledge that UC Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun, the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo speaking Ohlone people, the successors of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and other familial descendants of the Verona Band.

We recognize that every member of the Berkeley community has benefitted, and continues to benefit, from the use and occupation of this land since the institution’s founding in 1868. Consistent with our values of community, inclusion and diversity, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and make visible the university’s relationship to Native peoples. As members of the Berkeley community, it is vitally important that we not only recognize the history of the land on which we stand, but also, we recognize that the Muwekma Ohlone people are alive and flourishing members of the Berkeley and broader Bay Area communities today.

I would now like to welcome Professor and Acting Dean Don Moore to the podium.

Professor Don Moore, Acting Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs 

Thank you, Erika. And welcome, everyone! Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. What an honor it is to serve as the acting dean of this exceptional business school while Dean Harrison is on sabbatical. I hope you are all having a great start to the semester so far.

This year, we look back on 125 years of reimagining business at Haas, all the way to 1898, the year of our founding as the second-oldest business school in the United States.

In 1898, we might have been listening to “The Entertainer” on our gramophones, watching the short film The Astronomer’s Dream on the kinetoscope, or trying on a new bowler hat. California had recently transitioned from Mexico to the United States. Berkeley had a population of 5,000. The bicycling craze was giving women a new avenue of independence. That year, the Golden Bears beat Stanford at the Big Game, 22-0!!

This was also a pivotal time for business, which was coming into its own as a profession on par with law and medicine. Smart management was sorely needed in an era of wild economic growth, robber barons and corruption, fortunes made and lost in immense new enterprises. These new businesses needed to make sense of thousands of employees, strategic mergers, and ballooning divisions.

This was also a pivotal time for business, which was coming into its own as a profession on par with law and medicine. Smart management was sorely needed in an era of wild economic growth, robber barons and corruption, fortunes made and lost in immense new enterprises. These new businesses needed to make sense of thousands of employees, strategic mergers, and ballooning divisions. —Don Moore

Where better than a great university in the pioneering West to order and transform the way we worked? Good sense was not enough; mass scale was a necessity; and only the skilled and sophisticated would thrive. Learning the systems and theories of professional management was a logical—and necessary—next step. A new institution would need to draw scholars from the rest of the world to Berkeley, and produce brilliant minds of its own.

And so it did. The College of Commerce, which we now know as Haas, was founded with just three students. Now we have over 2,500 students in six programs, more than 300 ladder and professional faculty members, and more than 43,000 alumni in 81 countries around the world.

We are also the first business school founded at a public university. Haas is the only leading business school to be founded by a woman, Cora Jane Flood, who was known as Jennie. Haas is the first top business school to be led by two women deans—Laura Tyson and Ann Harrison, respectively.

And we are the first school built entirely with private donations on the UC Berkeley campus. We are incredibly grateful to all of the donors who have supported our school.

Of course, the Berkeley Haas legacy includes more than a century of stellar researchers and teachers, including two Nobel laureates. We are fortunate to be able to attract exceptional staff. And we are more than the sum of our parts. My colleague and fellow acting dean Jenny Chatman will say more about what really makes us exceptional. 

Professor Jennifer Chatman, Acting Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs  

Thank you so much, Don. I am honored to be serving the school with you this fall.

As a scholar of culture, I want to note that Berkeley Haas stands out in yet another way: in being the preeminent mission-driven business school, as Poets & Quants has described us.

The Haas School’s values stretch back a long way. The man for whom our school is named, Walter A. Haas, Sr., graduated from the College of Commerce in 1910. He held forward-looking views on social welfare and public affairs that were influenced by the school’s first woman instructor, Jessica Peixotto. That influence led him to grow Levi Strauss & Co. into one of the country’s largest socially responsible businesses.

All of these priorities grew into our four Defining Leadership Principles, which I know you know well: Question the Status Quo; Confidence Without Attitude; Students Always; and Beyond Yourself. To put these principles into action in our three core areas: innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainability, and inclusion.

Of course, they are all inextricably linked. Berkeley Haas boasts a world-class team for diversity, inclusion, justice, and belonging. The school has built and continues to build remarkable access, while simultaneously equipping all of us to be more inclusive leaders. Sustainability and entrepreneurship are always top of mind at Haas. And thanks to our location in Berkeley—the epicenter of innovation—we have been and continue to be the heart of what’s next.

Finally, I am so pleased that several members of the chancellor’s cabinet are joining us today. Berkeley Haas’ deep ties with Cal are precious, and we don’t take them for granted.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ben Hermalin has a special connection to Berkeley. He has held a significant number of roles at Haas: as professor, associate dean, interim dean, and winner of multiple teaching awards. Ben, thank you for being with us today.

Ben Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley:

Thank you, Jenny!

It is true that Berkeley Haas is dear to my heart. But it is also a treasured and essential star in the Cal constellation. This is a vibrant, visionary school that provides students, faculty, staff, and alumni much of the meaning that I believe gives us purpose as individuals and as institutions. One way the school does that is by attracting award-winning scholars, who illuminate their classrooms and advance the world’s knowledge. Berkeley Haas strives to teach and shape business in ways that are valuable to a broad spectrum of people, in profound and material ways. We try to go beyond in deed and not just in word. We always have a lot more work to do—to be as inclusive and just; bold and confident; smart and ethical as we can. That is the best way for us all to stay true to those who built this institution and to our counterparts in the future. Congratulations on this momentous anniversary!

Don Moore:

Thank you, Ben.

This occasion is so special to the Berkeley Haas community that Dean Ann Harrison has returned today (from her sabbatical this fall) to share it with us. Ann, please join me onstage.

Dean Ann Harrison:

Thank you so much, Don! What a beautiful day, as it so often is in Berkeley. I am thrilled to be here with you all. I do feel as though I am reaching across more than a century and saying thank you to Cora Jane “Jennie” Flood. I am grateful for her confidence, generosity, and foresight, and believe she would have found today to be a powerful testament to her intention. We are so fortunate that there are Flood family members here with us today celebrating this occasion.

In her declaration to the Regents of the University of California on September 13th, 1898, Jennie Flood wrote of her bestowal that it “shall be devoted to some branch of commercial education.” The bold idea to create a College of Commerce had been proposed by Berkeley graduate and entrepreneur Arthur Rodgers in 1883. Jennie Flood turned Rodgers’s vision into reality.

125 years of groundbreaking education is a remarkable achievement for any business school, especially given the immense changes the world has undergone. Having reimagined business, we are well positioned to lead in a world of change. We look back with pride, but we move forward to make an impact for future generations. Keeping our eye on innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainability, and inclusion is more important than ever.

It is high time that we make Jennie Flood a permanent part of our campus. I am honored to unveil this plaque, which commemorates our founder and allows us to put a name—and a face—to the origins of Berkeley Haas. Now, students, staff, faculty, alumni, and visitors can learn her name and be inspired by her far-sighted philanthropy. Her father, James Clair Flood, was the son of immigrants who took an eighth-grade education and an entrepreneurial spirit to become one of the “Silver Kings” of Gilded Age San Francisco and a UC Regent. Jennie often accompanied him to his business meetings, and I would go so far as to say she was an informal student of business herself!

And now, we’ll reveal our new plaque in her honor.

What a beautiful addition to our campus and to our continuing story. Berkeley Haas has staying power. We’re not going anywhere—we’re just getting better.

Please come over during the reception and check it out!

Don Moore:

Thank you so much, Ann. To tie together the whole web of Haas-tory from our esteemed founder to our current dean, I am happy to report that former dean Rich Lyons is here with us to celebrate. He is such an important part of our legacy, both philosophically and musically. To that end, he has brought his guitar to send us out snapping our fingers. Take it away, Rich!

Rich Lyons, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

(Lyons performs a special Haas-themed version of “The Bare Necessities,” singing and playing acoustic guitar.)

Don Moore:

A perfect note to end on. Thank you so much to everyone for joining us today. Please enjoy some refreshments and bask in this beautiful day and community. Here’s to the world-changing 125 years behind us, and to all the triumphs ahead.

Go Bears!

Berkeley named top university for number of venture-backed companies

PitchBook has ranked Berkeley #1 for its number of venture-backed companies founded by undergraduate alumni and #2 for its number of founders, according to the 2023 PitchBook University rankings.

The 2023 PitchBook rankings also named Berkeley the #1 public university for startup founders.

A total of 1,433 Berkeley undergrad alumni founded 1,305 venture-backed companies, a virtual tie with Stanford, whose 1,435 founders started a total of 1,297 companies, according to Pitchbook.

Taking into account all graduate alumni, Berkeley ranked #5 in startups and founders. Berkeley Haas MBA alumni ranked #9, with a total of 447 founders who started 413 venture-backed startups. (The ranking doesn’t include many more startups that have been founded without venture capital funding.)

The 2023 PitchBook University rankings are based on the total number of founders whose companies received a round of venture funding between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 1, 2023.

The analysis is based on PitchBook data for global VC investment, as well as the educational information of more than 150,000 founders. Since companies can have more than one founder, and founders may attend multiple schools, it is possible for the same company or founder to count toward multiple universities.

Read UC Berkeley’s article about this ranking.

Berkeley Haas is #10 in Bloomberg Businessweek ranking

Berkeley Haas rose to #10, tied with MIT Sloan, in the 2023 Bloomberg Businessweek ranking of full-time MBA programs. Haas rose four spots this year, up from #14 last year. 

Based on input from recent full-time MBA graduates, alumni, and employers, as well as school-provided data, Bloomberg rates MBA programs on what Businessweek considers to be the five fundamental elements of business school education: graduate compensation, learning, entrepreneurship, network, and diversity. Each area is weighted according to its importance among the alumni and employers who are surveyed for the ranking.

In these five areas, Haas ranked:

#6 in entrepreneurship

#6 in learning

#15 in compensation 

#15 in networking

#16 in diversity 

Among the top 25 schools in this ranking, only one school, Georgia Tech, beat Haas in the learning category. In diversity, Haas was rated third among the top 10 and fifth among the top 20 schools.

Bloomberg Businessweek is known as a volatile ranking — and this year was no different. Harvard Business School, Northwestern Kellogg, MIT Sloan, and Yale SOM dropped by multiple points, leaving room for other schools to rise into the top 10, including Virginia Darden and Michigan Ross, which moved up six spots. Stanford Graduate School of Business remained at #1.