Berkeley Haas receives STEM designation in all three MBA programs

Berkeley Haas is among the first business schools to receive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) designation in all three of its MBA programs. 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 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



Classified: Teaching students to think like entrepreneurs and investors

Justin Jeffers, an MBA student in the “Bay Area Innovation and Entrepreneurship” course
Justin Jeffers, EWMBA 21, pitched the class on a mobile robot that could assist in emergencies. Photo: Jim Block

“Classified” is a series spotlighting some of the more powerful lessons faculty are teaching in Haas classrooms.


Just seconds into his funding pitch for a mobile robot that could assist in emergencies, Justin Jeffers realized that his carefully timed audio of a detonation had failed. Jeffers quickly pivoted.

“Boom! Big explosion!” yelled Jeffers, EWMBA 21, as the students gathered in Chou Hall last month for the “Bay Area Innovation and Entrepreneurship” course erupted in laughter.

Jeffers, an entrepreneur who is contemplating a career in venture capital, went on to successfully deliver his final five-minute presentation, which was required to cap off the week-long immersive course.

Taught by a trio of Haas faculty members—David Charron, Sara Beckman, and Vivek Rao— the course aims to teach students how to think and act like both entrepreneurs and investors. A total of 50 students from 16 countries enrolled, a quarter of them Haas MBA students.

The course is one of many network weeks offered through The Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM), an international consortium of graduate business schools. The international makeup of the course is intentional; GNAM, formed by the Yale School of Management in 2012 with Haas as the only other U.S. member, has a mission to broaden MBA students’ exposure to ideas and each other. Through GNAM, a diverse range of courses are offered around the world, from “Economic Analysis of High Tech Industries,” taught at Yale SOM, to “Brand Cultures and Emerging City Markets,” held at EGADE Business School, Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico.

Working in teams, meeting with founders       

The curriculum for “Bay Area Innovation and Entrepreneurship” combines core concepts of entrepreneurship, investing, and innovation that are often taught separately in business school. “We wanted students to learn to see what entrepreneurs look like from the investor’s side and what investors look like from the entrepreneur’s side,” said Beckman, a veteran innovation and design expert and the Earl F. Cheit Faculty Fellow.

Beckman recruited 10 entrepreneurs, most of whom are Haas or UC Berkeley graduates running startups that are facing very different challenges. Students were assigned to one of the companies and, working in teams, spoke with the founders. On the second day, they headed to San Francisco to meet with leaders at four companies, including the corporate innovation arms of Salesforce and the French telecom giant Orange.

Sarah Beckman, David Charron and Vivek Rao.
(left to right) Sara Beckman, David Charron, and Vivek Rao teach Bay Area Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Photo: Jim Block

Their assignment for the week was to identify and make the case for a pivot in the direction of the business. Among other things, they learned from Beckman how to “diverge and converge” as they brainstormed ideas and about the power of compelling storytelling in attracting customers and investors. From Rao, they learned how to measure risk and about the need to “re-risk” throughout the capital raising process.

Throughout, the faculty kept returning to one critical question: does an innovation solve a real customer problem and, if so, is the problem big enough to build a business around?

On the investing side, Charron led students through the fundamentals of evaluating ideas and the people behind them. Three venture capitalists came to class to describe the divergent paths they each took into the profession.

Each team was also tasked with setting up a fictitious fund, ranging from angel to mega, with a partnership structure and dollar size that they determined. “One of the goals was to get them thinking about how this all works, including the decision-making process when you have partners who have put more money in than others,” said Charron, MBA 95, the former executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at Haas.

“Why does this matter to you?”

In the week’s closing exercise, “Designing Your Life,” students were asked to reflect openly on how their new perspectives on entrepreneurship and investing might apply to their own career aspirations.

MBA students huddle with Entrepreneurship Lecturer Dave Charron. Photo: Jim Block

Sean Li, EWMBA 20, who has launched a half dozen companies in the last 10 years, said the course got him thinking deeply about the core elements of entrepreneurial success.

“I was chatting with Dave (Charron) about an idea for the problem my team was trying to solve and he asked me, ‘Why do you care? Why does this matter to you?’” said Li. “He was telling me that if you don’t care deeply about a problem, then you’re not going to have the endurance or persistence to follow through when you hit a roadblock. The question has stuck with me.”

The role of passion has been on Siún Tobin’s mind, too. An MBA student at Ireland’s UCD Smurfit School of Business, Tobin left her career as a pharmacist out of frustration with the country’s antiquated healthcare system. “It felt like the only alternative was a drastic career change,” said Tobin.

Now, she’s thinking about starting her own digital health business and using the framework she learned in class to do it. “I realized that I needn’t walk away from health care,” said Tobin. “Now I feel like the sky’s the limit.”

Vrinda Gupta
Vrinda Gupta, MBA 20, was also inspired by the connections she made during the week. Photo: Jim Block

Vrinda Gupta, MBA 20, was also inspired by the connections she made and the encouragement she got as she prepared to launch her own women-focused credit card company, Sequin. A classmate who is studying in Spain got her thinking about potential new markets abroad.

“Feeling everyone’s excitement and hearing ideas from members of the MBA community from around the world was so energizing,” she said.


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:

Q&A: Andrew Hening, MBA 17, on solving chronic homelessness

Andrew Hening, MBA 17
Andrew Hening, MBA 17, San Rafael’s director of Homeless Planning & Outreach

As director of Homeless Planning & Outreach for the city of San Rafael, California, Andrew Hening used what he learned in his Evening & Weekend MBA classes to spearhead programs that helped lead to a 28% reduction in chronic homelessness in just two years in Marin County.

We talked to Hening, MBA 17, who grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and previously aspired to be a lawyer, about how he created new approaches to homelessness and why he believes that housing people isn’t as intractable a problem as many people believe.

When did you get interested in working on behalf of homeless people?

After college, I moved back to Richmond to work as a paralegal and study for the LSAT. To my surprise, I quickly realized the law wasn’t for me, and I started taking time off to volunteer in the community. I’d done a lot with youth and tutoring, but then I participated with a Project Homeless Connect event, which is essentially a resource fair for people living outside. It was my first exposure to homelessness, and it had a huge impact on me. Between that experience and my dad, a carpenter, losing his job during the recession, I decided that I had to do something to help economically marginalized people. With that goal in mind, I found AmeriCorps VISTA, which is the domestic version of the Peace Corps, and accepted a job as Santa Clara County Project Homeless Connect Coordinator in 2010.

You’ve been at your current job in San Rafael since 2016. What were some of the challenges you faced after you started?

My first City Council meeting was standing-room-only for a hearing about whether or not the city should revoke the use permit for a local nonprofit. There was this polarized community conversation around whether we needed to provide more services in the community or get rid of existing ones because they were enabling the problem. The truth was somewhere in between. We realized community frustration was really stemming from a small minority of the homeless community – the long-term, chronically homeless. While just 20% of the overall homeless community, these folks often exhibit untreated mental illness and generate other nuisances like public defecation. Importantly, these are also extremely vulnerable people – dying over 20 years earlier than their housed peers. We knew all of these people by name, but year after year they weren’t getting prioritized. In fact, four or five agencies might be serving the same person. There was no coordination, no strategy. So we said if we can figure out a system for them, we can start to fix this.

What happened after you started identifying the chronically homeless?

Our new process is shockingly simple. First and foremost, we finally prioritized chronic homelessness. We made vulnerability the top criteria for getting housing placements, which put the chronically homeless at the top of our housing list. Next, for people at the top of our list, we provided housing subsidies using Section 8 vouchers, a government program that requires people pay a third of their income on rent while the subsidy covers the rest. Additionally, the county hired dedicated landlord recruitment staff with property management experience, which was 200 percent more effective than relying on social workers to recruit landlords. We’ve now brought together county supervisors and city council members and created a public-private coalition with the Marin Community Foundation and the private sector to create even more housing. Finally, every person that gets a housing voucher also gets intensive wraparound services. We like to say that housing is essentially healthcare for these high-needs people.

What are some of the outcomes that you’ve tracked?

During our 18-month pilot that started in March of 2016, we housed 23 of the most visibly, chronically homeless people in the community. After validating this approach, we scaled it and over the last two years housed over 170 of the most vulnerable people in our community. Ninety-five percent of these people are still housed, and in San Rafael we’ve seen a 54% reduction in EMS transports and an 86% reduction in police department calls after people are housed. Amazingly, providing services and housing is roughly 50% cheaper than letting people languish on the streets.

How did your MBA courses help you when you were both designing the new program and educating the community about what you were doing?

Sara Beckman
Sara Beckman, who teaches design thinking at Haas

Being in the EWMBA program was amazing because I was constantly bringing fresh ideas back to the team — so many things that seemed tangential to homelessness but weren’t.  For example, from our operations class, I was seeing ways to apply supply chains and turnover to our housing placements and the speed at which people become and resolve their homelessness.

I also had an incredible mentor in Sara Beckman. After starting to learn design thinking during Applied Innovation, I did an independent study with Sara and also took her course on slums at the Jacobs Institute. Seeing the big picture and using data to analyze it — that really made a big difference. For months I had a floor-to-ceiling sticky note map on the wall in my office trying to map the flow of people through our homeless system of care. It helped make the case to policymakers that the system needed to change.

Do you think that the success you’ve had in Marin County could be replicated in larger cities like San Francisco or LA?

That’s my hope. It’s hard to believe, but in 2017, just as our new strategy was scaling up, Marin County had the 7th highest per capita rate of homelessness in the entire country. We had success here because we got all of the partners in the same room. We identified the people we needed to house, made a list, and started housing them. That’s a lot harder in a big city, but I think it can be scaled by creating smaller jurisdictions inside a city, including smaller populations of a couple of hundred people, as well as leveraging technology to communicate and coordinate.

The other tricky part is staying focused on housing. Across California, only about 30% of people who are homeless have access to shelter. It’s a humanitarian disaster, but the solution is more than housing. To the extent that communities invest in emergency shelter, it comes back to the idea of the operational supply chain: what is the pathway to permanent housing?

You’re writing a book about what caused modern homelessness. What is the goal?

I started writing this book about what’s causing this modern homelessness crisis after I finished the EWMBA program. I spent two years researching and writing. Now I’m finalizing a book proposal. The goal is to get it out to the general public, providing stories and solutions to end this. It’s so easy to talk about the negative stuff. I’m hoping to make people feel empowered to make a difference.


Alex Lopez, EMBA 20: Honored after serving in Benghazi, fighting for banking equity

Alex (second from right) with a group of Marines at the US Navy vs Notre Dame Game in Dublin, Ireland in September 2012.
Alex Lopez (second from right) with fellow Marines at the US Navy vs Notre Dame Game in Dublin, Ireland, in September 2012

In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we’re featuring interviews with members of our Latinx community.

After the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed four Americans in 2012, U.S. Marine Sgt. Alex Lopez, EMBA 20, was deployed to Libya, where he led a team that provided support to the U.S. Embassy as Americans were evacuated.

Outside of work and class, Alex Lopez, EMBA 20, a vice president at U.S. Bank, teaches financial literacy to ESL students in Nevada.

Now a student in the Berkeley Executive MBA program and a vice president at the U.S. Bank in Las Vegas, Lopez has post-graduation plans to continue assisting people from Latinx backgrounds with financial literacy.

We talked to Lopez, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, about his time in the Marine Corps, and his new project to promote financial literacy in schools.

Where did you grow up?

I was a teenager when I came to the U.S. with my dad. I came to Las Vegas in 2006. After I graduated high school, I joined the Marines. I wanted to change the world….That was important to me. My siblings were in the Navy and Army so I decided to enlist in the Marines, and spent five years serving.

Tell me about your role as a Marine after the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Right after American Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed on Sept. 11, 2012, our company received the call to deploy as part of Operation Jukebox Lotus. We were a hand-selected group, assisting the Department of State with evacuation, protecting people and assets at a time of extreme diplomatic sensitivity. Four Americans lost their lives during the Benghazi attacks.

Our small military company had limited knowledge and experience, since none of us had operated in Libya before. I learned that in the presence of chaos, I had to take the initiative to complete every task to the best of my ability, whether it was high priority or something seemingly unimportant. I’m confident that during those extreme times of uncertainty that the Marine Corps’ leadership principles were critical to preserving the integrity of my Marines. When we returned, our company was recognized with the Meritorious Honor Award by the Department of the State.

Alex on board the USS Fort Henry as part of the Marine Corps Ground Combat Element in August 2012
Lopez on board the USS Fort McHenry in August 2012

Did you always want to go to business school?

I moved to the U.S. to pursue an education. Business school was always attractive to me, but I never knew what I wanted to do in business. I was involved in college in leadership positions and by the time I graduated from college I had several offers from banks, and so I started my career in finance. One of the reasons why I decided to come to Berkeley for an MBA is because Haas truly embodies diversity and inclusiveness across the board. Learning from a diverse executive MBA class is enriching and furthering my capacity to innovate and go beyond my own possibilities.

Why did you choose to study finance?

My grandmother owned a restaurant. I grew up watching her and my family manage it. One thing that made a big impact is how basic financial literacy concepts could have helped the family-owned business to flourish in a more efficient way. In Mexico, I noticed a big disconnect between small businesses and banks. There’s a lack of financial literacy in Mexico that stops people from getting the help they need. This is true in the U.S., too.

Lopez (age 3 in photo) immigrated to America from Mexico at age 13 with his father.

You are already working on fixing this in your community?

Outside of work, I’m working on a project with a couple of friends from college. We go to community schools in Clark County, Nevada, that offer English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and provide a 30-45 minute workshop that focuses on basic finance topics like compound interest, retirement plans, home mortgages, personal and business loans, and credit cards. We’ve received extremely positive feedback so we hope to take the next step on this project and provide a more efficient way to increase financial literacy within the Latinx community.

What aspect of your cultural heritage do you enjoy most?

Food. Mexican dishes are very popular worldwide—tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and tamales. I love that in every part of the U.S. or the world I visit I can always count on Mexican food to be there. Our traditional food and culture is well-known worldwide, and I love to be able to eat tacos pretty much anywhere.


MBA student Adam Boostrom’s new novel explores a world without men

Evening & weekend MBA student Adam Boostrom has an interesting backstory: He’s the author of an award-winning novel, Athena’s Choice, set in a futuristic, all-female society struggling over the question of whether women should—or should not—bring men back to life. In a starred review, Kirkus called the work “an invigorating read in an age of political and cultural division.” Published in January of this year, Athena’s Choice also received the 2019 National Indie Excellence Award for Visionary Fiction and the 2019 Maxy Award for Science Fiction.

Boostrom, EWMBA 21, studied economics and psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago before spending more than a decade as a successful bond trader. We asked him about his personal background, his inspiration for writing the book, and why he came to Haas.

Adam Boostrom holds his book "Athena's Choice."
Adam Boostrom’s award-winning sci-fi novel “Athena’s Choice,” which envisions a world without men. Photo: Jim Block

Where did you grow up and what was your academic journey like?

I was born in Chicago and lived throughout the Midwest for most of my life. Early on, I wanted to join the military, but by the time I had left for college, my focus had shifted to medicine. I planned to become a doctor, and I loved studying how the human body works. The only problem was that I found myself dreading afternoons spent in the lab pipetting solutions. Along about my junior year, I switched my concentration to economics and never looked back. For a decade, I worked at the Chicago Board of Trade with several different firms as a fixed income trader.

What led you to switch tracks from bond trading to writing Athena’s Choice?

It’s hard to overstate just how important writing this book was to me. I believe there are problems in the world which will never be solved unless we talk about the real sources for those problems, namely our inborn human desires. I did and still do love working in fixed income. I love the competitive aspect of bond trading, and I love how it is a truly meritocratic industry. It doesn’t matter whether or not your boss likes you. It matters if your portfolio performs. Nevertheless, there were parts of my creative brain that I felt weren’t being allowed to flourish in that line of work. This book, and its ideas, were something that I had been thinking about for a long time and for a variety of reasons. In early 2016, when Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination for President, something somewhere inside of me snapped. I knew I had to start writing.

Why did you want to write about a world without men? That’s pretty dark!

What’s worse: imagining a world without men, or living in the world with them? More than 95% of all murders, mass-shootings, global wars, sexual assaults, and ethnic cleansings are perpetrated by men. Doesn’t a tiny part of you wonder if maybe the rest of humanity would be better off without them?

That being said, obviously not all men are a threat, just like not all women are saints. On the whole, however, I do believe that many men carry within them a genetic predisposition for awful, sociopathic behavior that gets “switched on” by epigenetic factors when those men feel that they’re losing the game of life. At that point, they become very dangerous to those around them, and nothing will ever change that unless you change who men are—and for centuries, this is where the conversation has ended, with philosopher’s bemoaning the violent vagaries of human nature. However, because of our modern scientific advancements, because of CRISPR Cas 9 gene editing technologies and such, for the first time in human history, we really can change human nature. Now, whether we want to do that or not, I don’t know. But I do believe that that will be the great question of, if not this century, then the next one. So I enjoy thinking about it, and that’s why I wrote the book.

What was the process of writing the book like?

The process was slow. I wrote ten words for every one that’s actually in there. If the book is any good, it’s because I have a talent for knowing what I hate, and I was constantly throwing out paragraphs or obsessing over a word. Many mornings, I’d spend three hours just to change a couple of words here or there.

I first started working on it while I was still trading, but I couldn’t do it. There just wasn’t enough mental energy for both activities. So I quit my job in 2016, and then spent a couple years writing. At the same time, I was applying to business school. I got accepted into Berkeley in the summer of 2018, and I published the digital version of the book in December of last year. The print version was officially published in January of this year.

How have your readers responded to the book and did their reaction surprise you?

On the whole, people have really seemed to like it! There are some one star reviews in there, but I was surprised to see that mostly the people who didn’t rate it highly weren’t opposed to the anti-male message in the book, which I thought would be the most controversial part, but rather they disliked how I had structured the story.

What brought you to Haas?

I wanted to be in California, and I knew that Haas had a good reputation, but I didn’t know that I would enjoy it this much. I love my classes and my classmates so much. I don’t understand how the admissions office does such a good job screening people, because the people in my evening and weekend program are just so kind, and smart, and interesting. Everybody wants to help everyone else out, and they’re all so curious, and they laugh at jokes at the right times. I really love spending time with them much more than I ever thought I would. People might judge me for paying tens of thousands of dollars just to make friends, but it’s the best money I ever spent.

Will there be a sequel?

Yes, but it’s not going to pick up where the last book left off. It will not, at first glance, appear to be a sequel at all.

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.

Joe Castiglione, MBA 21, on coming out to his devout family

right to left: Joe Castiglione and his partner, Seth, with Joe's parents on vacation in Key West.
(right to left): Joe Castiglione and his partner, Seth, with Joe’s parents on vacation in Key West.

In honor of Pride Month, we’re running a series of profiles and Q&As with members of the LGBTQ community at Haas. Follow the series throughout June.

In this interview, Evening & Weekend MBA student Joe Castiglione, a manager of strategic initiatives at healthcare accreditation  organization NCQA, talks about coming out to his devoutly Baptist family at age 22, how he found pride in the close-knit gay community in Washington D.C., and being out openly at Haas.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in a few different places around Texas, all rural and suburban, but we moved around a lot. Lived a bit outside of Houston and I went to high school outside of Fort Worth, in a small town called Burleson. Kelly Clarkson, our hometown hero, went to our high school — the one claim to fame that we have! I went to college at UT in Austin, moving to Washington D.C. about 48 hours after I graduated. I spent six years in D.C. working in health policy before moving to the Bay Area for Haas.

Joe as a baby with his dad.
Joe Castiglione, who grew up in the Baptist church in Texas, celebrating a birthday with his dad.

What was your experience growing up?

I come from a devoutly religious family. I went to Baptist church every Sunday, church on Wednesdays, Youth Group on Wednesdays, the whole kit and caboodle. We even went for a brief period to a mega-church in Houston called Lakewood, where Joel Osteen is the pastor. I didn’t really have much of a safe environment where I could explore my queer identity until much later in life.

When did you first think that you might be gay?

I think the first time I knew something was when I was watching “Saved by the Bell” with my older sister, and I was like way more interested in the cute blond guy Zack Morris than in Kelly Kapowski, the cutest brunette of the 90s. I didn’t have any access to LGBTQ people or media in small-town Texas, so it was a while before I recognized what my interest in Zack Morris was all about.

So when did you finally come out?

I came out in 2012. I was 22, and it was shortly after moving to D.C. Despite my fear of coming out, and really every effort that I put forward to fight coming out, being in D.C. just yanked the gay right out of me. There’s such an amazingly vibrant queer community in D.C., and I am forever indebted to the queer community there for helping me discover a sense of self-love and pride in being a part of that community.

Joe Castiglione, MBA 21, (right) with his boyfriend, Seth, who helped Joe's father open up to their relationship.
Joe Castiglione, MBA 21, (right) with his boyfriend, Seth, who helped Joe’s father open up to their relationship.

How did your family take the news?

When I came out to my mom, she secretly told everyone in my family, really depriving me of what I think is for many queer folks a watershed moment in our lives. The rest of my family did struggle with it a lot at first as well. There was the “gay people go to Hell” thing, and the “gay people can’t have children” thing. The hardest was my dad, who took a couple of years to really come around. He started to open up in 2015 when I began dating my partner who I’m still with today. It was almost immediate as my partner is similar to my dad in some ways and has many of the personal qualities that he values. Fortunately, since 2012, we’ve come a super long way as family and today my mom is my fiercest supporter and a huge ally for the entire LGBTQ community. Today she’s one of the “Free Mom Hugs” women at Dallas Pride!

Joe during WeLaunch orientation has Haas.
“Being out at Haas was really my first opportunity to be openly queer in a classroom setting.” – Joe Castiglione, MBA 21.

Did your experience as a Q-identified person change at all when you came to Haas?

Being out at Haas was really my first opportunity to be openly queer in a classroom setting. I’ve discovered a new sense of pride and confidence in my queer identity by bringing that perspective into a classroom on things like management and leadership. It’s been a real pleasure to challenge myself to be more thoughtful and more nuanced in the way that I articulate my experience as a queer person in the workplace.

Do those experiences translate into the workplace?

Management and leadership are the big areas where this comes up at work—when we’re talking about how to interact with people, how to manage people individually, and manage to their expectations and things like that. What was so immediately clear to me is that Haas prides itself on intentionally creating environments that cultivate diversity, particularly in leadership. That’s a philosophy that I’ve really taken on since coming here–this desire to push that mission forward.

What’s a challenge that you’ve lived through that others who aren’t Q-identified might not be aware of?

For a long time, I was closeted and struggled with self love, but coming out and embracing my queer identity has been the biggest gift I could ever give myself. People who aren’t Q-identified may not see that, although I think it’s something everyone can identify with. It may sound cliché but because of this self love that I’ve found, I’m on this journey of learning how to treat people as you would treat yourself—considering who they are, and what that means for the way that you interact with them, and the way that they interact with the world.

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



Kellie McElhaney named to “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” list

Kellie McElhaney in classroom teaching.
Kellie McElhaney teaches students to be “equity fluent leaders.”

Kellie McElhaney, distinguished teaching fellow and founding executive director of the Center for Equity, Gender, & Leadership at Berkeley Haas, has been named among the “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” by the San Francisco Business Times.

McElhaney was featured among more than 100 Bay Area women leaders in real estate, law, tech, finance, health care, and education, among other industries. The women chosen all share a passion for what they do and are leaders in their organizations and their communities, according to the SF Business Times.

McElhaney joined Berkeley Haas in 2002 as an adjunct professor and founded the Center for Responsible Business, serving as its executive director. In 2008, The Financial Times rated Haas #1 in the world for corporate social responsibility.

Over the years, McElhaney has been interviewed as an expert on gender equity and inclusiveness, women in business leadership, the gender pay gap, and #MeToo by media outlets ranging from Bloomberg and The Washington Post to NPR and Forbes.

McElhaney, who earned a PhD from the University of Michigan, told the SF Business Times that her biggest professional accomplishment was being dubbed “chief inspiration officer” by her MBA students. She said she’s also proud of teaching more than 1,000 Berkeley students a year to be “equity fluent leaders,” a term she uses to describe leaders who understand inclusiveness and how to lead people from all gender and ethnic backgrounds. McElhaney is currently teaching “The Value of Equity Fluent Leadership” across all degree programs.

She said the biggest challenge of her career was finding her voice to stand up to gender discrimination and harassment. “I’ve learned that I need to practice what I teach, and that by speaking up, I help countless women, not just myself.”

Her sister, Mary Lynne, is her personal hero, she said. A triathlete who weathered difficult professional and personal circumstances after she came out, her sister was able to reclaim “her authentic self,” McElhaney said.

“She’s a fearless big sis crusader for me and always has my back,” she said.

McElhaney, the mother of two college-age daughters, serves on the board of Sierra Global Management LLC and is involved in the community as a board member of the national nonprofit Empower Her Network. She also serves on the gender equity committee for the California Athletics Board.

Education pioneer Patrick Awuah, MBA 99, welcomed back as MBA commencement speaker

Education pioneer Patrick Awuah, MBA 99, founder of Ghana’s Ashesi University, will be welcomed back to campus this week as the 2019 MBA commencement speaker.

Commencement for both the Full-time MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA programs will take place on Friday, May 24, at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Born and raised in Ghana, Awuah came to Berkeley Haas after attending Swarthmore College and working at Microsoft. His son’s birth inspired him to want to give back to his home country by establishing a new university that would offer a liberal arts education.

In past interviews, he has emphasized the need to teach through critical thinking rather than through rote memorization, which was the general practice in Ghana. His dream was to develop ethical and entrepreneurial leaders who would go on to revitalize Ghana and the African continent.

At Haas, Awuah turned his idea into a project through the International Business Development (IBD) Program. For several years, Berkeley MBA students helped build the business plan for Ashesi University, and Haas faculty served as advisers. Classmate Nina Marini helped Awuah launch Ashesi in 2002 in a rented facility with just 30 students. Today, Ashesi has a new 100-acre campus outside Accra with an enrollment of more than 1,000 students who hail from 15 African nations. The school has more than 1,200 alumni.

“Patrick is an inspiring business leader who truly represents our Defining Leadership Principles,” said Laura Tyson, former Haas dean and faculty director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact. “We are very proud of all that he has accomplished and honored to welcome him back for commencement.”

Awuah, who was profiled in BerkeleyHaas magazine, has earned many accolades, including:

Berkeley team wins Kellogg Real Estate Competition

Winning Berkeley team at Kellogg real estate competitionKellogg Real Estate Conference and Venture Competition winners: (l-r) Stefan “Steve” Jeitler, LL.M 19; Kyle Raines MBA 21; Esmond Ai, MBA 20; Nithya Rathinam, MBA 21; Hind Katkhuda, MBA 20; and Julia McElhinney, MRED+D 19. Photo: Kellogg School of Management.

A team of six Berkeley students won the sixth annual Kellogg Real Estate Conference and Venture Competition for their plan to fill vacant ground-floor retail spaces in cities with package pick-up centers and e-commerce pop-up shops.

The competition, hosted April 10 at Northwestern University at the Kellogg School’s Guthrie Center for Real Estate Research, aims to encourage entrepreneurial real estate ventures.

Nine international semi-finalist teams were asked to create a scalable, profitable real estate business—complete with supporting financials and profit projections—that would transcend traditional real estate and help solve urban and social issues.

The Berkeley team included Esmond Ai, MBA 20, Kyle Raines, MBA 21, and Nithya Rathinam, MBA 21, all students in the Evening and Weekend MBA Program. They were joined by teammates Hind Katkhuda, FT-MBA 20; Julia McElhinney, MRED+D 19, who is earning a master’s degree in real estate development and design from Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design; and Stefan “Steve” Jeitler, LL.M 19, a master of laws candidate at Berkeley School of Law.

Raines said their proposed real estate venture, named Click + Mortar, would provide secure delivery options through package pick-up centers—and help businesses that sell mostly online to benefit from small, short-term brick-and-mortar presences in key urban centers.

“We see the social and economic challenges of empty Bay Area retail spaces every day,” McElhinney said. “So we wanted to create a viable and scalable business that would address this issue locally, drive profits, and offer opportunities to expand to other urban areas facing the same challenges.”

“An incredibly creative solution”

The team spent four months researching the concept, talking to developers, property managers, e-tailers like Sugarfina and Ministry of Supply, and package locker providers. The idea includes signing discounted, long-term master leases in large, vacant retail spaces; adding package lockers to part of the space; and filling the remaining area with small, short-term retail lots.

“Our students found an incredibly creative solution to an intractable problem,” said their faculty adviser, real estate Professor Nancy Wallace, co-chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics. “Their idea is so compelling that they’ve already found real property owners and clients who are willing to sign on if Click + Mortar launches.”

The team members are currently considering how best to bring this business idea to fruition. They have seed capital from the competition’s $25,000 cash prize and an additional $75,000 to apply toward co-working space and legal and accounting professional services. In addition, several investors who attended the event have already requested pitch decks.

Before the competition, Rathinam said she believed that real estate offered a limited range of traditional career paths. “With Click + Mortar, I now have an opportunity to start off on my own and build something that is very unique and that solves an important urban issue all at once,” she said.

This is the latest in a string of Haas real estate wins. This week, another Haas team won the NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Challenge, dubbed the “Golden Shovel” competition, for the second year in a row. In December, a Haas team took the top prize at the University of Texas McCombs’ National Real Estate Case Challenge.

Choreographing Haas’ future: New Dean Ann Harrison outlines her plans to advance Haas

Dean Ann HarrisonBerkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison grew up with an insatiable curiosity and a dream to make the world a better place.

No surprise, then, that she ended up at Berkeley—first as a double major in history and economics and later, after receiving a PhD in economics from Princeton, as a professor in the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics from 2001 until 2011. She then joined the World Bank as director of development policy and after that the Wharton School of Business, where she gained international acclaim for her research on foreign investment and multinational firms. On January 1, Harrison “came home” to Berkeley once more—this time to serve as the 15th dean of Berkeley Haas.

She recently spoke to BerkeleyHaas magazine about her early years on campus, her groundbreaking research, and her plans for strengthening Haas as a leader in 21st century business education.

What was your experience as a Cal undergrad?

Being a Berkeley student and growing up in the Bay Area pretty much shaped who I am today. I had an independent streak and had hiked all over California by the time I was in junior high. I remember campaigning door-to-door in support of a statewide ballot initiative to protect our coastline. When I came to Berkeley, I lived in a co-op on the North Side. I was—and still am—into modern dance and loved that I could take dance classes on campus from former stars with the Martha Graham company and go to Zellerbach Hall and see great performances. I wrote dance reviews for the Daily Cal and was elected to the ASUC senate.

How did you get interested in economics?

I started off as a history major with a plan to go to law school. But then I took economics and loved it. One day I saw a posting for someone to do the grading for Econ 101A and the professor, Leo Simon, hired me—although he was taking a bit of a risk since I was an undergraduate. He became my mentor and convinced me to get a PhD. He really changed my life. After college I became a health economist at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. It opened my world to the power of data. Kaiser had millions of members, and I would stay in the office until 10:00 p.m., just analyzing the data.

How did your time at the World Bank shape you as a leader?

It taught me diplomacy, patience, and how people can do amazing things when they have the will to work together. After the financial crisis a decade ago, the bank’s lending tripled but its overall budget stayed flat. So, there was a lot of competition internally for fewer resources. The different parts of the bank were able to overcome that because of the strong relationships between people.

You are a much-cited scholar in your field. What inspires your research?

As a trade economist, I’m interested in real-world questions and their policy implications. What I find most interesting are big-picture policy issues. During my first business trip to India in 1986, I was part of a team that helped the Indian government formulate policies to increase competition and reduce monopoly power. To be able to take part in a project that helps economies solve problems in real time is very satisfying.

The question I have been most obsessed with recently is whether rising international competition has led to job losses and stagnating wages for the American worker—and whether free-trade economists miscalculated the costs of globalization or whether trade is just a scapegoat. I’ve concluded through my research that China is not the culprit. The cause of all those job losses is automation. The Factory-Free Economy, a book I co-edited with French economist Lionel Fontagné, looks at what will happen to high-income economies when many tasks become automated and jobs that used to exist are done by machines.

Read the full interview here.

Patrick Awuah & Steve Etter named 2019 commencement speakers

Patrick Awuah, MBA 99, founder of Ashesi University in Ghana, will be the speaker at the 2019 Full-time MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA commencement, while Steve Etter, BS 83, MBA 89, a founding partner of Greyrock Capital Group and a long-time Haas finance lecturer, will speak at undergraduate commencement.

The 2019 MBA commencement will take place on Friday, May 24, at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.

The  undergraduate commencement will take place on Sunday, May 19, at 9 a.m. at the Greek Theatre.

Patrick Awuah, MBA 99

Patrick Awuah
Patrick Awuah

Born and raised in Ghana, Awuah came to Berkeley Haas after attending Swarthmore College and working at Microsoft. His son’s birth inspired him to want to give back to his home country by establishing a new university that would offer a liberal arts education.

In past interviews, he has emphasized the need to teach through critical thinking rather than through rote memorization, which was the general practice in Ghana. His dream was to develop ethical and entrepreneurial leaders who would go on to revitalize Ghana and the African continent.

At Haas, Awuah turned his idea into a project through the International Business Development (IBD) Program. For several years Berkeley MBA students helped build the business plan for Ashesi University, and Haas faculty served as advisers. Classmate Nina Marini helped launch Ashesi in 2002 in a rented facility with 30 inaugural students. Today, Ashesi has a new 100-acre campus outside Accra with an enrollment of more than 1,000 students who hail from 15 African nations. The school has more than 1,200 alumni.

“Patrick is an inspiring business leader who truly represents our Defining Leadership Principles,” said Laura Tyson, former Haas dean and faculty director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact. “We are very proud of all that he has accomplished and honored to welcome him back for commencement.”

Awuah, who was profiled in BerkeleyHaas magazine, has earned many accolades, including:

Stephen Etter, BS 83, MBA 89

Steve Etter
Steve Etter

Etter has spent the last 30 years of his career working in private equity. As one of the founding partners at Greyrock Capital Group, he helped raise and invest almost $1 billion over four funds.

Previously, he held positions at Bank of America, GE Capital, Citibank and PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he obtained his CPA. Most recently he has transitioned into the world of social impact investing.

For the last 24 years—48 consecutive semesters—Etter has been a professional faculty member in finance at Berkeley Haas. He has twice earned the school’s prestigious Cheit Award for Teaching Excellence from his undergraduate students.

Alumnus Kevin Chou, BS 02, cites him as an inspiration for his gift toward the funding of Chou Hall.

“The personal commitment and coaching Steve provides his students is extraordinary,” said Erika Walker, assistant dean of the undergraduate program. “Steve’s classes have inspired scores of students to go beyond themselves.”

Etter’s role at Haas goes beyond teaching. He coaches Haas external case competition teams, helps with professional job searches, and works with many student athletes who go on to professional sporting careers (including Jarod Goff, Jaylen Brown, Missy Franklin, Ryan Murphy, and Marshawn Lynch).

Riley Brown, BS 19, and a Cal varsity crew coxswain, said Etter helped her think more seriously and deeply about what set her apart as a student when she was applying to Haas. “He gives me incredible advice,” she said. “Every time he opens his mouth I have to listen because I know there will be a nugget of gold.”

Steve Etter with Cal athletes
Steve Etter with Cal athletes


2019 Women in Leadership Conference to focus on accountability, action

The WIL leadership team
Women in Leadership (WIL) conference team members: Left to right: Sandra Tamer, MBA 19, Lauren Grimanis, MBA 20, Mila Pires, MBA 19, Annie Powers, MBA 20, Geena Haney, MBA 20, Kate Hancock, MBA 19, (conference co-chair) Jordan Baxter, MBA 19, (conference co-chair) Lipika Grover, MBA 20, and Erin Casale, MBA 19.

If 2018 was the year that the world woke up to the #MeToo movement’s allegations, marches, and debates around diversity and equity, 2019 is shaping up as a year of accountability and action.

That’s where the Berkeley Haas Women In Leadership team drew its inspiration as members organized the 23rd annual conference, to be held this Saturday, March 16, at Berkeley Haas. For six months, a leadership team of seven second-year MBA students and partners have been prepping for Haas’ longest running student-led conference. Organizers are expecting more than 300 people will attend, with 20 speakers lined up to talk about everything from inclusive culture to imposter syndrome.

This year’s theme is “Your Stories, Your Growth.”

“We recognize that everyone attending this conference brings something to the table, and we created this theme to inspire people to recognize the value of their own stories, and share them with others,” said Erin Casale, MBA 19, a WIL leadership team member who worked in management consulting before coming to Haas. “Stories inspire change, and that’s our ultimate collective goal.”

Pioneering women leaders

After breakfast and a welcome address from Dean Ann Harrison, the day will feature a keynote, talks, and four breakout sessions. Sessions will cover, for example, how millennials can drive corporate change for gender equity and how to fight imposter syndrome (and learn what kind of imposter you are). Another session, led by two T-Mobile senior employees, will allow attendees to practice having courageous workplace conversations.

Among the list of speakers and companies participating, many are women who broke into senior positions in industries or roles that were historically closed to women. They include Sandra Lopez, vice president at Intel Sports and Teri List-Stoll, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Gap Inc., who will give the day’s final keynote. Other speakers include Tyi McCray, the interim director of diversity and belonging at Airbnb, Brandi Pearce, the faculty director of Teams@Haas and a lecturer in the Management of Organizations Group at Haas, and Elena Gomez, CFO of Zendesk.

Coming away with a “clear next step”

For Casale, a big part of planning this conference required reviewing formal written and informal feedback from last year. The goal was to make this year’s conference unique and fun, especially given the current climate in which #MeToo news dominates the headlines regularly. “We wanted to make sure people didn’t feel tired or worn out from current events, but rather  inspired to take action at work and in their lives,” Casale said.

She added that business schools can do a lot to improve equity fluent leadership, a term coined by Kellie McElhaney, the founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at Haas, which emphasizes the value of different life experiences, encouraging people to use their power to remove barriers, increase access, and drive change for positive impact.

The hope is that attendees will walk away from the conference ready to start a hard conversation at work—or share an inspiring story with friends or coworkers, Casale said.

“For us, it will be a win if attendees come away with a clear next step of what they can do to set themselves and their peers on a better path toward equity and inclusion,” she said. “We want people to feel equipped for change and inspired to start it.”

Tickets are available here.

Berkeley Haas rises in the U.S. News rankings

The Full-time Berkeley MBA and the Berkeley MBA for Executives rose to their highest ranks ever in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking published today.

U.S. News ranked the Full-time Berkeley MBA #6 for the first time—tied with Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Columbia Business School; the Berkeley MBA program had ranked #7 for the prior 11 years.

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

The Berkeley MBA for Executives rose to #7, up from #9 last year, in the EMBA ranking. The EMBA ranking is based entirely on the peer assessment by business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs.

The Evening & Weekend MBA ranked #2 with an index of 99 (out of 100) points, after being ranked #1 for the past six years. The part-time MBA ranking is based on a peer assessment score by deans and MBA directors (weighted 50%), various student quality measures, and percent of MBA students who are part-time (12.5%).

In the specialty rankings, Haas placed as follows:

#3 in nonprofit

#5 in entrepreneurship

#6 in international

#8 in finance

#8 in management

#9 in marketing

#14 in accounting

#14 in info systems

#14 in production/operations

#19 in supply chain/logistics

The full report is available here.

New student venture capital club taps industry “in our backyard”

L-R: VCC co-founder Christ Truglia, Peter Loukianoff, managing partner of Strawberry Creek Ventures, David Navarro (past VP of professional events), and Esmond Ai (current co-president).
L-R: Haas Venture Capital Club co-founder Chris Truglia with Peter Loukianoff, managing partner of Strawberry Creek Ventures, David Navarro (the club’s past VP of professional events), and club co-president Esmond Ai at the club’s holiday party last year.

Last fall, Chris Cindy Cordova, an aerospace engineer who arrived at Haas with little knowledge of the venture capital industry, attended a pitch session in Silicon Valley where VCs were grilling entrepreneurs seeking funding.

“Hearing that back-and-forth about what investors are interested in and watching how entrepreneurs presented themselves was useful to me,” says Cordova, MBA 20, who attended the session with 30 fellow members of the new Haas Venture Capital Club (HVCC) at Plug and Play, a Sunnyvale, Ca.-based accelerator.

With a goal of giving students an inside look into the world of venture capital and helping them to break into the tight-knit venture capital industry, the club has already grown to 160 members from the full- and part-time MBA programs.

Chris Cindy Cordova,
Chris Cindy Cordova, MBA 20, co-president of the Haas Venture Capital Club.

Many Haas students are interested in venture capital and entrepreneurship, and launching the club was an effort to provide more connections and resources, said Chris Truglia, EWMBA 19, who founded the club in 2018 with Scott Graham, also an Evening & Weekend MBA student.

“Even though the heart of VC is in our backyard, we haven’t fully taken advantage of it,” said Truglia, who has worked in venture capital and is currently COO of technology startup Junar. “We’re hoping that the club will raise Haas’ profile as a feeder school to the best funds.”

“A confidence booster”

So far, the club has co-hosted, with the Women in Leadership club, a conference featuring speakers who discussed challenges faced by women in venture capital and by female entrepreneurs. Other events featured a panel of Haas students who landed internships or jobs in the venture industry, and a focus session with Strawberry Creek Ventures, which co-invests with other funds in companies led by Berkeley alumni.

Faculty advisors to the club—Deepak Gupta, an industry specialist in the Haas Career Management Group, Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, and William Rindfuss, executive director of strategic programs in the Haas Finance Group—are reaching out to engage Haas alumni as mentors. And the club’s VC Excursion Program aims to connect groups of HVCC members to alumni in venture capital for fun activities such as hiking, dinners, and boating.

Mingling with alumni who work in venture capital at a recent event at a local pub was a confidence-booster, said Cordova, the club’s co-president. “It helped me become more confident, knowing that there’s a group of pros out there who want this club to be successful and to see them acknowledge how it benefits the students,” she says.

Landing the VC jobs

Equally important is forming relationships with Silicon Valley accelerators and VC firms, in part through more treks to firms to shadow professionals, with the goal of helping students in the job search. Early efforts have yielded some returns: Four Haas students are already working at paid internships at Plug and Play.

The club is also developing what it calls its Talent Pipeline Program (TaPP), a program to help students of all experience levels to increase their knowledge of the VC industry through club activities and independent research, said Esmond Ai, MBA 20 and club co-president. Through the program, students will create training materials, organize workshops, and book guest speakers.

Student teams would, for example, undertake an independent project, such as researching an emerging market for a report or white paper. Then, instead of waiting for public job postings, teams could proactively approach VC firms and offer up their knowledge with an eye toward doing work for the firm.

“The idea is to place students in the right place at the right time when permanent job openings arise,” Ai said.

VIDEO: Veterans Day 2018—Student vets reflect on going beyond yourself

This Veterans Day, we thank our Berkeley Haas student veterans for their service and for all they they contribute to our campus community.

“We’re delighted to have one of our largest classes of veterans studying at Haas this year,” said Interim Dean Laura Tyson. “Those who volunteer to serve their country feel a calling to do something beyond themselves. It makes veterans a perfect fit for Berkeley Haas since they embody our Defining Leadership Principle ‘Beyond Yourself.’ We are grateful for the leadership skills and the global perspectives our veterans bring to the Haas community, and we thank them for their service.”

We asked four student veterans to share what “Beyond Yourself” means to them:

  • Poga Ahn, EMBA 18, former U.S. Army captain
  • Rodrigo Flores, EWMBA 21, former U.S. Navy submarine officer
  • Cassidy Nolan, BS 19, former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence chief
  • Katie Rentz, FTMBA 20, former U.S. Navy unmanned underwater vehicles department head

Here’s what they had to say:


More Resources

Haas Veterans Club

Veterans in the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program

Veterans in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program

Veterans in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program

Haas Undergraduate Program

More videos about veterans at Berkeley Haas

Haas welcomes a record number of MBA students

A collage of photos of new MBA students during Week Zero.Berkeley Haas welcomed the two largest MBA classes in the school’s history this semester: 291 full-time students and 276 evening & weekend students, all with outstanding academic credentials.

“We’ve always had the demand and now we’re so happy to have the space to accommodate more students,” said Jamie Breen, the assistant dean of MBA Programs for Working Professionals at Haas. The extra space comes thanks to Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, the student-centered building that opened last fall.

“Haas is a truly unique and special community, and top students from around the world continue to choose us for the quality of our programs and our distinctive culture,” said Morgan Bernstein, executive director of Full-time MBA Admissions. “These students are already coming together as a class, preparing for what we know will be a rewarding time here.”

Full-time MBA Week Zero

The new full-time MBA students arrived last week for an orientation that included tackling a business case, hours of volunteer work at Alameda Point Collaborative, a rousing cohort Olympics, and a session on diversity and inclusion.

“Week Zero has been a great experience—just jam-packed with information and networking, so it was both exhausting and fun,” said Tiffany Tran, MBA 20, who is from Long Beach, CA., and most recently worked at Annie’s (now part of General Mills) as a senior sustainability analyst.

Full-time MBA students competing in the cohort Olympics.
Full-time MBA students cheering on their team competing in the cohort Olympics. All photos: Jim Block.

The cohort Olympics for the Class of 2020 was a highlight, she added. “My cohort, Oski, won the championships,” she said. “We’re quite proud of that!”

The class of 291 students—up from 284 last year—is comprised of 43 percent women, and 34 percent international students. As a group, they are academically exceptional, with average GMAT scores of 726 and average GPAs of 3.66.

About one quarter of the new students worked in consulting; 20 are from banking/financial services; 10 percent from high tech; 9 percent from nonprofits; and 7 percent from healthcare/pharma/biotech. The group includes 14 U.S. military veterans, representing the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy.

Interim Dean Laura Tyson welcomed the students, noting that the MBA program has transformed thousands of students lives in meaningful ways over the years. “Many, many people come to business school to transform, to make a change in their career path and their goals or their sector or their role in an organization, and that’s what we give people: the skills to do the transformation you want to do, and stay authentic to yourself,” she said.

Interim Dean Laura Tyson addresses the new class of full-time MBA students.
Interim Dean Laura Tyson addresses the new class of full-time MBA students.

The MBA program continues to select students who show leadership skills that reflect the school’s Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Beyond Yourself, and Students Always.

Oriol Pi Miloro, who arrived at Haas from Barcelona, said all of the students he’s encountered so far share a common awareness of the world beyond themselves. “Every single classmate I have met demonstrated a genuine interest on the most pressing issues of our society,” he said. “And they came to Haas to tackle these issues.”

Miloro said he’s looking forward to joining the Haas Finance Club, the Haas Impact Investing Network and Q@Haas, the LGBTQ club.

“This class is just an amazing group with such an interesting and diverse array of career and life experiences—and an enthusiasm for our school’s mission and Defining Leadership Principles,” said Peter Johnson, assistant dean for the full-time MBA program and admissions.

The class includes a ski instructor who worked with disabled people at Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra; a student who speaks seven languages, including German, French, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, and Spanish; a student who already holds a master’s in public administration and a juris doctorate and was admitted to the state bar in both New York and Washington, DC; a student who introduced a rural micro-flush toilet to schools in Ghana; and a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

A surprise visit from Wes Selke, MBA 07, and managing director of Better Ventures.
A surprise visit from Wes Selke, MBA 07, and managing director of Better Ventures.

Each day of “Week Zero”—which was co-chaired by second-year students Annie Sept, Elaine Hsu, and Antoine Orard—centered around one of the Defining Leadership Principles.

Sept said her first impression of the new class is that they are both extremely thoughtful and participatory and that they are “having a blast.”

“I’ve already seen a lot of cohesion and friendship,” she said. “People are comfortable saying vulnerable things to each other. There’s general support from classmates. They’re excited to be here for sure, and that makes us feel good.”

Entrepreneur Heather Hiles
Entrepreneur Heather Hiles

During the week, Heather Hiles, CEO and managing partner of Imminent Equity, spoke to the students about showing up as their authentic selves. Hiles, who was recently named among Vanity Fair’s “26 women of color diversifying entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, media and beyond,” spoke to the theme of questioning the status quo and highlighted a diverse career.

Hiles has founded non-profit organizations, written public policy, managed a large portfolio at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and raised the most money of any African American woman for her e-portfolio startup, Pathbrite, which helps students document their achievements. Most recently she founded the first women-led private equity fund: Imminent Equities, focused on emerging technologies.

Wes Selke, MBA 07, also joined the class for a debrief on a case they were asked to read about his company, Oakland-based Better Ventures, which is focused on social investments. Better Ventures invests in companies that measure their success not only by revenue and profitability, but also by their products’ quantified, positive social or environmental impact. Other alumni speakers included Tom Kelley, partner at IDEO and founder & chairman of VC firm Design for Ventures in Tokyo, and Manuel Bronstein, vice president of product for Google Assistant.

Evening & Weekend students stand strong with the "We are one Haas" message of inclusiveness.
Evening & Weekend students stand strong with the school’s “We are one Haas” message of inclusiveness.

Evening & weekend class arrives

Last month, a record number of Evening & Weekend students arrived for orientation, called WE Launch, July 27-29. With 276 students, this is the largest class in the program’s history. The class is 33 percent women and 39 percent international.

Evening & Weekend MBA students arrive on campus for WE Launch.
Evening & Weekend MBA students in the Ax cohort arrive on campus for WE Launch.

“Our orientation was such a strong bonding experience for our students, who are all starting to come together as a group,” Breen said. “The study teams plunged right in.”

The Evening & Weekend program has been ranked the #1 part-time MBA program in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report for the past six years.

Haas launches new design thinking curriculum

Lecturer Dave Rochlin, who co-leads the Fundamentals of Design Thinking course with Clark Kellogg, works with Evening & Weekend students on their first assignment.
Lecturer Dave Rochlin, who co-leads the new “Fundamentals of Design Thinking” course with Clark Kellogg, works with students on their first assignment.

A cohesive school-wide curriculum around design thinking launched this week, which includes a new design thinking course, intense “design sprints,” and an expanded pool of lecturers with deep work and teaching experience in design thinking.

“We are creating a common language, methodology, and Haas framework that aligns with the design thinking processes used extensively in industry,” said Dave Rochlin, lecturer and executive director of the newly formed Innovation, Creativity, and Design Practice at Haas. “The mindset, tools, and methods will help Haas students tackle the ambiguous and open-ended challenges that characterize post-MBA work.”

The curriculum’s foundation is a new one-unit core course called “Fundamentals of Design Thinking,” which aims to provide students with a common set of tools, processes, and strategies to creatively solve complex business problems. The new class kicked off in August, offered first to Evening & Weekend MBA students.

With the new design curriculum, Haas is giving students a common language, methodology, and framework that aligns with the design thinking processes used extensively in industry.
With the new design curriculum, Haas is giving students a common language, methodology, and framework that aligns with the design thinking processes used extensively in industry. Photo: Jim Block

“The design-thinking mindset is the starting point for new ideas,” said Clark Kellogg, a lecturer in design who is also a co-founder of The Berkeley Innovation Group, an innovation consultancy. “If we think the same thoughts in the same way, we generally get more of what we already have. This course is about when and how thinking differently is useful and, importantly, when it’s not useful.”

Kellogg and Rochlin developed and co-lead the new course, which will be offered to full-time MBA students this spring.

Design thinking goes mainstream

Held in the Berkeley Haas Innovation Lab, the course includes five modules: the design thinking mindset; observation, interviewing, and ethnographic research; making sense of qualitative  research and generating insights; ideation and prototyping; and experimentation and storytelling. Kellogg wrote an online textbook for the course called “Fundamentals of Design Thinking: Advanced Common Sense in the Age of Speed.”

Rochlin and Kellogg (standing) chat with students about the assignment during the first night of the new course.
Rochlin and Kellogg (standing) check in with a student team working on a self-portrait exercise. Photo: Jim Block

As a methodology, design thinking has slowly evolved since it emerged during the 1960s and was adapted for business purposes in the 1990s, led by the design consultancy IDEO. Since then, design thinking has gone mainstream, used in companies from P&G to Salesforce, and consulting firms such as McKinsey and Deloitte.

Haas was an early pioneer in integrating design thinking in the core MBA curriculum. Kellogg, along with Haas Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman, launched “Problem Finding, Problem Solving” over a decade ago. Students often cite the class as giving them the edge in victories over MBA teams from other schools in case challenges and other competitions.

Non-traditional problem-solving

Yet as design thinking has evolved, and more students have come into the program with experience with these tools, it was time to build a new core course.

“In 2011 students didn’t even know the term ‘design thinking,’ Kellogg said. “Very few people had encountered it in their work. Today it’s a completely different landscape. The field has grown, evolved, and normalized. It felt like an important moment to create a course that’s about today’s practices and non-traditional ways of problem solving.”

Evening & Weekend students prepare to discuss group findings in the Fundamentals of Design Thinking course.
Students prepare to discuss group findings in the Fundamentals of Design Thinking course. Photo: Jim Block

The class requires students to work together on small teams on collaborative projects. It will draw on the skills and work experience of a pool of lecturers, who bring expertise on different topics. Students’ mastery of material will be put to the test during a problem solving “design sprint” at the end of the course.

The goal of the larger Innovation, Creativity and Design Practice is to expand the portfolio of related courses such as storytelling, prototyping, and needs-finding. The practice will also better integrate design thinking skills into Haas’ existing project-based courses such as Haas@Work, the school’s applied innovation program, which Rochlin directs, International Business Development (IBD), the school’s flagship global management consulting program, and Cleantech to Market, a partnership between students and professionals to help accelerate commercialization of emerging cleantech.

“This course is just the start,” Rochlin said. “It will be part of a larger program that integrates a common way of teaching innovation and design methods across Haas.”