“We’re so happy to be up and running again,” said IBD’s executive director David Richardson, who runs the marquee Haas global management consulting program that is celebrating its 30th year. “This is one of the most popular electives for our students, and we were crushed when we got hit by COVID restrictions and our students could no longer travel. But we want everyone to know that we’re back.”
Lecturer Whitney Hischier, who teaches the IBD course, added that the hiatus “made us all appreciate the value of experiential classes more than ever.”
Thirteen students assigned to four teams will head to Singapore, Finland, and Guatemala in mid May. To prepare, the students began the IBD consulting course last January, which included the much-anticipated “big reveal” when the students learn where they’ll go.
In Singapore, one project team will work with a global food company. Two teams are heading to Finland. One will work with a software company that offers consumer electronics service management solutions, and another is assigned to a company that built a digital food safety and operations system for hotels, restaurants, and catering businesses. In Guatemala, students will collaborate with a social service organization that operates hospitals and vision centers that aim to eradicate treatable blindness.
Monica Shavers, MBA 23, said she is looking forward to experiencing the culture and the food of Singapore, while working for the global food company.
“We’ve had lots of (virtual) client meetings, talking to our sponsor every week to figure out our itinerary and the ways in which we’ll learn about Singaporean food culture,” she said. “We’ve been talking through all of our ideas, and laying out what we will validate while we are in-country.”
When applying to Haas, IBD was one of the key attractions, she said. “I didn’t get to study abroad as an undergraduate,” she said. “I saw this as a great opportunity for me to get that global experience while I’m in school again.”
Kylie Gemmell, MBA 23, is heading to Joensuu, a small town in Finland, in mid-May to work with a client that makes hardware and software used to control food temperature safety.
Gemmell, who worked in real estate investing before coming to Haas, said IBD has helped her explore a career change. “I’ve never had a consulting job and I wanted to experience what that would feel like—and here I am, 12 weeks into food safety regulation, an area I never knew existed,” she said. Gemmell added that her IBD consulting project has helped her learn more about herself, as the work differs from the independent nature of real estate.
“What I’ve realized is that I really love working on a team and that I get my energy from people and from working collaboratively.”
IBD has grown since JoAnn Dunaway, MBA 92, started the program after she graduated from Haas. “She saw a need for a challenging experiential learning program for MBA students to solve business problems,” Richardson said. “JoAnn had an international background and interest and she brought that in—and the school ran with it.”
During the recent Alumni Weekend at Haas, six IBD alumni joined students for a combined virtual/in-person panel during the April 28 IBD class. The alumni shared insights on their projects and the impact the program has had on their careers. (Read more from IBD’s Associate Director Danner Doud-Martin on the IBD blog)
To prepare for the return to project work overseas, Richardson, a former Peace Corps volunteer, headed abroad last November to meet with potential IBD project clients. In recent months, he worked with UC Berkeley Study Abroad Office and Risk Services to make sure Haas met UC Berkeley’s standards for mitigating the risk of Covid during student travel and at client sites. Over time, he said he’s updated the list of countries where IBD students were able to safely work.
Richardson said he feels great about the program’s future.
“We’re hopeful that we’re getting back into the business of sending more students overseas,” Richardson said.
A passion to protect the environment began as a child for Sheeraz Haji, the new co-director of the Cleantech to Market (C2M) Program at Berkeley Haas.
“My dad was working in Africa for the World Bank, and we got to see how water pollution impacts peoples’ lives,” said Haji, who directs C2M with Brian Steel. “I ended up going back to Africa in college, and the environment just emerged as something that I became interested in.”
We talked to Haji, who began his career as an environmental engineer, about his varied career and his plans for C2M, a program that matches graduate student teams with entrepreneurs seeking to commercialize their climate tech solutions.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?
All over the world, actually. My dad worked for the World Bank, so we lived in Washington DC, then in Algeria and then Kenya when I was between eight and 12. Africa was amazing; Nairobi was a peaceful, amazing city surrounded by stunning parks. My dad was born and raised in East Africa so it felt like discovering our roots. One of my big memories was kicking and screaming when my parents told my brother and I we had to return to DC, where I went to high school. We didn’t want to go.
How did living in Africa as a kid impact your world view?
Africa played a big role in shaping my world view. My dad’s work gave me exposure to development and sustainability projects. It hit me as a young person. I was like, ‘Oh, this is something to hold onto.’ It was a pretty strong focus coming out of college. Later I got interested in a lot of other things, including business and software.
You’ve had an interesting career. What are some of the highlights?
There are different parts of my background that fit so well with this job. I studied environmental engineering in college, and started my career as an environmental engineer, working on water and air pollution issues. I’ve had some twists and turns in my career, working at McKinsey in strategy and at startups, running software startup GetActive, which helped nonprofits raise money online. But certainly the environment and energy have been big themes. Recently, I ran a company called Cleantech Group which helps corporations and investors across the globe invest in sustainable innovation. I now focus on climate tech investing and corporate consulting through my own firm, zipdragon ventures.
There are different parts of my background that fit so well with this job. I studied environmental engineering in college, and started my career as an environmental engineer, working on water and air pollution issues.
What interested you in C2M and this role in particular?
First and foremost, I’ve known Brian (Steel) for a while. We met back in 2013 when I became involved in the program as a guest speaker, a coach, and then as a judge last year. What interested me was just observing and admiring what Brian and (former C2M co-director) Beverly Alexander had built and the impact it had on the students and the entrepreneurs. They put a lot of passion into this program. When I talked to students last year it was clear that C2M was a transformative experience for many of them. Brian, Beverly and co-faculty Bill (Shelander) have also done a really nice job of also keeping other folks from Haas, from the Berkeley ecosystem, and from the industry involved. Also, I have always dreamed of teaching at a world-class institution such as Haas, which happens to be very close to my home in Berkeley.
What are some of the trends that you’re seeing as an investor in clean tech markets?
Investors have poured more money into climate tech in recent years than at any other stage in my career. Global enterprises are driving sustainability goals, and governments are seeking to adopt policies to accelerate transitions to a low-carbon economy. We have observed some big financial outcomes for climate tech startups – something we had not seen for a long time. For example, quite a few EV charging companies have been able to access public markets and provide big returns for founders and investors. In the larger picture, I see sustainability serving as a huge driver across every industry and every company. There’s a massive amount of investment and adoption of climate technologies like the ones we work on at C2M. It feels like a unique time across the globe to focus on clean tech.
Can you share immediate/long-term plans for C2M?
I think job number one is for me to learn the program. Job number two is to try to not to mess up a good thing. We’ve got amazing students and a great cohort of startups. We must execute. We’re definitely looking at the curriculum, trying to figure out if and where to adjust. We’ve had some interesting conversations around, ‘Okay, where could we go? Is it another cohort, perhaps? Doing a class in the spring versus just in the fall?’ Also, we’re trying to be creative, as in, ‘Okay, there’s a great set of relationships, both within and outside the university community, creating a wonderful foundation. What else could we do?’ We are very open to ideas, and would love to hear from the Haas community.
A group of Berkeley Haas MBA students helped build the business plan for an attic-retrofit system based around heat sensing drones and foam-spraying spider robots that took the top prize in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2022 American-Made E-ROBOT competition.
Alexander Sergian, Joseph Aharon, John Aquino, all MBA/MEng 22, built the business plan for team RoboAttic/Thermadrone, along with Zixuan Chen, EWMBA 23, and Vincent Chang, MBA 22. The robotics project was led by Dr. Avideh Zakhor.
Dr. Zakhor led the team of about 35 people, including UC Berkeley students, professionals, and consultants, who developed the RoboAttic/Thermadrone technology. The three top winners in the multi-stage competition were announced April 7 by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). (Watch the robot in action in the video below)
Homes lose up to 20% of their heat and air conditioning due to poorly insulated roofs. Yet just 1% of building floorspace in the U.S. undergoes a meaningful retrofit each year due to the high cost and invasive nature of construction and renovation, according to Ram Narayanamurthy, a Program Manager in the Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office.
Thermadrone’s software uses thermal drone camera images to diagnose and identify opportunities for attic insulation retrofits. Once attics in need of insulation are identified, Roboattic robots clean, air seal, and apply spray foam insulation to the building envelope. This enables construction workers to retrofit previously inaccessible attics with a PS4 controller. Finally, Thermadrone software provides quality assurance by measuring and verifying the retrofit was done properly.
An earlier round of the E-ROBOT Competition challenged participants to design and build robot prototypes that could be used to retrofit buildings to improve energy efficiency. For the second and final phase of the competition, 10 finalists were tasked with building viable business models for their respective startups.
Sergian, Aharon, and Aquino worked on the business plan for RoboAttic/Thermadrone for both the competition andas their capstone project, a required component of the MBA/MEng Program.
Their work included estimating the total market size, sales, marketing, channel partners, and go-to-market strategy. “As MBA/MEng students, we were brought on as folks who were not only technical enough to understand the technology, but also strategic enough to put together a compelling business vision,” Aharon said. “It’s an example of the sort of cross-disciplinary collaboration that we constantly see around UC Berkeley.”
To be successful, the team had to prove the energy consumption and cost reduction benefits as well as worker safety potential.
To be successful, the team had to prove the energy consumption and cost reduction benefits as well as worker safety potential.
“We were presented with an exciting technology,” said Sergian. “It was our challenge to figure out how to commercialize the product and make it a market success.”
The students said they applied lessons from their MBA coursework in research and development and finance to the project. They calculated a total market size for building envelope retrofits in the US at about $1.25 billion, estimating that contractors would be willing to invest about $10,000 per robot. The value of the robot is that it can access places in attics that are hazardous and foul for construction workers to crawl through, Aharon said.
Chen, who also worked on the project while in the evening & weekend MBA program, helped with marketing research, identifying potential user groups and conducting interviews with facility managers, utility companies, and government agencies.
“In the business plan stage, I worked with Avideh to identify critical cost components and revenue sources,” she said. She also developed profit and loss statements, cost performance models, and a manufacturing and scalability analysis.
The other competition winners included a semi-autonomous flying quadcopter air duct inspection drone and a robotic retrofit tool used for caulking, aerosol sealing, and foam insulating buildings.
Members of the winning team that competed at University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School on April 8-9 included Berkeley Haas student David Wang, BS 22, (Business & Chemical Engineering); Victor Li, BS 22, (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), Carol Xie, BA 22, (Computer Science & Statistics); Allen Wang, BA 23, (Economics & Data Science); and Blair Wu, BA 24, (Economics & Biology).
A team of Berkeley Haas evening & weekend MBA students took third place, including Andrew Celin, John Eastman, Shenshen Hu, Terrence Tse, and Georgia Wright-Simmons, all EWMBA 22.
“I’m blown away by these wins,” said Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program (BHEP). Shrader, who accompanied the students, said she was pleased that VCIC returned as an in-person event this year.
More than 120 university and graduate school teams compete at VCIC. The competition has a two-fold mission: to make students VCs for the day and allow startups to jumpstart their fundraising. Since the competition’s inception in 1998, more than 800 founders have received 1,500 practice term sheets from student investment teams.
At the finals, the Berkeley undergraduates performed due diligence on three startups. After writing up term sheets, the team recommended a $5.25 million investment in agriculture technology startup Atira. Atira is developing an indoor system that promises to grow vegetables 40 percent faster without energy waste or pesticides.
“The business has a lot of potential,” said Wu, who took a gap semester off to work at a venture capital firm last year and met her teammates through Berkeley’s Association of Chinese Entrepreneurs (ACE). “They’d already acquired patents and had a strong team. Their product was solid and there’s strong market demand.”
David Wang, BS 22, said he believes that two key factors helped with the win: team dynamics and mentorship. “We purposely looked for folks with diverse functional and industry experience ranging from energy consulting to healthcare investment banking to tech entrepreneurship,” he said.
“We purposely looked for folks with diverse functional and industry experience ranging from energy consulting to healthcare investment banking to tech entrepreneurship.” —David Wang.
Wang also credited Haas MBA alumnus Elan Tye, a principal at JAZZ Venture Partners, and Matt Kirmayer, a partner at law firm Perkins Coie, for spending “countless hours preparing us for the competition…We could not have done it without them,” he said.
Shrader said the team “crushed” its partner meeting round, nailing both the startup valuation and the Q&A session.
“Everybody had a role and everybody spoke at the finals and you could see that their emphasis was on team work,” she said.”This team definitely had confidence without attitude.”
Three student-led conferences scheduled at Berkeley Haas in April kick off Friday with the 10th annual MBA Chile conference, followed by the BERC Energy Summit Conference and the Africa Business Forum.
Lagos will join virtually, but the event will be held in person at Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum starting Friday. MBA Chile, an association that unites Chilean MBA students worldwide, encourages networking and generates a call to action around Chile’s social, economic, political, and environmental conditions. About 120 people are expected to attend the conference.
The event is hosted by different top business schools each year; Northwestern’s Kellogg and MIT’s Sloan School hosted the conference virtually during the pandemic. Tomás Jiménez, MBA 22, head of the 2022 MBA Chile conference and vp of careers with the Latin American and Hispanic Business Association (LAHBA), said it’s been a pleasure planning this year’s event and an honor to host at Haas.
“Working with our talented Chilean Haasies to organize this conference has been a great management experience,” said Jiménez, who worked in private equity before coming to Haas and will work at Snap after graduation.
Each year, former Chilean presidents are invited, along with heads of executive departments and ministers, CEOs and C-level executives of Chilean and Latin
American firms, Chilean business group leaders, and successful entrepreneurs. A total of 25 speakers are signed on to participate this year.
Part of MBA Chile’s mission is to encourage more Chilean women to apply to MBA programs. Currently, about 13% of Chilean applicants to MBA programs are women, the group estimates.
Four sessions will be held on Friday on Sustainability and CSR; Doing Business in Chile and Latin America; The Fintech Revolution; and Chile: Challenges and Opportunities.
A happy hour will follow at Tupper & Reed on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley.
Saturday’s agenda includes sessions on Unconscious Bias, presented by Woman MBA Chile and VC & Entrepreneurship in Latin America, followed by lunch at the Faculty Club, and a social event at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium.
The event organizing committee at Haas includes: Felipe Covarrubias, Martin Pavez, and Tomás Campos, all MBA 22, and Nicolás Mora, Felipe Bosselin, Matias Pavez, Santiago Recabarren, all MBA 23.
Carla Peterman, PhD 17 (Energy & Resources), executive vice president of corporate affairs and chief sustainability officer at PG&E, will kick off the upcoming annual Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC) Energy Summit.
The conference will be held Monday, April 11, at UC Berkeley’s Pauley Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. followed by networking until 7 p.m.
Sessions include Empowering the Energy Transition through DEI;, Women in Energy; Carbon Pricing: Does it work?; Venture Capital: Investing for Impact; Solutions for a Nuclear Future; What’s Next for Rooftop Solar; and EV Charging: Powering Electric Mobility.
On Wednesday, April 13, the BERC Innovation Expo will be held at Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum from 9 a.m. to noon, including research poster presentations and innovation expo awards, followed by a UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate career forum. The expo connects energy and cleantech companies to students pursuing a career in energy. Tickets available here.
The 7th Annual Africa Business Forum will explore the innovation landscape in Africa, challenges and opportunities the continent faces, and how talent development in Africa will contribute to a changing world.
The event will be held Friday, April 15, from noon to 5 p.m. at Spieker Forum in Chou Hall at Berkeley Haas.
Martha Saavedra, PhD 91, (Political Science) and associate director of the Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley, will kick off the event with welcome remarks, followed by a keynote talk by Chukwuemeka Afigbo, director and developer of experience at Okta and a former manager of developer programs at Meta. During his time at Meta, he worked on partnerships in both Africa and the Middle East.
Speakers will address the future of fintech in Africa, the rise of AI technology, and how entrepreneurs and investment are shaping the future of Africa and the world.
A panel on Innovation in Healthcare in Africa will be moderated by Bioengineering Professor Delphine Dean of Clemson University.
Adegoke Olubusi, founder & CEO at Helium Health
Anu Parvatiyar, founder & CEO at Ananya Health
Emilian Popa, CEO & co-founder at Ilara Health
Dr. Murisiku (Muri) Raifu, CEO & founder at Talamus Health
Kevin Doxzen, researcher at the World Economic Forum
Forum organizers include Ismail Aberki, Sk Alabagda, Nuvi Njinimbam, Candy Jiawen Xiao, John Bolaji, Konso Mbakire, Nebo Iwenofu, all MBA 23.
QuantumScape CEO and Co-founder Jagdeep Singh, EWMBA 90, will speak at the combined Berkeley Haas Full-Time and Evening & Weekend MBA commencement ceremony, and corporate leader, entrepreneur, and author Aaron McDaniel, BS 05, will address undergraduates at commencement.
Both ceremonies will be held at the Greek Theatre, with the undergrads tossing caps on Monday, May 16, and the FTMBA and Evening & Weekend MBA students graduating together on Saturday, May 21.
A makeup commencement for the full-time MBA classes of 2020 and 2021—who had to forego in-person ceremonies during the pandemic—will be held Friday, April 29, at the Paramount Theater in Oakland. Laura Clayton McDonnell, MBA/JD 85 and a senior vice president of sales for the East, Canada, and Latin America regions at ServiceNow, will address the graduates.
Additionally, the PhD hooding ceremony will be held May 6, and Executive MBA commencement will be held June 4. Laura Adint, EMBA 14, operations and strategy executive at Raymond James, is the commencement speaker.
Jagdeep Singh, EWMBA 90, to speak at FTMBA/EWMBA commencement
Singh is co-founder and CEO of QuantumScape, an energy storage company that supports the global transition toward a lower carbon future.
Prior to founding QuantumScape, Singh was co-founder and CEO of Infinera Corp, a telecommunications equipment company and developer of the first large-scale, photonic integrated circuit. He led the company from startup through an IPO.
Previously, he was founder and CEO of Lightera Networks, acquired by CIENA Corp. Before that, he founded and led several communications companies, including OnFiber and AirSoft.
Singh is also founder and CEO of Deep Valley Labs, a venture laboratory and incubator focused on a hypothesis-driven approach to founding, validating, and spinning out high-impact technology companies.
He holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University, and an MBA from Berkeley Haas.
Aaron McDaniel, BS 05, named 2022 undergraduate commencement speaker
McDaniel, BS 05, is a former AT&T sales executive, serial entrepreneur, and has been an entrepreneurship lecturer at Berkeley Haas for the past five years.
He began his career at AT&T and rose to regional vice president of sales at age 27, among the youngest at the company to do so. In this role, he managed a team of more than 60 people and oversaw all sales operations, IT support, and data and mobility solutions for small- and medium-sized companies. He graduated from AT&T’s flagship Leadership Development Program and was a member of AT&T’s Diamond Club for the top 1% of sales leaders worldwide.
McDaniel went on to found and sell three companies, including Pong360, an e-commerce company that sells college and tailgating products; Tycoon Real Estate, a real estate crowdfunding platform; and Velocity Capital Group, a real estate private equity firm.
He is currently a founding partner at Grow Scale, a commercial real estate private equity firm, and co-founder of 10X Innovation Lab, a Silicon Valley-based consulting agency that offers entrepreneurship programs and services to government and corporate leaders.
McDonnell is senior vice president of sales for the East, Canada, and Latin America regions at ServiceNow, and serves on the board of directors of Zuora.
With extensive sales management, global experience, and legal expertise, McDonnell has held executive positions at leading companies in the high-technology industry as vice president of Microsoft’s New York region; senior vice president of North American sales at at Aspect Software; vice president of strategic services at IBM; and vice president of business development at Rational Software. She’s also held various senior sales and legal roles at Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and Apple and practiced private, corporate, and securities law.
McDonnell received a BS with distinction from San Jose State University, and an MBA/JD from Berkeley Haas. She was admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and the State of California.
She received the 2008 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award and serves on the board of directors and membership committee of the Women’s Forum of New York and is a member of Women’s United of the United Way of New York City. She’s also an advisory committee member of the 92Y Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact.
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 peer and employer polls account for 40% of the score. The other 60% consist of placement success and starting salary (35%) and student selectivity (25%).
The score for the part-time MBA rankings is calculated from the peer polls (50%), student selectivity (27.5%), work experience (10%), and percent of MBA students who are enrolled part-time (12.5%). The specialty and the executive MBA rankings are based entirely on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs.
A crowd of more than 600 people—from engineers and investors to Bay Area startup founders and students passionate about the environment—bundled up in the Berkeley Haas courtyard on a recent chilly evening to network about climate tech.
“We hope the night helped inspire the cross-pollination of ideas beyond the MBA community,” said Adriana Penuela-Useche, EWMBA 22, who helped organize the Feb. 23 Climate Tech Cocktails Happy Hour with classmates Sneha Solanki and David Siap, also EWMBA 22. “Climate tech is a necessity for humanity and seeing so many people completely engaged and alive talking about climate encourages all of us to roll up our sleeves and act fast.”
Climate Tech Cocktails Happy Hours, founded by climate tech investor Matt Myers, have brought more than 1,200 people from the climate tech innovation community together across the country since its launch in summer 2021. “My hope is that the Climate Tech Cocktails platform can help inspire MBA students to create or work for climate tech startups to save humanity from itself,” said Myers, who produces a podcast of the same name.
The night came together at Haas after Penuela-Useche, Solanki, and Siap reached out to Myers, who was looking for a venue to host his next event.
“Sneha, David, and I had been going to these in the Bay Area,” said Penuela-Useche, who recently left her job to focus on a career in venture capital funding for climate tech. “When Matt’s email went out asking for a venue, we jumped on board.”
Major climate tech investors, including Strawberry Creek Ventures, Fifty Years Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, and Sapphire Ventures, co-sponsored the event.
Matt Caspari, MBA 06, is a managing partner at Strawberry Creek Ventures, a UC Berkeley alumni venture fund that invests in companies led by UC Berkeley alumni. “It was the largest in-person gathering I’ve been to in a couple of years and it was energizing to see so many people passionate about climate and sustainability,” he said.
Holding the event at Berkeley Haas and having so many students, along with 20 startups, attend made the event special, said Caspari, who started climate-focused venture-backed company Aurora Biofuels while he was at Haas.
“Being back at Haas and seeing how much interest has grown in this sector made it significant for me,” he said. In 2006, venture creation was focused heavily around alternative fuels and solar, he said. “Today, every industry is being transformed—and that creates a much broader opportunity for startup creation for entrepreneurs interested in sustainability/climate.”
Penuela-Useche, Siap and Solanki enlisted the help of 15 MBA volunteers to help welcome and register attendees. Avni Kansara, director of student experience with the Berkeley Haas EWMBA program, helped with event logistics and Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, rounded up climate tech startups to attend.
Solanki, who like Penuela-Useche studied chemical engineering as an undergrad and is now interested in early-seed stage venture investing, couldn’t get a visa in time to attend the event, but said she was present “in spirit.” “I think it was amazing to have people standing in the middle of campus speaking from the heart about climate change,” she said.
Siap, a former intern in business and strategy at X, the moonshot factory, where he consulted on climate-related projects including direct air capture, e-fuels, and carbon offsets, said the event came together well. “There was a ton of organic interest from startups, VCs, and, most importantly, students,” he said. “I would love to see Haas use its position in the ecosystem and make this its own annual event.”
This month, as we celebrate Women’s History Month and prepare to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, we are called on to imagine a world where women across all intersectional identities have equal access to opportunities, income, safety, political representation, and choices.
Throughout our history, despite seemingly insurmountable barriers, women across the globe have strived and sacrificed to be seen for our capabilities, and fairly valued for our contributions. Women of all intersectional identities have organized and been a part of many movements to gain equal rights, and to advocate for reforms that impact everyone, including safe working conditions and labor practices, improved accessibility for people with disabilities, obtaining and protecting voting access, and other civil rights. However, women—here in the U.S. and around the world—continue to face epidemics of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment.
Yesterday, President Biden signed the Ending Forced Arbitration Act, a landmark piece of legislation spurred by the #MeToo movement, ending the use of hidden language in contracts that prevented employees from suing in the case of sexual assault or harassment. It is a victory, with so many more battles ahead.
March 24 is All Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how far into the new year women must work to be paid what men were paid the previous year. On average, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar men are paid. Disaggregating the data shows a deeper disparity.
Asian American women are paid 85 cents for every dollar white men earn, making March 9 their Equal Pay Day. For Black women, Equal Pay Day doesn’t come until August; for Native American women, it’s September. For Latinas, the date comes near the end of October, with their average pay being 57 cents for every dollar paid to white men. The disparities do not stop there.
Women with disabilities make 72 cents for every dollar paid to men with disabilities; but as a whole, people with disabilities make only 68 cents for each dollar earned by able bodied people. Mothers earn 75 cents for every dollar fathers make. There is not precise national data on equal pay for lesbian, bisexual, queer, or trans women, indicating our need to advocate to include all of our sisters in the data.
Important research insights uncovered by our faculty point to real-world solutions to pay inequity. In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Professor Laura Kray and post-doc scholar Margaret Lee highlighted their findings that women are given smaller teams to manage on average than men, which contributes to the pay gap; Kray is working with Dean Harrison to dig into why the pay gap between men and women MBA graduates increases over time. Assistant Professor Solène Delecourt is studying inequities in business performance; three of her recent studies have pinpointed the factors that cause women-owned businesses to underperform men’s around the world, and how that can be fixed. Former Dean Laura Tyson was the co-author of a key UN report on women’s economic empowerment. Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) and EGAL Assistant Director Genevieve Smith co-authored a teaching case focused on the importance of pay transparency in closing the gap.
We know the progress toward equity took a giant step backwards during the pandemic. By the end of January, men in the U.S. had regained all of the jobs they had lost since February 2020. But 1.1 million women who left the labor force during the same time had yet to return, pointing to long-standing structural inequities (with caregiving responsibilities topping the list) that make it harder for women to return to work. Recognizing that women in heterosexual dual-career couples, with or without children, still do most of the household/care work, EGAL developed 7 evidence-based ‘plays’ to support dual career couples.
Burnout brought on by the pandemic has pushed many women to reevaluate and identify new approaches to career and personal life. That re-evaluation is the focus of this weekend’s “Re:set, Re:imagine, and Re:build,” the 26th annual Women in Leadership Conference at Haas. Conference organizers intentionally have integrated intersectional identities throughout the program. The conference will be held tomorrow, March 5, in Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum. You may register here.
We have incredible representation of women in senior leadership roles at Berkeley Haas, including our Dean, our chief operating officer, our chief financial officer and several assistant deans and program directors. Yet we have more work to do to achieve balanced gender representation among our faculty and students. Our senior leaders are working to continue to foster a climate of belonging, and strategizing on outreach, recruitment, and yield to increase representation of women among our faculty and students.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day and its theme #BreaktheBias, I treasure all of the accomplishments of women around the world and I am grateful to have benefitted from the progress achieved by those who came before me. I also realize that “la lucha sigue” (the struggle continues), as we say in my community. Women with multiple marginalized identities often have even longer, bumpier roads to travel.
We each have the responsibility to continue unlearning the gender bias we have absorbed throughout our lives and we must hold ourselves accountable at an individual level. We have the power to use our leadership to create structural changes at all levels. Collectively, working together, let’s #BreaktheBias.
It’s no secret that Robert Strand, executive director of the Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley Haas, believes the Nordics hold the key to the future of American capitalism. Strand, who came to Haas in 2014 after earning a PhD and becoming a sustainability professor at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, is finishing a book called “Sustainable Vikings: What the Nordics Can Teach Us about Reimagining American Capitalism.” He has been using drafts of the book to teach in his undergraduate and MBA course, Sustainable Capitalism in the Nordics. Strand is also now the executive director of the new UC Berkeley Nordic Center.
We spoke with Strand about the future of capitalism and his award-winning case Patagonia’s path to carbon neutrality by 2025, along with his Nordic Center role.
The Financial Times recently honored the Berkeley Haas Patagonia case in its special report on Responsible Business Education. (The case was co-written in 2018 with CRB’s former associate director, Seren Pendleton-Knoll, UC Berkeley Professor Daniel Kammen, and Patagonia employees, including Vincent Stanley.) What was your goal with the case?
The goal was to help frame this wicked problem of climate change and provide inspiration for other companies to take action. There’s real strength in acknowledging that a problem exists, that business is part of the problem, and that even a sustainability-leading company like Patagonia does not know exactly what to do. Patagonia is leveraging every resource at its disposal, including the Center for Responsible Business, to help frame the issues at hand. Within that case, we wanted to highlight tensions involved when you talk about running a for-profit business and you also desire to address a great issue like climate change.
There’s real strength in acknowledging that a problem exists, that business is part of the problem, and that even a sustainability-leading company like Patagonia does not know exactly what to do.
What did Patagonia do differently to address these challenges?
Patagonia is engaging in open innovation, drawing from a concept from our Berkeley Haas colleague Henry Chesbrough, to tackle its challenges. Through the authoring of a case and its use in the Patagonia Case Competition that we run through the Center for Responsible Business, Patagonia is opening its challenges up to the world for help. The likelihood that the best ideas and best solutions to tackle climate change exist within the walls of Patagonia are next to none. We can help Patagonia find solutions to its problems and facilitate cooperation with a variety of new stakeholders that Patagonia may have otherwise never encountered.
What can companies and our students learn from Patagonia?
Wicked problems like climate change demand cooperation. They demand us coming together and addressing a problem that affects us all. We must go beyond ourselves to address this. American business students need to get comfortable with cooperation and working beyond the walls of their companies to address our greatest sustainability challenges. This often includes engaging with industry peers. I deliberately use the expression industry peers as opposed to competitors because language matters and a peer is someone with whom you collaborate.
American business students need to get comfortable with cooperation and working beyond the walls of their companies to address our greatest sustainability challenges.
Your views on capitalism were deeply influenced by the time you spent living in Norway. How?
When I came from the Copenhagen Business School to Haas in 2014, my Trojan Horse agenda was the Nordics. My American mind was revolutionized by my experiences living and working in the Nordic countries for the better part of a decade. As a PhD-student-turned-professor in Denmark, I saw first-hand the policies and practices that were working really well there to better ensure the well-being of every member of society. These were policies and practices that I was told in the United States couldn’t work—including access to childcare, paid parental leaves, universal access to health care and education—because they were called socialism and had to be a drag on efficiency. However, I saw that the Nordic countries are market-based economies and exemplars of capitalism, but just a different variety of capitalism than what we know in the U.S. I saw how Nordic societies were more efficiently and equitably handling their challenges. I began to realize maybe the problem lies with us Americans. That set me on the path of questioning the status quo of American capitalism, and what better place to do such a thing than Berkeley Haas.
Let’s shift gears and discuss what you are working on now.
I’m finishing my book “Sustainable Vikings,” which is about what the Nordics can teach us about reimagining American capitalism. I use drafts of it in all the classes that I teach at Berkeley Haas and have just loved the discussions with our bright and wonderful Haas students over these past years. They are now a part of this book. I want to be part of normalizing the approach I saw in the Nordic societies where business leaders saw themselves as stewards of the company and society. I fear too many companies and too many prominent business figures in the United States have adopted an extractive approach. We need to fight this extractive approach head on because it is leading us all to a very bad place. But, I should stress there is nothing that says somebody needs to be from a place like Denmark to be a steward. I am talking about the need for a mindset shift where we discard the old assumptions that do not serve us well.
We need more American business leaders like Rose Marcario, former CEO of Patagonia, and Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi’s, and a partner of the Center for Responsible Business, who is leveraging his platform to elevate the risks to our democratic institutions and the need to strengthen our American democracy.
UC Berkeley recently launched the new Nordic Center and named you director. What has the center been up to?
The Nordic Center is institutionally tied to the Center for Responsible Business, the Scandinavian Department, and the Institute for European Studies, so we straddle the campus to bring the best of Berkeley to the Nordic agenda. Our first big event was the Nordic Sustainable Food Summit this fall, drawing upon our competency in sustainable food with Will Rosenzweig and courses like Edible Education, and the Plant Futures Lab. We showcased our Nordic connections, including Björn Öste,founder of Oatly, an oat milk company out of Sweden. We’ll make it an annual event and next year we will beef up ladder faculty participation, including our great researchers like Professor Paul Gertler, who’s interested in things like sugar taxes that Norway has implemented to compare with efforts here in the U.S. Our students are connecting with these Nordic-based firms and startups and next year we hope to be in- person at Haas, sharing some great Nordic food!
A primary driver behind the Nordic Center is Barbro Osher, a good friend to UC Berkeley and a good friend of mine. Without her, none of this would have been possible. Barbro gave me the nickname “Mr. Nordic,” and what a pleasure it has been to get the Nordic Center established in partnership with her and our friends and colleagues across UC Berkeley.
A plan to weave sustainability across the Berkeley Haas curriculum is underway, with faculty adding fresh cases, new class materials, and lectures with industry leaders to their courses.
“We are doubling down on our investment in sustainability and preparing the next generation of sustainability leaders,” said Berkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison.
Making Haas the number one business school for sustainability is a goal shared by Harrison and Michele de Nevers, executive director of Sustainability Programs at Haas. “Our goal is that all graduates should have an understanding and awareness of the sustainability challenges, issues, and a framework for thinking about these challenges as they go forth into their careers,” she said.
By the end of 2023, the school plans to retool all 14 core courses at Haas to incorporate concepts that address climate change and other sustainability challenges throughout various business disciplines. (Haas already offers many elective courses focused on sustainability, everything from Energy & Environmental Markets to Business and Sustainable Supply Chains.)
“Accountants need to plan for the effects of climate change on valuation and outcomes; real estate developers and financiers will need to consider climate changes in forecasting risk; so will consultants and investment bankers,” Harrison said.
Becoming a leader
There are many signs that Haas is moving toward its goal as a sustainability leader. More than two-thirds of the full-time MBA Class of 2021 took a course focused on sustainability while they were at Haas. And a total of 109 part- and full-time MBA students are signed up for the new Michaels Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business, a 9-credit certificate program. The first 10 students earned the certificate last year in one of three tracks: corporate sustainability, sustainable finance, and impact venture capital.
In addition, Haas is also moving its campus further toward carbon neutrality. The Financial Times this week named Haas among the more ambitious schools today in this area, citing its efforts with UC Berkeley to be carbon neutral by 2025, for both direct emissions and indirect emissions arising from electricity consumed. (Chou Hall is already certified as zero-waste — defined as diverting more than 90 per cent of refuse from landfill.)
For the past year, de Nevers has been assessing how sustainability is incorporated within the curriculum. She is working with the faculty to update courses during the 2021/2022 school year to address sustainability, tapping funds from the Holmstrom Sustainability Curriculum Grant.
Faculty members participating include Assistant Professor Omri Even-Tov, who is teaching a carbon emissions case he co-wrote with Professor Xiao-Jun Zhang, in his Financial Accounting course. Taught to first-year MBA students, the case addresses how companies can provide detailed disclosures about their carbon emissions in financial statements and estimates the direct and indirect costs of disclosure. The case also asks why companies might act to mitigate pollution—and evaluates the costs and benefits of those actions.
At the undergraduate level, Professor David Levine includes sustainability issues during most weeks teaching his macroeconomics course, integrating it into topics such as measuring GDP, international trade, recessions, and the analysis of current policies such as the environmental elements of Biden’s “Build Back Better Plan.”
During discussion on global climate change toward semester’s end, students will engage in a simulation, with teams taking on the roles of different nations. “Their job is to see if they can find a climate agreement that they all find acceptable,” Levine said.
Five key areas
Across campus, what makes Haas stand out is the extensive work the school has done is five key areas of sustainability: energy, the food chain, the built environment, sustainable and impact finance, and corporate social responsibility.
In 2020, CRB led a survey of MBA employers across industries, asking them about their sustainability roles and the necessary skills required for success. They then mapped those in-demand skills to content taught in more than 40 Haas courses—that teach everything from impact measurement and management to systems thinking to coalition building.
Separately, CRB curated a database of top corporate sustainability cases and articles for the faculty to use in their courses. “The case compendium is one example where CRB and our wonderful Haas students have curated a suite of sustainability-minded business cases and articles that are primed to be readily integrated into the core MBA curriculum,” said CRB’s executive director Robert Strand.
Professional Faculty member Brandi Pearce is teaching a case tapped from the database about Burt’s Bees in her course Leading for Sustainability. The case examines the challenges the company faced in remaining committed to its mission after its acquisition by Clorox. Pearce said the case “encourages students to explore the challenges of becoming part of a public company—with a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders—while remaining a leader in driving social responsibility and sustainability business practices.”
Student demand for new course material in sustainability in the core and beyond is strong, said Olivia Wasteneys, MBA 22, who worked with de Nevers to assess how the faculty is integrating sustainability and on the distribution of grant funds. “It’s not just ESG reporting or climate change but the bigger question of ‘What is responsible business?’ ” she said. “It’s about how we cultivate a stronger sense of ethics and awareness of systemic issues, what we as a society face, and how business plays a role in perpetuating this and how we disassemble it.”
On a recent rainy night, more than 100 Berkeley Haas and Stanford GSB students convened in Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum for a first-of-its-kind Founder-Investor Mixer.
Haas MBA students Atusa Sadeghi and Alejandra (Ale) Vergara, along with Dogakan Toka, EWMBA 22 and co-president of the Berkeley Entrepreneurship Association (BEA), were behind the event. As co-presidents of the Haas Venture Capital Club, they decided it was time for students from the two programs to get to know each other in the tight-knit industry, where they’d inevitably run into each other post-graduation.
“I think collaboration is the key word here,” said Sadeghi, EWMBA 22, a former mechanical engineer who transitioned into venture capital over the last two years. “If we’re going to be in the same industry, let’s be united.”
A new fund
That shared vision for unity among investors and entrepreneurs is something Sadeghi and Vergara, full-time MBA 22, have emphasized since taking on their roles amid the Covid pandemic. Under their watch, they organized the event with Stanford, landing the support of sponsor First Republic Bank and Andrew Liou, a senior relationship manager at the bank, who “didn’t think twice before supporting the collaborative effort,” Vergara said.
Membership in the student-run VC club, founded in 2018 by evening & weekend MBA students Chris Truglia and Scott Graham, has increased from about 100 to more than 500 students, split 50-50 between the evening & weekend and full-time MBA programs. Since its founding, collaboration and networking among students from both the programs has been critical to the club’s success, Truglia said.
The club hosts popular pitch nights, often partnering with other UC Berkeley clubs, and has built a database with answers to the most common questions students ask about the venture capital industry. This past fall, venture capital club leadership also helped spearhead the creation of Courtyard Ventures, a new venture fund led by Haas MBA students that provides an opportunity for Cal students and alumni to invest in early-stage Cal startups. The fund has recently begun deploying capital, after exceeding funding goals and closing its first two investments in early January, Sadeghi said.
While entrepreneurship is a well-established career path at Haas, Gupta said he’s seen a shift in student interest and effort in venture capital over the past three years, as the number of Bay Area VC funds has proliferated. “Now, these funds are coming to Haas to recruit for associate and principal roles,” said Gupta, who is also managing partner of his own pre-seed fund Blue Bear Ventures started at UC Berkeley. By next year, Gupta predicts Haas could double its number of full-time offers.
That growth would be significant. For each of the past two summers, about 15 to 20 full-time MBA students interned at venture capital firms, up from just a few in 2015, said William Rindfuss, executive director of strategic programs in the Haas Finance Group. While there’s a longer track record of students studying finance going into investment banking, a total of around 10 grads took full-time jobs in venture capital over the past two years. “We’ve had more students doing VC internships, and that will likely lead to more full-time VC job offers,” Rindfuss said.
The passion for investing
But increased hiring comes down to overcoming challenges endemic to the venture capital industry. VC funds can be insular, they don’t hire on a predictable schedule, and entry-level pay can be low compared to other finance jobs—with a big payoff delayed until you make partner, Gupta said.
“Venture is so ‘just in time’ and when people hire you you start immediately. It’s not like consulting where you get your offer and start next July,” said Jeff Diamond, MBA 22, a VC Club officer and a general partner at Courtyard Ventures. But Diamond, who came to Haas to switch from a career in the entertainment industry to early-stage investing, said he’s committed to a VC career. “It’s a lot of work but it’s rewarding,” he said. “It’s what I liked about working with artists, writers, and directors. You want to be the person who works with them. The idea of being with these companies for the long haul is what interests me.”
“The idea of being with these companies for the long haul is what interests me.” — Jeff Diamond, MBA 22
There’s clearly passion for investing in the Haas alumni network, which is expanding to include graduates like Sydney Thomas, MBA 16, a principal at seed-stage fund Precursor Ventures; Matthew Divack, MBA 19, an investor at Moment Ventures, and Champ Suthipongchai, MBA 15, who co-founded Creative Ventures, a tech VC firm investing in startups that address the impact of increasing labor shortages, rising healthcare costs, and the climate crisis.
Making alumni connections
An earlier success story in venture capital, Michael Berolzheimer, MBA 07, founded Bee Partners in 2008. An internship at pre-seed fund Bee Partners piqued Vergara’s interest last year, but she worried she lacked a technical background. Then Vergara met Kira Noodleman, MBA 17, a partner at Bee, through the Berkeley Female Founder and Funder’s summit last year. “Kira encouraged me to apply,” said Vergara, who landed the internship. That led to a full-time job offer with the fund when she graduates in May.
Looking for more investment experience, Sadeghi found her internship as a senior venture associate at Blue Bear Capital (separate from Gupta’s fund, Blue Bear Ventures). She first met Carolin Funk, a Blue Bear partner invited by the 2020 Haas Venture Capital Club to speak at the school. Interviews at Blue Bear led to an offer. She then learned that recent alum André Chabaneix, MBA 21, already worked at Blue Bear as a senior associate.
“André is just amazing,” Sadeghi said. “We have a lot in common in terms of our background and industry interest so we bonded pretty quickly. In our overlapping year at Haas we participated in the 2021 Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) where we ended up representing Berkeley at the global finals together—and now we’re great friends and colleagues.”
While students continue their internship and career recruitment this spring, the VC Club already has many events planned, including club-sponsored workshops, student-alumni mixer events and more collaboration with peer MBA programs. Vergara and Sadhegi encouraged students “who are just interested in learning more about VC or are fully committed to this career path,” to check out the club.
“It’s been such a pleasure running the 2021 VC club year with Ale, and we can’t wait to welcome the 2022 leadership team to carry us forward,” Sadhegi said.
Converting an office building into a life science center to lease to medical and biotech companies landed a team of Berkeley Haas MBA students a first place win at the 2021 UT Austin Real Estate Competition.
The competition was held Thursday, Nov. 18 and hosted by the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.
Team members include Carson Goldman, Andrew Johnson, Ian MacLean, Alex Dragten, all MBA 22, Fukang Peng, and Travis Kauzer, both EWMBA 22.
Haas bested 19 other teams from top U.S. business schools including Columbia, Yale, Wharton, NYU Stern, and University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, and won $10,000 in prize money. This is Haas’ third first place win at this competition in the last four years.
MBA teams were tasked with creating a business plan for a building with a single tenant whose lease was about to expire. They had to consider maximizing risk-adjusted returns and demonstrate an understanding of macroeconomic trends, including the effects of inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Haas MBA team decided to convert the building into a life science center to attract multiple tenants and maximize high returns.
Team lead Carson Goldman credited the team’s win to practicing case presentations every week this semester and to work they did with their faculty advisors.
“Our coaches Bill Falik and Abby Franklin provided constant feedback and guidance and were wholly committed to this competition,” Goldman said. “Our alumni were just as important as they had volunteered weekly to judge our practice cases and offer constructive criticism,” he added.
“It’s very gratifying to see our students progress over the semester and to win first place,” said Haas Lecturer Bill Falik. “We’ve had victories, but to win first place in three out of the four years at this national competition–this has never been done before.”
The Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program will host a kickoff event Nov. 9 for a new fellowship program aimed at increasing access to business leadership and scholarships for historically underrepresented groups.
The program, launched through a partnership between Haas and the SF/Bay Area chapter of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), includes networking and mentorship, as well as the opportunity to be selected for a $50,000 scholarship. The scholarship award is more than 50% higher than most scholarship awards to students in part-time MBA programs.
The kickoff event, to be held in Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum from 6-8 p.m., will feature guest speakers Joe Handy, president of the National Black MBA Association; Myisha Robertson, president and CEO of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Black MBA Association; and Élida Bautista, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at Haas. A panel discussion with Berkeley Haas alumni and members of the SF Black MBA Association will follow.
“We’re so excited to be partnering with the local chapter of the NBMBAA,” said Jenny Clare, senior associate director of admissions for the Berkeley Haas EWMBA Program. “The Berkeley Haas Equity scholarship will help us to continue to increase the diversity of the applicant pool, and, as a result, increase the diversity of student enrollment in our program.”
As an SF Black MBA Fellow, students will:
Become a member of the SF Bay Area Chapter of the NBMBAA and be assigned a mentor who will provide counsel, connections, and guidance throughout their MBA study.
Join a cohort and community of other fellowship recipients and their mentors in the inaugural class of SF Black MBA Fellows, which will begin in Fall 2022 and extend through their time in the Berkeley Haas EWMBA program and beyond.
Meet regularly with other SF Black MBA Fellows and mentors, network with the SF chapter and Haas leadership, and have exclusive opportunities to connect with Bay Area business leaders.
Be considered for one of the $50,000 Berkeley Haas Equity Scholarships, which will be awarded to SF Black MBA Fellows who exemplify commitment to increasing opportunities and access for underrepresented groups. The number of awards will depend on the applicant pool, and is estimated at two-to-four scholarships of $50,000 each, distributed over three years.
Funding for the new scholarships was provided by Jamie Breen, assistant dean of the school’s MBA Programs for Working Professionals.
“We’ve been thinking about scholarship support to increase the diversity of our working-professional student population for a while, but it’s hard to get these things started,” she said. “I have the capability to do it, so this seemed like a great place to use my philanthropy.”
Interested new applicants should apply for the fellowship at the time they apply to Berkeley Haas, well before the final deadline of May 2, 2022, as fellowships are awarded throughout the admissions cycle, Clare said. (The scholarships are not open to current EWMBA students)
Applicants commuting to campus from outside the Bay Area, or who join the Flex EWMBA cohort, are also welcome to apply to be a SF National Black Fellow.
The fellowship application includes a 250-word essay about how an applicant demonstrated anongoing commitment to increasing opportunity and access to people from racial/ethnic groups who are historically underrepresented in business (specifically Black/African-American, LatinX, and Native/Indigenous communities).
Berkeley Haas has long been an NBMBAA educational partner, and sought to further this relationship with the local chapter, where some Haas alumni are already active.
Donned in full regalia, graduates of both the Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend and Executive MBA classes of 2020 and 2021 reunited on campus last weekend for in-person commencements.
The graduates crossed the stage, collected diplomas, and celebrated in the sunshine with classmates, family, and friends. (The EWMBA ceremony was held at Zellerbach Hall, while the EMBA ceremony was held at Hertz Hall.) The in-person events followed separate virtual commencement ceremonies held in May 2020 & 2021.
Here are a few highlights from Saturday’s ceremonies:
Haas Voices is a first-person series that highlights the lived experiences of members of the Berkeley Haas community. In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we spoke with Adilene Dominguez, EWMBA 24, who’s determined to create a new business model that will provide equitable health care to everyone, regardless of economic status. She shares her story below.
Growing up in Waukegan, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago, I lived in a world with many blessings. My parents weren’t millionaires, they were migrant workers who worked 80 hours a week. But the opportunities afforded to us–access to public schools, tutors, health insurance, the ability to find work–were privileges that many Latinos in my community, including my extended family members, did not have.
I began to notice inequities, specifically in healthcare, when I was about five years old. I often accompanied friends and family whenever they needed to see the doctor. They spoke little English, so I translated on their behalf. I noticed that they’d have to stand in line for hours at the local clinic to get medical treatment, whereas if I needed medical care, my parents would take me to a hospital because I had health insurance. It just didn’t seem fair to me that our friends and family couldn’t get the same quality health care as I did.
Observing those disparities early on, coupled with a natural aptitude for science and math, led me to Beloit College where I joined the pre-med program. As a pre-med student, I interned with doctors and volunteered at hospitals, but quickly realized that I didn’t want to be a doctor. I thought that I’d have a greater impact if I could find a way to bring equitable health care to my community.
After college, I landed at Becton Dickinson (BD), a medical device company, working as a research and development (R&D) technician. I moved up the ranks from a technician to a scientist and eventually transitioned from R&D to global marketing and strategy.
I also lead the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA) at BD. Through my work with HOLA, I help raise awareness within my industry about health disparities that impact the Latino community. When the pandemic hit, access to testing was limited, especially in Latino communities in California, Arizona, and Texas. I, along with marketers across eight HOLA chapters, decided to advocate for the distribution of Veritor, a rapid antigen test that can detect the COVID-19 virus, to health clinics servicing Latino communities. Through our efforts, we helped the Family Health Center of San Diego, which provides care to more than 215,000 patients a year, 91% of whom are considered low-income and 29% are uninsured.
It’s been gratifying to help my Latino community as it’s been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But I need to do more. The pandemic magnified health disparities that have long existed in Black and Brown communities. Whenever there’s a hurricane, earthquake, or any natural disaster, health care seems to be the primary resource that’s out of reach for these communities.
The pandemic magnified health disparities that have long existed in Black and Brown communities.
That’s why I’m at Haas. I want to acquire the skills needed to disrupt the healthcare system in the U.S. I want to design a profitable business model that will provide equitable health care for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
What does disruption look like? It’s putting the patient first and profit last. Currently, the way healthcare works in the U.S. is that whoever or whichever entity has the most influence or paying power gets access to the best medical supplies. Typically government contracts are fulfilled first. Thereafter, private institutions and public institutions get priority, and community health centers are served last.
But what if we flipped the funnel? If we help community clinics first, which serve people like farmers and hourly-wage workers–the people who are growing our food and working at grocery stores and other service industries–we can prevent the spread of any disease.
For too long, our approach to providing health care has come from the top down, when we really need to flip the funnel and think about the process much differently. We can’t keep doing business as usual when there are hundreds of people filling up the emergency room because they don’t have access to COVID-19 testing or vaccines.
Creating a new business model for the healthcare system is a lofty goal. But someone has to do it, so why not me?
Creating a new business model for the healthcare system is a lofty goal. But someone has to do it, so why not me?
I know that I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself, but it’s my responsibility to help my community. That philosophy has been ingrained in me since I was a little girl. My family, who migrated from Tonatico, Mexico, made enormous sacrifices so that my siblings and I could have a better life. So I must move forward and be a role model for younger generations. If I don’t help my community, who will?
Rita Wiley, MBA 22, spent last summer interning at Piper Sandler’s San Francisco offices, taking in sweeping waterfront views from the 31st floor as she worked on healthcare investment deals with her team.
“On the first day, my managing director threw me into a live deal,” said Wiley, who spent a decade in project management with the U.S. Army before coming to Haas, where she was drawn to the work ethic and quick skill-building that investment banking demands. “I was given responsibility to run with projects.”
With that internship, Wiley joined a group of 14 Haas MBA students who worked as 2021 Summer Associate interns at Bay Area offices of investment banks. Now the top go-to business school for such hires, Haas typically nabs the largest—or over a 20%—share of the some-65 available IB Summer Associate slots each year. Internships, which are largely in either technology or healthcare investment banking, are critical because they lead to full-time positions at graduation with a very high return-offer rate relative to other industries.
“Haas produces world-class talent right here locally for the sought-after Bay Area offices, which focus largely on high-growth tech clients, and we perennially have the largest share of associates here at the global intersection of tech and finance,” said William Rindfuss, a member of the continuing professional faculty in finance who also manages financial services recruiting at Haas.
“Haas produces world-class talent right here locally for the sought-after Bay Area offices,” —William Rindfuss, who manages financial services recruiting at Haas.
Haas’ influence in investment banking grew for many reasons, including a strong finance faculty and curriculum, a Career Management Group (CMG) that’s well-connected to the top banks and supports students through the often intense recruiting process, and a powerful alumni network, Rindfuss said.
Importantly, those alumni show up for popular events like firm networking nights and the Investment Banking Speaker Series course, which recently featured Kate Claassen, MBA 07, head of West Coast Technology Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley, and will feature Nils Hellmer, MBA 15, an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs.
“Our alumni are so supportive and inspiring to the students,” said Rindfuss, a former J.P. Morgan banker, who has been at Haas since 2008. “You’ll find Haasies at all the top investment banks and we’re so grateful that they take the time to give back to the school and our students—while at the same time seeking new talent.”
Berkeley Haas’ investment banking network has grown over the decades, said Steve Etter, who teaches finance at Haas and is a founding partner at Greyrock Capital Group. Cal alumni helped build big investment banks of the 1970s and 1980s—banks like Montgomery Securities, Hambrecht & Quist, and Robertson Stephens, where alumni flocked. “Cal alumni helped build this West Coast community,” Etter said. “Then the Morgans and Goldmans started to build bigger West Coast presences. We now have senior (Cal) people across all the banks.”
Recruiting help from campus
Berkeley Haas MBA students coveting jobs in investment banking compete with students from top programs including Wharton, Booth, and Columbia. The jobs are in demand because investment banking pays very well, with a standard $175,000 salary, a typical $50,000+ signing bonus, and year-end performance-based bonuses—all very strong compared to the average MBA graduate compensation, said Abby Scott, assistant dean of MBA Career Management and Corporate Partnerships.
“But the jobs not only pay well, they offer recent MBA hires some pretty amazing opportunities,” Scott said. “New MBA associates often become part of live deal teams working with high-profile clients in tech, healthcare, and other high-growth sectors.”
“But the jobs not only pay well, they offer recent MBA hires some pretty amazing opportunities,” —Asst. Dean Abby Scott.
MBAs typically commit to investment banking quickly as they have to start preparing for internship recruiting early. “For investment banking you have to know early on if you want to do it because an IB internship is pretty much a requirement for a full time offer,” said Wiley, who was among 13 finance students chosen as 2020 Finance Fellows, receiving partial scholarships, priority registration for finance courses, and mentorship.
Andrew Elliott, MBA 22, said he was “95% committed” to investment banking when he arrived at Haas after working in strategy and business development at Boeing. Elliott worked for six months with Abby Franklin, an investment banking industry specialist with the Haas Career Management Group (CMG), to better understand both the career progression and work-hour demands.
He applied to multiple firms, a few on his own and most through CMG. CMG’s on-campus recruiting resources—that covered everything from resume design to networking events and interviews—helped Elliott land a summer internship at Citi, where he had already connected with his peer advisor, Ryan Alders, MBA 20, an associate in technology investment banking at Citi. “When I first saw CMG’s requirements I was a little scared because they seemed so specific, but in the end, the process protected me because I ended up with a solid job offer,” said Elliott, who will start a full-time job at Citi this spring, after graduating early.
Christine Jan, who also worked closely with CMG, said she spent hours talking to Haas alumni at different investment banks about everything from deals to the nuts and bolts of jobs to personal life management advice before landing an offer.
With Franklin’s guidance, Jan reached out to Shilpi Saran, MBA 13, a vice president in technology investment banking at Morgan Stanley. “Shilpi got me interested,” said Jan, who grew up in Taiwan and worked in wealth management at UBS in Hong Kong before coming to Haas. “It’s a process. We have alumni who are performing exceptionally well and they draw us in.”
During recruitment, Jan also met UC Berkeley alumnus Michael Grimes, head of Global Technology Investment Banking for Morgan Stanley, who also founded Berkeley’s M.E.T. program, an undergraduate dual-degree program in business and engineering, and Michael Bausback, MBA 19, an associate in global tech investment banking. Jan committed to a summer internship in tech investment banking with them that led to a full-time job offer. (Jan will join Adhithya Ravi and Alex Wong, both MBA 22, who are also heading to Morgan Stanley Bay Area investment banking offices).
“I loved (the internship),” she said. “It was a deep dive into investment banking. I got to realize what it was and connect the dots to what I’ve done before, connecting my work in Asia and here. It was a great, overwhelming, inspiring experience.”
The boutique path
While bigger firms like Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, and Goldman Sachs draw Haas students each year, a smaller firm like Moelis or Evercore can be a better fit for other students—many who say culture, regardless of size, influences where they end up.
Rawool Sahu, MBA 22, who shifted from a career in corporate financial planning and analysis to investment banking through Haas, will join Moelis, a boutique investment bank, in its thriving San Francisco office next July. (Moelis’ founder and CEO Ken Moelis just announced that the firm had raised pay for first-year analysts because “business is booming” and deal flow is rising.)
Sahu said there are benefits to joining a smaller firm. “Moelis has a smaller office on the West Coast and you get more time with the senior bankers here. At banks on the East Coast, that’s harder.” In a smaller office, he said, work also feels more focused. “Managing directors communicate more directly about what they want, so we don’t waste time. It makes things more efficient.”
At Moelis, Sahu joins a group of Haas alumni, including Adam Burgess, an investment banking associate from the class of 2020, “who helped me to make inroads in the West Coast office,” Sahu said.
“You can do this”
With the 2023 MBA class now on campus, finance students are attending the Investment Banking Speaker Series—along with three networking events each week that connect them with bankers—and preparing for investment banking internship recruiting.
Ravi, who is co-president of the Haas Finance Club, said recruiting with investment banks was one of the most difficult experiences that he has gone through in his life, which is why he’s helping first-year students as one of three peer advisors.
This year, he said the Finance Club rolled out a new guide to everything a recruit will need to succeed, including a networking primer, study schedules, interview prep, and advice for findinga bank that’s a good internship fit. “I’m constantly reminding recruits to leverage those around them and support one another,” Ravi said. “Having a support group and people to prep with helped so much,” he said.
To prospective Haas investment banking students, Wiley offered encouragement. “I had an interest in finance on the personal side but never thought I would make a career out of it,” said Wiley, who accepted a job with Piper Sandler after graduation. “I’m a prime example that you can do this.”
The Berkeley Haas community gathered yesterday to celebrate the grand opening of the Shneyder & Kirk MBA Commons, a larger, brighter space for MBA students to study and collaborate.
The MBA Commons is named for Mikhail Shneyder, EWMBA 08, and his husband, Jim Kirk, in recognition of their generous $1 million gift to the school.
The 2,300 square feet of space, which previously housed the FIFO Café, has been in the works since 2019. The opening of Chou Hall and Café Think provided an opportunity to reconsider the use of the space, Dean Ann Harrison said at the grand opening.
Haas student leaders, who worked on focus groups to develop the plans, asked for a lounge that was bigger, updated, and more inviting.
“We heard you,” Harrison said. The new space offers multiple seating areas, varied furniture options, a kitchenette, private phone booths, contemporary fixtures, portable charging stations, and even a digital trophy wall where MBA student achievements and awards will be showcased.
Previously, MBA students met outside of class in a room off the upper Bank of America Forum, which seats about 20 people. The Shneyder & Kirk MBA Commons is three times the size of that space.
“Thrilled to give back”
Harrison said Shneyder, who immigrated to the United States from Belarus at 19 after earning a nursing degree, speaking no English, is “the archetype of our Defining Leadership Principles.”
After pursuing business classes as an undergraduate and, later, an MBA at Haas, he became CEO and president of Nightingale College, a nursing school headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Shneyder said Nightingale’s success was born “in Haas classes and in our group work.”
“We generated all these ideas that we are implementing day and day out,” he said. “My hope is that that you will generate so many new ideas that will continue to question the status quo and build the future that is equitable and accessible and good for everybody.”
Harrison lauded Shneyder’s goal to change the world “by improving health and revolutionizing access to quality education for health care professionals from varied socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds”—and for giving back to Haas.
“Mikhail, Jim, we are beyond thrilled to be the beneficiary of your success and generosity,” Harrison said. “We thank you for holding a special place in your heart for this Haas community.”
Berkeley, Calif. — UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business announced a new flexible online option for its top-ranked, part-time Evening & Weekend MBA Program. The new Flex option offers the same curriculum and faculty and the same Berkeley Haas MBA degree in a highly customized and flexible online and on-campus format.
Students enrolled in the Flex option will take their core MBA courses online. After completing their first three semesters of the core curriculum, students can take their elective courses either in person on the Berkeley Haas campus or online.
Applications for the Flex option will open on August 17 through the Evening & Weekend MBA Program (EWMBA). The first group of about 60 Flex students will enroll in July of 2022.
The Flex option will be part of the Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program, which is ranked #2 among part-time MBA programs by U.S. News. The program typically takes three years to complete, with some students completing their degree in just 2.5 years.
“Students in the Flex cohort can get a top-ranked Berkeley Haas MBA from anywhere, without the commute to campus every week,” said Dean Ann E. Harrison. “They will have flexibility in how they complete their MBA program. Yet they can also enjoy the in-person and campus experience, giving them the ability to access the extracurricular experiences Berkeley and Haas have to offer.”
The Flex option is designed for high-achieving and ambitious professionals with five or more years of professional work experience who seek additional skills to advance in their careers or to change jobs. They will join a network of 41,000 Haas alumni around the world.
In the Flex option, 40% to 60% of the online core courses will be delivered synchronously to create a robust, cohort-based learning experience. The significant percentage of synchronous content ensures that Flex students have the same opportunity for discussion and feedback as students in on-campus courses. Students will be assigned to study teams that are carefully selected for diverse skills and backgrounds, ensuring that students learn as much from each other as they do in the classroom.
Given the importance of community in our EWMBA program, the Flex option also includes five in-person events:
WE Launch, the required orientation over a long weekend (Friday through Sunday) in late July on the Berkeley Haas campus.
Leadership Communication, a required course taught on the Berkeley Haas campus as a weekend immersion (Friday through Sunday) in the second half of the second semester.
RE Launch, an optional weekend immersion on the Berkeley Haas campus in October of the third semester.
Business Communications in Diverse Environments, a required weekend immersion (Friday through Sunday), taught typically at a resort site in Napa Valley on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in January of the fourth semester.
WE Lead, an optional weekend celebration and reflection on the MBA experience held in May of the graduation year.
“In this fast-changing environment, our MBA experience provides professionals not only with a rigorous management education but also with an understanding of how innovation, inclusion, and sustainability will shape the future of business,” said Dean Harrison. “Our innovative courses will help prepare our students for what’s next, addressing a wide range of workplace challenges—from questioning the ethics of artificial intelligence to recognizing how unconscious bias impacts management decisions.”
In 2022, Haas will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its part-time MBA program. “We think the creation of this new Flex cohort reflects our commitment to innovation and UC Berkeley’s mission,” said Jamie Breen, Assistant Dean, MBA Programs for Working Professionals, who oversees the new Flex option.
As the second-oldest business school in the United States, Berkeley Haas has been questioning the status quo since its founding in 1898. It provides research, thought leadership, and talent development to lead the way to a more inclusive and sustainable future.
These working professional students, along with Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) students who returned in June, are the first cohorts in 16 months to kick off the semester on campus.
Executive MBA (EMBA) Program
During orientation, held July 16-18 in Spieker Forum, a total of 71 EMBA students participated in bonding activities and workshops, including a scavenger hunt, a diversity and equity session led by Kellie McElhaney, executive director of the Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership, and a condensed version of a popular MBA class called The Science of Productivity and Performance, which focuses on strategies to yield high-performance at work and school.
Women make up 30% of the class and 17% have either served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. Members of the class represent 64 companies including Google, Facebook, Deloitte, Chevron, and Oracle and have an average of 13 years of work experience.
Emma Daftary, executive director of the 22-month EMBA program, praised students for choosing Haas and reassured them that they have what it takes to successfully complete the program.
“If you hear a little voice called imposter syndrome, tell it to be quiet because you belong here,” Daftary said. “You’re here with people who are going to push you to be your best selves and we’re here to support you every step of the way.”
Susan Petty, director of EMBA admissions, noted that this class was the most geographically diverse cohort in the program’s history. Sixty-five percent of students live outside of the Bay Area, including Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Brazil, and about a third of the class were born outside of the United States, hailing from Ukraine, China, India, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Taiwan.
Why an MBA?
When Cassie Dickerson, EMBA 23, was applying to b-schools, a friend from her undergraduate days at Ohio State, Isaiah Samuel, EMBA 20, suggested she add Berkeley to her list. Dickerson attended a diversity event at Haas last fall and fell in love with the people and culture.
“Everyone I met exemplified Haas’ DLPs,” Dickerson said, a technology business strategist for GoHealth. “People showed up as their authentic selves and that deeply resonated with me.”
Naveena Gopinath, an IT database consultant at OptumServe, said it was her father’s entrepreneurial spirit that inspired her to pursue an MBA.
“My dad was an entrepreneur who owned many businesses, including a real estate and an exporting business in India,” said Gopinath, EMBA 23. “Seeing him pursue his passions pushed me to pursue mine.”
Gopinath had her choice of top business schools, but ultimately decided to attend Haas because of the people she met and the school’s Defining Leadership Principles (DLPs). She had worked in a mission-driven workplace before and wanted a similar MBA experience. Now that she’s at Haas, she can only imagine how the DLPs will transform her, she says.
Johnny Zaragoza, EMBA 23, was accepted to Haas last year, but decided to defer for a year to take care of his family during the pandemic.
Zaragoza, a controller at San Francisco-based management firm White Oak Global Advisors, said he chose Haas because he had a transformational experience during Block Zero. “The support you get from the program office, career management group (CMG), and your peers, is bar none.”
Evening & Weekend MBA Program (EWMBA)
Berkeley Haas’ newest EWMBA class also arrived on campus for WE Launch orientation July 23-26.
Collectively, the 283 students have an average of eight years of work experience and represent 213 leading global companies, including Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Uber, Microsoft, and Chevron. Women make up 40% of the class, a record high.
The class of 2024 is also geographically and internationally diverse. Forty-three percent were born outside the U.S. and speak 17 different languages. Almost a third of the class reside outside of the Bay Area, hailing from Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Japan, and Singapore.
During orientation, students participated in workshops focused on leadership communications, inclusive leadership, and case-study methods. They also heard from Career Management Group (CMG) staff and received an introduction to Teams@Haas, an academic program designed to build stronger team outcomes.
In his welcome speech, Prof. Don Moore, the associate dean of Academic Affairs, commended students for pursuing an MBA at a time when society is grappling with so many global challenges.
“There is no better place to be than a dynamic university like Berkeley that has always been on the forefront of scientific and social progress,” he said.
Moore added that Haas’ culture helps develop business leaders that the world could benefit from—leaders who question the status quo, who have confidence to create change but do it without attitude, who go beyond themselves by taking the long view in their decisions, and are students always.
“We have such a diverse and accomplished class this year,” said Jamie Breen, assistant dean of the MBA Programs for Working Professionals. “And it is so great to have our second year students on campus for the first time as well. These are the leaders that business and society need.”
Culture plays big role
After listening to the Haas podcasts, attending a diversity event last fall, and speaking with students and alumni, Dominic Williams, EWMBA 24, said he was “all in” and applied only to Haas.
“The school’s DLPs and its focus on inclusion resonated with me,” said Williams, a program manager for consumer goods at Google. “Now that I’m here, I feel compelled to share my perspective to advance the Haas community. I don’t think I would feel this way anywhere else.”
The school’s culture was also a big draw for Christy Tormey, EWMBA 24, who works as a lead strategic planning analyst at Chevron.
“Question the status quo deeply resonates with me. As a woman mechanical engineer who works in an oil refinery, I challenge the status quo every day,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to gain a seat at the table and even harder to keep that seat. I hope to encourage and inspire all women to do the same, no matter what field of study or industry.”