Berkeley Haas dean to step down, remain on faculty 

Ann Harrison will step down as the dean of the Haas School of Business on July 31, 2024, remaining a half-time faculty member. The decision will allow her to spend more time with her New York-based family and focus on her research, she said. 

“It has been an incredible honor and joy for me to serve as dean of Haas,” Harrison said in a note to the Haas community sent this morning. “I am proud of what we have accomplished together.”

Harrison has served as dean of Berkeley Haas since January 2019, the second woman to lead the school. Her deep ties to UC Berkeley—where she earned her bachelor’s in economics and history and served as a professor in the College of Agricultural and Resource Economics for 10 years—have allowed her to make far-reaching changes in a short time, said Ben Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for UC Berkeley, who announced the news today.

“We thank Dean Harrison for her incredible leadership and numerous accomplishments during her term as the dean,” Hermalin said. “For anyone who has had the pleasure of working with her, Ann is wonderful to partner with. She is full of innovative ideas that go beyond Haas; hence, not only has she made Haas better, but she’s also made the campus better. Her leadership will be sorely missed.”

A sustainability mindset

Harrison said becoming a half-time ladder faculty member will allow her to spend meaningful time with her husband and two daughters, who live in New York, while staying connected to Haas and continuing her research. 

“I will be able to remain at the school I have been truly passionate about since I first set foot here as a freshman at Berkeley in 1977,” said Harrison, a renowned economist who is one of the most highly cited scholars on foreign investment and multinational firms. “I am especially excited to have more time to focus on my research into the gender pay gap and what makes industrial policy work.”

Harrison’s top priority at Haas was to embed a sustainability mindset in all of the school’s programs and operations. This resulted in the creation of a sustainability certificate and a dual master’s degree program in business and climate solutions with the Rausser College of Natural Resources, as well as a summer minor in sustainable business and policy. 

Courtney Chandler, Senior Vice Dean of Haas, said Harrison’s accomplishments have had school-wide impact—from growing the faculty, to fundraising, to growing degree programs, to infusing innovation, sustainability, and inclusion into business education. 

“She believes in Haas’ potential and strives to further strengthen the school’s reputation by setting an ambitious vision for Berkeley Haas,” Chandler said.

During her tenure, Harrison appointed the school’s first-ever chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer and the first chief sustainability officer. She orchestrated a major diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB) effort that broadened the profile of the school’s faculty, board, and student body, and created learning opportunities and anti-bias training for the entire Haas community. 

“Grateful for her leadership”

Professor Jennifer Chatman, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, said Harrison’s leadership over the past five years created cultural changes at Haas that have made the school “more diverse, more harmonious, and more collaborative than ever.” “Dean Harrison’s leadership style has set us up for an immensely bright future, and I am deeply grateful for her leadership,” she said.

people standing in the courtyard during the 125th event
(L-R) Ben Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost for UC Berkeley; UC Berkeley Chancellor-Elect Rich Lyons; Prof. Jennifer Chatman,  Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dean Ann Harrison; Prof. Don Moore and Erika Walker, Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction, attending the Berkeley Haas 125h Anniversary Celebration in the Haas courtyard. Photo: Jim Block

Harrison’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship resulted in a new faculty group and an entrepreneurship hub—slated to open this fall.  Harrison envisions the hub as a central clearing house for students who wish to learn about all entrepreneurship activities across the Berkeley campus. The hub now has a faculty director, as well as an executive director.

In addition, Harrison expanded the school’s degree offerings with the Flex hybrid MBA cohort and worked closely with the Berkeley School of Public Health, the School of Engineering, Biological Sciences, and the School of Law to bolster their joint programs. 

Harrison, a chaired professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School before joining Haas, hired 40 new tenure-track faculty during her five-year tenure, 19 of whom are women. She also nearly doubled the number of faculty positions that are funded by Haas or by philanthropic funds. 

Stepped up fundraising

Under Harrison’s leadership, Haas has also significantly stepped up fundraising and raised $236 million since 2019. This includes the largest single gift in the school’s history—$30 million from alumnus Ned Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BS 66 to turn the upper-division undergraduate business program into a four-year program.

When naming her “Dean of the Year” in 2023, the publication Poets & Quants called Harrison’s tenure an “unimaginable and nearly breathtaking record of achievement.”

Harrison said she looks forward to the opportunity to teach in the new four-year Spieker Undergraduate Program

“What really motivates me both as a leader and soon-to-be faculty member are the transformational opportunities we provide for our students, staff, faculty, and alumni,” she said. “We provide opportunity for everyone, at a scale that is unequaled among the private schools. What a powerful mission.”

Hermalin will announce details about the appointment of an interim dean shortly. Hermalin said the goal is to begin the search for a permanent dean in early fall 2024, conduct interviews in late fall and/or early spring, and announce the new dean in spring 2025, aiming for a July 1, 2025 start date. The interim dean will likely serve through June 30, 2025, while a national search is underway.

2024 MBA grads told to never stop questioning the status quo

group of graduates in caps and gowns, one taking a selfie
The Full-time and Evening & Weekend MBA classes of 2024 graduated May 17 at the Greek Theatre. All photos: Brittany Hosea-Small.

Under sunny skies, the class of 2024 Berkeley Haas Full-time and Evening & Weekend MBA students were urged to never stop learning, to consider the strength of their character throughout their careers, and to stay connected long after they leave Haas.

Dean Ann Harrison welcomed the crowd of 423 graduating MBA students, along with their families and friends, to the Greek Theatre. She urged students to help each other after they graduate, give back, and draw on their resilience and determination.

“You are not just walking away with an MBA,” she told the graduates. “You are walking away with the business version of a superhero cape—power and influence. Not the kind of power that lets you leap tall buildings in a single bound. No, this is a real-world superpower: the power to change the world—one insightful conversation, one strategic hire, and one ethical decision at a time.” 

graduate walking the stage with his diploma in cap and gown
Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small

Harrison introduced Monica Stevens, the 2024 commencement speaker, describing her as “a person of uncommon distinction and a great citizen of Haas.” Stevens urged graduates to dive into difficult conversations, collect “curiosity partners”—people who challenge you and open you up to new ideas—and be open to unlearning the things that we’ve learned in life.

“Please, repeat after me,” Stevens, who is an executive search consultant with Spencer Stuart and recipient of the Raymond Miles Service Award in 2017 for her work in supporting and improving diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Haas, said. “‘Uncomfortable conversations are not my enemy. They are my secret weapon.’ I hope you take that to heart because, in today’s world, I know it is hard to have uncomfortable conversations about race, politics, gender, religion, identity, or what is the best business school in the world. It is a must-have skill, and guess what? You have that skill.”

woman standing at the podium on stage at commencement
Commencement Speaker Monica Stevens urged students to dive into difficult conversations. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small

EWMBA student speaker Katherine Zepeda Arreola, a double Bear who immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 7 years old, called the class of 2024 “the best class Haas has ever seen.” Zepeda Arreola, who is heading to work at Apple after graduation, gave a shout out to each of the EWMBA cohorts, including her own—the blue cohort. “Thank you for being an incredible group of people,” she said, before switching to Spanish to thank everyone who supported them during the program. 

Zepeda Arreola emphasized the importance of continuing to build character throughout their careers by showing up on time, doing what you commit to doing, and speaking up when it’s hard. “Not only is our MBA a great accolade; there’s something else that will speak volumes wherever we go: our character…it is what people will remember.”

FTMBA student speaker Xavier Jefferson, a first-generation student who came to Haas to pivot from working as a financial advisor to an investor, told the class to never stop investing in friendships. 

“We’ve laid the foundation for a long-term investment,” he said. “But we must recognize that not every investment will turn out like Nvidia. Some might even crash and burn like FTX. But that doesn’t mean you stop investing, especially after we ascend to those offices with pristine downtown views. Don’t hesitate to text that person you thought about on your morning commute, to press accept on that random FaceTime, to make time when you are in town. I might be cooking.” 

Jefferson’s speech received a standing ovation before all of the students walked the stage, tossed their caps, and headed to the courtyard for a reception. 

Diarra White, MBA 24, who is joining McKinsey after graduation, said the day was bittersweet, but she’s ready for the next chapter. When asked for a phrase to describe her Haas experience, White said, “full of love.”

two women grads in cap and gown smiling
Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

EWMBA commencement award winners:

  • Academic Achievement Award: Rajit Johri
  • Question the Status Quo: Joselyn Baety
  • Confidence Without Attitude: Emeka Ugwu
  • Students Always: Anmol Aggarwal
  • Beyond Yourself: Marissa Maliwanag
  • Berkeley Leader Award, given to the student who embodies all four of Haas’ Defining Leadership Principles: Khoa Dao 
  • Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching (evening program): Park Sinchaisri, who teaches in the Operations and Information Technology Management group.
  • Cheit Award (weekend program): Flavio Feferman, who teaches the Seminar in International Business: Brazil.
  • Cheit Award, Graduate Student Instructor (GSI): Patrick Richard Drown

FTMBA commencement award winners:

  • The Outstanding Academic Achievement Award went to Albert Deng, who will be joining AWS at Amazon after graduating.
  • Question the Status Quo: Emani Holyfield and Lizzie Hoerauf
  • Confidence Without Attitude: Kelsie Smithson
  • Students Always: Whitner Chase
  • Beyond Yourself: Caroline Patricia Jimenez 
  • Berkeley Leader Award for embodying all four Defining Leadership Principles: Anupama Tej

EWMBA students explore business in South Africa

Group of students in South Africa
EWMBA students participating in the Seminar in International Business (SIB) in South Africa, an annual Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program course.  

One day last March, I gathered with my fellow EWMBA students inside of a 20-story building overlooking Johannesberg to learn about the world’s seventh largest coal mining company.

Our group also toured Nelson Mandela’s red-brick “matchbox” in the Soweto heat and spent time absorbing city politics, noshing on the local cuisine and markets, and visiting small businesses—all part of the Seminar in International Business (SIB) in South Africa, an annual Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program course.  

SIB South Africa builds upon the relationships of professors Mark Rittenburg and Ingrid Gavshon, who have deep connections to South Africa through decades of work around coaching, communication, and media in the country, and Lecturer Janine Lee, EWMBA 14, who previously attended the trip as a student, the SIB faculty team built a curriculum to push students to become more global-aware leaders and communicators.

While labeled as a business class, business was one many windows we were able to peer into while visiting South Africa. 

Part of our class pre-assignment focused on South Africa’s history and politics. We discussed Nelson Mandela’s rise, the years of apartheid, the country’s democratic transition, and its current economy. Learning about its history reminded me that apartheid was not a relic of a forgotten past but indelible in the townships we drove past and part of what drives South Africa’s entrepreneurs toward change. 

Through the network of our professors, we had a unique week, highlighted by the hospitality of their friends and professional colleagues in intimate settings that helped us better understand companies. We visited ABSA, a banking conglomerate based in Johannesburg, and SASOL, one of Africa’s major energy companies, where we had a chance to speak to some of the senior leaders. 

Outside of traditional corporations, we also visited multiple non-profits in South Africa, including iHub, Harambee, and Rise Above Development, learning about the aspirations of South African youth. A highlight was a chance to collaborate on a crisis management role-play exercise with the students at iHub, giving them a glimpse of how things could work in their future careers. Between rounds of Nando’s chicken, a South African classic, we continued many conversations as part of an informal meet and greet, discussing careers, skill development, and passions. It was a lesson in hope, shared humanity, and, once again, perspectives you often won’t find in a standard business school class. 

a group of students sitting in a circle working on a project.
MBA students working on a project in South Africa. Photo: Ingrid Gavshon

Our most unique visit was with the deputy mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Eddie Andrews. A city the size of Boston that prides itself as one of the most beautiful places in the world, we got an inner glimpse into the workings of Cape Town. A former rugby player turned politician, Andrews was kind, patient, and enthusiastically answered more than an hour of questions, touching on everything from structure, sustainability, funding, national politics, and more. His mission to set an example of good governance for South Africa inspired us.

Layering on the many ways we interacted with different sectors of the South African economy, the class also allowed us to experience South Africa as tourists, from the grasslands of Kruger National Park to the iconic mountains of Coastal Cape Town. We took solemn tours of Mandela’s prison on Robben Island and the Apartheid Museum, where we spoke to Mandela’s former jailer. They all contributed to our growing connection and understanding of the country.

It’s hard to talk about SIB without mentioning the people. As with any other Haas class, having diverse experiences added dimension. As EWMBA students, we all come from different backgrounds with different motivations for the trip. Our industries span from technology, healthcare, real estate, and education to jobs in sustainability, sales, and clinical research. This spectrum was foundational to our visits, yielding new questions at every site that drew upon students’ unique curiosities.

We went on excursions and dined together, shared jokes while passing snacks on our bus, and spent time reflecting on the week’s fun, stimulating, and complex experiences. Our celebration dinner included emotional toasts, superlatives, and Polaroid memories. As part of the course, our faculty team prompted us to write a letter about our dreams and aspirations for the trip, which encouraged shared vulnerability that pushed many of us to the edge of our comfort zones.

Toward the end of our trip, many of us agreed that SIB had shifted from a class and transcended into something more abstract—an experience, a journey, an academic version of catharsis. 

Reflecting upon the best parts of SIB, I was reminded of one of the Berkeley Haas core Defining Leadership Principles: Beyond Yourself. In South Africa, we were forced to challenge our privilege consistently. There was nuance in everything there, from starting and investing in a company to advising young people who come from very different upbringings. In all of this, we saw ways to better ourselves, better our perspectives, and grow an inch closer to the ethos of leadership we saw as a symbol of Haas.

For many of us, it was our first time visiting South Africa. Thanks to this experience with Haas, it may not be our last.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few details on the rankings methodology used this year:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking apart the case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impressive guest speakers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28th annual Women in Leadership conference to celebrate resilience 

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

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

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

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

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

closeup of a female student
Jillian Geary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conference tickets are available now.

Pitching with purpose: Students imagine future of mobility for automaker

nine people standing on stage holding a check
Pitch winners with judges (left-right) Nick Triantos; Tafflyn Toy; Henry Chung; Victoria Marcus, EWMBA 25; Srivatsa Chakravarthy, EWMBA 25; Oleksandr Krotenko, EMBA 23;  Simeon Ryan, EWMBA 25;  Ju yup Kang; and ChangWoo Kim. Photo: Jim. Block

A student team that imagined a plan for Hyundai Cradle to build an electric-powered mobile medical fleet and market it in North America won the 2023 Haas Purpose-Built Vehicles (PBV) Challenge.

Hyundai Cradle, Hyundai Motor Group’s Mountain View, Calif.-based open innovation and investment arm, sponsored the challenge, which was held April 23 at Berkeley Haas. 

Cradle challenged students to develop novel business models for the company’s future PBV market launch in North America. Hyundai Motor Group is in the final stages of building a flexible automobile base, called a skateboard, that can be used to produce many kinds of PVBs—vehicles ranging from ambulances to passenger shuttles to delivery fleets for small businesses.

The first-place team took home $15,000 for its pitch. Winning team members included Srivatsa Chakravarthy, EWMBA 25; Oleksandr Krotenko, EMBA 23; Victoria Marcus, EWMBA 25; and Simeon Ryan, EWMBA 25.  

The competing teams, composed of graduate students from across all three Haas MBA programs and the UC Berkeley School of Information, participated in a semester-long series of training sessions, focused on the Lean Startup method and customer discovery training. The top three finalist teams were then tasked with finding and validating novel business models for PBVs that they pitched to judges at the end of the program. 

“This was a fantastic way to showcase students from across all three of our MBA programs,” said Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program (BHEP). “The program also provided a perfect opportunity for our MBA students to work with top graduate students from across the campus.”

Solving real problems

The winning group pitched a fix for emergency medical services that they described as “antiquated, expensive, and ripe for technological disruption.” The team suggested that Cradle partner with industry leader AMR (American Medical Response) to capitalize on the company’s market share and need to contract with an outsourced fleet.

two men and one women pointing, wearing suits speaking at a conference
Victoria Marcus, EWMBA 25, pitches during the 2023 Haas Purpose-Built Vehicles (PBV) Challenge. Photo: Jim Block

Marcus, who works in corporate finance, said she was excited to work on solving a real problem experienced by a company outside of her industry.

“Going through the pitching process with judges was the pinnacle business school experience I’ve always wanted to try since I started my EWMBA,” she said. During Lean Launch, she said her group conducted more than 30 interviews with potential clients. “We had to pivot a couple times from our original idea to make sure we were solving problems for them,” she said. “Ultimately this led us to think hard and adapt so we could develop a detailed business plan that would benefit potential clients.”

During the pitch day, Kia’s vice president of new business planning, Ju yup Kang, a judge for the competition, outlined how KIA is transforming from a car company to a “full mobility solution provider.” Henry Chung, senior vice president and head of Hyundai Cradle, said the students had clearly put in a lot of effort to develop creative solutions to difficult problems. 

Chung; Kang; Changwoo Kim, a chief coordinator at Cradle; Tafflyn Toy, an open innovation project manager at Hyundai Cradle; and Nick Triantos, chief architect, automotive system software at Nvidia, served as the final challenge judges.

Team Ingenium took second place ($10,000) with a pitch for all-in-one fleet management. Members included Reggie Draper, EMBA 23; Michael LaFramboise, MBA/MEng 24; Matthew McGoffin, MBA/MEng 23; and Michael Yang, MIMS (master of information management and systems) 23.

Team Mobility Moguls took third place ($5,000) for a strategy that addressed a mobile future for police & security. Team members included Anmol Aggarwal, EWMBA 24; Suveda Dhoot, MBA 24; Hrishikesh Nagaraju, MIMS 24; Nithin Ravindra, EWMBA 23, MIMS 24; and Lutong Yang.

a group of students holding three large checks
The three prizewinning teams in the Haas Purpose-Built Vehicles (PBV) pitch competition with checks. Photo: Jim Block

 

U.S. News ranks the Berkeley Haas EWMBA Program #1 again

The Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program ranked #1 among part-time MBA programs in U.S. News & World Report, reclaiming its top spot.

The Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Program came in at #11 and the Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives ranked #9 in the 2023-2024 Best Graduate Schools report, published today. 

The changes in the part-time and full-time MBA outcomes are largely due to drastic changes in the rankings factors. 

The Berkeley Haas EWMBA Program, which includes our evening, weekend, and Flex cohorts for working professionals, regained the top spot after four years, thanks to its improved peer assessment and an increased emphasis on the significant work experience of Haas students. Chicago Booth dropped to #2 from #1. 

The FTMBA program tied with Columbia and Duke for the #11 spot this year. Columbia and Haas previously tied for #8, while Duke ranked #12 in 2022. U.S. News increased the weight of placement success—compensation and employment within three months of graduation—to 50%, compared to 35% previously. The weighting of quality assessments, including the peer and employer polls, decreased to 25%, compared to 40% previously. 

Haas reported significant increases in career outcomes for the FTMBA Class of 2022. Starting salaries were up more than $10,000 from the prior year, and 92.7% of graduates had started jobs three months after graduation. Amazon, Bain Consulting, and McKinsey & Co. were the top three hiring firms, followed closely by Adobe, BCG, Deloitte, and Google. While many Haas graduates benefit from stock options, which do not factor into U.S. News, and some take lower salaries initially to land the jobs of their choice, their lifetime career earnings are among the top three of all business schools, according to Payscale.

“The ROI of the Berkeley Haas MBA remains strong,“ said Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA Programs. “According to the Financial Times, our alumni reported earning the fifth highest salaries in the world three years after graduating.” 

View the ranking methodologies for full-time MBA programs and part-time MBA programs.

The Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives Program ranked #9 among EMBA programs, compared to #7 last year. This ranking continues to be based entirely on peer assessment by deans and full-time MBA directors.

In the U.S. News specialty rankings, based on peer assessment, the FTMBA ranked in the top 10 in the following areas:

  • #4 Real estate
  • #4 Nonprofit
  • #5 Entrepreneurship
  • #6 Business analytics
  • #8 Finance
  • #9 Management
  • #9 Marketing
  • #10 International

Overall, the five ranked Berkeley Haas degree programs appear in the top five in key rankings:

  • FTMBA: #4 among U.S. schools in the Financial Times
  • EWMBA: #1 among part-time MBA programs in U.S. News
  • MBA for Executives: #1 in the last published Economist EMBA ranking (2020)
  • MFE: #1 TFE Times and #3 QuantNet
  • Undergraduate: #2 in U.S. News