“The courage of Haasies:” Full-time MBA grads celebrated as leaders

The Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Class of 2020 has shown “real grit and resilience” with leaders who embody the Defining Leadership Principles, Dean Ann Harrison said today in a video made for grads.

“I want to thank you for staying engaged and for your positive spirit,” Harrison said. “Many of you went above and beyond. From student startups that quickly pivoted to provide much-needed supplies for COVID-19 to classmates who kept you sane with yoga and mindfulness classes or entertainment, baking, and movie tips.”

Joe Sutkowski, MBA 20
Student speaker Joe Sutkowski (middle, with Dawn Bickett (left) and Cici Saekow) praised “the courage of Haasies” over the past few months.

Student speaker Joe Sutkowski praised the”courage of Haasies”  in his speech. (Read an interview with Sutkowski here)

“Over the past months of shelter in place I’ve witnessed an online community emerge that’s every bit as vibrant as the community I fell in love with many months ago,” he said. “I’ve seen the courage of Haasies donating their time to the less fortunate…I’ve seen resilience in our professors and our faculty. I’ve heard humor through Zoom and Slack channels.”

Individual Haas alumni then took turns congratulating the class, offering advice, and wished them well.

Berkeley Haas mural congrats grads
A beautiful mural, designed by Berkeley Haas grads, including Alex D’Agostino.

Full-time MBA award winners

Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching: Kimberly MacPherson, who taught three courses this academic year. Unlocking Digital Innovation in Healthcare, Commercializing Biotech and Pharma, and Healthcare in the 21st Century.

GSI award: PhD student Livia Alfonsi, who was the GSI for Aaron Bodoh-Creed’s Microeconomics class.

Adam Burgess, MBA 20, was also named the best GSI in the EWMBA program.

Academic Achievement Award: Brian Shain, the MBA student with the highest GPA.

Defining Leadership Principles (DLP) award winners:

Question the Status Quo: Evan Wright

Confidence without Attitude: Celeste Fa’ai’uaso 

Students Always: Nina Ho

Beyond Yourself: Benny Johnson

Berkeley Leaders: Molly Zeins & Ezgi Karaagac

Maryam Rezapoor on Berkeley campus
Maryam Rezapoor, MBA 20

Also celebrating this month were 11 Berkeley Haas PhD students who are slated to graduate this year. Nine of the PhD grads are heading to jobs in academia and two landed positions in industry both in the U.S. and abroad. Read more here.

Grit and resilience: Shannon Eliot’s journey to graduation

It was the first day of a week-long backpacking trip to Patagonia last January, a trip where Shannon Eliot and eight of her classmates were finally going to test lessons learned in their Extreme Leadership class at Berkeley Haas. 

Their goal was to reach Cordillera Arturo Prat, a mountain peak just outside Torres Del Paine National Park, but not long after leaving base camp, Eliot, EWMBA 20, slipped on a log and fell backwards into a muddy swamp, twisting her knee on the forest floor. “I thought I would have to be airlifted out of Chile,” she said as she lay on her back looking up at the Chilean sky. “I asked myself, ‘Why did I come?’”

That question could have led her to abandon the trek. But as she would several times during her final year at Haas, Eliot blocked the pain from her mind and moved forward with the help of her Haas friends, including two of her close classmates, Terrell Baptiste, EWMBA 20, and Brian Bell, MBA 20. “They told me that I was stronger than I thought I was and that I could do it,” Eliot said. 

They told me that I was stronger than I thought I was and that I could do it.

Shannon Eliot, EWMBA 20
Shannon Eliot, EWMBA 20, traveled to Chilean Patagonia for a seven-day backpacking trip.

“A million tiny knives”

For her grit, determination, and her role as EWMBA Association’s VP of Philanthropy, Eliot, a senior communications manager for Blue Shield of California, will receive the Beyond Yourself award at graduation Friday. It’s one of four Defining Leadership Principles awards given to students who embody the spirit of Haas and have made a lasting impact on the community. Eliot is being honored for leading ethically and responsibly and putting larger interests above her own.

Just months before the Patagonia trek, Eliot was almost convinced the trip would not be possible. Three days after her birthday in August, Eliot awoke from an afternoon nap unable to stand with a feeling of “a million tiny knives stabbing me in the back,” she said.

Doctors diagnosed Eliot with rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that causes myoglobin, or muscle protein, to enter the bloodstream. This “freak accident,” she said, was a rare side effect of a prescribed medication she took.

For five months, Eliot, who is also a part-time Pilates instructor, tapped into her training to restore the muscles in her lower back. By December, Eliot had gained enough strength to walk on a treadmill with a 25-pound backpack — just enough weight to convince herself that she could make it to Patagonia.

An athlete’s recovery

Anyone who knows Eliot wouldn’t have been surprised to learn how determined she was to restore her physical health. From being an elite soccer player as a teen to racing for UC San Diego’s collegiate cycling team to teaching Pilates, Eliot has always been a lifelong athlete who has pushed her body to the max. 

That fitness level and mental perseverance ultimately helped her to complete the Patagonia trek.

After her knee injury, Eliot got back on her feet and marched forward. For six days, she hiked on a sprained knee for 10 hours carrying a 52-pound backpack and camping atop of an icy mountain in high winds.

“Despite spraining her knee, Shannon was still able to keep a positive attitude and motivate our team to finish the trip,” Baptiste said. “She has a lot of grit.”

Eliot is working towards a role in management consulting following graduation. She’d also like to launch an online Pilates studio to help people remain physically fit in the age of the coronavirus.

“I’m so excited for the future and I have Haas—and especially my Haas family—to thank for it,” Eliot said. “Their unwavering support and endless encouragement are the secret sauce to my success.”

 

Cubbie Kile, BS 20, to receive Departmental Citation for Outstanding Achievement

Portrait: Cubbie Kile
Cubbie Kile, BS 20, received the Departmental Citation for Outstanding Achievement.

As a freshman at UC Berkeley, Celia “Cubbie” Kile, BS 20, became interested in studying business while managing the Cal Men’s Swimming & Diving team, alongside Coach Dave Durden.

“Going into Haas I thought I wanted to pursue sports management,” said Kile, who pivoted at the start of junior year to pursue finance. Kile’s success as a business major led to a top honor this year, as the recipient of the Departmental Citation for Outstanding Achievement. Every year, the award goes to the graduating senior with the highest GPA.

“I feel so honored to win,” said Kile, who is also a coxswain for the Cal Women’s Rowing Team. “I’m surrounded by students who strive to the highest caliber, so receiving this award is just incredible.”

Kile, who will graduate May 18 with a 4.0 GPA, will work for Altamont Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Palo Alto, starting in August.  

Cubbie Kile and members of UC Berkeley Men's Swimming Team
Cubbie Kile, BS 20, was the manager of UC Berkeley’s Men’s Swimming and Diving Team.

At Haas, Kile took advantage of every opportunity that would prepare her for a career in private equity and venture capital, including networking with MBAs, seeking mentors through the alumni database, and doing an independent study that explored the intersection of healthcare and business with Stephen Etter, a member of the Haas professional faculty, who often advises student athletes. 

Kile said Etter, who convinced her to pursue finance instead of sports management, completely changed the trajectory of her life. “He’s my biggest inspiration,” she said. 

She said she shifted to finance, drawn by the good that money can do. “If you target it to something that’s beneficial to all, you can make a larger impact on society,” she said. 

Etter said Kile “is an amazing woman who excelled in and out of the classroom,” with boundless energy. “It’s as if she cloned herself or created the 30-hour day,” he said. “Everything she did was at an exceptional level.”

Among her proudest moments while at Haas was spearheading a Women in Finance Speaker Series, attended by finance executives who spoke about their career paths. 

Cubbie Kile with rowers
Cubbie Kile (pictured left, kneeling, with UC Berkeley’s Women’s Rowing Team.

Kile is not only a standout student, she has also served as a coxswain for Berkeley’s Women’s Rowing Team. Rowing, she said, has taught her patience, resilience, discipline, and how to lead a team–essential skills for a career in private equity. 

“Being a cox, it takes a lot of leadership and communication skills,” Kile said. “You have to have a fire within you and the ability to have trust from others and for others to trust you.”

Coming to Berkeley and enrolling at Haas has been one of the best decisions she has ever made, she said. 

“Berkeley has given me so much,” she said. “It’s made me who I am today and I’m very happy about where I’m going in the future.”

 

Chou Hall earns third in trifecta of green building credentials

Photo of the front of Chou Hall
Chou Hall is the country’s greenest academic building. Photo: Dan Williams

Connie & Kevin Chou Hall has earned the third in a trifecta of green building credentials: a WELL Certification recognizing its “strong commitment to supporting human health, well-being, and comfort.”

The certification comes on the heels of two others the building has received over the past year from Green Business Certification Inc. (GBSI). It achieved TRUE Zero Waste Certification at the highest possible level and LEED Platinum Certification for its architectural design, construction, and energy efficiency.

“From the start of the Chou Hall construction project, we focused on building a student-centric academic space that reflected our school’s unique culture and how we value sustainable impact,” said Courtney Chandler, senior assistant dean and chief operating & strategy officer of the Haas School. “Being the first academic building to be WELL Certified, and the greenest academic building in the country, exemplifies our Defining Leadership Principles in action.”

Photo of Cafe Think in Chou Hall
Cafe Think’s floor-to-ceiling windows connect the indoors to the outdoors. Photo: Jim Block

“It’s particularly rewarding to cap off the building certification journey with the last of these three certifications,” said Walter Hallanan, BS 72, who has managed the Chou Hall project as well as the school’s Master Plan Project. “We’re breaking new ground with Chou Hall. It’s a significant achievement that sets an example for the Berkeley campus, particularly with regard to the LEED and WELL certification.”

Attention to many details

WELL Certified spaces are designed to improve the overall health of the people who use the building, by addressing areas such as nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns, and performance of the building occupants. Design details include everything from the solar panels that provide energy to the building to the fact that as much outside air as possible is funneled into the building’s interior.

Photo of students on the shairs in Chou Hall
Students descending stairs in Chou Hall get exercise and a view of the trees. Photo: Jim Block

The WELL Certified credential is the culmination of literally years of detailed planning and design. “There are hundreds of requirements you have to comply with,” Hallanan said.

Certification officials toured Chou Hall for performance verification site visits in December 2018 and June 2019 to get a sense of the building’s environment.

“The level of detail and thought that went into the design and construction of the space and flow throughout Chou Hall contribute to the overall feeling,” Chandler said. “It’s not an accident that when people come to Spieker Forum—our top floor event space with huge windows and amazing views—they often say it feels like they’re in a tree house.”

An innovative funding model

Another novel aspect of the building was its funding model that enabled greater efficiency and cost savings. A private nonprofit fund, the Partnership for Haas Preeminence, chaired by Ned Spieker, BS 66; Walter Hallanan, BS 72; and former Dean Rich Lyons, BS 82, raised the donations and managed design and construction in tandem before donating the completed building back to the university last year.

Photo of Chou Hall classroom.
The new Chou Hall classrooms and meeting spaces were part of the Haas Master Plan Project, led by Walter Hallanan, BS 72. Photo: Blake Marvin

Chou Hall is the core of the Haas Master Plan Project, which also included the new courtyard and the addition of cooling to Cheit Hall. The student-centered building includes classroom and meeting spaces, the state-of-the-art Spieker Forum event space, and a cafe at the courtyard level.

Chou Hall provided much-needed space at Haas, where enrollment has nearly doubled over the past 20 years.

It is named for Kevin Chou, BS 02, and his wife, Dr. Connie Chen, in recognition of their donation: the largest personal gift by an alum under the age of 40 in UC Berkeley’s history.

“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Chandler said. “What I love hearing most is how the building makes people feel. That’s what people are going to remember.”

Photo of the interior of Chou Hall.
“What I love hearing most is how the building makes people feel. That’s what people are going to remember.” – Haas COO Courtney Chandler. Photo: Blake Marvin

Haas team tops at Tech Challenge

Cori Land, Max Kubicki, Bryan Chiang, and Catherine Hsieh, all MBA 19s. Photos: Benny Johnson, MBA 20
(Left to right)  Cori Land, Max Kubicki, Bryan Chiang, and Catherine Hsieh, all MBA 19s. Photos: Benny Johnson, MBA 20.

A team of Berkeley MBA students bested groups from seven schools to win the annual Berkeley Haas Tech Challenge for their plan to educate city government officials on how new technologies can support initiatives that improve quality of life and efficiency.

The 2018 Berkeley Haas Tech Challenge, called “Big Data and the City of Tomorrow,” was held Nov. 8-10.

The winning Haas team included Bryan Chiang, Catherine Hsieh, Max Kubicki, and Cori Land, all MBA 19s. Haas took home the $5,000 first-place award for the second year in a row.

The challenge called on students to come up with a plan to entice city government officials to adopt Amazon Web Services (AWS) to create smart cities. Smart cities use data and communications technologies to increase efficiency, share information with the public, and improve the quality of government services and public safety. Example projects include monitoring and managing traffic signals remotely, using a software platform that tracks the real-time availability of spaces in parking lots, and implementing a lighting-management system that allows cities to monitor energy efficiency and maintenance needs.

The Haas team began the Tech Challenge case by asking: Who are the customers, what do they care about, and how can AWS meet them where they are?

“We tested each of our ideas against whether or not it ultimately solved a problem for people,” Land said. “If not, we rejected the idea, and it helped us focus our recommendations.”

The Haas team made recommendations for a website redesign that would provide easy-to-understand smart cities information to non-technical city planners, as well as new certification programs to educate government officials on how they could use AWS.Max Kubicki, Bryan Chiang, Cori Land, and Catherine Hsieh prepare their presentation. Photos: Benny Johnson

(Left to right)  Max Kubicki, Bryan Chiang, Cori Land, and Catherine Hsieh prepare their presentation. Photos: Benny Johnson.

The team also proposed a dashboard tool to help city officials compare their city services to others that have adopted smart cities technology—and measure the potential return-on-investment for their proposed projects.

Confidence without attitude may have been what set the Haas team apart from competitors. “One judge kept thanking us for admitting we still had some work to do when we better understood some gaps in our plan,” Hsieh said. Another Haas strength was leveraging broader perspectives by assembling a team with different areas of expertise, ranging from finance and energy to design thinking and change management.

Evan Cory and Charlie Cubeta, Tech Challenge co-chairs who organized the competition for the Haas Tech Club, said they received 108 team applications from 15 schools for the competition, a 25 percent increase over last year.

Competing teams included Yale, Kellogg, Columbia, Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, UCLA, and Wharton. Eight Amazon executives served as coaches and judges.

Chancellor Christ Honors Dean Lyons with Berkeley Citation

Dean Rich Lyons accepts the Berkeley Citation award from Chancellor Carol Christ.
Dean Rich Lyons accepts the Berkeley Citation award from Chancellor Carol Christ.

Dean Rich Lyons was awarded the Berkeley Citation, among the highest honors the campus bestows on its community, in a surprise announcement at the Alumni Reunion Conference on Saturday.

Chancellor Carol Christ, who had just opened the conference with a joint keynote with Lyons about culture and leadership styles, paused the program to bestow the award. “It is my distinct privilege to present to Rich a Berkeley Citation for his distinguished achievements and notable service to the university,” said Christ, who was herself honored with the Citation in 2002.

“A set of core values and a sense of purpose”

The dean was visibly moved by the honor, as 600+ alumni gave a standing ovation.

Christ read from the Citation: “Rich Lyons believed business schools had both the responsibility and opportunity to instill a set of core values and a sense of purpose. The first step to realizing their mission was to create a new kind of business school culture.”

Haas colleagues nominated the dean with letters that paid homage to his authentic style as “a servant, leader, and a role model.” The letters cited his caring support for his direct team, active engagement with students, and his rock-star musical talents.

When Lyons became dean, it marked the beginning of one of the most transformative periods in Haas’ 120-year history—including an 18-month soul-searching exercise to determine the true values of the school. The exercise culminated in the codification of four Defining Leadership Principles, which rolled out in February 2010: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.

Over the years, students and alumni have rallied around the principles as guiding leadership values.

About 1,400 alumni flocked to Haas last weekend for the largest-ever annual conference and reunion for MBA classes ending in the numbers 3 and 9, as well as the Class of 2017. The weekend featured career education “booster shots” from faculty on topics including fintech, design thinking, and equity and inclusion, as well as “HaasX” talks by alumni and plenty of social events.

Lyons also didn’t disappoint in the rock-star department, treating the audience to an acoustic guitar and vocal version of a favorite song: Green Day’s “Time of Your Life.”

Prof. Andrew Rose receives Williamson Award—highest faculty honor

Prof. Andrew Rose, Williamson Award winnerProf. Andrew Rose, an international finance scholar who has taught macroeconomics to three decades of Berkeley Haas students, has received the Haas School’s highest faculty honor: the Williamson Award.

The award is named after Nobel Laureate and Haas Prof. Emeritus Oliver Williamson, and honors Haas faculty members who exemplify the attitudes and behaviors that differentiate our school. Rose is the fourth recipient of the award.

“Andy is not only a groundbreaking scholar whose economic insights have guided countries around the world; he is also an outstanding teacher and tireless supporter of Haas—both in his formal role as associate dean and chair of the faculty and in his work mentoring rising scholars,” said Dean Rich Lyons. “Indeed, his six years of service as our associate dean are arguably the greatest beyond-yourself service any faculty member has given the school in the last ten years.”

Rose, the Bernard T. Rocca, Jr. Chair in International Business & Trade, has taught and conducted research at Haas since 1986. He served as associate dean of academic affairs and chair of the faculty from 2010 to 2016, and previously as chair of the Economic Analysis & Policy Group and founding director of the Clausen Center for International Business & Policy.

“Only three Haas faculty have received this reward and each, in my opinion, is among the very highest caliber faculty at Haas; the elite of the elite,” said Rose. “Truly, I am both honored and humbled to join their ranks.”

Prolific scholar & frequent advisor

Rose is a prolific and highly cited scholar whose research addresses international trade, finance, currency and exchange rates, and economic crises. Over the course of his career, he has published more than 150 papers, including 90 articles in refereed economics journals; organized over 50 conferences on four continents; edited 15 books and symposia; and served as a visiting scholar at 12 universities.

A native of Canada who holds triple citizenship in his home country, the US, and the UK, Rose has worked as an advisor to a multitude of economic agencies, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, as well as central banks in a dozen countries, including the US.

Berkeley Haas Prof. Andrew Rose teaching

Mentor and teacher

Yet amid all that activity, Rose has gone beyond himself to mentor colleagues and give back to the school, according to the award nomination. Rose, who won the Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1999 and 2011, has been generous in sharing teaching tips through the former Haas Center for Teaching Excellence (now the Compendium for Teaching Excellence). He has also used his research expertise to provide detailed feedback to more junior faculty members, a nominator wrote: “In the way he approaches research, he questions the status quo. I recall every single comment and suggestion that he gave me.”

Award honors Oliver Williamson

Prior winners of the Williamson award are Prof. John Morgan, Prof. Teck Ho, and Prof. Toby Stuart. Winners are selected annually by a committee made up of Williamson, prior winners, and the dean. Rose was named the winner for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Williamson is the winner of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and a beloved teacher and leader at Berkeley Haas. Williamson embodies the spirit of the Haas School articulated in the Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude; Beyond Yourself; and Students Always.

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