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Ann Harrison reappointed to second term as Berkeley Haas dean

Woman standing with arms crossed in multicolored sweater
Dean Ann Harrison. Photo: Noah Berger

Berkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison, lauded for keeping the school’s six business programs ranked among the world’s best and significantly expanding the breadth and depth of the faculty, has been appointed to serve a second five-year term.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermalin announced Harrison’s reappointment today. Her new term begins July 1, 2023. 

“Please join us in congratulating Ann on her reappointment and her many accomplishments,” they said in a campus announcement. “With a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, sustainability, and DEIJB (diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging), her bold and transformative vision for the future of Haas will continue to set it apart from other top business schools.”

Harrison said she is thrilled by the reappointment and the opportunity to continue supporting student learning and well-being, growing the faculty and providing them with the necessary resources to conduct groundbreaking research, teaming up with the superb staff, and strengthening the school’s finances and reputation.

Dean Ann Harrison sitting in a chair in the Haas courtyard
Dean Harrison in the Haas courtyard, where the school’s Defining Leadership Principles (including Confidence without Attitude) are etched in stone. Photo: Noah Berger

“As a public university, our mission is to transform the lives of as many students as possible and lead the world with path-breaking research,” Harrison said. “I am so proud of our faculty strengths across so many different areas—from real estate and finance to strategy, economics, marketing, and management. Haas graduates are transforming business to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges.”

“I am so proud of our faculty strengths across so many different areas—from real estate and finance to strategy, economics, marketing, and management. Haas graduates are transforming business to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Advancing the mission

Harrison is the 15th dean of Haas and the second woman to lead the school. Her new book, “Globalization, Firms, and Workers” (World Scientific Books, 2022), collects her path-breaking work on globalization and international trade. She is now the world’s most highly cited scholar on foreign direct investment.

Harrison earned her BA from UC Berkeley in economics and history, and her PhD from Princeton University. She held previous professorships in UC Berkeley’s College of Agricultural and Resource Economics as well as at Columbia University and the Wharton School, where she was the William H. Wurster Professor of Management.  

At Haas since January 2019, Harrison has advanced the school’s mission in a number of critical areas:

  • She increased the size of the faculty, which allowed for diversification and the creation of new faculty groups. Since she arrived in 2019, Harrison has led the hiring of 33 new professors; 52% are women and 52% are people of color.
  • She created the first Flex online MBA cohort at any top business school. Haas applied learnings from the pandemic, using new technology to make the MBA available to expanded groups of international students and working parents who require flexible schedules.
  • She raised a record $200 million over the last four years, including a record $69 million last year. Under Harrison, Haas secured the largest single gift in the school’s history$30 million from alumnus Ned Spieker, BS 66to turn the undergraduate program into a four-year program.
  • She committed to making Haas a more diverse and inclusive school by creating a more diverse Haas Advisory Board, employing extensive resources to diversify the student body, rethinking faculty and staff hiring, and incorporating anti-bias training for senior leaders, staff, and students.

Dean Ann Harrison with Ned Spieker, BS 66, who provided the funding to transform the undergraduate program into a four-year program.Harrison said she will continue to work with her team to strengthen academics as well as the student experience at Haas. One important goal is to ensure that the school’s six degree programs remain the best in the world. In its 2023 b-school ranking, announced today, the Financial Times named the Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Program #4 in the U.S. and #7 worldwide, a record high for the program. US News & World Report ranks both the highly-selective Haas Undergraduate Program and the Evening & Weekend MBA Program #2 in the U.S. The Master’s in Financial Engineering (MFE) Program is also ranked #2 globally. 

In its 2023 b-school ranking, announced today, the Financial Times named the Full-time MBA Program #4 in the U.S. and #7 worldwide, a record-high for Haas. 

Three priority areas

Harrison said she also plans to continue work in her three priority areas: sustainability, DEIJB, and entrepreneurship. 

“Business plays a critical role in mainstreaming everything from fighting climate change to creating more inclusive and equitable workplaces,” Harrison said. “Haas is preparing students to lead in those areas.” The school’s Accounting Group, for example, is assessing SEC proposals to increase financial disclosure requirements for climate risk, she said.

In sustainability, Harrison brought in Michele de Nevers, a top sustainability expert, from the World Bank, whose team has worked to combine the existing sustainability curriculum with new courses. By the end of 2023, all core courses at Haas will be on track to incorporate cases, topics, and assignments that will empower students to address climate change and other sustainability challenges through business. Haas is now set apart as the only school that offers depth and breadth across all of the key sustainability areas aligned with the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education: energy, food, real estate/built environment, corporate social responsibility, and impact finance. 

In diversity and inclusion, Harrison oversaw the building of a team led by Chief DEI Officer Élida Bautista, which includes four full-time staff and a part-time diversity expert who is working with faculty on curriculum and teaching. This past spring, the school launched its first-ever core course on leading diverse teams.

Known for its strength in entrepreneurship and innovation, Haas will be breaking ground on a new entrepreneurship hub this spring. In partnership with UC Berkeley, which is the #1 public institution for startup founders (as reported by Pitchbook), the hub will bring together students from across campus to network and innovate. On the faculty side, Harrison oversaw the creation of the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation faculty group in 2020.

Dean Ann Harrison with Kimberly Mendez, Nicole Austin-Thomas, and Almaz Ali, MBA 21s, at the Berkeley Haas Consortium student welcome event in 2019.
Dean Ann Harrison with Kimberly Mendez, Nicole Austin-Thomas, and Almaz Ali, MBA 21s, at the Berkeley Haas Consortium student welcome event in 2019.

Cross-campus collaboration

Harrison, who has deep relationships with leaders across UC Berkeley, has also prioritized cross-campus collaboration, increasing the number of academic programs offered by Haas. She worked closely with the Berkeley School of Public Health and School of Law to bolster their joint programs and launched the Robinson Life Science, Business, and Entrepreneurship Program with the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, the MBA/MEng degree with the College of Engineering, and the summer minor in sustainable business and policy with the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 

She is currently developing a concurrent degree program for a  joint MBA and master’s degree in climate solutions with the Rausser College of Natural Resources.  


Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang on inventing new markets

Jensen Huang photo
Jensen Huang

Jensen Huang,  co-founder and CEO of Nvidia, solved the 3D graphic challenge for the personal computer in 1999 with the company’s release of the first-ever graphics processing unit (GPU).

Nvidia’s vision for the chips that fueled new video games existed before they had a name for it, he said during last week’s Dean’s Speaker Series at Haas.

“It’s OK that you don’t’ have the words to describe it, but you need to know what the company does and for what reason,” said Huang, whose company was named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential companies of 2022.

Nvidia set new standards in visual computing with interactive graphics on tablets, portable media players, and workstations. Its technology has been used in movies like Harry Potter, Iron Man and Avatar and is at the center of the most cutting-edge trends in technology: virtual reality, artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.

Now, Nvidia and other chip-makers’ stock shares are rising over their potential to power OpenAI’s language tool, ChatGPT, a “chatbot” that interacts in a conversational way with users.

(Watch the DSS talk here.)

Huang calls ChatGPT “the iPhone moment of artificial intelligence.”

“When was the last time that we saw a piece of technology that is so versatile that it can solve problems and surprise people in so many ways?” he said. “It can write a poem, fill out a spreadsheet, do a sequel theory, and write Python code. We’ve been waiting for this moment.”

Nvidia is constantly reinventing itself, which is the key for every entrepreneur, he said.

“Creating something out of nothing is a skill that I think every company or startup needs to have,” he said. “The energy of looking for something new – a new way of doing something – is always there.”

Leadership requires both dedication and empathy, he added.

“Being a CEO, being a leader, it’s a craft. You have to dedicate yourself to the craft. I don’t think there’s any easy answer aside from that. You have to have curiosity, you have to have deep empathy for other people’s work.”

Dean’s Speaker Series: Reddit COO Jen Wong on her leadership journey

Growing up as a shy introvert, Reddit COO Jen Wong said she never saw herself as a leader.

“I think I assumed a leader was a person who told other people what to do,” Wong said.

It was her fascination with companies and the people who lead them, as well as a drive to solve new problems, that led her to pursue a career that has included leadership positions at Time, Inc.; PopSugar; AOL, and now Reddit.

“I’m a puzzler at heart, and when my mind starts searching for a new problem to solve, and there’s something I can learn, that propels me forward,” Wong said. “I always want to move into something that has a clear lane for me to have an impact.”

Wong, who topped Reddit’s Queer 50 list this year, shared her leadership journey with MBA students and the Haas community at a Dean’s Speaker Series talk on Sept. 21. The talk was co-sponsored by [email protected] as part of Coming Out Week, September 18-22.

As Reddit’s Chief Operation Officer, Wong oversees business strategy and related teams.  Only four years into her tenure as COO, she has helped lead the growth of Reddit into a profitable business by scaling ad revenue to well over $100 million.  Her leadership goes beyond growing the business; she is also passionate about Reddit’s company goal that’s just as important as revenue: diversity and inclusion. In addition, Jen is viewed as an expert in the digital landscape.

Watch the full talk:

Start at

Preparing women to lead in a post-pandemic world

Nine MBA women students
From left to right, top to bottom: Chyi-Shin Shu, Maggie O’Neill, Nicole Austin-Thomas, Sadie Shelton, Rebeca West, Marina Mamer, all MBA 21; Gina Deitz, Julie Reynolds, and Sitara Chandra, all MBA/MPH 21.

Equipping women with the skills to bounce back as strong leaders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the focus of the 25th annual Berkeley Haas Women in Leadership (WIL) conference next month.

Nearly 2.3 million women have dropped out of the workforce since the start of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On top of that, the pandemic has illuminated deeply-rooted gender equity, class, and racial injustice issues in the U.S. 

To prepare women to emerge stronger from the crisis, the WIL leadership team quickly decided that this year’s theme would be “New Leadership for a New World.” The conference will be held March 4-5.

“We’re living in a totally different world now and there are brand new roles for everybody to play, especially for women,” said conference Co-chair, Maggie O’Neill, MBA 21. From Jacinda Ardern to Stacey Abrams, this past year has revealed women leaders in a new light and we want to build on this momentum and help create a stronger, more inclusive definition of leadership.”

The WIL conference, one of the longest-running and most well-attended events at Berkeley Haas, brings together students, scholars, entrepreneurs, and corporate executives from Silicon Valley and beyond. Organized by the Women in Leadership club, the conference will be held during two half-days online. 

Conference organizers include Maggie O’Neill, Chyi-Shin Shu, Sadie Shelton, Nicole Austin-Thomas, Rebeca West, Marina Mamer, all MBA 21; Gina Deitz, Julie Reynolds, and Sitara Chandra, all MBA/MPH 21.

More than 250 people have registered for the conference, which will focus on celebrating pioneering women leaders, making an impact in local communities and beyond, and learning leadership skills for professional success. 

The team invited poets, activists, and journalists to lead panel discussions alongside executives and entrepreneurs. The idea was to expand the lens of who is a leader, said Nicole Austin-Thomas, MBA 21. 

Laila Tarraf, MBA 97, chief people officer at Allbirds, will kick off the conference with a keynote, followed by a story salon, a fireside chat, and a virtual wine tasting event for WIL members.

Dean Ann Harrison will open Friday’s sessions, followed by a keynote address from diversity consultant Mikki Kendall; a panel discussion led by Kellie McElhaney, executive director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at Haas; a networking lunch; a fireside chat with poet and activist Cleo Wade; and breakout sessions focused on allyship and advocacy, authentic authorship, and building equitable outcomes.

Other notable guest speakers include Elena Gomez, BS 91, CFO of Zendesk; Vrinda Gupta, MBA 20, founder and CEO of Sequin Financial; Monique Shields, a Berkeley Haas career coach and founder of career coaching company Seven Pines Leadership; and Archana Gilravni, vice president of partnerships at the Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg Family Foundation.

Conference tickets are available here.

Binundu Isaiah Samuel, EMBA 20: It is not OK!

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Binundu Isaiah Samuel,
co-president of the Berkeley Haas Executive MBA Class of 2020, sent this letter to classmates. We’re reposting with his permission.

Dear Executive MBA Family,

Binundu Isaiah Samuel
Binundu Isaiah Samuel, EMBA 20

I watched the execution of George Floyd in horror and pain. Sadly, images and stories of similar atrocities have become all too common yet, this one hit different! I watched a man cry out for mercy only for his cries to fall on deaf ears. I watched a man in pain and agony cry out for his mother in fear of losing his life! Yet, his cries were drowned out by hate, ignorance, and a lack of decency for a fellow human being. No one was able to intervene, no one was able to save George Floyd, or Ahmaud Arbery, or Breonna Taylor. The cries of the brutalized have echoed for generations, and now here we are. It is not ok!

The history of this nation is marred by episodes of hate. Repetitive cycles, where black bodies and lives are mangled, abused, beaten, disrespected, tortured, and made to feel less than human. It is not ok! 

I cried as I watched another one of my black brothers struggle for his life, and could not help but think about how that could have easily been me or someone I cared about. The video reminded me of the excessive caution that I have to exercise when interacting with police, for fear of becoming another statistic. The video reminded me of the racial slurs that I’ve endured from ignorant groups and people alike. The video reminded me of how I fear for my black friends and family, and how our safety isn’t guaranteed even at the hands of those sworn to protect us. The video reminded me of the anxiety that I feel about how those in positions of power will react to my application for a job or opportunity when they realize that I am a black candidate. Believe me; being black every day in America is a constant reminder of a broken system that screams “we don’t want you” and to be honest, I am tired. It is not ok!

The video reminded me of the anxiety that I feel about how those in positions of power will react to my application for a job or opportunity when they realize that I am a black candidate.

I am sharing this because I feel that it is important and necessary for us to align as an EMBA community. It is time for us to decide where we stand. Are you going to be on the side of justice, equality, and fairness for all? Or are you going to pretend that there are no problems? The time for pretense is over! The mask has been lifted, and the scars are exposed for all to see – just listen to the cries reverberating from all corners of the globe. The world is in pain. It is not ok!

EMBA 20’s, we are the future. Our cohort will give rise to great leaders who will have the opportunity and power to drive change and influence the world! We must heed the lessons of our past and present to ensure our future will be better. We must remember, that in whatever capacity, the change can start with us!

Thanks to those that have reached out to me—it means a lot! Please know that I do not claim to have the answers – I am still learning, analyzing, organizing, and digesting all that is occurring. As I look for ways to contribute towards a solution, I welcome you to join me in dialogue, partnership, and allyship. 

Here is a folder with more anti-racism resources.

Be well and take care, EMBA family.

Binundu Isaiah Samuel
Class Co-President, EMBA Class of 2020

Prof. Laura Tyson to lead governor’s new economic council

Prof. Laura Tyson, Photo: Karl Nielsen
Prof. Laura Tyson (Photo: Karl Nielsen)

Influential economist Laura D’Andrea Tyson, who served as dean of Berkeley Haas and as a presidential advisor, has been named by Gov. Gavin Newsom to co-chair his new Council of Economic Advisors.

The 13-member panel, announced on Friday, will advise the governor and state finance director on wide-ranging economic issues “and deepen relationships between the administration and academic researchers to keep California moving toward an economy that is inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.”

Tyson will co-chair the council with Fernando Lozano, an economics professor at Pomona College. 

 “I look forward to working with this expert group of advisors to support Gov. Newsom’s goal of fostering inclusive, sustainable, long-term economic growth for all of California,” Tyson said. “As the world’s 5th largest economy and the nation’s leader in innovation and new business formation, California is in a strong position to tackle major economic challenges—including adapting to climate change, creating good job opportunities throughout the state, and reducing homelessness.”

Two other UC Berkeley professors were also appointed: Maurice Obstfeld, the Class of 1958 Professor of Economics who served on President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2014 to 2015 and as chief economist at the International Monetary Fund from 2015 to 2018, and economics and public policy Prof. Hilary Hoynes, the Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities and co-director of the Berkeley Opportunity Lab. Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, MBA 92, will also serve on the panel.

Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom (Wikimedia Commons)

“For California to continue thriving, we need our economy to work for everyone in every corner of the state,” Newsom said in a statement. “Our state is experiencing its longest economic expansion, with record-low unemployment—3.9 percent—increases in personal income, and billions in investments, but this expansion has unevenly benefited people across the state. We need to invest for the future, adapt to a changing climate and keep our budget balanced. This Council will keep its pulse on what’s happening in our economy while making policy recommendations to prepare us for what’s to come.”

 An expert on trade, competitiveness, and the future of work, Tyson is a distinguished professor of the graduate school and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact, which she launched in 2013. She also chairs the board of trustees at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies, which aims to develop solutions to global poverty. She served as Berkeley Haas interim dean from July to December 2018, and as dean from 1998 to 2001. She led London Business School as dean from 2002 to 2006.

Under the Clinton administration, Tyson served as Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1993 to 1995 and as Director of the White House National Economic Council from 1995 to 1996. She was the first woman to hold those positions.

Much of Tyson’s recent research focuses on the effects of automation on the future of work. She has also devoted considerable policy attention to the links between women’s rights and national economic performance.

The new council will meet with and advise Gov. Newsom upon request. The group will be guided by the Department of Finance’s Chief Economist Irena Asmundson.





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MBA students fight the gender pay gap—one offer at a time

While she was working at Microsoft several years ago, Christina Chavez, MBA 19, logged into an anonymous online job compensation board called Blind and was shocked to see the tech gender pay gap in plain sight.

“People were posting their data, and we started saying ‘whoah’ there’s some major differences in how our colleagues are getting paid,” said Chavez, who will start working at Google after graduation.

With these numbers top of mind, pay equity and transparency was a top goal for Chavez when she arrived at Berkeley Haas. She put that priority into action last fall when she and classmate Jack Anderson—a fellow member of the student-led Haas Gender Equity Initiative—set up a new spreadsheet where classmates can share all the details of their compensation packages. (The spreadsheet is managed by Jordan Sale, MBA 19, and founder of startup 81cents, which provides salary support for women during job negotiations.)

Using salary data and research provided by Berkeley Haas Prof. Laura Kray, the students created a Haas Wage Gap Infographic, which shows that women who graduated from Haas last year earned 96% of what their male peers earned. But the more concerning finding was that for alumni with greater than 10 years experience, the salary gap between men and women widened.

“We earned 96 cents to the dollar in the last MBA class and people were like ‘yeah we’re approaching equity,’ but this gap grows over time,” Chavez said.

Christina Chavez
Christina Chavez 

Moving toward transparency

The Haas students launched this project to expand what’s offered through CMG Bears —the Haas Career Management Group’s tool that allows MBA students to anonymously enter and look up salary data based on company and job role. The database offers a wealth of information, but doesn’t track salaries by gender.

Abby Scott, assistant dean of MBA Career Management and Corporate Partnerships, who worked with the students to provide historical data for the project, said the long-term salary gap is a concern. She added that Haas is working to add gender identification to CMG Bears to provide as much context to the salary data as possible.

“I don’t think that we know the real cause of the long-term pay gap, but we are advising students to make sure they’re negotiating salary and thinking beyond compensation—and we speak frequently to women about both the importance of negotiation and taking on leadership roles,” she said.

By many estimates, American women working full time earn about 80% to 85% of what men earn (a statistic that varies by race/ethnicity and how it’s measured). Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) at Haas, said transparency is a critical weapon in the fight to close the pay gap. “Knowledge is power,” she said, noting that a growing group of companies such as Salesforce, Gap, and Google have been moving in the right direction, toward public reporting of compensation.

In recent research, Prof. Kray and Margaret Lee, a postdoctoral research fellow sponsored by the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL), looked at the Berkeley Haas alumni surveys of full-time professionals who graduated between 1994 and 2014. The researchers found that while men’s base salaries were on average about 8 percent higher than women’s, it’s in the bonuses, share values, and options—which tend to not be tracked as publicly as salaries—where the men’s salaries outpaced women’s. Overall compensation for Haas women MBAs averaged about $290,000, or about 66 percent of men’s $439,000 average. Kray and Lee also linked part of the pay gap to the fact that men manage larger teams than equally qualified women.

Tricky negotiations

It’s the company shares and stock options that are trickier in negotiations and not often tracked, Anderson said, adding that for some reason, male MBAs appear to fare better in those areas after graduating from Haas.

Jack Anderson
Jack Anderson

“That’s the thing that jumped out to me: how much of the offer goes beyond base compensation [salary and signing bonus],” he said. “So many companies are offering other compensation, RSUs (restricted stock units), and stock options. It drove us to think about how important it is for people to understand this and to get some basis for comparison. We need to work on how we display that information for people.”

But that might not be enough. In their research, Kray and Lee found that the problem goes far deeper than negotiation skills, pointing toward a bias about leadership that leads men to be put in charge of larger teams than equally-qualified women, and get paid more because of it.

McElhaney agreed that better negotiating skills will only go so far—if it comes down to the basic fact that managers just want to pay men more and that women are facing entrenched bias.

“You can change processes but the long-term problem is people’s individual biases,” she said. “If they believe things like men do a better job at leading big teams, or that women bosses are unlikable, this is unconscious and conscious bias at work.”

To access the new spreadsheet, students must agree to share their own salary data anonymously, including their preferred gender, job title and function, years of post-college work experience, geographic location of the job offer, and compensation details, including base salary, bonus, and any equity package offered. All students are asked whether they negotiated their compensation— and if so, to include the initial and final offers. So far, 58 students in the 2019 MBA class who have received job offers have added data to the sheet—split about evenly between men and women.

Classified: Empowering undergrads to be changemakers

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

Alex Budak teaches a new undergraduate course called Becoming a Changemaker
Alex Budak teaches a new undergraduate course called Becoming a Changemaker.

Nearly 40 students poured out of the Chou Hall elevators on a recent morning on a strange mission: to find ways to get rejected in less than 15 minutes.

One student told a passerby it was her birthday. “Could you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me?” she asked.  Another offered to swap his jacket for a person’s laptop. Yet another went from table to table at Café Think, asking for bites of food.

The exercise may sound like improv, but it’s just part of Haas Lecturer Alex Budak’s new undergraduate course called Becoming a Changemaker. The course aims to inspire and empower future leaders with the mindset and tools to make a positive impact on the world—a mission that includes learning to overcome fear of failure by confronting it head-on.

“If you seek to do anything innovative or meaningful in your life, you’re inevitably going to fail along the way,” Budak said. “It’s one thing to intellectualize failure, but it’s another to feel it personally. How often do we hold back asking for something because we’re sure we’ll fail when in reality we may not? We’re failing even before we try.”

Turning panic into confidence

The rejection exercise is just one example of how Becoming a Changemaker tries to upend traditional notions of leadership. In follow-up interviews, students described how a near sense of panic turned to newfound confidence as they practiced asking for something and not getting it.

“It was one of the most powerful educational experiences I’ve ever had,” said Nye Avilla, BS 20, who overcame her fear of asking people if she could borrow their umbrellas. Despite getting rebuffed time and again, she basically realized it was no big deal to ask. “By being more open to failure, I know now that I can be a better leader and a better individual.”

The course includes a little improv, with a goal of creating leaders.
The course uses many tools (including this “act it out” exercise) to create a new kind of leader.

The students were also struck by how many strangers agreed to their outlandish requests, because it reminded them that people do want to help and that their own reticence can be inhibiting.

“Outdated notions of leadership tell young people to wait their turn; to wait for permission to lead,” Budak said. “But while leaders might be scarce, leadership is abundant. We can all lead positive change from wherever we are, whether we’re an intern or a CEO. Leadership is not a title; it’s an act. This course reflects the Haas commitment to building a different kind of leader.”

That’s why the Haas Defining Leadership Principles—Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Student Always, and Beyond Yourself—are woven throughout the course curriculum, he said.

The sum of “small, daily acts”

Students say the course has fundamentally changed how they think about leadership and has transformed how they see themselves in the world.

Sarika Saksena, for example, was 14 years old when she launched a nonprofit, Ujala, that has taught more than 1,000 women in India how to make and sell candles to gain financial independence. Despite her success and experience, the self-described introvert says she never thought she had what it takes to succeed as a leader.

“Before this class, I believed, like many others, that successful leaders are always extroverts, outspoken, bold, and dominating,” said Saksena, a freshman who plans to apply to Haas. She said Budak has taught her that leadership instead requires, among other things, humility, trust in yourself and others, a collaborative team spirit, and the resilience to “fail forward” after taking calculated risks. She sees leadership now as the sum of these small, daily acts that are within anyone’s reach.

Adeel Cheema, a senior computer science major who will work as a software engineer at Facebook after he graduates in May, said he didn’t know what leadership in a culture meant before taking the course. “Now I know how to lead culture,” he says.

Budak gives students many opportunities to put what they learn into practice. Throughout weekly two-hour sessions, students break into groups to discuss the topic at hand—including, for example, the role of corporate cultures on change—and their own experiences with it.

Budak’s teaching approach is to help all students recognize their capabilities as changemakers, which involves many techniques. When students arrive in class, they’re greeted with classic songs about change by the likes of Tracy Chapman, Bob Dylan, and Sam Cooke, and written quotes from some of history’s greatest changemakers. His “Changemaker of the Week” exercise gets students to select a favorite change agent and present on how course frameworks and theories apply to their impact.  For their final projects, students will work in small teams to identify a positive change they want to make on campus, in the community, or even globally, and develop a strategy for achieving it.

“A dream come true”

Budak says his commitment to fostering changemakers is deeply personal. In 2010, he co-founded the social enterprise StartSomeGood, which has helped over 1,000 people in 50 countries raise over $10 million to launch and scale new social ventures. He joined Haas in 2016, first as the founding executive director of the former UC Berkeley Center for Reinventing Leadership, and then as the director of the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program. Becoming a Changemaker is Budak’s first foray into teaching and, he says, a decade-long dream come true.

For their final projects, students will work in small teams to identify a positive change they want to make.
For their final projects, students will work in small teams to identify a positive change they want to make.

“In a world where the only constant is change, our companies, our communities, and our world are yearning for changemakers who can not just survive change but can leverage it to improve lives. These students give me so much hope for the future.” he said.

Ibrahim Balde, BS 20, said the course has opened his eyes to the leader he wants to be and has helped him gain confidence. Balde, who is active in student organizations such as Faces of African Muslims and Black Collectivism for California Students, came to Haas with visions of one day helping disadvantaged groups find economic empowerment.

Balde said the class, with its focus on putting lessons into practice, has been a welcome balance to courses in microeconomics and other technical business subjects.

“This class allows me to think about my mission and purpose and to understand that leadership isn’t a defined trait,” Balde said. “It’s a series of actions, a conscious effort every day to do the right thing.”

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

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

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

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

What was your experience as a Cal undergrad?

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

How did you get interested in economics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full interview here.

Dean Harrison to share her vision for Haas

<em>Haas Dean Ann Harrison. Photo: Noah Berger</em>
Haas Dean Ann Harrison. Photo: Noah Berger

Dean Ann E. Harrison will share her priorities for her first 90 days in a discussion with former Dean Laura Tyson to kick off the spring Dean’s Speaker Series next month.

The event, planned during the anniversary week of the Haas Defining Leadership Principles, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 12:30pm in Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum.

It’s the 9th  anniversary of the principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always and Beyond Yourself, four phrases that have come to be widely associated with Berkeley Haas.

In conversation with Tyson, Harrison will share her vision for Haas, her take on the Defining Leadership Principles, and her leadership approach.

Harrison began her tenure as Haas dean this month. The former William H. Wurster Professor of Multinational Management and Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Harrison has a deep Berkeley history. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley with a double major in economics and history in 1982. She also served as a professor of Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics from 2001 to 2011.

A Q&A will follow the talk, which will be posted after the event on the DSS web page.

Registration is required for the free event, which is open to the Haas community and invited guests.

Doors will open at noon and a light lunch will be served.

Upcoming events in the Dean’s Speaker Series include:

Laurene Powell Jobs

(First Annual Chris Boskin Deans’ Speaker Series in Business and Journalism)
A conversation with Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and President of Emerson Collective

Thursday, February 7
Spieker Forum

David Aaker

Professor Emeritus, Haas School of Business

Tuesday, March 5
Spieker Forum

A Berkeley homecoming: Q&A with incoming Dean Ann Harrison

Incoming Haas Dean Ann E. Harrison
Incoming Haas Dean Ann E. Harrison has deep Berkeley roots.

Renowned Wharton Economist and Berkeley Alumna Ann E. Harrison, BA 82 (economics and history), will begin her tenure as new Haas dean on Jan. 1, 2019.

Harrison is the William H. Wurster Professor of Multinational Management and Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Before joining the Wharton School in 2012, Harrison served as director of development policy at the World Bank.

Harrison has deep Berkeley roots. She’s been both student and teacher here, serving as a professor in Agricultural Resource Economics from 2001 to 2011. She joins an esteemed group of female economists who have made their impact on Haas, including Interim and former Dean Laura Tyson and Prof. Emeritus Janet Yellen, the former head of the Federal Reserve and now a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institute.

In recent weeks, Harrison has been meeting with Haas faculty and staff, developing her priorities and vision for the school. She recently sat with Berkeley Haas News for an interview.

Haas: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Ann Harrison:  I was born in France, and I came to the U.S. when I was 2 years old, grew up in the Bay Area in California, and went to UC Berkeley as an undergraduate. I am married to another economist who I met in graduate school. He’s originally from the Philippines, so we were married in Manila. We have two daughters: Alice goes to UC Santa Barbara, and Emily is a graduate student in art history.

In my free time, I love to hike all over California—in Point Reyes, at Inspiration Point in the Berkeley hills behind the university, and in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Could you share a few career highlights? What award or research project are you most proud of?

One of my most precious moments was when I received a phone call from Berkeley asking me if I would be interested in a tenured professorship. I just remember how thrilled I was when I received that phone call. More recently, one of my happiest moments was when I received the Sun Yefang Prize, which is awarded by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences for the best research in economics on China.

Tell us a little more about your experience at the World Bank and what you did there.

I started at the World Bank right after my PhD, and have spent time going back and forth between the World Bank and different academic positions I’ve held over the years. In my most recent role there, I served as director of development policy. The World Bank’s mission is to try to free the world from poverty.  I have also worked with other organizations such as the United Nations on similar goals.

What do you think are some of the Haas School’s greatest strengths?

The school has a number of really important strengths. It’s defined by its unique culture and the four Defining Leadership Principles, which are helping to create students who care about becoming great business leaders, who go beyond themselves, who are confident without having an attitude, and who question the status quo. Berkeley is a phenomenal institution, and its location brings with it a tremendous entrepreneurial culture.

What do you see as some of its challenges?

As a public institution, we have a much more limited budget than many private universities, and that continues to be a challenge for the students, the staff, and the faculty. But we are so enriched by the generosity of all of our donors, including those alumni who made enormous contributions to create our new building, Chou Hall. Berkeley has a very loyal set of donors and alumni, and I really look forward to working with them in the years to come.

What will your key priorities be as you begin your deanship?

I am very honored to have been asked to serve as dean of Berkeley Haas. This is a dream come true for me. It is also my good fortune to succeed outstanding deans—such as Rich Lyons and Laura Tyson—who have done an amazing job in strengthening our school and placing it at the forefront of business education. I plan to build on their successes to make this great school even better.

As I begin my deanship, I have three priorities: One is to grow the faculty in certain key areas, which include entrepreneurship, data analytics, and green business. I also want to further integrate Haas into the Berkeley community by increasing the number of cross-school programs that we have. My third priority is increasing the diversity of the student body and the faculty. As you know, we have put together a new action plan, which will allow us to increase the diversity of our full-time MBA program. But the role of diversity and the importance of inclusion is something that permeates all our degree programs, and that is very important to all us.

Why did you decide to move to a dean’s role versus teaching and research?

All my life, I have enjoyed research and learning and writing, but I’ve also really enjoyed making a difference. Working at the World Bank was an important opportunity for me to be in the real world and to see governments change—such as lending the Indian government a billion dollars to help them clean up its rivers. As a dean, one is able to combine the joy of research and teaching with actually making change, so that’s an incredibly exciting opportunity for me.

Haas Professor Laura Tyson named business school’s interim dean

Haas Interim Dean Laura Tyson
Haas Interim Dean Laura Tyson. Photo: Karl Nielsen

Laura D’Andrea Tyson, renowned economist at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, has been named the school’s interim dean as of July 1, Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ announced today.

Tyson joined the Berkeley Economics Department in 1977 and the Haas faculty in 1990.  She was the dean of the Haas School from 1998 to 2001. She also served as dean of London Business School from 2002 until 2006. She has graciously agreed to serve as interim dean at Berkeley Haas while the chancellor’s office continues to work on recruiting a permanent dean. The chancellor’s office hopes to have a new dean named and in place this fall.

“We are so fortunate that somebody as able and uniquely qualified for this role as Professor Tyson is willing to step in and help the school during this leadership transition,” said Chancellor Christ. “When Laura was dean of Berkeley Haas, she initiated many important programs that laid the foundation for the school’s financial and reputational strengths today. Haas couldn’t be in better hands.”

Tyson succeeds Professor Richard K. Lyons, who has served as the Haas School dean for 11 years. Lyons will to return to his full-time faculty position at Haas next year following a well-deserved sabbatical.

“The Berkeley Haas community recognizes and appreciates the enormous contributions that Dean Lyons has made during his deanship,” said Tyson. “I am honored by the opportunity to serve our community during the transition to the new dean.”

Currently, Tyson is a Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School and serves as the faculty director of the Haas School’s Institute for Business and Social Impact, which she launched in 2013. The Institute houses the Centers for Responsible Business (CRB), Social Sector Leadership (CSSL), and Equity, Gender & Leadership (EGaL); the Global Social Venture Competition, BOOST and B-BAY. Tyson also chairs the Board of Trustees at the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley.

Tyson is an influential scholar of economics and public policy and an expert on trade and competitiveness. She served as Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1993 to 1995 and as Director of the White House National Economic Council from 1995 to 1996. She was the first woman to serve in these two positions.

Tyson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She serves on three corporate boards and as an advisor to or member of several advisory boards for nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Tyson has devoted some of her policy attention to the links between women’s rights and national economic performance. At the World Economic Forum (WEF), she is the co-chair of the Global Future Council on Education, Gender and Work and is a Stewardship Board member of the System Initiative on Education, Gender and Work. She is the co-author of the WEF Annual Global Gender Gap Report, which ranks nations on economic, political, education, and health gender gaps. She is also the co-author of Leave No One Behind, a report for the United Nation’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (2016).

Much of Tyson’s recent research focuses on the effects of automation on the future of work. She is the co-organizer of WITS (Work and Intelligent Tools and System), an interdisciplinary faculty group created to explore the impacts of digital technologies and artificial intelligence on working, earning, and learning.

The in-crowd: New book makes case for “Radical Inclusion”

Berkeley Haas Lecturer Ori BrafmanAs an undergrad at Berkeley, Ori Brafman had been many things—a peace and conflict studies major, anti-war protestor, and vegan activist whose McVegan campaign had taken on McDonald’s and won. The last place he thought he’d find himself a decade later was in the office of a 4-star army general. “At the time, I had no idea what a 4-star general was,” admits Brafman, BA 97, a Berkeley Haas lecturer who teaches improvisational leadership in the MBA and undergraduate programs. “My first question was, ‘Is there a 5-star general?’”

Yet, that meeting in 2009 with Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsy would lead to an unlikely collaboration examining just how much the definition of leadership has changed in the era between the Twin Towers attack and the rise of “fake news.” Their ongoing conversation has culminated in the publication of a new book, Radical Inclusion: What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership.

The economic case for inclusion

The book makes the case that in military bunkers and corporate boardrooms alike, leadership today means bringing everyone into the fold.

“Typically we look at inclusion as something that’s nice to have from a psychological perspective,” Brafman says. But he and Dempsey argue that including everyone in a way that gives them stake in decision-making makes economic sense as well. Members of an organization who don’t feel a sense of buy-in will be a drag on productivity, or jump ship altogether, costing time and energy in finding their replacements. “From an economic perspective, you are actually paying a cost for control. You need to ask yourself if you could achieve the results through inclusion in a more economically efficient way,” Brafman says.

At the same time, inclusion is vital to communication, for leaders to both receive and transmit essential truths. “You need inclusion to get better information from the edges of the network and also to be able to analyze that data. And you need enough different people around you, so you are not surprised by a piece of data when it comes in,” Brafman says.

Radical inclusion lessons from Burning Man

Dempsey contacted Brafman after the publication of his first book, the Starfish and the Spider, which argues for the effectiveness of distributed networks over top-down hierarchy. A New York Times bestseller, the book resonated with everyone from Greenpeace to the Tea Party. It also struck a chord in the military, which had been struggling to diffuse authority in order to counter the threat posed by distributed terrorist networks in the wake of 9/11.

In their first meeting, Brafman showed the general slides from Burning Man, the famously hedonistic annual gathering of artists and iconoclasts in the Nevada desert. The power of the event, Brafman insisted, came from the fact that everyone is welcomed—and everyone is encouraged to participate—creating an intimate sense of shared purpose among diverse individuals which enables them to create a successful gathering in the harshest of conditions.

As Brafman began talking to Dempsey, however, he realized that he had just as much to learn from the Army’s strengths in this same area. “A big part of their sauce is that they engender a sense of belonging,” he says. That sense of belonging is the first key to inclusion, the authors write. “The most important responsibility of leaders—no matter how busy they are and how many other priorities demand their attention—is to make their people feel like they belong.” The way to do that, they continue, is to devote time into building shared memories—whether it’s a kind word in the hallway or on the battlefield, or an unexpected phone call or visit—that makes people feel like they are valued participants whose work matters to the organization.

Amplifying voices

Beyond making employees feel included, Brafman and Dempsey say, leaders must also communicate both inside and outside the organization in an inclusive way. In a world of distributed information, organizations can no longer count on persuading audiences with facts alone. As organizations compete with viral videos and “fake news,” they must also create the best story. “As a leader you are responsible for creating a narrative of the organization both internally and externally,” says Brafman. “Then your job becomes how do I create a sense of ownership and involvement with that narrative.”

Brafman and Dempsey further distill their own message into six leadership lessons, such as “Co-Create Context” and “Relinquish Control,” which help to apply the principles of inclusion to create a successful organization. “If you are saying I need to control my people, then you might have control, but you are not going to win in this market,” Brafman says. “Right now, listening and amplifying voices and winning the competition of narratives is much more important.”

22nd Women In Leadership conference to focus on evolution of gender equality

WIL Conference leadership team
Members of the WIL conference team

Uprisings around #metoo, women’s marches, and inclusion and diversity in Hollywood and beyond defined 2017, sparking fierce conversations on feminism, gender equity, and social justice.

The March 17 Women In Leadership (WIL) conference will continue that conversation, taking participants through three different stages of leadership and careers under this year’s theme, “Evolve.”

The 22nd annual conference is expected to attract more than 400 students, alumni, and other professionals to campus. It’s the longest-running student-led conference at Haas, providing a platform for students and professionals to hear from women leaders, understand challenges, and find ways to advance the conversation.

Co-chairs Mackenzie Cooke, MBA 18, and Mary Harty, MBA 18, have worked with a team over the last year to plan the conference.

“This conference differs from past conferences for its focus on the phases of a woman’s journey to leadership, which we hope will make it relevant for undergrads through C-suite executives,” Cooke said. “We want attendees to be exposed to a variety of perspectives to both educate them on issues with which they may not be familiar and challenge previously held beliefs. We want attendees to think the content is relevant and diverse, and we want them to leave feeling like this was a worthwhile investment of their time and energy.”

Making progress

Larissa Roesch
Keynote speaker Larissa Roesch

Throughout the day, attendees will move through Develop, Progress, and Advance workshops and panels to discuss gender roles, challenges in the workplace, and how men and women can be supporters and allies throughout their journeys. A morning session, for example, discusses the societal and cultural influences on women and how messaging influences their definition of self.

One of the unique aspects of WIL is the “story salon,” a live storytelling format that Cooke says is an integral part of the Haas culture. A group of women will be sharing their personal stories in a salon session called “Visualizing Ourselves as Leaders.”

The day will feature more than a dozen speakers, varying from executives and storytellers to startup leaders and consultants. One of this year’s keynote speakers, Larissa Roesch, MBA 97, is a founding advisory board member of the Center for Gender, Equity & Leadership, the new center on campus that collaborated with Women in Leadership. Roesch is currently vice president and portfolio manager at San Francisco-based investment company Dodge & Cox.

In her keynote, Roesch will be addressing what to focus on in order to achieve equal pay, diverse leadership teams, and more women in business. Research and technology over the years have helped advance those conversations, she said.

Roesch is no stranger to the conference. While at Haas, she helped plan the second WIL conference and was the first woman to serve as president of the MBAA. She joined Dodge & Cox 20 years ago, after graduating from Haas.

The WIL conference in its early years was a pretty novel idea, she said.

“The concept of women in leadership was less developed, although obviously it’s been a long trajectory,” she said. “One thing that I know has changed now is there are men in the Women In Leadership club and male students to help organize the conference. I think that’s really positive just reflecting the notion that it needs to be an inclusive discussion in order to affect change,” Roesch said.

Haas research on leadership featured in 60th anniversary journal

California Management Review 60th Anniversary editionNational Energy Finance CompetitionA special 60th anniversary issue of California Management Review features seven articles by Berkeley Haas faculty exploring different aspects of leadership—from incentives for innovation to recognizing women’s unique qualities as negotiators.

The articles in the Fall 2017 journal issue not only show the breadth of Haas faculty research, but also reflect the school’s increasing focus on leadership, writes editor and Prof. Emeritus David Vogel, in the introduction. Haas culture is codified in four defining leadership principles: Question the Status Quo; Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always and Beyond Yourself.

“Each of the Haas School’s four defining principles are essentially about dimensions of leadership,” Vogel said.

As the Haas School’s quarterly peer-reviewed journal, California Management Review serves as bridge of communication between those who study management and those who practice it.

The journal opens with research by Prof. Don Moore pointing out that decades of research on hiring indicates that face-to-face job interviews are terrible at predicting future performance—yet companies continue to use them. In “How to Improve the Accuracy and Reduce the Cost of Personnel Selection,” Moore shows that there more effective and efficient alternatives, including structuring interviews around tests of key skills and abilities.

In “Creating Incentives for Innovation,” Prof. Gustavo Manso presents research demonstrating how employees can be encouraged to experiment by creating incentive systems that both tolerate early failures and reward long-term performance.

Prof. Laura Kray, who has long studied gender differences, writes that women possess unique advantages as negotiators—including stronger ethics and higher levels of cooperation. Yet women still face stereotypes of being poor advocates for themselves. “Changing the Narrative: Women as Negotiators—and Leaders,” co-authored by Jessica A. Kennedy of Vanderbilt University, presents practical strategies for managers and negotiators to change the narrative and close performance gaps.

In “Who’s Really Doing the Work? The Impact of Group Size on Over-Claiming of Responsibility,” Asst. Prof. Juliana Schroeder explores a pervasive phenomenon in today’s workplaces: people believing that they’ve done more than their fair share of work. The article looks at predictors of “over-claiming,” and presents practical steps that managers can use to reduce the damaging effects.

Other articles in the special issue also include a bottom-up look at the relationship between language and corporate culture by Prof. Sameer Srivastava and Amir Goldberg of Stanford; a piece by adj. profs Nora Silver and Paul Jansen on multisector careers; and an article by Center for Responsible Business Exec. Director Robert Strand and Dara O’Rourke, an associate environmental science professor, on the tensions Patagonia has faced in pursuing sustainability and quality products that may have environmental impacts.

Classified: The slam-dunk case for investing in women in business

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

Kellie McElhaney teaches her course, "The Business Case of Investing in Women.
Assoc. Adj. Prof. Kellie McElhaney teaching a session of her course, “The Business Case for Investing in Women”

Class discussions about sex trafficking, crash test dummies designed to match male—but not female—physiology, and the challenges a breast pump company faced in attracting venture capital were unsettling.

But it wasn’t until the conversation turned to the relatively mundane acts of sexism women encounter daily—such as unwanted advances at business dinners—that Federico Locatelli, MBA 18, spoke up.

“I didn’t really understand before what women have to deal with,” said Locatelli, one of the ten men in Kellie McElhaney’s class “The Business Case for Investing in Women.” “It’s been completely mind-blowing.”

For McElhaney, an associate adjunct professor who created the course four years ago, Locatelli’s discomfort isn’t a reason to stop the conversation, but rather a justification to blow it wide open.

“This is about pushing people out of their comfort zones so that they can then become leaders who can handle uncomfortable discussions later on,” McElhaney said.

The business case for investing in women
A student makes a point during a class session.

Building a case

The idea for an MBA course focused on gender equity first came to McElhaney about a decade ago while she was serving as director of the Center for Responsible Business at Haas. McElhaney had uncovered a correlation between Fortune 500 companies’ performance on a closely-watched sustainability index and the presence of women directors on its board. That data point alone suggested there was a business case—not just an ethical one—for gender diversity in the workplace.

Kellie McElhaney teaching her course, "The Business Case for Investing in Women"Over the next few years, as the cultural conversation around women at work gathered momentum, companies started asking McElhaney for more proof of a bottom-line payoff to hiring women.

Students, too, wanted to see data. “In a very constructive way, students would say, ‘Show me the proof that gender equity really matters to a company’s overall success.’”

So, McElhaney gathered statistics which suggested companies with greater numbers of women in leadership have higher share prices and better returns on equity and investment than companies with fewer women. She cites companies like Patagonia, which has publicly detailed how its on-site childcare nearly pays for itself.

When McElhaney started the course in 2013, she structured it almost entirely around the data. The class proved so popular that students awarded her an Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching. Next month, McElhaney is also launching the Center on Gender, Equity & Leadership to take her work to the next level.

“Kellie is a firecracker—passionate, smart, challenging, and funny,” says Jennifer Hoss, MBA 18. “She takes a very pragmatic approach of ‘nobody is asking for any favors.’ At the same time, this class is a great exercise in empathy.”

Hoss said she enjoyed seeing the diversity of opinions, even among women. “You realize that each person experiences gender issues in a different way. We have 30 different women and 30 different viewpoints on how wrong or not-wrong a situation is,” she said.

A student in Kellie McElhaney's course, "The Business Case for Investing in Women"

Exploring intersectionality

The course also delves into the added challenges that minority women encounter. McElhaney shared a breakdown of data showing that white women are making most of the workplace gains while minority groups either are flat-lining or losing ground.

Victoria Whittaker, MBA 18, who is African-American and Latina, said that when it comes to gender, race, and sexuality, “we tend to separate the issues.”

Shedding light on the intersectionality of an issue like gender helps raise awareness that there can many different experiences and perceptions that influence people’s world views, she said. “As business leaders and managers, it’s imperative that we start to recognize, think about, and appreciate all the different facets people bring when they walk into the workplace,” she said.

Are diversity and inclusion valued?

Many of McElhaney’s students, including Locatelli, are intent on using their newfound awareness to advocate for women. “Students—and this is also true for the companies I talk to—understand the data,” McElhaney said. “Now they want tools to create change.”

One assignment McElhaney gives students is to write formal assessments of a company’s track record on the hiring, retention, and promotion of women. The head of global HR at Airbnb was so impressed with a student presentation—which McElhaney sent unsolicited—that she asked the students to speak to company executives about it.

Students also discuss real-life workplace issues with guest speakers.

In October, a speaker admitted how shocked he was when a valued female executive at his company disclosed in her exit interview that she didn’t feel as though diversity and inclusion were valued. Looking to uncover insights like these sooner, he instituted “stay” interviews for current employees.

A student in Kellie McElhaney's course "The Business Case for Investing in Women"

Designing a personal leadership strategy

McElhaney also challenges students to consider their own experiences with gender discrimination or harassment, including how they’ve responded to past incidents and how they could have reacted differently. For a session that delved into how men impact gender issues, students were required to bring a male friend to observe the class.

Finally, students create a detailed personal leadership strategy.

“You’re at Haas to learn about business strategy,” McElhaney tells students. “You’re also here to learn leadership skills. So, how are you going to build gender awareness into your leadership style?”

Lydia Cole, EWMBA 18, came to the class looking for facts and figures to help her self-advocate in her career. She’s learned instead that proof of women’s value in the workplace won’t be as important as her ability to lead by example.

“My attitude before was cynical,” said Cole. “Kellie’s class has taught me how to be a better employee, a better manager, a better leader, and a better person.”

Are politicians smarter than CEOs?

Swedish Parliament Member Jonas Sjöstedt and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Creative Commons photo
Swedish Parliament Member Jonas Sjöstedt and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (Photo by Phil Jamieson 2014; Creative Commons license)

While Americans’ approval of their Congressional representatives are near record lows, new research shows that politicians aren’t necessarily a bunch of good-for- nothings—at least in Sweden.

Prof. Ernesto Dal Bó and four colleagues analyzed a rich trove of public data and found that Swedish voters consistently elect officials who are, on average, significantly smarter and better leaders than the populations they represent.

“We found evidence that there are plenty of great people available in politics,” said Dal Bó, the Phillips Girgich Professor of Business at Berkeley-Haas. “Moreover, among those candidates who happen to be available, it’s the relatively better ones who make it to the higher echelons of the political structure.”

His paper, “Who Becomes a Politician?” focused on the patterns of how municipal politicians and national legislators were chosen in Sweden over a 30-year period. It was co-authored with Berkeley-Haas Assoc. Professor Frederico Finan; Prof. Torsten Persson and Assoc. Prof. Johanna Rickne of Stockholm University; and Uppsala University researcher Olle Folke. The paper was published by the Oxford University Press in the November 2017 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Existing economic research argues that higher-income, smarter people have far more to lose financially when they run for public office, so it’s the less qualified who end up serving. In addition, an old criticism of democracy is that extending the vote to everyone—including those who are less qualified—may result in the election of low quality leaders. Dal Bó and his team took those arguments to task, questioning whether candidates can be both representative of their constituents and highly qualified to serve them.

Building a database

The authors chose to Sweden as a research test bed for several reasons.

First, as an advanced democracy with proportional-representation elections, Sweden has remained stable and fully democratic since 1917. If democracy cannot select leaders who are both representative and competent under such favorable circumstances, then critics of democracy must be right, Dal Bo argued.

Second, the country offered something they couldn’t find elsewhere: a public set of administrative data on males conscripted into the Swedish military between 1951 to 1980. The data included mandatory IQ and leadership tests the military gave between those dates.

The military used two scores during enlistment: a general intelligence test which included problem solving, numerical, verbal, spatial, and technology comprehension; and a leadership test that assessed teachable skills and measures social maturity, psychological energy, intensity, and emotional stability.

The researchers matched that test data with the names of elected members of national parliament and municipal politicians—a total of 50,000 elected candidates who ran for national of municipal office between 1982 and 2010. They also tapped data the Swedish government keeps on all residents over age 16, including age, sex, education level, and occupation, as well as earnings data from the Swedish tax authority.

All combined, they built a complete database of elected officials, test scores, income levels, and family backgrounds.

“Given this information we can precisely characterize how the personal traits of politicians relate to those in the entire population,” the authors wrote.

The researchers reached several conclusions. First, they found that not only do Swedish politicians have higher average IQs and stronger leadership qualities than those they serve, but they are also representative of the electorate: Swedish politics attract competent people beyond the scions of elite families, Dal Bó said.

While ability rises with socioeconomic status, on average, politicians remain highly able when recruited from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

They also found that elected politicians from all socioeconomic levels showed higher cognitive, leadership, and earnings capacity scores than those who simply ran for office.

“In fact, relative to their own social class, politicians from lower social backgrounds are even more strongly selected than politicians from higher social backgrounds,” Dal Bó said.

Mayors versus CEOs

The research even examined competence traits among elected officials and their siblings, and found that among pairs of siblings, “it is the one with the better IQ score, leadership qualities, and earnings capacity who enters politics,” Dal Bó said.

Other surprising findings include:

  • Mayors have exactly the same IQ score as CEOs of medium-size companies (firms of up to 250 employees)—despite earning vastly lower incomes.
  • Elected representatives overall have cognitive and leadership scores similar to CEOs of companies with 10 to 25 employees.
  • Parliamentary legislators had leadership and IQ scores higher than those of CEOs of medium sized companies.

While the results cannot be directly applied to other countries, Sweden could be used as a reference point if data became available from other countries, Dal Bó said. “We have to be careful with country comparisons, but we can now begin to doubt that the only people who run for public office are those who are less intelligent and have less to lose, or that voters may inevitably elect poor leaders.”

“Good leaders are certainly not inevitable under democracy,” he concluded. “But now we know for certain that democracy at least has the capability to select representative and competent politicians.”

Rich Lyons begins final year as dean

Rich Lyons, dean of UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business (photo: Copyright Noah Berger)Dean Rich Lyons, who for 11 years has led the Haas School of Business through a defining culture initiative, construction of a state-of-the-art academic building, and the creation of two new degree programs, will step down at the end of his second term in June 2018.

Noting that it’s customary for deans to transition out after two terms, Lyons—who also served one year as interim dean—said it’s the right time to welcome new leadership and return to his faculty role.

“Serving as your dean has been the most fulfilling job of my career, and I plan to remain engaged with Haas for years to come,” he wrote in a message to the community. “And we still have a lot to accomplish together this coming year!”

Dean Rich Lyons codified the school's unique culture into four Defining Principles
Dean Rich Lyons shows off his Defining Principles t-shirt at the 2014 Berkeley-Haas Alumni Conference.

Strong footing

Lyons, BS 82, will leave the school on strong footing. Its academic programs are in the top 10 in all major rankings: the new Connie & Kevin Chou Hall will open for classes this summer; the first class of students will start this fall in the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (M.E.T.) program—a unique dual-degree offering from Haas and Berkeley Engineering. And the four Defining Principles at the heart of Lyons’ culture initiative—Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself—have become deeply embedded in all aspects of the school and alumni experience.

“Rich is a visionary and a path-bending leader who has led Haas to a different level of competitiveness and impact. Perhaps his most important contribution was understanding his role as ‘chief purpose officer’ and the power of culture to transform,” said Haas School Board Chair Jack Russi, BS 82, a national managing partner for Deloitte. “Rich treats everything from a ‘servant-leader’ lens, going out of his way to attend nearly every event. Besides being an outstanding dean, he is a wonderful human being. He leaves some big shoes to fill!”

Search committee formed

Lyons, an economist with a charismatic personality known for livening up events with his considerable guitar-playing chops, is much loved by Haas alumni, students, and faculty. A campus search committee, made up of Berkeley-Haas board members, faculty, staff, and students along with UC Berkeley representatives, has begun work earlier than usual to ensure that a new dean is in place when Lyons wraps up his term.

“In so many respects, Dean Lyons has gone beyond himself,” said Prof. Toby Stuart, the Leo Helzel Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, who will serve on the search committee. “He has worked tirelessly to the benefit of Haas and the university. He has done so with an infectious enthusiasm and optimism. His service to Haas will long be remembered.”

Dean Rich Lyons performs for MBA students at the annual Dean’s Scotch Tasting fundraiser in February 2017. (Photo by Jim Block)

A career tied to Berkeley

Lyons has devoted most of his career to the school he credits with transforming his own life. After earning his bachelor’s degree with highest honors from Berkeley-Haas in 1982, followed by a PhD in economics from MIT in 1987, Lyons spent six years on the Columbia Business School faculty before returning to Haas in 1993 as an assistant professor of finance and economics. He gained tenure three years later, served as associate dean for academic affairs in 2004, and acting dean from 2004-2005.

As an international finance professor, Lyons was a six-time recipient the Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching—the school’s top teaching honor—and also won UC Berkeley’s highest teaching award in 1998. From 2006 to 2008, he took a leave to serve as chief learning officer for Goldman Sachs, developing leadership among managing directors and partners.

Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles Question the Status Quo
The Defining Principles are deeply embedded in the school—and in the courtyard, renovated in 2013.

Upon his appointment as the Bank of America Dean in 2008, a board member told him, “leaders set culture.” Lyons took the advice to heart, plunging into a strategic planning effort that led to the overhaul of the MBA curriculum and—after an extensive process involving input from alumni, students, faculty, and staff—launching the Defining Principles in 2010.

“We codified the culture of Berkeley-Haas—which had been latent in the school for generations,” Lyons said.

Culture as differentiator

The Defining Principles have since become a strong differentiator. In surveys, students say the school’s distinctive culture is one of the top reasons they chose Berkeley-Haas, and more than 90 percent of graduates from the past decade say they are familiar with them, and frequently share how they have served as beacons in navigating their careers.

“The Defining Principles distinguish Haas as a school that values and produces leaders who are capable, curious, community-minded, creative, and humble,” said Prof. Jenny Chatman,  the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management and an expert on culture. “Sharpening that message has been an essential source of the Haas School’s growing success, and we have Dean Lyons to thank for that.”

Below: Dean Rich Lyons broke out his guitar for the 2015 Big Give fundraising blitz.

Growth in gifts

A talented fundraiser, Lyons has helped bring in eight of the school’s nine largest gifts and galvanized donors to record levels of participation and engagement. He is responsible for the school’s largest fundraising years on record, and during his tenure, the school brought in nearly double the philanthropic contributions of the previous decade.

He also led a transformation of the Haas campus, first with the renovation of the O’Donnell Courtyard into a larger, flexible outdoor space in 2013, and next with the development of Connie & Kevin Chou Hall, which will be entirely devoted to student learning and interaction. The $60 million project was fully funded by donors, including a gift of up to $25 million from Connie Chen and Kevin Chou, BS 02—the largest ever from a UC Berkeley alum under age 40.

Dean Rich Lyons greets Kevin Chou, BS 02, and Connie Chen, naming donors for the Haas school's new academic building.
Dean Rich Lyons greets Kevin Chou, BS 02, and Connie Chen, naming donors for the Haas school’s new academic building. (Photo by Noah Berger)

New programs added

With regard to academics, Lyons oversaw the launch of the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program in 2013, after a joint program with Columbia University was dissolved, and launched new executive education and interdisciplinary programs. He has forged stronger ties with other UC Berkeley colleges and departments. He sees the new M.E.T. program with Berkeley Engineering as a model to expand on, particularly with other science disciplines, eventually leading to a suite of interdisciplinary dual-degree programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

“Berkeley and Haas grab you by the collar and insist that you take advantage of all the degrees of freedom you have to live your life and conduct your career,” Lyons told students at last year’s MBA commencement. Now, as he returns to his position on the faculty in July 2018, Lyons says he is interested in exploring opportunities in the digital education or fintech areas.