Dean’s Speaker Series: Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh on leadership in a pandemic

Chip BerghLevi’s CEO Chip Bergh believes it’s his job to speak up about pressing and difficult societal issues including racial and social injustice, voter rights, environmental protection, and sustainability.

Bergh spent 28 years at Procter & Gamble before taking the helm at Levi’s, one of the oldest companies in America, in 2011. His goal was to revive it.

“The whole Levi’s story for the past nine years has been the turnaround,” he said. “Levi’s is back. It’s a hot brand. We’re number one around the world.” But then the pandemic hit hard, shuttering stores and slashing quarterly revenue 67 percent. “I can honestly say I’ve never had to post revenue results that bad,” Bergh said, predicting that Levi’s will emerge from COVID-19 smaller, but with stronger brands.

Berkeley Haas MBA students asked Bergh some tough questions during this jointly sponsored Dean’s Speaker and Peterson Speaker Series Q&A.Here are some of Bergh’s thoughts and the video (below).

On “amping up his empathy muscles”:

When I joined the company (in 2011), diversity and inclusion was really low on my list. The house was on fire. We needed to fix the house and I thought that the two were separate. When I look back on it now, I realize that if I’d addressed these issues head on in the early days we’d be a better company today. I really do believe that diverse organizations will out-compete homogeneous ones every single day.

On the no nonsense pre-IPO road show with investors:

We made it really really clear during our IPO that what got us to where we are is being a values-led company and by doubling down on the things that make us who we are. We talked about our values and the investments we’ve made in sustainability. We talked about some of the innovation that’s come out of sustainability. I talked about the stand that we took on ending gun violence in this country. It’s a pretty polarizing place to be…and I said if you don’t have an appetite for that we’re not your kind of stock. Don’t invest in us.

Watch the video:

Four new senior leaders join Berkeley Haas

Berkeley Haas has rounded out its leadership team, welcoming new hires in the areas of finance, alumni development, human resources, and sustainability.

The group of newly-appointed leaders includes:

Loretta Ezeife, Chief Financial Officer

Loretta Ezeife, chief financial officer
Loretta Ezeife, chief financial officer

Loretta Ezeife comes to Berkeley Haas with 20 years experience in financial planning and management in both the public and private sectors. Ezeife, who grew up in both Oakland and Nigeria, has worked for both private and public institutions, serving in management and financial leadership positions at Chevron, McKesson, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Kaiser Permanente.

In 2010, she transitioned to the public sphere, working for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley’s Parking & Transportation Department, Recreational Sports, and Student Affairs divisions, and University Development and Alumni Relations (UDAR).

In her new role as CFO, Ezeife says she’s excited to collaborate with the Haas senior leadership team to develop sustainable financial strategies to emerge strong from the COVID-19 crisis.

Ezeife has a bachelor’s in accounting from California State University, Hayward, an MBA from Golden Gate University, and a doctorate in business administration from Walden University.

Howie Avery, Assistant Dean for Development & Alumni Relations

Howard Avery
Howard Avery, assistant dean for Development & Alumni Relations

Howie Avery arrives with more than 18 years of fundraising experience at several top-tier public universities. Most recently, he served as assistant vice president for advancement and campaign director at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business. In his role, Avery was the senior leader for principal and major gifts, reunion giving, corporate and foundation relations. He also managed the school’s $400 million campaign.

Prior to joining Darden, Avery served in several leadership roles at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, including managing the College of Law’s successful seven-year Campaign for Tennessee, and securing the funds for a building project at the Haslam College of Business. Avery began his development career at the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas, Austin.

Michele de Nevers, Executive Director of Sustainability Programs

Michele de Nevers, who has had a long career in leadership positions for environment and climate change programs in developing countries, is taking on a newly established role as executive director of Sustainability Programs.

De Nevers’ work spans a wide range of environmental issues from biodiversity to industrial pollution to climate finance to carbon removal and storage.

Michelle de Nevers
Michele de Nevers, executive director of Sustainability Programs

De Nevers joins Haas from the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (Barcelona Institute for International Studies) where she was a visiting professor and taught a highly-rated course on International Climate Change Policy to graduate students from all over Europe and the world.

Prior to teaching at IBEI, de Nevers was a senior associate at the Center for Global Development (CGD) in Washington, DC, where she headed its climate change program and led a team working to establish the Tropical Forest Finance Facility, a multilateral wealth fund and pay-for-performance mechanism to finance reduced deforestation of tropical forests.  She continues to work with CGD as a non-resident fellow on climate issues.

Before joining CGD, de Nevers was a visiting fellow at the Global Economic Governance Programme at University College, Oxford, researching private investment for climate finance and economic development.

From 1981 to 2010 she worked for the World Bank, including as senior manager of the Environment Department and director at the World Bank Institute. She managed environment programs in the Latin America and Eastern Europe/Central Asia regions.  In the Environment Department, she managed preparation of the World Bank’s corporate Environment Strategy and led the global consultations on its Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change.

From 1976  to 1978, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, where she worked in public health and family planning.

De Nevers holds an MS in Management with a concentration in finance from MIT, a BA in Bacteriology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a certificate in executive education from the Harvard Business School.

Michelle Marquez, Assistant Dean of Human Resources

Michelle Marquez, Assistant Dean of Human Resources
Michelle Marquez, assistant dean of Human Resources.

Marquez brings 13 years of experience working in operations, administration, and human resources to her role as assistant dean of Human Resources for Berkeley Haas.

Marquez, a Central Valley native, comes to haas from City College of San Francisco (CCSF), where she was senior director of human resources. Prior to CCSF, she served in leadership positions within the California community college system, as vice president of administrative services for the San Mateo County Community College District, and vice president of administrative services at Cañada College.

Marquez says one of her goals is to dive deeper into the Berkeley Haas culture using the Defining Leadership Principles as a guide. Another goal is to explore and review HR practices and procedures through a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lens.

Marquez holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and is working on a doctorate with Grand Canyon University in industrial and organizational psychology.

A Berkeley Haas startup’s quick pivot to deliver hand sanitizer to the needy

A Dispatch Goods container kit
A Dispatch Goods container kit

Word was getting out last year about Berkeley Haas startup Dispatch Goods.

The startup had landed its first two corporate clients and had 15 deals in the pipeline. They’d signed a partnership with Yelp! and debuted a mobile app and subscription service with membership tiers. By November, the Wall Street Journal had featured Dispatch’s business model— providing reusable stainless steel containers that companies use for restaurant takeout or pickup— in a news article.

But then coronavirus hit. Nearly overnight, business evaporated as restaurant owners shut down and corporate workers started working from home. For CEO Lindsey Hoell and her team it was “a gut punch for the anti-single use movement.”

“COVID was a huge disruption,” said Hoell, EWMBA 21. “We thought to ourselves: What do we have to offer now and how can we help?”

Dispatch Goods & Project Clean team includes (left to right) Lindsey Hoell, EWMBA 21, CEO; Jessica Heiges, UC Berkeley PhD student in environmental science, sustainability leader; Andrew Foster, tech and design director; Peter Altaffer, user experience designer; and Adam Boostrom, EWMBA 21, CFO (front).
Dispatch Goods & Project Clean team includes (l-r) Lindsey Hoell, EWMBA 21, CEO; Jessica Heiges, UC Berkeley PhD student in environmental science, sustainability leader; Andrew Foster, tech and design director; Peter Altaffer, user experience designer; and Adam Boostrom, EWMBA 21, CFO (front).

A quick pivot

Hoell had heard that hand sanitizer was quickly hard to come by after COVID-19 hit. One of the Dispatch team members knew that Tim Obert, CEO of Seven Stills distillery in San Francisco, had a plan to use some of the company’s alcohol to make hand sanitizer. The company connects donors to those in need on its website.

Andrew Foster of Dispatch Goods & Project Clean holds recycled bottles filled with Seven Stills hand sanitizer.
Andrew Foster of Dispatch Goods & Project Clean holds recycled bottles filled with Seven Stills hand sanitizer.

Hoell chatted with Obert and decided to launch a zero waste co-op to provide some of the hand sanitizer in recycled containers. Now, the team is collecting plastic bottles from donors, cleaning the bottles in their commercial dishwasher at their warehouse space in Daly City, and delivering them in the company’s van to Bay Area organizations, including retirement communities and homeless shelters.

Hoell, who is relying on donations to run the co-op, said they’re trying to keep costs down by batching pickups in neighborhoods in San Francisco, South San Francisco, Daly City, Berkeley, and Oakland. (Bottle donors can sign up on their website) She’s not sure if the model is financially sustainable, as the transportation costs are high, but the startup is willing to try to make it work.

“All of us got into this company because of the impact we want to have,” Hoell said. “We didn’t know how we could make money but we knew we could make an impact.”

All of us got into this company because of the impact we want to have.

Sticking to the mission

Pizza pan
Square Guys pizza is delivered in a zero-waste metal pan. Photo: Square Guys

Meanwhile, Dispatch Goods’ founding mission hasn’t been lost.

Adam Boostrom, an evening and weekend MBA student, is working to adapt the business model while Dispatch participates in Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator program. During Skydeck’s online sessions, he worked alongside the Dispatch team to develop a pilot which would continue zero waste delivery for businesses. The first plan is to work with Square Pie Guys to deliver pizza on Tuesdays and Thursdays to employees’ homes in a reusable, covered metal alloy pan.

If the pilot works, the startup will approach other companies that want to provide takeout food to their employees who are working at home.

The startup’s goal has always been to change the food delivery model and eliminate the waste—and this is a new approach.

“The mission is still the same: we pick up containers, clean them, and return them to food providers,” said Boostrom. “What’s different is the primary customer.”

 

Haas feeds growing appetite for the business of sustainable food

(left to right) Will Rosenzweig, who launched the Sustainable Food Initiative at Haas, with Aaron Hall, a PhD student in the Materials Science & Engineering Program, and Jessica Heiges, a PhD candidate in Environmental Science, Policy, & Management.
(left to right) Will Rosenzweig, who launched the Sustainable Food Initiative at Haas, with students who took his Food Innovation Studio course: Aaron Hall, a PhD student in the Materials Science & Engineering Program and Jessica Heiges, a PhD candidate in Environmental Science, Policy, & Management. Photo: Jim Block

After working in the dairy industry in Illinois for six years, John Monaghan, MBA 20, arrived at Berkeley Haas on a mission to dive deeper into the business of food.

He didn’t waste any time. In his first year, Monaghan became co-president of the student-run Food@Haas, was nominated to the student advisory board for the Berkeley Haas Center for Responsible Business, and snagged a summer internship at Danone in New York, where he’ll be supporting marketing of the Oikos yogurt brand. He even shared lunch with Alice Waters at her restaurant Chez Panisse, after he worked as a graduate student reader during her Edible Education 101 course. “She hosted us as a thank-you for the semester,” he said.

Alice Waters with John Monaghan, MBA 20
Alice Waters with John Monaghan, MBA 20

Like many of the 20 full-time MBA students who have landed coveted internships and jobs this year in the food and beverage industry—at companies ranging from Clif Bar to Kraft— Monaghan is benefiting from the Sustainable Food Initiative at Haas. The umbrella effort, launched in April 2018 by the Center for Responsible Business, combines food-focused courses, cutting-edge research, entrepreneurship training, events with food industry luminaries, and key industry partnerships.

A food-focused tribe

The initiative both reflects and cultivates a growing interest in the food business at Haas and Berkeley. The number of students landing internships and full-time jobs in the food and beverage industry has doubled over the past three years, and the number of food-related startups—from 2019 MBA grad Somiran Gupta’s nearfarms, an online marketplace that connects small, local farmers directly with consumers, to Tannor’s Tea, founded by Samantha Tannor, MBA 20, whose company sells sugar-free matcha concentrate—is increasing every year.

“We’ve attracted a tribe of people who are food-focused,” says Doug Massa, a corporate relationship manager with the Berkeley Haas Career Management Group. “They want to learn about branding and marketing, but they also want to learn about opportunities in the food supply chain, business operations, and the role of venture capital in food.”

Connecting across Berkeley

Will Rosenzweig, faculty co-chair with the Berkeley Haas Center for Responsible Business (CRB) and a pioneer of the sustainable food movement at Berkeley, is leading the Sustainable Food Initiative. The founder of the Republic of Tea, Rosenzweig taught Haas’ first class on social entrepreneurship 20 years ago—and went on to mentor and invest in successful Haas startups including Revolution Foods, co-founded by Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, both MBA 06, to make healthier cafeteria food for kids.

Working with CRB’s program manager Emily Pellisier, Rosenzweig is now figuring out how Haas expertise in entrepreneurship and business aligns with sustainability efforts across the Berkeley campus. They’re reaching out to innovative programs like the Berkeley Food Institute and the Alternative Meat Lab at the UC Berkeley Sutardja Center.

“With the riches we have at Berkeley, one of my jobs is to is to remove some of the boundaries between the disciplines, and Haas has been really supportive of that,” Rosenzweig said. “We’re getting other really smart people involved in solving these sustainability problems.”

Watch an “Edible Education 101” session with chef and cookbook author Samin Nosrat and community organizer Shakirah Simley, discussing diversity and inclusion in the food industry.

At the initiative’s core is “Edible Education 101,” which Rosenzweig teaches with Waters, who co-founded the class with author Michael Pollan in 2011. The undergraduate course brings scientists, CEOs, community activists, and chefs to Haas to talk about the future of food, from seeds to soil health to increasing access to quality food for all. Guests have included chef Samin Nosrat (of the popular Netflix docu-series based on her cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat), who spoke last semester on diversity and inclusion in the food industry, to Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, who addressed the future of restaurant careers.

Students in Will Rosenzweig's Food Innovation Studio
Students in Will Rosenzweig’s Food Innovation Studio course.

Victoria Williams-Ononye, MBA 19, the graduate student instructor for the “Edible Education” course, said about 20 of her MBA peers attended the classes. “There’s a core group of people who come to Haas knowing they’re passionate about food,” said Williams-Ononye, who has accepted a job working in Breakthrough Innovation at Kraft in Chicago.

Monaghan called the caliber of “Edible Education” guest speakers “a hidden gem of this entire university.”

The sky’s the limit

Meanwhile, the Food Innovation Studio, Rosenzweig’s two-unit course which uses the Lean LaunchPad method to encourage students in food entrepreneurship, dives deeply into topics such as the rise of regenerative agriculture, sustainable alternatives to single-use packaging, the evolution of plant-based proteins, food system sustainability, and disruptive food delivery models.

While the majority of the students enrolled last semester were from the MBA program, the course draws students from across Berkeley, including Aaron Hall, a PhD student in the Materials Science & Engineering Program who is developing a richer-tasting plant-based fat substitute, and Jessica Heiges, a PhD candidate in Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, who co-founded RePeel, a reusable-food-container service for universities.

Beyond classes, the Sustainable Food Initiative serves as an umbrella for new research, including the recent case, “Reversing Climate Change Through Sustainable Food: Patagonia Provisions Attempts to Scale a ‘Big Wall’.” It’s also a home for partnerships with companies like Patagonia Provisions and General Mills’ Natural and Organics Operating Unit, which includes Annie’s Homegrown, EPIC, Cascadian Farm Organic, and Muir Glen brands. Both companies are now on the CRB advisory board, where they often find time to collaborate with each other, as well as Haas, said Robert Strand, executive director of the Center for Responsible Business.

“The sky’s the limit with this initiative,” Strand said. “We want to be a strong partner in the global conversation on food and bring the world to California and our ideas to the world.”

Read the latest campus information on coronavirus (COVID-19) here →