Startup Roundup: Better beards, smarter healthcare, virtual water cooler chats

The startup roundup series spotlights students and recent alumni who are starting a new business or enterprise.

Newmen founders
John Melizanis, BS 20, founded men’s grooming product company Newmen with Joseph Lorenzo, a University of Tampa graduate, and Jake Lourenco, BA 20 (political science).

Newmen

Founders: John Melizanis, BS 20, Joseph Lorenzo, a University of Tampa graduate, and Jake Lourenco, BA 20 (political science)

What does Newmen do (in 20 words or less)?

We’re a men’s grooming brand that helps hard-working men look good, feel good, and smell good.

How did you come up with the idea?

Joseph, my co-founder and best friend since fourth grade, had the biggest beard and didn’t like the grooming options that were out there. With that in mind, we both said, ‘Let’s make something happen.’ It’s the second company we’ve started together.

Joseph Lorenzo grooms his beard.
Newmen co-founder Joseph Lorenzo straightens his beard with a Newman beard brush.

What problem does Newmen solve?

There’s an under-served demographic when it comes to men’s grooming needs. The men who come to our site are often buying products for the first time. We’re building a community around this group, offering products like scented beard oils, a beard straightener, and a protective heat spray for beards.

You participated in the UC LAUNCH accelerator with a different startup. What did you learn that you apply now?

LAUNCH taught us how to test products quickly. We did a lot of research on our Newmen oils, which are made by a small mom and pop shop in Detroit. We wanted to figure out what scents men liked and what’s good for the skin, so we looked at what a lot of women’s skin-care companies were selling.

We tested our products on hundreds of men super quickly, asking them how their faces felt after using our products for a week. We’re super close to our customers and we have early evangelists, people whom we text and email all the time. These people aren’t necessarily spending the most time on our website, but have been crucial in the development of Newmen. They might spend $40, but they’re giving us feedback all the time, telling their friends what they just bought and why.

Has anyone from Haas helped you with your startup?

Of course! Assoc. Prof. Panos Patatoukas has been super helpful. I met Panos before I came to Cal and he was extremely supportive throughout my undergraduate years. I’d be working on something and I’d ask him, ‘What do you think?’ He was a great sounding board and a supportive mentor. Additionally, Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, has been the best, along with Aaron McDaniel, a professional faculty member at Haas, and Darren Cooke, a LAUNCH advisor.

I met Panos before I came to Cal and he was extremely supportive throughout my undergraduate years. I’d be working on something and I’d ask him, ‘What do you think?’ He was a great sounding board and a supportive mentor.

Newmen beard oils
Newmen beard oils come in different scents that the company tested with customers.

What are your goals for the next six to 12 months?

We’re selling only on our website right now. We’ve been making a profit so we haven’t thought about raising money yet. I don’t think much about the competition, I focus on what we’re selling. We’re thinking about new products and planning to sell a line of skincare, body wash, and shampoo in the future. As we continue to grow, we’re looking to sell into different channels, including regional and national retailers and barbershops around the country. We’re constantly focused on building relationships that can help us put our products in our customers’ hands wherever they might be in their grooming journey.

A lot of guys are telling us that they’re so proud of their beards now. They’re talking about their morning routines. It’s crazy to think we’re helping people with that!

Aila Health

Founder: Rory Stanton, EWMBA 20

Rory Stanton
Rory Stanton

What does your startup do (in 20 words or less)?  

Aila Health is a data-driven, remote-care platform for patients with chronic illness.

How did you come up with the idea?

My cousin has what you would call an invisible illness, meaning she looks healthy on the outside, but is actually managing multiple chronic conditions. After watching her bounce between specialists for years before getting a diagnosis and seeing the lack of communication between her different doctors, I thought there had to be a better way for doctors to deliver personalized care to patients with chronic illness.

What problem does Aila solve?

There are nearly 50 million Americans living with chronic autoimmune conditions today. That’s more than diabetes and cancer combined. Despite the fact that these conditions cost the health system billions each year, they are not well understood or managed. We aim to change that.

There are nearly 50 million Americans living with chronic autoimmune conditions today. That’s more than diabetes and cancer combined.

Aila Health's remote app
Aila’s app lets a patient’s care team track symptoms in real-time to help deliver the right care.

How doe Aila work and how do teams use it?

Aila Health is a chronic care management platform that offers personalized remote care at scale. It enables  patients with chronic illness to sync all of their health information in one place and quantify disease progression over time. It similarly gives their healthcare providers a holistic view of a patient’s health so they can track symptoms in real-time and deliver the right care with the right provider at the right time.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you as a founder so far?

There are so many inefficiencies in the U.S. healthcare system that Aila’s solution can help with. One of the biggest challenges for us was determining which problem to solve first. During our customer interviews, we learned that the COVID-19 pandemic had drastically shifted priorities for healthcare organizations. There is a need for new technical infrastructure to deliver value-based care and personalized remote care at scale.

Has anyone from Haas helped you on your startup journey?

Haas gave me a great community of classmates and mentors who have helped us along our journey. Rhonda Shrader (executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program), in particular, has been an amazing mentor and advocate for me. From cheerleading during some difficult transition periods to supporting our team’s application for the National Science Foundation’s I-CORPS Program, I really appreciate having her in my corner. Dan Cloutier, EWMBA 21, was also a wonderful health industry mentor for our I-CORPS team.

What are your goals for the next six months?

We are kicking off our first couple of pilots now. We want to execute these really well and validate our solution with an improved provider experience and patient outcome. In the next six months, we aim to bring more health systems onto the platform and raise an initial round of financing.

Seren 

Founder: Olayinka Omolere, MBA 21

Seren founder Olayinka Omolere
Seren founder Olayinka Omolere

What does your startup do (in 20 words or less)?

Seren creates serendipity online by nudging people into instant and personalized water cooler calls—using AI to preserve relationships and collaboration.

How did you come up with the idea?

When COVID hit in March, I started looking for opportunities in the chaos. I looked for areas undergoing massive change and picked remote work because I had experienced it and understood its shortcomings.

As I spoke to my classmates about our challenges with remote schooling, I noticed a pattern. Without chance meetings in the Haas courtyard or around campus, my peers were finding it harder to stay connected. We were being told to “be intentional” but it felt like a ton of work, and our social interactions and circles were shrinking. I came to Haas for the culture, and I loved interacting with my friends and classmates, but I was beginning to feel isolated. Then I interned as a product manager at Cisco, where I saw first-hand how the problem of not having informal interactions could affect business. When informal connections are disrupted, employees find it harder to maintain a sense of belonging, and scientific research suggested this could impact culture and innovation.

What problem does Seren solve?

Seren solves the problem of staying in touch online by helping people to “bump into” other virtually, so that brief and informal conversations can happen.

Seren app screen shot.
Seren instantly matches people with teammates in Slack, based on availability and interests.

We are making water cooler chats better in some ways than in-person, even though we can’t quite replace face-to-face conversations…yet. With this technology, we can customize water cooler chats for individual preferences around how people like to engage, who they want to talk to, how long they want to talk, and what they want to talk about. We want to help people have better informal conversations over audio/video with colleagues, on any platform, whether that’s Slack, Teams, Zoom or the web.

With this technology, we can customize water cooler chats for individual preferences around how people like to engage, who they want to talk to, how long they want to talk, and what they want to talk about.

What’s been the biggest challenge so far?

My biggest challenge has been finding software engineering and machine learning talent to join our team. We have used BearX, Handshake, and LinkedIn and are really keen to find more people who are excited about impactful startups.

So far, I have been working with an amazing team of Berkeley undergrads and alumni—Leonor Alcaraz-Guzman, Helen Xu, and Patrick Zhu. In my Product Management class, I am on a diverse team with grad students from the School of Information, Fung Institute, and Haas, and we are learning so much.

Has anyone from Haas helped you with your startup?

I’ve had lots of help from faculty and staff. Early on, I took the NSF Bay Area I-CORPS course, which helped me learn how to do customer discovery. Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, has been consistent in pointing us towards potential partners, competitions, mentors, and opportunities.

Vince Law, a professional faculty member, has reviewed more than one version of our early prototypes, and given critical feedback. In Jeff Eyet’s class on design thinking, he shared great advice on trying to understand users’ emotions and motivations for using our solution. Greg La Blanc, another professional faculty member, helped me think strategically about whether to even pursue this idea or space of remote work.

What are your goals for the next six months?

Our top goal is to get a strong sense of whether our product is exceptional at solving the challenge of creating serendipity for our users or not. We will need to launch and get lots of user feedback to answer that question. When you think about it, these are unique times with millions of people stuck at home, so if they want this, we should be able to quickly determine whether we can satisfy that need, and build a business out of it.

Another key goal is to clearly show a path to defeating our competition. I joke with my teammates that every week someone else has launched a new product to solve the same problem. Currently, we segment our competition in these categories: bots offering instant water cooler calls, standalone virtual office applications, and platforms that match people for conversations based on interests. We understand the competition and have a distinct path toward differentiating ourselves.

 

 

Q&A with Eric Askins, new head of FTMBA admissions

Eric Askins
Eric Askins is the new executive director of admissions for the Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Program.

As a former banker, business school fundraiser, and veteran admissions expert, Eric Askins’ varied career helped shape him as a nimble and creative team builder. He was recently named executive director of admissions for the Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA program.

We talked to Askins recently about his New York roots, his varied career path in education, and his goals as new admissions director.

Tell us a little about your background and where you grew up?

I’m originally from New York and grew up with two sisters in an incredibly diverse neighborhood in Queens. I’ve always been incredibly proud of how my mother brought us up.  An immigrant from the Dominican Republic, my mother cleaned houses and took care of other people’s kids to ensure we had what we needed. I know she was excited to see me accepted into the Bronx High School of Science, a specialized public school. I went to Hunter College, a school in the CUNY system, where I worked during the day and studied political science and sociology in the evenings. I learned to appreciate the way a community can support people through school, as I wasn’t the only first-generation Latinx college student working their way through at night.

What are a few of your first goals as admissions chief?

The primary role of any admissions head is to support the team of admissions professionals who work tirelessly to engage with the amazing applicants to our program. That will continue to be my number one priority. Externally, I’m focused on maintaining the academic standards of our program and broadening our outreach strategy.

Specifically, we will focus some of our efforts on increasing the percentage of women applicants to our program. Berkeley Haas was among the first business schools to cross the 40% women threshold. My goal is to consistently hold that figure. In order to move towards closing the gender divide, we are working to better highlight our programs like Women in Leadership and the work of our Gender Equity Initiative and our programs that develop leaders equipped to manage diverse and inclusive work environments. We also need to think about how we are reaching out to all women: women of color, international students, women from different academic backgrounds, and students with non-binary identities.

Berkeley Haas was among the first business schools to cross the 40% women threshold. My goal is to consistently hold that figure.

What was your first job after graduating from college?

I started my professional career in banking, in a process-oriented role at Sterling National Bank, shifting into commercial loan workout, and then to small business lending. I worked with small business owners, individuals whose entire lives were tied to the businesses. These were often immigrants, first-generation business owners opening restaurants, franchises, and dry cleaners.

I began my admissions career in 2010 at Fordham University in New York as an assistant director of admissions for the law school. In that role, I traveled the country and developed a deep interest in the pathways to graduate-level education. After a number of years, I decided to broaden my experience and take on a new challenge with Fordham Business School’s fundraising arm. I worked closely with the school’s alumni to help chart avenues for growth for the school. Among our successes was a partnership with the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center here in the Bay Area. I was amazed at the impact business school alumni could make on the community. I think it’s safe to say that that experience planted the seed that would eventually bring me to Haas.

Can you talk about how you diversified your experiences by working at The New School in New York, which has a design school, liberal arts college, and a performing arts college?

I was director of strategic initiatives and planning, managing net tuition revenue for an institution that was constantly looking for ways to shift, be nimble, and be dynamic. The New School was a collection of various different types of colleges and it’s connective tissue was cultural not structural. The New School provided a number of very unique challenges that engaged me intellectually. I worked directly with the college’s deans, doing scholarship modeling, developing enrollment strategies, building our strategic partnerships globally. But in this role I was no longer participating in the candidate’s journey, something that I enjoyed and have returned to at Haas.

What brought you to the West Coast?

I’ve been lucky enough to be with my partner for nearly 20 years. In that short amount of time we’ve had a number of different adventures, not the least of which has been our two children. Though we’ve both traveled significantly for work, neither of us had ever lived outside of New York City. So when she was offered an amazing professional opportunity here in the Bay Area it felt like the perfect time to start a new adventure.

I’ve always been aware of Berkeley and its reputation as a culture-forward institution. When we moved here we rented a house within walking distance of campus. I knew I wanted to work at one of the graduate schools and I loved the idea of the Haas MBA. It’s the least narrow degree providing the most opportunity to make a change. Through the Defining Leadership Principles, I had a very clear understanding of the school’s values and they closely reflect my own personal values.

Every person matriculating through Haas is going to make an impact, whether it’s in impact investing, tech, transportation, sustainability, or consulting. This is where I want to be, participating in some small part on that journey.

Every person matriculating through Haas is going to make an impact.

What’s your favorite DLP?

I most closely align with Confidence without Attitude. It prompts me to reflect not only on what I can contribute, but also calls on me to recognize where I need to grow. When I practice this DLP, I’m an active listener and I engage meaningfully with my partners and peers, so that I can learn from them and build with them.  I’m excited to see what we build together in the coming years.

 

Prof. David Teece Inducted into Thinkers50 Hall of Fame

Portrait: David TeeceDavid Teece was inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame today, joining management greats Peter Drucker, Clay Christenson, Michael Porter, and his long-time collaborator Ikujiro Nonaka, PhD 82. 

London-based Thinkers50 recognizes distinguished thinkers who have made outstanding contributions to the knowledge of management. Teece will be recognized during a virtual induction event on September 18, 2020.

Teece, the Thomas W. Tusher Professor in Global Business and Faculty Director of the Tusher Center for The Management of Intellectual Capital, focuses on how firms innovate in the global marketplace and how they need to be managed in order to survive in rapidly changing business contexts.

Teece is considered an authority on the theory of firm and strategic management. He coined the term “dynamic capabilities” to describe a business enterprise’s ability to mold assets to respond to changing technologies and markets. His research also spans the economics of technological change, knowledge management, technology transfer, antitrust economics, and innovation.

During the event, Teece described the golden thread throughout his work as a form of entrepreneurial thinking, a mindset of the need to embrace opportunity while being able to manage in a world of deep uncertainty in which you can’t plan the future. “You have to adapt to it and shape it,” he said. 

“There is a big school about adaptation and a big school about entrepreneurship, but no one had brought really these two sets of ideas together, and that’s what led to my concept of dynamic capabilities,” he added. Going forward he seeks to bring this thinking to public policy and international development.

In addition to his scholarly work, Teece is the co-founder of the Berkeley Research Group, a global strategic advisory and expert consulting firm with 40 offices and over 1000 employees worldwide. 

View BRG’s news release.

Berkeley Haas welcomes largest-ever undergraduate class

A record-sized Berkeley Haas undergraduate class came together online this week, attending orientation sessions on everything from the keys to succeeding in the rigorous program to creating a climate of inclusion and belonging to navigating internship recruiting.

Juniors Devin Yuan, BS 22, and Ashlee Chung, BS 22, (Biology+Business), take a break from online orientation. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

Students logged on Monday morning from housing on or off campus, where they were greeted by Erika Walker, assistant dean of the undergraduate program.

Dean Ann Harrison, who attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, studying economics and history, welcomed the group to Haas, and congratulated them for getting into the program. Not only is the program one of the most academically rigorous, she said, it’s also defined by its culture, anchored by the four Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.

“The culture at Haas lets us develop the kinds of business leaders that we want to see more of in the business world,” she said, pointing to entrepreneur Kevin Chou, BS 02, as an example of Beyond Yourself. Chou’s $15 million pledge to Haas, the largest ever by an alum under age 40, helped build Chou Hall on the Haas campus.

Of the incoming 440 undergraduate students, 236 are continuing UC Berkeley students and 99 transferred into the program as juniors. Continuing students held an average GPA of 3.76 and transfer students’ GPA averages 3.91.

Todd Fitch, a member of the professional faculty who teaches economic analysis and policy, offered students advice for continuing their academic success in the competitive program, touching on in-class Zoom etiquette, the importance of helping fellow students and working collaboratively, and the need to ask for help when needed and accept feedback when it’s given.

“We’re going to push you very hard, we’re going to push you to your limits,” said Fitch, who wore his trademark bow tie.  “It’s extremely rigorous so be prepared for a lot of hard work. You are at the best business school in the world and we’re trying to prepare you for the future when things are constantly changing.”

Expanding programs

The undergraduate program has expanded in recent years, adding three multidisciplinary programs outside of the core program.

Emma Caress
Emma Caress is among the first undergrad Bio+Biz students.

The newly-launched Biology+Business program, a joint venture between the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Haas, enrolled 13 juniors in its inaugural class. The program allows students to earn a bachelor of science degree in business administration and a bachelor of arts degree in molecular and cell biology in the emphasis of their choice.

Students who enter UC Berkeley as freshmen apply to the program, and complete all prerequisite requirements for Haas and molecular cellular biology before entering as juniors. Saloni Patel, who is among the school’s 13 BioBiz students, said the program combined the two majors she’s always wanted. “It was the perfect combo,” she said. “We’ve had great access to Program Director Sarah (Maslov), who’s an amazing advisor…and it’s a nurturing cohort that’s very specialized. We’re developing as a group and it’s a smaller community of people with specialized interests.”

A love of the mathematics behind medical imaging led Emma Caress to the program. Medical imaging is used for practically everything in the field of medicine and makes up a vast majority of the information coming out of the healthcare system, she said.  “Today’s hospitals store hundreds of millions of digital images, with their numbers only increasing as MRIs and CTs become better at capturing thinner and thinner slices of the body,” she said. “After talking to every person I could find involved in healthcare start-ups and the medical device and pharma industries, I realized my real passion lies at the intersection between business and biology.”

(Left to right) Angie Llei, BS 23, Jaden Bryan, BS 24, and Ruby Gao, BS 23, walk through a quiet campus. All three students are in the Global Management Program, which launched in 2018.

Meantime, the Global Management Program, a four-year international Berkeley Haas program that launched in 2018,  enrolled 31 new students. On top of an already demanding undergraduate curriculum, students in the GMP program must fulfill a language requirement, study abroad their first semester, and take specialized global business courses.

The Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (M.E.T.) program, welcomed 59 new students. The program, a collaboration between the Haas School of Business and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, grants graduates two degrees—in business and in engineering—in four years, with the goal of providing deep leadership and technology skills.

A diverse new class

The incoming class includes includes artists and world travelers, budding entrepreneurs and financiers, and a group of outstanding student athletes, including a few “future Olympians,” said Steve Etter, who teaches finance in the undergraduate program and mentors student athletes. There’s Cal swimmer Alicia Wilson, from the UK, who the gold medal at the 2019 University Games in Naples in the 200 the individual medley. Reece Whitley swims breast stroke for Cal and was named 2019 Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Freshman of the Year. The group also includes Cal gymnast Maya Bordas and Cal Football offensive lineman Matthew Cindric.

Whitley said the mindset necessary for success in sports and business is quite similar. “I’ve always believed that Haas would guide me to successfully translate the team working skills I’ve developed from the swim team into work life,” he said.

Students said they’ve enjoyed meeting their cohort members and beginning to get to know them online, during a school year that has been like no other and has included the staples of masks and social distancing.

Kevin Truong
Kevin Truong, BS 22, came to Berkeley with a plan to study business,

Kevin Truong, BS 22, who said he’s wearing a mask in the common areas of his Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house, said it’s been a goal to study business at Haas since he entered Berkeley as a freshman.

“I thought I might be a computer science major but my econ class in high school opened me to the business world and the stock market,” he said. “I chose Berkeley because I knew how great Haas was.”

Truong said he found the creating a climate of inclusion and belonging session led by Élida Bautista, Haas’ director of inclusion & diversity, particularly useful during orientation. A breakout session allowed the students to role play, giving people a chance to interact, Truong said.

Unlike Troung, Donna Kharrazi, BS 22, said she had no idea what she wanted to major in when she arrived at Berkeley. She said she was drawn to apply to study business for the different career directions that seemed possible, including marketing and advertising.

Kharrazi, who is considering minoring in data science because she loves to code, said she’s excited to be enrolled in smaller classes at Haas this year, where there are opportunities to connect with teachers. So far, she’s enjoying the breakout rooms during orientation with her cohort. “There was a little awkwardness in the beginning, but the level of conversation was great,” she said.

Donna Kharrazi
Donna Kharrazi, BS 22, was drawn to business while taking undergraduate courses in math and data science. (Photo provided by Kharrazi)

For the love of math: Bandile Mbele’s journey from South Africa to the Berkeley MFE Program

Bandile Mbele, a student in the master of financial engineering program at Haas, was the top math student in his undergraduate program at the University of Cape Town. He’d never traveled outside of South Africa before he arrived at Berkeley in March. Photo (in Berkeley): Brittany Hosea-Small.

Bandile Mbele landed at San Francisco Airport from South Africa in early March, just before the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic.

“Everything was just weird,” said Mbele, who had traveled outside of South Africa for the first time in order to join 95 students in the 2021 Master of Financial Engineering Program class at Berkeley Haas. “I just sat for an hour at the airport and took it all in.”

For the 25-year-old, who had grown up in a township in Newcastle, South Africa, coronavirus was just another challenge. When the pandemic continued longer than he ever expected, Mbele relied on the same resilience that led him to the top-ranked Berkeley MFE program.

It’s not been easy for Mbele (pronounced “M-bay-lay”). For the first three weeks he struggled to catch up with online coursework and prepare for internship interviews. “I was learning the material but it wasn’t sticking in my head,” he said. But by April 15—he remembers the exact date—there was a shift. “I woke up and everything started clicking. Things were much more calm.” More relief came when he landed a coveted 12-week internship with Morgan Stanley, which starts in October.

The journey to Berkeley Haas

Mbele attended the University of Cape Town, where he earned both an undergraduate degree in actuarial science and a master’s degree in mathematical finance. Yet he might not have continued his studies at Haas if not for his former undergraduate classmate, Gary Finkelstein, MFE 20.

Chatting one day, Finkelstein told MFE program Executive Director Linda Kreitzman about Mbele, whom he considered a perfect MFE applicant. “I asked him, ‘Is he as good as you?’” Kreitzman said. “Gary said, ‘He’s even better than me at math.’”

Always searching for students who can meet the program’s rigorous quantitative requirements, Kreitzman made it her mission to bring Mbele to Haas. She asked Finkelstein, now an energy trader in London, to help.

One June night, Finkelstein called Mbele, who was playing PlayStation after a day of work at his job at insurance company Old Mutual. The two chatted, and then the conversation got more serious. Would he be interested in applying to the MFE?  Finkelstein mentioned the possibility of a scholarship that Kreitzman had established through the family of Kyle Carlston, MFE 06.

Suddenly, the idea of coming to Berkeley became real.

“Numbers since the day I was born”

Bandile "has great humility and depth of character that I haven’t often seen in my life," says the MFE executive director Linda Kreitzman.
Bandile “has great humility and depth of character that I haven’t often seen in my life,” says the MFE executive director Linda Kreitzman, who worked with South African MFE alum Gary Finkelstein to bring Mbele to Haas.

Before Mbele could accept a place in the MFE program, he had to convince his mother, Patricia, a teacher in a juvenile detention center in Durban, South Africa, that he’d be okay in America. From the start, his mother had played a role in nurturing his love of math, hanging the numbers 1 to 100 in different colors in his room when he was a baby, Mbele said adding “All of my toys had numbers on them.”

His mother helped him move from Newcastle, where he lived alone for a time with his older brother, to Durban, where he could attend good public schools.

In 7th grade, math became a more serious pursuit for Mbele, who was honored as the class’ top-ranked math student, “a game changer that made me realize I had potential,” he said. Later, at Westville Boys’ High School in Durban, he continued to excel academically, which led him to the University of Cape Town. There, he became the top undergraduate math student in a class of 400. “I’m just so passionate about math,” said Mbele, who has tutored students in math for years. “I think I love abstract thinking and the power that comes with that level of thought. I feel like I can understand almost anything.”

I’m just so passionate about math. I think I love abstract thinking and the power that comes with that level of thought.

Mbele finally convinced his mother that the MFE opportunity was too good to pass up—with the help of Kreitzman, who told him that she planned to meet his mom at Mbele’s graduation, if she’s able to attend.

“I was lucky to work with him.”

In the MFE program, Mbele joins students from around the world who are just as passionate about financial skills as he is, coming together for an intense year-long program of quantitative finance and data science coursework and industry projects that will lead many of them to top quant jobs at Wall Street banks and investment firms. (Impressively, about a third of the class, including Mbele, already earned a master’s degree before arriving at Haas.)

Aside from academics, making friends in the program has proven challenging for some of the students without the usual in-person parties and study groups. “The most difficult part was getting to know people over Zoom, especially on a deeper level,” said Mbele’s classmate Renee Reynolds, who added that one-on-one meetings that the students do on the Donut Slack app are helping.

The most difficult part was getting to know people over Zoom, especially on a deeper level. — Mbele’s classmate Renee Reynolds, MFE 21

Mbele and classmate Shamai Zhang got to know each other through lengthy study sessions during the summer semester, typically the MFE’s most difficult due to the daunting Derivatives: Quantitative Methods course. “I was lucky to work with him on that course because he was responsible and effective,” she said. “When I took a look at his work it was so nice, the format, the code, the solutions, and interpretations.”

“A humility and depth of character”

Linda Kreitzman, executive director of the MFE program, is “like my mom who has a lot of kids that she takes care of,” Mbele said.

While it’s sad that students can’t all be together in person, Kreitzman said she tries to unite them with riddles, puns, and games for prizes, and phone calls to check on how they are coping. The students planned weekly online poker games during spring semester, which fell off as the course load got heavier in summer.

Kreitzman said she has no regrets about bringing Mbele to Haas, noting the doors that will open for him with his MFE degree.

“Bandile is a very special young man,” Kreitzman said. “He has great humility and depth of character that I haven’t often seen in my life. He is pure kindness and truly embodies our four Haas Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.”

Mbele said he’s always been grateful for what he has—adding Kreitzman to that list now. “She’s like my mom who has a lot of kids that she takes care of,” he said.

After graduating, Mbele said he’s hoping to stay in the U.S., depending on his visa situation, to work for a few years, meet people, and embrace different cultures.

“I’m open to anything,” he said.

 

Full-time MBA class kicks off fall semester

Students from FTMBA Class of 2022
Students from the Class of 2022. (From left to right: Chris Quaidoo, Kevin Hu, Torrey Mayes, and Jon Thompson.)

The Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA class came together for a virtual orientation Monday, participating in networking sessions, meeting study team members, as well as joining academic and diversity, equity and inclusion workshops designed to prepare them for a successful two years at Haas.

With 331 students, the largest-ever FTMBA Class of 2022 attended the Week Zero orientation held from Aug. 17 to 21.

In her welcome, Dean Harrison commended students for attending business school at this unprecedented time of uncertainty. “This couldn’t be a better time to go to business school, especially at a place like Berkeley, as this school has always been at the forefront of massive changes and movement,” she said. “This crazy time also requires you to be leaders yourselves. One of the most difficult things to learn is how to live with this uncertainty.”

The incoming MBA class is comprised of 39% women, an increase of two percentage points compared to last year. Underrepresented minorities represent 17% of the class, up from 14%. International students make up 21% and hail from 37 countries. Students have an average of five years work experience and majored in economics, engineering, business commerce, and the social sciences.

Surprise guests

Each day of orientation features a surprise guest speaker. So far, that’s included rapper Ace “Call Me Ace” Patterson, MBA 16, and Aubrey Blanche, director of equitable design and impact at Culture Amp.  

Patterson shared his story of humble beginnings in Bridgeport, Conn., getting accepted to Columbia University, and later to Haas. “My family wasn’t poor, we were just broke,” said Patterson. “So what I lacked in resources, I had to gain in creativity and ingenuity.” Patterson also talked about experiencing so-called “imposter syndrome” as one of the youngest students in his FTMBA program, but eventually he convinced himself that he belonged.

Blanche led Tuesday’s discussion on shifting focus away from terms like “diversity and inclusion” and instead embracing “equity and belonging” to activate allies and build equity in the world. “By focusing on equity and belonging, we can actually get to the goals—diversity and equality—that I think we probably all share.”

Students said they’ve enjoyed the week so far. 

“It’s been super exciting to meet all of my classmates for the first time,” said Torrey Mayes, a former manager of financial planning and analysis for Palm Casino Resort. Mayes said his favorite part of orientation has been the networking sessions. “We’ve had the opportunity to meet every single person in our class since everyone is online.” 

Week Zero Co-Chair Dominic Masuda, MBA 21, agreed. “I’m amazed and thrilled to see how creative and flexible the new class has been with engaging and meeting each other,” he said.  “I think we’ve proven that virtual events can be incredibly engaging when structured and built thoughtfully.”

Many students said they’re getting an MBA to build their business acumen, develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills, or transition to a completely new field.

Christine Yee, a student in the new MBA/Master of Engineering (MBA/MEng) program, said she wants to learn how to “democratize technology” to help entrepreneurs with little to no financial means access the digital economy. Yee, who co-founded Paysa, a startup that allows people in rural India make mobile payments using fingerprint authentication, said she is looking forward to taking courses that will take her skills to the next level.

Staying connected

Students from the Class of 2022 created Haas-themed Instagram filters to spread school pride.

Members of the Class of 2022 have gone above and beyond to connect with each other.

Each day culminates with a trivia game night or Zoom happy hour organized by second-year students.

Amanda Wonnell, a former project manager at Shell, said her classmates have created Slack channels based on interests and organized Zoom happy hours. She added that classmate Chris Quaidoo has organized virtual coffee chats, randomly pairing two students for weekly chats.

As for Mayes, he’s thankful to be living with three classmates with whom he can experience the FTMBA program and weather the pandemic.

Mayes said he’s been doing a mix of online and physically-distanced gatherings with classmates. On Monday night, he and five other students set up a TV outside and watched cohort members battle each other in Family Feud. “The Gold cohort won, but we were a close second,” said Mayes, a member of the Oski cohort.

The fall semester officially begins Aug. 24.

Collin Morikawa, BS 19, wins PGA Championship

Collin Morikawa holding trophy
Collin Morikawa holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Collin Morikawa, BS 19, stunned the golf world Sunday, making history as one of the youngest PGA Golf Championship winners. 

With the 2020 championship win, the Berkeley Haas alum joins an elite group of golfers, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIllory, and Jack Nicklaus, who all won the PGA Championship at age 23. 

Morikawa, who held the Wanamaker Trophy high after his win on Sunday at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, is the first Cal athlete to win a major golf championship. “The California Kid is the new star in the game of golf,” CBS announcer Jim Nantz said after the tournament ended.

“I’m on cloud nine,” Morikawa, a Los Angeles-area native, said during a post-PGA Championship press interview. “I’ve believed in myself since day one and I haven’t let up from that. I feel very comfortable in this position, but it was going to take a very good round today.”

I’ve believed in myself since day one and I haven’t let up from that.

Collin Morikawa, BS 19, at graduation
Collin Morikawa, BS 19, shakes Dean Ann Harrison’s hand at graduation.

Members of the Haas community who’ve been tracking Morikawa’s golf career successes lit up social media with congratulations after his championship win.

“I’m so proud of Collin,” said Haas Dean Ann Harrison. “Collin has always been a standout student and athlete. I’m sure this championship win will be one of many in his golf career.”

“Collin’s success on the PGA Tour was not a surprise to me based on the intelligence, attention to detail, and work ethic he showed in the classroom,” said Finance Lecturer Stephen Etter. “However, his winnings to date far exceed the modeling we did in (the class) Finance for Future Professional Athletes. He is a humble young man who has confidence without attitude. It will be wonderful for all Cal alumni to watch his success on Sundays for many years to come.”

This isn’t the first time that Morikawa has made big waves. Since turning pro in June 2019, he’s won two PGA titles, including the 2019 Barracuda Championship and the 2020 Workday Charity Open.

While a student at Berkeley, Morikawa played for the Men’s Golf Team all four seasons and was named the Pac-12 Men’s Golfer of the Year in 2019. He’s also the only athlete to be named a four-time All-American and three-time first-team All-American in Berkeley history.

Berkeley Haas Executive MBA Program ranked #1 by The Economist

Executive MBA Program
Executive MBA students enrolled in a Teams@Haas course. Photo: Noah Berger

The Berkeley Haas MBA for Executives Program placed #1 worldwide, according to The Economist “Which MBA?” 2020 ranking, published today. 

The Haas program got the top rating in career development. According to EMBA students and alumni, the program excels at meeting their pre-EMBA career goals. The program was also rated highly for alumni career progression and salaries, as well as for the strength of its alumni network. Additional highlights include the program’s and students’ culture and the quality of students and of faculty teaching in the program.

The Economist gathered data from participating schools and surveyed their current students and alumni who completed their EMBA course between July 2016 and June 2019. The ranking gives equal weight to Personal Development and Educational Experience, which includes quality of the students, faculty, and program as well as student diversity, and to Career Development, which encompasses career progression, salary, and networking. The Berkeley Haas program topped in this ranking, which focuses on two broad measures: personal development/educational experience and career development.

In 2018, the Berkeley MBA for Executives ranked #4 in the world. That was the first year the Berkeley Haas program was eligible to be ranked since it founded its stand-alone program in 2013.

The full report is available here.

Black Voices: Berkeley Haas community shares perspectives on racism and the fight for social justice

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.

Clockwise from left: Marco Lindsey, associate director at DEI at Haas; Erika Walker, assistant dean of the undergraduate program; Dan Kihanya, MBA 96, Elisse Douglass, MBA 16;  Ace Patterson, MBA 16; and Bree Jenkins, MBA 19.

BLM collage

View all their posts here.

Undergraduate Class of 2020: “Off to great places”

Shun Lei Sin, BS20
HBSA President Shun Lei Sin

With a nod to Dr. Seuss, Haas Business Student Association (HBSA) President Shun Lei Sin told the undergraduate Class of 2020 that they’re off to great places.

“Today is your day,” she said in a video prepared to celebrate the day. “So take pride in how you’ve far come and have faith in how far you can go—and of course keep in mind our four core (Defining Leadership Principles) that define the Berkeley Haas culture.”

Dean Ann Harrison noted their remarkable journey. “You have achieved so much,” she said. “However you’ve applied yourselves, you’ve learned important lessons about collaboration, about failing and trying again, and about making an impact. In short, about leadership.”

However you’ve applied yourselves, you’ve learned important lessons about collaboration, about failing and trying again, and about making an impact.

Kiara Taylor, BS 20
Kiara Taylor, BS 20, DLP winner for Beyond Yourself

Undergraduate Defining Leadership Principles Award Winners

Robert Paylor
Robert Paylor, BS 20, a winner for Question the Status Quo, was told he would never walk again after his rugby injury. He’s now walking with the aid of a walker.

Beyond Yourself:  Kiara Taylor (Read about Taylor’s adventures at the 2019 Diversity Case Competition.)

Confidence Without Attitude: Jordyn Elliott (Read about Elliot’s experience as a Cal athlete here.)

Students Always: Mia Character (Read more about Character in this Q&A.)

Question the Status Quo: Robert Paylor (Read about Paylor’s journey back from a critical rugby injury.) Paylor is also winner of the Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award, one of just five recipients across all three NCAA divisions.

Other Award Winners

Departmental Citation for Outstanding Achievement: Cubbie Kile  (Read about Kile here).

Graduate Student Instructor of the Year: Rohi Rana, the GSI for Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting.

Mia Character

Mia Character, BS 20, DLP winner for Students Always

A team of HBSA members interviewed Haas faculty and staff, who offered advice and well wishes to grads in this video.

The undergraduate class of 2020 has been through a lot together over the past four years: a controversial presidential election, political protests that rocked campus, wildfires that led to canceled classes, and the outbreak of COVID-19, which made final days at Cal “quite a whirlwind,” said graduation speaker Diane Dwyer, BS 87.

“You’ve been tested not just once but many times,” said Dwyer, a Haas professional faculty member and a former broadcast journalist. “Part of what college is supposed to do is prepare you for the rest of your life and I can’t imagine a group that’s more prepared than you.”

For more photos of Berkeley Haas graduates, check out our grad gallery on Flickr.

Adam Forest, BS 20, with his parents. Photo: Adam Forest.

LAUNCH Diaries: Startups navigate COVID-19 crisis

Note: Haas News is following two of this year’s teams participating in LAUNCH, an accelerator for University of California startup founders that has helped create more than 200 companies since 1999. The teams are gearing up for the Demo Day final on May 1, when they’ll pitch their ideas to VCs and angel investors and compete for $25,000 in funding. This year the teams face an extra challenge: launching a startup at a time when the world has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

If there’s one thing this year’s LAUNCH teams have had to learn overnight, it’s the value of flexibility.

Leading the LAUNCH teams through all of the ongoing uncertainty is Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, who quickly shifted LAUNCH online, where the teams met on Zoom last Wednesday to share updates at the last webinar before the semifinals.

Dispatch Goods, for one, detailed its pivot from a reusable food container business for restaurants to a zero-waste co-op called Project Clean that fills recycled plastic bottles with hand sanitizer made by San Francisco-based distillery Seven Stills.

Dispatch CEO Lindsey Hoell, MBA 21, said the team’s shift to provide free hand sanitizer to homeless shelters, nursing homes, and low-income communities, has proven “a big saving grace.” “This has given us a reason to keep moving after a horrible disruption to our business model,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to keep active, engaged, and on the mission, so you can weather the storm.”

SuperPetFoods and BumpR, teams Haas News has followed since the start of LAUNCH in March, shared their own COVID-19 challenges on the call as they continue on their startup journeys.

SuperPetFoods

Sticking to the plan: Since their last meeting, the team—María (Mar) del Mar Londoño, MBA 21, Thais Esteves, MBA 21, and Gina Myers, MS 20 (bioengineering), who is also a chef—finalized their recipe for dehydrated pet food. The food is made from black soldier flies (Hermetia Illucens) and Mar plans to produce it in Colombia, where her family has a farm in the coffee-growing region (and she’s surrounded by more than 15 dogs). The black soldier fly is capable of converting food waste into high-quality protein and fat with incredible efficiency, with an undetectable carbon footprint, she said.  Now, they are looking closely at how to cut the cost of production, which is high, and studying their potential profit margins by benchmarking against market competitors.

SuperPetFoods team
L-R: María (Mar) del Mar Londoño, MBA 21, Thais Esteves, MBA 21, and Gina Myers, MS 20 (bioengineering), with Gina’s dog, Qora, (before the COVID-19 crisis).

Eye-opening data: Mar, who represented the team on the webinar Wednesday, said COVID-19 dashed her plan to do many customer interviews in person. So she shifted online, surveying 300 people on Reddit. About 41% responded positively to the idea of using insects as pet food (73 percent were either positive or neutral). Mar also discovered that vegans are a possible niche market, as they were open to the idea of feeding insects to their pets.

Her initial fear that people would prefer dog food made in the U.S., sourced locally, instead of in Colombia, turned out to be unfounded, which was a relief. “I have the contacts there, the knowledge of how to run a business there and the manufacturing costs are way, way lower,” she said. From 11 interviews, the team discovered that they needed to do more to convince and educate pet owners of the safety and nutrition level of pet food made from insects.

Seed funding challenges: Mar applied for a grant from Arrow Capital, the student-run investment fund, but the fund recently announced it was shutting. “We’ll have to look for more alternatives,” she said. She’ll be soon competing as a finalist for the 2020 Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize, as well as in the LAUNCH final, which could net the startup $25,000. Mar asked Rhonda for advice about presenting the company to judges. She advised against a graphics-heavy presentation. “One trend I have hated over the past couple of years is “entrepreneur-tainment,” Rhonda said. “Images are not what LAUNCH is about.” Judges want to look under the hood, she said, so weave metrics into the company’s story and make sure to present a strong narrative.

BumpR

Challenges for BumpR: Responding to new campus COVID-19 rules, the undergraduate founders of BumpR —Armaan Goel, Aishwarya (Ash) Mahesh, Shreya Shekhar, all M.E.T. 23 (Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology); and Justin Quan, BS 23 (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), — scrambled to move out of their dorms. Their move came at the same time as LAUNCHathon, a part of LAUNCH when participants across campus volunteer their skills to help other teams fulfill one item on their wish list. At the same time, the team decided to shift their business model. “Powered by instant ramen, we completed the move out from our dorms as well as our pivot,” Justin said.

Justin
BumpR’s Justin Quan explains the team’s pivot at last Wednesday’s Zoom webinar.

The pivot: BumpR started out building a cloud-based back end for targeted advertising displays. The team decided that an ad tech company wouldn’t work, so they abandoned the original mission and started building a Smart Cities plan to help governments collect data more efficiently. In recent days, Justin and Ash started reaching out to city and public safety officials to collect data. Justin interviewed officials in Saratoga and Los Gatos by phone, while Ash scheduled phone calls with city officials in L.A. county, where she lives. They found that cities often hire traffic engineers to collect data before building structures like parking garages and public transit stations, which is an expensive and tedious process, or they rely on published general traffic data, which isn’t always accurate nor specific to individual cities. Both saw a problem that team BumpR can solve.

Validating the idea: Justin, who had just finished a computer science midterm moments before, and Ash asked for feedback from their instructor Rhonda. Their new business model centers on producing an inexpensive Internet of Things (IoT) device, similar to a city-registered electronic carpool sticker, that rideshare drivers mount on their cars to easily collect data over geographic areas. Revenue would come from payments for access to

Team bumpR at work
L-R: Shreya Shekhar, Justin Quan, Armaan Goel, and Aishwarya (Ash) Mahesh at work on their LAUNCH plan before the COVID-19 crisis. Photo: Jim Block

datasets. The team said the devices could be used by planning departments, law enforcement, and fire departments.

Sharpening the focus: Rhonda asked team members to better define the key benefits to customers. Does BumpR help cities save money? Does it save time or improve quality of life? The team needs to figure out how much that savings would need to be to make the offering a priority for cities, she said. She also told them to not overlook the social part of their offering: the idea of making people look good to their bosses. “Test that with them. Ask them: how would this change your life if you had more accurate data that costs less? Think about that as you go out to do interviews,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From virtual birthday parties to yoga, Haasies stay connected as life shifts online

Lauren Graminis practices yoga
Lauren Grimanis (left) practices yoga with a student during her time in Ghana.

When Lauren Grimanis ran a rural education organization in a remote community in Ghana with no running water or electricity, she turned to yoga and meditation to handle the stresses of daily life.

“While I had community around me, I still felt socially isolated,” said Grimanis, MBA 20, who founded the nonprofit Akaa Project in 2008. “I had to climb a hill into a tomato farm behind my house to get cell service so it was difficult to connect with friends and family.”

Grimanis had no idea that what she’d learned about the value of mindfulness in Africa might prove a handy tool for both helping herself and her tight-knit MBA class cope with the isolation and frustrations of social distancing under the COVID-19 outbreak. As head of the Haas Mindfulness Club, Grimanis not only exercises online with her MBA friends; she’s also put together a Google doc listing everything from free meditation apps to CorePower Yoga classes and shared the doc with both FTMBA classes.

“Last week people were feeling really frustrated and anxious, both understandable feelings. I wanted to help, so we jumped into action,” she said. “We really want to get people to think more positively and use mindfulness in their new daily routines.”

Cheering each other up

Chris Lee's birthday party on zoom chat
Chris Lee celebrated his 30th birthday with classmates online. Photo: Chris Lee.

Under COVID-19 restrictions, student life has continued online. Joey Parker, MBA 21, organized a toast on Zoom at 9 pm on St. Patrick’s Day for all MBA students. Chris Lee, MBA 20, celebrated his recent 30th birthday online, surrounded by about 50 of his MBA friends. The new reality won’t replace the in-person courtyard lunches, cohort parties, or Tahoe weekends, students say, but they’re working hard to use tech to keep their communities together and stay focused on their work.

The same rings true for evening and weekend students. Terrell Baptiste, EWMBA 20, said his classmates are phoning each other and tapping into the class’ WhatsApp chat group to keep in touch. About 40 classmates are using the app to cheer each other up or initiate discussions about the pros and cons of a shelter-in-place order and whether a stimulus package would help stabilize the U.S. economy. 

Haas undergraduates, too, are finding ways to stay virtually connected.

Four women talk via Zoom, a video chat platform.
Shun Lei Sin, BS 20, (bottom right) chats with friends via Zoom.

Shun Lei Sin, BS 20, uses Zoom and has joined a Slack channel called SF Entourage, a private virtual community, where she can participate in cooking competitions, play games online or start a book club with friends. Zaheer Ebtikar, BS 20, uses Slack, Instagram, and Twitter to connect with friends while he finishes the semester at home. Neha Dubey, BS 21, sends Google hangout links to classmates, inviting them to virtual lunches. She’s also tapping into Berkeley’s Student Environmental Resource Center (SERC) to stay in touch with friends.

“One of my friends is the community engagement associate for SERC and she’s hosting virtual study sessions every Tuesday and organizing baking classes and Netflix parties. It’s just another way to have that human interaction,” Dubey said. 

Despite not being able to see her friends in person, Dubey said life under COVID-19 has brought her friends closer together.

“All of my friends have really bonded through this. We’re all making an effort to be a larger part of our everyday lives,” said Dubey. “It’s a lot less texting and a lot more calling.” 

Saying goodbye

Two Haas students work on school project.
Thais Esteves, MBA 21, (right) with classmate Maria del Mar Londono Jaramillo, returned home to Brazil for the summer after her FTMBA friends threw her an impromptu birthday party online. Photo: Jim Block

For some international students in countries where borders are shutting, the decision to stay on campus or go home, depending on border and visa situations, is difficult. Before Thais Esteves, MBA 21, returned home for the summer to Brazil this week her friends threw her one last impromptu party. The party, initiated by a handful of classmates who were playing an online board game together, started after they sent a few photos to WhatsApp with a link to the virtual celebration. A bunch more classmates joined in to celebrate Esteves’ birthday, and to say goodbye before she boarded the plane. They donned costumes, as they often do at MBA parties, including a polar bear, a viking hat, a unicorn, and a ship’s captain.

A sari, never worn

Ije wearing a sari in India.
Ije Durga, MBA 20, who lived in India prior to coming to Haas, planned to wear a special sari to commencement.

Many students are grappling with the possibility of  a virtual commencement. Ije Durga, MBA 20, said she understands why commencement can’t be held in-person, but is hurt that she won’t be able to say goodbye to her friends. Durga, who worked in India before coming to Haas, is also disappointed that she won’t be wearing a special sari she’d picked out for the ceremony and ordered from India.  “I was looking forward to putting that on and surprising everyone—an African woman in a sari,” she said. She said the friend who was going to bring it to her can’t even travel to the U.S. now. “The world has changed so much in just two weeks,” she added.

April staycation

Ana Alanis and classmates.
Ana Alanis (front, middle) spent the morning canceling a spring break trip to Colombia.

For many students, spring break meant canceling planned trips, and treks, and suddenly wondering what to do with all that time off. On Thursday, Ana Christina Alanis, MBA 21 and the class’ VP of social, was canceling a web of spring break flights to Colombia. She’d planned to visit Medellin and then scuba dive in Cartagena with a group of 12 students, including her roommate. She was looking forward to relaxing for nine days and a break from her job search. “Spring break starts tomorrow and I have absolutely nothing to do,” she said. The upside? She might teach an online cooking class to Haasies—and she might be able to reschedule her trip with her Colombian classmates, who couldn’t go with her this time. 

Get your Zumba on!

Six students do Zumba online.
Lipika Grover, MBA 20, hosted a virtual Zumba class for FTMBA students.

After in-person classes stopped, the FTMBA Association and Alex D’Agostino and Annie Powers, both MBA 20, got together and worked on a spreadsheet of classes that could be taught by students for students. Lipika Grover, MBA 20, is one of the first to go for it. She taught her first Zumba class ever on Zoom on Thursday morning. Grover, who had taken many Bollywood classes and loves to dance, was live teaching by 10 am from her home in Houston, where she returned to be with her family. 

“It will hopefully lift people’s moods and we’ll get some exercise—wherever we are,” said Grover. “Virtual is the best way to be together and to be strong now. We have to make the best of what we have and come together as a community.”  

 

Students race to launch coronavirus trackers

Jason Li, BS 20, was at brunch with friends earlier this month chatting about the impact of the coronavirus when an idea popped into his head.

“I realized that the coronavirus was getting worse, and that people should be informed of the figures so that they can properly assess their risks,” said Li, a senior who is a double major in business and computer science. “But without data, they can’t do anything.”

Photo of Jason Li
Jason Li, BS 20, a double major in business and computer science, launched LiveCoronaUpdates.org.

That idea led Li and his team to work two straight days and nights toward the launch of LiveCoronaUpdates.org. The website aggregates data on coronavirus cases from the WHO, local governments, and major American news outlets. So far, the website has had more than 210,000 page views.

Li and his team, which includes code-savvy interns and engineers who work at his chat-and-payment startup, LoopChat—currently housed at Berkeley SkyDeck—update the figures every three to four hours.

a screen shot of the corona virus update website
LiveCoronaUpdates has had more than 210,000 page views since March 3.

Li, a budding entrepreneur, says he aims to provide accurate, easy-to-understand information about the virus, including the number of deaths, confirmed cases, people who have recovered and active cases in specific geographical areas. The goal is to get the data to the largest audience possible and to help calm anxiety with facts people can rely on as they navigate the new normal of their daily lives.

CoronApp Team races to develop mobile app

Li isn’t the only student on campus to jump into action on a coronavirus tracker. Anupam Tiwari and Anushka Purohit, both electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) majors and exchange students at UC Berkeley, started working on CoronApp together. The pair recently added first-year MBA students Akonkwa Mubagwa and Manuel Smith to their team.

The group connected at a recent coffee meetup for entrepreneurs in the Haas courtyard.

“The idea (for CoronApp) was great, but the form and user experience wasn’t there yet,” Mubagwa said of the design Tiwari showed him. “It was impressive that he set it up so fast, and we knew it would be useful.”

The students joined forces and later added coder Sahil Mehta, an EECS undergraduate; Ean Hall, MS 20 (mechanical engineering) who specializes in quantitative analysis; and Daniel Smith, a software developer. Sevith Rao and Andy Cheng, both medical doctors and first-year MBA students at Berkeley Haas, agreed to serve as CoronApp advisers.

CoronApp for mobile browsers, now available, allows users to click on red dots on a map to provide updates on virus cases. It integrates COVID-19 data from Johns Hopkins University, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (WHO), and a Twitter feed provides the latest curated news.

CoronApp screen shot
Users click on the red dots on the CoronApp map to unveil info about virus cases.

Tiwari first tested CoronApp on his roommates, who rated it a seven out of 10. Their feedback helped him improve how fast the app loads—and to decide to add a Twitter feed and information on the right way to wash your hands and wear a face mask. The team had planned to offer the app for iPhones, but Apple is currently only accepting apps “from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions.”

Once they have perfected the app, the team believes it will become a scalable platform for crowdsourcing during future emergencies — from disease outbreaks to wildfires.

L-R: Sahil Mehta, BS 23, (EECS) Manuel Smith, MBA 21, Anushka Purohit, BS 22,  (EECS) Anupam Tiwari, BS 23, (EECS) Daniel Smith, a software developer, Akonkwa Mubagwa, MBA 21, and Ean Hall, MS 20 (mechanical engineering). Photo: Benny Johnson

Mubagwa said that the way that the team came together to form CoronApp is a perfect example of why he came to Berkeley.

“Excellence across schools—engineering, business, and public health—allows for spontaneous cross-pollination,” he said. “We are all very different and from different backgrounds, but we are tied together by entrepreneurship. That’s what makes Berkeley so special.”

Li, who has been working to get word of his website across campus, said it’s rewarding to build a product that so many people find useful. “A lot of people have been emailing me saying how much they appreciate it,” he said. “I like building stuff that helps people. That’s what entrepreneurship is about: making a positive impact.”

 

Celebrating the first decade of the Defining Leadership Principles

Dean Ann Harrison in the courtyard, where the Defining Leadership Principles are installed on the stones nearby. Photo: Noah Berger

It’s the 10-year anniversary of the Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always and Beyond Yourself, and Dean Ann Harrison is reflecting on their continued success.

“These principles codify so much of what sets Haas apart,” says Harrison, as she looks out her window at the four principles etched into the building above the entrance to the school. “They’ve grown stronger over the years and are now woven into everything that we do.”

Spearheaded a decade ago by former dean Rich Lyons, the principles put into words the culture that had always been a part of the school. A 2018 Poets & Quants article “Where Culture Really Matters,” noted that the principles have since become a significant symbol of what the school believes and stands for, and that “There is no doubt that Haas stands alone among business schools in consciously defining and shaping a strong culture to its competitive advantage.”

Cupcakes decorated with the DLPs.
Culture Day cupcakes decorated with the principles.

Today, the principles influence everything from how students are selected and staff and faculty are hired, to how the Haas leadership team works together, to how the budget is crafted. Harrison does not miss an opportunity to speak of why the principles are a key reason why she came to Haas. She’ll be celebrating them at events throughout the year.

“So much more than just words”

Harrison says her role as dean relates most to the principle Beyond Yourself.  “One of the great aspects of being dean is that it gives me the opportunity to give back to an incredible institution that changes so many student lives for the better,” she says.

For Senior Assistant Dean, Chief Strategy and Operating Officer Courtney Chandler, the principles have become “so much more than just words.” They’re aligned tightly to the school’s strategy and execution.

“Powerful leaders think about culture all the time,” she says. “If done well, everything relates back to the culture, from how we set priorities to how we get buy-in from people to how we show up as a community.”

Chandler says the principles impact how she personally leads at Haas, and play an integral role in how the administration responds to big challenges—such as the drop in African American student enrollment in the MBA program two years ago. “Even with a major initiative like diversity, equity and inclusion, we looked at it through our culture lens,” she says. “Our DLPs helped us to question the status quo and work through this challenge with our community using a student always mindset in a way that we never could have done as well without them.”

Developing leaders

Delphine Sherman, the school’s chief financial officer, cites numerous examples of how the principles guide her in her job. For example, she says that when filling open positions, her department always questions the status quo to find the best possible solution. “Rather than just automatically refilling that role, we ask if there is some way to change the way that work is done,” Sherman says.

Students have also become enthusiastic champions of the principles, which are increasingly embedded in Haas classrooms. Seventy-five percent of students from all three MBA programs and the undergraduate program now cite the DLPs as a strong reason for choosing Haas.

Several years ago, the school began a mapping project to “link and label” ways that core and elective MBA courses connect to the principles, says Jay Stowsky, senior assistant dean for instruction.

For example, in the Haas@Work course, students learned to “influence without authority,” which embodies Confidence Without Attitude. A Brand Strategy Boot Camp taught students to evaluate qualitative and quantitative research and turn that into actionable decisions, which reflects Students Always.

Building a community around culture

On the faculty side, Profs. Jenny Chatman and Sameer Srivistava are making the school an epicenter for culture research through the Berkeley Haas Culture Initiative and an annual conference in January. Their goal is to build a community of academics and practitioners to pioneer new research methods, spark research collaborations, and develop new tools for managing culture as a strategic asset. Chatman has also written two culture cases on the school’s culture and the history of the principles with Lyons.

Professors Jennifer Chatman and Sameer Srivastava interview Golden State Warriors Coach (center) during the Berkeley Haas Culture Conference. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small

The first case, which documents the culture’s origin story, is used in many ways to continue to build the culture, including teaching it in Haas classes and providing it to campus recruiters. The case is also used during faculty onboarding. “Tenure-track faculty—especially those who join Haas right after graduating from their PhD program—typically have never been part of an organization that is intentional about culture, so this material is particularly eye-opening for them,” Chatman wrote in the case.

The second case, published last year, asked what the new dean and the school need to do to keep the culture strong and valuable. Among many efforts, Chatman pointed to the Culture Leadership Fund. “Not only did the fund spark many conversations with important constituents, it also surpassed its target, raising just over $230,000 to be used for additional, culture-strengthening,” she says.

“Just getting started”

Many alumni share how the principles have influenced both their work and personal lives over the past 10 years, says Tenny Frost, executive director of development & alumni relations. School surveys have found that more than 90% of alums from the past decade are familiar with the principles and frequently cite them.

“The principles have been incredibly powerful and energizing to our alumni as they feel them deeply,” she says, noting that Haas’ lifelong learning opportunities (offered both online and in-person) support the Student Always principle.

Alumni are also honored for embodying the principles. An example is Constance Moore, MBA 80, a distinguished real estate veteran and volunteer board member for numerous organizations, who recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award recognizes members of the Berkeley Haas community who embody Haas’ Defining Leadership Principles and who have made a significant impact in their field and through their professional accomplishments. Moore is the eighth person to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award from Haas, and its second female recipient.

Former Haas Dean Rich Lyons
Former Haas Dean Rich Lyons led the effort to codify the school’s DLPs, which are visible on the building behind him. Photo: Jim Block

Lyons, who is now UC Berkeley’s chief innovation & entrepreneurship officer, says he’s thrilled to mark the 10-year anniversary, but believes that Haas is just getting started. “Ten years is a long time for an organizational change, but it is a drop in the bucket in terms of institutional identity,” he says. “Institutions that are the most intentional about culture evolve over 30, 40, or 50 years, which is what I’d like to see for Haas.”

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Master of Financial Engineering program ranked #1

Haas MFE Graduation

The Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering Program ranked #1 for the fifth year in a row, according to The TFE Times’ ranking of Master’s of Financial Engineering programs published on Feb. 3, 2020.

This ranking is based on data provided by participating US schools and focuses primarily on the quality of the applicants. The rankings components are weighted as follows:

25% Mean GRE Scores

25% Mean Starting Salary and Bonus

15% Mean Undergraduate GPA

15% Acceptance Rate

10% Full Time Graduates Employed at Graduation

5% Full Time Graduates Employed 3 Months after Graduation

2.5% Total Number of Distinct Courses Available

2.5% Total Research Expenditures

The TFE ranking rates a variety of finance degree programs hosted in disciplines ranging from business schools to mathematics, engineering, and statistics.

More on the methodology.

 

 

Haas launches deferred MBA admissions program

Undergrad students
Undergraduates will be able to apply early to the Full-time MBA program under the new Accelerated Access Program. Photo: Noah Berger

A new Berkeley Haas program will give undergraduates the option of applying early for a coveted spot in the full-time MBA program and deferring for two to five years to gain the required professional experience.

Accelerated Access, which launches today, will be initially open only to UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students in their final year of study, with a plan to expand to students throughout the University of California system and then more broadly in the future. A kickoff event will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 28, in Chou Hall from 6-8pm.

“Accelerated Access is an innovative way for students to secure a seat in our MBA program, providing a way for them to pursue full-time work that aligns with their passions, with reassurance that they will be able to return to a top-ranked MBA program in a few years,” said Morgan Bernstein, director of strategic initiatives, who is spearheading the launch.

Reaching across campus

Morgan Bernstein
Morgan Bernstein is spearheading the new Accelerated Access Program.

Under Accelerated Access, undergraduates will apply to the MBA program during the final year of their bachelor’s program. Successful applicants will gain conditional admission, and can enroll after a flexible two-to-five-year deferment period for professional experience.

Haas Dean Ann Harrison said Accelerated Access is another way that Haas is reaching across campus to offer new opportunities to students who previously might not have considered an MBA.

“We’re so excited to offer this program exclusively to UC Berkeley students this year,” she said. “We have so much talent here in the Berkeley community—and this is another way that we are cultivating and committing to that talent.”

Bernstein has been introducing the program across campus in recent weeks, and says the early response has been enthusiastic.

“We believe that this program will increase the diversity of our class, compelling students from a wide variety of academic disciplines to consider an MBA—from students in environmental science who want to pursue careers in sustainability to engineering students who want to complement their technical skills with a business foundation,” she said.

Application fee waived

There are two application deadlines in the pilot cycle: Thursday, April 2, 2020 and Thursday, June 11, 2020. The application process is similar to that of the full-time MBA program, with requirements including a resume, two letters of recommendation, two short essays, undergraduate transcripts, and either the GMAT or GRE standardized test. An interview will be required for admission.

Haas will waive the $200 application fee for UC Berkeley applicants this year and will be making up to five $100,000 scholarship awards to celebrate the launch as well as the 10th anniversary of the Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always and Beyond Yourself.  Embodiment of the principles will be among the criteria that are considered for the awards.

Shaibya Dalal, who earned a BA in political science in 2011 from Berkeley and returned in 2018 as a full-time MBA student, said she couldn’t be happier that she chose Cal twice.

“The MBA culture at Haas is incredibly collaborative—whether you need notes from a class, advice for your start-up, or even help moving furniture, you can rely on Haasies,” she said. “My peers are kind, generous, open-minded, and intellectually curious. Constantly being around such brilliant people has challenged and stimulated me in completely new ways.”

For more information about the program please email accelerate@haas.berkeley.edu.

 

Year in review: Top Berkeley Haas stories of 2019

It was a big year at Berkeley Haas. We welcomed the school’s first new dean in more than a decade, continued our run in the top 10 in all rankings, and launched several new boundary-spanning programs. Our faculty broke new ground and were honored with numerous awards, and we also mourned the loss of several luminaries. The school was also recognized for its stellar sustainability efforts at our new building.

Going into the 2020, our culture—truly at the heart of Haas—will continue to take center stage. Here are a dozen of our highlights from 2019.

1. New year, new dean

Dean Ann Harrison
Dean Ann Harrison | Copyright Noah Berger 2018

On January 1, former Wharton economics professor Ann Harrison “came home” to Berkeley to serve as the 15th dean of Haas. Harrison was a double major in history and economics at UC Berkeley before going on to earn a PhD in economics from Princeton. She also served as a professor of UC Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics from 2001 to 2011, and was the former director of development policy at the World Bank.

2. Fresh insights and groundbreaking research

Illustration of a satellite orbiting the earth

From the first-ever analysis of how hedge funds use satellite images to beat Wall Street, to a finding that information acts on the brain’s dopamine receptors in the same way as snacks, drugs, and money, to new insights from social network experts on how the opioid use spreads in families, Haas faculty questioned the status quo with their creative and groundbreaking research. They also made an impact: Ginnie Mae adopted a proposal based on Haas professors’ research for better risk management of non-bank lenders, and U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Doug Jones launched an investigation into evidence uncovered by three faculty that that online lending algorithms have created widespread lending discrimination.

3. Shedding light on PG&E blackouts

Professors Catherine Wolfram and Severin Borenstein

Haas experts were in high demand to make sense of this fall’s unprecedented power shutoffs. Energy economists Severin Borenstein and Catherine Wolfram of the Energy Institute at Haas fielded a stream of questions from journalists after Pacific Gas & Electric determined it could not guarantee the safety of its lines and shut down power to hundreds of thousands of people, including the entire UC Berkeley campus.

4. Mourning the loss of faculty luminaries

Prof. Mark Rubinstein in his home library / Photo by Jim Block
Prof. Mark Rubinstein in his home library | Photo by Jim Block

Mark Rubinstein (above), a finance professor emeritus whose work had a profound impact on Wall Street by forever changing how financial assets are created and priced, died at 74. Raymond Miles, a former Berkeley Haas dean and professor emeritus whose leadership had a deep and lasting impact on the Haas campus and community, passed away at 86. Leo Helzel, MBA 68, LLM 70, an honored faculty member who guided the school’s first forays into entrepreneurship and was a dedicated and generous supporter of Haas for decades, died at 101. Rob Chandra, BS 88, a professional faculty member since 2013, taught courses on entrepreneurship and venture capital to both undergraduate and MBA students. He passed away in October at age 53.

5. STEM designation for MBA programs

Photo of students in Chou Hall at Haas

Berkeley Haas is among the first business schools to receive a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) designation for its MBA programs. The designation makes all international graduates eligible to apply for an additional 24-month visa extension during post-MBA employment. All current international students studying on F-1 visas will be eligible to apply for the extension while they are in their first year of work authorization after graduating from the MBA program. “We anticipate that this will lead to expanded opportunities for our international graduates who pursue jobs incorporating business analytics, modeling, forecasting, and other skills developed through our program,” said Peter Johnson, assistant dean of the FTMBA program and admissions.

6. Record rankings

Students at work during week zero
Photo by Jim Block

All Haas programs continued their run in the top 10 in all major rankings, with the full-time MBA program moving up to #6 in the U.S. in the U.S. News & World Report ranking—its highest ever. The FTMBA program was also ranked #6 in the U.S. by The Economist (#7 worldwide) and #8 in the U.S. by Bloomberg BusinessweekU.S. News ranked the Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program #2, the Undergraduate Program #3, and the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program #7.  The Master of Financial Engineering Program was ranked #1 by The Financial Engineer, and #2 by QuantNet.

7. Chou Hall’s green trifecta

Photo of the front of Chou Hall

Our newest building officially became the greenest academic space in the U.S., receiving a WELL Certification recognizing its “strong commitment to supporting human health, well-being, and comfort;” a TRUE Zero Waste Certification at the highest possible level for diverting at least 90% of its waste from landfills; and LEED Platinum Certification for its architectural design, construction, and energy efficiency.

8. Welcoming David Porter, our first Chief DEI officer

Berkley Haas Chief DEI Officer David Porter

“My first priority is making sure that the students, particularly students of color, have the best experience possible,” said Porter, who previously served as CEO of media nonprofit Walter Kaitz Foundation, director of graduate programs at the Howard University School of Business, and as an assistant professor and faculty director at UCLA’s Anderson School.

9. Unveiling a new sustainable and impact finance program (SAIF)

MBA students who managed the Haas Sustainably Investment Fund
MBA students who have managed the Sustainable Investment Fund at Haas. Photo: Jim Block

The Sustainable and Impact Finance program aims to better position students to work in sustainable and impact finance as public fund managers or private equity investors, or in the startup world. It’s focused on three sectors: sustainable investment, impact investment, and impact entrepreneurship. Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse developed the new program with Prof. Laura Tyson, faculty director for the Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI).

10. Building campus connections with cross-disciplinary programs

Haas joined forces with the College of Engineering to launch the concurrent MBA/MEng dual degree program. The new program, enrolling for fall 2020, allows students with undergraduate technical training to earn both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Engineering degree in just two years. The new undergrad Biology+Business dual major is designed to prepare students for careers in healthcare, biotech, and drug discovery research. It’s a joint venture between the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology and Haas.

11. A host of honors for faculty

Top row: Chesbrough, Mowery, Wallace. Middle: Dal Bó, Schroeder, Morse. Bottom: Konchitchki, Patatoukas, Finan.

Assoc. Prof. Yaniv Konchitchki and Assoc. Prof. Panos Patatoukas received the 2019 Notable Contributions to Accounting Literature Award from the American Accounting Association. Prof. Emeritus David Mowery received the 2019 Irwin Outstanding Educator Award from the Academy of Management’s Strategic Management Division. Adj. Prof. Henry Chesbrough received the Leadership in Technology Management Award from the Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET). Prof. Nancy Wallace was honored by campus with a prestigious faculty service award. Miguel Villas-Boas was awarded the 2019 INFORMS Society for Marketing Science Fellow Award, which is the organization’s highest award recognizing cumulative scholarship and long-term contributions to the marketing field. Prof. Ernesto Dal Bó and Prof. Frederico Finan received the 2019 Williamson Award at the 2019 Society for Institutional and Organizational Economics (SIOE) conference. Assoc. Prof. Juliana Schroeder was recognized as a “Best 40 Under 40” professor by Poets & Quants. Cheit Awards for Excellence in Teaching went to professors Adair Morse, Ross Levine, Yaniv Konchitchki, and Hoai-Luu Nguyen, along with lecturers Janet Brady, Eric Reiner, and Veselina Dinova.

12. Going deeper on culture

We continued to embed our Defining Leadership Principles (DLPs)—Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself—throughout the school. In January, the Berkeley Haas Cultural Initiative launched with a  pioneering conference where executives from Facebook, Netflix, Zappos, Pixar Animation Studios, Deloitte, and other “culture aware” companies mingled with top academics from around the world. Separately, Haas supporters donated over $200,000 to distribute as grants for efforts aimed at keeping our DLPs strong. After reviewing 29 proposals from students, faculty, and staff, grant reviewers funded six projects and initiatives.

Strong salary bump for FTMBA Class of 2019

Full-time MBA students at 2019 commencement. Photo: Noah Berger
Full-time MBA students at 2019 commencement. Photo: Noah Berger

Class of 2019 full-time MBA graduates got a healthy salary bump this year, jumping to a median starting salary of $140,000 from $125,000 last year.

“The Berkeley MBA is demonstrating its value in the market, with starting salaries for our MBA grads increasing by 12%,” said Abby Scott, assistant dean of Career Management & Corporate Relations. “Compensation packages from consulting firms and financial services firms are the biggest contributors to that increase—as more students headed to the top firms in those fields this year.”

About 93% of the job seeking population, or 211 students, received job offers within three months of graduation, and 91% had accepted offers within three months of graduation.

In addition to record strong base pay, 76% of graduates received signing bonuses that averaged $29,141, and 46% of the graduates received stock options or grants. (Option values, which are hard to quantify, are not included in the compensation totals in the 2019 employment report.)

Top employers of Haas graduates this year included Adobe, Amazon, Bain, Ernst & Young (including Parthenon), Boston Consulting Group, Cisco, Deloitte, The Clorox Company, Google, LEK, McKinsey & Co., PWC, and Visa.

Tech, Consulting top sectors

Christina Chavez took a job at Google after graduation.
Christina Chavez interned at Google and took a job at the company after graduation.

Technology was again the most popular sector for new Berkeley MBAs, pulling in 33 percent of the graduates.

Christina Chavez, MBA 19, headed to Google, where she interned in 2018, as an agency development manager, working with the same team under the same manager. “A few different things appealed to me about Google,” she said. “They have a transparent culture and it’s a fairly flat organization for a large company. You have a lot of autonomy to shape your career and your role and that was really appealing to me.”

About 25% of students accepted jobs in consulting, followed by 15% in financial services and 9.7%t in consumer packaged goods/retail.

Joining a group of graduates who went to McKinsey was Kelly Lamble, MBA 19, who landed a job as an associate in strategy and corporate finance at McKinsey’s New York office.

Lamble arrived at Haas focused on impact investing and social entrepreneurship and interned at financial services startup Branch International, spending five weeks in Kenya with the company. But her journey ended up leading her to consulting, where she thought she could gain the professional skillset she needed to transition from finance to strategy. “I was looking at all of the top consultancies,” she said. “McKinsey was the right fit for me.”

“A tangible impact from the work”

Rob Zuban works at Ford.
Rob Zuban, a former consultant, now works in product marketing at Ford.

Close to 20% of graduates chose the entrepreneurship/startup route. Fifteen percent of the job- seeking population took jobs at startups, while 5% of the class started their own companies, like Ludwig Schoenack, MBA 19, a former McKinsey consultant who co-founded car rental app Kyte.

An increasing number of students are interested in both interning and working at transportation-focused companies, including Rob Zuban, MBA 19, who joined Ford as a product marketing manager in the company’s cross vehicle and connected technology group. Zuban said he got an MBA to transition out of strategy consulting, where he’d spent six years. “I realized that I wanted to see more tangible impact from the work I was doing, and be closer to the customer.”

At Haas, he pursued opportunities in mobility and clean energy, participating in Cleantech to Market, and working with the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC). With Ford, he’ll rotate among divisions during his training program, beginning in marketing. In his current role, Zuban helps launch new assisted driving features such as hands-free driving.

“Ford makes products that people use daily, which appealed to me,” he said. “It’s exciting to launch new technology features, especially on our upcoming electric vehicles that can drive customer adoption.”

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