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.
Undergraduate Defining Leadership Principles Award Winners
Graduate Student Instructor of the Year: Rohi Rana, the GSI for Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting.
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.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Berkeley Haas Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse and Prof. Laura Tyson immediately began thinking about ways to make it possible for cities to attract private and institutional capital to help small businesses make it through the crisis.
Their idea has now taken root locally, with a new partnership between Berkeley Haas and the City of Berkeley’s Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Vice Mayor Sophie Hahn to pool private and public money into a small business loan fund.
Last week, the Berkeley City Council approved creation of the Save our Small (SOS) Business Recovery Loan Fund, to support businesses with fewer than 50 employees that have already felt the severe impact of the economic shutdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The news comes as the $349 billion federal government program meant to keep small businesses afloat during the pandemic ran out of money last Thursday, just two weeks in.
Small business loan and grant programs by the federal, state, and local governments have been keeping the lights on, but when shelter-in-place ends, small businesses need working capital to restock, pay employees, and catch up on credit and rent, said Morse, who proposed the loan program to the Berkeley Mayor’s office with Tyson, Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School.
Both are founders of The Sustainable and Impact Finance (SAIF) initiative at Berkeley Haas, a program founded last year to use impact investing and sustainable finance to drive positive change and opportunities. Helping Berkeley’s small business community to rebound is perfectly aligned with SAIF’s mission, Morse said.
“Many municipal programs are already helping small businesses to keep the lights on, but in the medium term, small business survival will require more capital,” Morse said.
One key SOS loan fund supporter is Kirsten MacDonald, CEO of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, who says about 98% of local businesses are considered small businesses.
There’s a lot at stake with the recovery and a lot of anxiety coming from local business owners ranging from hairdressers to small nurseries and retailers, she said. “I don’t think anybody knows what the aftermath of this is going to be like (for business),” said MacDonald, who wrote a statement of support to the city for the SOS Fund. “The city should be looking at any and all ways to provide financing at a low rate to small businesses,” she said.
Many municipal programs are already helping small businesses to keep the lights on, but in the medium term, small business survival will require more capital.
More federal and state money may come, but the goal of the SOS fund is to support businesses that were healthy and viable before the pandemic and help them weather the crisis. “It’s imperative to support viable, forward-looking businesses that can, in turn, support our economy through owner successes, employee wages, and return on property,” Morse said.
Mayor Arreguín called the program “a creative way for the city, campus, and community to come together to support one of Berkeley’s most important resources, our small businesses, in this time of unprecedented need.”
“We want all ideas and support on the table for our business community,” he said.
While the City of Berkeley will manage the program’s loans, Morse and Tyson are working with the SAIF team to design the loan terms and to build the model used to make the loan decisions.
“This program is so well-structured,” said Ben Mangan, executive director of the Center for Social Sector Leadership at Haas, who will help the SAIF team with outreach in the investing community. “Once we have a few leaders who take the plunge and invest I think we’ll see a quick uptick in participation.”
The Berkeley Mayor’s office is looking for a financial institution to partner with on distributing the five-year loans. The financial institution will offer private investors a fixed-income product, something like a WWI Liberty Bond for COVID-19, that will yield a 1% to 2% return, Morse says. The rest of the funding to back the loans will be provided by local government and philanthropy.
While the City of Berkeley will market and manage the fund, Morse said Haas will help get the word out to private wealth and asset managers through its network.
“We hope to have this done and ready when businesses are allowed to open again,” Morse said. She added that she hopes the fund will become a model for other communities.
Note: Haas News is following two of this year’s teams participating inLAUNCH, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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
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.
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!
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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 theBerkeley Opportunity Lab. Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, MBA 92, will also serve on the panel.
“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 theInstitute for Business & Social Impact, which she launched in 2013. She also chairs the board of trustees at UC Berkeley’sBlum 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.
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
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Businessweek. U.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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
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
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”
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.”
“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.”
The Economist magazine ranked the Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA program #7 in the world—up four points over last year—and #6 among US schools in its “Which MBA?” ranking published today.
Haas students and alumni once again ranked the school #1 for culture and classmates.
Haas’ four-point jump in the overall ranking was primarily due to a significantly improved ranking in career opportunities. Specifically, Haas rose in the diversity of industries recruiting the school’s graduates and in its student and alumni rating of Haas career development services.
Haas students and recent alumni also rated its alumni network as more effective than they have in past years. Its alumni network again ranked as the most international.
This ranking is based on data provided by participating schools and a survey of students and recent alumni (MBA classes 2018, 2019, and 2020), conducted in spring 2019. The Economist evaluates schools in four categories: career opportunities, personal development/educational experience, salaries, and potential to network.
In last year’s Economist ranking, the FTMBA program was #11 in the world and #10 among US peers, after previously ranking #7 in the world in 2016 and in 2017.
The new Biology+Business dual-major has launched, a program designed to prepare students for careers in healthcare, in addition to biotech and drug discovery research.
The program, a joint venture between the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Haas, will enroll about 25 students a year, providing undergraduates with an integrated curriculum, mentoring, and internships to develop innovative leadership skills in bio business. It is the second program of its kind in the country.
Former Haas Dean Rich Lyons and Michael Botchan, dean of Biological Sciences, came up with the idea for the program. The first class of Biology+Business students will enroll in fall of 2020. The window for students to apply is Nov.1-29, 2019.
In the program, students will 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: biochemistry & molecular biology; cell & developmental biology; genetics, genomics, & development; immunology & pathogenesis; or neurobiology.
Admission to the Biology+Business Program is open only to students who enter UC Berkeley as freshmen. Students must complete all prerequisite requirements for Haas, alongside the requirements for molecular cellular biology. Students apply to the Biology+Business Program during their sophomore year.
There are no curriculum changes to either degree program, although there is specialized coursework offered along the way, said Sarah Maslov, program manager of the Biology+Business Program. Internships are a key part of the program.
“The program’s real value-add is the professional development opportunities it offers,” Maslov said.
Gail Maderis, BS 78, and Ann Stock Zakaria, BA 79 (biochemistry), PhD 86 (comparative biochemistry), are among the founding program donors.
“This program will provide Cal students with the fundamental knowledge to change patients’ lives,” said Maderis, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Antiva Biosciences, a venture-backed biopharmaceutical company. “Having a baseline of understanding of business and science creates a much more well-rounded employee who can move fluidly between the disciplines.”
Zakaria said the program is crucial for preparing students to enter professional life. “While the academic labs are a very rich environment for innovation and the generation of ideas, it’s hard to bring those things to a marketable point—or even to a point where large pharma would be interested in them—without biotechnology and venture enterprise coming in,” she said.
Katharine Hawthorne, MBA 20, came to Haas to build a career in impact investing.
She’s found plenty to dive into so far—as co-president of the Haas Private Equity Club, a principal of the school’s student-run social impact fund, and a summer intern at Patamar Capital in Jakarta, helping to make investment decisions in high-growth companies in South and Southeast Asia.
Now in her second year at Haas, she’ll be able to go even deeper, in a newly expanded sustainable and impact investing program that Berkeley Haas rolled out last week. The program, called Sustainable and Impact Finance, or SAIF, is focused on three sectors: sustainable investment, impact investment, and impact entrepreneurship.
Moving to the next level
By creating the new pathways, the program will better position students who aim to work in sustainable and impact finance as public fund managers or private equity investors, or in the startup world.
SAIF includes new courses, expanded activities, research projects, internships, and student investment fund management opportunities in impact finance, which differs from traditional investment finance because investors aim for both positive financial return and a positive impact on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes, as well as social justice. In class, students learn how to evaluate a company based on its ESG performance.
“With SAIF, we’re continuing the Berkeley Haas tradition of thought leadership in sustainability and impact in finance and entrepreneurship,” Tyson said. “There’s deep interest in sustainable and impact investing careers at Haas, and our existing courses and activities, including the student-run Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund, have been enormously successful. SAIF will build on this strong foundation, enabling us to move to the next level in an organized, targeted, and meaningful way that keeps pace with rapid changes in sustainable and impact investing and impact entrepreneurship.”
“Haas needs to continue to lead the way in these areas,” said Morse, faculty director for SAIF. “The world is changing and we have issues of climate change, supply chain transparency, gender diversity, and social justice to take care of and this should be fully integrated into the business curriculum.”
A pioneer in corporate social responsibility
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Haas was ranked the top graduate business school in sustainable finance and investing, according to data from the QS World University Rankings. The school is a pioneer in social impact investing, with efforts beginning during the late 1950s when late Dean Budd Cheit launched the first courses on corporate social responsibility. Haas now offers a total of nine courses devoted to the topic, more than any other school, as well as several others that cover related topics such as social impact metrics and impact ventures.
SAIF’s three tracks are designed to emphasize different aspects of impact investing. The course pathways are:
Sustainable investment: This track trains students to be managers of and investors in sustainable/responsible/ESG investment portfolios, primarily in publicly traded stocks and bonds. First-year courses include “Financial Information Analysis” and “Sustainable Portfolio Construction,” followed by a full year of investment work with the $3 million Sustainable Investment Fund. The fund, formerly called the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund, was founded in 2007 and has graduated over 90 students. Enrolled students become fund managers, analyzing investments and constructing and managing a portfolio.
Impact investment: Impact investing, a term coined by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2007, includes investments that generate financial returns and create a positive impact. This track prepares students for investment careers in private equity, venture capital, and real assets. Courses include “Impact Finance & Entrepreneurship” and “Impact Venture Partners: Portfolio.” Another course, “Impact Investing Practicum,” places student teams with impact investors to complete pre-vetted projects. Haas has placed seven teams, a total of 20 students, over the past several years in projects for clients including Omidyar, Salesforce, Patagonia, Cambridge Associates, and Gratitude Railroad.
Impact entrepreneurship: This track helps students understand social impact financing from both a fund perspective and a startup perspective. Courses include “Impact Startup Launchpad” (previously Social Lean Launchpad), and “New Venture Finance.” Haas entrepreneurship lecturer Jorge Calderon leads the pathway, which includes management of a new fund called Berkeley Impact Venture Partners. The fund has a dual strategy: The “catalyst fund” provides startup teams at the pre-seed stage with $5,000 grants, while the “scale fund” helps startup teams, on or off campus, that are further along in their development with larger market rate equity investments. Electives for students in this track include “Food Innovation Studio,” “Impact Disco,” and “Social Impact Metrics.”
Jessie Tang, MBA 20, said the pathways are a great way to formalize all of the program’s offerings. “I like that they’re trying to put more of a framework around this,” said Tang, who was on a team assigned last spring to an Impact Investing Practicum project with Gratitude Railroad, an alternative investment platform committed to solving environmental and social problems. “They’re working out ways to help the students navigate the course offerings in a better way.”
Growing interest in impact investing careers
Additional members of the SAIF team, who helped develop parts of the program and will also teach courses, include William Rindfuss, executive director of strategic programs, Julia Sze, a lecturer in social leadership, Ben Mangan, executive director for the Center for Social Sector Leadership, Nora Silver, founder and faculty director with the Center for Social Sector Leadership, and Assoc. Prof. Panos Patatoukas, who is launching new research on impact finance.
Tang, who will be the Graduate School Instructor (GSI) for the Impact Finance & Entrepreneurship class Morse is teaching this fall, is among a growing group of Haas students and alumni working in social and impact investing, including Patrick Hamm, MBA 20, who was a research analyst intern at Parnassus Investments, a pioneer in socially responsible investments, in San Francisco last summer; Adrian Rodrigues, MBA 18, who is co-founder and managing partner of Hyphae Partners, which works with businesses to develop and finance regenerative business models; Zeina Fayyaz Kim, MBA 16, an associate partner at NewSchools Venture Fund in Oakland, a national nonprofit venture philanthropy fund focused on public education; and Zach Knight, MBA 15, who is a co-founder and partner of Blue Forest Conservation, which works to protect forest health through a forest resilience bond.
Haas welcomed new students in the full-time MBA, undergraduate, and PhD programs to campus this month for orientation and the start of fall semester. New students in the evening & weekend MBA program arrived earlier this summer, beginning classes July 29.
Full-time Berkeley MBA Program
Photos of the Cohort Olympics by Jim Block.
The theme of diversity and inclusion in business ran throughout orientation, also known as Week Zero, for the 283 new students in the full-time MBA class, with sessions on diversity and leadership led by Director of Inclusion & Diversity Élida Bautista, and new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer David Porter.
“We chose the diversity and inclusion theme intentionally this year and we wove it throughout the week,” said Peter Johnson, assistant dean full-time MBA program and admissions. “We want to help our students better understand the business case for diversity and the importance of becoming leaders who are able to effectively guide a diverse and inclusive organization.”
The week kicked off with alumni speaker and Cisco executive Nikita Mitchell, MBA 15, and continued with a business case reveal Tuesday and surprise visitors: executives from global investment management firm BlackRock (students had read a case about BlackRock’s diversity efforts before arriving). Weijian Shan, chairman and CEO of PAG Group, launched the fall Dean’s Speaker Series, discussing his new book “Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America.” (Watch the video of Shan’s talk here.)
Class members also met their study teams, worked together at an urban farm at the Alameda Point Collaborative, and competed in the annual Cohort Olympics.
The incoming class of MBA students is comprised of 37% women. U.S. minorities are 30% of the class overall, and underrepresented minorities comprise 14% of the class (or 22% of just the U.S. students). They include a total of 41 African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students—a sharp increase from last year, when they were 7% of the class (11% of the U.S. students). The group is 35% international, hailing from 39 countries; India, China, Brazil, Peru, Canada, Japan, and Mexico are the top represented countries.
Dean Ann Harrison, addressing her first entering MBA class as dean, urged students to take time to really get to know each other, and to take advantage of the Haas alumni and broader UC Berkeley network. “This place is awesome, and it’s also awesomely demanding,” she said. “We have really high expectations of you. How hard you work this year will immediately pay off.”
Students in the class have an average of five years work experience, 20% in consulting, 17% in finance and financial services, and 11% in the nonprofit world. The class includes 24 veterans.
Morgan Bernstein, executive director of full-time MBA admissions, called out many students by name during a reception, including Manny Smith, who competed at the Team USA World Sprinter Championships and was the Armed Forces Men’s Track Champion in 2017; Randall Nixon, a Division 1 football college quarterback; Margie Cadet, a trained doula who helped expectant mothers; Jung Bahk, a back-up dancer for K-pop singers; and Daniela Kurinaga, who helped give 600 small & medium enterprises their first access to credit at Banco Credito del Peru.
Students said they are excited to begin classes.
“If Week Zero is a representation of what the next two years at Haas will be like, it will likely be the best two years of my life,” said Soniya Parmar, MBA 21, who is from India.
The new class of undergraduate students—an international group of music lovers, cooks, speakers of multiple languages, athletes, travelers, and photographers—kicked off orientation Tuesday in Spieker Forum in Chou Hall. Dean Harrison welcomed the students, professional faculty members Todd Fitch and Krystal Thomas led a discussion on thriving in the Berkeley Haas community. Chief DEI Officer David Porter and Derek Brown, a Berkeley Haas PhD candidate, steered sessions on team building and leadership.
Of the 362 incoming undergraduate students, 265 are continuing UC Berkeley students and 97 transferred into the program. Continuing students held an average GPA of 3.67 and transfer students’ GPA averages 3.89. The class was accepted from a total of 2,663 applicants.
Over the summer, 28 new students arrived in the undergraduate Global Management Program, a selective, four-year international Berkeley Haas program that launched in 2018. On top of an already demanding undergraduate curriculum, students must fulfill a language requirement, study abroad their first semester, and take specialized global business courses.
“We’re so proud of this international, talented new class,” said Erika Walker, assistant dean of the Haas Undergraduate Program “They’ve achieved amazing feats academically and are going beyond themselves in so many ways inside and outside of the classroom. We can’t wait to see what they do.”
Evening & Weekend MBA Program
The 279 new students in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program gathered for their WE Launch orientation July 26-28 at the Doubletree Berkeley Marina, where they were assigned to a cohort of 70 to 75 students for their core courses.
Students in the EWMBA program balance their classes while working full time. Class members work for a total of 216 companies—23% in high tech, 11% in computer related services, and 9% in consulting. The top job role is engineering (18%), followed by marketing and sales (15%).
Seventy-nine percent of the class lives and work in the Bay Area, although the students hail from 21 countries. More than a third of the class are women and the median student age is 30.
A few fun facts: one student was an extra in the 2011 Steven Soderbergh movie “Contagion,” while another founded the Bay area’s Greenfoot Hiking Club, which has more than 350 members. The class also includes a former pro baseball player and an opera singer. Many of the students are multi-lingual (one even speaks seven languages).
Twelve new students began the PhD program this year, bringing the total number of the students in the program to 71.
The new students are international, hailing from China, Russia, Korea, and India and from universities including Carnegie Mellon, Higher School of Economics Moscow, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Duke, UC Berkeley, and Tsinghua University.
Their research areas range from the impact of gender bias on women to why people make systematic errors with certain types of choices. “It’s always so exciting to follow our students as they work their way through this rigorous program, to learn about their fascinating research, and ultimately how it contributes to their field,” said Melissa Hacker, the program’s director of student affairs.
David Porter, Berkeley Haas’ new chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, believes in questioning the status quo—which happens to be his favorite Defining Leadership Principle.
“I’m not a ‘follow the rules’ kind of guy,” said Porter, who started his job July 15. But before he shakes things up, Porter is getting acclimated with the Haas campus and community, meeting with his team, and setting his priorities.
Porter comes to Haas from the Walter Kaitz Foundation, a media nonprofit, where he served as CEO. He’s also the former director of graduate programs at the Howard University School of Business and was an assistant professor and faculty director at UCLA’s Anderson School.
We sat down to interview him last week.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, although I was born in Nashville. Kansas City was a great place to grow up. It was a large enough city that you had access to all the city stuff, but it wasn’t so big that my parents had to worry about my safety. Of course, it was a different time, so as long as you were in by the time the lights came on, it was all good. My father was a pediatrician. My mother was an assistant dean at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she ran the medical center’s diversity programs. I have one sister, who’s now a psychiatrist.
When did you first come out to California?
In 1981, I drove cross-country to attend Stanford, where I stayed for eight years. At Stanford, I was very active in the black community. In addition, I was elected president of the student body and later served as the chair of the student senate. These experiences helped shape my understanding of universities and honed my leadership skills. As a student activist, I was the guy who often stood in the middle working to negotiate creative solutions with the administration.
My experience as a leader helped prepare me to serve on Stanford’s University Committee on Minority Issues. This was my first opportunity to think strategically about how one might diversify an organization. The committee was created in response to student protests in the spring of 1987. Its role was to make a comprehensive review of the entire institution. We worked for two years to develop a report which made numerous recommendations, many of which were adopted. That’s where I developed a lot of the skills around exercising influence without authority which I still use to this day.
What drew you to this position at Haas?
What I was really looking for was an organization where I thought the leaders were serious. A lot of diversity roles are what I call “diversity eye candy.” These companies often hire individuals who will come in and make the organization look good, without making real change. When I saw this role, I said to myself, “Let’s go through the process and see.” And as I went through the process, it seemed like Haas was serious with the DEI action plan. The fact that Haas has responded so energetically to the issues raised was impressive. You don’t often see a dean and her senior staff say they’re going to take the next 30 days to dig into a problem and actually take specific actions to address it.
I think it outlined some great first steps. For example, it recognized that the admissions process has some inherent biases which needed to be addressed. It also made some quick changes that were critical to impact the incoming class and it identified additional resources, including the expansion of the DEI team. These efforts helped Haas to yield a critical mass of underrepresented students in the incoming class. It is my hope and expectation that these students will have a great experience which they will be able to share with future prospective students.
What are your first priorities here at Haas?
My first priority is making sure that the students, particularly students of color, have the best experience possible. I don’t want any of them to say, “Hey, this was a bad choice for me.” Part of that will be about meeting with them, being a good mentor, being a good resource. Another part of it will be working with my team to make sure that the environment continues moving in the direction that we’re going: to become more inclusive, to make sure that we put true meaning in the word “equity.”
I’d also like to get a better understanding of all the diversity activities going on at Haas. I’ve been amazed that in almost every conversation I’ve had, I’ve learned of another diversity initiative or an individual who has taken it upon themselves to do something to make this place more inclusive. I want to know what everyone is doing regarding diversity-related efforts and I’d love to create a big flow chart, because I think that we can do a better job of telling that story. I also think that better coordination could take place. All of those people who are doing that diversity work in addition to their regular day jobs—they are instant allies.
What are some of the things that can be done inside of the classroom?
There are lots of ways in which we can make a more inclusive experience in the classroom. For example, including more cases with diverse protagonists or covering diversity-related topics or bringing in more diverse guest speakers. Hopefully, over time as our students see a broader range of individuals who are successful leaders, their view of what a successful leader looks like will change.
Will African American enrollment increase this fall and do you think that will change the campus environment?
We don’t have the final numbers yet, but we’re definitely expecting to have more African American students on campus this fall.
Every class comes in with a different mix. You can never really predict who will step up early on as leaders. But I do think that when you have a more diverse group of folks, there are more ingredients in the mix, and if Haas does a good job of creating an inclusive environment where everyone can come in and feel like they can be who they are and contribute actively, it will be a great experience for everyone.
Connie & Kevin Chou Hall has earned the third in a trifecta of green building credentials: a WELL Certification recognizing its “strong commitment to supporting human health, well-being, and comfort.”
The certification comes on the heels of two others the building has received over the past year from Green Business Certification Inc. (GBSI). It achieved TRUE Zero Waste Certification at the highest possible level and LEED Platinum Certification for its architectural design, construction, and energy efficiency.
“From the start of the Chou Hall construction project, we focused on building a student-centric academic space that reflected our school’s unique culture and how we value sustainable impact,” said Courtney Chandler, senior assistant dean and chief operating & strategy officer of the Haas School. “Being the first academic building to be WELL Certified, and the greenest academic building in the country, exemplifies our Defining Leadership Principles in action.”
“It’s particularly rewarding to cap off the building certification journey with the last of these three certifications,” said Walter Hallanan, BS 72, who has managed the Chou Hall project as well as the school’s Master Plan Project. “We’re breaking new ground with Chou Hall. It’s a significant achievement that sets an example for the Berkeley campus, particularly with regard to the LEED and WELL certification.”
Attention to many details
WELL Certified spaces are designed to improve the overall health of the people who use the building, by addressing areas such as nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns, and performance of the building occupants. Design details include everything from the solar panels that provide energy to the building to the fact that as much outside air as possible is funneled into the building’s interior.
The WELL Certified credential is the culmination of literally years of detailed planning and design. “There are hundreds of requirements you have to comply with,” Hallanan said.
Certification officials toured Chou Hall for performance verification site visits in December 2018 and June 2019 to get a sense of the building’s environment.
“The level of detail and thought that went into the design and construction of the space and flow throughout Chou Hall contribute to the overall feeling,” Chandler said. “It’s not an accident that when people come to Spieker Forum—our top floor event space with huge windows and amazing views—they often say it feels like they’re in a tree house.”
An innovative funding model
Another novel aspect of the building was its funding model that enabled greater efficiency and cost savings. A private nonprofit fund, the Partnership for Haas Preeminence, chaired by Ned Spieker, BS 66; Walter Hallanan, BS 72; and former Dean Rich Lyons, BS 82, raised the donations and managed design and construction in tandem before donating the completed building back to the university last year.
Chou Hall is the core of the Haas Master Plan Project, which also included the new courtyard and the addition of cooling to Cheit Hall. The student-centered building includes classroom and meeting spaces, the state-of-the-art Spieker Forum event space, and a cafe at the courtyard level.
Chou Hall provided much-needed space at Haas, where enrollment has nearly doubled over the past 20 years.
It is named for Kevin Chou, BS 02, and his wife, Dr. Connie Chen, in recognition of their donation: the largest personal gift by an alum under the age of 40 in UC Berkeley’s history.
“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Chandler said. “What I love hearing most is how the building makes people feel. That’s what people are going to remember.”
Former Berkeley Haas Dean Rich Lyons has been named as UC Berkeley’s first-ever Chief Innovation and Entrepreneurship Officer (CIEO).
In this new role, Lyons will work with campus partners to further develop and communicate Berkeley’s rich portfolio of innovation and entrepreneurship activities to benefit students, faculty, staff, and startups. He will also be responsible for developing strategies to raise the visibility of these activities internally and externally and to create high-value partnerships with stakeholders.
“If together we can improve the transformation of Berkeley’s prodigious intellectual product, across the whole campus, into greater societal benefit, then we will have achieved a great deal,” Lyons said in an interview.
Lyons wrapped up his 11 years as Berkeley Haas dean in June 2018, and after a sabbatical year will return to teaching on the finance faculty this fall while transitioning into his new campus role on a part-time basis. He will officially assume the new role in January, 2020.
Berkeley Haas MBA students in the Class of 2019 were urged to be brave and embrace their power to make significant contributions to improve the world at Friday’s commencement.
The commencement was held under sunny skies at the Greek Theatre, where Dean Ann Harrison welcomed parents, friends, and family of evening & weekend MBA and full-time MBA students. “All of you have been transformed in some profound way. That is, after all, why you came here,” she told them.
Watch the video of 2019 MBA commencement.
Commencement speaker Patrick Awuah, MBA 99 and founder of Ashesi University in Ghana, told graduates the story of how he arrived at Berkeley Haas in his early 30s, with a new baby, having quit his job at Microsoft. He had a singular goal to prepare himself to start a successful university, and he built his plan for Ashesi during his entire time at Haas.
“Ashesi started here, and I recognize the fact that there are not many places where this could have happened,” said Awuah, whose school has grown from 30 to 1,000 students. “We all had hope that it was going to be a remarkable institution, but it has exceeded even our loftiest dreams…At Ashesi today I see echoes of Berkeley: In our classrooms and the curriculum that we teach and the values we share; in the open embrace of equitable access to the opportunity for learning and development. I see echoes of Berkeley in how our community works and in our corporate culture. I see echoes of Berkeley in Ashesi’s people and leadership.”
“Age 15, days before my birthday, on a bitter December night, my mom leaves for a tour in Iraq. I honestly don’t know if she will ever come back. When this feeling of powerlessness grabs hold of you, it is usually dark. And you’re typically alone. Your whole body clenches. Palms sweaty. There’s a tightening of your stomach as you realize there is nothing you can do.”
Jenkins said the transformation from powerlessness to power has many faces. “As a new graduate of the Haas School of Business, it has your (face),” she said. “And as a black woman who represents just 1% of her class, yet has the privilege of speaking on your behalf, it has mine. Right now, we have power. And with this power, we share an incredible responsibility to this world and to one another.”
Calling out classmates by name, Nancy Hoque, student speaker for the Evening & Weekend MBA Program, addressed why they were brave for different reasons: for risking it all in changing a career, for joining her in protesting the immigration ban at the San Francisco Airport, for traveling across the world to help Syrian refugees, and for organizing female students to wear white on their commencement caps to symbolize the strength and unity of women who completed the program.
“Yes, absolutely they were all brave, because bravery entails taking a chance,” she said. “Grabbing onto that door which is cracked open and, regardless of the obstacles and unknowns, walking through it.”
Full-Time MBA Program
Academic Achievement Award: Somiran Gupta
Full-Time MBA Defining Leadership Principle Awards:
Question the Status Quo: Tam Emerson; Confidence without Attitude: Somiran Gupta; Students Always: Mariana Lanzas Goded; Beyond Yourself: Matthew Freeman Hines; The Berkeley Leader Award: Bosun Adebaki
The Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching: Adair Morse
Cheit Award for Graduate Student Instructor: Margaret Fong
Evening & Weekend MBA Program
Academic Achievement Award: Eppa Rixey
Defining Leadership Principles awards:
Question the Status Quo: Tess Peppers; Confidence Without Attitude: Aimee Bailey; Students Always: Eppa Rixey; Beyond Yourself: Michael Toomey; The Berkeley Leader Award: Melanie Akwule
The Earl F. Cheit Awards for Excellence in Teaching: Prof. Ross Levine (for weekend program) and Assoc. Prof. Yaniv Konchitchki (for evening program)
Graduate Student Instructor: Zachary Olson for the Data & Decisions course
Education pioneer Patrick Awuah, MBA 99, founder of Ghana’s Ashesi University, will be welcomed back to campus this week as the 2019 MBA commencement speaker.
Commencement for both the Full-time MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA programs will take place on Friday, May 24, at 2 p.m. at the Greek Theatre.
Born and raised in Ghana, Awuah came to Berkeley Haas after attending Swarthmore College and working at Microsoft. His son’s birth inspired him to want to give back to his home country by establishing a new university that would offer a liberal arts education.
In past interviews, he has emphasized the need to teach through critical thinking rather than through rote memorization, which was the general practice in Ghana. His dream was to develop ethical and entrepreneurial leaders who would go on to revitalize Ghana and the African continent.
At Haas, Awuah turned his idea into a project through the International Business Development (IBD) Program. For several years, Berkeley MBA students helped build the business plan for Ashesi University, and Haas faculty served as advisers. Classmate Nina Marini helped Awuah launch Ashesi in 2002 in a rented facility with just 30 students. Today, Ashesi has a new 100-acre campus outside Accra with an enrollment of more than 1,000 students who hail from 15 African nations. The school has more than 1,200 alumni.
“Patrick is an inspiring business leader who truly represents our Defining Leadership Principles,” said Laura Tyson, former Haas dean and faculty director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact. “We are very proud of all that he has accomplished and honored to welcome him back for commencement.”