Graduates of the Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA classes of 2020 and 2021 reunited at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre last Friday for in-person commencement.
The graduates crossed the stage and celebrated with classmates, family, and friends in downtown Oakland and on campus. (The ceremony coincided with Haas’ MBA Conference and Reunion.) The in-person events followed separate virtual commencement ceremonies held in May 2020 & 2021.
Here are some highlights from Friday’s ceremony:
Graduates from the MBA classes of 2020 and 2021 gathered at Oakland's Paramount Theatre for their belated in-person commencement. The ceremony was held on April 29, 2022. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
Evan Wright, MBA 20, hugs a fellow classmate. COVID-19 restrictions prevented graduates from having in-person commencements for two years. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
Members of the class of 2021 take photos outside of Oakland's Paramount Theatre. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
Graduates take a few photos before commencement begins. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
"If you ever doubted whether you could lead through a crisis, overcome impossible odds, break through barriers, you have your answer," said Dean Ann Harrison who praised both MBA classes for completing one of the most rigorous MBA programs in the US during a pandemic. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
Laura Clayton McDonnell, MBA/JD 85, gave this year's commencement speech. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
"Haas taught me to show up as my most authentic self and to tear down my own walls and invite people in," said commencement speaker Joe Sutkowski, MBA 20. "Let's all continue to invite people into our lives and make this world a little bit smaller." Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
Student speaker Fede Pacheco, MBA 21, urged classmates to remember the joyous moments of their MBA program and to reach out to one another whenever life gets tough. Pacheco also received the Confidence without Attitude award. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
David Brown-Dawson, MBA 21. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
Graduates of the MBA class of 2020. Photo: Katelyn Tucker Photography.
Award winners for the full-time MBA class of 2020:
Academic Achievement Award: Brian Shain, the MBA student with the highest GPA.
Question the Status Quo: Evan Wright
Confidence without Attitude: Celeste Fa’ai’uaso
Students Always: Nina Ho
Beyond Yourself: Benny Johnson
Berkeley Leaders: Molly Zeins & Ezgi Karaagac
Haas Legacy Award: Santiago Freyria and Francesco Dipierro
Award winners for the full-time MBA class of 2021:
Achievement Award: Devan Courtois
Student always: José Ramón Avellana
Beyond yourself: Kendall Bills
Question the status quo: Fayzan Gowani
Confidence without attitude: Fede Pacheco
Cheit award for Graduate Student Instructor: Devan Courtois
The full-time MBA rankings are based on data provided by participating U.S. schools and on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs, as well as surveys of corporate recruiters and company contacts. The peer and employer polls account for 40% of the score. The other 60% consist of placement success and starting salary (35%) and student selectivity (25%).
The score for the part-time MBA rankings is calculated from the peer polls (50%), student selectivity (27.5%), work experience (10%), and percent of MBA students who are enrolled part-time (12.5%). The specialty and the executive MBA rankings are based entirely on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs.
Berkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison has been elected to the board of directors of the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), the accrediting organization that reviews leading business schools worldwide.
Founded in 1916, AACSB has 1,700 members in 55 countries. The nonprofit organization reviews more than 900 accredited business schools worldwide.
“I am so honored to be elected to serve on the board of AACSB,” Harrison said. “My thanks to this organization for the work it does every day to bring together the best in business education to accelerate positive change.”
Harrison became dean of the Haas School in 2019 and is the second woman to lead the school. A renowned economist, she has dedicated much of her career to creating inclusive and sustainable policies in development economics, international trade, global labor markets, and now in higher education. At Haas she is refocusing her work on evolving business school education to meet the needs of a diverse, rapidly changing world that is facing the existential threat of climate change.
Harrison arrived from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where she was a professor of multinational management and business economics and public policy. Before joining Wharton in 2012, she was the director of development policy at the World Bank, where she co-managed a team of 300 researchers and staff.
A plan to weave sustainability across the Berkeley Haas curriculum is underway, with faculty adding fresh cases, new class materials, and lectures with industry leaders to their courses.
“We are doubling down on our investment in sustainability and preparing the next generation of sustainability leaders,” said Berkeley Haas Dean Ann Harrison.
Making Haas the number one business school for sustainability is a goal shared by Harrison and Michele de Nevers, executive director of Sustainability Programs at Haas. “Our goal is that all graduates should have an understanding and awareness of the sustainability challenges, issues, and a framework for thinking about these challenges as they go forth into their careers,” she said.
By the end of 2023, the school plans to retool all 14 core courses at Haas to incorporate concepts that address climate change and other sustainability challenges throughout various business disciplines. (Haas already offers many elective courses focused on sustainability, everything from Energy & Environmental Markets to Business and Sustainable Supply Chains.)
“Accountants need to plan for the effects of climate change on valuation and outcomes; real estate developers and financiers will need to consider climate changes in forecasting risk; so will consultants and investment bankers,” Harrison said.
Becoming a leader
There are many signs that Haas is moving toward its goal as a sustainability leader. More than two-thirds of the full-time MBA Class of 2021 took a course focused on sustainability while they were at Haas. And a total of 109 part- and full-time MBA students are signed up for the new Michaels Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business, a 9-credit certificate program. The first 10 students earned the certificate last year in one of three tracks: corporate sustainability, sustainable finance, and impact venture capital.
In addition, Haas is also moving its campus further toward carbon neutrality. The Financial Times this week named Haas among the more ambitious schools today in this area, citing its efforts with UC Berkeley to be carbon neutral by 2025, for both direct emissions and indirect emissions arising from electricity consumed. (Chou Hall is already certified as zero-waste — defined as diverting more than 90 per cent of refuse from landfill.)
For the past year, de Nevers has been assessing how sustainability is incorporated within the curriculum. She is working with the faculty to update courses during the 2021/2022 school year to address sustainability, tapping funds from the Holmstrom Sustainability Curriculum Grant.
Faculty members participating include Assistant Professor Omri Even-Tov, who is teaching a carbon emissions case he co-wrote with Professor Xiao-Jun Zhang, in his Financial Accounting course. Taught to first-year MBA students, the case addresses how companies can provide detailed disclosures about their carbon emissions in financial statements and estimates the direct and indirect costs of disclosure. The case also asks why companies might act to mitigate pollution—and evaluates the costs and benefits of those actions.
At the undergraduate level, Professor David Levine includes sustainability issues during most weeks teaching his macroeconomics course, integrating it into topics such as measuring GDP, international trade, recessions, and the analysis of current policies such as the environmental elements of Biden’s “Build Back Better Plan.”
During discussion on global climate change toward semester’s end, students will engage in a simulation, with teams taking on the roles of different nations. “Their job is to see if they can find a climate agreement that they all find acceptable,” Levine said.
Five key areas
Across campus, what makes Haas stand out is the extensive work the school has done is five key areas of sustainability: energy, the food chain, the built environment, sustainable and impact finance, and corporate social responsibility.
In 2020, CRB led a survey of MBA employers across industries, asking them about their sustainability roles and the necessary skills required for success. They then mapped those in-demand skills to content taught in more than 40 Haas courses—that teach everything from impact measurement and management to systems thinking to coalition building.
Separately, CRB curated a database of top corporate sustainability cases and articles for the faculty to use in their courses. “The case compendium is one example where CRB and our wonderful Haas students have curated a suite of sustainability-minded business cases and articles that are primed to be readily integrated into the core MBA curriculum,” said CRB’s executive director Robert Strand.
Professional Faculty member Brandi Pearce is teaching a case tapped from the database about Burt’s Bees in her course Leading for Sustainability. The case examines the challenges the company faced in remaining committed to its mission after its acquisition by Clorox. Pearce said the case “encourages students to explore the challenges of becoming part of a public company—with a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders—while remaining a leader in driving social responsibility and sustainability business practices.”
Student demand for new course material in sustainability in the core and beyond is strong, said Olivia Wasteneys, MBA 22, who worked with de Nevers to assess how the faculty is integrating sustainability and on the distribution of grant funds. “It’s not just ESG reporting or climate change but the bigger question of ‘What is responsible business?’ ” she said. “It’s about how we cultivate a stronger sense of ethics and awareness of systemic issues, what we as a society face, and how business plays a role in perpetuating this and how we disassemble it.”
Average salaries for the Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA Class of 2021 edged up $9,000 this year, with the consulting and technology sectors again luring more than 60% of graduates.
“I’m so pleased to see this jump in starting base salary and strong employment outcomes, which represent the continuing strength and confidence in our students and the Berkeley MBA,” said Abby Scott, assistant dean of MBA Career Management & Corporate Partnerships.“This is particularly encouraging, given the pandemic and slower reopening of the California economy. The effort that our grads put into their job searches and the help of our alumni who went beyond themselves really helped this class land jobs.”
Of the total class of 283 students, 239 students were seeking jobs. Within three months after graduation, 90% received job offers and 88% of the class—or 211 students—accepted, up slightly from 87% for the class of 2020.
A few highlights:
Starting base salaries are up to $149,000 median from $140,000 last year.
72% of students received a sign-on bonus and 42.6% received stock options or grants, adding significantly to long term compensation. The average sign-on bonus was $33,775, up from $31,000 last year.
Tech dominated employment outcomes at 34%; about 28% of the class went into consulting, up from 25% in 2020.
About 12% of students took jobs in financial services; 10% went to startups; 6.6% landed in healthcare & biotech, 6.2% went to CPG/retail companies, and about 3% are employed in the energy industry.
This year’s top employers—companies that hired three or more graduates—included Amazon, Boston Consulting Group, Google, McKinsey & Company, Deloitte, Bain & Company, EY Parthenon, Adobe, Facebook, LEK, Microsoft, PwC Strategy and Samsung. Consulting was particularly strong this year, Scott said, with McKinsey and Deloitte hiring “the largest number of graduates we have ever seen.”
“One of a kind” Silicon Valley network
David Bolívar, MBA 21, landed a job at Google as a senior treasury analyst after interning at Uber while at Haas.
Throughout the recruiting process, he spoke with over a dozen Haas alumni who work in tech, including several Haas alumni who work in Finance at Google. “The Haas network in tech in Silicon Valley is one of a kind,” said Bolívar, who credited Haas Career Management for its help providing key points of contact and coaching him on how to deliver impactful personal stories as an international student during interviews. “The Haas MBA gives you access to a unique network of alumni and faculty who become such valuable resources for your career.”
Bolívar said he was drawn to Google’s commitment to culture and to supporting its employees professionally and personally. “Google is a consensus-driven, flat organization, which is great if you are the kind of person not looking to operate under the mandate of traditional hierarchies.”
For many students like Bolivar, connecting with Haas alumni helped ease the recruitment process. Terence Mullin, MBA 21, who works in corporate strategy and strategic finance at Epic Games, said a fortuitous connection with an alumnus helped him find his career path.
Mullin, who returned to playing video games in his spare time during the lockdown, realized how much he loved games. That led to a eureka moment: “I thought I could do this as a job,” he said.
Mullin started connecting with Haas alumni who work in gaming, and talked with Roland Luk in Haas Career Management about finding internships. The day after he talked to Luk, Chris Kavcsak, MBA 17, who works in strategy at Epic Games, reached out to Luk about an internship in strategic finance at the company, the maker of the blockbuster multiplayer game Fortnite.
Mullin, who had been working on a game pricing project independently, studying Epic’s business model, accepted an internship working for Kavcsak. “Chris took me under his wing, and three months on they let me know things were going well—and then I came on full-time.”
Choosing a startup
Other students have found internships and jobs through a collaborative online effort called Hire Haas. The program, which generated 250 jobs from alumni in 2020, doubled that number to nearly 500 job postings from alumni in 2021.
Eduardo Bustamante, MBA 21, found his MBA internship at e-scooter and e-bike startup RidePanda through Hire Haas, which connected him to Ridepanda’s co-founder and CEO Chinmay Malaviya, MBA 18.
Bustamante said he came to Haas expecting to work in consulting or tech—but his Ridepanda experience led him to interview at Canoo, an electric vehicle startup that went public in December 2020. “I got to wear different hats (at Ridepanda) and learn many things,” he said. “I liked the way it worked at a startup. That’s why I joined Canoo.”
In his role as program controller in operations and finance, he’s working on the company’s new product rollout, a lifestyle vehicle that is scheduled to launch in late 2022.
Higher employment scores and starting salaries for the March 2021 graduates were key factors in this ranking.
Quantnet bases 55% of its ranking on employment outcomes, including employment rate at graduation (10%), employment rate three months after graduation (15%), average starting salary and sign-on bonus (20%), and an employer survey score (10%). Student selectivity accounts for 25% of the ranking, and a peer assessment score for 20% of the ranking.
Find a full report at Quantnet.com. In comparison, the Berkeley Haas MFE continues to rank #1 in TFE (The Financial Engineer) Times.
When Élida Bautista arrived at Berkeley Haas as director of diversity, equity, and inclusion in 2018, she found a community “ready to do the work and not just pay lip service” to diversity.
Since then, she’s worked alongside that community, building the school’s first five-year DEI strategic plan and creating a culture shift toward one of greater belonging—or, as she puts it, “a place where people can see themselves.” This week, Bautista—who came to Haas after spending 15 years developing programs focused on social justice, diversity, and inclusion for UCSF’s Department of Psychiatry—became the first woman and Chicana/Latina to be named chief DEI officer at Haas.
We spoke toher about her most pressing priorities, how the pandemic impacted her work, and the diversity-related initiatives she plans to work toward over the next five years.
What are you most proud of accomplishing during your interim DEI chief role at Haas in the past year?
One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is getting input from the community to implement our DEI strategic plan. Last year, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team started off with listening sessions across Haas.
We wanted to learn what teams were accomplishing, how they were integrating DEI in their work and to give people a space to feel heard. Those listening tours helped us refine and implement a Haas-wide DEI strategic plan and positioned us as thought partners in helping teams carry out their own DEI initiatives.
As we launched, it was important to be transparent with our community. We publicly shared the plan on our website, and shared regular updates about progress on our deliverables on our website, something that had not happened before. That was meaningful to our community because it allows everyone to get involved and to see our progress as well as any delays.
Beyond the DEI plan, what broad initiatives are you working on that dive deeper into DEI?
We are looking to continue creating a DEI culture shift at Haas. But we’re not just thinking about diversity as scholarships and increasing admissions and representation. That’s an important part of it, but we must simultaneously build a place where people can see themselves. We’re thinking about how we get more diverse folks in the door, but also about their experiences once they’re here in the classroom or the workplace.
We must…build a place where people can see themselves.
We are creating a sense of belonging through a variety of offerings, including co-curricular educational and professional development activities, as well as community social events.
We also need to invest in pathways toward making our faculty more diverse. One way we’re doing this is by creating a postdoctoral fellowship through a gift from Allan Holt, MBA 76. Postdocs offer the opportunity to bring scholars into the faculty pipeline who might not otherwise pursue a faculty career at a university where there is a very high level of research activity. We also set aside part of the funds to integrate DEI into the curriculum.
What are your most pressing goals in the new role?
As a chief diversity officer who sits on the management team, my pressing goals are focused on partnering with our associate deans of academic affairs to increase diversity in faculty hiring, support retention and promotion efforts for our underrepresented faculty, and support DEI curricular offerings. At a strategic level, my goal is to support our dean and our senior managers in effectively addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging-related challenges, and collectively continuing to make progress on our strategic plan. Additionally, I will be involved in providing feedback to the chairs of the search committees about the diversity of our faculty candidates. Over time, our postdoctoral fellowship will be an additional source for increasing the diversity of the faculty pool.
How has COVID impacted your job during the pandemic?
COVID magnified a lot of existing disparities and social injustices—everything from who had to keep going to work in-person to who had access to health insurance to treat COVID if they got sick. We also saw a rise in visibility of violence targeting some communities. This increased the sense of vulnerability that needed to be integrated into our team’s offerings and approach.
Initially during the pandemic, a lot of our work was about holding space for community members to reflect, as well as offering managers tips to understand how to support staff who might be having a different experience during this time. We asked: How do we extend empathy at a time when everybody is feeling overwhelmed and stretched?
How does it feel to be back on campus?
Now that we’re back on campus, there’s a renewed sense of connection that we all need. Being back allows people to engage in a more authentic way with each other, which makes my work a little bit easier when we’re talking about learning across differences. Being online made these connections more challenging. For example, if everyone is off camera and one person is talking and nobody’s clapping or smiling or affirming, it’s unclear if your message has resonated with anyone.
What would be a major achievement for Haas in the next five years in DEI?
I think we’re well on our way, but a major achievement would be to make Haas the leader among business schools in reputation regarding diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, based on our robust offerings, the skills our students gain while at Haas, and the type of leaders we produce.
Another major achievement would be to make meaningful gains in the representation of women among our students across degree programs and among our faculty, including more women of color, LGBTQIA+ women, women veterans, and women with disabilities.
Also, as UC Berkeley continues to advance toward becoming a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by 2027, a major achievement would be to align Haas with the recommendations of the HSI task force and position ourselves to serve the needs of Latinx/Chicanx and underrepresented communities on campus.
Berkeley Haas welcomed more than 750 new students in the full-time MBA Class of 2023, along with new undergraduates and PhD students to campus over the past week, kicking off the start of fall semester with a flurry of online and in-person events.
The new students, among the first to return to class in person since the COVID-19 pandemic, join the evening & weekend and executive MBA students who arrived earlier this summer.
Full-time MBA Program
A total of 291 new full-time MBA students in the Class of 2023 arrived for Week Zero, five days of sessions on topics including academic life at Haas. diversity, equity, and inclusion, and career planning. Second-year MBA students Vaibhav Anand, Jose Philip and Jessica Hwang served as Week Zero co-chairs.
Dean Ann Harrison welcomed the class at Andersen Auditorium during Monday’s kickoff. “Getting here is not easy,” said Harrison, who earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley with a double major in economics and history and served as a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics from 2001 to 2011. “You’ve selected the right school and you really belong here.”
Harrison said the MBA program would challenge students both academically and personally. “We know that every single one of you has what it takes to succeed in this program,” she said, noting that the smaller program gives students the opportunity to get to know each other well.
Peter Johnson, assistant dean of the full-time MBA program and admissions, discussed the meaning of resilience, quoting Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington, who described resilience as the ability to not only bounce back, but bounce forward.
“The fact that you are sitting here today shows that you have the capacity to bounce forward, and it’s a critical skill that’s going to enable you to be strong leaders now and in the future,” he said.
Throughout the week, students met with cohort members, joined “ask me anything” sessions with professors, took a sunset cruise, and performed community service at the supportive housing community Alameda Point Collaborative and its social enterprise, Ploughshares Nursery.
During orientation breaks, they gathered in the courtyard.
“It’s so nice to see everyone here,” said Anhelo Benavides, MBA 23, who grew up in Mexico and worked as a management consultant at Kearney in Dubai before coming to Haas. Highlights of orientation for her included meeting her cohort and hearing from Bree Jenkins, MBA 19, a leadership development associate at Pixar, who spoke to students about making their “house” at Haas into a true home.
Benavides added that she loved the heartwarming welcome video from Haas alumni around the world, who greeted the students with a “Welcome to Haas” cheer. “This video brought joyful tears to my eyes,” she wrote on her Linkedin page.
A diverse group
The new MBA class is a diverse group composed of 38% women and 37% international students. About half the class are U.S. minorities, with 23% of the students identifying as underrepresented minorities (Black, Latinx, and Native American). Sixteen percent of the students are first in their families to attend college, and 14% of the class identifies at LGBTQ+.
The class is academically exceptional, with average GMAT scores of 726 and average GPAs of 3.67.
With an average of 5.4 years of work experience—about 19% of the students are from the consulting industry; 16% are from banking/financial services; 12% are from high tech; 7% are from nonprofits; and 7% are from healthcare/pharma/biotech.
Tomoe Wang, who joins the MBA program from Australia, said she’s planning a career pivot at Haas, so she found the Career Management Group’s orientation panel useful. Organized by MBA Career & Leadership Coach Julia Rosoff, the panel was led by second-year MBA students Caroline Shu, Shane Wilkinson, Lisa Chen, Rachel Stinebaugh, and Kayla Razavi.
“I had no idea what to expect with the hiring process, so it was good to have panelists walk you through it,” Wang said.
Thirty-nine students are enrolled in dual degree programs in public health, engineering, and law, including 19 MBA/MPH students, 18 MBA/MEng students, and two MBA/JD students.
John Thompson, MBA/MEng 23, of Shrewsbury, Mass, said he’ll be taking his first engineering courses at UC Berkeley, alongside his business courses. Thompson said he’s looking forward to joining the Food@Haas club, and is interested in exploring the intersection of agriculture and technology as a dual MBA/engineering major. “It’s an area ripe for innovation and growth,” he said.
Dean Ann Harrison and Erika Walker, assistant dean of the Undergraduate Program, gave a warm welcome yesterday on Zoom to the 457 new undergraduate students. The group includes 245 continuing UC Berkeley juniors and 101 transfer students.
Continuing students hold an average GPA of 3.79, and the transfer students’ GPA averages 3.91. The class was accepted from a total of 3,304 applicants.
Orientation sessions on Zoom included a lecture by Distinguished Teaching Fellow Janet Brady, who discussed tools students need to be successful academically; an intro to career resources by Karen Lin, assistant director of career counseling; and an overview of the fall schedule.
Cohort events were held today in the Haas courtyard, including a team-building activity and a networking mixer.
The 2021 PhD cohort includes 12 students—seven women and five men. This year’s class includes two students in Accounting; three in Business and Public Policy; two in Finance; three in Marketing—one in Marketing Science and two in Behavioral Marketing; one in Management of Organizations (micro) and one in Management of Organizations student (macro).
The new students are from the U.S., India, France, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Canada.
The Berkeley Haas PhD program is a five-year, full-time, in-residence program, leading to a PhD in Business Administration. There are a total of 69 students in the program.
Berkeley, Calif. — UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business announced a new flexible online option for its top-ranked, part-time Evening & Weekend MBA Program. The new Flex option offers the same curriculum and faculty and the same Berkeley Haas MBA degree in a highly customized and flexible online and on-campus format.
Students enrolled in the Flex option will take their core MBA courses online. After completing their first three semesters of the core curriculum, students can take their elective courses either in person on the Berkeley Haas campus or online.
Applications for the Flex option will open on August 17 through the Evening & Weekend MBA Program (EWMBA). The first group of about 60 Flex students will enroll in July of 2022.
The Flex option will be part of the Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program, which is ranked #2 among part-time MBA programs by U.S. News. The program typically takes three years to complete, with some students completing their degree in just 2.5 years.
“Students in the Flex cohort can get a top-ranked Berkeley Haas MBA from anywhere, without the commute to campus every week,” said Dean Ann E. Harrison. “They will have flexibility in how they complete their MBA program. Yet they can also enjoy the in-person and campus experience, giving them the ability to access the extracurricular experiences Berkeley and Haas have to offer.”
The Flex option is designed for high-achieving and ambitious professionals with five or more years of professional work experience who seek additional skills to advance in their careers or to change jobs. They will join a network of 41,000 Haas alumni around the world.
In the Flex option, 40% to 60% of the online core courses will be delivered synchronously to create a robust, cohort-based learning experience. The significant percentage of synchronous content ensures that Flex students have the same opportunity for discussion and feedback as students in on-campus courses. Students will be assigned to study teams that are carefully selected for diverse skills and backgrounds, ensuring that students learn as much from each other as they do in the classroom.
Given the importance of community in our EWMBA program, the Flex option also includes five in-person events:
WE Launch, the required orientation over a long weekend (Friday through Sunday) in late July on the Berkeley Haas campus.
Leadership Communication, a required course taught on the Berkeley Haas campus as a weekend immersion (Friday through Sunday) in the second half of the second semester.
RE Launch, an optional weekend immersion on the Berkeley Haas campus in October of the third semester.
Business Communications in Diverse Environments, a required weekend immersion (Friday through Sunday), taught typically at a resort site in Napa Valley on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in January of the fourth semester.
WE Lead, an optional weekend celebration and reflection on the MBA experience held in May of the graduation year.
“In this fast-changing environment, our MBA experience provides professionals not only with a rigorous management education but also with an understanding of how innovation, inclusion, and sustainability will shape the future of business,” said Dean Harrison. “Our innovative courses will help prepare our students for what’s next, addressing a wide range of workplace challenges—from questioning the ethics of artificial intelligence to recognizing how unconscious bias impacts management decisions.”
In 2022, Haas will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its part-time MBA program. “We think the creation of this new Flex cohort reflects our commitment to innovation and UC Berkeley’s mission,” said Jamie Breen, Assistant Dean, MBA Programs for Working Professionals, who oversees the new Flex option.
As the second-oldest business school in the United States, Berkeley Haas has been questioning the status quo since its founding in 1898. It provides research, thought leadership, and talent development to lead the way to a more inclusive and sustainable future.
These working professional students, along with Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) students who returned in June, are the first cohorts in 16 months to kick off the semester on campus.
Executive MBA (EMBA) Program
During orientation, held July 16-18 in Spieker Forum, a total of 71 EMBA students participated in bonding activities and workshops, including a scavenger hunt, a diversity and equity session led by Kellie McElhaney, executive director of the Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership, and a condensed version of a popular MBA class called The Science of Productivity and Performance, which focuses on strategies to yield high-performance at work and school.
Women make up 30% of the class and 17% have either served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. Members of the class represent 64 companies including Google, Facebook, Deloitte, Chevron, and Oracle and have an average of 13 years of work experience.
Emma Daftary, executive director of the 22-month EMBA program, praised students for choosing Haas and reassured them that they have what it takes to successfully complete the program.
“If you hear a little voice called imposter syndrome, tell it to be quiet because you belong here,” Daftary said. “You’re here with people who are going to push you to be your best selves and we’re here to support you every step of the way.”
Susan Petty, director of EMBA admissions, noted that this class was the most geographically diverse cohort in the program’s history. Sixty-five percent of students live outside of the Bay Area, including Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Brazil, and about a third of the class were born outside of the United States, hailing from Ukraine, China, India, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Taiwan.
Why an MBA?
When Cassie Dickerson, EMBA 23, was applying to b-schools, a friend from her undergraduate days at Ohio State, Isaiah Samuel, EMBA 20, suggested she add Berkeley to her list. Dickerson attended a diversity event at Haas last fall and fell in love with the people and culture.
“Everyone I met exemplified Haas’ DLPs,” Dickerson said, a technology business strategist for GoHealth. “People showed up as their authentic selves and that deeply resonated with me.”
Naveena Gopinath, an IT database consultant at OptumServe, said it was her father’s entrepreneurial spirit that inspired her to pursue an MBA.
“My dad was an entrepreneur who owned many businesses, including a real estate and an exporting business in India,” said Gopinath, EMBA 23. “Seeing him pursue his passions pushed me to pursue mine.”
Gopinath had her choice of top business schools, but ultimately decided to attend Haas because of the people she met and the school’s Defining Leadership Principles (DLPs). She had worked in a mission-driven workplace before and wanted a similar MBA experience. Now that she’s at Haas, she can only imagine how the DLPs will transform her, she says.
Johnny Zaragoza, EMBA 23, was accepted to Haas last year, but decided to defer for a year to take care of his family during the pandemic.
Zaragoza, a controller at San Francisco-based management firm White Oak Global Advisors, said he chose Haas because he had a transformational experience during Block Zero. “The support you get from the program office, career management group (CMG), and your peers, is bar none.”
Evening & Weekend MBA Program (EWMBA)
Berkeley Haas’ newest EWMBA class also arrived on campus for WE Launch orientation July 23-26.
Collectively, the 283 students have an average of eight years of work experience and represent 213 leading global companies, including Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Uber, Microsoft, and Chevron. Women make up 40% of the class, a record high.
The class of 2024 is also geographically and internationally diverse. Forty-three percent were born outside the U.S. and speak 17 different languages. Almost a third of the class reside outside of the Bay Area, hailing from Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Japan, and Singapore.
During orientation, students participated in workshops focused on leadership communications, inclusive leadership, and case-study methods. They also heard from Career Management Group (CMG) staff and received an introduction to Teams@Haas, an academic program designed to build stronger team outcomes.
In his welcome speech, Prof. Don Moore, the associate dean of Academic Affairs, commended students for pursuing an MBA at a time when society is grappling with so many global challenges.
“There is no better place to be than a dynamic university like Berkeley that has always been on the forefront of scientific and social progress,” he said.
Moore added that Haas’ culture helps develop business leaders that the world could benefit from—leaders who question the status quo, who have confidence to create change but do it without attitude, who go beyond themselves by taking the long view in their decisions, and are students always.
“We have such a diverse and accomplished class this year,” said Jamie Breen, assistant dean of the MBA Programs for Working Professionals. “And it is so great to have our second year students on campus for the first time as well. These are the leaders that business and society need.”
Culture plays big role
After listening to the Haas podcasts, attending a diversity event last fall, and speaking with students and alumni, Dominic Williams, EWMBA 24, said he was “all in” and applied only to Haas.
“The school’s DLPs and its focus on inclusion resonated with me,” said Williams, a program manager for consumer goods at Google. “Now that I’m here, I feel compelled to share my perspective to advance the Haas community. I don’t think I would feel this way anywhere else.”
The school’s culture was also a big draw for Christy Tormey, EWMBA 24, who works as a lead strategic planning analyst at Chevron.
“Question the status quo deeply resonates with me. As a woman mechanical engineer who works in an oil refinery, I challenge the status quo every day,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to gain a seat at the table and even harder to keep that seat. I hope to encourage and inspire all women to do the same, no matter what field of study or industry.”
After a year of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer Olympics are here—and four Haasies are in Tokyo to compete in golf, swimming, and water polo.
The Games of the XXXII Olympiad are scheduled from from July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021. The group of competing Haas athletes includes:
Collin Morikawa, BS 19, joins Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau on the men’s U.S. golf team.
The U.S. will have have more golfers represented than any other nation during this year’s Games, according to Golf magazine. Pro-golfer Morikawa won the 2020 PGA Championship in his first-ever attempt last year.
When he enrolled at UC Berkeley, Morikawa had a single-minded focus to learn how he could succeed as a professional golfer, treating the endeavor as much as a job as a sport. “If you look at big professional athletes, they’re running their own business, which is their name and their brand,” he told Berkeley Haas Magazine. “I wanted to invest in my future and learn as much as I could so when I turned pro I would be ready for the outside world.”
In 2016, Murphy won gold in both the 200m and 100m backstroke, and swam to victory in the 400m relay medley with Olympic legend Michael Phelps, Cal alum Nathan Adrian, and Cody Miller. “I honestly didn’t think I’d win the 200m backstroke, but that’s the event I really trained for,” he told Berkeley Haas News at the time. “The 100m back comes a little more naturally to me, so the 200 is the one I have to really work for. It’s the one that meant a lot because I know what’s gone on behind that whole race and what I did in coming up with the best strategy to win it.” This year, he’s serving as an Olympic team captain for USA swimming.
Johnny Hooper, BS 19, a 6’2″ attacker, qualified for Tokyo as a member of the Men’s Senior National Team, USA Water Polo. Hooper is Cal’s #2 all-time leading scorer with 245 goals, and he helped lead the squad to the 2016 NCAA Championship. The team trained remotely during the pandemic, and Hooper, along with many of his teammates, spent part of the last year playing professionally in Europe.
Alicia Wilson, BS 22, qualified for a spot on Great Britain’s swim team to compete in the 200-meter individual medley, a technically challenging race involving equal parts backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, and freestyle. Wilson, a rising senior from England, had an incredible 2021 season, capturing the 2021 Pac-12 crown in the 200-yard individual medley.
Wilson said her inspiration started in 2012 when the London Olympic games “were literally on my front doorstep.” Read an interview with Wilson here.
Commencement speaker Soyeon Yi, MBA 14, South Korea’s first astronaut, congratulated the Berkeley Haas Full-time and Evening & Weekend classes last Friday for making it to the finish line, sharing her own challenge in space that almost took her life.
Yi, who survived a near-fatal landing in 2008 after her spacecraft flipped upside down upon reentry to earth, urged the students to learn from their experiences during the pandemic.
“Like my landing, you’re passing one big challenge now,” Yi said. “There will be many more challenges ahead of you, even if we face the most unluckiest situation again. The most important thing we should do is ask how we can go through it and what we can learn from it.”
A total of 276 Berkeley Haas Full-time MBA students and 167 Evening & Weekend MBA students graduated last Friday with virtual ceremonies that included congratulatory videos from Dean Ann Harrison, student speakers, and alumni. (Watch the FTMBA video hereand the EWMBA video here.)
Harrison praised the graduates for their academic achievements, along with their empathy, and leadership. The students not only continued to pour energy into clubs and conferences held online during the pandemic, but also called attention to racial injustices and helped small businesses stay afloat through many volunteer efforts, she said.
“This required more thought, more ingenuity, more dedication than in any prior year,” Harrison said. ”But you persevered and you became stronger leaders for it.”
‘This is our unique story’
Peter Johnson, assistant dean of the Full-time MBA program, commended the class for its accomplishments inside and outside of the classroom.
“I’m honored to play a role in celebrating everyone’s success today, including the family and friends of these graduates,” Johnson said. “This is your celebration too.”
Fede Pacheco, the full-time MBA commencement student speaker, talked about one of the darkest days of the pandemic, when wildfires brought an apocalyptic orange sky to the Bay Area, and the photos he took to mark that day.
Pacheco urged students to savor the good times and reflect on the moments when they found creative ways to lean on each other, in spite of the unprecedented year they all endured.
“This is not a beautiful story, but it’s our unique story. We are our unique story,” he said. “We found each other, we have each other. We have to hold onto each other.”
‘Become more than you can even imagine’
Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA Programs for Working Professionals, said that the students in the EWMBA program continued to balance school, work and their personal lives with “grit, grace, and energy,” during the pandemic.
Commencement student speaker Kate Hughes, EWMBA 21, noted that members of her class arrived at Haas with a unique set of “brands” or labels that influenced their identities such as gender, family status, and lived experiences. They are leaving the school as Haas graduates, another distinctive brand, she said.
“We’ve been pushed to lead with authenticity, harnessing our backgrounds to foster a different way of creative thinking,” she said. “As we step into this new chapter of our lives, I challenge you to become more than you can even imagine. I challenge you to embrace everything that we’ve learned at Haas to create a new brand of leader. One that can make a profound impact at a time when our country and planet need it the most.”
Haas alumni, who ranged from recent grads to veteran business leaders, also sent their well wishes and encouraged grads to tap into their network regularly.
Among those alumni were Shantanu Narayen, MBA 93, chairman, president, and CEO of Adobe; Scott Galloway, MBA 92, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business; and TubeMogul founder Brett Wilson, MBA 07; Abhishek Sharma, MBA 16, founder and CEO of Shake the Cosmos; Bree Jenkins, MBA 19, a leadership development associate at Pixar; Jessie Tang, MBA 20, principal and head of strategic initiatives at Gratitude Railroad; and Liz Rockett, MBA/MPH 10, director of Kaiser Permanente Ventures.
Haas faculty also bid farewell to graduates and told them to stay in touch as they start the next chapters of their lives. Among those faculty were Prof. Ross Levine, Assoc. Prof. Yaniv Konchitchki, Assoc. Prof. Panos Patatoukas, Rebecca Portnoy, a professional faculty member, and Mark Rittenberg, a continuing professional faculty member
Award winners for the full-time MBA class of 2021:
Achievement Award: Devan Courtois
Student always: José Ramón Avellana
Beyond yourself:Kendall Bills
Question the status quo:Fayzan Gowani
Confidence without attitude:Fede Pacheco
Cheit award for Graduate Student Instructor: Devan Courtois
Haas lecturer Jenny Herbert Creek, who teaches finance, won the Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching. Students in each degree program choose faculty each year to receive the award, the top teaching honor at Berkeley Haas.
Award winners for the evening & weekend MBA class of 2021:
Achievement Award: George Pradhan
Student Always: Lindsey Hoell
Beyond Yourself: Kyle Cook
Question the Status Quo: Alyssa Farrelly
Confidence without Attitude: Kate Hughes
Berkeley Leader Award Winner: Anna Lee
Cheit Award for Graduate Student Instructor:Atusa Sadeghi
Prof. Panos Patatoukas, who teaches financial information analysis, won the Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching in the evening cohort and Prof. Ross Levine, who teaches macroeconomics, won the Cheit Award in the weekend cohort.
On top of persevering through the rigorous curriculum, the Berkeley Haas undergraduate class of 2021 faced rolling blackouts, wildfires, and the global pandemic. It may not have been the experience they expected, but it will shape them for life, said commencement student speaker Phoebe Yin, BS 21.
“Today we celebrate something that’s unique to our generation: It’s a soft strength to stay malleable when the world is hard on us,” Yin said during virtual commencement last Saturday. “Our story is just beginning…we have nothing to stop us because we are ready for anything. To think only about the things we have lost would be to ignore the compassion, creativity, and unparalleled resilience we have gained.”
The graduating class of 380 students included the first 41 graduates of the Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology (M.E.T.) program and three students graduating early from the Global Management Program (GMP).
The M.E.T. program, a collaboration between the Haas School of Business and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, grants students two degrees in business and engineering in four years. GMP students enter Haas as freshmen and earn an undergraduate business degree with a concentration in global management.
“Your class has by far had the most impact on me during my time teaching here at Haas,” commencement speaker Diane Dwyer, BS 87.
Dwyer, a former broadcast journalist who is on the professional faculty at Haas, acknowledged that students are living in a time of widening income inequality—including within their own class. She noted that one of her students couldn’t afford to buy a working laptop, while another logged into class from a traveling adventure.
“…Stay humble…even in the midst of great accomplishments like the one you’re obtaining today. Stay resilient. The last 18 months have surely taught us that. And stay appreciative, even despite the unfairness and the obstacles that your class has faced,” she told the graduates.
Dean Ann Harrison, who wore full regalia for the sendoff commencement video, also congratulated the class for its many achievements.
“Your world was upended in the middle of your junior year at Haas due to a global pandemic, yet you showed true grit, mastering a rigorous academic curriculum during one of the most turbulent years any of us has experienced,” Harrison said.
Speakers praised the grads for all of their work outside of class during their years at Haas, including calling attention to racial injustice, winning case competitions, creating startups, and providing face masks to essential workers.
“You have endured over a year of college life that was unlike anything you could have ever imagined four years ago. Yet you met the challenge with grace, compassion, creativity, reflection, and in many cases, a redefined sense of purpose,” said Erika Walker, assistant dean of the Berkeley Haas undergraduate program.
Haas alumni, who ranged from more recent grads to veteran business leaders, also sent their well wishes and encouraged graduates to live by the Haas Defining Leadership Principles every day.
Among those alumni were Shantanu Narayen, MBA 93, chairman, president, and CEO of Adobe; Kenneth Chen, BS 03, vice president and chief audit executive at Spotify; Scott Galloway, MBA 92, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business; and TubeMogul founder Brett Wilson, MBA 07; Austin Drake, BS 18, who works in global operations at Facebook; Double Bear Lucky Sandhu, BS 96, MBA 15, president of Reliance Financial; and Jordyn Elliot, BS 20, a marketing associate at Ingenio.
Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Award winner: Sooji Kim
Dan Mulhern, who teaches leadership in the Management of Operations Group as a member of the Haas professional faculty, won the Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching. Students in each degree program choose faculty each year to receive the award, the top teaching honor at Berkeley Haas.
A sustainable, space-saving vertical strawberry farm that produces ultra-sweet berries without pesticides and an online bank for “free thinkers, rebels, and entrepreneurs” were among the new companies that propelled Berkeley Haas to No. 4 for fundraising on the Poets & Quants Top 100 MBA startups list this year.
Annually, Poets & Quants ranks b-school startups with at least $5.5 million or more in funding. To be considered, founders must have launched their startups within the five prior years (2015-2020) and have at least one founder enrolled in an MBA program within that time frame.
This year, five Haas companies founded in that period raised a record total of $125 million. Two Haas startups made it into the Top 20, including Oishii, founded by Hiroki Koga, MBA 17, ($50 million) and Oxygen, founded by Hussein Ahmed, EMBA 18, ($33 million).
Also on the list were Kyte, a car-sharing startup co-founded by Ludwig Schoenack, MBA 19, ($18 million); Time by Ping, a timekeeping automation company co-founded by Kourosh Zamanizadeh, EWMBA 18, ($17.3 million); and healthcare startup Twentyeight Health, cofounded by Amy Fan, MBA/MPH 19, ($6.08 million). Twentyeight Health also made Poets & Quants’ 2020 “Most Disruptive Startups” list.
Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia Business School had seven startups on the 2021 list, while Haas, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and France’s INSEAD all had five.
“We’re so proud of what these startup founders have accomplished,” said Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, noting that founders from four MBA degree programs–full-time MBA, evening & weekend MBA, MBA/MPH, and executive MBA—are represented on the P&Q list. “Their ongoing success is proof of the depth and breadth of our entrepreneurship programs across campus, and a testament to the drive that so many of our students have to build world-changing startups.”
More proof of that drive came this week as Ryan McQuaid, MBA 08, announced that he’d sold his startup, virtual primary care platform Plushcare, to Accolade for $450 million. McQuaid, who started Plushcare at Haas, made previous Poets & Quants Top MBA startup lists.
Entrepreneurship is one of Dean Ann Harrison’s top three priorities for the school, and Haas continues to invest in new resources, recently announcing three new professors in its Entrepreneurship & Innovation group and a plan to build a new entrepreneurship hub on campus. “It’s gratifying to see so many Haas founders on this list who are solving important problems that impact everything from the environment to healthcare,” Harrison said.
Validating the business model
Jersey City-based Oishii, ranked No. 14 on the list, runs a vertical farming operation, raising top-quality strawberries that are tested to ensure two to three times the sweetness of conventional berries.
Founder Koga arrived at Haas in 2015 after working as a consultant in the vertical farm industry in Japan. Realizing that agriculture was no longer sustainable, he decided to tackle the problem by growing crops indoors, which allowed him to use 90% less land and water, eliminate the use of pesticides, and cut down on food transportation distances.
The MBA program provided two years to assess his hypothesis and validate the business model in the U.S., something he said he could never have done from Japan. During Koga’s second year, he entered the LAUNCH accelerator program—and won the competition, “which gave us more credibility and recognition as we were raising our seed round.”
Oishii’s strawberries, coveted by chefs, sold out pre-pandemic, Koga said. But as more people started cooking at home over the past year, they became increasingly aware of what they were eating and more willing to pay for higher-quality produce. As a result, many vertical farm companies have grown quickly and experienced a significant increase in revenue and funding, Koga said.
Filling in missing pieces
Startup Oxygen, No. 19 on the P&Q list, offers banking to freelancers, consumers, and small businesses, with no monthly fees, marketing itself as a new kind of bank account for “free thinkers, rebels, and entrepreneurs.”
Ahmed said he founded Oxygen out of personal experiences with banks. “Living for a big part of my life as a “solopreneur,” consultant, and business owner, it was always a struggle to work with banks and financial institutions because I didn’t fit the typical molds they have—either a 9-to-5 full-time employee or a corporation—nothing in between,” he said.
The pandemic, while horrible, was “a blessing in disguise” for Oxygen, he said. With stay-at-home orders, digital banking suddenly became the only way to bank “without having to drive down to a branch and wait in line masked up,” he said. There was also a massive boom in new business formations in the U.S., which significantly accelerated Oxygen’s small-business banking growth.
Ahmed, who has an engineering background and started companies before he arrived at Haas, said the MBA program helped fill in missing pieces.
“With an engineering background and product focus, along with scars and wins and street smarts, I was still missing the academics and business tactics from economics, finance, and accounting,” he said. “Having those subjects, great professors, and class discussions gives a lot of perspective on how to think about all those different angles and perspectives—while being at the helm dealing with everything on a day-to-day basis.”
The full-time MBA rankings are based on data provided by participating U.S. schools and on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs, as well as surveys of corporate recruiters and company contacts. The score is calculated from placement success and starting salary (35%), student selectivity (25%), a peer poll (25%), and the average of the last three years of recruiter polls (15%).
Part-time MBA rankings are based on data from participating schools and on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited part-time programs. The score is calculated from the peer polls (50%), student selectivity (27.5%), work experience (10%), and percent of MBA students who are enrolled part-time (12.5.).
The specialty and the executive MBA rankings are based entirely on polls of business school deans and directors of accredited MBA programs.
The EWMBA ranked #2 for the third year in a row. The Full-time MBA ranked #7 for 13 of the last 14 years. The Berkeley MBA for Executives ranked #7 for the last two years.
View the full report here. (log-in may be required).
Haas Voices is a new first-person series that highlights the lived experiences of members of the Berkeley Haas community.
The myth of the “model minority” stereotypes Asian Americans as a polite, law-abiding, hard-working group that’s overcome discrimination to achieve educational and career success through drive and innate talent—typically in math and science.
The myth defies the fact that the Asian American community is diverse socioeconomically and culturally. The perception of the Asian community as a monolith is also the reason why people remain mystified by anti-Asian racism, says UC Berkeley alumna Hua Hsu, who wrote in the New Yorker recently that the “needs and disadvantages of refugee communities and poor Asian Americans have been obscured.”
Recently, several high-profile incidents of violence against Asians have shone a spotlight on long-simmering anti-Asian racism, and also highlighted the way the “model minority” myth has been used as a wedge between Black and Asian communities. We talked to two undergraduate students who are Chinese American, along with a recent undergraduate alumna who is Black, about what the myth means to them and how it impacts their lives.
Mia Character, BS 20, a native of Gretna, Louisiana, grew up in Redlands, Calif. She is now a recruiting coordinator at Robinhood via contract with AppleOne.
When did you first hear the term “model minority?”
Erinn Wong: I first heard the term back in high school. I thought it meant to stereotype Asians as hardworking, good at math and education—that somehow we work hard and we succeed and it was very much aligned with the meritocracy myth. I really bought into that and internalized it growing up, believing that if you work hard, you’ll be successful. It wasn’t until college that I was able to put two and two together and recognize that these stereotypes are rooted in anti-Blackness and white supremacy to show that Asian Americans are the “model minority” and to situate Black Americans as the “problem minority.”
Mia Character: It was probably when I first moved to California from the South that I was first introduced to Asian people and to the stereotypes. I don’t think anyone within my inner circle or family perpetuated these stereotypes, but I did hear them in the media or at school with jokes the kids at school would tell. From early on, I always thought of Asian American students not as competition, but as the ones to emulate because they were really good in their classes and played all these instruments and seem to have it all together. It wasn’t until I got to Cal that I really started paying attention to and listening to other Asian American folks that I learned how dangerous the model minority myth is.
It wasn’t until college that I was able to put two and two together and recognize that these stereotypes are rooted in anti-Blackness and white supremacy to show that Asian Americans are the “model minority” and to situate Black Americans as the “problem minority.” — Erinn Wong, BS 21
Vivian Feng: I’ve been aware of it for so long, but I didn’t really put a name to it. When I first heard it, I just thought of the stereotypical views of how Asians are better at math and internalized the belief that if I worked hard enough, I would be able to achieve success. But I never really talked about it until high school, when I fully embraced my identity.
How did your thoughts about the model minority change once you got to Berkeley?
Mia: I think it wasn’t until I got to Cal that I realized that the model minority myth impacts the Asian-American communities a lot more than just a simple “Oh, you’re good at math.” It’s a socioeconomic issue and it’s very systemic. At Cal, I started listening and paying attention and I was able to learn and grow in my understanding. There are groups within the Asian-American community that are disproportionately impacted by things like colorism that I didn’t know about in high school. Everybody has a different experience in America and all minorities face different stereotypes. I think my time at Cal has made me a lot more comfortable having conversations with my Asian friends and asking how they’re doing and how they have been impacted by racism and the systems of oppression that America is built on.
Vivian: It affected me mentally before even going into Berkeley because I felt like I had to go to Cal to meet expectations. In the end I chose Berkeley because it was the only college that I applied to with a major that lined up with my interests of international development, cross-cultural experiences, and traveling. When I got my acceptance letter, I had some doubts, but I ultimately felt this need to pursue my passion. Being at Haas as a freshman is even more drastically different because most people typically get in their junior year. You have this imposter syndrome. People internalize the model minority myth and say, “You got in, you’re smart. You can get through it, you’ll pass your classes.” But in reality, I don’t feel like that because I am a first-generation college student who went to an under-resourced high school. I do not feel prepared, and I’m literally in a system that wasn’t necessarily designed for me to succeed.
People internalize the model minority myth and say, “You got in, you’re smart. You can get through it, you’ll pass your classes.” But in reality, I don’t feel like that because I am a first-generation college student who went to an under-resourced high school.— Vivian Feng, BS 24
Erinn: Coming to Cal was my first time experiencing being with a larger East Asian population in school. I feel like people lump all Asian Americans together. I went to high school with, and was classmates with, many Hmong students, who are severely underrepresented in higher education and other areas, not to mention Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians. The model minority myth is really destructive. My classmates who were Hmong would either go to community college or work to support their families or go into the military and a few would go to a state college.
I also learned here at Berkeley that the identity and label “Asian American” had radical roots. It was coined by graduate students Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee, who formed the Asian American Political Alliance in 1968 at UC Berkeley to bring together Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese students to stand in solidarity. They fought for the self determination and collective liberation of Asian Americans and Third World Peoples, and in the Third World Liberation Front strikes, which led to establishing Ethnic Studies majors at colleges across the U.S. Asian American was a radical label then because it brought together a multi-ethnic, multi-class, and multi-generational coalition of Asians and shifted away from the “Oriental” label. To call yourself an Asian American at the time was a political statement. It’s wild now that Asian American has lost its radical, political roots because of the way it has been wielded by the white mainstream and model minority myth, and then internalized by all of us, to homogenize, invalidate, and erase our struggles and solidarity with each other and other communities of color.
How does the model minority myth hurt you personally?
Vivian: I’m told I’m too aggressive, but I don’t like being quiet when I feel the urge to speak up. I wasn’t engaged politically when I was younger because I had this perception that politics was only for white people. It was just ingrained into my life. Growing up, whenever I brought up politics with my mom, my thoughts were dismissed. It felt like I was talking to a wall. Eventually, I realized that my mom’s lack of political engagement is because of her lack of education while being in survival mode. Many East and Southeast Asians in my community have to worry about their basic necessities before even thinking about studying. As I became more knowledgeable about the model minority myth, I was always told that I was “too political” among my peers.
However, this fueled my desire to stop being a bystander and conforming to societal standards. Our reality is that the model minority myth hurts everyone as it perpetuates white supremacy.
Erinn: I got feedback at two tech corporate internships that I needed to be more confident, even though I thought the way I presented myself was fine, despite struggling with imposter syndrome and confidence at times. At the same time, in other spaces I’d get feedback that I was too strong and too aggressive, something East Asian women face. You’re expected to be submissive, not speak up, and just do what you’re expected to do. And when you do speak up and contribute, you’re seen as too strong, aggressive, bossy, a bitch. It’s the long-standing East Asian stereotypes of East Asian women being docile and exotic, while also being the dragon lady or tiger mom. The term also impacts how much space I take up, because as an East Asian woman, I’m expected to not take up space. The model minority myth compounds that by making me think, “Oh, maybe my struggles are not as marginalized as another person of color and I cannot take up as much space.”
You’re expected to be submissive, not speak up, and just do what you’re expected to do. And when you do speak up and contribute, you’re seen as too strong, aggressive, bossy, a bitch. — Erinn Wong
I’ve heard both East and South Asians say ‘we’re not really people of color,’ which is not true. I think it’s the model minority myth that creates this feeling that we’re not “POC enough.” But something that helped was what Haas alumna Michelle Kim said to me: that we need to think of ourselves as co-strugglers with Black people and other people of color, not as perpetual allies because that’s a white model of allyship. And when I really sat with that and made the connections to how the model minority myth makes me feel shame and guilt for “taking up space,” I saw how it’s white supremacy that makes me feel like I can’t take up space alongside other people of color because white supremacy creates and thrives from scarcity, that there is only enough space for one marginalized group to share their struggles and to thrive.
Mia: As a Black person growing up in a state with a fairly large Asian American population, the model minority myth had an adverse impact on me. It was created to pit Asian American and Black people against one another by saying, “if Asian people can thrive in America and be exceptional and thrive in their roles in our capitalistic society, then Black people should have been able to do it, too.” But if you take a step back and look at the different histories, they aren’t comparable. They don’t need to be compared and contrasted because we faced different kinds of oppression that all stem from white supremacy. Growing up and not understanding this, it was easy to feel like you have to be just as “perfect” to be worthy of respect. That you have to get the best grades, be a part of multiple clubs, and go to the best universities to prove that as a Black person you are worthy.
Growing up and not understanding this, it was easy to feel like you have to be just as “perfect” to be worthy of respect. That you have to get the best grades, be a part of multiple clubs, and go to the best universities to prove that as a Black person you are worthy.—Mia Character, BS 20
How do you think that the model minority myth hurts your community?
Erinn: The model minority myth has real impacts on the Asian community. For example, in tech, East and South Asians are overrepresented in certain departments. But as a whole, we don’t hold a lot of power, which is another reminder that under/overrepresentation is different from marginalization. We are least likely to be promoted to management, and there’s still a “bamboo ceiling.” This can be attributed to people internalizing the model minority and stereotypes of how we’re supposed to just shut up and work hard, or that somehow we don’t have “leadership potential and qualities,” communication skills, or “executive presence.” Southeast Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are severely underrepresented in tech, and data on Asians is rarely disaggregated.
Beyond tech, Southeast Asians are systemically impacted by deportation, ICE raids, and poverty, Chinatown neighborhoods and Asian-owned businesses have been struggling in this pandemic, and Filipino nurses, Pacific-Islanders, and Native Hawaiians have had some of the highest COVID-19 mortality rates. The model minority myth ignores our struggles and our communities lack sufficient resources and attention. And I learned last year that less than 1% of philanthropic funding goes to Asian American Pacific Islander causes, which proves the model minority myth is at work again.
What are your thoughts about how the myth is connected to the recent anti-Asian violence?
Mia: This was happening long before Trump, but violence against Asians is never talked about. In some ways I think that’s also part of the model minority myth. We’re taught that because Asian Americans are the “model minority,” they can’t face racism and the violence that comes with it.
Vivian: It’s nothing new. Historically, many fail to recognize xenophobic practices, such as The Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment camps, as well as the murder of Vincent Chin. Asians are never really talked about in our history classes, and if it is, it’s always about East Asians from a divisive Eurocentric perspective. Now, the main difference is that anti-Asian violence is captured on camera and that more people are open to talking about it in the younger generation. Social media has changed everything in the way we approach politics. The elderly, especially Asians, are either scared or there’s a language barrier and they won’t report the incidents. And at least in Oakland, the violence has happened for as long as I can remember. I know so many people who have been affected by the violence before the pandemic and it’s a shame that it wasn’t recognized until now.
Adair Morse, an associate professor of finance at the Haas School of Business, has been named to the Biden Administration’s treasury department as deputy assistant secretary of capital access in the Office of Domestic Finance.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve in the Biden Administration and to join the team at treasury, serving the people of this great country,” said Morse, the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics, who is taking a leave from the Haas Finance Group to commit to her new role.
“We will miss Adair at Haas, where she has conducted groundbreaking finance research and launched the Sustainable and Impact Finance (SAIF) initiative with (former Haas Dean) Laura Tyson to train many new leaders in the field,” said Dean Ann Harrison. “She has already made an impact in helping small businesses in California through her work on the California Rebuilding Fund. I have no doubt she will have an even greater impact on a national scale.”
The Office of Domestic Finance develops policies and guidance in the areas of financial institutions, regulation, capital markets, and federal debt finance. Its community and economic development division coordinates small business finance and development, housing policy, capital access, and issues related to underserved communities.
Morse, who holds a PhD in finance from the University of Michigan’s Ross School and two master’s degrees from Purdue University, joined Haas in 2012 from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Her research interests include equity issues in financial services and algorithms, small business survival, sustainable investing, discrimination and corruption, venture capital, and pension management. The unifying theme in her work, she has said, is “leveling economic playing fields.”
“Adair’s groundbreaking research has looked at important issues, like small business survival in the city of Oakland, consumer lending discrimation in fintech, and the pervasiveness of corporate fraud,” said Prof. Catherine Wolfram, associate dean for Academic Affairs and chair of the faculty. “As a pioneering, creative thinker in so many areas, she will have plenty of opportunity to bring her financial and social impact leadership to the table.”
As a pioneering, creative thinker in so many areas, she will have plenty of opportunity to bring her financial and social impact leadership to the table. —Prof. Catherine Wolfram, chair of the faculty
Morse has spent much of the pandemic using her finance expertise to try to help small businesses. Last spring, Morse and Tyson began working on a strategy to use public capital to attract private lenders to provide low-interest credit to help vulnerable small businesses get through the crisis. They first helped develop a program with the City of Berkeley, and then worked with others—including Yellen, who was then on Gov. Newsom’s Task Force on Jobs and Competitiveness—to implement an innovative public-private loan structure at the state level. Their work helped launch the California Rebuilding Fund, run by the Governors’ Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and aimed at some of the state’s smallest businesses in under-resourced communities.
At Berkeley Haas, Morse also ran the Haas Impact Fund and Sustainable Investment Fund curriculum, managing two endowment funds with Haas students. The Sustainable Investment Fund is the first and largest student-led Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) fund within a leading business school.Until recently, Morse served on the Governance and Allocations Committee of the California Rebuilding Fund, as well as on the expert panel for the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, advising on issues of sustainability and innovation.
Haas Voices is a new first-person series that highlights the lived experiences of members of the Berkeley Haas community. Our first perspective is by “double Bear” Luis Alejandro Liang, BS 12, EWMBA 23, who is among the approximately 644,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients granted special immigration status because they were brought to the U.S. as children. Liang’s path to Berkeley was challenging—he’s been accepted three times. He shares his story below.
Many times over these past four years, I’ve woken up in fear. Fear of deportation. Fear about what was going to happen to our community. Fear that ICE could knock on my door and take me away.
I grew up in Sinaloa on the Pacific coast of Mexico. I’m half Chinese, half Mexican. I grew up multicultural—going to Catholic church on Sundays but celebrating Chinese New Year. I started helping my family in their Chinese restaurant when I was six years old. I was surrounded by entrepreneurs.
When I was 14, my mom moved me and my three little sisters to Orange County because she wanted to provide us with better chances. I entered high school as a sophomore without knowing any English. It was a culture shock, but I wanted to honor my mom’s sacrifices by excelling academically. I was put back in algebra, even though I was taking calculus when we left Mexico. As a senior, I got into a couple of UCs, but my first scholarship was taken away because I didn’t have a social security number.
So I decided to go to Fullerton College. In high school, I had been really shy because I was new, so I didn’t know anything about things like AP classes or honor society. When I got to community college, I decided to get involved. I joined the Puente Program, which is mostly for Latino students to help get us into four-year colleges. I was really active, working long days because I was also a tutor. The Puente Program gave us a tour of all the UCs. That was the first time that I actually went to visit the campuses.
When I visited Berkeley I fell in love. I remember the Campanile, Sather Gate and thought of all the famous people who went there, including Mexican presidents.
I knew that I wanted to study business. I also knew that I was gay by that time too, and that San Francisco was LGBTQ friendly. I knew I could be myself at Berkeley.
My dream came true when I got accepted to Haas as a junior and received the prestigious Regents’ and Chancellors’ Scholarship, given to the top 2% of students. But when I went to the financial aid office, they again took away my scholarship because I still didn’t have a social security number. I was crying, and the woman who broke the news to me was crying too.
They again took away my scholarship because I still didn’t have a social security number. I was crying, and the woman who broke the news to me was crying too.
I remember seeing the César E. Chávez Student Center in front of me and I just went in and I started walking around. I thought, “If this is César Chávez’s building, there’s going to be a Latino person here who can help me.” I ended up meeting Lupe Gallegos-Diaz, director of the Chicano Department at Berkeley. Lupe became a support for me when I returned to community college more determined to achieve my dreams.
I became more politically active, creating the Fullerton College Dream Team to support undocumented students. In 2010, I got into Berkeley Haas for the 2nd time, having raised $70,000 to cover my tuition.
When I graduated, I was a first-generation Berkeley Haas grad deemed ineligible to work in the U.S. I felt lost, but by then I knew I wasn’t alone. My life took a turn when President Obama passed DACA in 2012, extending opportunities previously unavailable to those of us brought to the U.S. as children. A door of possibilities opened up and led me to a job at Salesforce, helping non-profit organizations leverage technology to amplify their impact.
My life took a turn when President Obama passed DACA in 2012.
Being the first DACA employee at Salesforce motivated me to use my voice in a space where underrepresented groups lack a sense of inclusion. I worked with the chief equality officer on a podcast about diversity and inclusion, served on the leadership board of multiple employee resource groups, and came out of the shadows by sharing my story on a video called “Proudly Me.”
In 2013, another dream came true when I traveled to the White House and met President Obama after I received the LGBT DREAMers Courage Award, which honors individuals who have shown courage and perseverance in the face of injustice.
Still focused on social impact at my current job at Twilio, I decided it was time to go back to school for an MBA. I applied to the Berkeley Haas Evening and Weekend MBA program and got into my dream university for the third time, starting last fall. My focus is to become a chief social impact officer and a social leader at a company. In my classes, surrounded by fellow Type As, I’m learning things that I put into practice at my job. I love the community and I can’t wait to get back to campus.
Growing up, I thought that life would change the day I could finally get my residency—that something would change inside of me and that things were going to be better. But as the years passed, thinking that way made me believe that I was incomplete and something was missing. But being paperless doesn’t make us powerless. We have purpose and an eagerness to give back, by creating communities, by finding the power in helping people. I now find so much joy in helping other “Dreamers” get into school and finding their dream jobs.
But being paperless doesn’t make us powerless. We have purpose and an eagerness to give back, by creating communities, by finding the power in helping people.
There are 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., not by choice, but because we needed to survive. I hope to highlight the narrative of joy, love, and pride that comes from living a life dedicated to serving our families’ and communities’ dreams.”
Luis Liang, an account manager in social impact at communications company Twilio, is passionate about advocating for human rights and supporting Latinx, LGBTQ, and undocumented immigrant communities. Liang has served as a board member for the Association of Latino Professionals for America, The Greenlining Institute Alumni Association, and on several corporate Employee Resources Groups.
Berkeley Haas is expanding its Accelerated Access program, allowing all undergraduate seniors or final-year graduate students to apply for deferred admittance to the full-time MBA program.
Haas first piloted the Accelerated Access program in January 2020, limiting it to UC Berkeley students. The pilot’s success led to an expansion of the program to a wider variety of applicants, said Eric Askins, executive director of full-time MBA admissions.
“We wanted to provide a new opportunity for young professionals who are planning to make an impact earlier in their careers through earning an MBA,” Askins said. “Deferred admission is the perfect option for many of these students, and we’re looking forward to meeting them.”
Under the program, undergraduate and master’s students apply to the MBA program during their final year. Successful applicants gain conditional admission, and can then enroll after a flexible two-to-five-year deferment period during which they gain professional experience, which is typically required for all traditional MBA candidates.
The program allows students to “do work that aligns with their passions with the reassurance that they will be able to return to a top-ranked MBA program within a few years,” Askins said.
The program is expected to increase the diversity of the class, he said, encouraging more international students and students from a wide variety of academic disciplines to consider an MBA—from graduate 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.
Askins added that the program enables the admissions office to get to know potential applicants earlier in the process, when they are planning their careers, deepening their academic passions, and considering an MBA.
Admitted applicants can join a Slack community, to meet other deferring students who want to stay on top of the admission process and connect with future peers.
Students will check in annually during the deferral period with admissions to make sure that they are on track and supported, Askins said.
The first deadline for applicants is April 5. The application process is similar to that of the full-time MBA program, with requirements that include 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.
While these applicants will not be able to tap into work experience on their applications, they have much to offer, Askins said. “We’re looking for strong academic indicators paired with clarity of purpose. If you know an MBA will be useful in your future goals, it means you’ve thought about a plan. We are looking for clarity on that plan.”