Moments showcasing Haas’ pioneering impact on the business world
From its outset, business at Berkeley has proved trailblazing. Launched by a gift from Cora Jane Flood in 1898, Berkeley Haas—previously called the College of Commerce and the School of Business—is the only leading business school founded by a woman, the first founded at a public university, and the second-oldest in the U.S. It was launched, in part, to help California expand economically, with the forward-looking goal of enriching trade and cultural exchange in the Pacific Rim. Throughout the twentieth century, business schools—and Berkeley Haas in particular—took on evermore prominent roles in shaping the world economy and the character of business itself. In this, our 125th year, we celebrate some of Haas’ pivotal moments reimagining business and business education.
Pioneering the study of social impact…
Professor Earl Cheit ushered in the study of corporate social responsibility via his research and teaching starting in the late 1950s. The future dean also organized the first national CSR symposium in 1964. New coursework, with support from Professors Dow Votaw and Edwin Epstein, became the model for leading business schools. Today, Haas prepares students to become ethical, socially focused leaders via myriad courses, experiential learning opportunities, and co-curricular activities.
…helped pandemic-ravaged small businesses.
Professors Adair Morse and Laura Tyson worked with the State of California and the nonprofit and banking sectors to create a public-private partnership as a small business loan fund for vulnerable companies. They then launched the California Rebuilding Fund for small businesses in under-resourced communities.
…created a competitive advantage.
The Center for Responsible Business, founded by faculty member Kellie McElhaney in 2002, brought Haas to the forefront of the corporate social responsibility and business sustainability movements. The Wall Street Journal ranked Haas the No. 2 b-school for CSR in 2006 and 2007. The Financial Times rated Haas No. 1 worldwide in 2008.
…launched the first and largest student-led SRI fund.
Debuting in 2008 and featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Socially Responsible Investment Fund (now called the Sustainable Investment Fund) offers MBA students real-world experience in delivering strong financial returns and positive social impact. Student fund managers have grown the $1 million investment to over $4 million.
…prioritized socially conscious entrepreneurship worldwide.
The Global Social Venture Competition, launched in 1999 by five Haas MBA students, turned the nascent idea of creating viable companies with social impact into a global triumph. In its 20 years of existence, the GSVC distributed more than $1 million in prize money and helped more than 7,000 teams better the world.
Codifying our culture…
Our Defining Leadership Principles Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself had been latently capturing Haas’ essence for generations. In 2010, spearheaded by then-Dean Rich Lyons, BS 82, and anchored by the organizational culture research of Professor Jennifer Chatman, we took them public.
…distinguishes us from other prestigious business schools.
Our DLPs are a source of competitive advantage as well as pride and engagement. They are also our leadership brand, defining our graduates as Berkeley Leaders who practice responsible business. In 2018, Poets&Quants deemed us “the archetype for a values-driven MBA program.”
…positions Haas as the powerhouse for culture research.
Our new Berkeley Culture Center, founded and led by Professors Chatman, PhD 88, and Sameer Srivastava, helps business leaders create and nurture healthy and effective workplace cultures and is a hub for connections between academic research and corporate best practices. An annual conference convenes leaders from industry and academia to discuss new research and explore how to help organizations function more effectively. Chatman and Srivastava will soon launch the Culture Fix podcast to offer solutions to work dilemmas.
Since 1994, the alumni relations program at Haas has flourished in its mission to connect alumni to the school and to one another by adding traditions and signature events, expanding regional chapters and affinity/identity groups, developing career resources, creating a volunteer pipeline, providing mentorship opportunities for students and alumni, and much more.
Catalyzing the study of innovation…
The groundbreaking theories of dynamic capabilities, created by Professor David Teece in 1997, and open innovation, created by Adjunct Professor Henry Chesbrough, PhD 97, in 2003, led Haas to become one of the top business schools for innovation management and strategy.
…changed business education.
Previously, common belief held that established corporate structures were poorly suited for innovation, but Teece’s dynamic capabilities framework explains how large organizations can be entrepreneurial too. He also launched interdisciplinary programs with Berkeley’s engineering and law schools to help infuse innovation deep into research and teaching at Haas and to apply innovation management principles in private and public settings, including in the management of universities.
…facilitates global companies sharing innovative solutions.
Haas’ Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation helps companies expand markets, manage innovation, and facilitate strategic alliances via the membership-based Berkeley Innovation Forum. The World Open Innovation Conference, founded by Chesbrough and now hosted by a university in the Netherlands, allowed Haas to play a key role in bringing novel ideas to market.
…commercializes cleantech advancements.
The Cleantech to Market accelerator program pairs students with entrepreneurs to help bring promising climate tech innovations to market—more than 120 since its launch 15 years ago.
…helps students make innovation a competitive advantage.
The semester-long Haas@Work course acts as a faculty-run/student-staffed innovation agency—with teams of MBAs using a variety of innovation methodologies to assist corporate partners in developing and testing novel solutions to key challenges.
The Berkeley Changemaker initiative, established in 2020 and inspired by Lecturer Alex Budak’s Becoming a Changemaker course (later a book), has helped thousands of incoming students identify their passions and use their leadership traits to transform Berkeley and the world. Offered through the College of Letters and Science and Haas, the class is part of the campuswide initiative led by Laura Hassner, EMBA 18, and supported by former Dean Rich Lyons, BS 82, Berkeley’s chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer.
Early teaching of entrepreneurship…
Begun in 1970 (six years before Apple Computer was founded), Dean Richard Holton initiated one of the nation’s first courses in entrepreneurship, which he team-taught with Leo Helzel, MBA 68, for many years. It was likely the only such class that provided students direct contact with entrepreneurs. When the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation opened in 1991, Executive Director Jerome Engel continued building Haas’ renowned entrepreneurship curriculum by partnering with the venture capital community, creating career opportunities for students, and training faculty worldwide.
…allowed Haas to pioneer the Lean LaunchPad method.
Created in 2011 by Lecturer Steve Blank and now taught worldwide, Lean LaunchPad was an entirely new way to teach entrepreneurship. Inspired by a Haas MBA course, it challenges students to develop business models rather than business plans and to iterate their models frequently based on customer feedback.
…inspires unlikely entrepreneurs.
Professor Toby Stuart changed entrepreneurship teaching at Haas by restructuring the full-time MBA entrepreneurship course, gearing it not only to students with startup ideas but to students investigating entrepreneurship as a career as well. He also created a star-studded, career-changing Silicon Valley Immersion Week for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.
…positions Haas as the campus entrepreneurship hub.
A new entrepreneurship and innovation initiative, spearheaded by Dean Ann Harrison, is enhancing Haas’ efforts on three fronts: endowing thought leadership through faculty chairs, expanding programming, and creating a three-floor Entrepreneurship Hub for all of campus. Renovation has begun on the Hub, which is adjacent to Haas and features spaces for students to gather and work.
Dominating in finance…
In the late 1960s, when students were requesting courses providing creative approaches to financial markets and investment theory (thanks to new technologies), Berkeley embraced an innovative and highly quantitative approach to finance, becoming a national leader with its analytical quantitative curriculum.
…prompted insights into financial markets.
In the 1970s, Professor Emeritus Mark Garman pioneered early stock exchange simulations and studied market microstructures, minute trading activity in asset markets that today play a role in algorithmic and electronic trading.
…changed how financial assets are created and priced.
In 1979, the late Professor Emeritus Mark Rubinstein developed the binomial options pricing model (aka the Cox-Ross-Rubinstein model), which can be used to price a range of complex options. It remains one of Wall Street’s most important valuation tools and no doubt contributed to the subsequent growth of derivatives. In the early 1990s, Rubinstein, Professor Hayne Leland, and Adjunct Professor John O’Brien launched the SuperTrust, an S&P 500-based fund that traded as a single security, essentially the first exchange-traded fund.
…allowed us to take the lead in the crowdfunding revolution.
In 2008, Danae Ringelmann and Eric Schell, both MBA 08, co-founded Indiegogo, one of the world’s first crowdfunding sites, democratizing access to capital and entrepreneurship while navigating unchartered regulatory waters. In 2015, Haas, the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, and the Kauffman Foundation partnered to establish CrowdBerkeley, a premier hub of education and research on crowdfunding.
Championing new teaching modalities…
As business evolved, Haas adapted its teaching to respond to challenges and opportunities taking shape worldwide, often blazing new academic trails. In 1959, when the famous Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation reports criticized most of American business education for its overall low standards and overly strong vocational bent, both cited Berkeley’s program, which was broader and more rigorous, as an excellent model.
…led to the first MFE Program at a business school.
The Master of Financial Engineering Program was launched in 2001 to prepare students to use skills in math, theoretical finance, and computer programming to make technically complex financial decisions. Today, it consistently ranks first among programs nationwide. The program recently added a data science curriculum that’s supported by a high-tech lab offering students and faculty access to real-time financial data and leading analytical software.
…created one of the few international management consulting programs.
Our International Business Development course debuted in 1992, assigning teams of MBA students to real-world consulting projects that include several weeks overseas, mostly in developing economies. IBD has since dispatched more than 1,800 students to work in 89 countries, helping organizations worldwide redefine how they do business.
…made Haas the first Top 10 b-school to offer a remote MBA.
In 2021, Haas announced its Flex cohort for the evening & weekend program. Students take live, virtual core courses from Haas professors teaching in new state-of-the-art video classrooms and can choose to take their electives virtually or on campus. (See sidebar, Linking Up.)
…offers unprecedented education of cross-sector leaders.
The Center for Social Sector Leadership, founded by Nora Silver, who serves as faculty director, pioneered three unique experiential b-school programs to prepare students for the nonprofit and public sectors. Social Sector Solutions, a professional management consulting partnership between Haas and McKinsey, launched in 2006 and has involved over 900 students who have served 170 nonprofits and public/social enterprises. Philanthropy Fellows, begun in 2008, is a partnership with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation that places recent MBAs with program officers at the foundation for two years—allowing new grads to enter a foundation at a professional (rather than administrative) level. Impact CFO, created with Assistant Professor Omri Even-Tov, will launch this fall with 15–20 alumni to help meet the market demand for chief financial officers in social impact organizations.
…integrated problem framing and solving approaches into a business curriculum.
Teaching Professor Sara Beckman developed three pioneering b-school courses: Managing the New Product Development Process and Design as a Strategic Business Issue (both in 1993), and Problem Finding, Problem Solving, which was part of the MBA core starting in 2012. PFPS, which included everything from systems thinking to human-centered design approaches, taught students how to think about complex business problems. Since 2017, undergrads can pursue the Berkeley Certificate in Design Innovation, a first-ever collaboration among Haas, the College of Engineering, the College of Environmental Design, and the College of Letters and Science’s Arts & Humanities Division.
Embracing behavioral economics…
Behavioral economics was born at UC Berkeley in 1987 with an interdisciplinary PhD course taught by two future Nobelists: economist George Akerlof and psychologist Daniel Kahneman. Professor Terrance Odean, MS 92, PhD 97, was encouraged by Kahneman to be the first at Haas to research behavioral finance, an area that was fertile ground for psychological analysis in an era of asset bubbles and market crises.
…established the vanguard of a new generation of behavioral economics researchers.
Haas faculty have since propelled the discipline into the mainstream while taking it into the future. Associate Professor David Sraer has investigated investor behavior and speculative bubbles. The late Professor John Morgan, who founded Haas’ Experimental Social Science Laboratory (XLab) for conducting experiment-based research, focused some of his work on inattention to shipping costs in eBay auctions and on behavioral biases in voting. Professor Ulrike Malmendier, the only woman ever to have won the prestigious Fischer Black Prize, has researched how individual biases affect corporate decisions, stock prices, and markets in general. She and Professor Stefano DellaVigna will lead the new O’Donnell Center for Behavioral Economics, which launches this fall, and will continue to make Berkeley the epicenter of behavioral economics research and a beacon for the brightest intellectual talent in the field.
Committing to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging…
Socioeconomic mobility is core to both the UC Berkeley and Haas missions. The 2018 DEI strategic plan—the first such action plan at a major business school—translated aspirations for inclusion into intentional and comprehensive action at all levels of Haas. As a result, Haas has made substantive changes over the past six years to increase diversity and representation, engender lifelong learning around equity and inclusion, and cultivate belonging. Haas was also the first leading b-school to publicly share its DEI demographic data.
…created a unique and robust DEIJB team.
Dean Ann Harrison quickly made DEIJB a priority when she began her tenure in 2019. She met with student leaders; significantly increased scholarship funding for the incoming class; diversified the demographics of the Haas School Board, faculty, and senior leadership teams; modified the core MBA curriculum to require a course on leadership communications in diverse work environments; and appointed one of the first chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officers at a leading business school. Today, CDEIO Élida Bautista oversees a team of four focusing on admissions, student experience, staff community and capacity-building, and, uniquely, faculty support (see sidebar, Teaching Aid).
…advances gender and diversity in policy and business.
Research by Professor Laura Kray, a leading expert on the social-psychological barriers influencing women’s career attainment, has debunked popular gender stereotypes. Kray’s work has shown that the popular perception that men outperfom women as negotiators is false and hurts pay equity efforts. The Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership, founded in 2017 by faculty member Kellie McElhaney, develops “equity fluent” leaders to drive positive change and build an inclusive and equitable world. EGAL does this via hands-on education and learning opportunities, resources (like playbooks), and support for academic research. Kray is EGAL’s faculty director.
…improves access to Haas.
During the pandemic, Haas launched two programs to expand, diversify, and strengthen access to the school. Accelerated Access allows students who wish to pre-commit to business school while acquiring important work experience to apply to Haas in their senior year of college and gain conditional acceptance. Cal Advantage offers talented University of California undergraduates a streamlined application process.
…enriches the diversity of the venture community.
The Black Venture Institute, created by Berkeley Executive Education in collaboration with BLCK VC and Salesforce Ventures, teaches Black executives the foundational elements to become angel, scout, and venture investors.
…provides social mobility opportunities for local youths.
In 1989, Dean Raymond Miles started the Boost@BerkeleyHaas program—formerly known as the East Bay Outreach Program then Young Entrepreneurs at Haas (YEAH)—to teach business and academic skills to under-resourced high school students. It is one of the only university-based youth entrepreneur programs to support teens from disadvantaged communities throughout their entire high school career. Since its founding, the program has helped more than 1,200 students (many first-generation) go to college.
…supports alumni professional development.
Alumni may enroll in a three-part, self-paced online DEI workshop featuring CDEIO Bautista that focuses on best practices for creating and promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. Since 2021, alumni committed to DEIJB have gleaned insights from top industry leaders at the annual virtual Alumni Diversity Symposium.
…expands partnerships with HBCUs.
Haas recently launched an HBCU MBA Fellowship with founding gifts from five alumni. The first-of-its-kind endowment will provide tuition support to MBA students who have attended a Historically Black College or University.
Pioneering the study of urban economics…
The Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics was founded in 1950, one of the first such university centers nationwide. It allowed Professors Sherman Maisel and Albert Schaaf to author the first major study of the structure of the California real estate industry, looking at the role of race and gender and finding a rising trend of women employed in the field. Later, Maisel would help create the current national U.S. mortgage market that relies on bond financing rather than on the strength and liquidity of local banks.
…advanced an unprecedented analysis of real estate markets and risk management.
Professor Nancy Wallace and researchers at the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics mapped the massive mortgage market and built groundbreakingly accurate housing price indices that monitor the characteristic dynamics of the housing stock. Wallace and Professor Richard Stanton, along with Paulo Issler, MBA 98, PhD 13, and Carles Vergara-Alert, MFE 04, PhD 08, recently combined these comprehensive databases with wildfire prediction models to estimate residential real estate value-at-risk in California.
…led to a renowned gathering of experts and a legendary forecast.
The Fisher Center hosts an annual Real Estate and Economics Symposium, a high-powered event known for the reputation of the speakers—and for Professor Emeritus Ken Rosen’s revered economic and real estate forecasts for California.
Our commitment to sustainability…
No other business school matches the breadth of Haas’ work in sustainability. The new Office of Sustainability and Climate Change, led by climate finance expert Michele de Nevers, coordinates curriculum and activities in five key areas: energy, food and agriculture, the built environment, sustainable and impact finance, and corporate responsibility.
…launched the preeminent university research center on energy economics.
Ever since Professor Severin Borenstein began leading the Energy Institute at Haas in 1994, it has been a place where serious academic researchers influence public policy at the state and federal levels, where the curriculum in energy and cleantech evolves to meet student and marketplace needs, and where collaboration flourishes. No other business school has as much depth, breadth, or influence in the energy field as Haas. Borenstein also co-developed the unique—and indispensable—Energy and Environmental Markets course and the energy market simulations used in the class. The course was the first of its kind at a top b-school and has been emulated at many peer institutions.
…allows Haas to pioneer green architecture and operations.
Chou Hall, which opened in 2017, is the nation’s greenest academic building, having earned LEED Platinum certification for its energy efficient design and operation, TRUE Zero Waste certification at the highest level after more than a year of efforts to divert over 90% of landfill waste, and WELL Gold, which is given to buildings that promote user health and well-being. Haas recently appointed its first full-time director of campus sustainability to oversee numerous initiatives—such as the campus renewable energy transition and elimination of single use plastic—to move Haas to carbon neutrality by 2025.
…inspired an unrivaled array of sustainability courses.
In 2021, Professor Nancy Wallace shifted the focus of the real estate program to consider high-efficiency, mixed-use development and financing strategies to fund real estate sustainability. Haas faculty members are now retooling all core MBA courses to address climate change and other sustainability challenges in various business disciplines. The revamped Sustainable and Impact Finance program keeps pace with rapid changes in climate finance and impact investing to best prepare students for careers. One focus for the Center for Responsible Business is reimagining capitalism and Executive Director Robert Strand, who teaches a course called Sustainable Capitalism in the Nordics?, is now the executive director of the new UC Berkeley Nordic Center.
…led to new degrees and certificates.
With Berkeley’s Rausser College of Natural Resources, Haas offers an undergraduate minor in sustainability and is developing a dual MBA/master’s in climate solutions. Haas also offers the Michaels Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business.
Our faculty’s public service work…
Since its earliest days, Haas faculty have applied their insights to issues advancing the public good. Our first dean, Carl Copping Plehn, is credited as one of the fathers of the California tax system. Professor Lincoln Hutchinson, an expert in South America and Russia, left Berkeley in 1922 to become one of the State Department’s earliest commercial attachés. In the 1930s, Dean E.T. Grether lent his expertise of markets and pricing structures to the Great Depression’s wave of business regulations—among many others.
…guides national economic policy in groundbreaking ways.
Professor Emeritus Janet Yellen is the first person to have served in the nation’s three top economic roles: treasury secretary, head of the Federal Reserve, and chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (during the Clinton administration). Her four years as Fed chair were considered near perfect, marked by job and wage growth amid low interest rates. Former dean Laura Tyson was the first woman to chair the Council of Economic Advisers (1993–95) and to direct the National Economic Council (1995–96), among other roles.
…helped navigate e-commerce, communications, and horizontal mergers.
As the chief economist for the Federal Communications Commission in the mid-1990’s, Professor Emeritus Michael Katz informed an important revision of cable television price regulations. He later addressed Congress about how to allow consumers to safely make payments via phones. Professor Emeritus Carl Shapiro played a central role in the first big update in almost 20 years of the guidelines on horizontal mergers as the chief economist in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (2009–11). Both men continue to serve as expert witnesses in the country’s most high-profile antitrust cases.
…advances global gender parity.
As a longtime co-author of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Tyson helped quantify the magnitude of gender-based disparities and develop initiatives for change. She also served as lead author in 2016 for two reports for the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment that included action-oriented recommendations to hasten improved economic outcomes for women.
…gives voice to the voiceless.
A former World Bank director, Dean Ann Harrison has earned international acclaim for her research on foreign direct investment and multinational firms. In proving that job losses in U.S. manufacturing are driven primarily by labor-saving technology such as investments by U.S. multinationals in automation, she has shown that free-trade economists miscalculated the costs of globalization and failed to ensure that policies were in place to compensate the losers, including many workers in rural communities.
Who says women don’t negotiate?
For decades, a closet industry of books and workshops has promised to make women better negotiators and help close the gender pay gap. But new research by Professor Laura Kray shows that believing women don’t ask for higher pay is not only outdated, but it may be hurting pay equity efforts.
“Continuing to put the blame on women for not negotiating away the gender pay gap does double damage, perpetuating gender stereotypes and weakening efforts to fight them,” says Kray, the Ned and Carol Spieker Chair in Leadership.
Last year, women earned about 22% less than men, on average. But broken down by income level, the gap for middle- and lower-wage women has decreased over the past 20 years while the gap for those with higher salaries—where there is often more room for negotiation—has increased.
Women MBA grads earn 88% of what men make after finishing their degree but only 63% of what men make 10 years later, past research by Kray and others has found.
Women Do Ask
The researchers’ survey of a nationally representative sample confirmed the perception that women negotiate less than men and are less successful when they do. Yet when Kray and her co-authors analyzed a survey of students graduating from a top MBA program between 2015 and 2019, they found that significantly more women than men reported negotiating their job offers—54% versus 44%.
The researchers then delved into a 2019 alumni survey of 1,900 MBA grads and found, again, that the women earned 22% less than men. But other than women’s lower pay, the only differences that emerged along gender lines were that more women than men said they had attempted to negotiate—and more women reported being turned down.
“Continuing to put the blame on women for not negotiating away the gender pay gap does double damage, perpetuating gender stereotypes and weakening efforts to fight them.”
Revisiting past conclusions
Kray and her co-authors also used an updated statistical approach to revisit a 2018 meta-analysis of studies on gender and negotiations. Focusing on nine studies published from 1982 to 2015 that measured gender differences in initiation of salary negotiations, they found no difference overall. But when they looked at changes over time, they found that men did report higher rates of negotiating versus women early in the era. The gender difference appeared to disappear around 1994 and reversed beginning around 2007. The trend has continued to grow since then, Kray says.
Many factors may have contributed to women’s greater assertiveness over the past two decades, including the “lean-in” movement sparked by Sheryl Sandberg’s book of the same name. But the downside of such messages has been to “blame the victim,” Kray says—putting the onus on women to fix the pay gap by working more and trying harder.
Another experiment exploring attitudes about the pay gap’s causes and support for solutions found that people who believed more strongly that women’s lower negotiation rates fueled the pay gap for MBA graduates were less likely to support salary-history bans and more likely to justify the current system.
“Negotiating for pay or promotions is clearly beneficial, and there’s room for everyone to do more negotiating,” Kray says. “But it’s time to end the notion that women don’t ask.”
Preparing Black teens for financial success
Alexandria Williams had taken economics at Oakland’s Skyline High School, but she didn’t learn much about how to actually budget and manage money. So for eight Saturdays during her senior year, she headed to class at Berkeley Haas, learning not only about personal finance but also about investing, home ownership, and building intergenerational wealth.
Her efforts paid off. Williams (shown above), along with 23 other high school seniors who graduated in May from the Economic Equity and Financial Education Pilot Program, walked away with an $8,000 college scholarship from Pacific Gas and Electric. The students also gained financial knowledge well above the average high school graduate plus a new network of supporters and mentors.
“What I would tell my friends would be to invest as much as you can for however long as you can, because the length of time makes a difference,” says Williams, who is headed to UC Irvine in the fall.
The pilot program, created by PG&E in collaboration with Haas, Berkeley Executive Education, and Mills College at Northeastern University, aims to equip African American high school students from under-resourced Oakland and Bay Area high schools with financial tools for success. It also has a more ambitious goal: to make a dent in the pervasive wealth gap between white and Black and Latinx U.S. households.
According to a 2021 U.S. Federal Reserve study, the average Black and Latinx U.S. household earns about half as much as the average white household and owns only about 15% to 20% as much net wealth.
Jimi Harris, chief of community relations at PG&E, created the program in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, to channel his anger and frustration into something positive, and PG&E committed $500,000 from its community charitable Better Together Giving Program.
Harris’ Morehouse College classmate Jason Miles, founder and managing director of Amenti Capital, worked with Associate Professor Panos N. Patatoukas to co-develop the curriculum. For Patatoukas, the program appealed to his passion for equalizing access to financial education. “Technology has been transforming education in profound ways, but access to financial education still remains within the reach of only a few,” Patatoukas says.
For Harris, the true benefits of the program have yet to be realized. “These kids have demonstrated a tremendous amount of discipline, and they’re investing in themselves, which is the biggest investment they can make,” he says.
Fellowship proves crucial to career success
In 2005, John Fernandez, MBA 07, was considering his next career steps and whether earning an MBA would help him get there. “I’d just gotten married. I was having a kid. I bought a house,” says Fernandez. “So an MBA meant a lot of sacrifice, and I didn’t know if it made more sense to just keep moving up at my current company instead.”
He decided on Berkeley Haas largely because he received the Torres Family Fellowship. “The Torres fellowship was a game changer for me,” Fernandez says. “It made me say ‘I’m going to go do this.’”
The decision to pursue an MBA turned out to be a good one for Fernandez, who today is CFO at Forge Rock. He’s seen the company grow from 80 employees and around $4 million in revenue to nearly a thousand employees and around $250 million in revenue.
Foundations of Success
Once at Haas, Fernandez was impressed with the strong sense of community at the school. Michael Torres, BA 82 (architecture), MBA 86, CEO of Adelante Capital Management, a registered investment advisor, and founder of the Torres Family Fellowship, was a focal point of that community.
Fernandez recalls gathering at Torres’ office with other fellowship recipients. “We were all sitting there with this very successful individual at his beautiful office, and he talked about creating a network among people and among Torres fellows to help each other be successful,” he says.
For a first-generation MBA student like Fernandez, who didn’t have a built-in network of business contacts, the connections Torres created through the fellowship were a crucial foundation for his career.
Setting an Example
Torres has long been an active Berkeley alumnus, including as a member of the UC Berkeley Foundation, for which he’s now a trustee emeritus. He created the Torres Family Fellowship in 2005 in part to serve as an example to other foundation members and alumni. Since that time, 16 students have benefitted from the fellowship.
Torres continues to connect with current and former fellows. He’s also the proud parent of a current Haas MBA student. Fernandez and Torres stay in contact, including the occasional round of golf. Both unequivocally agree Torres is the better golfer.
Torres says it’s always fulfilling to hear about the success of fellowship recipients, a testament to the community he’s fostered. “Giving back pays dividends in life,” he says. “You just don’t know when and how. It isn’t necessarily monetary.”
Berkeley Haas welcomed an accomplished group of nearly 700 new full-time MBA, undergraduate, and PhD students to campus, kicking off the start of the fall 2023 semester. (The new evening & weekend and executive MBA classes arrived on campus earlier this summer.)
Full-time MBA program
A total of 244 new full-time MBA students kicked off five days of Week Zero orientation last Monday. Orientation included sessions on academic life at Haas, diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging (DEIJB), team building, and career planning.
Wendy Guild, the new assistant dean of MBA programs at Haas, welcomed the class. “I want to celebrate the fact that you are here,” she said, noting that 2023 is a special year for Haas, marking the school’s 125th anniversary. “We have staying power,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere… We’re just getting better.”
New students participated in a whirlwind of orientation activities—from a scavenger hunt to an ice cream social to cleanup work at a local nonprofit that supports people who are homeless.
The MBA students are an accomplished group, with an average of nearly six years of work experience, with 20% coming the tech sector and 24% from consulting.
Remy Freire, MBA 25, was a consultant at Bain & Company in Washington D.C. before coming to Haas.
“I’m interested in climate tech and renewable energy and I thought that the MBA would be a chance to take classes and do an internship in that area, and get some hands-on experience. A lot of folks are interested in this at Haas and I’ll be meeting people with similar interests to mine.”
The class boasts 41% women and is richly international, including students from 39 countries.
Imogen O’Connor, MBA 26, worked as an analytical manager with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK before she came to Haas.
“What really prompted me to do an MBA was around change management and leadership because I was coming up against a lot of barriers in the NHS,” she said. “I really care about health care and just helping people. I think I need to develop certain skills in order to do that properly.”
The class has an average collective GMAT score of 732, and GREs of 163 quant and 161 verbal, and an average GPA of 3.63.
Eric Askins, director of MBA admissions, told the students to expect to learn from peers who come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Notably, 20% of the students in this class are the first generation of college students in their families. Fourteen of the new students are pursuing a dual MPA/MPH (public health) degree; nine are enrolled in the MBA/MEng (engineering) program.
Orientation week alumni speaker Lo Toney, MBA 97, founding managing partner at Plexo Capital, shared his wisdom with the class, encouraging students to explore and take advantage of the breadth and depth of the UC Berkeley and Haas campus resources, focus on academics in the first quarter in particular, and reach out to alumni to build a network.
The entering undergraduate class is 421 students strong this year. The new class includes 103 transfer students and 240 continuing students, as well as new undergraduates students enrolled in special undergrad programs including The Global Management Program (GMP), The Robinson Life Science, Business, and Entrepreneurship Program (LSBE) (25 students), and the Management Entrepreneurship and Technology (M.E.T).
Acting Dean and Professor Don Moore, whose research covers leadership and confidence in business and beyond, welcomed the students.
“You’re joining a community of innovators, renowned researchers, entrepreneurs, and movers and shakers who have made a profound impacts on business and on society,” he said.
“You’re joining a community of innovators, renowned researchers, entrepreneurs, and movers and shakers who have made a profound impacts on business and on society.” – Acting Dean Don Moore
Moore said the long list of leaders who embody the Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles (Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always and Beyond Yourself) includes professional golfer Collin Morikawa, BS 19, who won the 2020 PGA Championship; Nabeela Syed, BS 21, the first Muslim Indian-American and the youngest woman to serve in the Illinois House of Representatives; and gaming entrepreneur Kevin Chou, BS 02, who with his wife, Dr. Connie Chen, provided the largest-ever personal gift to UC Berkeley by an alumni under the age of 40 to help fund Chou Hall.
Emma Hayes Daftary, assistant dean of the undergraduate program, told the students that “the DLPs will challenge you to shift from what you, as an individual, can achieve, to what we, as a community, can accomplish.”
“We are living in a time of tremendous global transition, and within this time of upheaval and transition comes an urgent call for informed, collaborative, effective leaders,” she said. “There are urgent issues that are facing us—urgent issues that will require extraordinary leadership to develop and execute solutions to solve them.”
The PhD program welcomed its largest-ever cohort of 19 new students from around the world—including Russia, China, Ethiopia, India, South Korea, Nigeria, Portugal, Canada, and Germany.
New students include Abdulmuttolib (Abdul) Salako, Ziyi Liu, Sean Chen, Sarah Danner, Hanna Yu, Sara Shemali, Jordan Mickens, Nikita (Nick) Akimov, Wenxiao Yang, Srikanth Janjirala, Yutao Chen, Maggie Ye, Skyler Chen, David Gravanita , William Zhang, Zi Yang Chen, Nathan Godin, Nick Otis, and Fikremariam (Fikre) Gedefaw.
View PhD student profiles here.