Three new books written by Haas professional faculty members share one thing in common: deep learning from the successes of people making innovative change in business today. Here’s more on each new book:
Edward Elgar Publishing, published August 2022
By Jerome Engel, founding executive director emeritus of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship (now the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program)
Much has changed since Engel’s 2014 publication of Global Clusters of Innovation: Entrepreneurial Engines of Economic Growth around the World, a book that explored the explosion of entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems globally, a movement that spread Silicon Valley business practices around the world. By 2022, economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, global warming, and environmental degradation led Engel to ask how innovation ecosystems can support the evolution of more robust, agile, and sustainable societies. Those questions led to this book about innovation ecosystems, clusters of innovation, and the global networks of clusters of innovation that naturally form. He argues that entrepreneurs, collaborating with venture investors and major corporations, can create clusters of innovation that help build the resiliency required to quickly adapt and rebound from economic shocks. The process is helped along by supportive government, universities, and other elements of the ecosystem.
Matt Holt (BenBella Books), published August 2022
By Aaron McDaniel, BS 04, lecturer with the Berkeley Haas professional faculty, and Klaus Wehage
Aaron McDaniel, who teaches entrepreneurship to undergraduates at Berkeley Haas, and Klaus Wehage are co-founders of 10X Innovation Lab, which helps build innovation ecosystems worldwide. During the pandemic, the authors said they realized there was no book published on innovation in international business expansion that matched the success of Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup. So over 1 1/2 years, they interviewed more than 300 executives from the world’s fastest-growing companies across 50 countries to understand what made them successful in reaching global scale. The list included CEOs and founders of Apple, Zoom, Slack, and Airbnb. The authors suggest that applying agile principles will enables global-class companies to more easily pivot their business and successfully localize in overseas markets with different cultural contexts. McDaniel said he hopes that Global Class will provide a tool kit and framework for companies of all sizes and stages to help build global, distributed teams; manage a diverse footprint; and balance cultural differences.
Balance (Grand Central Publishing), published September 2022
By Alex Budak, Haas lecturer and creator of the Changemaker course
Stepping into a leadership role doesn’t require people to be at the top of a group or organization. Anyone—regardless of title, personality, race, gender, age, or class—can be a changemaker and effect powerful, positive change from where they sit in a workplace or community, Haas Lecturer Alex Budak argues in his new book. Based on Budak’s popular Berkeley Haas course of the same name, the book is anchored by the Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principles Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Budak introduces concepts and tools aimed at helping readers develop the confidence, courage, and commitment to lead change from wherever they are—and includes examples across industries, age levels, and abilities. The book includes a longitudinal study of how people develop key changemaker skills over time and provides access to some of the same exercises he uses in his class.
The alumni cultivating a nation of growers
Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez, both BS 09 (shown right), want consumers to know where their food comes from. Their gardening company, Back to the Roots, sells kits, seeds, and supplies for growing organic herbs, vegetables, and more, simplifying gardening so even those without a green thumb can have, well, a green thumb. From their beginnings in a dark warehouse in Oakland, California, growing mushrooms from used coffee grounds, Back to the Roots is now a national brand, with its products sold in thousands of stores, including Walmart, The Home Depot, Target, and more. But their journey wasn’t always a straight shot to growth. After 10 years of pivots, Back to the Roots is now beating brand names while connecting with the next generation of farm-to-table devotees.
Intrigued by a class lecture, Haas seniors Velez and Arora try cultivating mushrooms with used coffee grounds. They receive $5K in funding from UC Berkeley and by graduation launch Back to the Roots as a sustainable urban mushroom farm. Soon, they’re making DIY mushroom-growing kits for curious customers.
Though mushroom sales reach $250K a year to Whole Foods and locals, the real interest is in kits, so they refocus the company.
Velez and Arora crowdfund $500K to build an aquaponic garden kit. They quickly iterate and launch a version 2.0 after their first version is accused of copyright infringement.
Now making $4.6 million in revenue with products in 8,000 stores, Back to the Roots starts turning a profit. They reach 13,500 students with the Grow One, Give One campaign, which donates grow kits and a garden curriculum to elementary schools.
Velez and Arora launch 13 new products, including garden-in-a-can and the first U.S.-grown, all-stoneground breakfast cereal, which has just three ingredients.
The company raises $5 million in seed funding followed by a $10 million Series A round. Ready-to-grow kits and cereals reach 5,500 schools nationwide. Kits are now sold in 1,200+ stores in 800+ cities.
Back to the Roots supplies food to New York City’s 1.1 million public-school students. They also create an indoor gardening destination with The Home Depot and Whole Foods in over 2,000 stores.
With the garden business doubling year over year, Velez and Arora again refocus by selling the ready-to-eat line to Nature’s Path. They are now a gardening company. The pair deliver the commencement address to Haas undergrads (haas.org/bttr).
With millions gardening during the pandemic, all major retailers triple-down on the Back to the Roots brand, which launches 92 U.S.-grown, organic seed varieties with The Home Depot.
As Back to the Roots juggles cash flow and growth with needing to order seeds two years out, they close a $15 million funding round. Walmart awards them its highest sustainability certification for upcycling waste, optimizing packaging, and using sustainable materials in manufacturing.
Consumers will spend $100M on Back to the Roots organic gardening products.
Darnell Kemp isn’t afraid to reinvent himself. He spent the first decade of his career as an engineer then switched to venture capital, becoming co-founder and president of an online angel capital platform while pursuing his MBA. But Kemp’s real professional passion, he’s discovered, is business development. He loves it all, from handling growth strategy to identifying target markets.
He’s currently leading business development and partnerships at Tundra.com, a commission-free, wholesale marketplace. “I love the diversity of the people, products, and projects and the accomplishment that follows often months of planning and negotiations,” Kemp says.
At Tundra, Kemp was introduced to the consumer packaged goods industry as he works with leading brands (like Burt’s Bees, Bounty, and Annie’s) to sell their products to smaller retailers. In just three years, he’s helped grow Tundra from a marketplace with 1,000 brands to one with over 12,000 brands and 2 million products.
Though business development is Kemp’s primary focus, he remains active in both the tech and investing worlds. He’s currently building a company that mentors Chinese national students as young as third grade to prepare them for careers in technology and finance, and he’s a member of multiple investment groups. Having an eye for the next great investment, he says, comes from his unique career path coupled with his time at Haas.
“My most valuable insights into startups came from helping build multiple early stage companies from within, initially as an engineer then later a co-founder,” says Kemp. “My Haas courses and network added a high-level perspective to my personal experience.”
The traditional startup life cycle is to seek venture capital, grow into a successful business, then exit via an IPO or acquisition. For some companies, however, that initial investment and eventual acquisition come from the same source.
Alex de Winter first ventured into the realm of corporate venture capital as director of GE Ventures, the venerable conglomerate’s investment wing. Now, he scouts new promising companies in the healthcare industry for Danaher Equity Ventures.
“Danaher has grown largely though acquiring other companies,” de Winter says. “Some companies may be too early for us to acquire now but could potentially be interesting in the future. So we invest in them now and hope to help them grow.”
The startups get access to Danaher’s business expertise and connections, while Danaher gets a look at burgeoning technology and an opportunity to vet companies before a potential acquisition—without investing its own money in R&D.
“We get a better sense of where the market is going and which companies might be best positioned to take advantage of [healthcare’s future],” says de Winter. In its first four years, Danaher has invested in some 40 companies in the fields of bioprocessing, life sciences, and medical diagnostics.
In the past, says de Winter, corporate venture capital may not have been the first choice for startups preferring big-name firms. “But some startups are realizing today the benefits corporate VCs bring with access to their networks and help with advice and recruiting,” he says. “It goes beyond just capital.”
Nine new assistant professors have joined the Haas School of Business faculty this year, with cutting-edge research interests that range from illicit supply chains to unequal social hierarchies; from financial crises to the incentives that shape innovation; and from health care management to decentralized finance to marketing and the demand for firearms.
The nine tenure-track hires are the result of a concerted effort by Dean Ann E. Harrison and other Haas leaders to expand and diversify the faculty.
“We are thrilled to welcome this wonderful, diverse new group of academic superstars to Berkeley Haas,” says Dean Ann E. Harrison. “We clearly are bringing the best to Haas, increasing the depth and breadth of our world-renowned faculty, and reinforcing our place among the world’s best business schools.”
The new faculty members have hometowns throughout the U.S. and around the world, including Texas, New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois; Iran, the Dominican Republic, China, and the Netherlands. Seven of them are women; one is Black, and one is Latinx.
“This is our most diverse cohort of new faculty ever, each one a rock star in their own right,” says Jennifer Chatman, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management. “We are very proud that we were able to lure them to Berkeley Haas.”
The new faculty members start on July 1, with most beginning to teach in spring 2023. They bring the total size of the ladder faculty to 88, up from 78 in 2020-2021.
Meet the faculty
Assistant Professor Matthew Backus, Economic Analysis & Policy
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
PhD, Economics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
MA, Economics, University of Toronto
BA, Economics and Philosophy, American University
Research focus: Industrial organization
Introduction: I’m an economist with broad interests. Most recently, I’m interested in how we can use the tools developed by the industrial organization community to understand inequality and the distributional effects of policy.
Teaching: Microeconomics and Antitrust Economics (MBA)
Most excited about: After spending a year visiting, I’m most excited about the economics community at Berkeley.
Fun fact: I have a border collie, who is in training as a herding dog.
Assistant Professor Sa-kiera (Kiera) Tiarra Jolynn Hudson, Management of Organizations
Hometown: Albany, NY
PhD/MA, Social Psychology, Harvard University
BA, Psychology and Biology, Williams College
Research focus: I study the psychological processes involved in the formation, maintenance, and intersections of unequal social hierarchies, with a focus on empathic/spiteful emotions, stereotypes, and legitimizing myths.
Introduction: I am a social psychologist by training, focusing on the nature of intergroup relations as dominance and power hierarchies. I have studied several psychological processes, including the role of legitimizing myths in justifying unequal societal conditions, the role of group stereotypes in the experience and perception of prejudice, and the role of empathic and spiteful emotions in supporting intergroup harm. My work is multidisciplinary, incorporating quantitative as well as qualitative methods from various disciplines such as political science, sociology, and public policy.
I am a fierce advocate for building community, providing mentorship, and supporting authentic inclusion for everyone. I believe it is a moral imperative to be present as a vocal, queer-identified Black women in academe, given the lack of representation, and I’m excited to see how I can contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Haas.
Teaching: Core Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (MBA)
Most excited about: I identify UC Berkeley as my intellectual birthplace. It was during a summer internship program through the psychology department in 2010 where I first became interested in studying power structures and intergroup relations simultaneously. My overall research interests haven’t changed since that fateful summer. Being a faculty member here is truly a dream come true!
Fun fact: I love organizing and planning, so much so I taught myself how to use Adobe InDesign to create my own planner. I am also an avid foodie and cannot wait to check out the Bay’s food and wine scenes.
Assistant Professor Ali Kakhbod, Finance
Hometown: Isfahan, Iran
PhD, Economics, MIT
PhD, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (EECS), University of Michigan
Research focus: Information frictions; liquidity; market microstructure; big data; and contracts
Introduction: I am a financial economist with research interests in financial intermediation, liquidity, contracts, big (alternative) data, banking and financial crises. A common theme of my research agenda is to study various informational settings and their financial and economic implications. For example: When does securitization lead to a financial crisis? Why is there heterogeneity in the means of providing advice in corporate governance? How does information disclosure in OTC (over-the-count) markets affect market efficiency? My research has both theory and empirical components with policy implications.
Teaching: Deep Learning in Finance (MFE)
Most excited about: Berkeley Haas is the heart of what’s next with world-class faculty working on exciting and innovative research. Given that my interdisciplinary research interests span finance, economics and big data issues, I could not ask for a better fit.
Fun fact: In my free time, I like to ski, sail, hike, and enjoy the outdoors.
Assistant Professor Ambar La Forgia, Management of Organizations
Hometown: I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but I grew up in Washington, DC and São Paulo, Brazil.
PhD, Applied Economics and Managerial Science, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
BA, Economics and Mathematics, Swarthmore College
Research focus: Health care management; mergers and acquisitions; firm performance
Introduction: My research studies the relationship between organizational and managerial strategies and performance outcomes in the health care sector. In particular, I use quantitative methods to study how the strategic decisions of corporations to merge, acquire, or partner with other organizations can change managerial processes in ways that impact both financial and clinical performance. A secondary research strand studies how health care organizations adapt their service delivery and prices following changes in state and federal legislation.
Before joining UC Berkeley, I was an assistant professor of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. I am excited to continue to explore issues of healthcare quality, equity, and cost, while digging deeper into the management practices and organizational structures that could influence these outcomes.
Teaching: Leading People (EWMBA)
Most excited about: It is an honor to join the world-class faculty at Haas, and I am so excited to learn from and collaborate with my MORs colleagues on both the macro and micro side. Since my research is interdisciplinary, I also look forward to connecting with scholars in the School of Public Health.
As a self-proclaimed “city girl,” I am excited to get out of my comfort zone and explore the natural beauty of Northern California.
Fun fact: My hobbies include yoga, urban gardening, adopting animals and stand-up comedy.
Assistant Professor Sarah Moshary, Marketing
Hometown: New York City, NY
Phd, Economics, MIT
AB, Economics, Harvard College
Research focus: Marketing and industrial organization
Introduction: My research interests span quantitative marketing, industrial organization, and political economy. I am currently working on projects related to paid search advertising, the pink tax (price gap in products targeted to women), and the demand for firearms. Before joining Haas, I worked at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and at the University of Pennsylvania.
Teaching: Pricing (MBA)
Most excited about: I am excited to get to know my future colleagues!
Fun fact: My two hobbies are running and pottery—though I am more enthusiastic than talented at either :).
Assistant Professor Tanya Paul, Accounting
Hometown: Murphy, Texas
PhD, Accounting, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
BS, Economics, Statistics and Finance, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Research focus: Standard-setting and financial reporting; the determinants and consequences of voluntary disclosures
Introduction: After getting my PhD, I spent a year at the Financial Accounting Standards Board learning about contemporary accounting issues and understanding the types of questions that standard setters are grappling with. I hope to continue working on research that is helpful to standard setters in coming up with standards that ultimately improve financial reporting.
Teaching: Corporate Financial Reporting (MBA)
Most excited about: I love how interconnected the area groups are within Haas. There are so many potential learning opportunities, especially for a newly minted researcher like me.
Fun fact: In my free time, I love to read and play the piano—I had learned it as a child and am trying to relearn it now as an adult.
Assistant Professor Carolyn Stein, Economic Analysis & Policy
Hometown: Lexington, Mass.
PhD, Economics, MIT
AB, Applied Mathematics and Economics, Harvard College
Research focus: Economics of science, innovation, and applied microeconomics
Introduction: I study the economics of science and innovation. My research combines data and economic theory to understand the incentives that scientists face and decisions that they make, and how this in turn shapes the production of new knowledge.
One thing I love about economics is that it’s less of a narrow subject area, and more a set of tools and principles that apply to a stunningly wide array of topics. I’m excited to work with Haas students to help them understand how economic principles can improve their decision-making, both in their careers and in other areas of their lives—maybe even in ways that surprise them!
Teaching: Microeconomics (EWMBA)
Most excited about: I’m excited to be part of a large and superb applied microeconomics community—at Haas, and more broadly at Berkeley as a whole.
Fun fact: I am an avid cyclist and skier, and I was on the cycling team at MIT. Since moving to the Bay Area, I’ve loved the hills and mountains in the area. I’m working on taking my riding off road (gravel and mountain biking) and skiing off-piste (backcountry).
Assistant Professor Sytkse Wijnsma, Operations and IT Management
Hometown: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
PhD, Management Science and Operations, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
MPhil, Management Science and Operations, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
BSc & MSc, Economics and Finance, VU University, Amsterdam
Research focus: My primary research interest is designing supply chain and policy interventions that help solve real-world challenges with social and environmental impact.
Introduction: I am very excited about my projects on illicit supply chains and how they undermine social and environmental goals. The context of these projects spans a wide range of areas, from illicit waste management to illegal deforestation. I am also excited to deepen and expand ongoing research collaborations with governments and industry to investigate these issues.
Teaching: Sustainability in Business (Undergraduate)
Most excited about: Many things! Berkeley Haas, being at the forefront of sustainability, has a unique position that combines the same ideals that drive my research with opportunities for collaborative research with serious impact. The amazing colleagues and close connections to industry make it even more exciting to join this community!
Fun fact: My first and last name originate from Fryslân, a northern province in the Netherlands, where it is still tradition to name your children after family members. So although my name is quite rare in the rest of the world, in our family it crops up in every generation!
Assistant Professor Valerie Zhang, Accounting
Hometown: Shanghai, China
PhD, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management
MA, Economics, University of Toronto
BCom, Finance and Economics, University of Toronto
Research focus: Information dissemination; information cascades on social media; retail investor behavior; decentralized finance
Introduction: I am passionate about doing research or working on personal projects that can express my creativity. I enjoy merging disjointed ideas and working on interdisciplinary research. My dissertation combines two literatures: one in computer science on information cascades on social media, and another in finance and accounting on the effects of disseminating financial news. I am also very curious about emerging technologies that are reshaping the financial industry. Since I work on areas that are new to the research community, I sometimes feel like a lone traveler exploring completely new territories. It is terrifying but also extremely rewarding!
Teaching: Financial Accounting (Undergraduate)
Most excited about: I look forward to inspiring my students to be entrepreneurial and to come up with creative business ideas or projects.
Fun fact/hobby: I write short stories. The one I am working on has an alien and a squirrel in it.