43% Strong: A First-Year Student Perspective (Part 2)

In Part 2 of a series on gender balance, guest blogger Ryann Kopacka, MBA 16, describes what it’s been like for her so far in a class with 43% women. Next up: a male student shares his perspective on gender balance at Haas. 

Women In Leadership Retreat_Small GroupBy Ryann Kopacka, MBA 16

I attended an undergraduate engineering program with less than 30% women. I was often the only woman on project teams and even in the classroom.

Now, I am fortunate to attend classes where almost every other seat is occupied by a female classmate, and I work through group cases with female voices at the table.

In just my first few weeks at Haas, I feel a noticeable difference in our class dynamics compared to my previous college experiences. My Haas female peers are more vocal during classroom discussions and are becoming a driving force in the student community—over half of our recently elected cohort representatives are women.

Ryann (2nd from left) and classmates with Haas alumna and Citibank CEO Barbara Desoer, MBA 77. Desoer spoke at the Forte Foundation Annual MBA Women's Leadership Conference this summer.

Ryann (2nd from left) and classmates with Haas alumna and Citibank CEO Barbara Desoer, MBA 77. Desoer spoke at the Forte Foundation Annual MBA Women’s Leadership Conference this summer.

Coming into Haas, I was sometimes uncomfortable sharing my thoughts about controversial topics, especially about gender equality and women in business. However, being among this larger group of women has accelerated my personal development. I am already more confident speaking up when I would have remained quiet, more assured in sharing my opinion when I would have kept it to myself, and more assertive in seeking leadership opportunities that I otherwise would not have considered. I feel a strong support system building among the women in my class, and I can only imagine how we will continue to grow as we progress through the program.

This community of women offers a diverse set of skills, experiences, and perspectives that we can all leverage. For instance, when I am practicing being a more assertive leader, I know I can ask for constructive feedback from my classmate Mor Goldberger, who managed a team of 16 people (14 of them men) working on economic development in post-earthquake Haiti. When I am negotiating a salary, I know that I can depend on coaching from classmates KC Simon and Sonya Hetrick, who achieved the highest results during an in-class negotiation simulation.

Ryann and classmates climbing Half Dome on an MBA camping trip last weekend

Ryann and classmates climbing Half Dome on an MBA camping trip last weekend

When I have questions about managing a career and personal life, I know that I have a large community of like-minded women to ask for advice.

I am also supported by more formal resources. The Women in Leadership (WIL) Club provides skills workshops tailored for women, facilitates networking events to connect members with women alumnae, and organizes mixers to build a stronger community among women AND MEN—who are also engaged members of WIL. I am especially excited to be part of Professor Kellie McElhaney’s course, The Business Case for Investing in Women.

Summit celebration

Half Dome summit celebration

As I become armed with this knowledge and these skills, I feel an increased sense of responsibility to be a leader in the movement toward gender equality.

Haas is in a unique position as the Class of 2016, 43-percent-women strong, begins the Full-time MBA program. We should celebrate this achievement, but understand that we are not done. We as the Haas community have a responsibility to invest in women, to continue to develop a culture that welcomes and supports women, and to be leaders in achieving gender equality.

It is my hope that when women and men graduate from Haas, we are all equipped and driven to establish gender equality within our future organizations. I look forward to a world where 43% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women—and why stop there?!

Ryann1_sizedRyann Kopacka is a member of the Berkeley Full-Time MBA Class of 2016. From Atlanta, Georgia, Ryann worked as a consultant in Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations practice, focusing on supply chain operations and analytics. She also worked as a marketing intern at Osmo Nutrition, a sports nutrition startup company with a line of products specifically formulated for women. Ryann earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Industrial Engineering at Georgia Tech, where she competed on the Varsity Swim Team and held three school records. Now a member of Team USA, Ryann recently competed at the 2014 World Triathlon Championship held in Edmonton, Canada.

Part of the 43%: A First-Year Student Perspective (Part 1)

In this first part of a three-part series on gender balance at Haas, guest blogger Ryann Kopacka, MBA 16, shares her experiences as a new admit to the Full-Time Berkeley MBA Program. Coming Monday: Ryann writes about what it’s been like during her first few weeks of classes. In Part 3, a male student will share his perspective on gender balance at Haas. 

Women In Leadership Retreat_Big Group_sized

Group photo at the Women in Leadership retreat in September

There is something different about Haas this school year.

It is not the hum of construction for the new building, nor is it the addition of sushi in the café.

There are more WOMEN!

The incoming Full-Time Berkeley MBA Class of 2016 boasts 43% women, the highest in the business school’s history and the highest reported among its peers. I am even more impressed by the leap of 14 percentage points from the previous class, and the increase in average GMAT score. I am proud to be member of the Class of 2016.

Orientation Week_sized

Ryann, 2nd from right, and new classmates at orientation week

After I received an exciting phone call earlier this year from Assistant Dean Stephanie Fujii offering me admission, the Haas community continued to reach out to me. Erin Kellerhals, now executive director of FTMBA Admissions, called to welcome me to Haas and offered a listening ear at any time. I also got a call from fellow-East-Coaster Akilah Huguley, MBA 15 and vice president of admissions for her class, who asked if I had any questions or concerns about moving west.

When I attended Days at Haas for new admits, Eliza Rosenbaum from the Class of 2014 spoke at the Women in Leadership breakfast about her decision to attend Haas. Eliza was open about her experience moving from her home in New York to Berkeley. I felt like she was talking right to me. And though I didn’t know at the time, I was also sitting next to my future roommate.

The common thread in these touchpoints was that the Haas community of women was genuinely interested in getting to know me, and in helping me gather the information I needed to make my decision. I am thankful for the dedication of current students and the admissions office. These efforts demonstrate how members of the Haas community go beyond themselves to make a difference to others, and to ensure that school’s gender balance matches its culture and values.

I ultimately chose Haas because I believe it offers me the most holistic education, especially in providing diverse perspectives, ideas, and experiences. The Defining Principles resonated with me before I came, and so far have been prevalent in my interactions on campus. I am most impressed with the confidence among the Haas community, interlaced with an openness to new ideas and a concern about the well-being of others. My classmate Ashley Lohmann embodies this principle: she previously worked on Middle Eastern security policy and is now launching her own company to help social impact organizations in the Middle East share stories that we do not see on the news.

I feel that my classmates are encouraging me to question what society considers to be commonplace and to support me in making changes and finding solutions.

Stay tuned for my next post on my experiences at Haas so far!


Ryann crosses the finish line at the 2014 World Triathlon Championship

Ryann Kopacka is a member of the Full-Time Berkeley MBA Class of 2016. From Atlanta, Georgia, Ryann worked as a consultant in Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations practice, focusing on supply chain operations and analytics. She also worked as a marketing intern at Osmo Nutrition, a sports nutrition startup company with a line of products specifically formulated for women. Ryann earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Industrial Engineering at Georgia Tech, where she competed on the Varsity Swim Team and held three school records. Now a member of Team USA, Ryann recently competed at the 2014 World Triathlon Championship held in Edmonton, Canada.

Where Does Your Inspiration Come From? 3 Stories From 3 Top MBA Scholarship Winners

By Kirsten Mickelwait

This year, Berkeley-Haas grad students will receive scholarships totaling $6 million—and a record-breaking 50 percent of the incoming Full-time MBA class will receive financial awards.

These scholarships are awarded based on merit, need, and specific criteria such as leadership on diversity issues.

Here are three inspiring stories of new full-time MBA students who have received some of the most prestigious awards.


Dean’s Fellowship: This $110,000 scholarship is awarded based on career potential as a “path-bending leader.”

West Point-educated Benjamin Raphael spent nine years in the Army, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan and rising from infantry platoon leader to Special Forces battalion operations officer. When he left the military in 2014, he was rated in the top five percent of captains after serving in the elite 7th Special Forces Group, and had been selected for promotion to major.

Though he had achieved military distinction without formal business training, he realized that a Haas MBA would equip him with the skills to create global economic opportunities.

As a Green Beret in Afghanistan, Raphael earned the Army Commendation Medal for Valor after planning and leading the rescue of a helicopter crew, recovering sensitive material, and evacuating wounded soldiers under fire.

He also reduced conflict in a notoriously violent Afghan province by innovating with local leaders. Raphael noticed that pomegranates, which grew abundantly in the area, weren’t being well-marketed or distributed. In addition, vendors from lucrative marketplaces were reluctant to deal with the pomegranate growers because of the region’s violent reputation.

Raphael convinced the growers to overcome their bad image through advertising and networking, and created new ways to package and deliver the pomegranates to large external markets. His efforts ultimately increased local employment by 25 percent and decreased violence.

“I’m passionate about developing and employing unconventional solutions to complex problems,” he says. “Through business, I want to make the world a better place for children like my two young daughters.”

Zara KhanZara Khan, MBA 16

Dean’s Fellowship

Zara Khan believes a path-bending leader is “someone with a stubborn itch, a vision fueled by passion, and a persistence fueled by courage.” She should know.

Raised in the comforts of suburban American and the realities of rural Pakistan, she grew up alternating between field hockey skirts and burkas, with a growing determination to fight poverty as her life’s work.

By the time she applied to Haas, Khan had worked at a non-governmental organization in Rwanda, where she designed projects to deliver farm extension services to 60,000 coffee growers. At the International Finance Corporation (IFC)—the private arm of the World Bank—she structured an investment in a Ugandan powdered milk plant that reduced dependence on food imports and increased incomes of 10,000 dairy farmers.

But Khan soon decided she needed an MBA to broaden her skills in operations and general management. She was attracted to the Haas culture of open-mindedness and innovation, as well as its small class sizes and tight-knit alumni base. With her Haas degree, she plans to continue her career in international development and eventually start her own development consulting practice that will focus on high-impact sectors like agribusiness.

“In my village in Pakistan, farmers are still struggling to feed their families and make ends meet,” she says. “The economy is shrinking, schools and hospitals are starved for resources, and there is little hope that the children will live a better life. I can change this in my lifetime, but it will take more than just money.”

Gerardo Ruiz de Teresa_sizedGerardo Ruiz de Teresa, MBA 16

Maxwell Scholarship: Established in memory of Brian L. Maxwell through the generosity of Jennifer Maxwell, the Maxwell Fellowship of $110,000, goes to individuals who have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and a drive to create and implement innovative projects, products, and ideas.

Gerardo Ruiz de Teresa was working at his dream job for General Electric, selling gas and steam turbine parts in Latin America, when he had a true “lightbulb moment.” After reading that 97 percent of Mexico had electric power, he realized that still left more than three million people in the dark. With his GE cubicle partner, he began thinking about how they could get electricity to his country’s poorest people

Ruiz de Teresa was inspired to leave his secure position and cofound Iluméxico, a social enterprise that provides solar energy systems to replace such hazardous energy sources as candles and diesel lamps in remote communities. In just four years, Iluméxico has brought light to more than 15,000 people in 11 Mexican states.

Trained as an engineer, Ruiz de Teresa soon realized that building a social enterprise also requires expertise in finance, administration, and strategy. He set his sights on Haas because of its focus on new technologies and social impact.

“My goal is to be an integral contributor to the development of my country, with a company that nourishes the economy through job creation and a strong social and environmental focus,” he says.

Ruiz de Teresa was also been recognized by Ernst & Young as 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year in social impact, and was a Fulbright Scholar.


MickelwaitGuest blogger Kirsten Mickelwait is a local freelance writer and third-generation UC Berkeley graduate specializing in higher education, business, health care, and nonprofits.


Two MBA Students Shortlisted in Child Cancer Challenge

Rekha Iyer, MBA 15

Rekha Iyer, MBA 15

A comment from a doctor at a children’s cancer hospital in Bangladesh moved Rekha Iyer and her international team of MBA students to action.

The doctor said most of the families seeking care for their children make less than $2 per day. When they find out cancer treatments cost $10,000 to $15,000, they go home and cry “because they realize they can’t do anything for their child,” he said.

“As a parent, that doctor’s words really resonated with me,” Iyer says.

Iyer, MBA 15, is one of two Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA students shortlisted in a Financial Times competition to develop business plans for the British nonprofit World Child Cancer (WCC).

Matt Volm, MBA 16, is also among the 40 students on seven finalist teams in the Financial Times MBA Challenge. The teams were tasked with coming up with recommendations for the long-term sustainability of WCC’s programs in developing countries.

WCC partners with hospitals and healthcare workers in Africa, Asia, and Central America to increase children’s access to drugs and treatment.

Challenge winners will be announced in October.

Matt Volm, MBA 15

Matt Volm, MBA 16

“I got involved to have an opportunity to evaluate a major healthcare issue at the global level for a great cause,” says Volm. “I knew my finance background would help, as a lot of times the hardest part about a problem is putting solid data around a potential solution.”

Volm’s team of seven includes students from Nigeria and Europe. Their project, Ripple, is focused on Ghana, where child cancer patients have limited access to drugs and treatment is prohibitively expensive.

Iyer’s team, Cut Out Cancer, developed a plan to use mobile technology to help the Bangladeshi hospital raise funds.

When Iyer came across the competition online, she saw it as an opportunity to test her skills and new career direction.

With a background in pharma and biotech, she plans to use her MBA to pursue a career in healthcare and social impact.

“The charity that we are partnering with brings my interests together,” she says. “It’s more and more important for an NGO to be run with the same discipline as a business.”

Each team must have representatives from the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Both Volm and Iyer said the experience of working with an international team has been rewarding—and also a logistical challenge.

“The international perspective that my team members bring is truly amazing and I’ve been able to learn so much from simply interacting with them,” Volm says. “The most difficult part has been coordinating schedules. Having team members in Africa and Europe can mean some pretty early morning conference calls.”

Read more about the Financial Times MBA Challenge.


Slideshow: Full-Time MBA Week Zero Highlights

Full-time MBA Week Zero was a whirlwind!

The star-studded speaker lineup included A’s General Manager Billy Beane and Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson; Indiegogo co-founder Danae Ringelmann, MBA 08; IDEO General Manager Tom Kelley, MBA 83; Gap CFO Sabrina Simmons, BS 85; and tech evangelist and author Guy Kawasaki. In addition to a crash course in all the program essentials and lots of chances to mingle, students put in some heavy lifting at the Alameda Point Collaborative housing organization for homeless families, and had lots of goofy fun at the Cohort Olympics.

Check out some of the highlights:


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Congratulations to Week Zero coordinators extraordinaire Chad Brinton, Katie Benintende, and Gorka Vigara de Otazu, all MBA 15!

MBA Internships: Design Thinking in Practice at IDEO

Sandeep Pahuja, MBA 15, is interning with global design consultancy IDEO in San Francisco. Here’s an account—in his own words—of his experiences as a business designer in the Food Studio.

Man on the street: Sandeep conducts ethnographic research for a consumer packaged goods IDEO client.

Man on the street: Sandeep conducts ethnographic research for a consumer packaged goods IDEO client.

Student: Sandeep Pahuja, Full-Time MBA 15

IDEO because: During Orientation Week (exactly one year ago!), IDEO Partner and Berkeley MBA 83 Alumnus Tom Kelley spoke about IDEO and design thinking. I had certainly heard of IDEO, but this was the first time I heard someone really explain the company in detail. It immediately became my dream internship. I sought out the role of business designer because it is the perfect blend of creativity and strategy.

Excited about: IDEO’s human-centered design approach starts with understanding user needs by talking with and watching users in context. I was thrilled to do ethnographic research this summer and engage with potential users directly.

For one of my projects, we worked with a large consumer packaged goods (CPG) company to help them enter a new category by creating a new brand and products. We made numerous prototypes to take out in the field and show to people. We were able to talk to more than 140 people in a few days about the brand and prototypes we were working on.

It was incredible to get feedback from that many people so quickly—it forced us to rethink some assumptions. It was an unbelievable learning experience that informed how we proceeded.

A highlight: The magic of IDEO comes from interdisciplinary teams. One of my teams included industrial product designers, graphic designers, a writer, a food scientist, an anthropologist, a former brand manager, a former Google product manager, and me. When you put together a team like that, you have everyone looking at problems from a different angle, and generating totally different ideas about how to attack them. It creates an incredibly rich environment that is very exciting.

Being surrounded by smart and talented people every day has been amazing, and getting to dive deep on problems with smaller teams has been enlightening.

Inside IDEO: The culture at IDEO is weird in the best way possible. Like Haas, IDEO has its own core values: be optimistic, collaborate, embrace ambiguity, learn from failure, make others successful, take ownership, and talk less/do more. Taken together it’s creative, informal, fun, serious (in project spaces), transparent, random, and rebellious. IDEOers are constantly sharing, learning, and doing.

Every day we get at least one company-wide email from an IDEOer is seeking inspiration for a project, and the whole company gets many thoughtful responses. We have Google groups where people post links to the things they believe are worth sharing. IDEOers take it upon themselves to help others learn new skills. This summer, we’ve had IDEOers from our China and Japan offices come in to share not only their amazing work but also what they’ve been challenged by in their countries. I love that people are always willing to help out, coach, and teach.

Design humor

Design humor

One example of random fun at the office: one of our bathrooms has a chalkboard wall that has different questions on it. Right now the question is “what do you collect?” In true IDEO fashion, there are many different answers on Post-it notes, but my favorite has to be the hilarious collection of corny jokes. It’s the little, random things like this that really add to the IDEO culture.

Haas skills applied: Most new problems we face are different from the last ones, and they challenge us to look for different angles. Design thinking enable teams to turn big, unwieldy problems into digestible chunks. Thankfully, Haas teaches design thinking in the core program with Problem Finding, Problem Solving, so I was able to start my internship already having been through parts of the process.

Advancing career goals by: My #1 goal a year ago was to work at IDEO and really get into the design-thinking process. I’ve been lucky enough to have an incredible experience at IDEO this summer that has let me do both. Coming back to Haas, I plan on taking as many opportunities as possible to practice design thinking and to keep developing my skills.


MBA Internships: Consulting on Main Street


Wine by the barrel: Kory rolls up his sleeves at Brooks Winery in rural Oregon, where his MBAs Across America team did a comprehensive cost and break-even analysis.

Student: Kory Vargas Caro, MBA 15

Interning with: MBAs Across America, a startup organization that’s sending teams of business students on six-week summer road trips to both help and learn from small entrepreneurs.

This is the inaugural year of the program, which was started by four Harvard MBAs who gave the idea a test drive last summer.

Before the trip, Vargas Caro and his teammates identified, screened, and selected six entrepreneurs with specific business challenges. They’re now traversing the country, from Montana to Colorado to Detroit to North Carolina, spending one week on each project before hitting the road to their next gig.

Their projects have included  a comprehensive cost and break-even analysis for a winery, and a go-to-market plan for a line of custom guide-dog harnesses, and a shipping and distribution strategy for a subscription box service—focusing on hand-crafted products from Nashville—that is expanding to five new states.

MBAxA because: “People forget that small businesses are the largest engine of growth in America, and the largest providers of jobs. These are people who are having a positive impact in their communities, yet they are often overlooked.”

“Our team particularly wanted to focus on women and minorities. I was a small business owner (political fundraising and organizing), so this is an opportunity to combine the tools that Haas has given me with real-life experiences to help people who are just like me.”

Excited about: “Getting the chance to meet impressive small business owners in areas I’ve never visited. The people we’ve worked with are leading the way on how entrepreneurship should be done. In Bozeman, Montana, we worked with the owner of a café and pizzeria who was pushing the envelope on farm-to-table dining in her community. We worked with a winery owner in rural Oregon who was building a $1.2 million tasting room that would transform the Valley into a destination for wine tasting, helping out local wineries in the area.”

Highlight so far: “The strength of the team. We’d never met or worked together before. Now we’re spending 24-7 together on the road. We’ve gotten closer. The work has gotten stronger. We understand each other’s strengths. In Detroit we met the other teams on the road. It was a great learning moment for me, when we got to share our experiences with one another. I’m very thankful for being exposed to this movement and making these friends and building this amazing network.”

Team Ross/Haas and Tiffany Lach, the owner of Sola Cafe in Bozeman, Montana.

Team Ross/Haas and Tiffany Lach, the owner of Sola Cafe in Bozeman, Montana.

Haas skills applied: “Team Haas/Ross is the only mixed-school team, and that has turned out to be a big advantage. It’s also helped me see what we do well at Haas. We put a lot of emphasis on teams, and we really do lead the way in design thinking.

I’ve put this into practice every day. The first day, we just ask questions and we take notes. Questions like: can you help me understand why this is important to you? We keep asking questions, and we look at the assumptions underneath. Is it true that you have a bottleneck here? Is it true that the technology you have isn’t working for you? Instead of people telling us what they want us to fix, we start by making sure it’s the right problem.”

Big takeaway: “I came into this knowing nothing about wine, nothing about restaurants, nothing about dog collars. I still know just a bit about them—but now I know the questions you need to ask. Once you get to the problems and get through to the answers, the rest is mechanical. With a few more experiences in other industries, I could do absolutely anything.”

Advancing career goals by: “I came into Haas wanting to explore the world of entrepreneurship. Having been a small business owner, I knew I would eventually start another business. This trip has helped solidify my belief that I’ll end up in the start-up world. This is where I’m most happy. I’m recommitted to the path I started on.”

Read the Ross/Haas team’s blog posts here.

Read about the team’s week at Brooks Winery in Oregon’s Statesman Journal, and in the Denver Business Journal.

MBA Internships: Thinking Big at Amazon

You don't need to work at Amazon to use an Amazon Locker. Jesse Silberberg MBA '15, is interning as a senior product manager.

You don’t need to work at Amazon to use an Amazon Locker. Jesse Silberberg, MBA 15, is interning as a senior product manager.

Student: Jesse Silberberg, MBA 15

Internship: Senior Product Manager with Amazon’s Kindle Education group. “We are responsible for building eTextbook functionality for Kindle, and study features including Flashcards, X-Ray and Notebook. I’m focused on making Kindle an even more powerful tool for students.

Amazon because: “I came into Haas with a passion for education, innovation and technology, and I’m getting to work on all three at once. I was excited to get experience working in product management, which involves interfacing with folks across different functions, including business, engineering and UX. In addition, Amazon has a reputation for giving interns ownership of really meaningful projects, and I was also excited to push myself to deliver something that would make a difference for the company and its customers over the course of my 11 weeks here this summer.”

Thrilled about: “Outside of my core project, I’ve had the chance to interact with the company’s most senior leaders, each of whom spend an hour with the MBA group talking about their experiences and answering questions in an informal setting. I’ve learned a lot from how they’ve approached their careers and solved challenges of a huge scale. It’s great motivation to push myself on what I can achieve as a leader.”

Highlight so far: “In the third week of my internship I had an hour to present my early thinking at a weekly meeting of product managers from across the Kindle group. They were supportive of what I was working on at a high level, but dug into the holes in my argument in a really constructive way. Their feedback helped me figure out the right questions to answer far more quickly than if I was working through the challenge on my own.”

Inside Amazon: “Amazon takes a lot of pride in its Leadership Principles, and uses them to make decisions on a daily basis. My favorites are “Think Big”, “Bias for Action,” and “Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit.” They give everyone at the company, including interns, the grounds for taking a stand on a big idea, and it makes the work that much more exciting.”

Applied learning: “Everything Amazon does is in service of its customers, so for my project I wanted to get input from customers as quickly as possible. I held a focus group with students and brought some Haas flair to its execution, using design thinking tactics (and Post It notes) to push participants to really think outside of the box.”

Advancing career goals by: “From an exposure perspective, I had worked for an early stage ed-tech startup before school, and it’s great to work this summer for a much larger company to compare and contrast the two experiences. From a skill perspective, I’m flexing a lot of different muscles—customer interviews, survey design, data analysis, feature scoping—and getting feedback on my work from product managers, designers and developers. To sum it up, I’m doing— and learning—a ton.”

Warm Buttered Pretzels: Insights from International Consulting Trips



From Kenya to Kazakhstan to South Africa to Singapore, full-time MBA students crisscrossed the globe this summer on International Business Development consulting trips.

All told, 23 teams traveled to 18 countries to complete projects they had spent months preparing for.

Their projects were as diverse as the countries they visited. A sampling: introducing mom-and-pops in India to SAP’s modern retail systems; developing a go-to-market plan for a cloud encryption product, improving distribution for a leading lab equipment vendor in China, and building market strategies to combat diarrheal disease in Tanzania.

While the content of their work varied widely, all the trips had a common theme: students picked up fascinating insights on international business culture. For example, the team working with SAP Labs in India blogged about the surprises they found from start to finish:

haas-at-the-taj“We walked into Bangalore anticipating another version of Silicon Valley on the other side of the globe. We were not prepared for what we came across, a city that was both developed and yet steeped in so much tradition, both modern and yet traditional, and altogether unpredictable. What we learned over the next three weeks was that this would be a theme rippling across our experiences in India.”

Pretzels, not muffins, at meetings in Munich

Pretzels, not muffins, at meetings in Munich

Another team, which stopped to meet with a strategic partner in Munich on the way to advise a startup in Moscow, found warm buttered pretzels waiting for them in a conference room. They were impressed when the CEO leading the meeting left the room, returned with a small toolkit, and repaired a malfunctioning air-conditioner knob—all without stopping the conversation.

“I guess the idea that no task is too small when you’re the CEO of a small company is cross cultural,” the students wrote.

Students found that in Thailand, clients prefer to build a relationship before getting to the task at hand, while in Moscow, it’s straight to business. Even so, Muscovites take lunch seriously, and would never eat at their desks unless it’s absolutely necessary.

To read more of the teams’ blog posts on their projects and adventures, visit Haas in the World.

MBA students bring home gold for diversity T.E.A.M.-work


Kory and Nikita show off the T.E.A.M. trophy.

Berkeley MBA students working to increase minority representation and leadership at Haas and beyond have brought home the highest honor from the country’s largest and oldest business diversity organization.

The group also won $10,000 to build on their work for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.

Nikita Mitchell, Kory Vargas Caro, and Dan Wong, all MBA 15, accepted the T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) trophy earlier this month on behalf of Haas Consortium students. The three students served as liaisons to the organization this year.

“We were determined. For us, it was the way to prove to the Consortium that Haas is very serious about this work,” Mitchell says.

Established in 1966, the Consortium is an alliance of schools and corporate partners committed to reducing the under-representation of African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans in the ranks of upper management. It provides merit-based, full MBA-program fellowships to top candidates who have proven records of promoting inclusion in their schools, jobs, or personal lives.

Haas has been a longstanding member of the Consortium. There were 43 Consortium fellows in the Haas MBA program last year. Twenty-eight more will arrive this fall, bringing the total to 52.

The Haas group competed against 16 other b-schools for the hefty gold trophy.

Consortium fellow selfie

Consortium fellow selfie

To win, the group had to demonstrate their success in fundraising, community building, and fulfilling their duties as Consortium liaisons. They did much more:starting with a strategy meeting at the beginning of the school year to determine their goals and priorities as a group. Their activities included organizing school-wide social events; building a new leadership model for the group; organizing treks with other member schools; and taking an active role in the admissions process to increase the number of fellows who chose Haas.

In addition, the last two Consortium cohorts have stepped into more Haas leadership roles than ever—including Mitchell, who is the first African-American woman to serve as president of the MBA Association.

Mitchell said the race for the T.E.A.M. trophy is a different kind of competition.

“Everyone is happy for whoever wins, since we’re all working for a cause that we all believe in,” Mitchell says. “But at the end of the day, you want to prove that you are the school that is working the most passionately toward the Consortium’s mission.”