A record year for MBA fundraising: students collect more than $85,000 for charities; volunteer 4,000 hours

Full-time MBA C4C leaders presented a $43,000 check to Special Olympics of Northern California CEO Rick Collett last month.

Full-time MBA C4C leaders presented a $43,000 check to Special Olympics of Northern California CEO Rick Collett last month.

Full-time MBA students went way beyond themselves this year in their annual Challenge for Charity (C4C) campaigns, raising a $85,000 for charitable causes—including $43,350 for the Special Olympics of Northern California. The total was a 25 percent increase over last year’s fundraising.

C4C is the nation’s largest MBA charitable organization, with nine West Coast member schools. Haas came in 3rd among the members this year. Sara Oon and Tiger Lee, both MBA 15, led the 2014 C4C campaign before passing the mantle to Marisa Johnson and John Maus, MBA 16, in January.

For their C4C campaigns, Berkeley-Haas students raise money and provide volunteers for the Special Olympics of Northern California; the Alameda Point Collaborative, a nonprofit dedicated to providing housing for and aiding the homeless or those at risk of homelessness; and Reading Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s literacy rates through weekly mentorship. In addition to raising funds, students volunteered 2,300 hours for the three charities during the year.

Outside of C4C, Haasies logged another 1,700 volunteer hours for a variety of other causes, bringing the total for the year to 4,000 hours—a 50 percent increase over last year, Johnson said. Students also raised $6,000 in a crowdfunding campaign for Nepal earthquake relief.

Full-Time and Evening & Weekend MBA Commencement: Slideshow & Student Speeches, & Video

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 Photos: Jim Block

Evening & Weekend MBA Brandon Middleton’s Commencement Rap

IMG_0258Dearly beloved as we close this last chapter

It’s appropriate to be sent off by the class’s favorite rapper

When I heard I’d been elected to give to you this message

I knew I had to try to do it big and make it epic //

For the record this was the last assignment I accepted

First commencement rap ever … Guinness Book of World Records? … hmm

Student Always, Beyond Yourself … forever

Questioning the Status Quo so we can change the world … together//

DCF, SG&A, and WTP,

LBO, IRR, and EVC

All foreign concepts to Brandon at the start

Thousands later though they’re tattoed on my heart//

MBA equals marriage babies and academics

Manifestations from all three I’ve seen from the beginning

I’ll miss a lot of things like taking naps on that shuttle

Like sometimes not reading a case and somehow not getting in trouble//

Like rich case discussions, the insights and lessons

Not getting to the insight because we asked so many questions

Like Jim the photographer and Dean Lyon’s dances

Like Saturdays not checking and showing up at the wrong campus//

Y’all never did that right, probably wasn’t your struggle

But you must admit that being EW teaches you how to juggle

It teaches you how to hustle, my look at how we’ve grown

Multitasking homework, family, and watching Game of Thrones//

So thank you Haas for the challenge and thank you for the love

We did more than what we thought we were capable of

Congrats to the spouses, professors, and the staff

On a job well done filled with lots of fun and laughs//

And finally my hats off to the class of fifteen

You’re a good looking group … you’re So Fresh and So Clean

This for gold and for oski to axe and to blue

It’s B. Middleton signing off I will now bid you adieu//

 

Full-time MBA Sandeep Pahuja’s Commencement Speech

IMG_9438My greatest fear in life is that I won’t live up to my potential. And two years ago it seemed more certain than ever that I would have to settle for a life I didn’t want to lead. There was that nagging voice of self-doubt in my head telling me, “You’re not ready.” Round 1, rejection email. Round 2, rejection email.  Round 3, rejection email. Each time, every successive round that voice screaming louder and louder in my head “I told you so.” In those moments of intense self-doubt, when all that I had worked hard for seemed futile, my family and friends picked me up—because they knew that I could. And they believed in me when I stopped believing in myself. And they gave me the gentle push to go after the life I wanted and I applied to Berkeley in Round 4.

I remember getting the phone call, and being so afraid of the possibility of what might happen that I let it go to voicemail (sorry Stephanie), because something I worked so hard for was about to happen and it was scary.  I like to think that I was the last person the school let in, the one that Haas took a chance on, the one with below average GMATs, but above average facial hair growing ability. I wanted to come to Berkeley not only because Haas creates leaders, whether in investment banking or non-profits, but because Berkeley teaches us how to think differently, find the right problem to solve, and most importantly, helps us find the right path for us.

But we never would have gotten here today if it weren’t for all of those people that believed we could even when we were sure we couldn’t.  To the partner who told you that you needed to go across the country to go to Berkeley-Haas even if it meant a long distance relationship, the friends that continued to ask you what you really did at business school since all they saw on your Instagram feed was pictures of HaasBoats and VegHaas and HaasLoween and HaasDogs and #HaasTag and #Haasome and every other event we like to combine with Haas, the professors who’ve dedicated themselves to teaching us to recognize the pitfalls of the leaders that came before us, and the amazing staff that does all of the little things with no fanfare and makes this place better year after year. THANK YOU.

But I want to especially want to thank our families who made us we are—I am thinking of my family today, that couldn’t be here today because my mother needed emergency surgery yesterday, who thankfully is doing okay—love you Mom. Hopefully the livestream is working better than AirBears2. But most of all, thank you class of 2015. Because if you happen to be by yourself today, I want to remind you that you have 250 family members sitting with you today in this audience. We’ve spent the last two years growing into this family, and we’ve accomplished amazing things. And we did it because we pushed, challenged, and supported each other.

Take my friend Gordon Yu, who pushed me to join Ben Killmer’s Lean Launch Pad team.  A push and a challenge that’s changed my path and led me to co-found a startup. Together we won 12 case competitions, started 10, soon to be 11, companies, raised over $170,000 for charity and volunteered the equivalent of 155 days, had more than 5,000 people attend the 9 conferences we organized, created our own signature cocktail, and incredibly had 9 babies born in two years.  We were all admitted to Haas because they saw who we could be, we’ve spent the last two years pushing each other to reach new highs, and now it’s our time to go out into the world and live up to that potential.

I want to turn my fear into an asset so I am going to leave you with a challenge today. Find your own path. Don’t go follow someone else’s because it’s what you are supposed to do. Associate to engagement manager to partner—throw it away.  Make your own—skip around, skip ahead, go backwards, but do it because it’s yours and it’s the one you want to be on, not the one you think you should be on or the one that’s going to give you the most money. You have to. You’ve given so much of your heart and soul, and frankly, your bank account, to become the leader Berkeley believed you could be. You know right now in your gut if you are on the right path or if you aren’t. I want you to make calendar invite for one year from now, and invite the classmate that has pushed, challenged, and supported you the most. If you haven’t found your right path yet, spend the next year doing what you’re passionate about in all of your free time. On May 22, 2016 call that person up, and talk to them about where you are at because you’ll need a push to walk away from a comfortable life to go for one that holds meaning for you. And if in a year you don’t get the push you need, call me because we’re family, and I know you can.

Our lives are short, and our time is fleeting. Spend it with the ones you love, doing the things you want, with the people who matter the most. We are ready.

 

Two Haas Teams Among Top Winners of LAUNCH Startup Competition

By Karen Sorensen, guest blogger

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Haas startups Xendit and Optucourse were among the four teams to take home $50,000 in prize money Thursday at the annual finals for LAUNCH—the Berkeley Startup Competition.

Now in its 17th year, the event featured a start-up expo, fast-paced pitches from five finalist teams to a group of judges, VCs, and a live audience of more than 300 people, as well as plenty of B-School related jokes from Dilbert creator Scott Adams, MBA 86.

This year’s LAUNCH competition, organized by Berkeley MBA students and hosted by the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, attracted more than 100 entries, each with a required UC-affiliation.

The 15 semifinalists, working on everything from healthcare to financial tech to electronics, participated in a new, rigorous four-month accelerator program—complete with training, networking, and mentorship.

Event organizers said they were amazed by how accomplished the finalists are this year.

“Investors have been clamoring to meet with the teams,” said Dan Schoening, who co-chaired the competition with Franklin Russell, both MBA 16.

The new LAUNCH format is part of a move at Haas to shift entrepreneurship programs to a new accelerator/lean-startup model.

“From hackathons to Lean LaunchPad to LAUNCH we can teach and support our entrepreneurs from the idea stage all the way through to where they can credibly talk to angel investors,” says Andre Marquis, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship.

Funny moment

In true Dilbert fashion, LAUNCH keynote speaker Scott Adams—a supporter of Berkeley’s Skydeck accelerator—offered a contrarian view of success, reviewing his “36 business failures.” His final comment—making fun of the students’ attempt to solve all sorts of problems, including toe fungus asthma—drew roars of laughter. “I’m really happy I came here, not just because I got to meet great folks, but because I have asthma, toe fungus, and I snore.”

The Winners

Grand Prize ($25,000): Transcense, which has created a mobile app that allows people with hearing-impairments to understand and participate in group conversations. The company’s founder and CEO, Berkeley engineering alumnus Thibault Duchemin, MEng, 14, was mentored through Haas Lecturer Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad course. Transcense plans to launch its product next month and is currently working on seed funding. The company attracted $30,000 of pre-orders within just six days, Duchemin says.

While participating in LAUNCH, Duchemin said, the focus on customer interviews helped the company refine and improve its product from a transcription device into an easier-to-use, more intelligent “personal captioner” for the deaf, Duchemin said.

Transcense now uses speech-recognition technology to deliver what’s being said into multiple users’ phones at a given moment—and shares all parts of the conversation with a deaf person, he explained.

Runner Up ($15,000): Xendit, which has built an app to transfer money around the world at a fraction of the cost of established money-wiring services. The team includes Moses Lo and Vivek Ahuja, both MBA 15; and Bo Chen and Juan Gonzalez, both EECS 13.

Moses Lo, MBA 15, co-founder of Runner Up award winner Xendit, said the help of LAUNCH mentor Philip Inghelbrecht particularly helpful. Inghelbrecht is co-founder of music app maker Shazam, “He helped us do the right things faster.”

Audience Choice ($5,000): Optucourse, which aims to improve online learning via live online discussions. The team includes Jonathan Heyne, MBA 15; Armando Fox, PhD Computer Science, 98

Faculty Choice ($5,000): DeviceFarm, which has built a medical device to cure fungal nail infections. The team includes Jeffrey Roe, PhD Bioengineering, 89.


KarenSorensen_BioPhoto_300Guest blogger Karen Sorensen is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer who specializes in business, innovation, and education.

Haas Help for Nepal

The women of Beauty for Ashes

The women of Beauty for Ashes, a Nepali organization that MBA students in the International Business Development program worked with last spring. The group helps survivors of sex trafficking earn money through handicrafts.

UPDATE: The campaign wrapped up May 8 with $6,000 raised! Many thanks to all who went beyond themselves—after already contributing to other C4C campaigns throughout the year. The organizers will keep donors informed on which organizations receive the funds.

MBA students who traveled to Nepal last year with the International Business Development program, and with Challenge for Charity (C4C) leaders, have spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign for earthquake relief in the devastated country.

Launched on Tilt, the campaign funds will target non-governmental organizations on the ground in Nepal. Student organizers are working with international contacts in their networks to quickly identify the most high-impact organizations, and will keep all donors apprised of how the funds are distributed.

“It’s a very, very scary situation over there,” says Jackie Laird, MBA 15, who was part of Team Beauty for Ashes in Kathmandu last June. “We are trying to get funds there sooner rather than later.”

You can learn more and donate here.

Jackie says she and other students have been in touch with the women they worked with, and all of them are OK—but their families are not. They are not only trying to get help to their relatives, but they are fanning out throughout the city on foot—the only way to get around at this point—trying to help others in need, especially children.

“The way the hospitals work in Nepal is that you don’t get anything for free—including water. Your family and friends have to bring it to you,” she says. “Hospitals are way underfunded. Many of them only have one bathroom.”

Jackie says her team’s experience in Nepal was eye-opening. “Nepal was far worse than I expected, in terms of how destitute it is. If that’s the way it was like in good times, I can’t imagine what it’s like now,” she says.

With monsoon season looming and tens of thousands without shelter, the situation is critical. The 7.8-magnitude quake that rocked Nepal last Saturday killed more than 5,500 people, and injured at least 12,000. The death toll continues to rise, with many remote villages still inaccessible.

MBA students will be in the courtyard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday (with baked goods!) to raise awareness for the campaign. If you have any questions, please reach out to the C4C organizers: Marisa JohnsonJohn Maus, and Sara Oon, all MBA 14. You can also contact Jackie Laird with questions.

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New Global Norm: “Superbrands” Converge at Asia Business Conference, March 6

companiesExecs from border-spanning tech powerhouses like Houzz, Evernote, and LinkedIn—which already have tens of millions of users across Asia—will be featured at the 15th annual Asia Business Conference on Friday, March 6.

This year’s theme, “Converging on a New Global Norm,” will explore the long-term implications of increasing globalization for both Asian and Western firms. The student-run conference will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the San Francisco Marriott. Register here (use the code HAASASIA for $15 off).

“We wanted to take a step back from the latest headlines on emerging competitors from Asia and really think about where this is all leading—for startups as well as multinationals,” says conference Co-Chair Blake Street, MBA 15. “As we thought more about it, we kept coming back to the notion of global convergence.”

Street used Alibaba as an example: “Will it look more like Western tech giants in 10 years, or will it retain a uniquely Asian identity and operating model?” Already, Asian firms are undergoing significant reforms to become more like established multinationals in the West. And Western firms are adapting to local markets in Asia in order to capture growth opportunities, conference organizers pointed out.

The keynote speaker is Thomas Clayton, vice president of international operations for Houzz, which announced its first foray Japan in December. Other speakers include Ying Liu, principal international designer for LinkedIn, which surpassed 50 million users in the Asia Pacific region last year, and Linda Kozlowski, vice president of worldwide operations for Evernote, which has more than 30 million users in the region. The lineup also includes executives from Goodwater Capital; Kinzon Capital; Founders Spacebtrax; and 500 Startups.

“San Francisco and Silicon Valley are the Pacific Rim gateway for countries in Asia to do business and build partnerships for success in the US,” says Susan Hsieh, EWMBA 16, who plans to attend. “I want to hear from today’s business leaders on their exciting initiatives and how they are leveraging US and Asian talents to build better companies.”

Berkeley-Haas students explore Shanghai's Nan Jing Road during an International Business Development consulting project.

Berkeley-Haas students explore Shanghai’s Nan Jing Road during an International Business Development consulting project.

In addition to Street, the conference is co-organized by Simon Yoo, MBA 15, along with Danny Wang, EWMBA 16; George James, MBA 16; Sydnie Reed, MBA/MPH 16; and Sandeep Srinivasan, EWMBA 17.

Students, Staff, Faculty Give Big Thanks to Donors

Berkeley-Haas students, faculty, and staff stopped by the Bank of America Forum last month to thank donors, and to acknowledge the fact that tuition only covers about half of the cost of running Haas. Philanthropy covers one-third of the other half.

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Donor Appreciation Week is celebrated each January, halfway through the school year, to honor donors’ generosity.

Students, faculty, and staff wrote hundreds of personal notes, thanking benefactors for keeping Haas a top-ranked business school. Many students reflected on the value of their Berkeley-Haas education and shared their commitment to become supporters of the school one day.

Dean Lyons, BS 82, had this to say:

“This outstanding institution would not be what it is—not anywhere close—without private support like yours. Thanks for being part of all the momentum.”

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Video: 7 MBA student veterans share their stories of transitions and tranformations

We spoke with seven students—all of whom have been deployed to war zones and other hotspots across the globe—who inspired us with their stories.

These veteran scholars were all leaders in the military. In their transitions from the military to MBAs, they discovered they bring strong skills to contribute to their teams at school and in their careers. At BerkeleyHaas, they say they are adding more depth and new dimensions to their leadership experience.

Between the full-time, part-time, and executing Berkeley MBA programs, along with the undergraduate programs, we have 60 veterans at Haas this year. We thank them for their service.

Cross-Campus Collaboration + Innovation = 1st Place in Tech Challenge

Dirk de Wit, Kiki Liu, and Charles Guo (left to right), winners of the Tech-to-Market Innovation Challenge

Dirk de Wit, Kiki Liu, and Charles Guo (left to right), winners of the Tech-to-Market Innovation Challenge

The competition: Tech-to-Market Challenge, organized by the Berkeley-Haas European Business Club and sponsored by Orange Silicon Valley and Qualcomm Technologies.

The outcome: First-place win and $4,000 grand prize

The team: Charles Guo, MBA 15, Berkeley School of Information student Kiki Liu, and Dirk de Wit, a visiting I-School student from Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands

The challenge: Students competed against teams from across campus to develop biz and tech strategies that capitalize on the emerging LTE Direct mobile standard. LTE Direct employs “ambient awareness,” which allows mobile devices to passively monitor broadcasts from other devices within several hundred meters. The technology opens up possibilities for hyper-local mobile advertising, a burgeoning industry expected to grow into the billions.

What made them winners: The team recommended that the competition sponsors adopt a platform they called “Connect Better,” which would allow retailers to attract consumers into their their stores by pushing out real-time offers and promotions. For example, a shopper strolling through a mall on a hot day might get an alert for a deal on a on a double Java Chip Frapuccino from Starbucks or a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone.

Charles said the team’s go-to-market strategy to get the full range of potential users–telecoms, advertisers, brands, and mobile device users–to adopt the advertising platform distinguished their project from others.

Working in an interdisciplinary team was a big advantage, he said. “Everyone brought a unique view and skill set to the team. Our team was able to successfully balance technical and business perspectives in every part of our decision making,” he said. “Working with a data scientist and a programmer also gave me a glimpse of the environment that I would encounter during my internship with HP this summer.”

The H-factor: “This was an innovation case competition so we used several brainstorming approaches from Problem Finding, Problem Solving to generate use cases ideas and business models,” he says. “I was also exposed to a variety of business models through the cases we examined in Toby Stuart’s Entrepenurship class. Exposure to numerous models really helped me mix and match concepts to form our business model.”

MBA Students Score Big in Soccer, Trivia in Challenge for Charity

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Berkeley MBA students showed their prowess in soccer and trivia during the annual Challenge 4 Charity (C4C) Sports Weekend last month.

Nine West Coast business schools competed in physical and mental challenges at Stanford while raising funds for the Special Olympics and local charities.

Berkeley-Haas came in first with fancy footwork (and head and knee moves) in soccer. In addition, a quartet of Berkeley MBA students won the trivia competition. Overall, Haas came in third in the entire competition.

Haas students also flexed their musical muscle on stage in the final performance of David Haaselhoff and the Four Chord Principles, a band whose name is a play on the school’s four Defining Principles.

This year, Berkeley MBA students raised more than $69,000 ($30,000 of which was donated to Philippine’s Disaster Relief) and worked numerous volunteer hours for the Special Olympics; the Alameda Point Collaborative, a nonprofit dedicated to providing housing for and aiding the homeless or those at risk of homelessness; and Reading Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s literacy rates through weekly mentorship.

Social impact campaign to help students have a “good” summer

Whether they’re here to pursue a career on Wall Street or a social enterprise in Africa, Haas has always attracted students who are interested in making positive contributions to the world—and in finding creative ways to do so.

A case in point: the Haas Social Impact Fund, founded by MBA students in 2004. The annual drive encourages those with higher-income internships to help those classmates who want to work in nonprofits, the public sector, or social enterprises. That way, everyone contributes to the greater good, in their own way.

First-year students typically pledge one day of pay to the fund.

“Students in non-profit and public sector internships earn a median salary of just $3,150 per month, versus the Berkeley MBA median of $7,100 per month,” says Chris Symmes, MBA 15, who is spearheading this year’s campaign as the MBA Association’s VP of community. “If we are going to live up to our culture and principle of going beyond ourselves, we need to support our peers and classmates who are acting as stewards for the greater good of the world.”

The campaign will run through early May, with a goal of 70 percent participation. Click here to donate online.

Last year, students contributed over $26,000 to the fund, which is administered by the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership. Eleven full-time MBA students received grants averaging $3,200 to work at organizations such as Harlem Village Academies, Alpha Public Schools, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Check out the videos above and below to hear about some of their experiences.