Sold-Out Crowd Expected at Women in Leadership Conference, March 14

When organizers of the Women in Leadership Conference began planning this year’s event, the impact of empowering the next generation of women felt tangible. Some of the organizers are in the Full-time MBA Class of 2015, whose work with admissions helped boost the percentage of women in the Class of 2016 to 43 percent. Energized by their record-breaking class, the first-year students are building on that work in what they are calling the Haas Gender Equity Initiative.

WIL organizers 2015

The 2015 Women in Leadership Conference organizers

The conference theme, “Empower Me: Invest in All,” reflects those experiences, says Co-chair Carmela Aquino, MBA 15. “This came about exactly because we were seeing the momentum at Haas around these ideas,” she says. “We wanted this year to embody the positive drive we were seeing, so attendees walk away feeling empowered to go beyond themselves in their respective paths and do more to help other women aspiring to leadership.”

The 19th annual conference, organized by the Women in Leadership club, is expected to attract more than 500 business leaders and students to the Haas School from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sat, March 14. Click here to learn more .

The primary goals of the conference are to help women gain concrete skills for advancing in their own careers, connect with others, and get inspired, says Co-Chair Libby Hadzima Perkins, JD/MBA 15. But that’s not to say it’s geared exclusively toward women. In fact, “manbassadors”—as the male student actively involved in gender equity are calling themselves—have been key.

“Without the support of men in the workplace, there is only so much we can do to help promote more gender-equitable outcomes,” Hadzima Perkins says. “That’s why we wanted our theme to focus on the benefit that investing in women lifts everyone up, and provides a benefit to society as a whole.”

Conference Highlights

Keynotes: The morning will kick off with Ann O’Leary, Director of the Children & Families Program for Next Generation and former Legislative Director to Hillary Clinton, in conversation with Prof. Laura Tyson. In the afternoon, Donna Morris, Sr. Vice President, Global People and Places for Adobe will be introduced by Asst. Prof. Kellie McElhaney to close out the conference.

Leadership Stories: For the lunchtime session, attendees will get “an intimate look into the cycle of confidence and failure in leadership” from four leaders in diverse fields.

Invest in All Alley: This new addition to the conference is a space for companies, organizations, and entrepreneurs to exhibit their products or services, to showcase their dedication to gender equality, and to raise their brand awareness.

Panels will focus on tangible skills, from mastering difficult conversations in the workplace to taking control of finances for the future.

One Day, Triple Play: 3 Competition Wins in Finance and Sustainability

Braving the cold: Akshay Yadav, Jessica Holland, and Carl Olson (not shown: My-Thuan Tran). All are MBA 16.

Big Impact in Boulder

The Win: First place in the Leeds Net Impact Case Competition in Boulder, Feb. 20-21

The Team: Akshay Yadav, Jessica Holland, Carl Olson, and My-Thuan Tran, all MBA 16

The Field: Twenty-five teams of four graduate students each, competing to solve real-world sustainability business cases

The Pitch: Our team was asked to plan the optimal coastal restoration infrastructure for a city that is facing a growing threat of erosion and severe flooding due to climate change. Our approach was to minimize costs and risks and develop a diverse capital expenditure plan to ensure long-term protection. Our solution was a three-pronged approach of green infrastructure funded by water protection taxes; earthen berms funded by FEMA grants; and wetlands protection funded by wetlands mitigation banking.

The Clincher: One thing our team kept top of mind was the Haas defining principle “question the status quo.” The solution we came up with was not a conventional way of financing similar projects, according to our research. However, we knew we needed to take a bold approach for a bold solution. We worked to mitigate the risks in our proposal, and we prepared for the tough Q&A session.

The Investment Club team, left to right: Miran Ahmad, MBA 15; Carl Choi, MBA 16; Scott Furumoto, MBA 15; and Zane Keller, MBA 15

The Investment Club team, left to right: Miran Ahmad, MBA 15; Carl Choi, MBA 16; Scott Furumoto, MBA 15; and Zane Keller, MBA 15

Stars in LA

The Win: First place in the Fink Center Stock Pitch Competition at UCLA on Feb. 20

The Team: Miran Ahmad, MBA 15; Carl Choi, MBA 16; Scott Furumoto, MBA 15; and Zane Keller, MBA 15, all of the Haas Investment Club

The Field: MBA students from 10 other business schools across the country

The Pitch: Our team, “Get Shorty”, pitched a short recommendation on insurance company Assurant in the first round. Living up to iour name, we also decided to short Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba in the final round. We defended our investment thesis in front of a panel of judges, from hedge fund managers to equity research analysts.

The Clincher: While our team fielded difficult questions during the Q&A, one judge later remarked that what helped the us stand out was our ability to defend its thesis confidently but without sounding defensive. 

Veteran team member Zane Keller believes that the difference came down to the team’s decision to take a controversial short position on final round stock Alibaba.  “After thoroughly reviewing the macroeconomic assumptions and the underlying fundamental growth projections required to justify its lofty stock price, we knew it would be difficult to make a long recommendation.”

RotmanWinFeb2015

Going International in Toronto

The Win: 2nd Place in the Rotman International Trading Competition, the largest trading competition in the world, in Toronto, Feb. 20

The Team: Master of Financial Engineering students Simon He, Yi Lu, Tanya Gupta, Tong Lu, Wontai Cho and Maoqi Wang, all MFE 15. MFE Lab Manager Charles McCutchen helped prepare the team.

The Field: More than 50 teams from universities around the world, including MIT, Columbia, NYU, Princeton, the London School of Economics, and 1st-place winner LUISS Guido Carli/University of Rome.

 

Student Spotlight: Nikita Mitchell, Full-Time MBA Class of 2015 President & Diversity Leader

Nikita Professional optionIt was the scariest thing she could think of doing as a new MBA student.

When Nikita Mitchell arrived at Haas in the fall of 2013, her top goal was to develop her leadership skills—which she knew would require stepping outside her comfort zone. So instead of heading up a club or organizing a conference, she decided to run for class president.

“I’ve never been in a big public role. I’ve never had to be the face of something, and the idea was terrifying,” says Nikita, MBA 15. “Ultimately, I decided I should do it because I didn’t have anything to lose.”

A few months into her first semester at Haas she was elected, and in 2014 she served as the first African-American woman to head the MBA Association. She also served simultaneously as a liaison to the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, which works to bring more under-represented minorities into top MBA programs. Along with co-liaisons Kory Vargas-Caro and Dan Wong, both MBA 15, she led the Haas group to win the Consortium’s highest honor and $10K to build on their work.

Just after passing the mantle to the 2015 MBAA President Dan Fishman, Nikita spoke with us about her leadership style, her accomplishments, and what she learned.

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Nikita and Kory Vargas-Caro, MBA 15, celebrate winning the T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) trophy from The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management in June 2014. Not shown: Dan Wong, MBA 15

Team spirit

“I’ve grown a lot,” she says. “Most importantly–both personally and professionally—I’ve also learned how to ask for help when I need it.”

Nikita is up front about the fact that balancing outside leadership activities with the rigorous academic demands of the MBA was the biggest challenge she’s faced. During her first semester as president, she took on some big issues for the program, including how to make changes in the academic culture.

She credits the support of her classmates, and former MBAA President Stephanie White, for going out of their way to support her. “It was really incredible what people did to help me, often without even being asked.”

Her approach to managing it all was to build a strong team.

“I feel I created a high functioning team where everyone has been able to accomplish a lot in their own roles,” she says. “And I feel like I’ve been a strong voice for students.”

With the Berkeley MBA members of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, Classes of 2015 and 2016

With the Berkeley MBA members of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, Classes of 2015 and 2016

Making choices

As a natural collaborator, she knew being at the top of an organization would sometimes mean making tough calls.

“Being at the point of making a decision, where you know not everyone is going to be happy, was the biggest development area for me,” she says. “I think my biggest lesson was the realization that being in a leadership role among my peers wouldn’t harm my friendships. In fact, the relationships I built fueled my leadership.”

Though Nikita says the experience underscored how critical it is to not go at decision-making alone, she also learned that sometimes people don’t want to have input.

“That’s part of leadership too—knowing when people want to be brought to the table,” she says. “It started to become more instinctual toward the end.”

On a student trek to Morocco, spring break 2014

On a student trek to Morocco, spring break 2014

The importance of community

As the daughter of Caribbean immigrants, Nikita is proud that she was the first African-American woman to serve as Full-time MBA class president—and it was important to her family in the tight-knit community around Howard University where she grew up.

Her father came from Trinidad on a soccer scholarship to Howard, and her mother immigrated from Barbados. They met in the 1980s at Howard, where both worked as accountants. Nikita and all four of her sisters earned their bachelor’s degrees at Howard as well.

After graduation, she landed a position at Deloitte Consulting. She later earned a fellowship through ProInspire, which matches young professionals with nonprofits, as she explored careers in social impact.

She applied to MBA programs through the Consortium, which offers full scholarships to students who get into their top-ranked school. At the last minute, she ranked the University of Michigan’s Ross first, which has a large and active minority population. But in a twist of fate, she visited Haas during the Women in Leadership conference weekend, and knew it was the right place for her.

“I was so surprised by how right the culture felt. The warmth was there. The connections I made with people felt authentic,” she says. “I felt included immediately, and I thought ‘that’s somewhere I’ll continue to grow.”

As she looks toward graduation in May, Nikita summed up her biggest takeaway:

“What this leadership experience taught me is that I like to run things,” she says.

No doubt she will.

Update, March18: Nikita has accepted a job as Chief of Staff for Cisco Consulting Services.

Haas ranked #1 in support for LGBTQ students: one student reflects on being an ally

Last week, the organization Friendfactor ranked Haas #1 in the MBA Ally Challenge—a quarterly award that recognizes business schools for creating a culture that’s supportive and inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning) students. Twenty-two schools participated in the challenge.

Friendfactor says Haas moved to the top by:

“…Engaging a whopping 75% of their student body in their LGBT ally initiative through 13 activities over the fall. Their biggest hits were a 200-person speaking event with openly gay Brigadier General Tammy Smith, an Ally Pledge and t-shirt sale during National Coming Out Week, and an educational Ally Guide distributed by the dean to every student.”

In today’s post, a full-time MBA student reflects on what he has learned about being an ally, and what it says about the culture at Haas.

By Sandeep Pahuja, MBA 15, Outgoing VP of Allies, Q@Haas

Back in September, the Q@Haas board was preparing for Coming Out Week and one of our goals was to have allies—friends and supporters of the LGBT community—make a big public showing. We planned on making t-shirts that our students could wear to show their support. We ended up selling about 250 “PROUD” shirts and took a couple of sweet photos in the process.

Proud_group shot

Dean Rich Lyons stands with students during National Coming Out Week.

My original plan for the shirts was something entirely different. I wanted to really call out the allies, and be very explicit about it. Our original designs looked like this:

Ally out

In talking to the Q@Haas board—mostly gay males—we were quite happy with the design and thought the shirts looked really good. It was a conversation I had with Nikita Mitchell, our Haas MBA 2015 class president and LGBTQ member of Q@Haas, which made me realize that my myopic focus on allies would force everyone else within the community to label themselves as “out” or not participate.  There are certainly peers at Haas who had not come out, or weren’t sure if they were “out.” What shirt would they wear? Our conversation made me realize that the shirts would accomplish the opposite of what we hoped for, and in fact exclude some people. I was so focused on the ally perspective, thinking about how allies would want their own shirt so that no one thought they might be LGBTQ based on the shirt they were wearing. That was my own insecurity shining through.

Final designs were due to our printer in two days, and we were just about to take orders. We had gone through multiple designs already to pick those two shirts. I got on the phone with our co-presidents and we knew that we had to change the shirt. We decided we’d create shirts around the theme of Pride. We landed on a simple design, and in the process we found a term that encompassed all of us, allies included: Proud.

To me, this story highlights that being an ally is an ongoing process. Allies need to remember to ask questions and recognize the gracious understanding we get from our LGBTQ peers. Without that frank conversation with Nikita, a well-intentioned project could have alienated some of our Q@Haas community in the process. Instead, thanks to dialog and understanding, we were able to make something that brought people together, and that people wear almost every day. These shirts are a visible symbol of the inclusive culture we’re actively trying to build at Haas.

Read more Berkeley MBA student perspectives on why it’s important to be an ally: 

Berkeley MBA Students: Proud to Be LGBTQ Allies, Part I

Berkeley MBA Students: Proud to Be LGBTQ Allies, Part II

 

Can You Lead a Horse to Water? MBA Students Learn “Natural Leadership”

Sixteen students from the Executive MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA programs headed far outside the classroom—to the paddock—to practice non-verbal leadership.

The setting for the two-day Leading Others Through Natural Leadership course was Devito’s Equestrian Center in Walnut Creek. Students had the chance to apply personal leadership challenges to on-the-ground work with horses.

“Horses create a ‘zero-base,’ because very few people know intuitively how to work with them,” says Lecturer Whitney Hischier, a lifelong rider who created the course. “Horses provide honest, accurate feedback in real time. They respond instantly and without judgment to our intent, our energy and our behavior.”

 

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Horses have become increasingly popular in medical teaching: they’ve been used to teach bedside manners to future doctors at Stanford Medical School, to assist nurses with work-related stress and burnout at Brigham Young, and to treat conditions such as autism, Hischier says. In the field of leadership development, working with horses is a growing niche.

The one-unit course also included traditional classroom instruction. Students were asked to come prepared with an aspect of leadership they are grappling with, including a current or recent real-life situation—such as leading and motivating an inherited and disenfranchised team. After spending time on theory and role play, they headed to the paddocks for “real play.”

“Horses cannot role play. They can only real play,” says Lecturer Rajiv Ball, of Haas and the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership, one of the course instructors. “If you want a horse to follow you, you need to real play your leadership.”

In addition to Hischier and Ball, the course was co-taught by Professor Dana Carney, who holds a joint appointment at Haas and the Psychology Department and specializes in psychological and physiological connections between body and mind. Nanna Notthoff, a postdoctoral Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Personality and Social Research and an experienced equestrian, also assisted with instruction.

 

 

 

 

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.

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 (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.

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.

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.

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?!

Summit celebration

Summit celebration

Ryann1_sizedRyann 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.

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.

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.

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

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

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_finish_sized

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.

MBA Internships: Consulting on Main Street

KoryMBAX_barrel

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 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.

Competitors Fold Under Haas Team Pressure in Origami Challenge

Origami Challenge team members

Origami Challenge team members Paul Roberts, Iris Korovesi, Andrew Masalin, Joel Morehouse, and Carmen Maxim, all EWMBA 2016.

The Competition: Origami Idea Challenge by Origami Partners LLC

The Outcome: Five Haas students beat out teams from Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Texas to win their division and $10,000. They now face seven other finalists for the $50,000 grand prize, to be announced May 16.

The Team: Evening & Weekend MBA students Carmen Maxim, Iris Korovesi, Andrew Masalin, Paul Roberts and Joel Morehouse, all MBA 2016.

The Field: The competition attracted 117 entries from students and professionals around the world. For the final round, Haas will go head-to-head with Dartmouth, University of Virginia, University of Nevada-Reno, Northwestern, Columbia Business School, and the Indian School of Business.

The Challenge:  Origami Capital Partners is looking for a unique investment opportunity that is large enough to absorb $100 million of capital and last from one to seven years. Investments can include any asset class or geographical location.

What made them winners (in the team’s own words): We won because we were a diverse team with extensive international expertise and a wide range of industry experience: : investment banking, financial modeling, market intelligence, pricing analytics, technology, architectural engineering, and real estate. Our diverse knowledge and common interest in finance allowed us to come up with various ideas across different sectors and regions, before narrowing it down to the idea that we all felt provided the highest potential upside, using our value investing lenses.

The Haas Factor:

For this competition we questioned the status quo, by pushing ourselves to come up with an idea that ignored geographical boundaries and conventional investment structures. Despite our diverse backgrounds, we all engaged with this competition in an effort to learn from our peers about investing. Our confidence in our idea allowed us to put in long hours of research to come up with a solid investment thesis.

Where your idea/strategy came from:  We looked for illiquid investments opportunities that would have long-term value, but are currently undervalued.  Our team’s experience with real estate in the US allowed us to evaluate undervalued real estate opportunities in other regions and to identify the structure that would best fit Origami’s investment mandate.

Your most memorable experience from this competition:

Reading the email that we had made it to the last round!