2016 MBAs To Watch: Angela Steele, U.C.-Berkeley (Haas)

Angela Steele-UC-BerkeleyPoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Angela Steele

UC-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Age: 31

Hometown: Phillipsburg, NJ

Undergraduate School and Degree: Stanford University, BA in Cultural and Social Anthropology

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Operations Manager, Walking Tree Travel

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco

Where will you be working after graduation?  BRIDGE Housing, Project Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

MBA Association – VP Diversity

Real Estate Club – VP Finance

Women in Leadership – VP Retreat

Urban Land Institute – Student Committee Member

Upward Bound – Saturday Academy Mentor

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my team’s third-place finish in the 2016 UNC Real Estate Development Challenge. I became the team leader because I had the most case competition experience. I previously competed in the HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Challenge and the Bank of America Low Income Housing Challenge. I am proud that many attendees commented that we were the most cohesive team and that it was clear every member’s strength was brought to bear on our development solution.

It is no secret that the real estate industry lacks representation from women and underrepresented minorities. I am also proud that, of the 16 students in the finals, I was one of three women and one of two underrepresented minorities. I hope that we will start to see more diversity in real estate in the near future.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of driving systems-thinking at Walking Tree Travel.  I worked for Walking Tree while it was making the transition from a start-up to a mature company and I was able to implement systems that reduced costs, increased productivity and helped the company prepare to scale.

Who is your favorite professor? That’s a hard one. I like professors who are very thoughtful about teaching and have great passion for their subject. Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, Sameer Srivastava, and Sarah Tasker impressed me with their focus on pedagogy and their ability to create inclusive classrooms. Noam Yuchtman and Amir Kermani have infectious passion for their subject; they make it difficult not to get excited about Z-scores and stochastic models!

Favorite MBA Courses? Real Estate Development, Financial Information Analysis, Designing Financial Models That Work, Business Ethics

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Haas because I wanted to go to a school where I could focus on social impact and know that I would be supported and encouraged in my journey to find the right social venture.

What did you enjoy most about business school? It’s cliché, but it’s all about the people. I enjoyed meeting so many brilliant people at Haas. I continue to be inspired and humbled by my classmates’ accomplishments and life experiences.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? Choose the right people. Whether you are forming a study group or hiring a new team member, choosing the right person who is aligned with your values and mission and has the skills and passion to succeed is critical.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? Just how little sleep I would get during my first year! Though I had been warned, I did not truly comprehend how little time I would have in a full-time MBA program.

What was the hardest part of business school? Besides the lack of sleep, the hardest part was staying true to what I wanted out of my MBA and staying committed to the career path I have chosen.

I felt pressure to get a high-paying job rather than consider working for a nonprofit developer or a government agency. Much of this pressure was self-imposed and I had to let go of any ideas I had about what an MBA is “supposed to do.”

Looking around at real estate conferences and browsing company websites and not seeing anyone who looked like me caused me to doubt if I wanted to stay in the real estate industry. While I know I may still be the only woman of color or one of just a handful in the organization I join next, I am committed to real estate and plan to encourage more women and women of color to enter the industry.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Talk to as many people as you can. Come to the Diversity Workshop. Come to Days at Haas. Participate in the Campus Visitation Program. Find the Alumni Chapter in your city and talk to them too. We are a small program and your classmates will start to feel like family. This is one of the few times in life that you will get to choose your family, and you want to be sure it’s the right fit.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I was working with a financial consultant who had built an elaborate forecasting model in Excel and I realized that the model was not what we needed but I didn’t know how to build something more relevant.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working for my former company, Walking Tree Travel, and taking online accounting and corporate finance courses.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? There are so many! I recently had the opportunity to meet Tiffani Bell, co-founder of the Detroit Water Project. I was impressed by both her commitment to ensuring that aid actually reached the people of Detroit (and now Baltimore) and also her use of technology and crowdfunding to disintermediate the funding process. I am always encouraged to see tech companies working on the provision of basic human needs.

What are your long-term professional goals? I plan to work in residential real estate development and community development finance. I will also be active in local politics and may seek a local office in the distant future.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? No doubt, it is my mom. She made many choices that set me on my current path, from filling our house with books to enrolling my sister and me in a local HeadStart program to signing us up for a new sport every season. As a single mom, she was also a tireless example of strength and determination in the face of adversity.

Fun fact about yourself: I conducted a Fulbright research project on hip-hop in China in 2008. While I was in Urumqi, I got to be an extra in a music video shot by local pop stars for the Olympic Games.

Favorite book: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She made me want to understand biology at a young age.

Favorite movie: The Usual Suspects. Kevin Spacey at his finest.

Favorite musical performer: Erykah Badu. She gives me life.

Favorite television show: “Law & Order SVU.” I’m a sucker for procedural crime shows.

Favorite vacation spot: I am an avid traveler and try not to vacation in the same place twice. However, I would definitely go back to Buenos Aires. I loved the food, wine, and nightlife.

Hobbies? Organizing progressive dinner parties (also known as safari suppers), baking homemade breads and pastries, going to see local theater productions

What made Angela such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?  

“When asked by a colleague which student in the class of 2016 had made an invaluable contribution, Angela Steele jumped to mind immediately. In addition to serving in leadership roles in the Berkeley Real Estate and Women in Leadership Clubs, Angela served as VP Diversity for the MBA Association, our Berkeley-Haas student government. In that role she has made outstanding contributions to our program. I have worked with many bright and accomplished student leaders for over a decade and Angela stands out for her exceptional creativity and vision accompanied by the tenacity, organizational and project management skills to accomplish the ambitious goals she set for the year.

“From my very first meeting with Angela in early 2015, I was impressed by her thoughtfulness and the breadth of her strategic vision for expanding diversity programming and enabling students from all backgrounds to learn from each other and develop as people and as leaders. Throughout her year in office and beyond, Angela has been successful in expanding the conversation and programming focused on diversity and inclusion as a core value within our community. In reflecting on Angela’s many accomplishments, I am most impressed with the ways in which she created opportunities for learning, sharing and development at multiple levels — from the individual to the institutional.

“Angela created and contributed to programming that enabled individual students to reflect on their own lives and experiences and gain skills in listening and empathy for those from different backgrounds. She created Safari Suppers, small group dinners that brought together diverse students. Angela communicated with all her classmates via a bi-weekly newsletter. She organized various panels and workshops and led programming at orientation for the class of 2017. Haas enables students to organize speaker series courses which usually focus on specific industries and roles. Angela took the opportunity to organize and facilitate a new course called the Six Styles of Leadership, inviting class speakers from varied racial, ethnic, and professional backgrounds whose voices and experiences expanded the discussion of leadership.

“At the institutional level, Angela made a most significant contribution with the creation of a climate survey that has set a baseline for student experience regarding diversity and inclusion and will serve the school well in addressing student needs now and in the future. Finally, Angela is one of the student leaders of the Race Inclusion Initiative (RII) which seeks to understand and improve the Haas experience for underrepresented minority students by conducting qualitative and quantitative research on the admissions process, student culture, and the classroom environment.

“In addition, I have been most impressed with Angela’s passion for her chosen field of real estate, where she has achieved success in the classroom and in co-curricular activities, sometimes as the only woman or person of color at the table. I look forward to her great success in the field, and appreciate the ways in which her efforts will influence and inspire others.

“As a Berkeley-Haas MBA student, Angela Steele has been the embodiment of our Defining Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always and Beyond Yourself. She has made an invaluable addition to the class of 2016 by not only reflecting but strengthening the culture of our school through her hard work and significant achievements.”

Amy E. Hornstein
Director of Student Affairs, Full-time MBA Program

UC-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

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