Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class of 2018

kasey-koopmans-poetsandquants-classof2018

Kasey Koopmans

Haas School of Business, University of California-Berkeley

Describe yourself in 15 words or less:

Where puppy energy meets long-game grit;

Hero: Beyoncé / Bear Grylls blend;

Feed me greasy diner breakfasts.

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Fun Fact About Yourself: In 2015, I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in its entirety from Mexico to Canada (2,650 miles, 145 days). Trail name: Double Happiness. Favorite section: Kings Canyon in California and Goat Rocks in Washington. Favorite trail food: Crushed Juanita’s tortillas chips, eaten by the spoonful.

Undergraduate School and Major: Columbia University, Political Science & Sustainable Development

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Save the Children (Kathmandu, Nepal) — Program Development & Quality Intern (Princeton in Asia Fellow)

Local Resource Center (Yangon, Myanmar) — Program Associate (Princeton in Asia Fellow)

Nielsen — Myanmar Market Research & Development (Yangon, Myanmar) — Senior Client Service Executive (Consumer Insights, Quantitative Research Team)

Optimum Energy (Seattle, WA) — Sales & Marketing Intern

Describe the biggest accomplishment in your career so far: There is an overarching accomplishment that I’m most proud of: my ability to adapt and excel in foreign working environments. From the U.S. to Nepal to Myanmar, from international development to market research to clean tech, I have spent my early career seeking displacement. These experiences opened doors to positions and responsibilities that compelled personal and professional development. I fumbled a lot: Imagine Bambi on ice. But by finding humor, not taking myself too seriously and, most importantly, building meaningful relationships, I eventually found my poise.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? Information interviews are exceptionally useful throughout the application process. I set up coffee chats with MBA students and alumni, as well as individuals working across industries of interest. People were surprisingly willing to offer me their time. So go ahead. Be a wee cheeky and ask for a few minutes of their time. These conversations clarified the value of an MBA and its relevance to my goals. They also helped me cut through admissions taglines and differentiate between programs. Added bonus: informational interviews forced me to practice telling my story again and again — active brainstorming for essays and admissions interviews.

For the GMAT: I took it twice. The first time, I self-studied with an outdated prep book. Come test day, I froze in panic and failed. Miserably. I needed a new approach, so I signed up for a live online prep course through Veritas. I went into my second test with confidence and a bag of tricks — and crushed it. My score jumped from sub-50th percentile to 97th. What worked for me was structure (which held me accountable to a short and efficient timeline) and a focus on test-taking strategies rather than brute content and calculations.

For interviews: The best piece of advice came from a Haas student ambassador: “Show up early, put your mind at ease and go boldly towards your destiny.” I performed better when I stopped over-practicing my answers to stock interview questions. Without a script, I could relax and have a real conversation.

For all stages of the process: BREATHE! You’ll get through it!

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? People kept telling me not to worry about which program was the right program — they assured me I would inevitably feel “the click” and the decision would more or less make itself. This advice wasn’t helpful at the time. In fact, it was frustrating. I didn’t want to rely on mystical clicks, I wanted a formula and sure-fire reasoning.

Despite my skepticism, the proverbial “click” came in due time. I visited Berkeley for the admitted students weekend and one by one, Haas checked all the boxes (and then some): value alignment, culture fit, leadership in social impact and clean tech, and people I wanted as peers. Haas is overrun with ambitious and down-to-earth humans. It is a place I can be my unabashed self. I knew the people and program would challenge me in the ways I sought. More than any other school I considered, I believed the earnestness behind Haas’s commitment to help me find a career of meaning. Turns out it was a slam dunk.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life. This will also be vague, but bear with me: My dream job is with a company on the cutting edge of innovation, solving a messy problem in an unprecedented way, with an explicit mission related to social and environmental impact. My dream employer will encourage life-work balance and have the capacity to provide mentorship. My current hunch is to explore the clean tech space. However, I recognize that I’m in for a wild MBA ride. I’m excited to see how my self-awareness and direction evolve over the next two years.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program?

That I showed continuous evidence of growth towards each of the defining principles (Student Always, Beyond Yourself, Confidence Without Attitude, and Question the Status Quo).

That I wasn’t just out to get mine, but was an open and approachable source of support for my peers.

That they would be proud to have me as a partner in their organization.

That my energy proved more catalytic than obnoxious.

That I embody the qualities of a Berkeley leader.

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