2017 Best MBAs: Hady Barry, U.C.-Berkeley (Haas)

Hady Barry

UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“I’m an African child and citizen of the world trying to live with purpose.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Conakry, Guinea

Fun fact about yourself: Up until the age of 3 or 4, I only spoke Pulaar but now I can only understand it. I was homeschooled to catch up and French overtook my Pulaar. English is my 3rd language.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Georgetown University, Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? CARANA Corporation, a boutique consulting firm which designs and implements inclusive economic development strategies for governments, businesses, and international donors.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? The Dakar office of Dalberg Global Development Advisors

Where will you be working after graduation? I’m looking for opportunities in the social impact consulting space. My goal is to join an organization that is tackling global development challenges in innovative ways.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • VP Community, Berkeley Haas MBA Association (student government)
  • Co-Chair, 2017 Africa Business Forum
  • Admissions Committee Lead, Haas Gender Equity Initiative
  • Creator and Executive Producer, Humans of Haas
  • Social Impact Fellow, Jacobs Foundation
  • Fellow, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
  • Fellow, Forté Foundation
  • Berkeley Board Fellow, Daraja Education Fund
  • Judging and Mentoring Manager, 2016 Global Social Venture Competition
  • CITRIS Foundry MBA Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most of proud of contributing to the culture of storytelling at Haas through the Humans of Haas podcast and my admissions work with the Gender Equity Initiative. I started Humans of Haas to capture the diversity we have at Haas. We’ve produced four episodes to date, and this project has been one of most rewarding things I’ve done at Haas. Producing this podcast was a crash course in learning how to build a team while learning new skills. Our latest episode focused on the experience of Asian Americans and the concept of dual identity. It felt amazing to get messages from classmates who felt it resonated with them. One classmate expressed how similar her experiences had been growing up Asian in Germany, and another mentioned that she had felt exactly the same when she moved from Moldova to Israel. Another episode told stories of classmates who served in the Army. Episode 3: Love at Haas, which tells the stories of two couples, is the most popular so far and has been played almost 500 times. This project has helped our class get to know each other better and appreciate the different experiences we bring to Haas.

Similarly, my work with the Haas Gender Equity Initiative has focused on helping my female classmates share their stories in order to give prospective students a window into the experiences of women at Haas. The intention was to help them see Haas as a place where women thrive, and to support Haas’s efforts to increase the number of women who choose UC Berkeley for their MBA. With the help of Rachel Adams (FTMBA 2017) and Erin Robinson (FTMBA 2017) – aka The Dream Team – we hosted a webinar that reached 150 people. We also launched a series of student perspective blog posts that covered topics ranging from making it in the Venture Capital industry as a woman to sharing the Haas experience with a partner. It has been a privilege to help my classmates tell their stories.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  While at CARANA I developed performance monitoring and management plans for our Global Development Alliances (GDAs) in Uganda. These were partnerships with investments from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), CARANA, and two private sector actors: Ecom and Agroways. These partnerships sought to improve the livelihoods of 16,000 cocoa and 9,500 maize farmers and to integrate them into better functioning value chains.  My job was to help lay down indicators, targets, and processes to track and measure our impact.

A crucial part of my assignment was to get all partners to agree on impact metrics. This could only be done through a collaborative design process. Thinking back on my time in Kampala, I am most proud of my capacity to overcome conflicting schedules, to ease countless debates, and to get our partners to integrate gender and youth targets. The result was a monitoring plan that was unburdened by countless indicators and had clear processes for collecting and managing data, as well as targets informed by the expertise of our partners. This is my most significant accomplishment because I had to step out of my comfort zone. It was also a deep testimony of trust from my employer.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Nora Silver who teaches a course titled “Large-Scale Social Change: Social Movements”. This is a topic which many wouldn’t expect to see covered in an MBA class. The class was a highlight of my Haas experience. What I loved the most was Nora’s commitment to fostering conversation and to exposing us to discourse that I would have avoided otherwise.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Haas for its Defining Principles. The Beyond Yourself principle resonated me. It represents exactly what I want from my career: work that pushes me to think beyond myself. I knew that at Haas I wouldn’t be the only student interested in social impact and that mattered a lot to me. The smaller class size and the location were also delicious cherries on top.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? My classmates. I came back from my internship bursting with excitement at the thought of seeing everyone again. I’m lucky to be around wonderful and bright people who think about the change they can make in the world.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The onesies. I never knew they were dance party must-haves.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be ambitious but remain authentic. Think about what you would want to achieve if you had no fear, speak to that, and stress why you need Haas to realize that ambition. This doesn’t mean that you should pretend to be someone you are not. If an issue hasn’t kept you up at night don’t pretend that it is your life’s work.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret not making more use of independent studies during my first year. I came to Haas to explore solutions to the challenges faced by African girls when it comes to access to quality education. Although I took classes on entrepreneurship and social impact, an independent study would have kept me more accountable.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I couldn’t pick one. I have to recognize three of my classmates: Shahidah Abdul Rashid, Neha Kumar, and Jess Sun.

Shahidah passed on a significant promotion to come to Haas because she wanted a career that would be more fulfilling. I’m amazed by her journey because she ended up taking the entrepreneurship path. During our time at Haas, she’s been working on a product that would make it easier for people with dietary restrictions to dine out.

Neha is one of the warmest people I have ever met, a true Canadian. She somehow always manages to make me feel better about myself while still calling me out. Much like Shahidah, she’s pursuing a career that aligns with her passions. Making a pivot into the music industry is challenging but she’s a true hustler.

Finally, I couldn’t leave out Jess whom I have been lucky to work with on the 2016 >play Conference and the Haas Gender Equity Initiative. I admire her openness and ability to always remain true to herself, no matter how different her opinions might be. I don’t think Jess could even pretend to be anyone but herself.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that business can be used to improve the lives of those most in need.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working for an organization with the mission to empower and educate girls in Africa.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would Invest more to ensure that all Haas students are equipped to be leaders who are champions of diversity and able to create truly inclusive cultures in the workplace. We all take Leading People and have a class dedicated to implicit bias but that is not enough.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?  It hasn’t changed much over the years. I still want to lead a social enterprise dedicated to increasing access to quality education in Africa – with a strong focus on girls.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents. I am the product of their sacrifices and boundless love. My father is the first feminist I have ever known and no one has more grit than my mother. I am lucky to have them.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?  She was kind and always killed it on the dance floor.

Favorite book: It’s a tie between The Stranger (Albert Camus) and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz). They both made me fall back in love with literature at different times in my life.

Favorite movie or television show: In the Mood for Love

Favorite musical performer: FKA Twigs

Favorite vacation spot: The beaches of Grand-Bassam in Cote d’Ivoire where I spent countless Sundays during my childhood.

Hobbies? Photography, singing (mostly to myself), and podcasting.

What made Hady such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Hady is one of the rare students who embodies each of Haas’ Defining Principles: question the status quo, confidence without attitude, student always, beyond yourself.

Hady questioned the status quo her first semester at Haas when she came up with the idea to create and produce a podcast, Humans of Haas. Hady examined the existing community-building and diversity-focused events at Haas and realized that their impact was limited.  She wanted to create something with broad impact and her podcast is an innovative, elegant solution. Humans of Haas, which shares stories of individual students, showcases and celebrates diversity in the Haas community.

Developing Humans of Haas is an example Hady’s ability to be a student always. Prior to Humans of Haas, she’d never produced a podcast. She approached the task with curiosity and openness, and became a self-taught podcast producer, assembling a team of students to work on the podcast. She leveraged their talents and unique perspectives to create a high-quality product.

Hady is one of the most community-oriented students I’ve had the pleasure of working with. In her role as VP Community, she invested in and nurtured the Haas student community.  Her collaborative leadership style allowed her to partner with many student groups and leaders to coordinate community initiatives such as intimate group dinners, a storytelling series, and a talent show.

Hady is a flexible, intuitive leader. She knows when to lead by initiating and executing, and when to act as a connector and facilitator to provide cohesion and stability.”

Julia Rosof

Associate Director of Student Affairs, Full-time MBA Program