Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class Of 2020

Katharine Hawthorne

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

I embrace contradiction as a finance professional and artist, physicist and dancer, quant and creative.”

Hometown: San Mateo, CA / Singapore / Wayzata, MN

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I have a dog named Vesalius who takes himself very seriously.

Undergraduate School and Major: Stanford University, BS Physics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: 

Tiedemann Advisors, Impact Investing pre-MBA intern

University of California, San Francisco, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Senior Contract Manager

Professional dancer & choreographer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  Finance by day, dance by night. For the past seven years, I balanced full-time employment at UCSF with dancing 40 hours a week. At UCSF, I managed the financial and contractual aspects of more than a dozen clinical trials. In my life as an artist, I ran my own dance company and performed professionally with 10 dance troupes in North America, Europe, and Asia. I consider my greatest achievement to be thriving in these disparate contexts.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?  Change-makers. Of the classmates I’ve met thus far, I’ve observed a shared awareness of society’s challenges and a motivation toward affecting positive change.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I had an exceptional interview experience at Haas. I felt seen, understood, and valued, and I greatly admired my interviewer, who was the kind of purpose-driven professional I hope to be.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? International Business Development (IBD) is an applied innovation course in which students undertake a consulting project in a developing country. Many Haasies cite it as a highlight of their MBA experience. I am passionate about sustainable economic development and excited to apply my MBA coursework in a real-world context.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  I retired from dancing in December 2017.  Dance taught me how to lead, inspire collaborators, and connect to audiences. I decided to attend business school to build on these leadership skills and to further my interests in finance and data science.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment?  I always knew I wanted to pursue graduate education, and I’ve been saving for it since I first began working at age 18.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?  In addition to Haas, I focused primarily on international programs (INSEAD, LBS, Oxford Saïd, etc.).

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I wanted to find an environment where I would both be challenged and supported in undertaking a personal transformation. With a strong student-driven and entrepreneurial culture, Haas is a “choose your own adventure” kind of place, which resonated with me. Berkeley’s commitment to social action speaks for itself, and when considering my future career goals in impact investing, Haas stood out for its connections and resources.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I lived in Singapore at the turn of the millennium, a time and place that imprinted on me the values of multiculturalism and optimism.  Eight years later, I returned to Asia and lived in Beijing for six months prior to the 2008 Olympics, another time of dramatic transformation. Skyscrapers and mass transit lines appeared overnight, and my fellow students on the Peking University campus dreamt of ambitious futures. These formative experiences abroad shaped my values of connecting across cultures, seeing the big picture, and thinking globally.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Impact investing. As a financial manager at UCSF, I gained experience with government and philanthropic funding, which motivated me to explore other methods of financing for social impact and systems change. My pre-MBA internship at Tiedemann Advisors exposed me to the exciting solutions currently on the market. As the field of impact investing grows rapidly, I look forward to being involved in its evolution and hope to someday run my own impact fund.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself seeking solutions at the intersection of finance and social impact. I hope to make a contribution to the impact investing field, connect with communities in need across the globe, and continue my development as an empathetic and effective leader. I look forward to starting a family and enjoying life with dogs, books, and travel.

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