Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class Of 2020

Alan Man

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

An open-minded, determined and caring CPA/Lawyer who is passionate about advocating for LGBTQ inclusion.”

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love hugs! You will know this about me as soon as we meet, because I will (and I mean, I will) go in for the hug!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Auckland, Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commerce (double major in accounting and management)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:

Ernst & Young– Senior Consultant, International Tax

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My greatest achievement has been the positive impact I have had on the LGBTQ community through fostering inclusion at EY and beyond.

At EY, I established and chaired the Western Australia LGBTQ affinity group. Through my advocacy, I was able to quickly create a more positive working environment for the 650+ employees in the state. Then, because of the significant impact made, I was selected from over 6,000 nominations worldwide as the Oceania winner and Global finalist of EY’s 2016 “Better Begins with You” awards.

Outside of work, I was a board member of Living Proud, a non-profit that has supported the Western Australia LGBTQ community for almost 40 years. I also founded Perth’s Interfirm committee, a network of LGBTQ champions from 25+ professional services firms who work together to drive LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I have been surprised by how open and honest my classmates have been. We have had so many meaningful conversations. Because of this, I feel as though I have known my classmates for longer than just a few weeks. It has helped me to feel comfortable and supported as we all embark on this MBA journey.

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? Aside from my amazing classmates, the key factor would have to be the Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. I am so excited to be a part of, and contribute to, the culture at Haas and to be part of an organization that has values which truly represent my own values. Each principle has a place in my heart – talk to me about which defining principle I identify with the most because I will give a different answer each time. (I identify with each of them so much!)

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?

I am most excited to drive LGBTQ inclusion and awareness through Q@Haas (our LGBTQ club). Haas has people from all walks of life who will go on to do outstanding things, so I feel that I have an opportunity to raise awareness among these leaders so they might go on to help in leading progress for LGBTQ people around the world.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After six years gaining accounting and legal skills in the world of taxation, I came to appreciate how passionate I am about helping my clients solve problems and succeed commercially (and not just from a tax perspective). For me, business school represents a transformative two years of study which will allow me to pivot to a different industry, location, and function while still utilizing my existing skillset.

And on a personal note – after a year of being in a long-distance relationship, business school also enables me to be in the same place as my husband, who started his MBA at Stanford GSB last year.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment?  I simply trust that this experience will be worth it because of the thousands of others that have gone through the same MBA journey with no regrets. I have spoken to a number of alumni who have genuinely expressed to me that Berkeley Haas has been the best experience of their life.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB, Berkeley Haas, Yale SOM. As you can see from the programs I applied to, I was intentional in applying for programs with a smaller class size because I wanted the advantages of a small class size.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? In deciding which school to attend, I used both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. How typical MBA of me! I had a weighted-average spreadsheet that listed a number of factors that were important to me. I also wrote a personal journal entry outlining what was important to me. The factors I considered were broadly: People/Fit, Learning Environment, Extracurriculars, Post-MBA considerations, Cost, and Proximity to Significant Other.

After all this analysis however, I just went with my gut based on the place I felt the closest connection to and based on where I thought I would be happiest.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? At the age of 17, as an early entry college student, I volunteered for a three-month internship in Kenya. It was, and still might be, the most challenging experience of my life.

Within a month of visiting, I was mugged in broad daylight. Weeks later, violent riots erupted across Kenya due to national elections. Even though I feared for my safety and was asked to come back home, I stayed because I wasn’t going to let the team down.

By persevering, I ended up meeting the most amazing, warm-hearted people – many of whom left a mark on me. Through my experiences in Kenya, I realized that, despite my Chinese immigrant upbringing, I was so privileged to grow up in a safe, stable and economically thriving country like New Zealand. Later, this realization turned into a drive to help others, to make a difference and to create a better world for those around me.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Who knows! There are so many amazing opportunities at Berkeley Haas and beyond.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I thought long and hard about this question and the most truthful answer is that I hope to be living my best life with my husband and (future) kids. Family is so important to me. Even though I genuinely don’t know what the future holds for me career-wise, I am excited because as long as I have my family around me, everything else will be ok!

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