2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Melissa Hulme, U.C.-Berkeley (Haas)

Melissa Hulme

U.C.-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Proud Texas roots, Californian at heart. Determined to fight personal savings crisis. Mother. Kitesurfer. Partner. Adventurer.”

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: An eighth-grade camping trip to Big Bend sparked my love for the outdoors, even though our tent was attacked by a wild boar! I was the shortest rower to join my college varsity crew team at 5’4”. The coaches must have thought I was crazy to walk on, but I worked twice as hard to try and keep up. Oh, and I am currently six months pregnant!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Stanford University, BA in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I spent six years in investment management at Horsley Bridge Partners and the Stanford Endowment. I have focused my time at Haas on building upon my investment and financial skills to pursue a long-term career in investment management.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Dodge & Cox (San Francisco)

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining Capital Group, an investment management firm based in Los Angeles. My role on the Strategy & Innovation Team will be to think through new opportunities for the long term.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: C.J. White Fellow; VP of Clubs for the Haas MBA Association; Co-President of the Private Equity Club; VP of Education for the Investment Club; Organizer of the Investment Management & Private Equity Speaker Series; Principal for the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of my role as vice president of clubs for the MBA Association. Here, I’ve advocated on behalf of student club leaders to ensure they had the resources, training, and support necessary to step into their leadership roles. Through this role, I helped advance a broad array of clubs, from the new Cannabis Industry Club to Bear Cubs (for students who are also parents) to the Venture Capital Club. I also initiated regular club leader feedback sessions to encourage greater collaboration across clubs. These efforts contributed to several synergistic partnerships. For example, the Real Estate and Tech Clubs co-hosted an event at Airbnb; the Net Impact and Real Estate Clubs put together an event focused on affordable housing, and the Fintech and Net Impact Clubs partnered for a panel on digital financial inclusion.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While at the Stanford Endowment, I co-led the Natural Resource portfolio’s strategic change to focus on co-investments. During my time there, we expanded the co-investment portfolio to over 20 investments. The process and framework we developed were later adopted for co-investments in other asset classes. I also initiated thematic reviews that led to commitments to new sub-asset classes, including public real estate. This was a unique opportunity to work cross-functionally with the public equity, real estate, and portfolio allocation groups. Both programs have contributed to the success and growth of the endowment.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Bob O’Donnell teaches Investment Strategies & Styles as a volunteer. As a successful 40-year Capital Group veteran, he brings so much wisdom and intellectual curiosity to each classroom discussion. He structured a course that helped me better identify my strengths, limitations, and unique “style” as an investor. Bob’s passion is contagious, and I attribute his teaching and mentorship to helping me affirm my desire to pursue a career in investment management at Capital Group.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course was Interpersonal Skills & Embodied Leadership with Erica Peng. This class is all about helping students better understand how to connect more with themselves and with others in order to build deeper, stronger relationships. I just completed this course while 28 weeks pregnant and believe the lessons I have learned will help prepare my partner and me to create an environment that allows our child to develop deep and meaningful relationships with us and others.

Why did you choose this business school? I was drawn to Haas because its values resonated with my own. I love that students at Haas have incredible drive and ambitious career goals, as well as a desire to drive a positive impact in their future industries and communities. I was also incredibly touched by the kindness and generosity Haas students and alumni showed me throughout the application process. Everyone I reached out to was incredibly responsive, helpful and welcoming. Serendipitously, my partner received an offer to work at a biotech company in Berkeley at the same time I received my admissions letter, which sealed the deal!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I would encourage you to make the application process meaningful for you, regardless of the outcome. MBA applications can be a great opportunity to reflect on what you care about most and how your own strengths and the MBA program might help you have an impact where you are most passionate.

What is the biggest myth about your school? There is a perception among some that, given Haas’s location in the Bay Area, the school is tailored to entrepreneurs and those interested in tech. While technology is a big focus, I have been surprised by how diverse my classmates’ experiences and interests are. I have also been very impressed with the quality of courses and professors across industries, including finance, investing, general management, and leadership development.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? As soon as I reached campus, I wanted to take advantage of all the MBA opportunities and resources, including extracurricular activities, career exploration, and academics. I wish I had been a bit more patient. I would’ve spent the first month focused on reflecting and getting to know my classmates better. I also wish I got up to Tahoe more during my first year, since I am no longer skiing during pregnancy!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Tam Pace-Emerson. Tam has dedicated her MBA experience to achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at Haas. Tam is one of the most deeply caring people I know, yet she can also be tough as nails when needed to achieve impact. Her passion and hard work (I don’t think she has a spare 30 minutes on her calendar!) have led to meaningful campus changes, from hosting conferences and panels to encouraging discussions about diversity, creating a program to support affinity clubs at Haas, and initiating the new Diversity Digest.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mentor and former manager, Laudan Nabizadeh Fariborz, influenced my decision to pursue business in college. Laudan took me under her wing at the very start of my career. She encouraged me to cultivate meaningful relationships across the organization and develop a strong voice in meetings and investment committee discussions. She gave honest, candid feedback to help me grow and continuously improve. I know that her MBA program helped her develop these leadership skills. As I started to think about the changes I wanted to effect within the investment management space and within my own teams, I realized the critical importance of these skills and the opportunity that an MBA would provide to develop them. Laudan passed away in 2013 as a new mother, but her impact as a leader, mentor and friend is as strong today as ever.

What is your favorite movie about business? My favorite movie about business is the documentary about Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. I was intrigued by Theranos, given my husband’s work in the diagnostics space, as well as many surface-level similarities to Elizabeth Holmes; we both attended St. John’s School in Houston and Stanford University, and we have similar last names. The documentary is a fascinating story about the power of storytelling. It illustrates how someone can not only deceive an entire industry but also deceive themselves by justifying questionable actions as a means to achieve a noble end. The movie really got me thinking about psychology, ethics and organizational culture.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? I feel like I spent the first week of my role as VP of Clubs learning all the acronyms for the vast club offerings on campus and trying not to confuse them! Some examples include BERC, BREC, ABC, and EBC. These acronyms stand for Berkeley Energy Resource Collaborative, Berkeley Real Estate Club, Asia Business Club, and European Business Club, respectively.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…probably an economist.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? As cliché as it sounds, given the personal growth I have experienced at Haas, I truly believe the experience is priceless. I believe that I am not only a better business person and leader but also a better partner, sister, daughter, friend and future parent.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Helicopter skiing in Canada
  • Writing a children’s book, even if only our daughter reads it!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like to be remembered as a caring and thoughtful friend who had a lasting impact and embraced life with grace, openness, and resilience, as well as someone who brought delicious pastries to team meetings.

Hobbies? I love kitesurfing, skiing, hiking, and surfing. I also love listening to podcasts, reading, and visiting the local cheese shop. Pregnancy has encouraged me to take on new hobbies since I cannot currently eat raw cheeses or play impact sports. I now enjoy yoga, walks, card/board games, and lots of eating.    

What made Melissa such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Melissa Hulme personifies the Haas Defining Leadership Principle of Confidence without Attitude. She is quiet and poised and leads by example. She is an exceptional student whose academic achievement has been stellar. In addition, she has served as a leader of leaders within our student government as VP Clubs, a challenging role requiring the skill of influence beyond authority in guiding and advocating for her peers. As VP of Clubs, she succeeded in creating new opportunities for collaboration between clubs. Her leadership style is one that does not call attention to herself, but to the work at hand. She ensures that challenges are approached thoughtfully and thoroughly and problems are solved in partnership with all stakeholders. She was a pleasure to work with throughout her leadership year.

Melissa came to Haas from a successful post-college career as a finance professional and was selected and recognized as a Haas Finance Fellow, receiving a C.J. White Fellowship. She used her time as an MBA student to focus her elective coursework and co-curricular activities on broadening and deepening her finance knowledge and skills, including serving as an officer of the Private Equity Club and Investment Clubs and as a principal for the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund. I am not surprised to learn that Melissa will joining the Strategy & Innovation Team at Capital Group, and have every expectation that she will continue to contribute at the highest level and grow as an impressive leader.”

Amy Hornstein

Director of Student Affairs at Haas



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