2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Evan Wright, U.C.-Berkeley (Haas)

Evan Wright

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“A gregarious and intelligent person whose life’s work is helping others, especially society’s most marginalized.”

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a former U.S. National Kickboxing Champion & U.S. Kickboxing team member

Undergraduate School and Degree: Brown University, B.A. Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Self-employed diversity and inclusion consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Deloitte Consulting, San Francisco

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte Consulting, Human Capital, Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • MBA Association, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, Member
  • Diversity Admissions Council, Member
  • Haas Alumni Diversity Council, Member
  • Leadership Communication Graduate Student Instructor
  • Cheetah Tank Mentor – Semester-long mentorship program with Emerson Elementary students designed around a “Shark Tank” like competition
  • RISE/LYFT Mentor – Mentorship program with Haas’ undergraduate underrepresented minority (URM) students designed to motivate and support students pursuing the business major
  • Impact Investing Practicum (research featured in May 2019 Gratitude Railroad Investor Newsletter)
  • OneHaas Podcast feature (#28 Social Justice, Business School, Allyship, and Worldly Experiences with Evan Wright, MBA 20)
  • Wall Street Journal feature (“Pay Gap Persists Among M.B.A. Graduates” Feb. 6, 2019)
  • Berkeley Haas Magazine feature (“All In: The path to a diverse and inclusive Haas” Summer 2019/#101)
  • Berkeley Haas Black History Month profile (Evan Wright, MBA 20, on growing up in D.C.)
  • Nominated for Outstanding Student Leadership Award

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of helping to establish and implement a strategy to increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) students in the 2021 class through my role as the MBA Association’s vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). I arrived at Haas during a historic low for the number of Black and URM students. I was one of six Black students in a class of almost 300. This severe lack of diversity was devastating, not just to us, but to the entire class that expected an experience filled with diverse perspectives. This experience compelled me to work with my classmates to ensure that this trend was reversed. I followed in the footsteps of my predecessor, Tam Pace-Emerson, and was elected to become the new vice president of DEI in our student government body, MBAA. This position allowed me to have a meaningful impact on the diversity of the next class through the Diversity Admission Council, while also supporting and funding DEI efforts on campus during a difficult period. Through our efforts, we greatly increased the number of Black and Latinx students and welcomed a historically large Consortium class. The number of Black students increased from six to 19, a more than 200 percent increase from my year and a three-year high. The number of LatinX students increased from 12 to 21, a 75 percent increase, and the highest on record. The entire Haas community is better for it.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of helping to establish the first international boarding school in Japan, United World College International School of Asia, Karuizawa (UWC ISAK). What started as a pilot summer camp in 2010, testing a unique educational model, has now turned into a full-fledged boarding high school with students from all over the world. After the school was created, I lived on campus for a year-and-a-half to implement a diversity and inclusion curriculum I had been developing since 2010. Over the course of seven years, I worked with more than 100 students from 30+ countries, building their understanding of complex diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to help them better understand the world. These students ranged from the most privileged children to the most marginalized in the world. I will forever be grateful for contributing to this project and positively impacting the lives of many children.

Who was your favorite MBA professor?  My favorite MBA professor is Cort Worthington. He has truly made his life about serving others and he exemplifies all of the core tenants taught in his Leadership Communication course. The class focuses on being able to better connect with people and tell your story, a fundamental skill set for any MBA. The concepts taught in his class are essential to the work that I want to do in the future. I enjoyed the course so much that I applied and was accepted to be a graduate student instructor during my second year. Cort will always have my respect.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school?  My favorite unofficial Haas tradition is HaasBoats. During this event, Haas students drive up to Lake Shasta, rent houseboats, and relax for the entire weekend. We managed and drove the boats ourselves and there was no shortage of complex issues to solve. Furthermore, this was the first Haas trip where I was able to invite my girlfriend. Since she lives in Philadelphia, we don’t get to see each other often. However, the community was incredibly welcoming to her and we both had an amazing time!

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Haas because of the deep tradition of social impact and innovation. This tradition was paramount for me and in line with my values and previous educational experiences.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? BE YOURSELF. The thing we value at Haas above all else is who you are as a person. We embrace our differences and use them to make the community better. Furthermore, we are a community. We are always helping and supporting each other. That is the “Haas way.” So, if you just want to attend to simply look out for yourself and get a high-paying job, Haas is not for you.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that we are hippies and all about soft skills. Many of us have progressive and pluralistic values, but there is no shortage of academic rigor. Haasies are some of the most brilliant and thoughtful people I have ever met.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have taken better care of my physical health. I barely exercised during my first year due to my demanding schedule and, as a result, my health suffered. I was able to re-establish a training schedule over the summer and have kept it up in my second year. I now feel much happier and healthier overall.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Stacey King. Stacey is my closest friend at Haas and is like a sister to me. She was also deeply affected by the lack of Black and underrepresented minority (URM) students in our class. However, unlike me, Stacey did not have a lot of previous experience dealing with diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. However, Stacey pushed through her discomfort and committed herself to take on multiple leadership positions in order to make Haas a better and more welcoming place for URM students. Many people, including Stacey, have no idea how much she has contributed to this campus.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mentor, Judith Barnett, was the most influential in helping me pursue an MBA. In fact, she has been encouraging me to go back to school since I graduated from Brown. However, her persistence eventually paid off. Although she initially wanted me to get a JD, I convinced her an MBA would be a better fit and here I am.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Establish a DEI consulting firm.
  2. Run for elected office.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as someone with a strong moral compass who worked to make the campus better.

Hobbies? I’m an avid traveler and martial artist with experience living, working and competing in various countries, including the United States, Mexico, Italy, Singapore, and Japan. I train in Muay Thai, Kickboxing, MMA, and Jiu-Jitsu and have medaled in multiple national tournaments and competed on the U.S. National Kickboxing Team. I’m also a podcast fanatic and subscribe to news, politics, investigative journalism, and comedy shows.

What made Evan Wright such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Evan Wright arrived at Berkeley Haas in August 2018 with a unique background and skillset, which positioned him perfectly to engage and grow as a leader within the MBA community and our larger school.  As vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for our MBA Association, he contributed significantly to strengthening the diversity and inclusiveness of our MBA Program and helped build the capacity of his classmates as equity fluent leaders.

Evan’s passion for social justice and inclusivity has its roots in the African American Washington, D.C. community in which he was raised, with deep connections to the civil rights movement. He attended Brown University, completed a biomedical engineering major, and was also active as a volunteer and mentor and completed coursework in fields well outside of the scope of engineering. After college, Evan spent six years living and working in Japan, with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

Those life experiences forged a student and future business leader with both depth and breadth of knowledge, and the ability to make connections between the experiences of underserved and marginalized people around the world. At Haas, Evan successfully championed racial inclusion and also brought great sensitivity to the experiences and belonging of people with disabilities, women, the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, and international students. As an advisor, my meetings with him were always engaging for the warmth and compassion he brought to the challenges at hand and the opportunity to share recommendations for books, podcasts, and films that added knowledge and deepened our conversations.

As a graduate student instructor for our core Leadership Communications class, Evan actively modeled and supported the learning of first-year students in a critical leadership skill — learning to communicate with authenticity. Evan also used his prior professional experience as a Diversity and Inclusion consultant to lead an allyship workshop for MBA student government leaders from our three MBA Programs. Evan has great strengths as a teacher and facilitator in connecting with others at the point where they are in their development and helping them to move forward.

Evan exemplifies the Berkeley Haas Defining Leadership Principle of Questioning the Status Quo. He has exercised influence well beyond the scope of formal authority, helping classmates and colleagues to learn and grow. I have no doubt this will serve him well as a Deloitte Consultant in Human Capital and well beyond.”

Amy Hornstein Appel
Director of Student Experience


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