2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Ezgi Karaagac, U.C.-Berkeley (Haas)

Ezgi Karaagac

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“A sincere, passionate, problem-solver who works for a better world. Always a student on the life journey.”

Hometown: Adana, Turkey

Fun fact about yourself: I have hiccups regularly – multiple times every day.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bogazici University, Industrial Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? McKinsey & Company, Business Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Dalberg Development Advisors, USA and United Arab Emirates

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Vice President International, MBA Association
  • Vice President of Careers, European Business Club
  • Graduate Student Instructor for the Leadership Communication and Strategic Financial Management for NGOs course
  • Peer Advisor, Haas Career Management Group
  • Berkeley Board Fellow, Destiny Arts Association
  • Project Leader, Career Management Group Strategy Project
  • Recipient, Haas Leadership Scholarship

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of assisting the Haas administration with attaining STEM designation for MBA degrees, making Haas one of the first business schools to receive this designation. Now, international students who graduate from the full-time MBA program are eligible to apply for a two-year work permit extension in the U.S. without the need for H1-B visa sponsorship. For a year, I worked tirelessly and collaborated with classmates, student clubs, Dean Harrison, and other campus leaders to change Haas’ MBA degree. This achievement has expanded career opportunities for many of my classmates and has helped them secure employment at their dream companies.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have been fortunate to work on cutting-edge projects in the Middle East and West Asia while at McKinsey & Company. For example, I was the team lead for a project that established tourism infrastructure for a developing country’s government. The country had unique cultural sites, especially in rural areas, but it lacked crucial institutions and facilities to accommodate tourists. My team and I partnered with leading global and local tourism experts and crafted an end-to-end tourism development strategy that included marketing organizations, air connectivity plans, simplified visa processes, and tourist information centers. Two years after completing this project, I visited the country and was thrilled to see the ideas we developed turned into reality. Our work impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and created a better tourism ecosystem not only for locals, but also for international travelers who enjoy stress-free vacations.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? At Haas, we are fortunate to have many professors who genuinely care for their students and love what they do. Of them all, my favorite professor is Juliana Schroeder. In each class, she prepared us for various real-life scenarios, from purchasing real estate to multi-stakeholder negotiations within global companies. Professor Schroeder provided insightful feedback to each of her 60 students and she also supported her students by offering one-on-one consultations to help them negotiate the best job offer. Her Negotiations course is one of my favorites at Haas, and her weekly take-home notes will continue to guide me in my career.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event is the Consumption Function. On the first Friday of each month, all of the MBA students come together and celebrate Haas’ diverse community through food, music, and dance. Some of my favorite Consumption Functions include Diwali, Lunar New Year, and Veterans Day. Consumption Function is just one of Haas’ many traditions that strengthen bonds and truly celebrate Haasies.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Haas because some of my favorite colleagues whom I admire and respect graduated from the Berkeley Haas MBA program. I was also drawn to Haas because of its Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Student Always, and Beyond Yourself. Those principles resonated with me and I wanted to be around individuals who believed in those values.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I would advise applicants to review Haas’ Defining Leadership Principles. Everyone I have met at Haas from classmates to staff members to faculty embodies those principles.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Before coming to campus, I heard that Haasies were always supportive of each other and went above and beyond to help fellow students. However, that was an understatement. I was and still am blown away by the immense support that I receive from my fellow classmates. Whenever I have questions, I can ask my peers or go to my professors for help. The support, courage, connections, and ideas that I have received are beyond my best expectations. Haasies truly go beyond themselves.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently, and why? If there’s one thing that I would do differently, it would be to create more time for myself to enjoy the colors of the sunsets and take in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Justine Humenansky. Her life story is inspiring. She started her career as a professional ballerina. Thereafter, she worked on Wall Street and is now a Bay Area venture capitalist interested in blockchain. I admire her tenacity and how she has always proved naysayers wrong when they told her that she couldn’t switch careers multiple times. She is a sincere and a true friend, and it is impossible not to be impacted by her intellectual abilities.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My husband encouraged me to pursue a business degree. For years, he told me that getting a top MBA degree would give me essential skills and support my vision to be a global business leader. Even after receiving my acceptance letter from Haas, I was hesitant to start my degree because of family challenges and his visa situation. Nevertheless, he has supported me in pursuing my degree at my dream school.

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

One: Establish my own company

Two: Participate in the Giving Pledge and transfer all of my financial assets and share my life experiences with future generations.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?  I want to be remembered as someone who is passionate, sincere, and trustworthy and as someone they call on first when they are hosting a dinner.

Hobbies? Some of my hobbies include paragliding, planning trips and backpacking around the world, cooking and eating with my personal chef (a.k.a. my husband), and long conversations about cultures.

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

“As a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), Ezgi worked closely with me and her fellow GSIs delivering our core Leadership Communication course for first-year MBA students. I’d selected her from a large pool of 2nd year MBA candidates because I sensed an unusual strength, maturity, and high degree of emotional intelligence. As we worked to deliver the course, I was continually impressed by how much Ezgi contributed to the growth of her students. She proved a sensitive and skilled coach, identifying and drawing out the unique strengths of each student.

I also witnessed the deep respect she held from her fellow GSI peers on our team. In our frequent group discussions, she listened extremely carefully and was frequently the voice of “big-picture wisdom” as she helped the team reach their best collective decisions.

Additionally, Ezgi has a strong moral compass, which was fuel for months of behind-the-scenes efforts to successfully drive the Haas MBA program to achieve a STEM-designated status. This shift positively and dramatically impacted the lives of hundreds of international students now and into the future.   was privy to a full accounting of the myriad efforts this took on her part — countless interactions with Haas staff, administration, students, and program offices, all carried out with patience, creativity, and an unswerving desire to achieve this fundamental change in designation. Ezgi will move many mountains in her lifetime.”

Cort Worthington
Distinguished Teaching Fellow
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business


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