PUTTING PHILOSOPHY INTO PRACTICE
Like Qarshi, Vasu Panicker arrived in Berkeley with a creative background. He studied contemporary music at the City University of New York, along with earning a certificate in piano performance from the Aaron Copeland School. Eventually, he took the helm at Face the Music, a youth music education school that performs live work from contemporary composers. Acting on a suggestion from a faculty member, Panicker produced a show featuring the work of Anthony Braxton, an African-American composer known for music that’s more difficult to play. Despite incurring higher production costs, the show sold out and earned a review from the New York Times.
For Panicker, Haas fits his idea of community due to their ability to project Confidence Without Attitude – the willingness to take a fresh look and persevere for the good of all. “We are honest about what we know, as well as what we don’t know. Yet, we remain open and humble to learning what we don’t know. Confidence without Attitude may not have always been rewarded in the traditional business world, but I believe that it will be important in building connections across sectors and industries in the years to come.”
Some might say Aileen Lu never really left school. After graduation, she launched a startup that trained students on how to code – an effort that required a willingness to watch, listen, and change. Coming into Berkeley, she partnered with her classmates on a digital project. While their intellectual horsepower was impressive, Lu found their embrace of the Students Always ethos to be the differentiator.
“I had the pleasure of working with nine other Haasies on an Instagram AR filters project to promote social distancing and spread school spirit in a digital, innovative way. Although most of us come from non-technical backgrounds, we watched tons of tutorials to create fun filters for Haas and Berkeley students. I believe that being a “Student Always” will carry me a long way at Haas and beyond.”
PAIN REVEALS PURPOSE
Outside work and class, Vasu Panicker estimates that he has spent nearly 1,500 hours of his life sitting in silent meditation. Kokei Otosi used to host a YouTube show for the Sierra Club. Kanyinsola Aibana climbed Villarrica, an active volcano in Chile. Speaking of the outdoors and adventure, Tomás Campos chose the path less traveled, leaving college in Chile to travel abroad.
“My first stop was New Zealand, where I worked several jobs to save money for traveling. I started working for a moving company and thereafter worked in distribution centers, gardening, farms, fisheries, and finally, I ended up trying door-to-door sales. I have many funny stories and I learned a ton. One example: not many things smell worse than fresh fish at 4:30 a.m.”
As you might expect, Campos is a “Question the Status Quo” guy at Haas. Sure enough, Catherine Romero identifies with that same principle. Her defining moment also happened in college. It was then that she witnessed her family file bankruptcy on their business and lose their home to foreclosure. It was also the time that set Romero’s path and purpose in motion…one that eventually brought her into the Haas Class of 2022.
“This life event sparked my interest in finance and pushed me to teach financial literacy to my community. Since then, financial inclusivity and representation are at the core of every decision I make and every project I take on. This prepared me for business school by giving me the confidence to question our financial systems and help align profit and impact to benefit everyone equally. I am confident that by being the voice of my disenfranchised community, I can help elevate the class discussions.”
GMATs CONTINUE TO CLIMB
This year, Haas received 3,636 applications for a seat in the Class of 2022. That was an increase of 96 applications from the year before. Overall, the school accepted 23.7% of applicants, down from its formidable 17.7% rate the year before. This year’s class also features 331 students. That is a 79 student increase over the past five years, a testament to the enduring popularity of Haas’ culture and programming.
Academically, the class brings a 727 average GMAT to Berkeley – a 10-point improvement over the past five years. The average undergraduate GPA held steady at 3.65. The largest segment of the class is comprised of Economics majors (17.2%), who hold a nominal lead over Engineering (16.9%), and Social Sciences (16.3%). The remainder of the class is broken down into Business/Commerce (12.7%), Finance (9.1%), Humanities (6.6%), Natural Sciences (5.4%), Computer Sciences (2.7%), and Math (2.1%). The remainder of the class fell into the nebulous “Other” category.
The big number: 39%. That’s the percentage of women in the Class of 2022. Despite intensive resources being invested into attracting women, the Haas MBA program has been unable to top the 43% high water mark of two years ago. By the same token, the percentage of international students slipped from 35% to 21% this year, while the percentage of minorities jumped from 30% to 39%. Overall, the Class of 2022 hails from 37 countries.
Professionally, 21% of the class most recently worked in Consulting. Financial Services and Technology also broke double digits at 17% and 10% respectively. The remainder of the class boasts experience in Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotechnology (8%), Non-Profit (7%), Consumer Products and Retail (6%), Military (5%), Energy (5%), Entertainment (3%), and Government (3%)
PAY AND PRESTIGE ALWAYS HIGH
By the numbers, Berkeley Haas has been enjoying a great year. The Class of 2019, for example, set a record, with median starting base pay jumping from $125,000 to $140,000. Combining base and bonus, the class cleared $159,972 to start, up $19,037 over the past five years. The program’s popularity in the tech sector certainly helps produce these windfalls. Last year, 32.9% of Haas grads entered technology,
the highest percentage of any top American MBA program. The program also excels in Entrepreneurship. In a 2020 survey by P&Q, Berkeley Haas produced 7 of the 100 largest MBA-founded startups from 2015-2019 based on funding (with these 7 Haas startups attracting over $117 million dollars in investment).
One reason for this success is the overall culture at Haas. In a 2019 student and alumni survey from Bloomberg Businessweek, the school ranked in the Top 5 in three categories: Innovation and Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Alumni Networks. When Bloomberg Businessweek surveyed employers in 2019, Haas ranked in the Top 10 for Innovation and Creativity, Diversity, and Entrepreneurial Thinking.
Haas is also regaled in academic circles. In a 2020 U.S. News & World Report survey of MBA directors and faculty leaders, Haas ranked among the Top 10 in categories: Entrepreneurship, Global Business, Marketing, Real Estate, Finance and Business Analytics. This array of strengths not only reflects the collective power of a highly-ranked undergraduate business school and research institution, but the students’ devotion to a larger philosophy as well.
“[There is a myth] that Berkeley is an echo chamber of beliefs, explains Danielle Mayorga, a 2020 grad. “One of Haas’ defining principles is “Question The Status Quo” and I have seen first-hand how my peers are doing that in the classroom, in our dialogues over dinner, and in the companies, they are launching or joining. It’s definitely a place where a foundation of shared values allows you to have deeper and more meaningful conversations–whether or not you agree.”
AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER JOHNSON, ASSISTANT DEAN
Over the past year, Haas has launched Accelerated Access, a deferred admissions program to bring Berkeley undergrads into the Haas fold within 2-5 years of graduation. The program also made all of its MBA programs STEM-designated. This enables international students to extend their VISAs after graduation, making Haas graduates even more attractive to employers. This summer, Haas unveiled its UC-Berkeley Executive Education Classroom, an innovative digital offering that will mitigate disruptions like COVID-19 while providing MBAs with online functionalities on par with Harvard’s acclaimed HBX program.
What else can future MBAs expect from the Haas School? In September, P&Q reached out to Peter Johnson, the school’s assistant dean for the full-time MBA program and admissions. From COVID to entrepreneurship, here are Johnson’s thoughts on the state of Haas.
P&Q: What are the most exciting new developments in your program?
PJ: “We’re excited to announce that we enrolled our first MBA/MEng class this fall. Our MBA/MEng degree program allows students to earn both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Engineering degree in two years.
Students will have access to resources from both the Haas School of Business and the College of Engineering, allowing them to learn from some of the world’s top professors in both fields as well as global business leaders and entrepreneurs.”
P&Q: What are the two most unique or differentiating features of your full-time program? How do they enrich the MBA experience?
PJ: “Our culture, driven by our Defining Leadership Principles, is one of the most unique features of our full-time program. Question the Status Quo, Confidence without Attitude, Student Always, and Beyond Yourself are principles that our students embody and live out loud every day. Our students form a tight-knit community and make lifelong friendships because they share these values. This makes it easy to trust a recommendation from one fellow Haas alum to another.
Another unique feature is our location. We’re in the heart of the San Francisco and Silicon Valley innovation economy. Our students benefit greatly from having access to the best professors as well as executives and entrepreneurs from leading global companies in a variety of industries from sustainable food to high tech.
Finally, our developing approach to creating equity-fluent leaders reflects a renewed commitment to ensuring that Berkeley Haas MBAs are prepared to lead inclusive organizations that celebrate the talents of an increasingly diverse workforce and seek to ensure equity of opportunity for everyone.”
Go to Page 3 for in-depth profiles of class members.