Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Nathan Mason, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Nathan Mason

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“I am an authentic, loyal, and determined person who aims to treat all with compassion.”

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Fun Fact About Yourself: I know how to copy Morse code.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Maryland; Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Department; Cyber Threat Intelligence Subject Matter Expert

Berkeley Haas is founded on four Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Which pillar resonates most with you and why? Berkeley Haas’ Beyond Yourself defining leadership principle resonates the most with me. In my previous career, I joined the national security industry because I felt inspired to serve our nation following the September 11th terrorist attacks. That said, my decision to enlist in the United States Air Force (USAF) was difficult. My family did not receive the news well because they were concerned for my safety, and worried about my future. With the exception of my grandfathers who served in WWII and the Korean War, I was the sole member of my family to join the armed forces. I now recognize my decision to put my country’s larger interests above my own. I am satisfied with the time I committed to my country because I know my contributions made a positive impact on the world, and it gave me invaluable experiences that will last a lifetime.

Aside from the four pillars and your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose Haas and why was it so important to you? Haas’ global MBA learning programming was key to my decision. Before the coronavirus pandemic, I had planned to participate in the foreign exchange program. I was interested in attending the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) to learn first-hand about the Asian Continent marketplace. I love to travel the world to learn about new perspectives and cultures. The global marketplace is growing precipitously, so gaining these outlooks on business outside of the United States is vital to success as a business leader.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The best quality that describes fellow Haasies is they are intentional about building community. When I received an appointment to interview at Haas, members of various affinity clubs reached out to me to answer my questions and share their experiences. When I arrived in Berkeley to interview for acceptance into the business school, the Veteran’s Club, Q@Haas, and the Black Business Student Association scheduled time to meet in person. Now that I have arrived in California for the fall semester, virtual and socially-distanced, in-person coffee chats have become a daily activity. From the beginning of the process, I have felt included in the Haas family. I believe Haasies are intentional people. Moreover, my experiences have shown me that Haasies value building relationships.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I have a passion for helping others discover their full potential. One of my biggest career accomplishments was pursing an adjunct faculty position at a Department of Defense college. For five years, I developed and taught computer engineering courses to hundreds of civilian and joint service military students. I value this experience because I was able to give back to the community that helped build my career.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I am pursuing an MBA to pivot into a new career path and industry. An MBA will enable me to seamlessly transition from the national security industry into the private sector. I believe pairing a Haas MBA with my technical experience will present me with new leadership and career opportunities.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to Columbia Business School, Duke Fuqua School of Business, Harvard Business School, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, Stanford University Graduate School of Business; University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, University of Pennsylvania The Wharton School, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, and Yale University School of Management.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question I received during the admissions process was to explain a specific detail regarding an accomplishment in my previous career. Because every portion of my work was confidential, this was a challenge throughout the admissions process. Working in the national security industry required I sign a strict non-disclosure agreement, which made it difficult to detail my work history.

What was the biggest factor in choosing a particular business school and why was it so important to you? My biggest factor for choosing a particular business school was the culture. This is important to me because I want the community I join to have similar values as me. Haasies care about each other, want to make a positive impact on society, and are intentional about promoting inclusivity.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Separating from the military was a defining moment in my life. I ended my military career to have a more stable lifestyle and to pursue other career goals. Transitioning out of the military prepared me for business school because it enabled me to realize my ambitions more clearly. Serving on active duty requires a lot of energy and attention to be successful. Ultimately, my new career direction allowed me to position myself for business school.

What is your favorite company and why? My favorite company is MBOX because I am building it! MBOX is a home automation hardware startup.

Look ahead two years and picture graduation. How will you know that your business school experience has been successful? In two years, I will know my business school experience is successful by the relationships I have fostered and the experiences I have gained. I hope to build an extended community of personal and professional connections and new skillsets I can grow post-graduation. This year we have witnessed a historic movement for racial equality, an economic downturn, and a pandemic unlike any experienced in a century. Becoming a business leader at Haas will undoubtedly equip me to lead in the new normal we find ourselves. Being at Haas is a dream come true.


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