Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Rose K. Haber, Cornell University (Johnson)

Rose K. Haber

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“Outspoken entrepreneur. Science-led thinker with a penchant for sustainable change. Driven by exploration and impact.”

Hometown: New York City, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: My astrophysics research was published by NASA.

Undergraduate School and Major: The George Washington University; Biological Anthropology and Public Health

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Highgate Power; Executive Operations, Strategy

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The choice was all about globally renowned sustainability research and coursework built around it. That’s why I loved the prospect of studying at Cornell. The commitment of Johnson to its students from the start, to internships and on to career placement, combined with the schools focus on green infrastructure development will allow me room to flourish. I wanted to have a full immersive experience in an MBA program, coupled with the peaceful oasis of Sapsucker Woods at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. At Sapsucker Woods, I am able to wander through the myriad of meandering paths and listen to the symphony of bird calls.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Empowering. The student body at Johnson has been the most amazing support system. They are encouraging and supporting each other to ensure we’re all on track to succeed together. Current students and alumni alike have been incredibly generous with their time, providing helpful advice and answering my endless questions.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? The globally-renowned sustainability coursework and research really solidified my love of Cornell. The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise (CSGE) Immersion at Johnson was a vital attraction, providing a wealth of opportunities to students interested in the renewable space.

What was your initial impression of Cornell Johnson? How did it evolve as the recruiting process continued? The network of alumni, professors, and resources at Johnson is simply inimitable. The endless resources pour into building successful individuals, and thereby form a community is like no other. From the first informal meet and greet I attended to the interview, the entire process led me to feel encouraged and supported by my peers as well as future classmates. I began to form relationships with students, now friends, which have lasted through the pandemic!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In December of 2018, I sat around the table at the Explorers Club in New York City alongside respected friends and colleagues and first conceptualized Gather Energy, a company that provided urban geothermal HVAC solutions. In the weeks that followed, I co-founded the company with the direct support of an engineer, a startup afficionado, and an installation manager. We developed a business plan, discussed benefits and pitfalls of raising capital, and worked on the early stages of a white paper, which would analyze the benefits of Geothermal HVAC in large-scale urban environments. Leading this company included involvement in projects spanning public and private commercial and municipal real estate developments. It is something I’m very proud of being a part. Though I have moved on from Gather to other renewable energy entrepreneurial pursuits, I look back fondly on this experience – and all of my other STEM-related experiences that preceded it – for helping me continue to develop my multifaceted and altruistic leadership style.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? As a Co-Founder of a clean energy company, I learned first-hand that the renewables sector is primed for investment and innovation, and that I can play an integral role in the revolution by transitioning to energy finance. In order to combat climate change, I plan to continue in a career focused on leveraging innovative financing to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. To execute this goal, I realized it would be vital to develop formal knowledge of project finance, strategy, and economics.

Early stage developments are often plagued by interpersonal issues which bog down their growth. Entrepreneurship, founding partner issues, and equity divisions can all get very messy. Companies at later stage development generally have these issues sorted out, have raised a significant amount of capital, and are ready to scale their businesses. I’d like to be a part of the scale factor by bringing large utility options to the public sector and alleviating stresses on the grid.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Dartmouth, Duke, Columbia.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process?“Walk me through your resume” – I have quite an unconventional career path, so I found it a bit tricky to condense during an interview.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Through the process, I closely examined student culture, post-graduate placement, and curriculum. I had fairly specific interests and wanted to ensure that the schools I selected would allow me to grow and channel my enthusiasm into success. I focused on finding a program which would allow me to engage with global enterprise, bringing clean energy into the conversation or observing its current place in the world. Due to our current global standing as a nation, I placed heavy weight on the international merit of the school I selected. Additionally, it was imperative that I attend a school, which would expose me to these new energy patterns as they develop, enhancing my understanding of global supply chain.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? When founding Gather Energy, I had come from a background in advertising and pharma. I learned about the interaction of global markets and how drugs are launched and placed worldwide. Though this knowledge did provide a great background perspective on the global economy as a whole, it showed me that I had no knowledge of the start-up process, which is a completely different ball game. I found myself in conversation with friends and acquaintances asking me questions about our corporate structure and how our equity was to be divided – and I could not answer them. Before attending any meetings with investors, I knew I had to develop some base acumen so at a minimum I could understand the conversations at hand. I taught myself everything I know now about financing, private equity, venture capital, the formation of a company, tax laws, the benefits of incorporating in Delaware, and electing a board.

Learning from Gather, I was able to develop knowledge of financing procedures and investing. However, I wanted to learn in a traditional classroom setting to ensure I can excel to the highest of my ability. Given where I was able to go without any financial education, I am confident that I will be able to reach great heights in my career given the proper tools.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Alphabet Inc. has created a revolution in the technology space, and consequently reached into every aspect of daily life. The company is extremely profitable and unique in regard to its influence. Not only is it successful, but the model for workplace, innovation, and project funding have upended traditional methods of investing. Employee satisfaction and creativity are celebrated, not stifled.

Pre-COVID, these changes were evolutionary; now they are revolutionary. Therefore, we should all learn that catalysts, overnight, can transform traditional business solutions, beyond recognition. The same transformation will happen in the renewable space. If we apply ourselves correctly, we can be ready to withstand that catalyzing change and if we apply ourselves correctly, we can be the change.