Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Jordan Bell, University of California Berkeley (Haas)

Jordan Bell

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“Leader, complex problem-solver, and team player.  I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

Hometown: Oakland, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: While studying abroad in undergrad at the American University in Dubai, I hosted former US President Bill Clinton at a dinner on campus.

Undergraduate School and Major: Morehouse College, BA in Finance

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Financial Institutions Examiner.

Berkeley Haas is founded on four Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Which principle resonates most with you and why? Question the Status Quo. Since pursuing a career in finance, I constantly live and promote this principle. Historically, working in finance has had many barriers of entry for persons of color such as myself. By empowering underrepresented communities through financial literacy and other financial skills development programs, we have seen increased representation at leading investment banks, technology firms, and other global Fortune 500 companies. Witnessing these changes in workplaces has been surreal. However, this is just the start. Leadership and innovation will lead the charge. This mission keeps me motivated and my quest to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce will continue during my time at Berkeley Haas.

What word best describes the Haas MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Genuine.  All of the conversations I have had with people go far beyond surface level discussions. Everyone I have spoken to has offered sincere advice, whether it be professional, educational, or personal. The people I have interacted with thus far really exude a team-player mentality.

Aside from classmates and the Defining Leadership Principles, what was the key part of Berkeley Haas’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? While obviously the ranking of the program is important, the culture of Berkeley Haas really stood out to me. Culture and fit are very important to me because they enable me to perform at my best, both inside and outside of the classroom. As a person who has worked in finance jobs in New York City and San Francisco, I resonate most with West Coast culture.  At Berkeley Haas, students and faculty are always willing to help, the program is very inclusive, and job placement in both technology and finance related roles is top notch.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas? The FinTech Club excites me most because I believe the evolution and transformation of financial services is one of the largest and most exciting opportunities of our lifetime and Berkeley Haas is at the epicenter of the industry.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a financial examiner for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, I managed the ongoing regulatory examinations of the largest regional banking portfolio in the U.S. In this capacity, I leveraged my analytical and leadership skills to ensure all unique economic and regulatory aspects were considered. As a lead financial regulator, I was able to identify, measure, understand, and evaluate the complex geopolitical and socioeconomic interrelationships the banking industry faces.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 has changed my perspective on my career and has made me more open-minded and adaptable. Pre-COVID, I was set on a very specific job title within financial services. The pandemic has taught me to adjust, be flexible, and learn about new potential opportunities that are the wave of the future post pandemic.  COVID-19 has also taught me to never take anything for granted.  Anyone’s life can change in a matter of seconds, so it is important to cherish the important moments in life with family and friends.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? My experience as a financial institutions examiner, specializing in FinTech supervision, has allowed me to analyze the financial health and business models of current FinTech pioneers. I have conducted many examinations focused on companies’ asset quality and managerial strength. With this experience, I felt it was the perfect time to pursue my MBA at Berkeley Haas where I could deepen my quantitative skills while developing a network of finance and technology leaders. Moreover, I am looking to enhance my managerial and strategic thinking skills. I hope to grow these competencies to supplement my regulatory background to pursue a post-MBA career in either technology investment banking or FinTech payments. My focus will be on using financial technology to provide financial access and knowledge to marginalized communities.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB, Wharton, HBS, and Chicago Booth.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? I strongly believe that authenticity and staying true to yourself are the biggest differentiators in gaining admission into Berkeley Haas. Nearly everyone who applies will come from a great undergrad institution, have high GMAT/GRE scores, and an impressive work resume. What will make you stand out is telling your own personal story in a compelling way, which literally can’t be replicated, because it is your own. It is very important to discuss your passions, how you plan to add value to the class during and after your matriculation, and how a Berkeley Haas MBA will help you achieve your goals. Be candid, precise, and honest. This a great place to be and I wish you the best of luck. Go Bears!


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