Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class Of 2023

Students on the Berkeley Haas campus. Taken in Fall 2021. (Photo Credit: Noah Berger)


This level of support is one of Haas’ differentiators. Thus far, the program has lived up to the Class of 2023’s expectations. That includes Charlie Yates, who describes the Haas community as “engaging.” “After meeting current students and alumni, what struck me most about the Haas community was the amount of genuine curiosity and empathy everyone exhibited when we talked. Despite needing to rely on just phone or Zoom calls, our 30-minute scheduled meetings routinely doubled or even tripled in meeting time! Talking to Haasies always feels like talking to longtime friends who are excited to reconnect.”

More than engaging, adds Jordan Bell, Haasies are “genuine.” “All of the conversations I have had with people go far beyond surface level discussions,” he observes. “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.”

That mentality extends beyond being teammates. At Haas, you are family, says Aditi Bhandari, a 2021 grad and PepsiCo hire who was a member of last year’s P&Q MBAs To Watch. “Sometimes, you get to choose who your family is, and I’ve found that to be true at Haas,” she writes. “I chose Haas for the amazing culture, hands down. Haasies are the most consistently loving, welcoming, genuine group I have come across. I was worried b-school would be like college with distinct groups and internationals living lives separate from the American students, but Haas truly does feel like one big family. For a business school experience that was disrupted immensely with some real lemons, I feel lucky to be able to make lemonade every day with my Haas family.”


These familial bonds are strengthened by many long-time Haas traditions. That includes HaasBoats, which kicks off the first weekend of the fall semester. Here, MBAs enjoy a giant boat party whose purpose is far deeper than the usual reverie.

“You drive up to Lake Shasta and spend Labor Day weekend living on houseboats with your assigned crews, docking the boats next to each other for endless sunny days on the lake with the serene mountain backdrop, attending Burning Man-themed parties, and getting to know your classmates by boat-hopping,” explains Aditi Bhandari. “The friendships and memories made at HaasBoats really sets up the Haas experience to be more than I could have imagined. The memories from that magical weekend have sustained us through the toughest parts of the pandemic. I hope that our first years get a chance to experience it this fall. Fingers crossed.”

Story Salon is another highly-anticipated tradition at Haas according to alumni. Each month, students gather to listen to their classmates share their personal journeys. Rather than impromptu presentations, students are chosen by a lottery system and paired with a student coach who helps them flesh out their story and make it compelling.

“Story Salon is one of few events where I do my best to attend each one, explains Corrine Marquardt, who graduated in December with a dual MBA-MPH. “The stories shared in Story Salon are often deeply moving and range from extremely vulnerable to light-hearted and funny. I have learned a great deal about my classmates from this tradition and it has helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the tenacity and strength of my peers. I also had the opportunity to share my own story and was moved by the support I felt from my classmates during and after the event.”

Two MBA students walk through the Berkeley Haas courtyard. (Photo Credit: Noah Berger)


By the numbers, the Class of 2023 represents a return to normal. This year’s class features 291 students, a number closer to Haas’ historical average than last year’s temporary surge to 330 students. The school also experienced a 4% increase in applications to 3,841. At the same time, acceptance rate dropped six points to 17.6% — returning Haas to being one of the most selective full-time MBA programs in the world.

The class’ 726 GMAT average also ranked alongside Yale SOM, Dartmouth Tuck, and Northwestern Kellogg during the past application cycle. Their 3.67 undergraduate GPA and 323 GRE average also fit historical norms, though 37% of the class also submitted GREs. In terms of demographics, 37% of the class hails from overseas, with another 38% being women. Nearly half of the class consists of minorities, including Asians (23%), Hispanics (15%), and African Americans (7%).

The largest segment of the class — 22% — last worked in Consulting. Financial Services make up 17% of the class, with 12% of seats held by professionals who worked in High Tech. Healthcare accounts for 9% of the class, followed by Consumer Products and Non-Profits at 7% each. Military veterans comprise 5% of the class. As undergraduates, 24% of the class majored in Engineering, a segment that is larger than Economics (17%) and Business (15%).


Like previous classes, you’ll find first-years from all walks of life: teachers, researchers, military leaders, and entrepreneurs. This fall, they joined a larger community, 40,000 MBA alumni strong — not counting another half million Berkeley alumni worldwide. From venture capital to luxury and stretching from Silicon Valley to Shanghai, MBAs are certain to find alumni in whatever location, industry, or function they choose to pursue.

“The network at Berkeley Haas is one-of-a-kind,” explains David Bolivar, a 2021 grad who was hired by Google to work in its treasury rotational program. “As a finance professional looking to pivot to tech, having access to alumni from leading tech companies has been greatly beneficial to me. It was not hard to find UC Berkeley or Haas alumni working in the tech industry. For example, when I was applying to Google, I had little time to prepare for my final round of interviews. On short notice, I reached out to two Haas alumni working at Google. They quickly responded and made themselves available for a call. Their candor and expertise helped me immensely during the recruiting process.”

One myth about Haas, according to Bolivar, is that the MBA program isn’t particularly strong in Finance. Reality is, he says, the program boasts some of the strongest faculty in the field, including Peter Goodson and Mustavo Manso. In addition, Haas offers one of the best internship pipelines to investment banking internships related to technology. While 12.3% of the Class of 2021 chose Finance — almost a third of graduates ended up in Technology — Finance grads earned $10K more in base on average. Better yet, Haas graduates saw their overall pay increase by $11K this past year to $173K.

Another area where Haas is thriving is Entrepreneurship, with a third of the school’s electives focused on startups. Over the past five years, Haas MBAs have been responsible for fielding 4 of the 35 highest-funded MBA startups, with Oishii Farm, Oxygen, Kyte, and Ping generating nearly $119 million dollars in seed money.

A group of MBA students get together in Connie and Kevin Chou Hall. (Photo Credit: Noah Berger)


The school has remained plenty busy over the past year. In July, Haas announced that it would be rolling it its “Flex” MBA program, making it the highest-ranked business school to enter the online space. The best part of the program? Online students will be given the flexibility to take elective courses in-person after they complete the core courses! In addition, the school revised its core curriculum beginning last fall, adding required courses in data analytics, data-focused decision-making, and leading diverse teams.

This fall, Poets&Quants reached out to Peter Johnson, assistant dean, full-time MBA program & admissions, to learn more about new developments at the school. From how Haas leverages Bay Area assets to the most popular clubs on campus, here’s what you need to know about what’s happening at Haas.

P&Q: What are the two most exciting developments at your program and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?

PJ: “This fall, the Full-time MBA program is introducing a revised core curriculum, which includes new courses in Data Analytics, Presenting with Data, and Business Communication in Diverse Work Environments. Each of these reflects input from our students, faculty, and hiring organizations about critical skill sets for leadership success.

While the Haas School has long had elective courses available in data analytics and related topics and a certificate program in business analytics, the Data Analytics core course aims to ensure that all students coming through our program have a foundation in analytics. The Presenting with Data course builds on our Leadership Communications course and helps develop the ability to effectively communicate with data.  The Business Communication in Diverse Work Environments prepares students to increase diversity and inclusion in the modern workplace and is designed to teach them how to do the following:

(1) Describe the science behind diversity, equity, inclusion, bias, and conflict

(2) Recognize the aspects of their own identity and personal experiences that shape how they interact and engage with others in organizational settings

(3) Identify strategies to capitalize on a diversity of perspectives to improve decision making, problem solving, and innovation

(4) Explain how issues of power, status, privilege, and bias influence opportunities and effectiveness in global organizations

(5) Increase cultural/intergroup fluency and develop a toolkit of strategies when making decisions and interacting with others.”

Connie and Kevin Chou Hall. (Photo Credit: Noah Berger)

P&Q: What are two biggest differentiating features of your MBA program? How do each of these enrich the learning of your MBA students?

PJ: “Our culture, anchored 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 put into action every day. Our students are drawn to our tight-knit community and make life-long 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. The tech sector has expanded from Silicon Valley to San Francisco to right at our doorsteps in Berkeley, placing Berkeley Haas at the core of the innovation economy. Simply put, Berkeley Haas is “the heart of what’s next.” We’re influencing industries that are inventing new technologies and business models that are driving economic growth. Moreover, 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 consulting to high tech.

Finally, our approach to creating equity-fluent leaders reflects a renewed commitment to ensuring that our students are prepared to build and lead inclusive organizations that celebrate the talents of an increasingly diverse workforce and create equitable opportunities for everyone.”

P&Q: In recent years, there have been several areas that have gained increased prominence in business school programming, including STEM, analytics, artificial intelligence and digital disruption. How does your full-time MBA program integrate these concepts across its curriculum?

UC-Berkeley Haas’ Peter Johnson. File photo

PJ: “Berkeley Haas has been a pioneer in integrating these concepts across our curriculum. Among those courses are:

* Cleantech to Market, a 15-week accelerator program where students propose and commercially market cleantech innovations from existing startups, government-sponsored programs, and incubators.

* Ethics and AI, which delves into the diversity and power structures of the global AI innovation landscape. Students evaluate the ways AI is deployed in fragile societal systems that suffer from weak governance, misaligned incentives, and other social or economic ills.

* Blockchain and the Future of Technology, Business and Law, which explores the impact of blockchain across industries.

As previously mentioned, we’ve also added new courses to our core curriculum to ensure that all students have a grounding in data analytics and the ability to communicate with data, which are skills highly sought after by recruiters in a variety of industries.

Berkeley Haas offers a dual degree (MBA/MEng) with Berkeley top-rated Engineering School.  MBA students seeking to prepare for careers at the intersection of finance, data science, and technology have the option of taking electives in our Master of Financial Engineering Program.”

Next Page: In-Depth Profiles of 11 Berkeley Haas First-Year MBA Students

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