Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Charlie Yates, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Charlie Yates

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“Raised in a biracial, immigrant family, I aspire to champion health equity and value-based care.”

Hometown: Greenbrae, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I sang in an operatic group while studying abroad in Ankara, Turkey.

Undergraduate School and Major: Pitzer College; Major: Psychology and Science, Technology, and Society; Minor in Music.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Epic Systems Corporation, Implementation Project Manager

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? Though I connect with all of the Defining Leadership Principles, Confidence Without Attitude resonates with me the most, especially this past year. I have not always characterized myself as a confident individual, especially because of how constrained I felt by the systemic obstacles that have been in front of me as a person of color. Growing up in a community where I routinely “stuck out”, I didn’t see my individualism as an asset. That said, my confidence grew most when I met people on a one-on-one basis and recognized the positive impact I could have sharing my experiences with others. I am thankful for those moments because I now have the ability to confidently share my perspective with humility. It’s the framework that I now use to adhere to the remaining principles: asking hard questions, recognizing learning opportunities, and finding ways to understand how you can help others.

What word best describes the Haas MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? 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.

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? One of the key reasons I chose Haas was their unparalleled MBA/MPH (Public Health) program. This thoughtfully crafted, decades-old program allows students to receive both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Public Health in 2.5 years. Furthermore, the deep connection between Haas and the School of Public Health offers unique opportunities for all MBA students to enjoy, such as the Healthcare in the 21st Century course that even non-public health students can choose as an elective. While most business schools have specializations in healthcare, I believe that a rigorous and deliberate public health curriculum would strengthen my approach to addressing health disparities.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas? While I look forward to the professional clubs like the Haas Healthcare Association and the Haas Consulting Club, I am most excited to join the LatinX Club. This younger, student-run organization is a sister club to the Latin American and Hispanic Business Association (LAHBA) and recognizes the uniqueness of growing up Latinx in the United States. As a son of an immigrant, raised in a bilingual family, concepts of enculturation, assimilation, and “feeling othered” previously held me back from understanding who I am. Now, I’m thrilled to explore how those experiences have transformed me into a stronger, more apt individual for leading the business world.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: After the murder of George Floyd, I, alongside four other supervisors, proposed for and developed our company’s Diversity Council. In direct collaboration with the executive team, the council oversaw all internal and external diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts. Taking a stand and then participating on an executive-facing team to lead all DE&I efforts at a 10,000+ person company served as an accelerator to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in making critical decisions that can inform the mission, trajectory, and values of an organization.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 had a significant impact on who I am professionally. At the start of the pandemic, I had the opportunity to help a state’s armed forces set up a temporary hospital location to treat COVID-positive, non-acute patients. Working directly with these clinicians in a high-pressure situation, with limited time and resources, reinforced my passion for helping clinicians provide the best care possible to patients.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I had not always planned to get an MBA, but COVID-19 illuminated the relentless health disparities that have always been present. As I began to work on equitable software solutions at Epic, I realized that I needed to take a step back and understand how I could round out my management toolbox and develop a public health framework for tackling the largest, unsolved issues in our healthcare industry. During business school, I aim to build a case for value-based care, and I aspire to apply my learnings directly to healthcare organizations. My current hypothesis is that I could most benefit the healthcare industry by bringing my expertise to a management consulting firm that similarly understands the importance of value-based care.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Yale SOM, Harvard Business School, UCLA Anderson, Stanford GSB, and USC Marshall.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? Don’t be afraid to reach out to Haas students to have one-on-one conversations! Talking directly with students is the best way to understand the school’s culture, and Haas students in particular are always willing to go the extra mile to connect you with others that share your passions and interests. I know that sending your first introduction email or LinkedIn message can be nerve-racking (at least it was for me), but I promise that it will be worth it!


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