Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class Of 2024

The Berkeley Haas campus.

“HAASIES LIVE IT”

Haas will be Brian Khan’s second crack at graduate school. Khan already holds a Master’s in Film from DePaul. Since then, he has developed a partnership between several BPOC-led film organizations to distribute short films created by BIPOC artists. While returning to graduate school was a hard decision – especially leaving a job and city (Chicago) he loves – he believes the experience he gains will position him to make a great impact in filmmaking over the long-term.

“Having worked in the film industry for the past seven years, I knew that not having the business acumen held me back because I needed to talk about films as a financial investment,” Khan writes. “This would hinder me from changing whose stories are being told on the screen. Investing the next two years in my growth as a business leader, I hope to continue to work in entertainment and be equipped with the tools to design content strategies for entertainment companies that make a financial case for investing in our stories.”

What has been the Class of 2024’s impression of Haas so far? Khan, for one, has been struck by how students are out to make the world a better place. “When I was first getting to know the school, I was connected with a current student who was pursuing a career in health care,” Khan writes. “Much to my surprise, their reason to pursue an MBA was to first understand the business model of hospitals and then innovate that model to make it financially sustainable to provide access to care in low-income communities. I knew then and there I was going to find the conversations I wanted to have in the classroom.”

Doris Yuan, a 3rd-degree Tae Kwon Do blackbelt, was impressed by how diversity and inclusion is valued at the school. “Haasies live it. Never have I ever felt so heard, included, and appreciated in every conversation I’ve had and every team experience I’ve been a part of. It’s humbling. It’s the Haas story.”

That starts at the top, adds DJ Prahladka. “The Haas admissions committee does an incredible job of recruiting students from diverse backgrounds and varied experiences. During orientation Eric Askins, dean of admissions, read excerpts from student essays about what made them “feel alive”. I looked around at the people around me and was in awe. There were chefs, runners, actors, poets, bankers, people from all over the world with different cultural, ethnic, and social backgrounds. Each of these identities was truly valued and celebrated at Haas, and people genuinely made an effort to get to know one another beyond their career aspirations.”

Student walks past Berkeley Haas campus.

A CLASS PROFILE

This year’s class includes 247 members, down 44 students from the previous year. It also represents one of Haas’ smallest classes over the past decade, which includes the 252-member Class of 2016. In a 2022 interview with P&Q, Eric Askins, executive director of full-time admissions at Haas, notes that enrollment “fluctuates” based on market demand, adding that the program’s top priority is “bringing in a class of exceptionally talented professionals.”

In that measure, Haas’ administration didn’t disappoint with the Class of 2024. They bring a 729 average GMAT to Berkeley, up 3 points from the previous year. The average GRE score – 326 – also represented a 3-point improvement over the previous year.  45% of the class consists of U.S. minorities – including 17% underrepresented minorities – with another 41% hailing from overseas. The latter percentage is a 4% uptick from the previous year. This year’s class also boasts 46% women, up 9 points from 2021.

“This is indeed the closest the school has come to gender parity and represents a significant effort by the admissions team and our student community to reach out to prospective students,” Askins told P&Q this fall. “Ultimately, it’s the strength of our program, including our Center for Gender Equity, Gender and Leadership, faculty like Laura Kray, our student leaders in Women in Leadership and our partnerships with organizations like the Forte Foundation, that have helped us reach a broader array of prospective students.”

As a whole, 45 countries are represented in the Class of 2024. 16% are LGBTQ+, while another 13% are first generation college students. 4% of the class possesses military experience. Academically, the largest segment of the class majored in Engineering (23%). Business and Finance majors make up 19% of the class, with Economics and Sciences each holding a 15% share. As professionals, 23% of the Class of 2024 last worked in Consulting, followed by Financial Services (13%), Technology (13%), Healthcare and Biotech (9%), and the Non-Profit sector.

ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO

The Haas School has certainly stayed busy in recent year, from revamping its curriculum to bolstering its online learning capabilities. The MBA program maintains several formidable advantages. For one, Haas is highly respected, with business school deans and MBA directors ranking the school among the best for its Business Analytics, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, International Business, and Non-Profit curriculum according to a 2022 U.S. News survey. For another, Berkeley offers one of the best locations for business students. The campus is just a half hour away from San Francisco’s robust startup ecosystem – and an hour from Silicon Valley tech and VC royalty. That doesn’t count 2 hours to Wine Country or 3 hours to the mountain ski resorts. Then again, the Pacific Ocean is just a 20-minute drive. In terms of UC Berkeley itself, U.S. News ranked it as the top American public university in 2022, thanks to its research prowess and excellence in fields like Physics, Biochemistry, Economics, and Environmental Sciences.

That’s not all. In a summer interview with P&Q, Jamie Breen, Assistant Dean of the MBA Programs at Haas, outlined some of the new developments and innovations for Haas MBAs. Here are her thoughts on what applicants, students, and alumni can expect from the program in the coming months and years.

Students on the Berkeley Haas campus. Taken in Fall 2021. (Students gave verbal approval to the photographer for official Haas use of their images.)

AN INTERVIEW WITH ASSISTANT DEAN JAMIE BREEN

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

Breen: “Two developments come to mind:

Work will soon get underway on the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Hub, located just a few steps away from Haas. The hub is scheduled to open in 2023 and is expected to become an integral part of Berkeley’s innovation system. The hub will be led by Saikat Chaudhuri, who is also the faculty director for our Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology Program (M.E.T.).

In 2021 we rolled out the new Michaels MBA Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business, which evolved from initiatives launched across campus by faculty and students who are passionate about both sustainability and social impact. Students who earn the certificate—after taking courses like Impact Investing Landscape and Climate Change and Business Strategy—will leave Haas better equipped with the necessary frameworks and practical skills to imagine and implement more sustainable business models, management practices, and technologies.”

P&Q: If you were giving a campus tour, what is the first place you’d take an MBA applicant? Why is that so important to the MBA experience?

Breen: “The first place I’d take an applicant is to the Berkeley Haas Courtyard, which is the heart of our campus. It’s the go-to place to hatch startup ideas, collaborate on assignments, or just relax, eat lunch, and socialize. It’s also where you can find our Defining Leadership Principles that define our school culture set in stone: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always
and Beyond Yourself. But the most beautiful place for many of us on campus is Spieker Forum, the event space at the top of our newest building, Chou Hall. Spieker is nestled between a grove of Redwood trees, and the sweeping view of campus and beyond is spectacular.”

UC-Berkeley’s Jamie Breen

P&Q: What is the most innovative thing you have introduced into the MBA program in recent years? How has it been a game changer for your program?

Breen: “An eight-member faculty task force worked throughout the pandemic to  rethink the MBA core experience—and we believe the innovative curriculum changes we’ve implemented over the last academic year will better prepare MBA students for the demands of the workplace. The MBA core consists of 14 required courses that form the fundamental building blocks of a general management education. The three new core courses, including perhaps the first required core business class in the U.S. on leading diverse teams, will equip students with enhanced communication skills and deeper data knowledge.”

P&Q: What have MBAs told you is the most memorable, signature experience they’ve had in your program? Why did it resonate so much with them?

Breen: “One memorable experience for many of our students is Deep Dish Dinners, a new experience that brings together small groups of students who may not really know each other to have dinner together—and go deep in conversations. It builds community, network bonds, and opens students up to a wide range of backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas.”

P&Q: How does the MBA program leverage the resources of the large university? How does that create more opportunities for your students?

Breen: “Berkeley is one of the top research universities in the world – the top according to Forbes – and our students are a part of that world. We are increasing our campus partnerships and have—or are developing—dual degree programs with other top-ranked departments, like Engineering, Law, Biology, Public Health, Public Policy, and the College of Natural Resources.  Outside of formal degree programs, Haas students connect with their peers in other programs through a whole host of activities, many centered around innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Next Page: Profiles Of 11 Berkeley Haas First-Year MBAs

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