Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Andrew Packer, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Andrew Packer

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“I bring the outdoors to the boardroom. An avid adventurer with a data science addiction.”

Hometown: Santa Clara, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I am a marathon swimmer, and have completed five official 10+ mile open water swims, including around Manhattan and from Catalina Island to Los Angeles. I hold two records in the sport!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, Santa Barbara; Major: Economics & Accounting

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: PwC – Tax Consulting Manager – Specialized Tax Services Platform Management Office

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? I connect strongly with the concept of Questioning the Status Quo. Coming from a “traditional” accounting firm currently working through an impressive internal digitization strategy, I’ve witnessed first-hand how businesses and the world are changing at an insanely rapid pace. I think that leaders and companies that will thrive and create a positive legacy are those who are willing to take risks that differentiate and serve the broader business community. Haas emphasizes embracing new ideas and ways of working, which is critical for survival in today’s business environment.

What has been your first impression of the Haas MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Haas story so far. As cliche as it sounds, business is personal at Haas. It’s only been a week on campus, and I already know more about most of my classmates than I do some of my former coworkers, whom I worked with for 4+ years! I love the intentionality of the community. When I was deciding where to attend this year, I spoke with alumni and faculty who I had traded emails with only once before meeting in person. They were able to, on the spot, recall critical aspects of my application, desires post-MBA, and my leadership story that resonated with them with no priming. That level of personal attention and connection exists across campus, and I’m honored to be in the Haas folds.

Aside from classmates and the Defining Leadership Principles, what was the key part of Berkeley Haas’ MBA curriculum programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Haas is at the forefront of the sustainable business movement, both from a cleantech and startup perspective, but also at the traditional brick-and-mortar level. As someone who believes that the largest companies in existence today will play the greatest role in addressing our climate crisis, it’s important to me that our business leaders develop not only soft skills, but concrete strategies to address this problem head on. From classes in climate change in corporate strategy to sustainable supply chains (and even human rights in business), Haas is teaching the technical science of addressing this challenge at all levels of business.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas)? I’m incredibly excited for the Data & Decisions and Data & Analytics core requirements this year. I love that Haas sees the value in developing a competency in data analysis, machine learning, and modeling for both traditional business goals, but also newer areas of focus (DEI, ESG, etc.) and I’m excited to apply these skills to pressing issues across the board.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In my prior role, we were developing a new internal technology and business process to manage and automate tax calculations for our clients. I had the career defining opportunity to test, implement, and drive the adoption of this tool, both internally and at key beta clients. This challenged me to leverage my CPA and technical skills in a development and IT setting, which introduced me to a passion for product management. I also had the honor of training our team across the country in the new methods of working. These skills were then critical in winning significant work as tax technical product managers for clients going forward and ultimately created a new service offering in our group.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I’ve always had plans to pursue a graduate degree, but wanted to be very intentional with when, where, and why. I’m at a point in my career where I see value in stepping back, developing my leadership skills, refining my competencies in product management and sustainability, and returning to work as an SME in this space. I’m planning to return to PwC upon graduation, to leverage a formal education in the emerging product and ESG spaces of our business on the consulting side. I want to drive technology-based solutions to the climate crisis at some of our biggest clients, working from the “top down” to bring impactful change to how we as a society do business.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I’m currently working through a book recommended by one of my close friends: Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman. While I think it’s a great book for everyone, I think it’s a valuable perspective for potential MBA candidates to consider. The decision to pursue an MBA is usually based on a desire to develop as a leader, and I think, often times, leadership seems like a zero sum game. This book helped me to refocus my priorities and first impressions of the world, and definitely has led me to assume best intent in those I work with and the teams I’ve managed.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, Chicago Booth, Northwestern Kellogg.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? Really be authentic in your application. Every application is read by a human, and every admit is reviewed by the entire admissions panel before being accepted. This school is smaller than almost every other top 10 program, and values community, teaming, and passion more than most. It really feels like the admissions process is to create a family, not just choose the highest performers outright.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.