Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Anupama Tej, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Anupama Tej

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“A hopeful leader, changemaker, and entrepreneur helping create equal access to opportunities for all.”

Hometown: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m the designated host – whether for sleepovers or a fun game of Sequence with friends. I once hosted a football game, yet I’m still clueless about how to play football.

Undergraduate School and Major:) Bangalore University, Bachelor’s in Electronics and Communications Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Product Manager, Apna

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. I learned this value from my mother who challenged the norms and stereotypes about educating a girl child in my village. I’ve followed in my mother’s footsteps and have continued to question the status quo. I believe I have always questioned the status quo. This includes leaving home when I was 10 years old, getting access to education to not letting a lack of funding end my quest to be my family’s first college graduate, and building platforms like Tinystep (a platform that enables Indian mothers to access parenting information in regional languages) and SheEO (an incubator for women entrepreneurs).

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. My first impression about Haas students and alumni was that they are kind and generous. I spoke to a lot of students and alums before I applied to Berkeley Haas. During those conversations, I could see how each one of them embodied Haas’ Defining Leadership Principles. Each one went beyond themselves to help me during my application process, connected me to the right person, and helped me find the right resources. I distinctly remember that I had some last-minute questions during Christmas break regarding applications and wanted to verify information about a particular course. I reached out to one of the students and she immediately connected me with students who had taken that course. At that moment, I knew I had to go to Berkeley Haas.

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? I am deeply passionate about building products and solutions that enable equal access to opportunities for all. One of the key reasons why I chose Berkeley is because it is the only MBA school that has a Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership (EGAL). EGAL focuses on creating equity fluent leaders who can build a more inclusive and equitable world. I am looking forward to taking courses like Equity Fluent Leadership: The Value of Inclusion & Diversity from Professor Kellie McElhaney and taking part in consulting projects to assist global companies in solving their most challenging diversity, equity and inclusion challenges.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas?


I am really excited about Haasmite, an MBA tradition where students go to Yosemite for a weekend. I have heard great bonding stories from students who participated in previous years and I cannot wait to spend time getting to know my classmates better.

I am also looking forward to going to Story Salon, another cherished MBA tradition where students build connections through genuine and vulnerable storytelling. I believe this will deepen the connections that I have with my classmates and will allow me to get to know my classmates beyond their professional experiences.


I am really keen on taking leadership courses such as Leading High Impact Teams, Power and Politics in Organizations, led by Dr. Brandi Pearce, and Large-Scale Social Change: Social Movements, led by Professor Nora Silver. Along with these, I will take courses in Berkeley’s Public Policy School and DLab.

The most unique thing about UC Berkeley is that it has over 800 courses on climate change and sustainability. I am looking forward to taking some of those courses as well.


  • Haas Tech Club: This club organizes insightful workshops and speaker sessions for students interested in tech.
  • Women in Leadership: The largest club on campus and has a lot of initiatives to increase gender equity at Haas and beyond Haas.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? Over the last seven years, I have helped build and scale startups. After taking a successful exit from my first startup, I was at a natural turning point in my career where I wanted to solidify my business learnings, broaden my perspectives and get international experience before starting my next venture. Moreover, I wanted to take this time to grow as a leader. I wanted to get feedback from my classmates and professors on my leadership style and develop abilities to have difficult conversations, and influence key decision-makers across governments and organizations.

Post-MBA, I will leverage my startup experiences leading various stages of the product development lifecycle to manage large-scale products for global tech companies. Through these experiences, I will develop expertise in building high-impact teams, long-term strategies, and scalable operations, skills I require to succeed in my next venture.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why?

1. Listening to Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech changed my perspective on MBA applications and my career. During the application season, you will get some rejections, but that shouldn’t dishearten you as long as “you are in the arena, fighting the battle, marred with blood, sweat and tears.” This quote kept me going through the difficult nights during this process.

2. Reading Mindset by Dr. Carol S. Dweck helped me start my MBA with the right mindset. After reading this book, I could identify areas where I have a fixed mindset (believing that abilities are fixed) and how I can develop a growth mindset (believing that abilities can be developed). This was such a key lesson before starting my MBA journey. I am currently taking new courses like Financial Accounting and Microeconomics and trying new activities like surfing. I can identify when I have a fixed mindset and change my inner dialogue to approach this with a growth mindset.

If you are struggling with increasing your score in GMAT or GRE or struggling to write creative essays, I highly recommend reading Mindset and applying the framework to this process. In hindsight, this approach would have helped me do better during the application process.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford, Kellogg, Duke Fuqua

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? If I can give one piece of advice to prospective students, it would be don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.

Berkeley Haas reviews applications holistically rather than just looking at a data point in the application to make admission decisions. The Haas application is unique in a way that the school really wants to know you as a person beyond your resume and test score. I recommend that prospective students be authentic, vulnerable, and share their genuine story. I recommend that prospective applicants review our Defining Leadership Principles and assess if his/her values align with those principles. Our values are not just words written on our website, but are the values that the community embodies, those are the values that drive how students show up, those are the values that drive how professors show up to class, and those are the values that drive how the school makes decisions.

The essay, ‘What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why?’ isn’t a trick question. The school genuinely wants to know you. If you approach this question as a way to share your success story in your career or extracurricular activity, it might not be the right approach. Reflect on your life and find moments where you felt happiest and share that story. During Week Zero (orientation), the dean of Admission read excerpts from students’ essays. The stories varied from making cocktails to running marathons to exploring the wild.


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