Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Brian Khan, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Brian Khan

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Fun Fact About Yourself: Before deciding on going to film school, I thought about studying actuarial sciences. I studied classical Piano for 10+ years. I’ve performed in two live-singing drag shows under the name Guava Goddess.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Undergrad: University of Windsor (Canada). Major: BA[H] Digital Journalism and Communication, Media, and Film.

Graduate School: DePaul University – Creative Producing (Film)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Full Spectrum Features; Producer and Director of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement

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? Being a gay man born in the U.S. and raised in the Dominican Republic by a Pakistani father and a Dominican mother, I have been challenging the status quo from my first day on this earth. To question the status quo has been a life-long journey of understanding that nothing in our society is the way it is simply because it is; things are the way they are because someone, knowingly or unknowingly, decided how things should be and society reinforced that until it became a norm.

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. Everyone at Haas wants 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, a space that in my opinion should not be a business. 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.

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? One of the many reasons I chose Haas was because of the student-founded class Dialogues on Race, a seminar that creates space for students to reflect on how race and racism have impacted their lives. The fact that students, like Om Chitale, MBA 18, could propose a brand new course to this administration and it would become an accredited course, demonstrates how Haas and its students embody the principle, student always.

I wanted to go to a business school that understood that behind any company there is a group of people doing the work. And beyond the product there are people whose lives are affected. If we start from that viewpoint, we have to talk about our identities and understand how race and racism interact with the work any company is trying to do.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas? As boring as it may sound, I’m actually pretty excited for the core classes! Although the core might be pretty similar in most MBA programs, I chose Berkeley Haas because I wanted to be in an academic environment that challenged business as usual and really created space for students to reimagine what is possible.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One of my proudest accomplishments is a partnership I fostered among several BIPOC-led film organizations across the country to curate and distribute a collection of short films by emerging BIPOC filmmakers. What was particularly innovative about this initiative was that we were able to convince more than 60 independent cinemas nationwide to give us more favorable terms on the ticket split, resulting in more money going into the filmmakers’ pockets.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? Deciding to go to school at the age of 30 was not an easy choice to make. I had two film degrees, a job I loved, and roots in Chicago (AKA the best city in the country); however, 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. 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 is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why?  I’m in love with the book Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez. It perfectly exemplifies the power and responsibility MBAs have as data-driven decision makers. A group of second-year Haasies introduced me to this book by inviting me to be a part of their summer reading group. Each chapter has pushed me further to challenge the constructs in our day to day lives that were designed with a very limited data set we commonly describe as the “general population” when really it solely represents the dominant population.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? MIT Sloan, University of Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, and UCLA Anderson

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? The Berkeley Haas essays really challenged me to understand who I am and what change I wanted to see in the world. In order to really dig deep, I had to do a lot of soul searching. For me this looked like therapy, racial healing circles, and just frank conversations with my partner about what I wanted from my MBA experience. Being that vulnerable on paper was a bit scary, but the process alone was rewarding. Getting into Haas was a bonus.


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