Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Jayson Wang, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Jayson Wang

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“Always learning a new language—in the poet sense, but sometimes quant, too.”

Hometown: Columbia, MD

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have exactly half a photo with former President Barack Obama.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, Berkeley; Major: Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: IDinsight – Manager, Finance & Operations

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? Beyond Yourself: I’m a strong proponent of leading an impactful life. As MBAs, we will have immense latitude to shape companies, industries, and policies. This principle—one that applies to all Haasies regardless of industry or role—reinforces my view that each of us, as leaders in our families, communities, companies, and society at-large, can move the needle on issues important to us, for the people around us.

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. Warm! As one of the smallest and most culturally unique MBA programs, Haas really does attract a certain type of student. Best a Haas story so far after one week of orientation? I’d like to give a shout-out to my classmate Sam Wilkins who, despite being injured and unable to play basketball, made the 30-minute drive to campus to lend me shoes, watched and cheered a group of Haas MBAs and I play pickup games, and give us a ride home.

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 knew I wanted an MBA that prioritized personal and leadership development, especially in relation to the most pressing issues facing our world today. Sustainability, ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) are increasingly salient for business and public leaders alike. At Haas, they are increasingly part of academic and professional programming. To name a few, there is the new Michaels Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business, the Sustainable and Impact Finance initiative, and an academic area of emphasis in Equity Fluent Leadership.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas? I’m excited to take the Social Sector Solutions elective, an action-based learning opportunity that sits right at the intersection of my nonprofit and consulting experiences. On a more personal level, I love hiking and camping, and can’t wait to join Redwoods@Haas to explore the California wilderness!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At the onset of COVID-19, IDinsight—an international development nonprofit with offices across Africa and Asia—was in unpredictable financial straits. To prevent layoffs, I found and implemented significant cost savings, which we realized within weeks. I recognized that, unlike layoffs in normal times, this was about much more than career progression and salary trajectory. We could jeopardize livelihoods. In the unprecedented early days of the pandemic, our greatest mission was to preserve the job of every single colleague worldwide, which we succeeded in doing, to this day.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation?

For many years, all signs pointed to policy school or international relations. Either would hew to my passion for language and cultural immersion, global affairs, and public service. But, from a confluence of factors—my business-oriented roles in international development and advice from mentors with MBA/MPP dual degrees—I realized an MBA may better prepare me to become a public leader. The MBA is unique in its breadth and depth of leadership development. It also provides cuttingedge training in finance, accounting, and negotiation. After graduation, I hope to continue advising senior leaders of organizations on their toughest policy and financial decisions.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Over the summer, I read several books about New Delhi, India, where I lived for three years before starting my MBA. Unfortunately, I read all of them after moving back to the US. I recommend MBAs learn about their new universities, cities, and—for some students—countries. Business schools are at the center of commerce and innovation in their regions. It is a true privilege to be a student in these institutions; it is an even greater one to be able to transplant into a new region, and immediately vault to the veritable peak of its professional and social spheres. I believe it’s incumbent on MBAs, as future business and community leaders, to explore the histories, cultures, politics, and exigent challenges of their cities and regions. I regret not learning more about Delhi while living there, and I’m just playing catch up now:

City Improbable: An Anthology of Writings on Delhi – Khushwant Singh

Delhi By Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller – Raza Rumi

Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity – Sam Miller

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford GSB, Yale SOM, Columbia Business School, MIT Sloan

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? The long-standing “What makes you feel alive…” essay is not a trick question! The admissions committee truly wants to hear about your passion—no matter how random, mundane, or weird—and why it moves you. It’s absolutely not required to connect it to your work experience, why MBA and why Haas, or post-MBA goals. I know numerous classmates who wrote phenomenal essays wholly decoupled from career-related topics.


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