Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Jillian Geary, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Jillian Geary

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“Healthcare aficionado, looking to enact change in an age old industry.”

Hometown: Cupertino, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love to cook. I attended a week-long cooking school in France before starting at Haas!

Undergraduate School and Major: Northwestern University; Major: Industrial Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Product Manager at Inflammatix (pre-commercial molecular diagnostics company)

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? While I think each of the defining principles are important to become a successful leader, Confidence Without Attitude resonates most with me. A great leader never stops learning and, therefore, never assumes they know everything there is to know, even within their own area of expertise. The best leaders encourage productive and respectful debate in order to broaden their perspective.

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 I’ve met so far has been diverse, generous with their time and engaging.

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? In learning about Haas, I discovered how the program not only accepted but actively celebrated uniqueness. Every student I met had such a uniquely passionate story to tell and it was clear that they were in an environment that encouraged their aspirations.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas? Extreme leadership is the #1 course I want to take. It discusses the challenges of being a good leader when the stakes are high and you’re under a lot of stress. You then put your learnings to the test on a trip, where you have hands-on leadership experience in risky situations.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I joined my last company, I helped found our women’s network. I had seen what a successful and flourishing women’s network looked like during my time at Bain and I wanted to be a part of creating that for a young company in another male-dominated industry. Our initiatives included a mentorship program, an external speaker series, professional development workshops and networking events. After the network’s first year, we had over 50% company-wide participation as the first, and only, employee resource group. Especially for a pre-commercial company with minimal funding for programs like these, I am proud of my contributions to the network.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? The healthcare industry is at a pivotal point given the pandemic and I want to be a leader in this next phase of innovation. Being a leader through such innovation requires a lot of skill and resilience, two things I’m hoping to learn at Haas.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Give and Take by Adam Grant. It outlines the balance of giving and taking, especially as it relates to becoming a well-respected leader. I think it’s a powerful investigation of the motives behind certain actions and the political considerations in a workplace – portrayed through real examples. It ends with actionable tips from successful givers to help you incorporate more giving into your routine or to help you fine-tune your giving.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? MIT Sloan, Stanford GSB

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? Be yourself! Haas appreciates the differences in each of us and in that way there’s no “right or wrong” answers. As long as you stay true to yourself and express what you’re passionate about throughout your application process, your authenticity will shine. Authenticity will take you a lot further in the process than trying to say what you think they want to hear.


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