Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Kristina Martinez, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Kristina Martinez

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“Passionate about the intersection of social impact and innovation. Strong believer in fun.”

Hometown: San Jose, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m a huge fan of live music and spent one pre-pandemic summer attending at least one concert a week.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, Davis; Major: Psychology with a Biology emphasis, Minors in Chicana/o Studies and Human Development

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Mission Investing Associate

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 can find connection to all of the Defining Leadership Principles, the one I quickly resonated with was Question the Status Quo. In a society that still faces a number of inequities, I need to be continually questioning the way processes and group norms function, and challenge inequities that face marginalized groups. This can be applicable to the classwork, workplace, and even casual everyday interactions. Innovation would not develop if we don’t continue to question the status quo. I’m proud that Haas has kept this principle at the forefront of the way we learn and practice in our careers.

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. Down-to-earth. I have yet to meet a Haas MBA or alumni who isn’t open to a casual conversation or coffee chat. Everyone is genuinely friendly and quick to offer their advice and guidance. For instance, after I had moved to Berkeley, a second-year student, who I had met during the application process, offered to give me a campus tour. This student took two hours out of their afternoon to show me around the various buildings and classrooms, took me to lunch at a cafeteria on campus, and shared lessons learned during their MBA experience. It really showed how much they cared about my success over the next two years and beyond.

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’ commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and equity-focused leadership was a huge draw for me. DEIB has played a big role in my career pursuits and I value spaces where this is not only preached, but practiced. In every step of my application journey, Haas emphasized its commitment to DEIB and I look forward to learning more about equitable leadership practices during my time at Haas.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas? I’m excited to participate in Haas@Work, where I can expand my knowledge of design-thinking strategies and partner with my classmates in solving real business problems.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the Mission Investing team at the Packard Foundation felt compelled to act on racial inequities in the US. We were able to deploy $25 million in loan and equity investments to organizations that advance racial equity in capital and credit accessibility. I was honored to play a role in sourcing, evaluating and deploying this capital. I also had the opportunity to interview these organizations and learn more about their industry and their long-term needs for capital and resources, which the Mission Investing team can use as continued learning for potential future investments.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I pursued an MBA because I wanted to continue my education as a financial professional and grow in many leadership capacities around strategy, communication, and leading people. The MBA seemed like the perfect fit to expand my technical skill set, while also exploring what opportunities align best with my values. After graduation, I hope to work in the corporate world in the areas of finance and strategy with a long-term goal of leading an inclusive fintech company with a mission to benefit underbanked communities with scalable, financial service tools.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I’d recommend getting into a daily/weekly habit of reading different business news like the NY Times, The Economist, etc., especially around an industry you’re interested in to get an idea of the latest news and innovations. It will be helpful for your recruiting journey. Otherwise, I’d also recommend just watching and reading all the fun things you can while you still have the time.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Duke Fuqua, UCLA Anderson, USC Marshall, UT Austin McCombs, UW Foster

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? The best advice I could give is to remember that you are more than your GPA and test scores. I’d recommend taking the time to think through your goals and reasons for pursuing an MBA. Research these goals and talk to alumni in those roles or current students pursuing the roles you want. They will provide insights you may not have considered. Once you’ve taken the time to learn, spend some time crafting essays that show you’ve done this exploration work.


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