2023 MBA To Watch: Lucas Haskins, UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Lucas Haskins

University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management

“Humble snowboarder, board game enthusiast, explorer and entrepreneur. A principle-driven leader with a big heart.” 

Hometown: Seguin, Texas, home of the world’s largest Pecan (puh-kahn), breakfast tacos, and barbeque.

Fun fact about yourself: I have been skydiving four times: twice in Houston, TX, once in Denver, CO, and once again outside of Chicago, IL. Nothing is quite as freeing as jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I graduated from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in food science and a minor in business. Texas A&M University and UC Davis are both Aggies so I consider myself an Aggie-Squared.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I entered business school in the fall after graduating with my undergraduate degree.  Outside of my undergraduate studies, I worked as an operations intern for three consecutive summers with Ardent Mills, the premier flour milling, and ingredient company located across North America with greater than $500M in annual revenue and 40+ facilities serving national food brands, retail stores and small businesses. While there, I gained experience improving processes, conducting operational finance and leading cultural change.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I interned as part of the North American strategy team with Ingredion Incorporated, a Fortune 500 ingredient manufacturer and innovation-driven company. I worked directly with the vice president of strategy, and the M&A leadership, and global platforms leads to identify, screen and pursue acquisition targets.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently undecided, but I am actively pursuing an associate role at a venture firm focused on food technology.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Food and Wine Leadership Club, Co-President
  • Market Research Team Lead (a collaboration between the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, and the Barnstorm Foundry, a Davis-based venture foundry launching new businesses delivering health benefits to consumers through food and beverages).
  • Women in Leadership Club, Director of Finance
  • Teaching assistant for the Venture Capital and Finance of Innovation course.
  • Amazon Web Services Case Competition winner (1st place team)
  • UC Davis-Financial Times Quiz Competition, team member and 2nd place individual winner.
  • UC Davis Food and Ag Case Competition participant
  • Yolo County Food Bank volunteer
  • Finalist for the Stephen G. and Shelley A. Newberry Distinguished Fellowship, recognizing the leadership potential of top UC Davis MBA students.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of being the team lead for the market research fellowship on emerging food technology trends, which is a collaboration between the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, and Barnstorm Foundry, a venture studio located in Davis, CA. This has been a monumental experience in my life as I have had the opportunity to research cutting-edge industries, analyze their business validity from many angles, and publish research analysis on what the future will look like. Moreover, managing a team of MBA students charged with answering difficult open-ended questions has been a wonderful learning experience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Professionally, I am most proud of starting my consulting company, Serafin Consulting LLC, while earning my MBA. Consulting for food technology start-ups had always been something I had discussed and dreamt of. Seeing this dream finally become a reality has been exciting. Serafin Consulting LLC now consults for a food technology startup and venture studio.

Why did you choose this business school? UC Davis is well-known as the global epicenter of the food and agriculture technology startup ecosystem. There are world-renowned researchers, academic institutes, entrepreneurs, business experts, and venture capitalists all networking daily. So, when it came to deciding where I should go for my MBA, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM) was my number one choice.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA tradition has been that we celebrate various holidays such as Diwali and Lunar New Year. The opportunity to learn about these holidays and celebrate them as a cohort is beautiful and is represents the welcoming and diverse cultural environment at UC Davis.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I could start it all over again, I would set up more one-on-one meetings with classmates sooner. You think you have all this time to get to know one another over the two-year program, but before you know it, people are busy findings full-time jobs and taking different electives. That said, I have made tremendous friends and lifelong connections while here.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? I love that Davis has plenty of parks and walking paths. The springtime is gorgeous, and nothing beats a nice walk through campus or around town while the trees and flowers are blooming.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised by how quickly our MBA cohort became close friends. Whether it was because of a week-long orientation or an overarching message of “network till you drop”, our group of about 45 students from all over the world connected fast. I appreciated this as I knew absolutely no one in the area—having just moved from Colorado and before that Texas. 

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Attending an MBA information session before submitting my application was extremely useful. During the session, I heard from several current students, and I remember one of them saying that attending UC Davis was “the best decision of [her] life.” That really stuck with me and motivated me to bring my all to the application process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate I most admire is Teagan Towhey. Teagan is one of the most driven, prepared, approachable, inquisitive, and friendly people I know. She brings a fresh perspective to every conversation and is a wonderful listener and collaborator. In class, she contributes her sales and leadership experiences and is not afraid to challenge opinions or assumptions. I also appreciate that Teagan is authentically herself and is always happy to offer a piece of advice or wisdom. It is obvious why Teagan has friends and colleagues all over the world, and I am grateful to count myself among them.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. To actively support ideas that are going to solve the greatest challenges of my generation (food insecurity, nutrition and clean energy).
  2. To become a thought leader in food technology investing.

What made Lucas such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Lucas Haskins was admitted into our program given his fit with one of the tracks in our MBA curriculum that immerses a student in the food and agriculture industry. He was one of the more focused applicants that we see relatively infrequently – his undergraduate degree was in food science, he minored in business showing his interest in combining science and business, and was a very active member of his class via his participation in research, academics, and extra-curricular activities.

Lucas emerged as one of the leaders of his class very quickly. With his impeccable ‘southern’ manners, a cool and calm demeanor, and a desire to learn, he separated himself from many others in his class. In times when MBA education is being viewed by students as more of a two-year networking opportunity and less of learning, Lucas is an exception. He grabs every opportunity available to learn. He leads students to newer academic experiences. Importantly, he is using his time to learn as much as he can because he knows he will find employment when he wants. A student interested in learning, who is focused, well-mannered, and leads through expertise and example rather than feign knowledge is any MBA program’s dream come true. We put Lucas in that category.

In addition to his excellent classroom performance, Lucas has done several things outside the classroom. His resume talks about these activities. An astute reader will quickly see the focused nature of his activities. He participated in competitions, often corralling like-minded individuals who otherwise may lack the initiative. He consulted with companies. He participated in our industry market report project during its first year, and is now leading a group of four students to produce market reports for a client. His team finished second in the first ever Business Quiz competition conducted here with Financial Times as our co-sponsor.

Many students get through the various programs we offer here at UC Davis. There are many you remember, and a few you will really miss. Lucas is one of the students we will miss because he not only represents our culture well, but has made a difference in his class by being who he is. I see him as a person who will make a difference and will be featured positively in media for his contributions to the society in the future. He truly is an invaluable addition.”

H. Rao Unnava
Professor of Marketing
Graduate School of Management
University of California, Davis


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