2023 MBA To Watch: Monica Shavers, UC-Berkeley (Haas)

Monica Shavers

University of California-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“I’m a resilient leader, who is passionate about people, impact, and opportunity.”

Hometown: Aurora, CO

Fun fact about yourself: I have a pretty keen sense of direction. If I’ve been to a place once, I can navigate myself back 99% of the time without GPS.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Colorado State University:  B.S. in Business Administration, with concentrations in Corporate Finance and Real Estate Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? My last role was at Guild Education. As an implementation manager, I was launching new partnerships with Fortune 500 companies and academic institutions.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I spent my summer with American Express in New York where I was part of their Global Rotation Program in HR developing solutions for their global learning and development strategy.

Where will you be working after graduation? To be determined!

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: 

  • Co-liaison and fellow of Berkeley Haas Consortium
  • Co-president of the Black Business Student Association (BBSA)
  • DEI Leadership Council member
  • Diversity Admissions council member
  • John R Lewis Case Competition semifinalist
  • John E Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge semifinalist
  • Vanderbilt Human Capital Case Competition 2nd place winner

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? This year, I had the privilege of participating in one of my favorite Haas traditions called Story Salon. I got up in front of ~150 of my classmates and shared my journey to the MBA program, which has been filled with loss, grief, and hardship. It also has been filled with hope, determination, and the support of a deep community that has made many sacrifices and uplifted me so that I could be here. Sharing my story with my classmates, and inviting them on a deeply personal journey for 20 minutes, where I shed light on the hope that carries me through life, was a really impactful experience. I had never done a Ted Talk-style public speaking engagement before, so conquering that experience made me confident in my own ability to do just about anything!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my last role before I came to business school, I led the launch of an English-language learning program for non-native speakers. The program is accessible to thousands of employees of a major entertainment and media company and is a viable way for non-native speakers to get training that will help them advance their careers.

As the daughter of a Filipino immigrant and someone who comes from a big immigrant community, I think education is an incredible tool for creating pathways and opportunities. For folks living in the US, where English is not their native language, I believe a course like what we launched could fundamentally alter someone’s life path for the better. It was a proud moment to help build something that could open doors for others and marginally help toward closing opportunity gaps.

Why did you choose this business school? Throughout the application process, Haas stood out to me as a unique ecosystem within the broader landscape of business schools, with its forward-thinking business mindset and  impact orientation. As I was preparing for business school, I knew it was important to gain a perspective of how things have been done in the past and the practices and tools that have been successful. However, I also wanted to learn how to think beyond the status quo and challenge what we’re used to as a way to improve broken systems. Through coffee chats with students and alumni, it became clear that Haas was a place where I could comfortably experiment, practice innovation, and genuinely challenge the status quo (it’s real!). Once I knew that, the embracing warmth of the student community sealed the deal.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Omri Even-Tov. Accounting is already a tough subject to get folks very engaged in, but when you’re in Omri’s class you feel like you could learn about it all day! Omri is just such a brilliant and creative financial practitioner and does an incredible job of striking the balance in his approach between academic detail and real-world applications.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Between Managing Difficult Conversations: Conflict Lab and International Business Development (IBD), I felt like I quickly broke even on my MBA in terms of growth and learning. Conflict lab felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to practice and experiment with different conflict styles in a safe environment. It helped me grow professionally as a leader and personally gave me a lot of confidence to navigate future difficult conversations.

For my IBD experience, I had the privilege of working with a major international client located in Singapore to consult on a new market entry strategy. This class was transformational in so many ways – from traveling and working with a great team of classmates to immersing into a new culture and learning how to consult a client in a cross-cultural context. Some of the learnings I took away from IBD around due diligence, strategy formation, and cross-functional collaboration, I was immediately able to put to use in my summer internship with American Express which only solidified how transformative of a learning experience it was.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite Haas tradition by far has been Story Salon. It’s this beautiful event that happens a couple of times each quarter where brave students get up in front of 100-200 of our classmates and share a personal and vulnerable story with us. I think Story Salon is a testament to the depth and beauty of every single Haasie and is one of the strongest community-building traditions we have at Haas. I started attending story salon early on in my time at Haas. No matter how busy I was or how difficult the adjustment was feeling, I always walked away feeling the magic of having shared space with my classmates through some of their most intimate experiences, and ultimately bearing witness to what some folks would consider their biggest personal achievement.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Take risks and lean into every opportunity you get immediately. In the grand scheme of things, two years is an incredibly limited amount of time. If I could go back and say one thing to past Monica, it would be that there’s no need to waste time trying to suss everything out, jump in feet first, get out of your comfort zone and see how you evolve. If you move with intention, you’re only going to make yourself proud by the end of this experience.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The proximity and accessibility to the entire bay area and everything the bay has to offer (food, sightseeing, outdoors, etc.). After spending so much time in Denver, I was eager to get out and have much more access to different events, things to do, foods, and cultures. Having access to the broader bay area while also having the walkability and convenience of everything Berkeley and Oakland have to offer has been perfect.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me is how important traveling and socializing—aka “networking”—really is for building strong relationships. We consider our travels, dinners, and city excursions to be part of the MBA experience and those memories do serve as the foundation for strong lifelong relationships with incredibly talented people who are going to go on to accomplish the wildest things.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? In my application process, I dedicated a lot of energy and intention to focusing on the storytelling element in every touchpoint I had (e.g. written essays, responses, phone conversations, interviews, etc.). With thousands of applicants applying to competitive business schools every year, application profiles start to look and feel the same. I think the best thing you can do is bring someone into your story and illuminate why you’re different and how you’ll elevate the classroom experience. Whether you’re interacting in person and having a conversation or someone is reading about you from the materials you’ve written, people should walk away from those moments with a solid sense of who you are and what you’re about. During my application process, one thing a mentor told me that really stuck with me was, “Don’t give them an opportunity to make assumptions about what your goals are and what you’ve achieved. That should be crystal clear.”

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? All of my classmates are pretty incredibly talented human beings so it’s difficult to pick just one, but the classmate I’ve been most impressed by is Afraz Khan. In an environment where business leaders of the future are talking and thinking about the most innovative ideas, Afraz is always bringing the impact lens to the conversation. He is steadfast in his values and in advocating for what’s right, even within the confines of business. Afraz has the infectious presence to motivate and influence the masses, the brain to develop incredibly thoughtful solutions, and the drive to bring his ideas alive which I think will make him one of the most impactful movers and shakers to come.

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

  1. Build and define the people structure of an organization from scratch. I’m eager to start creating the environments, systems, and processes that will empower and enable workforces to tap into people’s full potential.
  2. Engage in something entrepreneurial, whether that be running my own real estate portfolio on the side, joining an early-stage startup and building from the ground up, or starting something myself. It’s hard to be at Haas and not get that entrepreneurial itch, and I think entrepreneurship can be a beautiful way to leave a legacy.

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

“It is with great pleasure that I strongly recommend Monica Shavers, on behalf of the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Belonging at Berkeley Haas, for the Poets and Quants 2023 MBAs To Watch list.

Monica is the very embodiment of what it means to lead in community. Her integrity, vision, and wit have left an indelible mark on the Berkeley Haas community – not only through her simultaneous presidencies of the Black Business Students Association (BBSA) and the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management (CGSM), but also in the ways she shows up daily with humility and infectious enthusiasm to make the lives of students, staff, and faculty a little easier. Monica excels academically, professionally, and interpersonally; as she consistently takes initiative to improve programmatic, fiscal, and operational infrastructure for current and future generations of Haas MBAs. Her work ethic and affinity for best practices and organizational strategy are enriched by her passion and prioritization of the well-being of her people, often championing and modeling self-care. Moreover, with each contribution she has made as a student here, she has expanded and deepened her reputation for kindness and ingenuity. Always willing to take the time to make a difference, I have seen her skillfully tell her story, advocate for underrepresented students, nuance thought leadership as a panelist and public speaker, and transform young people’s lives through mentorship. Beyond all that she has accomplished to elevate the excellence and equity-centeredness of our institution, Monica recognizes the life-saving power of a tight-knit and vibrant community and knows how to cultivate it wherever she is, through all that she does.

Monica’s talents and tenacity know no bounds; she is, unequivocally, one of the most exceptional students I have encountered in my career.”

Katrina Koski 
Director of Inclusion and Belonging



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