Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Kate Laughton, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Kate Laughton

University of California-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“Outdoor adventure enthusiast and stove-top popcorn lover who loves a spicy GoodReads review.”

Hometown: Orinda, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am oddly great at identifying the name/artist of a song within the first few seconds of the song playing. Super useful for trivia and nothing else.

Undergraduate School and Major: Santa Clara University; Business (Accounting)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Guild Education, Senior Consultant, Employer Partnerships

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? Question the Status Quo. Growing up, my mom always joked that I’d be a great litigator since I’d find the hole in any argument and fiercely defend it. I’d like to think I’ve channeled this energy in my career by always proactively thinking about how we can go from bad to good to great in a process or product.

When you think of UC Berkeley, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? Thoughtful. Every person I interacted with – from when I was thinking about applying to when I accepted my place in the class of 2025 – asked so many insightful questions and gave authentic answers to my (many!) questions. UC Berkeley students are so much more interested in what makes you excited than what accolades you’ve received.

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 was the clear winner in having a program that truly embraced social impact in its MBA curriculum. I was on the fence about getting an MBA. After seeing how many courses Haas offered for innovating around pressing social issues, as well as how many students who were excited to tackle them, it was a no-brainer.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas? I’m really excited to get more involved with the Haas Impact Fund and the Impact Investing practicum. I’m also excited to take the Extreme Leadership course – I love spending time outside and can’t imagine a better way to learn effective leadership skills outdoors when the stakes are high.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At EAB, I led a team to create “Greenlight Match” – a college match program for underserved students. Colleges were missing their DEI goals and about 400,000 seniors weren’t enrolling in college due to unaffordability, no early college exploration, and undermatching. Greenlight Match led to 2,000+ college acceptances for 650 students and $170M in scholarships. The program has expanded significantly since I led this pilot initiative, now serving over 10,000 students across seven cities with the latest round having $800M in scholarships.

At this point, what do you hope to do after graduation? I have lots of ideas and am excited to explore over the next two years! I’m interested in a corporate strategy or impact investing role focused on either sustainable agriculture/food, health/wellness, or the future of work.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I was location-agnostic and applied all over: Dartmouth Tuck, Michigan Ross, UVA Darden, Duke Fuqua

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? Be your authentic self! Lean into introspection and don’t be afraid to bring all your successes (and failures!) to the table. Another piece of advice is to ensure you have balance in your life during the admission season – whether that be spending time with friends/family, or keeping up a hobby. Balance reminds you that there’s so much more to life than applications and interviews!


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