2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Alex Berry, UC-Berkeley (Haas)

Alex Berry

University of California-Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“I am a technologist, career coach, and social entrepreneur, unapologetically chasing impact over status.”

Hometown: Albany, GA

Fun fact about yourself: Before Haas, I co-produced a pandemic-era cooking show with two co-workers. While I’m not a great cook myself, we built a 1,500+- person community, had three seasons, and created our own cookbook!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Georgia Tech: BS, Industrial & Systems Engineering, with a double minor in business and Mandarin.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Intel as a technical program manager and career coach and founder of Chocolate Milk Diplomacy (CMD) LLC.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? I spent the summer back at Intel, working from their Santa Clara office in a supplier management capacity. This spring, I am enjoying a part-time remote internship for EdVisorly, a seed stage EdTech startup helping community college students transfer to four-year universities.

Where will you be working after graduation? I’m still on the search for the perfect fit, but I am aiming to land a role at the intersection of product management and social impact.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

* Student Body President, MBA Association (MBAA, Haas’ Student Government)

* Graduate Teaching Assistant, Equity Fluent Leadership

* Graduate Teaching Assistant, Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology program

* Undergraduate Project Coach, Teams@Haas,

* Consortium Fellow and Member

* Career Cohort Representative, Class of 2024

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? At Haas, the student government is not just the bridge between the student body and the administration. It also serves as a club funder, policy adviser, advocate for students, and most visibly, a core event programmer. For me, the role of the student body president meant a year of facilitating complex conversations, leading and coaching a high visibility team, and being a “hugger-in-chief.” The introverted engineer inside of me was scared to step into this role and take on the emotional weight of an organization and a team. I see this role as my greatest achievement because, by taking care of my team, I was able to make some truly life-long friends, empower them to have impact, and learn about myself along the way. In my role, I influenced the restructuring of our first-year MBA orientation week, planned my own summer programming series (board games, cooking competitions, and murder mystery dinner parties), co-created a student body referendum system, and partner with my undergraduate counterparts. This role has tested my leadership and emotional intelligence skills in new ways.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Though I’m tempted to reference some of my corporate achievements, my professional career was drastically changed when I founded CMD, a social entrepreneurship startup infusing storytelling into career, team, and organizational coaching. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had to create a company vision, manage a mid-size team, scale a business and culture, and reimagine elements of workforce development. The experience has helped me refocus on chasing impact over status, prioritizing purpose over profit, and finding family over building a network.

Why did you choose this business school? My criteria for choosing Berkeley Haas evolved throughout my application process. Initially, when selecting business schools, I only selected institutions with corresponding top-notch graduate engineering programs. Coming from an engineering background, I was (admittedly) wary about the culture of the MBA, and I assumed the nerdy, hands-on engineering culture would have some magical influence. After being admitted on a full Consortium Fellowship, the decision became a lot more real. Based on an alum’s advice, I started to “listen for the love.” As helpful as my decision spreadsheet was for evaluating the logical, transactional pieces of business school, all of my alumni, current student, and prospective student chats helped me understand something else much more important. Haas is a close-knit community where you will find your family, where the relationships are more important than your LinkedIn update, and where the community’s love is palpable. I chose a school where the people have your back on your best and worst days.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I was ready to drop my 8 a.m. Negotiations elective. Then, I met Professor Solène Delecourt. She brought an energy, vulnerability, and practicality to her classes that should be a model for every MBA professor. All of her classes were focused not just on practicing different types of negotiation, but also on having students understand their emotions and comfort levels with wielding power. In her class, negotiations were not a winner-takes-all competition, but a chance to build relationships and practice. She brought opportunities into the class for students to help real people. Finally, her laughter and humble humor set the tone for the class. If there is any professor I would take another class with, it would be her!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? That’s a really tough question. So many of the Haas MBA events are intentionally planned to create true connections, which is my type of fun. If I had to pick one event, I loved our Haas “Top Chef” competition. We paired first and second-year students together with the challenge to cook a beautiful, delicious, and inclusive meal using certain ingredients. The dishes themselves were wonderful, but the stories behind the food were truly amazing. Events like this reflect important things about our culture. A DEI lens is often embedded in our programming, and we are fond of co-creation (be it food, events, startups, etc.).

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? My move in and onboarding to Haas, particularly looking for housing, was rough. I wish I had traveled to Berkeley for a weekend and checked out the different neighborhoods in person. Each of Berkeley’s neighborhoods has pros and cons, and I should have put more energy into being intentional about my housing decisions. For example, I would have chosen a first-year space that had a larger kitchen and living room setup to make it easier to host people for dinner. You aren’t just going to school in a city. You are living there as well.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think there is a myth that Haas students spend all day studying in the library and are not as social as other business schools. I think the truth is much more subtle. Our curriculum is laden with experiential learning, project-based classes, real-world consulting projects, and competitions. These opportunities are time intensive and challenging, but they offer a much deeper and practical understanding of business. At Haas, we’re always working in small teams while driving large impacts. On the social side, we are similar to many other B-schools. We travel together internationally (Morocco, Japan, and India in my case), celebrate together, eat together, and dance together. What is different at Haas is that, in addition to the larger, traditional social events, we intentionally create a lot of smaller spaces where we can get to know each other well.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The food culture in Berkeley, and the East Bay broadly, is amazing. The rich blend of cultural cuisines, immigrant and transplant stories, and unique food concepts makes me excited for every meal. Berkeley does a great job of grouping many different types of restaurants in clusters.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? On my Haas MBA journey, I have met many classmates whom I respect. But when I think about the classmate who I admire the most, Flora Morgan’s name rises to the top. As one of our JD/MBA dual degree students, her communication style, capacity for compassion, and ability to give grace are admirable traits. As the Black Business Student Association co-president, she co-led initiatives (such as a Bay Area Black Wellness Weekend) that I thought were impossible. She’s the study buddy who was willing to lend notes, time, and perspective. She’s the leader who lent hugs and “sweat equity.” She’s the friend I wish I had known before business school.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? First, become a full-time professional faculty member at a top innovation minded B-school like Berkeley teaching “teaming” theory and how to manage innovation pipelines. The other is to build and lead a world-class product organization that drives a paradigm shift in the education space.

What made Alex such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Serving as the president of the MBAA at Haas during the 2023-24 year, Alex consistently showcased exceptional leadership qualities and a steadfast commitment to enhancing the student experience.

From the moment Alex joined Haas, he demonstrated a profound dedication to fostering collaboration and driving positive change. He proactively engaged with unit heads to discuss leadership strategies and provided valuable feedback on policies and processes, showcasing both initiative and a genuine desire for improvement. Moreover, Alex skillfully led a diverse MBAA of 14 individuals, each bringing unique strengths and perspectives to the table. Alex cultivated a cohesive and productive team environment that positively impacted both the student experience and administration’s perspective.

Through his adept leadership, Alex leveraged the multitude of talents within the MBAA and student body to spearhead impactful initiatives and projects. For example, Alex’s thoughtful conversations with Haas administration during the early stages of his MBA journey influenced the redesign of New Student Orientation for the Class of 2025, resulting in a strong MBAA and second-year presence during new student onboarding. Additionally, Alex identified the need to create a referendum process within the MBAA Constitution and drafted a policy allowing for the election of a new VP of Sustainability role. Furthermore, Alex refined and improved the MBAA Leadership transition process, facilitating a seamless handover with incoming MBAA leaders. He also advocated for increased funding to support a greater number of student-led events within the student body, demonstrating unwavering support for his peers.

Alex’s ability to articulate ideas with eloquence and clarity has been a cornerstone of his leadership. His thoughtful approach to communication has played a pivotal role in driving meaningful discussions and fostering a culture of collaboration within the MBA community and Haas at large. Alex Berry epitomizes what it means to be an impactful leader. He significantly contributed to and enriched the MBA experience, leaving behind a legacy for future leaders to emulate. I have no doubt that his dedication to excellence and ability to inspire others will make a lasting impact in all his future endeavors.”

Sumayyah Alsabri
Director, Student Life & Leadership Development
Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley


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