Haas News

Dean's Letter
Designing Women
Entrepreneurs Named Executive Fellows
SXSW Winners
Alumni Leading Haas

Dean's Letter

Developing Innovative Leaders

How Berkeley Haas culture transforms students

Dean Lyons

During his Alumni Conference talk, Dean Lyons admits that he often wears T-shirts showcasing the school’s Defining Leadership Principles.

Don Fisher, founder of the Gap. Margo Alexander, chair emeritus of Acumen Fund. Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe.

These are three among the legions of Berkeley Haas graduates who used their education to change our world for the better. All our alumni are shaped by the distinctive Berkeley Haas culture that develops and sustains innovative leaders.

Innovative leaders create value most fundamentally by putting their own and others’ new ideas into action. Don Fisher, BS 50, saw a need for a new kind of jeans company and turned that vision into one of the world’s largest apparel retailers. Margo Alexander, BS 68, had the confidence, knowledge, and ability to run the trading room at Paine Webber before women held such roles. And Shantanu Narayen, MBA 93, has been leading Adobe to redefine how software is used and sold.

Our school’s four Defining Leadership Principles are crucial to how we admit students and develop them into innovative leaders. Here’s how the principles align with innovative leadership:

  • Question the Status Quo: Innovative leaders are always asking themselves, isn’t there a better way to do this? What’s the white space around this business?
  • Confidence Without Attitude: Innovative leaders build trust and motivation by combining confidence and humility and by knowing when real leadership means serving the team.
  • Students Always: Innovative leaders know that they have more growing to do and more feedback to hear—even at the peak of their careers.
  • Beyond Yourself: Innovative leaders understand that they are stewards of more than their own lives and careers. They are rooted in the larger world.

Part of what transforms our students into innovative leaders is the sense that Berkeley instills in each of us for all the degrees of freedom we have in our lives. We transition students’ thinking from “They do that” to “I do that.” That is, students come to see that they can start their own firm or take a leadership role in an industry or field that they only dreamed about before, or take on the challenge of addressing the world’s biggest opportunities.

And this is exactly what you, our alumni, are doing over and over again, as you can see in the pages of this magazine. I am inspired by the many ways you are making a difference in the world. There are no limits to what we can achieve together.

Sincerely Yours,
Rich Lyons, BS 82

Designing Women

Events for MBA, Undergraduate, and PhD students empower women

Stephanie Curran and Lauren Fernandez

Women in Leadership Conference Co-Chairs Stephanie Curran and Lauren Fernandez, both MBA 14. Curran accepted a job at Amazon, and Fernandez will be working at Google.

This year Berkeley MBA students brought design-thinking skills gained at Haas to hundreds of Bay Area women at the annual Women in Leadership Conference. Conference co-chairs Stephanie Curran and Lauren Fernandez, both MBA 14, used a diverging brainstorming activity to come up with the theme for the conference: “Design Your Future.” The conference itself then included afternoon workshops focused on teaching attendees tools that are key to design thinking to enable them to “Design Their Future.”

Undergraduates and PhD students also gained support in designing their futures this spring through two separate events. Nine alumnae returned to Haas to inspire and prepare nearly 60 young undergraduate women for success at the second annual Women Empowerment Day April 4. Haas and economics PhD students, meanwhile, teamed up to launch a women’s breakfast club to create a comfortable space to talk about early research and receive feedback.

Entrepreneurs Named Executive Fellows


Paul Rice, MBA 96 & Guy Kawasaki

Alumnus Paul Rice, MBA 96, founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA, and serial entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki will share their knowledge with the Haas community as the business school’s newest executive fellows.

After working with impoverished farmers in Nicaragua for 11 years, Rice came to Berkeley to earn his MBA with an audacious goal in mind: build a Fair Trade movement in the U.S. similar to what he had seen developing in Europe. Since then, Rice has gone on to turn Fair Trade USA into one of the nation’s most successful and fastest-growing social enterprises, certifying around $1.5 billion worth of imported products last year.

Kawasaki was one of Apple’s first evangelists in the early 1980s. After that, he ran a Macintosh database company, wrote for Macworld and Forbes, and launched a software company called Fog City Software. He also started an angel investor matchmaking service called Garage.com, now known as Garage Technology Ventures, and founded Alltop, an online magazine rack.

The executive fellow position was created for thought leaders to advise the dean, faculty, and staff and to share their trailblazing ideas with students. Other Haas executive fellows include Twitter co-founder Biz Stone; IDEO General Manager Tom Kelley, MBA 83; and John Hanke, MBA 96, who founded and led Keyhole, which later became Google Earth.

SXSW Winners

Berkeley MBA Students Take Second with SmartBod

A team consisting of James Wang and Bobby Davis, both MBA 15, and their partners placed second in the South by Southwest 2014 Business Startup Challenge with an unusual product: a smart vibrator.

The venture capital judges “loved that this was something they haven’t seen before and felt that it’s a viable business versus one that just chases a hot trend,” Wang said. “I think our willingness to challenge conventional wisdom came through here.”

The idea for the product came from Wang’s partner, Liz Klinger, who has studied human sexuality from an artistic, philosophical, and sociological perspective for nearly a decade. “A big part of what drew us all to this project is the fact that it’s not just a business. We’re able to go beyond ourselves and help remove harmful taboos and misunderstandings around the topic of female sexuality,” explains Wang, referring to the Defining Principle Beyond Yourself.

Alumni Leading Haas

Graduates become school’s COO and CFO

Haas CFO Suresh Bhat and Chief Strategy and Operating Officer Jo Mackness

Haas CFO Suresh Bhat and Chief Strategy and Operating Officer Jo Mackness

Two alumni have taken on leadership roles at Haas: Suresh Bhat, BS 90, MBA 98, came on board as chief financial officer in June, and Jo Mackness, MBA 04, became chief strategy and operating officer in March.

Bhat came to Haas from BlackRock, where he most recently led business finance for the Institutional Client and BlackRock Solutions businesses. In 2009, he helped lead the $13.5 billion sale of Barclays Global Investors (BGI) to BlackRock, the largest M&A transaction in asset management history. While at BGI, he led the firm’s corporate financial planning and analysis group and business finance for several business units. Prior to BGI, Suresh was division CFO for the retail distribution, retirement service, and international businesses at Charles Schwab & Co and a VP in Schwab’s Corporate Development group. Suresh began his career at Deloitte & Touche and at Bank of America.

Mackness previously served as executive director of the Haas School’s Center for Responsible Business (CRB) and was also involved in several initiatives beyond the center’s purview, including helping to envision the Center for Teaching Excellence and leading the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic planning process. Her accomplishments at the CRB include creating an innovative revenue stream through a student-run $2 million socially responsible investment fund, distributing more than $6 million in interdisciplinary research funding across the UC Berkeley campus, and championing the new Institute for Business and Social Impact that launched in November.

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