Panel Event: When Corporate Impact Meets Consumer Behavior

logoConsumers, businesses, and government are rapidly changing the way they think about the environment, and how we are putting it in harm’s way. There is local, national, and international focus on this topic, which will undoubtedly become one of the most important of our generation. As a business school Haas has made corporate impact a key pillar, seen in the title of the most recent edition of Berkeley Haas magazine (Spring 2014), Empowering Business Social Impact. The bay area is a place that fuels social thought, and with all of the resources and demand for ‘green business,’ it is no wonder that so many of our Haas grads pursue or start their own green ventures.

There is such a great connection between this movement and the Haas Defining Principles.  Both Beyond Yourself and Challenge the Status Quo are hugely relevant.  It can be so easy to throw your hands up and call it all noise, but Haas culture makes us want to do exactly the opposite.  Haas students ask themselves, what is the norm right now and how could it be better?  Who are these practices affecting?  How can we change them?  How can we scale green innovation?  How will future generations be affected?  The prevalence of Corporate Impact discussion is a great barometer of the success of our principles.

Two nights ago I had the great privilege of attending the 3rd annual Kaleidoscope Event: When Corporate Impact Meets Consumer Behavior. I went to cover it for the blog, but I got so engaged at times I forgot. It was put on by our very own Haas Center for Responsible Business, in collaboration with Net Impact Berkeley, a campus group, which is made up of many, but not all, Haas undergrads. This article summarizes this event, but I strongly urge you to check out both of these groups and their various events throughout the semester. This is an important, interesting, and booming characteristic of business today, get educated! Both groups’ ‘about’ pages are linked below!


Amy Dinh, of the Center for Responsible Business, kicking it off!

Haas Center for Responsible Business:

Net Impact Berkeley:

So, why did I enjoy this event so much? It was a panel of 4 local bay area residents. They differed in just about every aspect, less their support of Business Social Impact, and all four of which were from for-profit companies, which gave credibility to the Haas theme of sustainability within business. Having an academic tell you ‘the world is ending’ is not quite as engaging as real local change. Our group passionately fielded questions about how they and their companies strive for corporate impact. Personally, 3 of my 6 courses this semester (The Social, Political, and Ethical Environment of Business; Edible Education; and Global Wealth and Poverty) touch on these topics, and it was really cool to hear a panel of real examples of these topics!

Seeing as I was told long ago at the blog, “write about whatever you want,” I will introduce each panelist, give a quote from each, and expand a bit on the meaning. I hope it will give a cool feel for what was discussed, and maybe even spark an idea for some up-and-coming social entrepreneur out there!


Left to right: Rachel Chang (Net Impact), Robert Strand, Desirae Early, Mike Beebe, Molly Janis, Katie Dewitt, Tiffany Tran (Net Impact) and Amy Dinh (Center for Responsible Business). Big thanks everyone!

robertstrandreducedModerating the panel, shortly before flying back to Copenhagen, was Haas’ own (GO BEARS!) visiting scholar, Robert Strand. Robert was really working the crowd. He surfed the isles, engaged the audience, and expanded on the thoughts of our panelists. He comes from some very high level research about how CSR is perceived at the ‘C-level.’ He kept the entire room engaged and was an example of someone who was excited about a subject of which they were very informed.

img3829001First on the panel was Desirae Early who did both her undergrad at Cal and is currently in Haas’ Evening and Weekend MBA program (GO BEARS!). She works for Levis, which just as an aside, is the company that by far has received the most praise for CSR in my Haas classes. They are a bay area company that has done it right, is doing it right, and will continue to do it right. Above all, they do it as a part of their overall strategy not to extort revenue from the green revolution. She told the room that at Levis, “if we wanted to look at minimizing the impact of our product, we had to change our framework and our lens.” She went on to discuss the consumer side of Levis’ products, and how consumers play a huge role in Business CSR. Levis has always cared about internal social responsibility, long before it was the buzzword it is today, but the new goal also includes the outward goal of affecting consumers. An example discussed was trying to educate consumers about washing clothes less and hang drying. They even held a contest to find cool ways to publicize this idea.

20344daNext was Mike Beebe, a graduate of UC Berkeley in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2006 (GO BEARS!). Mike has a great story, and taught kids through teach for America for 5 years before ending up here in the Bay at Tesla. A great thing that Mike added to the panel was his advice for undergrads, “it’s okay to go on the winding path.” He talked about his time at teach for America as a real asset, rather than a setback in his career. Speaking to a room full of business students I think that he really got our attention. ABC (accounting, banking, and consulting) careers are the norm and the goal for many, and to hear from an interesting person at an interesting company that this might not be right for everyone was really cool. Multiple times in his talk he spoke about finding passion and getting excited about what interests you, which for many in the room was clearly CSR.

headshot.foradpNext was Molly Janis, from Annie’s Inc. right here in Berkeley. Although she did not go to Cal, she represents 9 years in the field of energy and climate consulting, and her last year at Annie’s Inc. She added a lot to the panel on overall global changes as well as the discussion in the food industry, but my favorite quote from her was during the Q and A when she was asked about how they maintain ethical and responsible standards throughout their supply chain. She remarked that, “simply by asking the questions, we get asked a lot more questions.” She goes on to detail some questions that her suppliers ask her about how to be sustainable. Simply by demanding a high standard, Annie’s is creating standards in other companies which might not previously had considered CSR an important topic.

1b3f76cLastly we had Katie Dewitt, MBA 13 (GO BEARS!), who currently works for Solar City. Katie brought a cool personal story including the Peace Corps and her undergrad at Yale. A cool thought from Kaite was an insight into how her company markets solar panels. She said that her company has done a lot of research which shows that installing solar panels is completely an “economic decision,” but once they go solar, “they become really proud about the green part, and even tell their friends,” which is why 60% of Solar City’s revenue is from referrals. I loved this idea because it shows how close we are as a society to a tipping point in sustainability. As long as we can plant that seed, the products will drive themselves, and Katie explained how her company is capitalizing on that.

All in all a great event. I enjoyed the panelists, the moderator, the Q&A, and of course, the free pizza. Like I said above, check out either of these groups if the booming area of CSR could be a part of your future career!


Great panel!

“Be Bold, Be Authentic, and Be Useful” | Words from the Inspiring Kellie McElhaney

This article was contributed by Kimberly Te, a current Haas senior and Berkeley Women in Business’s (BWIB) Communications Committee member.

“What company do you think is one of the most socially responsible?”



“How about the least socially responsible?”


Professor Kellie McElhaney opened her talk with Berkeley Women in Business last month, on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 with a couple of questions to get us thinking about the companies that surround us. Her brilliant energy and great sense of humor shone as she spoke about her experiences and thoughts.

Professor Kellie McElhaney speaks to Berkeley Women in Business members.

Professor Kellie McElhaney speaks to Berkeley Women in Business members.

Kellie started out her career in banking and in her words – “as a man.” She spoke of how she felt toxic as a banker and was confined to wearing only black, grey and navy colored suits as well as only gold jewelry (because we all know that symbolizes wealth, right?). Let’s not forget, it was the 80s and many women wore ties, including our lovely Haas professor.

Not too long after her stint in banking, Kellie went to live in China in 1992. She told us a story of a time she took a donkey up a mountain and encountered a peddler who was selling Ponds hand products. Further, she noticed that Coca-Cola was everywhere she went in China. This inspired Professor McElhaney to evaluate the reach of such companies as well as their corporate social responsibility.

Kellie McElhaney's book entitled "Just Good Business"

Kellie McElhaney’s book entitled “Just Good Business”

When Kellie returned to Haas after China, she noticed that CSR courses had 65% women as compared to a minor percentage in other business courses. Women have more motivation to do something socially beneficial and trends have shown that women as buyers are more likely to buy Toms, pink (for breast cancer awareness) and more sustainable goods.

This poses another question – “How is there such inequality in a ‘developed world’”?

This is evident even in newborn and children’s clothing. Clothes meant for girls tend to say “I’m too cute to do my homework” or “Pretty like Mommy” while those meant for boys usually say “Smart like Daddy.”

$1 invested in a girl in a poor country sees $0.70 of that going back to the community while $1 invested in a boy in a poor country only sees $0.30 of that return to their community.

No more ties and definitely no black, grey or navy.

No more ties and definitely no black, grey or navy.

In the business world, Professor McElhaney was a different woman. She once had to wear ties and take golf lessons (because that was where all the deals were happening). She tried to act and dress like a man while not be authentic as a woman.

Lastly, our professor was quiet then, but is thankfully she is no longer that way now. With all that said, here are some select pieces of wisdom from the inspirational Kellie McElhaney:

  • Don’t be quiet. Don’t be angry.
  • Define your own all. It is different for everyone and trying to obtain someone else’s “all” might be like trying on their clothes that don’t fit you.
  • Raise Questions. When there is less of a gender gap, GDP is higher.
  • Check out #notbuyingit, a website that calls out gender inequality in companies.
  • Use the power of social media to raise awareness.
  • That means less #selfiesundays and more relevant and meaningful news.

Last but not least, Kellie’s 3 Principles:

  • Be Bold – fortune favors the bold
  • Be Authentic – was I really me today?
  • Be Useful – was I useful today to someone other than myself?
Lucky ladies who all received free copies of Professor McElhaney’s book

Lucky ladies who all received free copies of Professor McElhaney’s book

“There’s a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.” – Madeleine Albright Also, see Professor Kellie McElhaney’s Ted Talk here!

Business Models and Open Innovation in Emerging Economies Final Challenge

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The UGBA193i – Business Models and Open Innovation in Emerging Economies course officially wrapped up on Friday, April 11, 2014 at the SkyDeck in Shattuck with the students’ final presentations. The class involved a travel aspect, as seen on previous posts, where students visited various companies in India to explore how business operations were different or similar in emerging economies versus the United States, and an in-class portion, where students continued their consulting projects for unique challenges in residence at the Haas Innovation Lab in the Cal Memorial Stadium.

Students worked nonstop throughout the semester. They engaged in multiple teleconferences with their project sponsors from India; met with top-level executives from companies like Siemens, Tyco, Moon Express, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, etc., to gain feedback on their proposed solutions; and collaborated with MBAs from India and Norway to build on and incorporate open innovation into their business models.

UGBA193i students with the corporate judges

UGBA193i students with the corporate judges

UGBA193i students were finally able to showcase the results of all their hard work last Friday to a panel of physical judges and through a teleconference call to their sponsors in India. Both American and Indian judges were provided with a project evaluation sheet that graded students on the following criteria: clearness of introduction and background to challenge; evaluation of existing business model; new value creation and capture; incorporation of open innovation concepts; risk and financial analysis for sustainability; group interaction, etiquette and delivery; quality of presentation and illustrations; quality and practicality of recommendations; and time management.

Participating corporate judges included Imtiyaz Haque, Director of Global R&D in Enterprise Imaging & Informatics at Philips, Steve Myers, Chief Executive Officer at Optum/United Health Group; Nanci Knight, University Alliance Executive at IBM; Lawrence Lee, Senior Director of Strategy at Xerox, PARC; Arnie Lund, Connected Experience Technology Leader at GE Global Research; Michael Flynn, Director of Product & Innovation at SAP Labs in Palo Alto; and Barbara Holzapfel, former SVP & Managing Director of SAP Labs.

Challenge sponsors joining via WebEx from India were Nataraj Kumar, R&D Manager at the Philips Innovation Campus in India; Dr. Ananth Rao, Head of Business Development and Senior Consultant for Metabolic Diseases at Apollo HospitalsKarthik Panyala, Business Analyst Intern at Apollo HospitalsVishal Kamat, Director of Strategy at IBM‘s India Software Lab; Manish Gupta, Director at the Xerox Research Center in India; Vikram Damodaran, Director of Healthcare Innovation at General Electric in India; and Sheenam Ohrie, Vice President and Head of Diversity & Inclusion at SAP Labs India.

IBM Model

Team IBM was the first student group to present. Their challenge was to “build an inclusive and sustainable business model for education in India”. The IBM student team identified the following as problems with India’s current education system: rote memorization; labor supply exceeding demand; domestic talent relocating overseas; poor quality of teaching; corruption; and unsustainable infrastructure. Their recommendation is a solution called SmarterTextbook, a peer-to-peer education platform where students can experience live tailoring of content; up-voting and down-voting of peer’s expertise; take employer endorsed course tracks; earn certification for successful. With SmarterTextbook, the group hopes users will be able to develop marketable skills, be trained to create new jobs, and receive high quality education. The model aims to generate new revenue streams by creating an employee database for companies, providing data and analytics, and offering test certifications to its SmarterTextbook students. The student team incorporated open innovation by looking to external resources to derive value for IBM’s internal business.

Philips Model

Next to present was Philips, who reiterated the company’s mission of “improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation.” The sponsor’s challenge entailed building a sustainable business model that would exploit cost effective lighting systems relevant to India and other emerging economies. The student group reinforced the importance of this challenge by raising awareness to the horrific rape crimes that continues to escalate in India, especially in the dark. To address this and Philips‘s problem, the students suggest investing in Solar LED Street Lights. Today, India’s public lighting is a mess; it has inefficient replacements, require billions of dollars in investments, and has no maintenance planning. By shifting to solar LED lighting, the Indian government will incur zero maintenance costs and experience 100% reduction in energy consumption. The team envisions a franchise model where Philips sells solar street lights to local entrepreneurs, while governments subsidizes some of the financing. They plan to implement the critical mass theory to scale up to rural areas and India as a whole.

Xerox Model

The Xerox student team went on stage afterwards. Their first slide has only the number “80″ on it, highlighted in red. The group communicated a powerful message with this number. By the end of their twenty minute presentation, the team says 80 people in India would have passed away; simply because of their poor healthcare system. The Xerox executives in India gave students the challenge of developing frugal or reverse innovation business models for the company to pursue in emerging economies to drive new revenues for its services business. Xerox’s core competencies lie in three areas: photo-imaging, data processing, and machine learning. The company’s goals include increasing services from 55% to 67% by 2017; engaging markets in developing countries; and offering innovative business solutions to stay relevant.

Consequently, they recommend a Xerox-powered Health platform that utilizes a subscription enrollment plan. The ecosystem will include private hospitals and tech startups for urban residences, and tech startups and government agencies for rural locations. Distribution network will depend on hubs and smartphones. Through the health platform, the group hopes Xerox can help reduce the mortality rate by allowing users to diagnose themselves early through the app and recognize when to gain further medical evaluation. The student team used Apple as an analogy to better demonstrate their model: the iPod would be analogous to a hub, and the iTunes to a health plan service. Like Apple, they hope Xerox can create a feasible platform model that wraps services around products.

Apollo Model

The Apollo Hospitals team also wants to tackle a similar problem. In India, people avoid going to hospitals to receive check ups until they develop a serious illness and are nearing death. Apollo Hospitals was founded in 1983 and is the leading hospital in India with 8,500 beds and 51 branches across the country. The company wants to continue to provide affordable healthcare services to lower-income segments, while maintaining industry leadership, promoting reach hospitals, and incorporating tech and innovation. The student group suggests incorporating innovation to an Apollo co-creation platform, and then distributing this to the Indian population for relevance. The platform aims to enlist the insights of consumers/patience, tech companies, and Apollo experts and data to offer better preventive care solutions.

General Electric Model

The General Electric student team was asked to determine how GE can “enable profitable business models that benefit all stakeholders in the telemedicine ecosystem of rural India”. Echoing the research done by the Xerox and Apollo Hospitals student groups, the GE team described a similar need for expanded access and preventive healthcare in India. Cardiovasuclar diseases for example, was India’s number one killer in 2010, 25% of heart attacks occur in individuals younger than forty, and heart attack deaths are expected to double in India by 2015. Hence, the GE team recommends exploiting the company’s sensor technologies and data collected from the sensors to maximize efficiency and minimize time to treatment.

SAP Model

Last to present was the SAP student team. Their sponsor’s challenge question: “How can SAP Labs-Bangalore use its existing resources to meet the needs of developing economies?” In response, the group recommends an SAP accelerator with local mom and pop shops (SMEs) as their target market. The ideation process involves a deeper understanding of customer needs and existing technology solutions in the SME market. Through the SAP accelerator, the second step to the students’ three-part proposal, services and access will be provided to participants, making use of SAP’s vast resources and expertise. The team suggests piggybacking on the networks of other ERP solutions and large multinational companies like Tally, Coca Cola, P&G, among other to implement the last step of their recommendation, the push to market.

Steve Myers, CTO of Optum/UnitedHealth, congratulates the students for their presentations well done!

Steve Myers, CTO of Optum/UnitedHealth, congratulates the students for their presentations well done!

The judges were really impressed and excitedly offered their praise. Steve Myers, CTO of Optum/UnitedHealth was especially proud of the students’ work, having consulted and mentored them over the last few months. According to Myers, the students have grown so much since he last worked with them. He applauds them further for their professionalism and thinks the quality of their presentations and slide decks are at par with those done at the corporate level.

The UGBA193i Final Presentations was definitely a big event, swarmed by prominent corporate executives both in person and via WebEx, and important figures in the academia. Zane Cooper, Chief Technology Officer of the Haas School of Business, made sure all the tech related activities ran smoothly. Maria Carkovic, the Executive Director of the Institute for Business Innovation was at SkyDeck from start, giving the opening remarks, to finish. Erika Walker, Executive Director of the Haas Undergraduate Program, was at the scene as well. She explains the course as “the first of its kind”. Although UC Berkeley and other UC’s in general have been promoting study abroad programs in the past, the UGBA193i travel-study class is different in that students traveled to India for ten days over the winter break instead of semester-long. Moreover, upon the students return, they are expected to continue the research and projects they have begun in India. Walker sees the global know-how as enabled by courses like UGBA193i as an invaluable asset for students to have. Dean Richard Lyons graced the event as well to give the closing remarks. In his talk, Dean Lyons jokingly dubbed the corporate judges as “Haas faculty”. Experiential learning takes on such a huge aspect of Haas’s program curriculum, so Dean Lyons reminded and thanked the participating executive judges for their role in making that happen for the students.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

Haas Sponsored Fun: ASCEND – Investing in Your Future

This article was posted on behalf of President of ASCEND, Alvinnie Kwok.

Ascend’s mission is to provide a platform for students to launch their professional careers as well as provide a tight-knit community of mentors, colleagues, and friends. Through personal mentorship, professional training, networking opportunities, and career exploration panels, we strive to nurture our members’ leadership potential, challenge them to take initiative, and shape their career path.

I still remember that day when I came across the bright white tablecloth with “Ascend” plastered in bold orange letters. Despite not knowing what Ascend was, I was drawn in immediately by the genuine yet confident manner of the officer elaborating on his experience in Ascend. At that moment, all I knew was that I wanted to be like him – a leader capable of inspiring students to maximize their potential.

Career Development Committee and Professional Development Committee hosts the Networking Event in BOA Forum

Career Development Committee and Professional Development Committee hosts the Networking Event in BOA Forum

Each semester, our six committees host valuable events aimed towards transforming our members into future leaders. This semester, the Career Development Committee and Professional Development Committee organized a large scale Networking Workshop with professionals from Ernst & Young. Pricewaterhouse Coopers, KPMG, and True Partners Consulting. With many of our members seeking internships or full-time offers, this opportunity provided an overview of the preparation needed for pre-interview socials, tips on how students should present themselves when conversing with recruiters, and examples of how students could follow-up with professionals.

Within intimate roundtable sessions, the professionals offered a firsthand glimpse into their working life. Our students, who were brimming with inquisitive questions, listened in rapture as each professional discussed their service line, shared their engagement experiences, and provided recruiting advice. Throughout the event, our inquisitive members were able to exercise their networking skills and receive personalized feedback on their performance afterwards.

Roundtable discussion with professionals from E&Y, KPMG, PwC, True Partners Consulting

Roundtable discussion with professionals from E&Y, KPMG, PwC, True Partners Consulting

Ascend leverages its resources and professional network to organize such events and mold our students into future professionals. Regardless of your major or year, there is definitely something Ascend can offer you. You will come to appreciate Ascend not only for the exponential growth you gain, but also for the supportive network of friends – friends who guide each other in both professional and personal endeavors.

Alvinnie Kwok
Ascend President

Naveen Jain on Life, Success, and Innovation

“Think so big, so audacious that people will think you are crazy.” – Naveen Jain

Last Wednesday, April 2, 2014, Naveen Jain visited the UGBA193i Business Models and Open Innovation in Emerging Economies class in the Berkeley-Haas Innovation Lab at the Cal Memorial Stadium.

Jain is one of the most successful serial entrepreneurs. He has been crowned “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year”, “Albert Einstein Technology Medal” for his pioneers in technology, “Most Admired Serial Entrepreneur” by Silicon India, “Top 20 Entrepreneurs”, and “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his leadership in the technology industry and support of other entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur and philanthropist, he is driven to solve the world’s biggest challenges through innovation. He founded Moon Express, World Innovation Institute, iNome, TalentWise, Intelius, and Infospace. He is also a regular contributor to the Forbes, WSJ, Huffington Post, and publications.

During Jain’s visit, he talked about life, success, and innovation. According to Jain, “Success is about how many lives you can impact positively – and that is the measure of success you can live with.” He stated that it is not about being successful, but about becoming significant.

Below lists three big things Jain describes as the drivers of success in a company:

1. “You should be so obsessed that you cannot sleep or think about anything else than what you are doing.”

2. “There is no detail that is small enough for you not to worry about it. What kills great companies are the details you miss.”

3. “There is no work that is beneath you. If it needs to be vacuumed, it is your job. Any job that needs to be done is your job. Because anyone [or anything] that drops to the floor will kill your company.”

He practices all these in his companies. For example, Moon Express focuses on developing a robotic lunar lander to explore and mine the moon for planetary resources, which Jain believes is key to securing humankind’s future. Mining the moon is such a crazy idea that one has to be intensely obsessed with the idea in order to make it work. That being said, he made a couple more spiels to reinforce his purview of success and innovation.

Jain describes success as a journey, not a destination. Consequently, he says you will hit tons of milestones in that journey. Jain recommends stopping at every milestone to drink and celebrate… then you go back to work. The first time he made a dollar, he did just that. He repeated this discipline over and over until his company eventually made over a billion dollars in revenue, thus enjoying his journey.

Nonetheless, to achieve success, he also suggests aspiring entrepreneurs find business partners so unlike them that it would be difficult to like the guy: “It should be someone who complements you, not friends who are just like you.”


Naveen Jain and Prof. Solomon Darwin at the IBI Conference Room

Finally, Jain shared his thoughts on innovation. For Jain, innovation is what makes the world go around. Innovation does not have anything to do with invention. Innovation is a state of mind. “Human minds need a box. So think in a different box.”

“Malcolm Gladwell made money writing a book about the 10,000 hour theory,” Jain shares, and then exclaims his disagreement, “By the time someone becomes an expert in his field, he becomes useless in his field. Every incremental innovation comes from experts, every disruptive innovation come from non-experts. Experts are good at telling you about things that will never work. Every breakthrough is brought about by a crazy idea.”

Ultimately, Naveen Jain’s aura of optimism, passion, and dedication have proven to be effective and instrumental to his success. His energy was contagious, and it was a pleasure and honor to have him serve as an inspiration and role model to the students.

“Think so big, so audacious that people will think you are crazy.” – Naveen Jain

Small Changes, Big Results: How Undergrads can Invest in Themselves

Public-Speaking“Competition is mighty steep… 40 hours a week.”  This is a widely used quotation to basically say that there isn’t any traffic on the extra mile. The more persistent and willing you are, the more unique you become, standing out simply for your dedication.  In a way it could be seen as working hard as oppose it working smart… but I don’t see it that way!  By putting in the extra time, you are smart, because when less and less people are around, it becomes easier to differentiate yourself.

This article is not for me to wave my flag about some times I worked late at the office and got rewarded, quite the contrary.  I did not put in that 41st hour at the office, but it was precisely my professional persistence away the office which helped me so much.  I want to talk about 2 things that I have achieved as an undergrad that have helped me beyond my wildest beliefs personally and professionally.  It’s so simple its almost criminal, but it stands out, because of the fact that not many of my peers have put in the time to pursue and achieve these distinctions.  Maybe because they don’t know about them (in which case this article is informational), or maybe they are too busy (in which case this article can be motivational).

toastmastersThere is a group that I have been a part of called Toastmasters International.  It is a public speaking group designed to improve both planned and impromptu talks.  The more informal definition should be called, stage-fright anonymous because it is typically a room filled with very nervous public speakers.  It is a safe environment where everyone is encouraged to get up in front of the room and give a talk.  There are mini-games (table topics), and there is a manual with 10 planned speeches done over time to reach the Competent Communicator award.

Toastmasters is something like 30 dollars a year for weekly meetings!  There are clubs everywhere, it’s scheduled for professionals, it’s great networking with a variety of industries and seniority levels, it’s a safe environment … need I say more?!  I have often said that it is the best money I have ever spent on myself.  There is no bang-for-your-buck better than Toastmasters and there is no excuse for not trying it.

I have gotten so much out of toastmasters I do not even know how to begin.  First of all, it has clearly helped me with confidence in front of a crowd.  Something I used to be mildly bothered by is now something I embrace and even … enjoy.  Second, it affects your personality and aura.  There is no ecstasy in the world like knocking a speech out of the park, and knowing you can do it again!  You simply can’t go to the meetings, try hard, and NOT see massive personal improvement in speaking and confidence!

logo-MOS-grandeThe second thing that I did was my Microsoft Office Master Certification.  This certification includes Excel and Word expert exams, and PowerPoint and Outlook Specialist exams.  It is amazing for two reasons, the first of which is the certification itself and the credibility it provides.  I have discussed this distinction in every single interview I have had since getting the certification.  It is a huge part of my value proposition because employers know how important MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are, and they like knowing that I know it!

The next part of the certification is that it really did make me learn things better and learn things right. In the beginning it was my father that suggested I do it, and I was skeptical.  I looked as some online info and tutorials and it felt like it was a big gimmicky.  It couldn’t be farther from it!  The expert exams are challenging and really give you a great foundation for the massive amount of entry level work that takes place in this software.

Check my blog for a step by step on how I did it!

downloadLastly with the certification (particularly Excel), it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  People ask for help because you are good at Excel, and you get good at Excel because people are always asking you about it… it feeds on itself!  For those of us who have been frustrated in Excel, we know it can be a case-by-case basis with a lot of quirky solutions, and the best way to learn is to experiment and to do.  Even if I had to fiddle with it, troubleshoot, or even go back to my desk to figure it out (shout out to Greg Smith at RPA), I was able to figure it out… and remember it!  Without my Excel certification, I would probably not have been put in that spot to be exposed to these problems and solutions.

Take these two examples of mine for what you will.  Not everyone brings value in the same way, and these are simply two early career value adds that I went for.  The bigger lesson is my opening quote that life can be competitive, but a lot less so if you put in the time.  It’s not an order to put your nose to the grind; it’s totally the opposite.  Seek things outside of the workday, which develop your personal value proposition both in and out of the office.  Not once working on my certification or in a toastmasters meeting did I ever feel that I was overworked, stressed, burnt out, etc, I was happy to be doing simple things that few others choose to do, so that I could later do big things that few others could do.

Career Profiles: Justina Nguyen, CBSi Tech and Media

Career Profiles is a series of posts that will feature Haas students who have accepted an internship or full time job offer across various industries. This one is on the Tech & Media space.

There is no doubt that when you first enter Haas, majority of the undergrads are talking recruiting; and more often than not, recruiting for the ABC’s (Accounting, Banking, Consulting). I must admit, I was pretty intimidated by the recruiting process when I first started at the prestigious business program. I almost felt pressured to enter the ABC industry simply because that was most popular and common among the Haas population. Nonetheless, as I learned to feel more confident about myself. I began to better accept that we are all different, as cliche as this sounds, and that no one is better than the other. We all have our own preferences and career paths to take. We simply need to recognize which one and what it is that we want for ourselves.

This post is about Justina Nguyen, a Haas senior who challenged the ABC norm and enjoyed it! Justina entered Haas as a junior transfer from Ohlone College, and has diverse experiences in banking, education, and marketing. She also has expertise in coordinating social and networking activities as an Internal Affairs Committee Member in Berkeley Women in Business. However, she ultimately worked for CBS Interactive as an Audience Development Intern over summer and will be joining the company as an Associate Audience Development Manager after graduating in May 2014.

Justina Nguyen, B.S. Business Administration 2014. (c) Photo

Justina Nguyen, B.S. Business Administration 2014. (c) Photo from

Did you ever feel pressured or compelled to enter the ABC industry while recruiting?

When I first arrived at Haas, I was wrapped up in finding an internship in the ABCs because I thought, “That’s what everyone is doing so, I need to do it too.” I was not appropriately invested in these industries and I did not want to compromise myself by choosing to pursue a career that didn’t align with my goals. However, just because the ABCs aren’t for me doesn’t mean they can’t be for others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a title or an institution but figuring out what I really wanted out of job was important to me.

 What made you decide to pursue CBSi instead of other companies?

I chose to sign with CBSi because they met my three criteria: find a place where I matter, find people who love what they do, and find a job where “doing work” and “having fun” are synonymous.

Would you recommend a summer experience at CBSi?

I would definitely recommend the summer internship at CBS Interactive to anyone who wants to learn a lot from incredible people. CBSi is a collaborative and democratic workplace – your ideas matter here. From the get-go, you’re thrown into meetings and asked for your opinion. Whether you’re an intern or not, they take you seriously and they value your input. Some cool perks: trivia night, ping pong tournaments, and K9 Friday (the office is filled with the cutest dogs!). If you want to get coffee and make copies all summer, don’t apply to CBSi.

CBS Interactive

CBS Interactive

What does work look like at your company?

Working at CBSi proved to me how amazing 9-to-5 can really be. You spend the majority of the day with your co-workers, and you get to spend it with genuine, intelligent, and funny people. Not only are they supportive of your ideas and goals, but also they do their best to help you reach them. I really appreciated how most people at CBSi have been there for double digits, yet they still bring so much enthusiasm and passion to work everyday. Content-wise, this is tech and media aka fun and fun.

Were there any skills that you needed to have developed prior to the internship?

You should know how to use PowerPoint and Excel. Those are the bread and butter of the business world and there’s no escaping them. Writing and speaking skills are important for finesse in any job, especially in media. Quick turnaround is especially important in publications because everything has a deadline. If you get something to someone quickly, they’ll remember that and return the favor.

What advice do you have for interview preparations?

Research the business and the specific brands you want to work for. Practice interviewing questions so there’s no surprise if they ask you for three weaknesses. Practice interviewing questions with someone who will actually give constructive feedback. Don’t be on time; arrive earlier than scheduled.

This advice is completely overrated but it’s true! Be yourself–your real self. A company is looking for a fit, but don’t forget, you are looking for a fit too!

c|net Logo

c|net Logo

You can read Justina’s blog posts and other editorials for CBSi at

Disclaimer: The series aims to spotlight students across as many industries possible, including the ABC’s.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

Reflections of a Haas Introvert: Midterm Evaluation

People are happier at Haas.

Or maybe it’s just sunshine and denial that it’s over half-way through spring semester of senior year. Less class, a greater sense of community. Maybe it’s just me.

In any case the sun’s out, I’m stuck in that dungeon called Evans with time to kill and jotted notes to share so here it goes – a midterm evaluation of my last semester as a Haas undergraduate – in other words, observations organized in what I hope to be a somewhat coherent, meaningful (or, if not, at the very least semi-entertaining) format.

Evans on a sunny Saturday afternoon

A sunny Saturday afternoon in Evans

The seed was planted somewhere a year ago in the grounds of junior year, wet with newness and stress and things of that nature. Walk through the courtyard nowadays and the buzz is infectious, conversation in full bloom. While the only core class I have left to finish leaves me at Haas not as often as many of my peers taking 21 units of CPA requirements, I’ve come to appreciate passing moments in the hallways of Cheit or morning talks gathered around the round tables in the Bank of America Forum, a watering hole for Haas students if anything, simultaneously study ground and playground depending on the time and people and context. Us undergraduates jealously regard the MBA-exclusive food spread so often I think we forget what a gift something as infrastructural and taken-for-granted as an open floor space in the middle of the Students Services Building can be.

It’s strange, too, that as little time as I might be spending academically at Haas, social scenes have become saturated with fellow Business majors. Suddenly, folks I haven’t seen since first semester Business Communications are cropping up and it’s not like no time ever passed, but rather that we are all actually relishing the time we have left. From bright green fields in Napa sunshine to the Sproul steps to what might as well be our Thursday home in North Berkeley (that I will refrain from naming), my fellows at Haas are there for good times, good laughs, and good stories.

Napa Toast

Toasting at the Class of 2014 Cohort Program Napa Tour

Which leads me to the overwhelming question…why is that the case? Why are people so happy? I am no sociologist but I will hazard a few guesses, gathered from conversations with peers from across campus. It may be that many seniors at this point know where they’re going post-graduation, hence they are more relaxed and free to enjoy the last months of their college career. It may be that business students are naturally more social and that this social aspect is only heightened in situations when they are gathered together, which feeds back into a loop. It may be that the reality of real life is hitting, and hitting faster than we can shield ourselves and all we can do is run and make plans and go out to keep ourselves from recognizing the realness of it all. It may be all of these or none of the above but this is a more difficult question than even Professor Wood can dream up – and certainly with no definite answer – so I think we should all get credit for even participating and proffering a guess and step back, look at the experience at large, rather than quiver and shake at one question whose correct answer is peanuts in the grand scheme of things.

Cohort Retreat in SF

The people you meet

Over two years ago Haas acceptances were released for the current graduating Class of 2014. As complicated and conflicted as my (and, I’m sure, many of my peers’) feelings are towards practicality versus personal interest in choosing a field of study, I will say that my time as a business student has colored the two years since that acceptance to no small degree. It is in this happier, more social environment that I start to realize how invaluable the people you meet can be, the experiences resulting ranging from face-palm-and-head-banging-on-desk terrible to best-friends-forever-our-kids-will-be-friends! positive. It is a spectrum I am leaning more towards the affirmative extreme of in my current state of sentimentality…to the extent that I have circled “All of the Above” as my guess for all this radically unexpected but beautiful sunniness  shining down on us all. The days are still young, and I am perfectly okay with not knowing the answer.

Tech Mahindra University Awards

Tech Mahindra is a leading provider of solutions and services in the Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) industry. It is a $2.9 billion Indian multinational company with 87,300+ professionals and serves over 605 global customers, including Fortune 500 companies. It helps clients realize their business needs through proven global delivery models, distinctive IT skills and decades of domain expertise. Tech Mahindra has been in existence for 25 years and has a strong presence in 49 countries.

Yesterday, Alok GargVice President and Business Head of Consulting and Transformation at Tech Mahindra, drove two hours to make it to UC Berkeley to speak at Professor Solomon Darwin‘s UGBA193i – Business Models and Open Innovation in Emerging Economies lecture.

Tech Mahindra Ideation Challenge

Tech Mahindra Ideation Challenge

In addition to working for Tech Mahindra, Garg has also served as the General Manager and Senior Drector of Services in the Asia Pacific, Japan, & China for the Virtual Computing Environment Company, a services and solutions business leader in converged infrastructure and cloud computing; he founded and was the CEO of IndiePay, a mobile commerce startup offering multi-channel enabled payment solutions and services across consumer and business customers focused on mobile micro payments for monetizing content services and driving financial inclusion and e-commece growth across developing economies; and was the General Manager for Solutions and Services in the United Kingdom and India at British Telecom Global Services, responsible for repeatable ICT solutions business and global rollout across different regions.

He passed on his rich experience in technology services and innovation to students during his time with them by providing customized reactions and criticisms to the six student teams’ project findings so far. He tweeted his sentiments about the students immediately after meeting them: “Amazing to hear from young entrepreneurs @ Haas School of Business UC Berkeley talking about their vision to solve world’s grand challenges.”

UGBA193i students with Alok Garg, Prof. Solomon Darwin, and Maria Solomon, PhD.

UGBA193i students with Alok Garg, Prof. Solomon Darwin, and Maria Solomon, PhD.

Although Garg met with students to help brainstorm ideas for their challenge prompts, he also visited to share greater opportunities for engaging with experts and industry leaders in the business and technology space, and winning monetary innovation awards on the Tech Mahindra sponsored FUTURESCAPES™ Customer Connect Forum to be held in San Francisco on May 4-6, 2014, where Football Legend, Joe Montana will be serving as the Monday Night Gala Special Guest Speaker.

The theme for the conference is Human Computation: The Next Frontier. It will focus on exploring the power of Human Computation in an attempted to solve computational problems beyond the scope of existing Artificial Intelligence.

Human Computation outsources certain steps of the computational process to humans,this is a combination of Computer Science; Sociology and Anthropology – interactions between technology and human systems; Ergonomics – safety, comfort of computer systems; Psychology – the cognitive processes of humans and behavior of users; and Linguistics – development of human and machine languages. Furthermore, Human Computation also often encompasses collaborative intelligence; crowd sourcing; social computing; artificial intelligence; robotics; and other opportunistic and example-centric programs.



A huge part of the forum is the Tech Mahindra University Awards Ideature Challenge,  where student teams can participate by submitting any idea related to the theme, based on current or past research on human computation across industry verticals. Teams will be give 30 days to submit their idea, and 3-6 teams will be shortlisted for the competition. Each team will be given 30 minutes to present their idea to a panel of judges consisting of Joe Montana; Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity and a professor at Stanford University; John Magee, CMO of GE Software; Aaron Levie, CEO of Box; Bask Iyer, CIO of Juniper Networks; and Vivek Wadwha, VP of Innovation & Research at Singularity University, who students were able to network with and collect insightful feedback from earlier in the semester. Three student teams with the best presentations will win $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000, respectively.

Garg felt that the UGBA193i’s current progress and efforts in consulting for multinational corporations to provide innovative solutions to the biggest problems faced by emerging markets and the world already give them an edge when they decide to pursue and transform their proposals even more at the Tech Mahindra Ideature Challenge during the FUTURESCAPES™ Customer Connect Forum.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

HBSA Election Candidates (2014-2015)

Voting officially began for HBSA Elections 2014-2015 yesterday. Polls will close next Friday at 11:59PM! Please help choose our next leaders by casting your votes today. You must sign into campus groups to vote! You may click “Forgot Password” if you don’t have an account or have forgotten the password to your account.

General guidelines:

  • You may only vote once, and only for one person/position
  • You may abstain by skipping over the office position
  • Candidates must be at least 20 feet away from any person while he/she is voting (please direct all complaints/allegations to Elections Council Chair,


Here is the link to the ballot:


Stacey Patten - picture117 Stacey C. Patten
I’m currently the External Liaison for the Cohort Program where I oversee the planning and execution of Cohort events for 350 undergraduate students. While this opportunity has allowed me to create positive change, my vision for improving Haas extends beyond what I can achieve through this platform. As President I will work to accomplish the following: (1) develop MBA/UNDERGRADUATE COFFEE/HAPPY HOURS where students could network with MBAs (2) bring MORE NON-ABC RESOURCES to Haas (informational sessions and networking panels) (3) EXTEND HAAS’ BUILDING HOURS so students can collaborate late into the night and (4) INCREASE HBSA TRANSPARENCY AND STUDENT ADVOCACY.

1x1shawn.jpg copy122 Shawn Sheikh
If appointed HBSA President I have a few core focuses. My first agenda item is to bring in more recruiters both in and out of the ABCs. Additionally I am working on uniting Haas with other talented majors on campus to encourage collaboration on projects and recruiting. I hope to continue this as HBSA President next year. I will work to create more opportunities for transfer students to better immerse themselves in the Haas community. I would also work to create more bonding activities to bring together the Haas Undergraduate community, much like the MBA community interacts with one another.

Executive Vice President

1x1taylor copy105 Taylor Shim
As the Executive Vice President for HBSA, I will work very closely with the President as well as other members to create a more collaborative and enjoyable environment for the undergraduate student body at Haas. My vision for this position includes the following: 1) Organizing a mentorship program that connects juniors with seniors in Haas, 2) Strengthening the recruiting process and creating more professional opportunities by bringing in more companies and networking events to our campus, and 3) Working to extend library hours, especially during exam seasons to better accommodate students’ needs..

Vice President of Finance

rafsun118 Rafsun Faiz
Hello everyone! As you all know, I am in charge of our beloved happy hours! As the VP of Finance, I would make sure to approve funds for events that enrich the Haas student community, both socially and professionally. I would submit budget proposals that would allow HBSA to achieve the following:1. Professional development through events such as the PWC Case Workshop we are having on March 172. Establish the Happy Hour as a permanent weekly social event.3. Maintain ASUC sponsorship and ensure approval of the budget. Lastly, I am running because I have tremendous respect and love for HBSA. I believe that, with our hard work, we will become even more successful next year.

amy gu120 Amy Gu
Hi everyone! It is a pleasure to run for Vice President of Finance this year. I have been an active member in HBSA, specifically the Director’s Advisory Council, since last year and cannot wait to become more involved this upcoming school year! I look forward to working as VP of Finance so we can have stronger relations with ASUC for sponsorship, an expanding budget for more exciting opportunities in HBSA, and much more! Thank you for your vote.

Vice President of MBA/Alumni Relations

Samuel Choi114 Samuel Choi
Dear friends and future colleagues, The Haas School comprises less than 3 percent of UC Berkeley’s undergraduate population. That’s 711 students who have been brought together to cultivate an intimate atmosphere that not only questions the status quo, but also generates innovative ideas. My name is Samuel Choi and I would like to be elected to office to implement as many of those ideas as possible. The goal I want to accomplish is simple – connect you to industry leaders by incorporating Haas alumni and MBA students in our cohesive network, so you can make your ideas happen. Thank you.

enya hsieh123 Enya Hsieh
It is with great enthusiasm that I am running for VP of Alumni/MBA Relations for HBSA. As the founder of Diablo Valley College Alumni Network, I believe in combing each individual’s power for making a stronger community. If elected, I seek to initiate three projects that can further strengthen the connection between all Haas members. Project 1. Set up MBA office hour for undergraduates Project 2. Kick off a series of MBA admissions panels for pre-MBAs Project 3. Initiate Talent Search Program that aids alumni to find undergraduates for internships/job opportunities Please vote for #123 for Project 1, 2, 3!

budiman124 Debby Budiman
“Connect the unconnected” Plans: 1.Organize two to five Haas undergraduate-MBA & alumni events per semester via MBA & alumni offices & connections 2.Initiate and administer mentorship program for Haas undergraduate 3.Connect Haas undergraduate to MBA & alumni with similar interests or fields Qualifications: Haas Business School Association | Marketing Director Haas Senior Gifts Campaign | Alumni Relations Coordinator Young Entrepreneurs at Haas | Mentor Diablo Valley College | Phi Beta Lambda Business Club Head of Alumni Relations

Vice President of Professional Development

wei wen111 Wei Wen
I want to build the bridge between career center and Haas students, and help you take full advantage of career center. If I am elected as VP of Profession Development, HBSA will host regular events like Callisto workshop, networking workshop, etc. for new and old Haas students every year. Also, HBSA will offer more detailed descriptions about career center’s events, so you can easily make better decisions about which career panel to attend without wasting time. In the meantime, I will work with career center to host networking events in Haas, which will be more convenient for Haas students.

Steven_Yang copy119 Steven Yang
If elected as the Vice President of Professional Development, I have two main goals. The first is to increase the competency level of all undergraduate students through presentations, workshops, and case competitions. The second is to promote and inform alternative and sustainable career paths that align more accurately with the student body’s varying interests. Our class has so much potential to succeed in the business world and I plan on tapping into that potential for the 2014-2015 year and beyond.

Vice President of Internal Development

Gina Tai - Photo copy108 Gina Tai
Hi everyone! My name is Gina Tai, and I am so excited to be running for Vice President of Internal Development. I have held positions in the past that required me to be extremely organized in planning and successfully executing large-scale events. I am confident that these experiences have prepared me to not only complete the expected responsibilities but also to go beyond what is required of me. This position will allow me to best contribute to the business community, strengthening the bonds within HBSA and building relationships within the Haas community. Thank you for your vote!

vk vu112 VK Vu
With this position, I plan on creating a network within Haas that enables students to form relationships beyond the academic sphere and to impact our surrounding community. By organizing socials aimed at facilitating open interactions and service events geared towards extending beyond our classrooms, I believe our Haas family’s bond will strengthen. My experience in diverse leadership positions in professional organizations, volunteer groups, and athletic teams will enable me to prioritize, manage, and execute these goals. I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to serve with your support!

Vice President of Marketing

casey102 Casey “you know you want to” Kim
Dear Friends at Haas, “I’m shooting for the stars. If I can only get to the moon, I’ll try again from the moon.” It would be an honor for me to serve as your next Vice President of Marketing. Coming to Haas has been an absolutely wonderful experience and I am always amazed by the people I meet. As VP of Marketing, I promise to bring out the best in Haas and work my tail off each and every day. I look forward to working with the HBSA team and serving the Haas Community. Thank you!

monica113 Monica “Dili-BEAR-to” Diliberto
“Never apologize for having high expectations.” I proudly embody the 4 Haas Defining Principles, I promise to work in the interest of my fellow classmates, and I promise to represent HBSA like a true Golden Bear would.

Vice President of Academics

vi tran101 Vi Tran
I am Vi Tran in the Class of 2015. I am passionate about making a social impact locally and globally. While researching with Haas Professor Levine, I found it rewarding to be a liaison between our team of student researchers and nonprofit leaders. As a peer, I will strive to create the most conducive learning environments in the Haas community. My personal mission is to help students and organizations do whatever they do, but better. I am extremely excited to be a candidate for the Vice President of Academics.

david park104 David J Park
Hello, voters! My name is David, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to act as the liaison between students and faculty. Having served as Vice President of Academics in my high school student government, I believe I bring valuable experience and insight to the position. If elected, I hope to bridge the gap between students’ and professors’ expectations of courses by implementing end-of-semester feedback sessions and improved evaluation forms. The Haas School of Business’s most important asset is the student population and I want to make sure your voice is heard to make your education your own.

Linda Zhong copy115 Linda Zhong
Receiving an education here at the Haas School of Business is a true blessing. If granted this position, I will ensure your voice is heard by effectively communicating with professors and faculty to make sure all concerns are addressed, in hopes of improving the business program to better meet everyone’s needs. I want to organize more networking events with professors so students can get to know them in a more casual setting outside of the classroom. The business program here is outstanding, one that is constantly creating future leaders of the world. Together we can make it ever better.

Vice President of Diversity

jesar shah103 Jesar Shah
Hello fellow Haasies! As VP Diversity my goal is to host more diversity events within our undergraduate program as well as events jointly with MBA students. I want students to capitalize on the variety of experiences and cultures that we bring to Haas! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions regarding my projects for the next academic year.

aashik107 Aashik “Babyface” Sekharan
Going to school in 4 different countries I have gained an understanding of the power behind the buzzword ‘diversity’. We here at Haas each have our own unfinished stories and I want to leverage these differences to create long term friendships and connections. My plan is two tiered: 1) Organize an ethnic day in which students get to express their identity for one redonkulous night of song, dance and merry-making. 2) Create an online-diversity platform encouraging students to share how their backgrounds have shaped their experience at Haas so far and vice-versa.

Vice President of Technology

brian ly110 Brian C Ly
My name is Brian C Ly, and I am currently a junior in Haas pursuing a triple major in Business Administration, Computer Science, and Japanese and a minor in IEOR. I have served as a photographer for many campus organizations. I am particularly interested in the technology challenges faced by businesses today in this rapidly developing ecosystem, especially in the Bay Area. My goals are to provide the undergraduate body with all of their technology needs, establish channels to develop stronger relationships with the engineering community, and to beautify the website through photography and intuitive user interfaces.

Vice President of Student Services and Outreach

pia mishraPia Mishra
Hey guys! I just want to keep this short and simple. There are a number of exciting ideas I have for HBSA this upcoming year, and I would love the opportunity to share them with the Haas community. Your vote would mean a lot — thanks!