Incoming MBA Sustainability Superstars
The CRB is thrilled to welcome the incoming Fall 2020 MBA cohort to Haas! As part of the selection process for the CRB Fellowship, we had the opportunity to sit down with a number of incoming students focused on sustainable and responsible business practices. Each student brings a unique perspective and background that has helped to form their vision for a more just and sustainable future:
Before business school, Kanyinsola worked at a nonprofit behavioral design lab and consulting firm that uses behavioral science to improve lives, build better systems, and drive social change. At Haas and beyond she plans to focus on building sustainable, diverse food systems to cultivate a more equitable future for all.
The Haas Defining Leadership Principle that resonates most with Kanyinsola is Beyond Yourself. “In college my choir director often urged us to, ‘leave a space better than you found it.’ I internalized this not only as a call to leave my surroundings better than I found them, but also as a mandate to use my voice on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.”
What drew Kanyinsola to Haas over other academic institutions was the strong and dedicated resources in food and agriculture as well as the close knit, collaborative community. Within the Center for Responsible Business she hopes to study sustainable agriculture and food production, an already primary focus of the CRB. She is excited for the opportunity to meet and work with people who have similar interests in regenerative agriculture, food entrepreneurship, and impact investing.
As a future responsible business leader she strives for a more genuine commitment to public benefit. “The strategies to attain maximal profits must not be at the expense of individual livelihoods nor the environment.”
Contact Kanyinsola via LinkedIn
Jordan is coming to Haas with a background in international marketing. She led retail marketing initiatives for a global consumer product company in England and founded her own marketing consultancy for high-tech startups while living in Tel Aviv. Passionate about veganism and sustainable food, Jordan is eager to leverage her extensive marketing experience to bring innovative plant-based products and clean meat alternatives to the consumer market and create lasting social impact.
The Haas Defining Leadership Principle Jordan identifies most with is Question the Status Quo. Jordan has been challenging convention since a young age. Challenging the norm, she believes, is how constructive progress evolves. She notes that, “it’s crucial now more than ever for society to question the status quo and find more sustainable alternatives to improve social, environmental, and public health issues…Haas students are encouraged to self-starters. As future business leaders, we are motivated to think beyond ourselves to enact change, challenge convention, and create meaningful impact. We are given the freedom to come up with novel ways of doing routine things, this questioning is met with acceptance and encouragement at Haas.”
The holistic nature of the education is what drew Jordan to Haas. The culture of collaboration was evident to her both at the micro level where students support each other and at the macro level across the campus community. “Haas students are encouraged to take classes outside of the business school to expand their horizons, and I have already heard about numerous entrepreneurial ventures coming out of Haas in which MBA students partnered up with engineering, health-science, and other Berkeley students with non-business backgrounds. It was refreshing to see that Haas doesn’t operate in silos but instead understands that innovation comes from cross-discipline collaboration and support.”
Upon applying to the MBA program at Haas, Jordan was drawn to the CRB. “I strongly believe in the CRB’s mission to develop leaders who ‘redefine business for a sustainable future,’ and I am motivated to play a proactive role in advancing that forward-thinking mission. I see responsible business as part of a company’s DNA and as a core competency. I’d love to see companies design for innovation and sustainability in all aspects – social, environmental, and economic.”
Looking to the future, she is excited to explore the role business leaders play in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing our global economy. “Even before COVID-19, we were dealing with issues related to global warming, resource scarcity, socioeconomic inequality, public health, and inefficient agriculture methods. I’m eager to begin addressing these problems through the lens of plant-based food innovation and clean meat alternatives, and there’s no place I’d rather be than at Haas.”
Contact Jordan via LinkedIn
Agnieszka was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and has always been curious about where food comes from. She is passionate about using sustainable food supply chains as a means to strengthen communities and regenerate the earth. Upon graduating college, she ventured to the Peruvian rainforest to work at a fair trade coffee and cacao cooperative. Working with farmers, indigenous communities, and the cooperative solidified her intentions to promote sustainable development through business.
She is currently a Strategic Planning Analyst at Alter Eco, a fair trade chocolate company pioneering agroforestry and ethical trade practices. Before that, she worked on supply chain audits at Fair Trade USA, and the Corporate Social Responsibility team at MUFG. Agnieszka studied Geography, Public Policy, and Math at CUNY Macaulay – Hunter College. While in school, she opted to explore sustainable development firsthand by leading student volunteer trips to indigenous communities in Panama where her team would organize mobile medical clinics with local doctors. Agnieszka aspires to combine her background in holistic community development with solid business models in order to elevate farmers around the world.
Like Jordan, Agnieszka also identifies with Question the Status Quo. “My career is built around asking who I impact when I buy something at the store and what we can do for the people all over the world who sustain us. We are all participants in a global economy, what we consume every day touches so many lives. We can optimize our systems to do far better”
When exploring MBA programs, Haas stood out to her because of the community, curriculum, and progressive spirit. “For years, as I learned about companies, projects, and innovators that inspired me, they almost always traced back to Haas one way or another.” Her pursuit for growth within the food supply sector is fostered by the CRB’s Sustainable Food Initiative and Patagonia Case Competition. She is excited to learn more about Supply Chain Sustainability to understand how companies have tackled challenges at all stages of trade. I am also interested in learning more about Marketing, so that I may bring great products to market while educating consumers about where their food comes from.
“Transparency is only going to become more important to businesses and consumers. We live in a world where people are more informed and connected. The companies that speak to people are going to be the ones that stand for something real, and let consumers participate in building a future that they would like to live in.”
Samvita currently works as a consultant in the international development sector, focusing on data-driven Water and Sanitation programming in Asia and Africa. Her most recent work constructing Monitoring & Evaluation platforms helps governments, aid agencies, and philanthropic organizations in their decision-making. Prior to consulting, she was a Business Associate at a fast-growing AI startup. Her interest in pursuing a career in sustainability led her be a program manager at her alma mater, where she helped launch a cleantech incubator.
Samvita attended the Indian Institute of Technology Madras where she graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Civil Engineering.
The Defining Leadership Principle Samvita identifies with the most is Confidence without Attitude. “In my career thus far, I have learned to always be thorough in my work and support decisions with clear evidence. In my current role I am leading a large monitoring program for a client, and I have found that this approach to work has served me and my organization successfully to be humble in the face of progress.”
Samvita was drawn to Haas for the exceptional focus on creating socially conscious leaders. “When I attended Days at Haas I was amazed by my peers, their diverse backgrounds, and the common interest they all shared towards creating socially relevant impact in their careers. I felt immediately at home amongst them and knew that, surrounded by these incredible people, I would have the kind of supportive and impact-focused environment I wanted out of a business school. The range of resources in sustainable business combined with the school’s strong network in the space gave me the confidence that Haas is the perfect school for me to achieve my long-term career goals of working in sustainable business.”
With experience building a cleantech incubator and working in water and sanitation consulting, she came to understand just how much of an impact businesses could potentially have in achieving global sustainability goals. “When I started researching business schools, the Center for Responsible Business really stood out to me. The faculty and advisors at CRB are the best possible mentors I could have as I discover my career interests. As an engineer who has worked in consulting, I am excited about exploring the ‘Sustainable Innovation’ focus area at CRB. In particular the Patagonia Case Competition presents a great opportunity for me to bring together my engineering skills and newly acquired business school knowledge to work on a challenge problem.”
Samvita approaches her MBA Career eager to deepen her understanding of responsible business and natural resource management. She is also keen to dip her toes into Haas’ vibrant tech culture and work on interesting ideas at the intersection of tech and responsible business. “I hope to develop a strong network of peers and alumni, with whom I can jointly work on pertinent business-environment issues.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic revealed the general unsustainability of industry as it currently exists; I foresee more businesses seeking to be branded as ‘responsible’ and looking inward at stakeholder satisfaction. Plenty of large corporations have successfully incorporated responsible practices and as consumers increasingly prioritize the ethical practices of corporations they patronize, I see more businesses going down this path. In the future, I am hopeful that we will see a larger number of businesses with green practices, better human rights records, and greater trust placed in them by clients and consumers.”
Contact Samvita via LinkedIn
Tess Maria Krasne
Tess Krasne joins Haas after being a Project Specialist with the Trash Free Seas Program. Tess served as a utility player in combating ocean plastics, focusing on projects that engaged grassroots NGOs, key consumer goods companies, scientists, and global political leaders. Before Ocean Conservancy, she worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and for the People’s Climate Movement.
Tess graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2016 with a degree in Environmental Biology with minors in Applied Microeconomics and Anthropology from.
Like Samvita, the Definining Leadership Principle Tess most associates with is Confidence Without Attitude. “Collaborating with a diverse set of stakeholders has been essential to my work. To build relationships, I’ve needed the confidence to approach everyone with a smile, but humility to focus on listening and understanding.” Tess looks forward to cultivating all Defining Leadership Principles and meeting like-minded peers and faculty.
Tess was drawn to Haas’ MBA program as she felt the culture and curriculum emphasized ethical leadership. “Haas’s undeniable reputation in responsible business is what drew me to the school from the get-go.” How Haas champions the Defining Leadership Principles stood out to her as a symbol of their commitment to producing greatness.
Coincidentally, Tess’ past work overlapped with the CRB. Haas Alum and Senior Advisor to the Center for Responsible Business, Rob Kaplan, works with Ocean Conservancy on solutions to ocean plastic pollution through his investment firm, Circulate Capital. So, Haas and the CRB have been on her radar for years. “Haas is a leader in responsible business in large part because of the robust CRB that engages the student body with speaker series, courses, and faculty at the forefront of sustainable innovation.”
Looking to the future, Tess is eager to broaden her scope by engaging with the CRB’s sustainable innovation focus area and learning from Bay Area startups that are actively redefining business.
“I see a future where businesses can’t prosper without business strategies that are transparent and responsible; a future where financial returns hinge on social and environmental impact.”
Contact Tess via LinkedIn
Cindy is a management consultant at Accenture with expertise in customer experience design, large-scale business transformations, and business process optimization. Over the past four years, she has worked with corporations in the Consumer Goods and Retail industry to elevate their Customer Experience practice. Cindy graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with dual degrees in Supply Chain Management and Information Systems.
While Cindy notes all the Defining Leadership Principles resonate with her, the one that jumps out most is Question the Status Quo. “I’ve always been an inquisitive and curious person. From my consulting background I learned to not only challenge how we do certain things, but also to think deeper about why we do them in the first place.”
The collective passion for hard work and social impact is what drew Cindy to Haas. “At Haas, I saw a group of people working hard at work worth doing. I was also drawn to the student-led culture, strong sense of community, strength of network in sustainability/impact-investing, and proximity to Bay Area startups. Most importantly, I was blown away by the people I met and talked to throughout the process, who went above and beyond in helping me navigate everything.”
Cindy was attracted to the CRB as she saw the opportunity to make a tangible difference on pressing sustainability challenges as part of her education. “As an incoming MBA student interested in redefining business for a sustainable future, I wanted to immerse myself in real-life sustainability issues. I was intrigued by the various events hosted by the CRB, including the Peterson Speaker Series and the Patagonia Case Competition that would allow me to explore the intersection of business, the environment, and social issues in a hands-on way.”
“At Haas, I’m excited to explore impact investing, corporate social responsibility, and more broadly, what sustainability means for different companies. I see responsible business as part of a company’s DNA and as a core competency. I’d love to see companies design for innovation and sustainability in all aspects – social, environmental, and economic.”
Contact Cindy via LinkedIn
Prior to joining Haas, Jake served as the Director of Strategic Communications for Per Scholas, a national technology nonprofit that builds sustainable career pathways to middle-class jobs across the country. He is thrilled to join Haas’ community of business leaders who are committed to using structural change as a means to grow organizations and increase economic mobility in America.
Like Cindy, Jake finds liberty in Questioning the Status Quo, and has found in his career that challenging convention leads to necessary, impactful change. “It’s my default mode to ask ‘why?’ and then, ‘why not?’ and then, ‘says who?.’ I am inspired by people who do not settle for how they are told to act, the places they are expected to go, and the way they are supposed to feel.”
Haas entices Jake because of the community of free-thinkers who prioritize listening, empathy, and evidence to develop leaders worth listening to. “The school’s commitment to inclusion, the generosity of the student-body and faculty all contributed to a sense of community and failing-forward that felt right. The Berkeley weather, hills, bays and ocean don’t seem so bad either.”
Sustainable structural change is something Jake is passionate about; he recognized the CRB as a vehicle for applied learning to test concepts and theories for sustainable structural change. “I am excited to integrate impactful workforce strategy to the body of environmental and social work championed by the CRB and to imagine new sustainable solutions at the intersection of the labor and green movement.”
“The future of responsible business will elevate leaders who are thinking beyond immediate problems to focus on the systems that spawned the problems in the first place. Responsible leaders understand that if there’s any possibility for sustained success it will require broader consideration for the social and environmental crises clouding our future. I am looking forward to exploring a Haas MBA experience through the lens of sustainable growth and social entrepreneurship.”
Contact Jake via LinkedIn
Coming to Haas from Duke University, Olivia studied International Relations and Middle Eastern studies with a concentration in Turkish. Upon graduating, she taught English in Turkey for a year then joined a boutique strategy consulting firm in Washington, D.C., where she spent 5 years supporting clients in the space and aerospace industry.
Those 5 years turned out to be pivotal as she found deep satisfaction for helping companies tackle challenging business problems and was eager to go a step further and play a more direct role in mitigating climate change, which ultimately led her to apply to Haas.
The Defining Leadership principle Olivia most identifies with is Students Always. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity and desire to learn. As a kid, my nickname was ‘the Why Bird’ because I wouldn’t stop asking questions and my friends today know I’m always eager to share new information I’ve learned.”
Olivia was initially drawn to Haas for its reputation in social impact and the unique opportunities in food system sustainability (e.g. the Graduate Certificate in Food Systems, the Food Innovation Studio, Edible Education 101). What ultimately solidified her decision to attend Haas was the warmth and kindness of the community. “Every student I’ve met so far has been not just willing, but eager, to share their experiences, answer questions, and introduce me to fellow classmates.”
As Olivia is interested in diving deeper into Food System sustainability, she was excited to see that that is one of the CRB’s exclusive focus areas. “Everything I read about the sustainable food system initiative’s mission – to educate the next generation of business leaders to tackle the global food challenge – and its programming aligned perfectly with what I was looking for in an MBA program.”
“The future of responsible business should include more accountability. An example would be the use non-financial metrics for measuring a company’s social and environmental impact and transparently tracking progress toward publicly stated CSR goals.”
Contact Olivia via LinkedIn