Humans of Haas: Nathan Setokusumo
Nathan is a sophomore international student studying business administration as well as economics. He is involved in Phi Beta Lambda, which is a business organization, where he serves on the finance committee. Naturally, he’s interested in a career in finance such as private equity (PE) or venture capital (VC). He is also a part of Cal Community Music, which is a music club here in Berkeley that performs music both on campus and in assisted living homes around the Bay Area. Before he came to Berkeley, he was a classical pianist back at home in Indonesia and has been playing for about eight years now.
What are your favorite aspects of private equity and venture capital?
I think the most interesting part of VC and PE is their ability to bring really innovative ideas into the rest of the market and in tandem with that is why I decided to study business. My father used to tell me that you can have the best idea ever, but if you don’t really know how the market works, businesses operate, and how to commercialize the idea, it’s a lot more difficult to turn that idea into a reality. I think one of the best ways to do that is through PE and VC Funding, bringing small-scale ideas to the rest of the world.
What led you to apply to Haas and what are some tips you have for applicants?
I think the biggest thing to think about is the narrative you’re telling. It took a really long time for me to decide what it is that I want to do and that’s because I really wanted to weigh out my options. So with everything that I took on, I was also thinking, how can I use this experience to accomplish my goals? One of my goals has been to go back home to Indonesia and change the nonprofit and CSR landscape there so that both would be more transparent and effective in addressing systemic issues. After much deliberation about how different majors could help me accomplish that goal, I realized that a business degree would be the most supportive major.
You seem to be quite interested in sustainability, what are some ways that you are pursuing this goal?
I was actually online for my freshman year back in Indonesia. So during that time, I was heavily involved with CSR and nonprofits there, especially this one nonprofit that deals with food insecurity back at home. It so happened that during this time I was also taking my first business class, and I was able to apply a lot of what I learned in the class to my experiences real-time during that first year at Berkeley. It’s also really enlightening that Haas offers a lot of classes with regard to nonprofits and sustainability.
Some classes that I enjoyed regarding sustainability were “Energy and Civilization” as well as “Leading Nonprofits and Social Enterprises”. Energy and Civilization looks at how to provide energy to people from all over the globe in a sustainable way through the lens of business and commerce, a subject I found very interesting. Leading Nonprofits and Social Enterprises discusses different cases of leading nonprofits, and as with my first business course, I find myself applying the concepts learned to experiences that I have with nonprofits back at home. It’s really encouraging to know that Berkeley has such a strong emphasis on challenging the status quo through teaching about nonprofits and leading sustainable changes.
What are some of your most memorable moments at Berkeley?
I think that meeting the international students here who bring such a diverse background has been a lot of fun. Berkeley has a lot of international fairs and cultural clubs that have a strong emphasis on tradition and culture. I love going to all of their events. For example, one event that’s coming up is EAU night, where many different cultural clubs have food from different places around the world. My cultural club, Berkeley Indonesian Student Association (BISA), was involved with EAU night, and I’ve enjoyed all the events and socials they hold.
What is your commitment to Phi Beta Lambda and what are some things you’ve learned being part of the club?
The first semester you join Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), you learn the material before you start to do more hands-on work, such as working with clients or doing executive work within the club. This semester, my responsibilities in PBL include teaching new committee members and working with client teams to provide innovative solutions to those we work with. Through joining the club, I’ve realized just how much everybody here is willing to give you advice and help you with something. That’s been something that I learned through both my involvement in extracurriculars and in class, and I’m really grateful for this opportunity.
What’s your favorite building on campus? Berkeley Way West
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Favorite Indonesian Food? Gado Gado
What new technology will transform the future? Banking as a service
If you could know the answer to any question, what would you ask? Knowing what makes me most happy.