By Nuria Marquez Martinez, Masters of Journalism candidate & CRB Editorial Writer
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business is consistently ranked in the top 10 MBA programs nationwide. Part of what makes the program so unique is the values driven environment Berkeley Haas provides. The Center for Responsible Business (CRB) plays a critical role in fostering a sense of purpose, calling on students to use business as a force for good in the world. The CRB’s mission to develop leaders who redefine business for a sustainable future builds on the four Defining Leadership Principles that characterize Berkeley Haas Leaders: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, Beyond Yourself. In particular, the CRB challenges and supports students in questioning the status quo and thinking beyond the typical boundaries of business to create a sustainable future.
Many students seek out the increasingly vital combination of sustainability and business in the hopes of making real world impact. The CRB has become a deciding factor for those who choose to pursue an MBA at Haas.
Chris Roberts, MBA ’18
Having worked with startups in Europe and Africa on public policy challenges, Chris Roberts, FTMBA 18, always had an interest in the business side of things. But as he was preparing to apply to business schools, he was worried that he would be forced into a specific track. Although he originally considered a dual-degree in public policy and business administration, Roberts was swayed by the work of the CRB, particularly the recently launched Human Rights and Business Initiative. He said it was a unique opportunity for him to work on issues that he’s passionate about while getting traditional business acumen.
Roberts took a leading role in organizing the first CRB and Business in Human Rights conference which focused on the intersection of artificial intelligence and human rights. Sponsored by Microsoft, the conference brings together industry leaders in business and human rights, frame the debate about technology and human rights, and catalyze action by other companies— in the technology sector and beyond. The topic of the event also allowed Roberts to explore the responsible development of technology and how it’s critical for innovative technology to realize their potential in a responsible way.
“There’s a value system within the business school that puts a real priority in building leaders who want to promote positive societal change,” he said. “It played an important role in my decision to attend Haas over other programs.”
Harris Googe, MBA ’18
For Harris Googe, FTMBA 18, the Patagonia Case Competition was a major attraction when deciding to come to Haas. She was looking to work with socially conscious companies in the outdoor retail industry like Patagonia and the North Face that inspire outdoor adventures.
To her, Patagonia and the CRB share the same ethos – their commitment to sustainability and social issues and the methods in which they are employed. Googe was able to directly contribute to the larger conversation of corporate sustainability through her role as an MBA Student Lead of the Patagonia Case Competition. The most successful companies, to her, have that sustainability ethos built into everything they do. “You don’t have to work in a specific sustainable role to have an impact,” Googe said. “You can always as a company have that in mind as you’re working.”
Googe continued to balance her passion for the outdoors with her commitment to sustainable business through an internship with the North Face in the summer of 2017.
Justin Wedell, MBA ’18
For Justin Wedell, FTMBA 18, it was the CRB’s existence and efforts as a whole that convinced him to attend Haas. Wedell said it was important that the school he attended valued and encouraged students to think and learn about social impact. He also felt it was critical that the role corporations play in supporting social impact was part of the conversation.
Having already worked in corporate social responsibility for a number of years, Wedell knew his values would have to align with whatever program he chose. “I wanted a program in which social commitment went beyond just a bullet point on a brochure, or a tab on a website,” he said, “Haas and the CRB offered this in spades.” He felt Haas and the CRB offered an environment where social impact and commitment were at the forefront of their mission. Wedell said he always points to the CRB as the reason why he attended Haas, and what makes the school so different.
Post-graduation, Wedell continues to create impact through his role as an Associate Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund, a national nonprofit venture philanthropy working to reimagine public education.
Anne Kramer, MBA ’18
The CRB was also one of Anne Kramer’s, FTMBA 18, defining experiences at Haas. One of her primary goals when considering business schools was to build her sustainability expertise and network. She said that as soon as she stepped onto campus as a prospective student, she met CRB members, and learned of the events and projects that they supported. That, combined with the CRB Senior Advisory Board, convinced her that Haas was the right place for her. “It signaled that these top professionals would be willing to invest time in my development,” Kramer said.
In March of 2017, the CRB co-hosted the Levi Strauss & Co. Screened Chemistry Forum, a one-day workshop that iterated on a recently published case study, Driving the Adoption of Green Chemistry. After being accepted into the CRB’s Student Advisory Board, Kramer stepped up as the student lead for the event, enabling her to learn more about green chemistry in supply chains while networking within the apparel sector. Her involvement in this event helped her build her credibility which she says paid off during her interview with Nike’s sustainability team. After interning with Nike over the summer, she now works full time on their Sustainable Business & Innovation team.
Kramer says her experience is evidence of the value that the CRB brings. It gave her access to events and top professionals in her field that she wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. “The CRB Student Board created a community of like-minded students, many of whom are now close friends and (I hope) future business partners,” she said.
Kramer, Googe, Wedell, and Harris’ experiences with the CRB echo others who have benefitted from the support and commitment of the center. As the CRB continues to grow and expand its reach, it will further cement Haas’ critical role in the responsible business sector.