Every day, I smile for a good ten straight minutes. From 12:00 pm to 12:10 pm. Precisely. That’s when University Carillonist Jeff Davis gives his concert from the top of the Sather Tower aka UC Berkeley Campanile. Ever since I arrived in Berkeley, I’ve arranged myself to be in the Doe library around noon to enjoy the tunes and read to it. It’s a little treat I like to give to my old-viola player self who still loves music.
These past few weeks, I have been frantically reading Indra Nooyi’s latest book, My Life in Full. As a business administration student, I have always admired her as a writer. She is the former CEO of PepsiCo, the first woman and a U.S. immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company, a fierce advocate of Performance with Purpose and of work-life balance equilibrium. Everything about her is inspirational. And more than that—it hits home. In the very first few pages of her book, she has this thought: “With a can-do sense of optimism and a must-do sense of responsibility, we can transform our society.” This sentence, I thought to myself, could have very well been Haas’ motto.
Haas’ “Can-do” Sense of Optimism
Everything about Berkeley exudes optimism starting with the campus itself. The parking lots displaying “Reserved for Nobel Laureates” signs still make me smile whenever I walk by them. Banners in the Haas lobby feature faculty awarded with the Nobel Prize in Economic Science and serve as a daily reminder that they are part of a vibrant community whom we can learn. Haas has coined this spirit “Confidence Without Attitude.” They encourage you to strive for more, trust your abilities but never at the cost of humility. This translates into the way people interact with each other.
My past studies at 성굔관대학교 (Sungkyunkwan University) in Seoul, Korea, had left me wanting to learn more Korean. After my first Korean class on UC Berkeley's campus one morning, I found myself chatting with five of my classmates over a cup of coffee. With a joyous mix of English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and French, we wanted to see how long we could speak in everyone’s native language. We were six people majoring in five different topics. This is your typical friend reunion here at Berkeley. In the midst of our banter, we all took turns talking about our goals, taking interest in everyone’s answers and cheering them on. Before coming to Berkeley, never had I witnessed such eagerness to share and such ease to reach out to people with such care.
Haas’ "Must-do" Sense of Responsibility
Care. This word matters at Haas. We’re first taught to care about performance and about sharpening our strategic mind and thinking two moves ahead. My Pricing course exemplifies this. All angles of a business case are thoroughly investigated and addressed, assumptions are questioned and a strategy is defined. There’s never a dull moment. However I do enjoy when Professor Wasim Azhar starts reciting poetry, to give to all the churning brains in the room a much-needed mental break.
Most importantly, we’re taught to care about our output and to be performance-bound and purpose-driven. The BHGAP Executive Director, Alex Budak has led with purpose at heart. His class, Becoming a Changemaker and his recently released book that goes by the same name, both address the need to put meaning back at the center of business. When the titans of industry, politics and economics talk about advancing the world through finance, technology, data collection and flying to Mars–the actual core of how we should approach our careers needs to be addressed first and foremost.
Performance with Purpose–a beautiful concept created by Indra Nooyi but a living thing in all the minds of the Haas students. One that will live on in mine for years to come.
Marie Auré, Linkedin