Guadalupe Manriquez poses with her family in front of the main Haas campus gate adorned in her Berkeley MBA cap and gown to celebrate her MBA graduation

A "non-traditional" MBA student tells her story

By Eric Askins

Guadalupe D. Manriquez, MBA 21, describes h­erself as a “non-traditional” MBA student—female, a member of an underrepresented community, and a professional in the public sector—yet she embodies the very traditions captured in the Haas Defining Leadership Principles. “It was the Haas emphasis on Questioning the Status Quo and going Beyond Yourself that made me think I could study here without compromising my goals. My desire to have a social impact with my career would not make me an outlier at Haas,” she said.

Lupe’s grandfather was a bracero who left Mexico for California in the mid-1970s and she is the proud daughter of farmworkers in California’s Central Valley. She grew up in a small agricultural community in Fresno County since the age of 5 when her and her family immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. Despite not finishing grade school themselves, her parents value education deeply. “My sister Pilar, brother Juan Baltazar, and I all graduated from Cal, so our parents have now earned four degrees from UC Berkeley. We hope that our youngest brother, Ricardo, will make it five.” Lupe’s upbringing fuels her passion to positively impact disadvantaged communities through her work.

When she enrolled in the Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA program, Lupe returned to the Bay Area from Sacramento, where she had worked first for the California State Senate and then the Department of Finance, California’s budget office. There, her work focused on health care policy analysis and budget development for California’s public health care departments. As the oldest in her family and a first-generation student, graduate school was always a goal. When she started thinking about where and what to study, Lupe researched the backgrounds of state leaders she respected and wanted to emulate. An MBA, she concluded, would give her business tools and perspective, strengthen her leadership skills, and provide the versatility to pivot to the private sector.

Lupe explored the consulting sector in her internship with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, where she worked on projects that included analyzing COVID responses for a client in Los Angeles. Lupe gained a mentor, bonded with the two other Haasies on her team, and dove deeply into improving her PowerPoint and presentation skills, while learning about other states’ Medicaid programs. She gained more private sector experience consulting with WelbeHealth for her Equity Fluent Leadership class. Her team researched and crafted recommendations for the health-care start-up to improve its recruitment of under-represented minorities.

Lupe enjoyed her private sector experiences, but an unexpected call from her former boss at the Department of Finance brought her back to the public sector with an opportunity that merges her passion for social impact and her Haas-enhanced skills. She is now an assistant program budget manager overseeing a team that provides fiscal policy advice to the Governor’s Office on issues related to Medi-Cal, the nation’s largest Medicaid program with a $138 billion budget that covers more than one-third of California’s low-income population. “This job is what my MBA studies prepared me to do. It affirms my skills and my leadership ability,” she said. “I have a higher profile and am in a position to have a much greater impact.”

Lupe also had an impact at Haas, where she served as finance vice president of the Latinx Business Club and was active in the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL), and both the Gender Equity and Race Inclusion Initiatives. She and Paula Fernandez-Baca, MBA 21, teamed up to survey alumni and current students about their experience with the interview component of the Haas admissions process. “I really feel it is my responsibility to make sure spaces are inclusive and supportive of a multitude of identities,” Lupe said. “In this instance, the Admissions Office engaged with Paula and me, listened to our recommendations, and implemented several of them. Changing this one process isn’t the complete answer, but Haas has shown its willingness to make sure everyone feels welcome here.”

Lupe found a community going through the core curriculum with the Blue cohort and through her experiences with her Consortium Family. “Whether it was preparing for a Finance exam, going to a Bad Bunny concert, or organizing to support and create inclusive spaces for each other – the Haas community showed up for each other and to celebrate each other,” she adds. “I can truly say my classmates have demonstrated that they will go beyond themselves for other Haasies for a lifetime.”

A classmate once described Lupe as a “quiet leader,” a quality that she embraces. She doesn’t need or want to be in the spotlight. She does want to get the job done, get her points across, and stand her ground when it matters. Lupe credits the many soft-skill electives she took at Haas with strengthening her leadership style: In Interpersonal Skills & Embodied Leadership she learned strategies to lead with confidence and calmness. Power & Politics helped her understand where her influence is in each situation and how to use it effectively and strategically. Negotiations was “super-helpful. Now, when I am negotiating with the California Legislature, I know to look at the big picture, not just my small frame.”

But it was Storytelling for Leadership that made the biggest difference for Lupe. “As powerful as it was for me to tell my own story, it was just as valuable to hear my classmates’ stories. Their honesty helped all of us tear down barriers and build stronger connections with each other. It encouraged me to sign up for an EGAL Story Salon just before graduation. I am uneasy about talking about myself, particularly in a public forum, but I came to Haas to stretch myself, and this allowed me to share my story openly and push myself outside of my comfort zone. In my gold hoops and Selena T-shirt, I felt powerful, accepted, and celebrated, by the Haas community. It turned out to be the cherry on top of my time at Haas because it reinforced my belief that everyone can live part of their story here at Haas.”

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Posted on September 22, 2022
Eric Askins
Eric is the Executive Director of Full-time MBA Admissions. He partners with students, faculty and staff to recruit a diverse student body that enhances our community through innovative leadership and academic excellence.