Hannah Lennett began her career as an actor and theater teacher. A love of storytelling led her to marketing, and a desire to have greater impact led her to pursue her MBA in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.
She thought that without a business background, she might not be a typical applicant but quickly felt comfortable at Berkeley Haas. "I had a background in the arts and in nonprofit work and wasn't interested in letting those values go. I really loved what Berkeley Haas put forward with its Defining Leadership Principles."
She chose the evening and weekend program not only because she found a cohort of people with a similar amount of work experience, but because she found "a self selecting group, making a decision to invest in themselves and invest that back into their work on a daily basis. That was a group I wanted to be a part of."
Like anyone else considering adding MBA studies to an already-busy life, balancing work and school was a concern for Hannah. "I've always been someone who really likes to push myself, and I think it ended up just being a frame of mind," she says. "If you think about school as something that you get to do at the end of your day that is making you better and where you get to spend time with people you really enjoy then it's not very hard to fit it into your day."
A supportive community makes all the difference
Finding a supportive community, especially of women, has made the experience easier. "We're constantly asking for and giving each other advice about our work, our personal relationships, and about balancing it all," says Hannah. "I am blown away by the energy and compassion of these women. Many are who are married, have children, have extremely demanding full-time jobs, are doing this program, and also have some kind of venture that they're starting on the side. They are unstoppable. Melanie Akwule, for example, founded MINWO and is doing amazing work for minority and women business owners."
Hannah, a marketing manager for IDEO's open innovation team, OpenIDEO, is one of those who is starting a venture on the side, too. "I'm co-founding a social venture called "QuidProNo" with my classmate, Lori Chen. Our goal is to help those who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace navigate the aftermath and come out with a path to move forward," says Hannah. "Lori and I wouldn't have found each other, and I wouldn't have had the courage to start this project without this program."
"My life has changed a lot since I enrolled at Berkeley Haas," says Hannah. "I landed a job that I never imagined I would've been able to have before this program at a company that I really only dreamed of working for. I feel so lucky and so privileged to be able to do purposeful work at the scale that I do."
For Hannah, the experience has been as important as the outcomes. "The people I spend time with, the friends that I've made at Berkeley Haas are just incredible. The level of conversation we have, the experiences that we share have really changed the way I see the world. I am challenged in ways that I hadn't been challenged before, and that's been really important in growing as a person and as a business leader."
For more about Hannah, watch her video above, and, if you'd like to be challenged in new ways, learn more about the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.