It's easy to say you want to use your career to positively impact others' lives. But actually putting in the effort to make that happen can be difficult, according to full-time MBA student David Miller. Haas has helped him find others who are committed to making their work meaningful and who challenge him to think deeply about how to do it.
"It may be easy enough to find a comfortable job that's interesting but not impactful," he says. "That's why it was exciting when I landed at Haas and met students who were truly interested in creating businesses that didn't just have a CSR [corporate social responsibility] component, but that had this kind of ethic built into the whole endeavor. I could see how they resonated with the school's Beyond Yourself defining leadership principle and wanted their work to create opportunities for others to also have impact — a larger perspective than simply developing one's own career."
The pull towards meaningful work has been with David for a while, prompted in part by the loss of his father to cancer when he was young.
"I remember being on a road trip in my early teens with my mom, looking out the car window and thinking that it didn't make sense for my life to be just about making my own situation good," he says. "That seemed circular. The loss of my dad had made me aware that life is fleeting — it's better to take action now rather than later — and as I grew up, I realized I had energy that I could use to positively impact other people's lives."
David earned a B.A. in Economics and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. After graduation he took a job as a financial consultant at TM Financial Forensics before migrating to Juma Ventures, a San Francisco nonprofit that runs businesses that employ young people. He managed Juma's financial capability program before serving as the company's director of finance.
Even though he felt he was having some direct positive impact with youth at Juma, the idea of getting an MBA kept coming up.
"At that point in my career, I felt I was having some direct impact with youth at Juma, and I liked what I was doing, but I also wanted to push myself to think bigger," he says.
At Haas, David is vice president of social for Q@Haas, the school's organization for LGBTQ MBA students, and vice president of social impact for the Fintech Club. Both groups offer the kind of support crucial not only to developing a career but also a peer network, David finds.
"I was not out when I was an undergrad, and that's one of the reasons I find so much value in Q@Haas," he says. "It's a space that offers support and community. Both Q@Haas and the Fintech Club have connected me with people who want to do impactful work. We can meet in the courtyard and have these dynamic conversations about being proactive with our careers."
One way David would like his work to effect positive change is to make tech tools more accessible to a wider variety of people than they are now – an insight he's come to in part through working with coaches from Haas' MBA Career Management Group.
"I'd like to work at organizations that are creating accessible and affordable tech products that can be used by people across an economic spectrum," he says.
Meaningful work translates to a meaningful life, according to David.
"At Haas, there's this community of people working to do great things in their careers, but with a good sense of balance as well," he says. "The message is not about doing more for the sake of doing, but about getting out there and doing cool stuff because it matters to you."