Seven business leaders who (you might not realize) got their MBA at Berkeley Haas

By Eileen Jacob

People are always interested in the stories behind successful people. Their childhood, their interests, their education. These days—more often than not—entrepreneurs and tech leaders have honed their skills at the best business schools. Without a doubt, an MBA from one of the top business schools has helped people succeed in some impressive endeavors.

Find out what grads from our own top MBA program at Berkeley Haas have accomplished since graduating.

Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey, Revolution Foods

This business was founded by not one, but two Berkeley Haas grads. Revolution Foods co-founders Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey are transforming school lunches in America by serving healthy meals and offering nutrition education to low-income students.

Richmond met her business partner on her first day of her UC Berkeley MBA program. The two worked on their business plan throughout the program and in 2006, Revolution Foods was born. Kirsten Tobey, who serves as chief impact officer, is also a member of the faculty at the Food Business School.

John Hanke, creator of Google Earth, Pokemon Go

Remember when everyone was going crazy trying to capture Pikachu and Eevee in their local grocery stores, parks, or neighborhoods? You can thank Haas MBA grad John Hanke for that. Augmented reality games like Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite were all designed by his company, Niantic, Inc.

But Hanke has given life to much more than a wildly successful game full of cute cartoon characters. He founded data visualization firm Keyhole which, after being acquired by Google, has led to products we know and love like Google Earth, Google Maps, StreetView, and Sketchup.

Word has it, Hanke moved across the country just to go to UC Berkeley - and while getting his degree he worked at and founded other companies in the online gaming industry. For many successful entrepreneurs, the Berkeley MBA environment is a perfect incubator for ideas and a chance to practice skills in a hands-on environment.

Marc Badain, President of the Oakland Raiders

You don’t have to work for a tech company to make the most of your Berkeley Haas MBA--just look at Marc Badain, MBA 01, and current president of the Oakland Raiders. Before becoming the leading executive for the National Football League (NFL) team, Badain served as the team's chief financial officer and as the assistant to previous CEO Amy Trask.

After much “trial by fire” experience in the business world, Badain looked to Haas to provide a solid foundation to take his business acumen to the next level. Looking back, he credits the well-rounded program and excellent professors.

The UC Berkeley alum continues to work with the Haas network. Badain has hired a number of Haas students as interns and one recent grad to work in business development.

Chris Giles, Oakland A's

As chief operating officer for the Oakland Athletics, Chris Giles “oversees organization-wide strategy and the daily operations for the Club's revenue-generating functions, including sales, marketing, partnerships, PR and community engagement.

He earned his spot on this team, big time, bringing a diverse resume of experience in sporting organizations, and a list of skills and abilities just as long. He has helped propel the business success of the San Francisco 49ers, Levis Stadium, and the Pac-12 Network and Conference. Chris is a master at sales and marketing, strategic planning, and business intelligence.You can be sure the skills he learned at UC Berkeley have empowered him to excel in such a fantastic career.

In addition to being a member of the MBA class of 2010, Giles is currently a lecturer in sports management at the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

Greg Greeley, President of Homes, Airbnb

Chances are if you’ve traveled in the last decade, you’ve experienced the new wave of travel lodging that is Airbnb. Airbnb has changed the entire travel industry, with its online marketplace that makes private accommodations available to the world.

Before taking over as president of Homes at Airbnb, Greg Greeley spent years helping grow Amazon to the global giant it is today, first as VP of European Consumer Business, then as VP of International Expansion (1 year), and VP of Amazon Prime & Delivery Experience (4.5 years). Before that, he was a proud student working on an MBA at Berkeley Haas (MBA 1998).

Rebecca Lynn, Canvas Ventures

In the tech investing scene, Rebecca Lynn and her Silicon Valley-based venture-capital firm Canvas are ones to watch. Lynn, who is a Haas MBA graduate (JD/MBA 2008) as well as a general partner and co-founder at Canvas, ranked #31 out of 100 top tech investors on Forbes’s 2018 Midas List.

As partner at Canvas, Lynn has led many of the company’s most successful investments, focusing primarily on early-stage ventures in fintech, AI, digital health, SaaS, and mobile. She also holds many issued patents.

Like many proud Berkeley Haas grads, Lynn maintains her connection with her alma mater through innovative programs. She serves on the advisory board of UC Berkeley’s SkyDeck, a startup accelerator and fund for late-stage investments. Lynn also serves on the advisory committee of the Signatures Innovation Fellows Program, a Berkeley Research initiative.

As you can see, UC Berkeley gives people the freedom to think outside the box and develop new ideas. Who knows, your ideas just may disrupt an entire industry. Whether you’re already in the process of applying, or still weighing your options for top business schools, rest assured you’ll be in good company at Berkeley Haas.

Learn more about the Full-Time MBA program

Posted on October 17, 2019
Themes: Alumni  |  Entrepreneurship
Eileen Jacob
Eileen was Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals from 2017-2019. She enjoyed meeting prospective students and helping them explore the benefits of an MBA, and hopes these blog posts provide valuable insight into the Berkeley MBA experience.