2019 Best EMBAs: Claire Veuthey, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Claire Veuthey

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

“Biracial polyglot sustainable investing nerd. I’m a mild chilihead. And I give great hugs.”

Age: 34 (I’ll be 35 in May)

Hometown: Washington, DC. I’ve lived in San Francisco since 2014.

Family Members: My husband, Prashant. We live with my sister and her partner.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve moved a lot! In the last 20 years, I have lived in seven cities in six countries on three continents. That’s nine cities in seven countries on four continents if you count anywhere I’ve spent at least a summer.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I received my license in international relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, and a master’s in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College London.

Where are you currently working? I work as director of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and impact at OpenInvest, a fintech startup. We want to make impact investing accessible and financially sound for every mission-driven organization’s endowment, as well as every 401k and brokerage account.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • I’m proud to have been selected as one of the inaugural Culture Champions for our cohort. The Defining Leadership Principles (Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself) are so fundamental to Haas. Serving as a guardian of those principles is an important responsibility.
  • I’m a venture fellow at Strawberry Creek Ventures, the Berkeley-linked fund under the Alumni Ventures Group. The model turns venture capital on its head as AVG leans on elite universities’ alumni communities to recruit both investors and entrepreneurs. As a fellow, I have a view on a bit of everything: raising funds and communicating with LPs (Cal alumni), learning about due diligence, and of course, sourcing deals. It’s a great way to learn about VC, and the AVG community is stellar.
  • Over Memorial Day weekend, several of my classmates and I are visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum, both in Montgomery, Alabama. Both institutions are products of the remarkable work of the Equal Justice Initiative. We each had our reasons for the visit. I moved back to the U.S. five years ago after 12+ years overseas, and knew I had to do my homework to understand the extent and impact of the particularly (though not uniquely) American challenge of racism.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? At the time of writing (late April 2019), we haven’t yet made the trip to Montgomery, but I expect that it will be an emotional trip, and a powerful bonding experience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2010, I moved from a safe corporate job in New York to a sales role at a startup in Singapore, where I went through some vertiginous growth as the entire team and company were punching above its weight. In 2011, we pulled off organizing the first Asian edition of a big industry conference that still happens every year. I’m particularly proud of winning a deal with a large Australian asset manager, an important reference client, and source of revenue.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Toby Stuart, who led our Silicon Valley Immersion, which was an excellent combination of theory, cases, lectures, and company visits that provided live examples of the topics we studied. Professor Stuart leaned on his personal network to secure meetings with entrepreneurs and shared his own experience as a co-founder.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Greg LaBlanc’s strategy class. I loved that all the subjects we had studied up until then (Accounting, Ops, Finance, Marketing, Effective Organizations, etc) were building blocks to his class. It helps that Professor LaBlanc is a polymath and a great instructor, both entertaining and challenging. He had high expectations for us and really pushed us to think harder, beyond our comfort zones.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The Defining Leadership Principles. I’ve worked in sustainability and traditional business my whole career and didn’t want to have to justify my work or my perspective in class. Haas’s longtime focus on the role of business in society, and my previous work with the Center for Responsible Business, assured me that I wouldn’t be isolated in thinking beyond profit maximization.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I love how being a student shifted how others saw me and for what it allowed me to try on for size. It’s been a safe place to experiment, try, fail, and ask for help.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I’ve learned a lot more about myself through our leadership courses, group work, and lots of candid conversations with classmates. I’m more self-aware and analytical about my skills (or lack thereof), which I think will make me a faster learner.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Get organized! If you haven’t yet, outsource more household tasks and make sure your partner is on board. You will need to carve out a lot of time for focused work on top of your existing responsibilities.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Many people see MBAs as alcohol-fueled degrees. While I socialize plenty, I spend much, much more time studying than I do drinking or going out.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Cal has a LOT of resources, but most clubs and events are organized for a full-time student’s schedule, so it’s hard to take advantage of them as an EMBA. I regret not being more engaged in activities across MBA programs and the campus.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are so many! Adam Rosenzweig stands out. His daughter Hana was born six weeks before he started the program, and he showed remarkable discernment in deciding where to spend his time. But when he did commit, he always showed up fully, always prepared, strategic, gracious, and generous.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I made a list of people in really interesting jobs and realized that most of them had MBAs.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I’ve been in impact investing my entire career, and am looking to combine that with my love of startups. I am working towards a role in impact-focused venture capital, as it marries the functions and work I gravitate towards the most: investing, sustainability and impact, new ventures, and community-building.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Someone who asks good questions and really listens to the answers. I hope my classmates see me as a connector, and a non-judgmental confidante.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I know this is somewhat antiquated, but I’d like to be asked to be a godmother to one of my friends’ kids.

What made Claire such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019? 

“I first met Claire in the core Leadership Communications course. She stood out not only for her winning combination of intelligence, confidence, and warmth but also for the way that she supported her team members as they opened up and shared their leadership stories. During my second course with her, Building Trust-Based Relationships, she asked insightful questions and shared her perspectives and experiences in a way that moved those around her to think more deeply about our discussions. This questioning doesn’t stop in the classroom. She is co-organizing a Civil Rights-focused student trip to Montgomery, Alabama, this month, where she will examine her own role in moving justice forward for all. Claire isn’t afraid to be a leader in challenging topics. She truly lives the Haas Defining Leadership Principle of Confidence Without Attitude.”

Jennifer Caleshu

Haas Lecturer


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