Student Perspectives

Student Perspective

Andrew Hening

Andrew Hening

MBA 17

Director, Homeless Planning & Outreach
City of San Rafael

Systems Thinking for Social Impact

Andrew Hening calls his mentor relationship with Professor Sara Beckman “the ultimate out-of-the-classroom learning experience.” After taking two classes with her that introduced him to systems thinking, she continued working with him to map homeless systems in Marin County and to brainstorm more effective service delivery models for the homeless community there.

EWMBA students immediately applied what they were learning on the job

I first thought I would use my MBA studies as a foundation for starting a socially responsible business. My new job with the City of San Rafael was unexpected, but when I saw how much opportunity there is for government to improve people’s lives by using more of a ‘business mindset’, I jumped at the opportunity.

I had a terrific mentor at Downtown Streets Team who taught me the value of looking at public sector challenges through the lens of a start-up business. Whether you work in a start-up, a nonprofit, or a government department, you need to find innovative business models that make the most of your resources.

From my first conversations with students in the Berkeley Haas Evening & Weekend MBA Program, I was struck by the positive things they had to say, especially about how they were able to immediately apply what they were learning on the job. That was a real draw for me.

Before starting my MBA studies, I didn't have to think a lot about systems and strategies. Now that is my job. I’m much better equipped to do data and systems analysis and to manage budgets and financial projections.”

I knew right away that Berkeley Haas was the right fit for me

I love the freedom that the array of electives gave me to tailor my coursework to my needs and interests. The Reimagining Slums class I took at the Jacobs Institute with Professor Sara Beckman introduced me to systems thinking. It also was a great opportunity to study and do projects with students in the Full-Time MBA Program, as well as people studying in the Schools of Public Health and Public Policy. It was great exposure to different points of view.

I randomly met Eric Abrams, the Berkeley Haas director of Diversity, at a cooking class in North Berkeley. Later we met for a burger and conversation about social enterprises and inclusion. That was typical of how generous the administration and faculty were there.

I knew right away that Berkley-Haas was the right fit for me. My classmates were so passionate about their careers and their studies. We were all on this journey to become better in our fields, and as different as our careers were, there was an incredible synergy of different skillsets.”

I hadn’t expected to gain quite so much self-knowledge here. Many classes deliberately created time for self-reflection, to think about who we are as leaders and how we act on our values. There was a constant striving to not just be better business leaders but to be better people too.  

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