2019 Best & Brightest: Zoe Bhargava, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Zoe Bhargava

University of California, Berkeley – Haas School of Business

“Dog, gluten, and rooftop enthusiast”

Fun fact about yourself: In 2018, I listened to more than 104 hours (4+ days) of Kanye West.

Hometown: Palo Alto, CA

High School: Palo Alto High School

Major: Business Administration

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Corporate Finance and Financial Statement Analysis; Equity Fluent Leadership; Venture Capital, Private Equity and Hedge Funds.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles During College:

Cal Women’s Rowing:

  • Coxswain for NCAA Division I Women’s Rowing Team (August 2015-May 2017).
  • 2016: Pac-12 Champions & NCAA Division I National Champions, 1st Place Team Finishes.
  • 2017: Pac-12 2nd Place Team Finish, coxed Third Varsity 8+ to 2nd Place; NCAA 2nd Place Team Finish.
  • Named to the 2017 Pac-12 All-Academic First Team.
  • Golden Bear Achievement Award for highest GPA on team in 2017.

Haas Student-Athlete Mentorship Program:

  • Organized and ran a program of 40+ mentors and 75+ applicants for student-athletes applying to the undergraduate program at the Haas School of Business.

Sutardja Center for Technology and Entrepreneurship:

  • One of 12 students selected to travel and represent UC Berkeley as a Student Mentor at an entrepreneurship boot camp hosted at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Athletic Study Center:

  • Economics tutor for student-athletes.

Kappa Kappa Gamma:

  • Active member of philanthropy and academic committees at the Pi Deuteron Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Where have you interned during your college career?

Twitter (San Francisco, CA) – Finance Intern, Summer, 2017.

Amazon (Seattle, WA) – Financial Analyst Intern, Summer, 2018.

Where will you be working after graduation? I’ll be working at Twitter in San Francisco as a Financial Analyst!

Who is your favorite professor?

I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of amazing professors at Cal. One in particular has been Stephen Etter, who teaches Corporate Finance and Financial Statement Analysis. Professor Etter is not only an engaging professor in the classroom but also a real resource to students outside of the classroom as they seek school, career, or life advice. I also have really enjoyed taking classes from Rob Chandra and Kellie McElhaney, both of whom have taught me things that have changed my perspectives far beyond the classroom.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? The best part of Haas is how integrated the school is with the rest of UC Berkeley. As a result, I have had the opportunity to take advantage of many of the other world-class departments and professors at Cal, in addition to some amazing core and elective classes at Haas. I’ve taken fascinating classes ranging from International Human Rights to Data Science, in addition to a class taught by a Nobel Laureate in physics and a class taught by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The lessons I’ve learned from studying business go far beyond my ability to read a balance sheet or analyze Porter’s five forces. The biggest lessons I’ve gained are those that have changed my perspective, such as how to think about a company beyond its standard metrics or how to act as an ethically responsible and effective leader. Through my time at Haas, I have had professors and classmates who have shaped my view of not only the business world but also the world at large and how I can fit into both. These non-textbook lessons are amongst the most important things I have taken away from my business education.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice to students considering a business major would be to keep an open mind about what they’re looking to learn and what they can get out of a business degree. Although there may be some “standard” tracks or careers for a business student, I think there are many different ways to take advantage of a business education, so it is important to explore all courses and career fields. I’d also recommend that they get to know their professors, as many of my favorite moments as a business student have been hearing stories about the experiences of my professors!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What has surprised me most about majoring in business is how hands-on and group-focused many of my classes are. The classes at Haas truly engage you with your classmates through the small class discussions and many group projects. This approach has allowed me to grow as both a teammate and a leader and also has given me the opportunity to get to know many of my classmates that I otherwise would not have had the chance to meet or work with.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Data science because data is everywhere.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? In my junior year of high school, Michael McNulty (or “Mac” as we called him), the faculty advisor for our sports journalism magazine, asked me what I wanted to do for a career. When I answered, in full honesty, that I had absolutely no idea, he replied by saying “I think you’ll run a big company one day, you’d be a terrific businesswoman.” Although a number of factors and experiences eventually led me to pursue business in college, this comment from one of my favorite teachers has always stuck with me as a sweet source of reassurance for my decision to study business.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? During my freshman and sophomore years at UC Berkeley, I was a member of the Cal Women’s Rowing Team that won the NCAA Division I National Championship in May 2016. I am most proud of being a part of the Women’s Rowing Team at Cal because I have never felt such overwhelming pride and joy as I did in being a part of an effort much bigger than myself. There is truly something special about being surrounded by a group of women all working together toward one common goal, day after day, sharing highs and lows in an extremely competitive environment, all while sacrificing personal glory for team achievements.

Which classmate do you most admire? I’ve had a lot of fantastic classmates at Haas, but one that I have truly enjoyed having in my classes is Henry Bazakas. Henry is an extremely engaged and hard-working student who asks thoughtful questions and contributes interesting comments to class discussions. Henry also plays football at Cal, so I admire his ability to be such an engaged student while balancing his coursework with the demanding schedule of Division I athletics.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d like to thank my older brother for a lot of my success as I’ve always looked up to him and admired his incredible work ethic. His work ethic has allowed him to be immensely successful in his many endeavors, all the while remaining extremely humble. I’ve been very lucky to have my brother as a role model. Despite the fact that he went to our rival school Stanford (Go Bears!), I constantly strive to be a person as kind and hard-working as him.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Visit all seven continents (5 down, 2 to go!)
  2. Run a half marathon.

What are your hobbies? Hanging out with friends and family, listening to podcasts, going on cool hikes, watching the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers games, and traveling.

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

“While Zoe is among the best academically at Haas, what stands out to me is her service mentality. She is unselfish with her time and, if she observes a need, Zoe is the first to volunteer to help and serve others.  Zoe has continued to expand her horizons during her time at Berkeley in the spirit of the journey; she is not obsessed solely with the outcome. Everything she takes on she completes in a timely fashion and with exceptional results.  She has a unique blend of analytical prowess and is emotionally astute to the culture/people issues around her. She is a one-of-kind student who will leave Cal and do amazing things in society, both at work and in her community.”

Steve Etter
Finance Lecturer at Haas



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