Student Perspectives

Student Perspective

Sonali Patel

Sonali Patel


Policy Fellow
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Richmond, California

From her work as senior policy adviser at the White House to her work translating research into action on issues related to runaways and homeless youth, Sonali Patel has built a long career tackling intractable social issues. Her executive MBA studies are giving her the tools and skills to examine those issues through a wider lens, and eventually to having a broader impact.

I wanted to be surrounded by people who have achieved a level of maturity and expertise.

“I wanted to be surrounded in class by people who have achieved a level of maturity and expertise in their careers, people who are thought leaders in their fields. I haven’t been disappointed.”

“Before applying, I got to talk with people from Berkeley-Haas who were deeply involved in the school’s work on social impact in the nonprofit, corporate, and public sectors. They gave me insights into how the tools I would learn here could work across all those spectrums.”

The program is giving me the skills to undertake the real work of solving tough problems.

“Given my background, it would be too easy to choose Beyond Yourself as my favorite Defining Principle. I’ve always been encouraged by mentors and my own curiosity to Question the Status Quo. But questioning is only the beginning; the Berkeley-Haas program is giving me the skills to undertake the real work of solving tough problems which in turn, contributes to improving the world.”

“In Washington, D.C., the currency of my decade of policy experience carried a certain weight. Here in the Bay Area, I feel that I’m carrying less weight, which gives me the freedom to experiment more.”

 I'm committed to gender parity in the workplace.

“A group of classmates and I—all of us interested in social impact work—spent an entire dinner with Professor Steven Tadelis sharing thoughts and learning about how the social sector is viewed by a pure economist, a topic that we wouldn’t have had a chance to discuss in depth in class.”

“I’m committed to gender parity in the workplace. As I develop strong skill sets through this program, I look forward to doing my part to continue paving the way for the smart, capable women who are sure to keep coming to Berkeley-Haas to develop their confidence and skills as I’m doing.”

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