Leadership Spotlight: Nolan Chao, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business

Our Leadership Spotlight series features the most successful student group leaders from universities around the country. Get to know their outstanding organizations and see how CampusGroups is helping them make an impact on campus and beyond.

Nolan chao, uc berkeley haas school of business

Nolan chao, uc berkeley haas school of business

Student groups large and small face a similar set of challenges: recruiting new members, keeping current members engaged, planning successful events, and more. But depending on a group's size, the strategies used to solve those problems can vary dramatically, as can the leadership structures and resources available to help get things done.

Nolan Chao, a second-year student at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, thinks about these questions from multiple angles. He serves as Vice President of Careers for the Berkeley-Haas Technology Club, one of the school's largest and most active student organizations on Berkeley's campus. He's also the Co-Founder and Co-President of Asian-Americans @ Haas, a new and smaller group focused on bringing Asian-American business leaders to campus, establishing community with classmates, and raising awareness about cultural diversity. 

Both organizations use CampusGroups as a digital home base, and both groups take advantage of many of the same features and analytics tools. But because the groups differ so much in size, Nolan uses a unique approach to meet the specific goals of each one.

"Because it's our first year, our biggest goal is simply to get up and running, and build momentum towards next year," Nolan says of Asian-Americans @ Haas. "We're working on creating events, managing membership, sending out newsletters — the whole package."

asian-americans @ haas is a new group that's growing quickly — but for now, all of its members can fit in a photo together.

asian-americans @ haas is a new group that's growing quickly — but for now, all of its members can fit in a photo together.

The Tech Club, by contrast, has a well-established program in place. "We provide resources for our club members to be more prepared for the recruiting process for tech within the Haas MBA program," Nolan says of the Tech Club. "For us that means organizing events like group treks to various companies throughout the Bay Area."

Because Asian-Americans @ Haas is smaller, the group has fewer leaders handling the many responsibilities required to run an on-campus organization. That's one of the reasons why CampusGroups has been such an essential resource for Nolan and the group as a whole. "I think CampusGroups for Asian-Americans @ Haas has made it really easy. It has all the options I'd want to have," says Nolan. "It's been a great resource for legitimizing the club."

On the other hand, the Tech Club faces a different set of obstacles because of how large it is. For instance, Nolan is often surprised by how quickly the Tech Club's events sell out. One recent trip to Google's campus saw tickets disappear within just a few minutes. As a result of the high demand, Nolan says he's been considering testing a lottery system to distribute tickets. "We're always trying to find ways to ensure equal participation," says Nolan.

the Berkeley-haas tech club includes a leadership team (pictured here) that's dedicated to keeping the group's many members active and engaged.

the Berkeley-haas tech club includes a leadership team (pictured here) that's dedicated to keeping the group's many members active and engaged.

For Asian-Americans @ Haas, Nolan works hard to market the group to prospective members and partner with larger groups that can help them reach new audiences. "One of the recent events that we had, we had a prominent VC come, Ellen Pao. She drew a big audience, so we hosted that event in partnership with another student organization at Berkeley," says Nolan. Because CampusGroups easily integrates with other platforms, Nolan says it was no problem for him to register attendees through Asian-Americans @ Haas while tickets were sold to the public through a different site.

One factor that applies to all groups, regardless of size, is the importance of making sure group members are staying engaged. Nolan pays close attention to the metrics reported in CampusGroups for both the Tech Club and Asian-Americans @ Haas. "I definitely look at engagement with emails," Nolan says. "That's one thing I really like in a management system, to see how the numbers come out. So far we've had really high open rates on emails."

Perhaps those high engagement numbers have been the key to Nolan's success with his two groups. Whether you're just getting started or working overtime to keep up with demand, it's all about forming strong connections.

Connect with Nolan on LinkedIn, and learn more about the Berkeley-Haas Technology Club and Asian-Americans @ Haas on their websites.

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