Spotlight Stories: Diego Groiso, Chair of the UC Alumni UK Sustianability Committee


Diego Groiso grew up in Argentina and is an alumnus of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He has lived in the UK on and off for 15 years and currently is helping companies in their Business Agility journeys. He serves as the chair of the UC Alumni UK Sustainability Committee.


Where you are from? What influenced your decision to do an MBA at Berkeley Haas?

I am originally from Argentina. I am an electronic engineer and wanted to do an MBA to go into the business side of technology. Haas and MIT were my top and only choices. When I got accepted to Berkeley, it was right, the best choice. At the time, being in Silicon Valley was very important for me.

How was your MBA and time at Haas?

I usually say this, and my wife usually says this – it was the best two years of my life. In terms of the education, experience, the network, the fun. It was a great two years in terms of professional and personal growth. I wish I could go back and do it again.

Where you in the US before studying at Haas?

No, I moved to the US from Argentina to do my MBA.

How did you find moving to the US? What was that transition like coming from Argentina?

I had been to the US multiple times before, so it wasn’t totally new to me. The big difference that I had to get used to was the California culture, vibe and way of living and working. It is different to Boston or New York or Miami. It is like a different country almost compared to the rest US that I knew of, but it was great to be in the center of everything that was going on in technology.

That makes sense. How did you end up in England and how long have you been here?

Let me tell you the whole story. I graduated at a funny time in 2002 right after the Silicon Valley bust, so there were no jobs in California anymore. I found a job in Denver and worked there for two years. We liked it, but got bored after a while, so we applied for a visa to come to England. At the time, the UK established the HSMP, the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, with the aim to bring people with MBA’s and other degrees to England. We then worked in London for British Telecom. After six years, we decided it was enough time, nearly ten years away from Argentina in total, so we moved back. We were there for four years before deciding to come back to England. So totally, I have been here for about fifteen years with a break in the middle.

What made you decide to come back to England the second time?

Argentina. It is a beautiful country to go and visit, with beautiful natural places, great people, great culture, and great food. However, to make a career and to grow our family, we thought England had better prospects for our kids than we would have had in Argentina.

You are the chair of the UC Alumni UK Sustainability Committee. What made you decide to stay involved in the UC community and why sustainability?

Since graduating, I have always been involved in the alumni network. In Denver, I was the president of the Haas alumni chapter and then I became the president in London as well. It gives me a belonging to a group of people and the opportunity to make connections and network – I enjoy it.

Before Covid, all events were in person and the big challenge was getting enough people into a room for an event, to get a critical mass of participants. If you organise an event and only get five people to attend, it’s just boring. Before Covid, doing things remotely wasn’t really an option. Now, I live about an hour outside of London so I can’t participate in most of the face-to-face social events. I was looking to do something that would still allow me to be involved in the alumni network, but not require me to be in person. I have been interested in sustainability since I was a kid but, I never found a way to mix it with my career. I may not be a Sustainability professional, but I think we have to do something about the global challenges, that everybody has to do something. I really wanted to do my part, but I didn’t know what my part was. I am an Agile Coach and an Engineer. I do networks, software, consulting but no Sustainability. So, I spoke to Jason and Matthew, and they mentioned launching a Sustainability Committee to reach not just London but the entire EU. I thought it was a perfect way for me to be involved because even thought I am not a sustainability expert; it is an important part of my life and I can help organize and participate in events remotely.

I wasn’t aware you didn’t have a long background in Sustainability. It’s interesting to know you are just another person who is trying to find your part and learn more.

My skills are in organising, facilitating, and bringing people together. I think one piece in Sustainability that is missing is that experts are talking to experts, the researchers are talking to researchers. However, few people are talking to the normal people, people who do not know much about sustainability and there are many more of those than there are experts. So, I am trying to ask the question, if I do not know anything about this, what can I do? It’s great to hear a professor talk about the latest research on something, but I want to know what I can do with that. I think everyone has a part to play and one of my goals is to bring these conversations to the masses, to the non-experts.

What is the future of the Sustainability Committee at the moment? If someone wanted to get involved, what is the best way to do so?

We have a small group of people with big dreams. We don’t always have enough time to do all the activities we would like, so we are always looking for more people to come help us. We are a new group and so far, we have started hosting Sustainability Talks, a series of periodic interactive discussions where we have UC professors speak to us virtually. We are in conversation with two professors for future talks, one to discuss the health of the oceans and other to talk about green washing. We are also planning another event around Biodiversity loss in collaboration with a start-up founded but a UC alumnus in London. We also have other events that we are looking to kick-start, one of them being a book club, but so far, we do not have enough management capacity to do the work. If anyone wants to participate or has some ideas that they want to bring to life, come join the Sustainability Committee. We usually meet every other Tuesday at 6 o’clock in a Zoom call. Anyone is welcome and you can find more information on the website or send me an email here.


Interview conducted on February 15th 2023 by Romy Stein.