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Becoming a Changemaker

Leadership & The Art of Agency.


Becoming a Changemaker

Leadership & The Art of Agency.

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Becoming a Changemaker brings together the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and social impact and inspires you to lead positive change from wherever you are.

Companies, communities and, indeed, our world are calling out for a new type of leader. A leader who is resilient, creative, collaborative and optimistic. A leader who can work across sectors and hierarchies and defies stereotypes, and the status quo. A leader ready and able to create the future.

I call this new type of leader a changemaker and I’ve developed this course specifically here at Berkeley Haas which will teach you the leadership skills and mindsets to become one.

No matter your major, background, experience, personality or interests, this class will help you realize your leadership potential and make a positive impact on those around you.

It’s sincerely a dream come true to be teaching changemakers at UC Berkeley and I’ve put my heart and soul into creating this course for you. Thanks for your interest and I hope you’ll join us!

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Learn More

Learn More



UGBA 157-3 | Spring 2020

2 units | Tuesdays, 10a-12p

CCN: #32507

Chou Hall N540

Check out the Fall 2019 syllabus here.

Check out the Spring 2020 course flyer here.


EWMBA 257 | Spring 2020

2 units | Thursdays, 6-9.30pm.

Meeting dates: January 23; February 6, 13 & 27; March 5, 12 & 19; April 2, 9 & 23.  

Check out the course overview here.


It’s absolutely a dream come true to be teaching this course, which I’ve been imagining for nearly a decade. I’ve put my heart and soul into creating this course and I wrote this blog post to share the inspiration behind developing and teaching this at UC Berkeley.

I’m also so grateful that Berkeley Haas sent a journalist and photographer to write about all of the exciting, transformational aspects of this course! Read the article about the class here and a get a feeling for what’s ahead for you!

And, check out this great coverage the course recently received in Forbes.


What students say

What students say


Nye Avilla, BS, Business Administration ‘20

“One of the most powerful educational experiences I’ve ever had.”


Ibrahim Baldé, Business Administration, ‘20

“This class opened my eyes to the leader I want to be.”


Aaron Neil, B.A. Economics ‘19

Alex Budak’s "Becoming A Changemaker" is unlike any other on campus.


Suyash Jaju, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research ‘22

“A class filled with extraordinary people from different disciplines of life who challenge you intellectually and emotionally…The class celebrates the differences of each individual, but simultaneously engages in making you embrace and adopt the best version of yourself. One of the most applicable classes I've ever taken at UC Berkeley!”


Alejandro Lopez, B.S. Industrial Engineering, Tecnológico de Monterrey

“This is the best course I’m taking this semester! I have learned lessons that no other course has ever taught. I have explored different perspectives and tried new concepts, and I have always felt very comfortable and accepted; this truly is a class for everyone.

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Bri Boone, B.S. Conservation and Resource Studies ‘19

"Becoming a Changemaker" was my favorite course my last semester of my senior year at Cal! Throughout the course, I was exposed to multiple dimensions of what it means to be a leader. I appreciated the exposure to new concepts I will keep with me as I advocate for environmental justice in my career!”


Crystal Thompson Andreas, MPH, 2019

“This course will challenge you in many ways, and provide you with unique opportunities to grow. I have learned how to create transformative ways of identifying opportunities for impact and approaching change. I can truly say that I now possess the changemaker mindset to lead from where I am and be the change I want to see.”


Sarika Saksena, Women’s Studies and Business Administration, ‘22

“Anyone who is inspired and motivated to lead positive change should take this class. This class is full of remarkable changemakers, who are both compassionate and intelligent.”

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Seán O Donnell, B.S. Business Administration, 2020

The environment of creativity and constant interactivity make this class unique, but it is Professor Budak's commitment and enthusiasm for helping students learn how they can make a positive difference in the world that make it extraordinary.



About me

About me

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I’m a social entrepreneur and professional faculty member at UC Berkeley where I developed and teach this transformational course, “Becoming a Changemaker.” I co-founded, and now advise, which has helped 1000+ changemakers in 50+ countries raise over $10M USD to start and scale their ventures.  Other adventures include running Scandinavia’s leading social enterprise incubator; helping raise $30M from investors like Richard Branson and Bill Gates; and giving talks on leadership and social innovation in venues ranging from Ukraine to Cambodia; LA to the Arctic Circle; and for the Obama White House.

I'm deeply honored to have received UCLA's Recent Graduate of the Year Award in 2017 and to have been named a “top 100 visionary leader" by Real Leaders Magazine, a top under-40 North American leader by Friends of Europe and -- much to my parents' surprise -- a middle school PE award recipient. (Read my full bio here).

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Spring 2019 Highlights

Spring 2019 Highlights

Guest Lecture: Mayor Michael Tubbs

An incredible public-sector changemaker, Mayor Tubbs is the first African American mayor of Stockton, CA — and the youngest mayor (28!) of a major american city. Watch this video from his talk, sharing advice for anyone who wants to be a changemaker.


Experiential Exercises

Getting out of the classroom to put new leadership concepts into action — here, students are practicing “influencing without formal authority” all around campus.

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Changemaker Lunch: Jocelyn Ling Malan

Inviting inspiring changemakers to meet with students in small groups over lunch to talk careers, impact and more. Pictured here: Jocelyn Ling Malan of UNICEF’s Office of Innovation.

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Guest Speaker: Rich Lyons, past Dean of Berkeley Haas

Other guest speakers this semester include Ben Rattray, Founder & CEO of; Shivani Siroya, Founder & CEO of Tala; and Scott Shigieoka, artist, writer and designer.