September 1, 2014

Fall Courses Highlight Real-World Experiences

Investing $100,000 to improve education in the developing world; working with a venture-backed startup to solve key business challenges; learning the techniques corporate “intrapreneurs” employ to introduce new sustainable product lines. These interactive projects are among the many ways new courses at Haas will engage, challenge, and inform students this fall.

In Real World Impact Investing: the $100,000 Challenge (EWMBA292N-2)—a 3-unit class offered through the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership to full-time and evening-and-weekend MBA students—Silicon Valley’s Echidna Giving will give students $100,000 (real dollars) to create significant social impact in education in the developing world. Working in small teams, students will identify, research, and then recommend investments to a juried panel.

Students will hear from several influential guest speakers and also learn from each other. “Over 30 percent of the students in the course have either been educated themselves or their parents were educated in the developing world. That introduces a real-world experience in their analysis and is probably unique among the top business schools,” says Lecturer Kim Wright-Violich, the former CEO and president of Schwab Charitable and the founder and principal of a consulting practice focused on philanthropic and social sector consulting.

Intrapreneurship for Sustainability: Driving Change from Within Corporations (MBA292T-11) is a 1-unit MBA course offered through the Haas Center for Responsible Business that addresses the development and introduction of sustainable product lines and corporate strategies. Students work on real-world cases and learn the techniques employed by “intrapreneurs” to effectively address corporate sustainability challenges and encourage environmentally friendly product and process innovation.

“The course unifies two topics of great interest to students right now: sustainability and ‘intrapreneurship,’” says Lecturer Emma Stewart, head of sustainability solutions at Autodesk. “The class is split nicely between full-time MBA and evening-and-weekend MBA students, which brings a wealth of knowledge and professional experience into the classroom. I was particularly pleased to see there are students from all types of industries and a true diversity of roles.”

Full-time MBA Courses

Startup Lab (MBA295.1) is a 2-unit course that unites teams of Berkeley MBA students with 15 local venture-backed startups to identify, frame, and address strategic business challenges. The course is taught by Lecturer Whitney Hischier, faculty adviser to the Center for Executive Education, and Faisal AlGharabally, a technology entrepreneur and strategist and founder of TagStone and AlGharabally & Company.

Each class incorporates Problem Finding, Problem Solving (PFPS) and consulting skills and includes guest speakers from the 15 companies who discuss their business models and personal experiences working as entrepreneurs.

“Students gain exposure to startup company leadership, culture, and business models,” Hischier says. “It’s a ‘try before you buy’ experience for those who might be contemplating joining a startup or launching their own company but aren’t sure if they are ready for the lifestyle.” 

Evening & Weekend MBA Courses
Students in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program have the opportunity to take three courses this fall that were unavailable to them previously.

Open Business Models & Open Innovation (EW290T-12) is taught by Solomon Darwin, associate director of the Haas Program in Open Innovation. Working with senior-level executives, students will apply the process of open innovation to help solve the business model challenges of top companies, including Applied Materials, DreamWorks, FedEx, and SAP, according to Darwin. At the end of the course, students will present their solutions, which will be judged by the sponsoring executives. 

Cleantech to Market (EWMBA217-2) is a 3-unit class in which teams of graduate students assess the commercial viability of cleantech research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and other laboratories associated with UC Berkeley and the Department of Energy. They then present their findings to their scientist partners and a public seminar for energy professionals. The course is taught by Beverly Alexander and Brian Steel, co-directors of the Cleantech to Market (C2M) Program at the Energy Institute at Haas.

Teams work with cleantech professionals as well as students from more than 20 UC Berkeley graduate programs, notes Alexander. “They learn both the principles and practices of trying to take cleantech all the way from a laboratory into the marketplace,” she says

Evening-and-weekend MBA students interested in investment management can now take advantage of Investment Styles and Strategies (EWMBA236B-1), a 2-unit course taught by Lecturer Sam Olesky, president of Olesky Capital Management. The course provides an in-depth examination of various stock investing approaches and features several guest speakers who are professional investors or experts in a particular stock investing style. 

Students also have the opportunity to put each style to work. “Students work in small teams to develop a portfolio of stocks that currently meet the criteria of an investment strategy we are covering in class,” Olesky says. “The team tracks and updates its portfolio using tools like FactSet or Bloomberg."

Undergraduate Courses
Undergraduates have the opportunity to take two new Special Topics courses this fall.

In Venture Capital, Private Equity and Hedge Funds—an Introduction (UGBA195T-1), students use Harvard Business School case studies of companies such as Facebook, Lululemon, and Accel Partners to delve into the operations and complexities of venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds. They will also explore the risks and rewards experienced by firms in these fields and study various career paths.

The 2-unit course is taught by Rob Chandra, president and CEO of Avid Park Capital, a hedge fund based in Palo Alto, Calif. Previously, he was a managing partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, one of the largest and most successful venture capital firms in the United States.

Pricing (UGBA167) is a 3-unit course taught by Lecturer Wasim Azhar, a faculty coach in the Center for Teaching Excellence at Haas. The goal of the course is to equip students with useful techniques to implement optimal pricing strategies within the context of overall corporate business objectives and strategies. Topics covered include new product pricing, pricing over the product life cycle, value pricing, and pricing strategies for competitive bidding situations.

Azhar, who serves as partner and marketing director of Amzone, specializes in pricing strategies, international marketing, and channels management. He won the 2007-2008 Cheit Award for Best Teaching in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program.

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