August 1, 2014

New Fall Courses Stay on Top of Changing Landscape

Steve Blank
Steve Blank, Entrepreneurship Lecturer

From lean startups to social media marketing to diversity in the workplace, new fall courses are teaching students forward-thinking management skills while providing hands-on learning to apply them.

Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA students have the exciting opportunity to take Advanced Entrepreneurship: The Lean LaunchPad (XMBA 296T), taught by Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur whose class will not focus on building a business plan but a business model.

In this fully hands-on course, students learn how startups operate by building one. The premise of the class, as Blank explains on his website: "Startups are in fact only temporary organizations, organized to search–not execute–for a scalable and repeatable business model." Students were only admitted to the demanding course in teams, by submitting project proposals that will be treated as real startups. Teams will develop a business model, build customers, and test their products during the semester-long course, taught in blocks in Berkeley and New York.

Full-time MBA students have four new elective options, covering sustainability, fixed income, brand management and social media marketing.

Brand Manger Bootcamp (MBA267.7) offers hands-on immersion aimed at entry-level through senior brand managers. Instructor Bill Pearce brings real-world experience from his career as chief marketing officer for Taco Bell and Del Monte Foods, which he left in August, as well as marketing positions at Proctor & Gamble.

Driving Sustainability Through Business (MBA292T.5A) aims to give students the skills to make sustainability part of their career in any position or role—whether it's part of their official job description or not. The course will be taught by Executive-in-Residence Tony Kingsbury of Dow Chemical, who leads the Sustainable Products and Solutions Program and is an expert on sustainability.

Finance students can take Fixed Income (MBA270.1), taught by Randy Wedding, senior managing director of fixed income in the UC Regents Office of the Treasurer. It will cover the basics of security types, debt markets, and the mathematics of yield curves.

Social Media Marketing (MBA267.1) will delve into opportunities and challenges of social networks, social media platforms, and online advertising. Taught by Assistant Professor Zsolt Katona, the class features a computer simulation that lets student teams see what it's like to run an actual marketing department and formulate and implement its social media strategy.

The simulation teaches students how optimally combine different social media tools in both a business-to-consumer and business-to-business environment. Students will process of rich amounts of data, introduce a new product, and transition the product from traditional marketing to social media marketing using tools such as social media advertising, viral campaigns, and search engine optimization.

"Professor Katona's course is very timely and addresses current business and social needs, as social networks and social media platforms are ubiquitous in our lives," says Full-time MBA Executive Director Julia Min Hwang.

Evening and Weekend MBA students have their own version of Social Media Marketing (EMBA267.1), scheduled for an evening session. EWMBA students are also taking two new courses in the core BILD curriculum: the required Problem Finding/Problem Solving course and Haas@Work, one of several courses to satisfy a new experiential learning requirement. Both courses were launched as pilots in the Full-time MBA Program last year, and were very well-received, says Siu Yung Wong, associate director of academic affairs in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program.

Undergraduates have the choice of two new electives aimed at emerging leaders. Diversity in the Workplace (UGBA156AC), taught by Undergraduate Program Executive Director Erika Walker, combines theory and discussion with community-based learning. After analyzing theories of diversity and why businesses value it, students will work on projects with the Greenlining Institute, a public policy group that works to foster multi-ethnic economic empowerment. The course satisfies the UC Berkeley American Cultures undergraduate requirement.

Leadership: Purpose, Authority, and Empowerment (UGBA 157.1) will be taught by Dan Mulhern, a leadership consultant, writer, and radio host. The course gives students the chance to explore what it means to be a leader, and the differences between authority and leadership. The course includes extensive self-assessment for students to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and leadership style.

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