Alumni Conference to Feature Mac and Cheese CEO and Olympic Bobsledder

Annie’s CEO John Foraker, MBA 94, and former Olympic bobsledder Darrin Steele, MBA 08, will participate in a full day of teaching by alumni, faculty, and staff at the Annual Alumni Conference April 26 at Haas.

Foraker will give the morning keynote talk, sharing his experiences in building Annie’s from a $6 million macaroni and cheese business to a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In his talk, Hopping Down the Bunny Trail: Building a Mission Driven Consumer Brand, Foraker will provide examples of the values-aligned decisions he has had to make over the years as CEO and his observations about the future of consumer brands.

The conference will also feature a wide variety of lectures given by faculty and industry leaders—five to choose from in the morning and five in the afternoon. Among the topics:

  • Scalable Startups: Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Scale at Berkeley-Haas, taught by André Marquis, MBA 96, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship.
  • A Fresh Approach to Networking, led by Heather Hollick, MBA 04, a leadership and team coach.
  • Personal Finance Boot Camp, led by classmates Tanya Shaw Steinhofer and Tammy Plotkin-Oren, both MBA 99, with colleague Gigi Orta.

Dean Rich Lyons, BS 82, will kick off the conference with a welcome and brief update on the school, including his perspective on how the unique culture and style of leadership at Haas empowers alumni to create positive change in organizations and markets.

Topics to be presented by Haas professors include :

  • Business and Social Impact at Haas, with Professor and former Dean Laura Tyson, director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact at Haas. Tyson will discuss the new institute, including its history, rationale, activities, and goals.
  • Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles That Drive Success, with Professor Emeritus David Aaker. Drawing from his new book with the same title as this session, Aaker will discuss what you need to know to create and manage strong brands.
  • China vs. the U.S.: Where Will This End?, with Senior Lecturer Paul Tiffany, PhD 83. Tiffany will review the remarkable rise of the Chinese economy from the Mao-inspired revolution in the mid-20th century to the present day.

Darrin Steele, MBA 08Darrin Steele (pictured right), CEO, U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation, will be among the alumni giving nine HAASx Talks to cap off the afternoon. The five-minute presentations by Haas alumni are intended to inspire, engage, and provoke conversation.

Steele, whose talk is titled “Five Business Lessons from Olympians,” enjoyed record wins for the U.S. bobsled and skeleton teams in the Sochi Olympics this year. His own own career highlights include taking 12th in four-man bobsled in the 1998 Olympics and 9th at the 2002 Olympics in two-man bobsled with driver Brian Shimer.

Other examples of HAASx Talks are:

  • Three Ways to Demolish Gender Bias (Good for Men, Women, Business, and a Lot of Things), Nilmini Gunaratne Rubin, MBA 99, senior advisor, U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, Chris Loughlin, BCEMBA 04/05, CEO, Travelzoo.

The HAASx Talks will be moderated by Adjunct Assistant Professor Kellie McElhaney, faculty director of the Center for Responsible Business.

The day will close with a networking reception from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Organizers are planning a simple way to help people connect with others from specific industries and executive recruiters during the event.

For more details on the conference, visit

John Foraker, MBA 94, CEO of Annie’s