Berkeley EMBAs Get Inside Track on How Washington Works

Federal Reserve Chair and Haas Professor Emeritus Janet Yellen was just one of the Washington luminaries to meet with students in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program during their immersion week in the nation’s capitol.

Students shared a week that yielded insights from members of Congress, White House policy makers, ambassadors, lobbyists, and journalists. The Washington, D.C. trip, held July 14-18, is one of five immersive experiences receiving high praise from EMBA students, emphasizing experiential learning, collaboration with elite companies, and networking with high-level business and policy experts.

“The EMBA DC Immersion week provided what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact in a substantial way with the very top level of leaders in Washington,” said Peter Yang, MBA 14. “The level of insight was deeply intellectually stimulating and helped broaden my perspective on the level of interaction between business and Washington. It was also eye-opening to see the deep connection between Berkeley and Washington, from Professor [Laura] Tyson to Janet Yellen to John Holdren at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.”

Haas Prof. Laura Tyson, who has served as an economic advisor to Presidents Clinton and Obama, leveraged her extensive professional and personal networks to reveal multiple perspectives on the relationship between business and policy.

"EMBA participants are at a point in their careers when public policy impacts their business decisions," Tyson said. "The Washington Immersion provided direct insight into how these policies are shaped and how they affect business and the economy overall. The students showed so much enthusiasm throughout the trip."

With each day highlighting a different theme, the overall focus was on how Washington works for business in key policy areas including corporate tax policy, financial market reform, health care reform, and climate change. Weighing in on these topics were members of Congress, including Jackie Speier, White House staffers, Treasury directors, and executives from such firms as General Electric, Morgan Stanley and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

“Our commitment to experiential learning significantly increases our students’ understanding of various business ecosystems through a blend of curriculum, speakers, corporate and government visits, and high-level networking,” said Mike Rielly, director of the MBA for Executives Program.

Students spent an hour in the Federal Reserve boardroom with Yellen and met a second Fed Chair when Alan Greenspan attended the week’s media panel featuring former PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer and Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal correspondent David Wessel. They also met Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero at an Italian Embassy reception focused on culture and commerce.

Tyson was a member of the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Policy Board and a member of President Obama’s Council of Jobs and Competitiveness and the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. During President Clinton’s Administration, she was the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and the President’s National Economic Adviser.

She is currently the inaugural director of the Haas School’s Institute for Business and Social Impact.

"There likely will never be another time in our lives that we will have access to senior officials, policy makers, and influencers, like we did during this week,” said Tina Gutierrez-Shinnick, MBA 14. “Getting the insider view to how Washington works was priceless."

The D.C. trip follows a November immersion week in Silicon Valley, which was held in classrooms at Google, Facebook, and Airbnb, and included small group meetings with founders and other C-level executives at 28 of the region’s hottest startups. The final immersion for the EMBA class of 2014 takes place this November with a week in Shanghai led by Haas Marketing Professor Teck Ho.