Haas Culture Takes Center Stage at Orientation

From gleaning life lessons from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone to learning about the school's defining principles from retired Playtex Products CEO Michael Gallagher, new undergrad, MBA, and PhD students were introduced to the Berkeley-Haas culture as they kicked off their business studies this month.

Entering students in the Full-time Berkeley MBA, Undergraduate, and PhD programs have begun their classes, following orientation programs that took place earlier this week or last. New students in the Evening & Weekend Program arrived earlier this month and began classes Aug. 8.

Full-time Berkeley MBA Program

Each of the four Full-time Berkeley MBA orientation (O-Week) days opened with a look at one of the Haas School’s defining principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself, illustrated in part by a personal anecdote from a second-year student.

Students also heard from speakers such as Stone, recently named a Haas executive fellow, who shared insights and experiences gained as a serial entrepreneur.

Stone talked about how seeing Twitter bring people together to get things done has been motivating. But while technology is an important tool, he said, it is the human spirit that is the thrust, motivator, and cause of great change. “You are here to study business, but also to learn how to live a meaningful life,” he told students.

On Thursday morning students focused on the Berkeley-Haas aim of building innovative leaders, gaining insights from another Haas executive fellow, Tom Kelley, MBA 83, general manager of international design firm IDEO, who spoke on the defining principle Question the Status Quo. Kelley outlined three ways to live that principle: 1. Think like a traveler; 2. Cross-pollinate from the best of everywhere; 3. Ask the right questions.

“Wherever you’re from, there are more ideas outside your country than inside your country," Kelley said.

Kelley’s talk was followed by lessons on design thinking from a panel of executives who were asked to show students what it looks like to implement questioning the status quo and innovative leadership. The panel featured Jennifer Liebermann, MBA/MPH 01, director, Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center, Kaiser Permanente; Patrick O’Loughlin, open innovation networks business leader, Clorox; Janelle Sellenave, vice president, strategy, Charles Schwab & Co.; and Patañjali Venkatacharya, chief evangelist and UX architect, Oracle, a student in the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program.

In addition to hearing from speakers at O-Week, students worked on cases for companies such as Zynga, Deloitte, Clorox, and Dow, presenting their recommendations to company executives.

The 237 entering students in the class of 2013 were selected from an original field of 3,444 applicants. Although applications were down by 5 percent this year, only 12 percent of applicants were accepted. The class holds an average GPA of 3.64 and scored an average of 715 on the GMAT. The class has a median age of 28 and a median of 5 years of work experience.

Thirty-seven percent are international students, hailing from 37 countries. Sixty-six percent of the students speak two or more of 35 different languages.

One student received the American Bar Association’s “Outstanding Military Lawyer of the Year” award; one led missions to build dialysis centers in the Philippines; and one launched the Flavors of Morocco instant food line. Several have succeeded in athletic endeavors, with the class boasting a U.S. junior rowing champion, a U.S. junior triple-handed sailing champion, a marathoner who qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials, and a professional tennis player. Seven of the students are Fulbright Scholars.

Read the Full-Time Berkeley MBA Student Blog

Undergraduate Program

Alumnus Brad Howard, BS 79, welcomed students at the Undergraduate Program orientation Aug. 23. Howard owns Howard Tours, an organizer of leisure, convention, special interest, group, and humanitarian travel programs worldwide. Students also met their cohorts for various social events that will be held throughout the year.

Of the 355 enrolled business school undergraduates, 262 are continuing UC Berkeley students and 93 transferred into the program. Continuing students hold an average GPA of 3.69 and transfer students' GPA averages 3.81. The class was selected from a total of 2,064 applicants.

The entering students will engage in a curriculum launched last year that features a greater emphasis on experiential learning and again will participate in popular non-credit workshops on a range of topics, including financial statement analysis, social media, corporate valuation, and nonprofits.

Read the Undergraduate Student Blog

PhD Program

Only 3 percent of the 547 applicants to the Berkeley-Haas PhD program were accepted this year. The 15 new students bring total enrollment in the program to 79. Nearly half the class are international students, hailing from Turkey, South Korea, Chile, Iran, Israel, Singapore, and India. For their areas of specialization, two students have chosen real estate; three each will study business and public policy, finance, accounting, and management of organizations; and one will pursue marketing.

The PhD students range in age from 19 to 44, averaging 26 years old. Most of the class launched their studies by taking the challenging Mathematics for Economics course, taught each summer.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone