Haas Kicks Off School Year with Speakers, Activities Highlighting Innovation

Almost 900 new students in four different degree programs – Full-time MBA, Evening & Weekend MBA, PhD, and Undergraduate – begin classes this week as Haas moves forward on revamping its leadership curriculum.

From listening to Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone and Adobe Systems CEO Shantanu Narayen to creating cases for companies, Berkeley MBA students attended activities-filled orientations that also introduced them to the school's new BILD — Berkeley Innovative Leader Development – initiative right from the start. Undergraduates, meanwhile, were introduced to their new social cohorts and attended a newly formatted orientation designed to promote more networking and interaction among students.

The Berkeley Full-time MBA Program

The 246 members of the full-time Berkeley MBA class of 2012 gained insight into innovation from one of the nation’s leading innovators, Tom Kelley, MBA 83, during orientation week Aug. 16 through Aug. 20. Kelley, the first Haas Executive Fellow, leads design firm IDEO as general manager and is author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation. Kelley's presentation on innovation Tuesday was followed by a talk by Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, on Thursday.

For Community Impact Day, students spent the morning helping out at the Alameda Point Collaborative (left), a community that houses former homeless people.

In another activity, students created case studies for Abbott Labs, Zynga, Del Monte Foods, Adobe, McKesson, and Deloitte.

“This was a great networking opportunity,” says Amy Hornstein, the Full-Time Berkeley MBA Program’s director of student affairs. “It gave key companies a chance to see our students right from the beginning.”

The new class of full-time MBA students boasts an average GPA of 3.63 and GMAT of 718. Although applications were down about 11 percent this year, only 11.6 percent of the 3,626 applicants were accepted.

The incoming class of 2012 has a median age of 28 and a median of five years of work experience. International students, representing 38 nations, make up 39 percent of the class.

The new student body includes a CIA analyst, the summer program manager for the Boston Ballet, the head of Disney Online China, adviser to the undersecretary of the treasury of Turkey, and the first secretary to the Korean minister of strategy and finance. One student developed renewable energy resources for off-grid communities in Nicaragua, and another has launched 30 telecom products. Five students are Fulbright scholars.

The Evening & Weekend MBA Program

Adobe Systems CEO Shantanu Narayen, MBA 93, a graduate of the Evening & Weekend MBA Program, shared his insights on the key ingredients of successful leadership with students in the program at their orientation, which took place Aug. 6-8 at the Doubletree Hotel Berkeley Marina.

"Always try to be exceptional," Narayen told students. If you can connect all the dots, your aspirations are not high enough, he added.

Dean Rich Lyons spoke about the Berkeley Innovative Leadership Development (BILD) initiative and the school’s new direction at a dinner Friday night for evening and weekend students.

The incoming students learned to work together in the Chateaux Smashing team-building event. Teams of 10 students built castles from cardboard and paper to protect a set of eggs. They then went to battle with tennis-ball shooting cannons (left). The team with the most eggs surviving was the winner.

A total of 240 students make up the Evening & Weekend MBA class of 2013. Their median age is 32 and average GMAT score is 700. They have an average of eight years of professional experience in companies and organizations that include SunPower Corp., the U.S. Navy, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. The students represent 28 countries. Forty-one percent hold advanced degrees.

The PhD Program

Less than 4 percent of 526 applicants were chosen for the Berkeley-Haas PhD program this year. Seventeen new students bring total enrollment in the Haas School PhD Program to 81 in seven areas of specialization. Eight new students come from outside the U.S. — from Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

Four students have enrolled in Management of Organizations; three each in Business and Public Policy, and Marketing; two each in Accounting, Finance, and Real Estate; and one in Operations and Information Technology Management.

Entering PhD students range in age from 22 to 35 and average 27 years old. Their median GMAT score is 738, and their median GRE scores are 620 verbal and 790 quantitative. Nine already hold advanced degrees.

Undergraduate Program

Erika Walker, executive director of the undergraduate program, and Dean Lyons addressed the 364 new undergraduate business majors at their orientation today (Aug. 23), announcing several improvements to the program.

One change is the start time of the program, which has moved from required summer courses starting in July back to the traditional August start. To improve networking opportunities and the sense of community without the early summer start, the class of 2012 was grouped into six social cohorts. Cohorts will compete for a trip to a Giant’s baseball game and go on a cohort picnic. Additional community-building activities will include ice skating, bowling, a Haas dance, and community service spread throughout the academic year.

Academic changes include a greater focus on experiential learning. The very popular no-credit workshops, such as those offered by Training the Street, have been expanded thanks to a tripling of funds from the Dean’s office.

“We will offer a menu of competency-specific paths to allow students to apply what they learn in the classroom,” says Walker. Expansion plans may include faculty-designed simulations to complement the curriculum, workshops such as how to crack a case, and an experiential leadership development series.

Orientation itself followed a different format this year. Five breakout sessions covered the ins and outs of degree requirements, resources, services, alumni network, and career services. All students could attend each session, although individual sessions were limited to 60 students at a time to give them more of an opportunity to interact.

An ice-cream social at the end of the day was designed to give students a chance to network with the alumni who presented the “Building Your Haas Student Alumni Network” sessions.

The average GPA for continuing Berkeley students is 3.7 and the average GPA for transfer students is 3.84. Fourteen countries are represented in this new group of students.