Haas Welcomes Inaugural MBA for Executives Class

Dinner at the top of Memorial Stadium with a Nobel Laureate surrounded by jaw-dropping views of San Francisco Bay. A talk on design thinking and innovation by alumnus and IDEO General Manager Tom Kelley, MBA 83. And three intense days of coursework on economics, statistics, and accounting.

Those are just some of the highlights from orientation and the first block of classes for the new Berkeley MBA for Executives Program, which begins Wednesday, May 15.

The 19-month program will include blocks in Washington, D.C., led by Professor and former Clinton adviser Laura Tyson and in Shanghai led by Marketing Professor Teck Ho, director of the Haas School's Asia Business Center. A third off-site block will focus on entrepreneurship and Silicon Valley, led by Professor Toby Stuart, faculty director of the school's Lester Center for Entrepreneurship.

Students also will meet Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA alumni throughout their program, starting at an intimate dinner Friday night at the top of Memorial Stadium. The dinner will be hosted by Dean Rich Lyons and feature special guest Haas Professor Emeritus Oliver Williamson, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics. Haas launched its MBA for Executives Program last year after reaching a mutual decision with Columbia to end their joint Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program.

The school's Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD) curriculum, introduced in the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program in 2010, is the cornerstone of the new Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. As part of BILD, Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman is teaming up with an instructor from the Stanford Design School to teach a course on applied innovation.

Though primarily from the Bay Area, the inaugural class of 70 students includes executives from Southern California and as far away as Virginia, New York, and Seoul, Korea. Among the students: two high-level military officers, an early Google employee, and a veterinarian. Students have as much as 22 years of work experience.  As an immersion program, all students stay in Berkeley's Hotel Shattuck during their three-day blocks on campus.

Greg Durkin, VP of research at Warner Bros. Pictures for nearly seven years in Los Angeles, is looking forward to learning and hatching ideas with a whole new group of people in his class.

"Rather than go to a local school where I would be in a pool of people that were too similar to myself, I'd rather be in a classroom with people who think differently than I do and see the world differently," he says, explaining one reason for coming to Haas.

He also was attracted to the school's connections to Silicon Valley. "There's been a lot of change in the entertainment industry in the last few years," he notes. "There's a lot of change yet to come, and technology is a big part of that. Silicon Valley is a big part of that."

Nupur Thakur, director of product management for the global services business at Juniper Networks, will be among Durkin's Silicon Valley classmates. She is pursuing her MBA in order to transition into a strategy position and was particularly attracted to Haas because of its strong culture, including the four Defining Principles, and its focus on leadership and innovation.

"I came to the New Admits Reception and it was very easy for me to reach out, and people from Haas—including alumni—were reaching out to me," she says. "There was a warmth and sense of belonging that I didn't feel at other schools."