Haas Welcomes New Students with Pathbending Leaders, Case Studies, Games

Whether gaining insights on innovation from IDEO General Manager Tom Kelley, hearing about successful teambuilding from Annie's CEO John Foraker, or learning about Haas through interactive games, new students got a head start on their business school education this month in three different orientations.

The Evening & Weekend MBA Program was the first to hold its orientation and begin classes on Aug. 6, while full-time MBA students went through O-Week orientation last week and undergrads gathered at Haas this week before beginning their classes today.

Full-time Berkeley MBA Program

Each day of the full-time Berkeley MBA orientation focused on a Haas Defining Principle: Students Always, Confidence Without Attitude, Question the Status Quo, and Beyond Yourself.

Alumnus Tom Kelley, MBA 83, general manager of design firm IDEO, kicked off the week Monday, Aug. 13, by addressing the importance of innovation on the day dedicated to Student Always.

Later in the week, on Thursday, the Question the Status Quo day began with a rare talk on path-bending leadership by alumnus Ralph Bahna (right), MBA 65, former CEO of Cunard Cruise Lines; chairman and founder of Club Quarters, an international group of private low-rate business hotels in city center locations; and board chairman of Priceline.com.

Bahna spoke on the difference between "thinkers" and "transactors" and shared his "secret sauce" for becoming a "thinker" to solve problems and transform organizations.

"If a person can add another half hour or an hour in a week [to thinking], their power increases immensely," said Bahna, who has spoke only one other time publicly in the last 20 years.

His recipe for success included boiling down a challenge or course of action very concisely, determination and tenacity, and the sales skills to convince others to implement a solution. He noted, for instance, how his efforts to successfully create the predecessor to business class travel at Trans World Airlines in the late 1970s required him to rewrite a proposal more than 20 times.

Later on Thursday, students were introduced to the case method with a study of Virgin America co-authored by Adam Berman, Haas executive director, emerging initiatives; Lecturer Frank Schultz, and Dickson L. Louie, a Bay Area consultant. After asking students who would invest in Virgin and then why or why not, Berman surprised them by introducing Virgin America CEO David Cush (right), who was standing in the audience and then walked them through more details on the airline's strategy.

Although there’s much to be learned from the speakers, O-Week co-chair Chris Brown, MBA 13, says what new students enjoy the most is the chance to meet one another, learn about the school, and create their own class culture.

“We do quite a bit of team-building activities. Some of it is silly and irreverent, and some of it is more substantive like our Building and Running Great Study Teams session,” he says. “The incoming students seem to very much enjoy those activities and relish the opportunity to interact with their new classmates.”

The full-time MBA class of 2014 consists of 240 students chosen from a pool of 3,352 applicants. The average class GPA is 3.61 and average GMAT 715. The median age of the class is 28, and members have an average of five years’ professional experience. Thirty-seven percent are international students, representing 38 countries and speaking more than 35 languages, including Afrikaans, Creole, Kyrgyz, and Maori.

The class includes 10 U.S. veterans; veterans from Israel, the U.K., South Korea, and Taiwan; and even the first South Korean astronaut, who spent 10 days on a Russian spacecraft. One student founded and led an organization that has helped 16,000 young people launch more than 130 entrepreneurial ventures; another volunteered in Tanzania with the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Several students are accomplished athletes, including a professional soccer player, a competitive gymnast, a cyclist who biked across the country to raise awareness for affordable housing, and an athlete who has competed in 28 triathlons. There are also four Fulbright Scholars and a Muskie Fellow.

Evening & Weekend MBA Program

Annie’s Inc. CEO John Foraker (right), MBA 94, inspired the evening and weekend students during their orientation from Aug. 3-5 at the Doubletree Berkeley Marina Hotel. Foraker shared advice on building a winning culture and putting together at team that truly reflects what a company stands for.

"I'll take an 'A' team and a 'C' product over a 'C' team and an 'A' product any day,” he told them. However, Foraker spent considerable time talking about how his ‘A’ team has worked hard to develop superior ‘A’ organic products.

This year’s Evening & Weekend MBA class consists of 250 students, chosen from an applicant pool of 752, an 11 percent increase in applications from last year. The average GMAT score is 692 and the median age 31. Students represent 179 companies and 16 job functions in 35 different industries with a median work experience of seven years. Sixty-six percent of students are multilingual, with 25 different countries represented. Just slightly over one-third of the students have master’s degrees, and six have PhDs.

One student is a medical device consultant and chef in a Michelin two-star restaurant; another co-produced and directed a documentary film; and a third holds a Guinness world record for riding 16,345 miles across Africa on a quad bike with his wife, raising money for charity.

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate Program Executive Director Erika Walker welcomed the incoming class at orientation August 21.

Students spent much of the afternoon building their cohort teams through the Class of 2014 Journey, an interactive game. The game consisted of a series of puzzles that took them on a trip around the Haas campus to learn more about the school and its programs. For the first time, students used Twitter─their hashtag is #HaasCohorts─to record their progress and rack up extra points. This year’s class of 346 students has been divided into six cohorts.

The class of 2014 was selected from an applicant pool of 2,055. The average GPA of continuing Berkeley students is 3.65, and the average GPA of transfer students is 3.80. The class includes 71 international students representing 24 countries ranging from Afghanistan and Indonesia to Belarus and Sweden.

Read the Undergraduate Blog

PhD Program

For the first time ever, the incoming class of Haas PhD students includes more women (8) than men (7). Less than 3 percent of 525 applicants were accepted into the PhD Program this year. Three of the 15 new students hail from outside the United States: Colombia, China, and Canada.

“The fact that there are more women than men is very significant,” says Kim Guilfoyle, the PhD program’s director of student affairs. “As far back as I can see on record, we’ve always been happy to have a class of 30 percent or 40 percent women.”

In another first, each new PhD student is receiving an iPad as part of a pilot project to reduce paper use and printing costs. The PhD Program launched the pilot after surveying current students with tablets and finding they reported reducing printing by 70 percent to 90 percent.

Three new PhD students each are specializing in business and public policy, finance, marketing, and management of organizations; and one each in accounting, real estate, and operations and information technology management.

Entering PhD students range in age from 21 to 31, with the average age of 28. Four students already hold advanced degrees.