Inaugural Berkeley MBA for Executives Class to Dive into Silicon Valley Ecosystem

Entrepreneurship Professor Toby Stuart will lead a Silicon Valley Immersion Week this fall for the Haas School's new Berkeley MBA for Executives Program, including entrepreneurship coursework, several company site visits, talks by C-level executives, and a panel with seasoned venture capitalists.

Drawn from around the country, the 68 students in the inaugural class began the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program in May. The Silicon Valley Immersion Week is one of five "off-sites" with a special industry and/or curricular focus.

Stuart, who came to Haas from Harvard Business School a year ago to revamp the school's entrepreneurship curriculum, will kick off the immersion week Nov. 12 with a full day of coursework on entrepreneurship and innovation at Google headquarters. On another day, students will gather at Facebook to hear from a diverse cast of C-level Silicon Valley executives. Stuart will wrap up his coursework Nov. 15 at Airbnb's sunny San Francisco headquarters.

In addition to their classroom instruction, students will fan out across Silicon Valley and San Francisco to visit 25 of the area's most innovative companies and hottest startups, with founder or CEO-level executives playing host.

In the Silicon Valley, students will visit PayPal, Access Closure, Chegg, 500 Startups (an accelerator), Barracuda, 24/7 Customer, Carmenta Bioscience, ShareThis, Cloudera, Coraid, oDesk, RingCentral, and others. San Francisco visits will include Kixeye, Joyus, Flurry, Cloudflare, The RealReal, Meltwater, and GoodGuide.

Students also will learn about current trends in venture capital through a panel discussion on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, led by Stuart and Haas Dean Rich Lyons. Panelists will include Jeff Brody, BS 81 (Engineer.), of Redpoint; Keval Desai, MBA 99, of InterWest and former director of product management at Google; Rebecca Lynn, MBA/JD 08, of Morgenthaler Ventures; and Nick Sturiale, MBA 00, of Ignition Partners. Students then will have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with VC alumni at an informal reception and dinner.

"We will give students a unique, on-the-ground look at the inner-workings of Silicon Valley, from startups and the venture capital world to the region's most successful tech giants," says Stuart.

Indeed, the Haas School's connections to Silicon Valley were a major consideration for many students who enrolled in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program, including Luke Johnson, vice president-corporate development for CHRISTUS Health, a $4 billion Dallas-based health system that also has locations in Mexico and Chile.

"Berkeley’s proximity to Silicon Valley was crucial in my decision to pursue the program," says Johnson. "To be candid, I didn’t come with a great network on the West Coast, the technology sector, or Silicon Valley, and my experience involves working with very mature businesses. As a commuting student from Texas, I saw Haas as a perfect place to bridge this gap in my network and learn more about startups and the venture capital world."

Johnson previously worked at a boutique finance consultancy before moving into health care business development after the financial crisis. He adds, "In a sector like health care that has been fiercely resistant to fundamental change but requires innovative and deep structural reform, I believe we have much to learn from Silicon Valley and the Haas approach where questioning the status quo is the expectation rather than the exception."

In addition to the Silicon Valley Immersion Week this fall, executive MBA students will get an insider’s view of Washington, D.C., with Professor Laura Tyson in July 2014 and explore the thriving global business hub of Shanghai with Professor Teck Ho, executive director of the Haas School’s Asia Business Center, in December 2014. Students also will take a course on applied innovation to be co-taught by Haas Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman and Michael Barry from the Stanford Design School.

The Berkeley MBA for Executives Program is a 19-month program specifically tailored to seasoned executives who have on average 12 years of professional experience.

Prof. Toby Stuart