MBA for Executives Class of 2015 Begins Studies

Seventy new students join Haas this week as the 2015 class of the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program, including four pilots, two medical doctors, a sustainability-focused urban architect, and leaders from influential tech companies including Hewlett-Packard, Apple, and Cisco.

The 19-month Berkeley MBA for Executives Program kicks off Tuesday, May 13, with a welcome reception at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, where students will stay during the program. A one-day orientation will be followed by Thursday-to-Saturday classes on campus at Haas.

With an average age of 37 and work experience of 13 years, this class has a breadth of international experience ranging from software entrepreneurship in Japan to deep banking experience in China, says Marjorie DeGraca, executive director, admissions. While incoming students hail largely from the Bay Area, 29 percent of the class is coming from outside the region, including Tennessee and Georgia.

Thirty-one percent of this year’s class is comprised of women. Two students, meanwhile, also have children who attend UC Berkeley, DeGraca says.

Launched last year, the Berkeley MBA for Executives program is based on the Haas School's innovative leader curriculum that was first introduced in the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program in 2010. However, the curriculum is specifically tailored to working professionals at the executive level. The program consists of five terms, which include on-campus classes capped by off-campus immersion, where emphasis is placed on how business in a particular region or industry works.

Key "off-sites" include :

  • Silicon Valley, led by Professor Toby Stuart, faculty director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, who will teach his entrepreneurship curriculum and take students to meet founders and C-level executives at startups and venture capitalists during this Silicon Valley Immersion.
  • Washington, DC, led by Professor and former Clinton adviser Laura Tyson, who will discuss how Washington impacts business and industry, with a particular policy focus on financial services reform and tax and health care reform. She will take students to meet many of Washington's policy makers and other influencers.
  • Shanghai, led by Marketing Professor Teck Ho, director of the Haas School's Asia Business Center, who will focus on marketing and pricing topics related to U.S. companies entering China and Chinese companies expanding internationally.

Experiential learning is critical to this program, says Mike Rielly, director of the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. “This group of students, all working professionals, is looking to take what they learn in the classroom and during our immersion weeks and apply it to their work in real time. Theory to practice,"  he says.

The 2013-14 students are already mingling with the incoming class, Rielly says. A number of career development events, as well a pre-game tailgating party at a Cal-Oregon football game at Levi’s Stadium in October, are planned to provide more networking opportunities.

One incoming student, Richard Wilson, a chemist by training, enrolled in the program after more than 20 years out of school in order to further his career.

“I wanted a formal business education to keep up with all the factors involved in getting drugs approved,” says Wilson, who is the associate director of project and alliance management at Theravance, a pharmaceutical company in South San Francisco. “We get work done through partnerships with big companies. I want to try to understand how to strike business deals and alliances and help my company grow.”

Two Haas Defining Principles, Students Always and Confidence Without Attitude, struck a chord when he was choosing a school to attend, Wilson says. "Confidence Without Attitude is an attribute I’ve always valued most," he says. "The more I met people at Haas—talking to Dean Lyons, talking to members of the class of 2014—everything just felt right. It was just a really good fit for me."

He adds, "It's a phenomenal opportunity to live, study, and work alongside a group of such accomplished people."