10 years of innovation, collaboration and thought leadership: Berkeley Columbia Executive MBA program celebrates 10 years

By Bhavik Joshi

Students Always: One of the four core values at the Haas School of Business was the theme for the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Berkeley Columbia Executive MBA program. Steve Blank, who has taught advanced entrepreneurship at this program since its inception, gave the keynote address. To see someone as accomplished and respected as Steve reinventing his curriculum going into the 11th year is evidence enough that even faculty are “Students Always”, constantly learning and reinventing themselves.

Steve now teaches the Lean Launch Pad class which requires student teams to “go outside the building” and validate their hypothesis to launch a scalable startup in 10-12 weeks. This experiential teaching of entrepreneurship as a management science to deal with extreme chaos and uncertainty at startups (temporary organizations searching for a scalable and repeatable business model) is truly disruptive. “Graduates” of the lean launch pad class are equipped to have a fundamentally different conversation with investors: “Here’s our original hypothesis, this is how we pivoted by speaking with customers, partners, competitors until we found a scalable and repeatable business model.” Powerful stuff!

Steve is always a hard act to follow. But Tim Capos, CIO of Facebook, class of 2010, described the power of the social network and the role it played in getting him to Facebook. Tim gave the audience an insight into Facebook 2.0: While Facebook 1.0 was about building the massive global social network, Facebook 2.0 is going to be about unlocking the potential of this massive information mine.

Ezra Roizen, partner at Ackrell Capital spoke next. Ezra enthralled the audience with his wit and humor. I have never seen anyone have so much fun with statistics and pie charts. From the results of a brief survey that he had devised, Ezra was able to prove to the audience that despite the attention deficit world we live in today, leading incredibly busy lives, we still have what it takes to be “Student always”.

The Berkeley Columbia Executive MBA program has been a big believer and strategic sponsor for the Berkeley Stanford Cleantech Conference Series that I co-founded in 2007 as a first year student. So I took the opportunity to moderate a clean tech panel to provide an overview of the outcomes from the first decade of clean tech investing 2000 – 2010; the present landscape and where the industry is headed. Three Berkeley alums represented the investment, policy and entrepreneurship communities. Brook Porter (Kleiner Perkins), Ilan Gur (ARPA-E) and Jit Bhattacharya (Mission Motors) shared their experiences and perspectives. Each one of them was bullish on the sheer magnitude of opportunity and job creation potential yet to be unlocked by this emerging industry.

Like the clean tech industry, which is poised for growth with a potential to lead the US into the energy-climate era, I see the Berkeley Columbia Executive MBA program poised to birth leaders who will lead us into our finest century and I like my fellow alums have the fortune of having a front row seat in shaping this future.

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