Haas Defining Principles Beyond Berkeley

Dean Lyons and Dr. Carlos Prieto of Escuela Bancaria y Comercial discuss the importance of Defining Principles

Dr. Carlos Prieto, dean of Escuela Bancaria y Comercial, and Dean Lyons discuss the importance of Defining Principles

Even when we at Berkeley-Haas don’t travel, our Defining Principles do–making their way into other classrooms: Estudiantes para Siempre (Students Always) is one of the new “características distintivas” at a business school in Mexico; Confidence Without Attitude is now part of a course on public agency management at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; and a Berkeley Haas magazine article is required reading in a business course at San Jose State University.

In November, Dean Rich Lyons sat down with Dr. Carlos Prieto, dean of Escuela Bancaria & Comercial (EBC), Mexico’s oldest private institution of higher education. The deans first discussed the importance of culture to business schools last May, when Prieto was on campus for the graduation of his son, Diego Prieto, MBA 12.

The culture issue of EBC's magazine

The culture issue of EBC’s magazine

When they met this winter, Prieto was finalizing a set of guiding principles for EBC: Estudiantes para Siempre, Impulsores del Progreso (Progress-Driven), Honestos Sociablement Responsables (Honest & Socially Responsible). This spring, Prieto sent an issue of EBC’s magazine featuring the school’s culture journey on its cover, asking “Who are we?” and “What are our principles?” In a letter to Lyons, Prieto wrote, “The Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles have not only had a profound impact in your own school, but they have outreached your own boundaries and have been a source of inspiration for other academic institutions.”

Closer to home, William Riggs, an assistant professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo shared the following tweet:


Riggs earned his PhD in City and Regional Planning at Berkeley and met Lyons while working as a project manager on plans for the new Haas building.

“I see the Haas School’s Defining Principles as critical skills for future civic leaders as well as for business leaders,” says Riggs. “Public agency management tends to treat leadership and management as a dichotomy. I challenge my students to think beyond that and consider them in parallel.”

Back in the Bay Area, Herman “Buzz” Boschken, MBA 68, also weaves the Haas Defining Principles into his work. This professor of management and public policy at San Jose State makes a summer 2012 Berkeley Haas Magazine article on Haas culture required reading in his Principles of Management course. “The four principles serve as a basis for discerning a culture of competence and socially-aware decision-making in the firm,” says Boschken. “From this perspective, students can see that the character of decision-making hinges on an organization’s core values and a decision maker’s identity with that culture.”

Says Lyons, “Sometimes we forget that among all the world’s institutions of public higher ed, Berkeley is in so many ways a beacon, serving not just our own students but as an inspiration elsewhere. There is great purpose in that.”

Haas Culture Catches On–Notes to the Dean from Students and Alums

Ajay Kshatriya wrote to Dean Lyons about how Haas Defining Principles yield life lessons even for the very young

When Haas unveiled its Defining Principles back in fall 2010, it was not an announcement of a new direction but an articulation of a culture that already strongly defined Berkeley-Haas.

Kevin, Hill, MBA 07

One example: When Kevin Hill, MBA 07, returned to campus for his 5th reunion, he was so certain the Defining Principles had been in place back then, he bet on it with a classmate. Though he went home with a little less cash, he was glad to know his alma mater was clearly on to something.

From band names to life lessons for newborns, here are a few more stories Dean Rich Lyons has been told in recent months by students and alumni inspired by Haas culture:

Alicia Salmeron, BS 12

Alicia Salmeron, BS 12, reached out to the dean about being contacted by prospective students regarding her Haas experience. “I have never enjoyed writing long emails so much. All I needed to write about was the undeniably powerful culture that is Haas,” wrote Salmeron, now an account manager for Microsoft’s public sector. “The culture really did define my experience and is very much a part of what I bring to my work today.”

Showing the potential staying power of the Defining Principles, Ajay Kshatriya, MBA 11, wrote Lyons in August following the birth of his first child. Ajay had asked friends and family to share three values in life that they thought would be important to little Nikhil. The top three answers: (1) A focus on education, (2) a perspective greater than oneself, and (3) resilience through tough times. That prompted Ajay to write to the Dean: “I realized these represent our core Defining Principles…the Haas culture transcends generations.”

The Dean also heard from a Berkeley undergrad who took Solomon Darwin’s Open Innovation course. At the time, Henry Do, who will graduate in 2013, thought he would become a dentist, but his myriad experiences at Cal have launched him on a broader exploration. He wrote to Dean Lyons that his aim is to “make a larger impact” and to thank the Dean and Haas “for inspiring me to be more than another cog in the world,” adding, “The values I found most influential and inspirational to me (in my time at Berkeley) were the four principles that Haas holds its students accountable for.”

Members of a new full-time MBA band apparently had Haas culture on their minds when naming the group: David Haaselhoff and the Four Chord Principles. Guitarist Michael Nurick, MBA 14, says the name is a look at the ways the band embodies Haas Defining Principles. “We want to serve the Haas community and make it stronger, shatter the stereotype that top business school students can’t also be artists, learn to work as a team in an artistic context, and not take ourselves too seriously, while making this band the best it can be.”