How Taking a Stand on Culture Makes the Difference at Berkeley-Haas

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When Dean Rich Lyons partnered with faculty, students, alumni, and staff to articulate Berkeley-Haas culture, the aim was to capture the school’s essence. What emerged were our Defining Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself.

“These have always been the Haas heartbeat,” says Lyons, “but we have never used them so deliberately to shape our community and to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.” Here are ten ways, among many, that taking a stand on culture has already had an impact at Berkeley-Haas:

  • Curriculum: As part of the Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD) curriculum, Haas launched the groundbreaking MBA course Problem Finding Problem Solving, giving students valuable tools to Question the Status Quo and bring solutions.
  • Admissions: The school assesses prospective students, in part, on how they live the Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles, through essay questions, interviews, and letters of recommendation.
  • Alumni: We have conducted the first of bi-annual alumni surveys to gauge familiarity with our Defining Principles. Already, 50 percent of those graduating in the past 10 years and 30 percent of those graduating prior know the Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles. Our aim is that in two years this familiarity will register with 70 and 50 percent, respectively, and, ultimately, with 100 percent of alumni who are within ten years of graduating.
  • Student Recognition: The Masters in Financial Engineering Program honors four students at commencement, awarding one student for each defining principle.
  • Careers: The “Standards of Professionalism” document signed by students to retain MBA career services leads with how the Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles apply to the career search process.
  • Recruiters: The MBA Career Management Group gives a copy of our Defining Principles to corporate recruiters and surveys them on how well Berkeley MBA candidates reflect them.
  • Faculty: All faculty, both tenure-track and professional, are now brought on-board with an orientation day that includes discussion of the Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles.
  • Thought Leadership: For two years, Dean Lyons has served as a leading expert in a national conversation on the importance of business school culture. He now expands his role in shaping that discussion, having been tapped by fellow deans to serve on the governing board of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the leading accrediting organization for U.S. business schools.
  • Staff-Faculty Teams: Volunteer staff teams spent fall 2011 developing ways to further deepen Haas community engagement with our Defining Principles. As a result, the school created two new staff positions dedicated to culture building and internal communication and is committing resources to implementing recommendations made by the teams.
  • Staff Recognition: Each year the school recognizes four employees with Outstanding Staff Awards for clear commitment to, and demonstration of, a defining principle.

Read more about the power of culture in the latest issue of Berkeley-Haas magazine.

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