You can now find stories about our MBA students in the full-time, evening & weekend, and executive MBA programs on The Berkeley MBA blog.
Drinking coffee is a given for students pulling all-nighters to finish up final projects, but for a dozen MBA students this spring, coffee drinking was the project.
The students spent hours on recon at local cafes, serving coffee to classmates and surveying them on every detail of the experience, and conducting a nationwide poll on coffee consumption habits. The research team was part of the Haas@Work program, and their goal was to help Peet’s Coffee & Tea find new ways of engaging Millennials.
And they did: Jessica Mitchell, Peet’s Director of Innovation, said that the students’ ideas are more than likely to see the light of day. “We felt they had a lot of potential to reach customers who are new to coffee. They’re really tangible solutions that we could see implemented.”
Peet’s earned a place in local lore and helped launch a nationwide specialty-coffee trend after opening its first store in 1966 in North Berkeley. Peet’s now has 237 cafes and 141 licensed partner locations nationwide, including seven in Berkeley. So it was only natural that Peet’s turn to Berkeley-Haas for a shot of creativity.
Haas@Work dispatches teams of MBA students to help inject fresh thinking into client companies. Students began with insight generation, identifying Peet’s core competencies and its customers’ core values, before moving on to idea generation—“It’s literally putting as much stuff out there as you can,” says team member Michael Christman, MBA 16.
After paring their list down to 15 ideas, the team worked with Peet’s management team to select the top three. Next, they designed and ran micro-experiments to validate their key assumptions. Students then transformed their insights into concrete recommendations for some of the company’s top leadership, says Ceren Baseren, MBA 16.
“The fact that you, as a student, have a chance to have your voice heard and to present in front of such a high-level client is extremely valuable,” she says.
Past Haas@Work clients have represented a wide range of industries and products, including banking, enterprise software, electric vehicles, health care, cloud computing, and pet food. In addition to the dozen students at Peet’s this semester, another 12 worked for Bio-Rad Laboratories, a 63-year-old medical diagnostics company also founded in Berkeley.
“What’s really unique about the model for Haas@Work is that the teams operate like an outsourced innovation agency,” says Dave Rochlin, Haas lecturer and Haas@Work executive director.
Over the course of the semester, students are introduced to the innovation framework and tools, and the teams collectively put in thousands of hours identifying insights and developing novel concepts for—and with—their clients, Rochlin explains.
“In the case of Peet’s, we took a deep dive and fresh look at both coffee drinkers and cafes, and how people connect with coffee, to try to understand areas where Peet’s innovation team can take advantage of unmet needs,” he says. The team also spent time examining how the company’s unique sourcing and roasting model might be further leveraged, holding in-depth discussions with Peet’s coffee roasters, buyers, and baristas.
In addition to Full-time and Evening & Weekend MBA students, Haas@Work is open to students in the Haas school’s Executive MBA program and the UC Berkeley School of Information.
Dr. Costanzo “Zino” Di Perna is a successful thoracic surgeon, Medical Director for the Dignity Health Cancer Institute of Greater Sacramento, and a physician with Mercy Medical Group Inc. He handles about 500 cases a year and oversees a large practice.
So why did he decide to enroll in the Berkeley MBA for Executives program?
In the first installment of two-part series, Zino talks first about why—in the rapidly changing healthcare system—he feels a business degree is critical to his own professional success.
In Part 2, he discusses why it may be important for more MDs to add MBA diplomas to their office walls.
MBA students put themselves—and their beards, mustaches, hairstyles, chests, and dignity—at the mercy of their classmates in November to raise $51,000 for some good causes.
The full-time and part-time MBA campaigns were part of Challenge for Charity (C4C), which includes nine West Coast business schools that compete in volunteering and fundraising. They will donate the funds to the Special Olympics, Alameda Point Collaborative, and Reading Partners. Executive MBA students organized a Movember campaign (mustache November), donating the proceeds for men’s health initiatives.
Read the story on the Haas newsroom.
Sixteen students from the Executive MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA programs headed far outside the classroom—to the paddock—to practice non-verbal leadership.
The setting for the two-day Leading Others Through Natural Leadership course was Devito’s Equestrian Center in Walnut Creek. Students had the chance to apply personal leadership challenges to on-the-ground work with horses.
“Horses create a ‘zero-base,’ because very few people know intuitively how to work with them,” says Lecturer Whitney Hischier, a lifelong rider who created the course. “Horses provide honest, accurate feedback in real time. They respond instantly and without judgment to our intent, our energy and our behavior.”
Horses have become increasingly popular in medical teaching: they’ve been used to teach bedside manners to future doctors at Stanford Medical School, to assist nurses with work-related stress and burnout at Brigham Young, and to treat conditions such as autism, Hischier says. In the field of leadership development, working with horses is a growing niche.
The one-unit course also included traditional classroom instruction. Students were asked to come prepared with an aspect of leadership they are grappling with, including a current or recent real-life situation—such as leading and motivating an inherited and disenfranchised team. After spending time on theory and role play, they headed to the paddocks for “real play.”
“Horses cannot role play. They can only real play,” says Lecturer Rajiv Ball, of Haas and the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership, one of the course instructors. “If you want a horse to follow you, you need to real play your leadership.”
In addition to Hischier and Ball, the course was co-taught by Professor Dana Carney, who holds a joint appointment at Haas and the Psychology Department and specializes in psychological and physiological connections between body and mind. Nanna Notthoff, a postdoctoral Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Personality and Social Research and an experienced equestrian, also assisted with instruction.