MBA Students Score Big in Soccer, Trivia in Challenge for Charity

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Berkeley MBA students showed their prowess in soccer and trivia during the annual Challenge 4 Charity (C4C) Sports Weekend last month.

Nine West Coast business schools competed in physical and mental challenges at Stanford while raising funds for the Special Olympics and local charities.

Berkeley-Haas came in first with fancy footwork (and head and knee moves) in soccer. In addition, a quartet of Berkeley MBA students won the trivia competition. Overall, Haas came in third in the entire competition.

Haas students also flexed their musical muscle on stage in the final performance of David Haaselhoff and the Four Chord Principles, a band whose name is a play on the school’s four Defining Principles.

This year, Berkeley MBA students raised more than $69,000 ($30,000 of which was donated to Philippine’s Disaster Relief) and worked numerous volunteer hours for the Special Olympics; the Alameda Point Collaborative, a nonprofit dedicated to providing housing for and aiding the homeless or those at risk of homelessness; and Reading Partners, a nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s literacy rates through weekly mentorship.

Berkeley MBA Students Mix with Big Leagues on East Coast Sports Trek

Students at Major League Peter Garai, Albert Cheng, Juan De Jesus,  Anne Lewandowski, Juan De Jesus, Brandon Doll, and Ryo Itoh.

Students at Major League Peter Garai, MBA 15; Albert Cheng, MBA 16; Anne Lewandowski, MBA 14; Juan De Jesus, MBA 15; Brandon Doll, MBA 14; and Ryo Itoh, MBA 15.

A small team of Haas students tackled the contact sport of networking on the East Coast at the end of last month while attending the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and meeting with New York execs from the major sports leagues.

It was Berkeley MBA student Brandon Doll’s second time at the Sloan conference. Last year, after attending “from more of a sports fan’s perspective,” Doll was inspired to pursue a career in the sports industry. “It was a different experience this year. My strategy for the conference was a lot more targeted in terms of what panels I attended and who I was looking to connect with,” says Doll, MBA 14.

Doll, who currently has an internship with the Oakland Raiders, targeted people at sports technology companies and executives working for professional teams and leagues in business development, a job function he hopes to pursue after graduation.

Doll’s interest in sports stems from his grandfather, Don Doll, who played in the NFL for six years and then coached pro footbal for 25 years: “ I grew up in a family where sports were very important. For my grandfather, it was his livelihood.”

Sports also have a played an important role in the life of Paul Simpson, a student in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. Simpson played college basketball, and in addition to founding a tech company, is a founding partner of EDGE Basketball Academy, which trains high school and college students in basketball and provides academic mentoring and support.

Simpson, EMBA 14, was especially fascinated by not only the use of analytics on display at the conference but also the advancement of analytics across sports.

Moneyball 2.0

“Think of it as Moneyball 2.0,” says Simpson. Teams have gone from using analytics to choose players, as featured in the book and movie Moneyball, to using analytics to determine the best combination of players to put on the field, how to best encourage fans to attend games instead of watching on TV, and how to drive sales of specific foods, he explains.

Meanwhile, a panel on how team owners manage transition applied directly to Simpson’s daily experience as CEO of a tech company.

In particular, Simpson recalls, Vivek Ranadivé, owner of the Sacramento Kings, said owners want to do things that matter, and that drive helps them lead in a way that communicates to employees that “transition can be the catalyst of hope.”


Students at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: Ryo Ito, MBA 15; Brandon Doll, MBA 14; Juan De Jesus, MBA 15; Peter Garai, MBA 15; and Paul Simpson, EMBA 14.

After the Sloan Conference, several Haas students traveled to New York to meet with execs from the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, and Major League The meetings were organized by Doll and Juan De Jesus, MBA 15, who worked for Major League Baseball before coming to Haas.

“The trek was a great opportunity to apply some of the key management concepts that we have learned at Haas to the sports business,” says De Jesus.  “I now have a better understanding of the key issues that all the leagues are trying to solve and am excited to ideate potential solutions while at Haas.”

“It was really interesting to compare the different leagues,” adds Anne Lewandowski, MBA 14, a huge Red Sox fan and active member of the MBA students’ Sports Business Club. “You could see the spectrum business savvy, how international they are, and what they are doing with technology and marketing,” she says, noting looked like a San Francisco-style startup while the offices of the other leagues felt more corporate.

No More Old Boys’ Club?

Lewandowski was pleasantly surprised by the number of women they met. She especially enjoyed meeting one female executive in major league baseball who also had held high-level positions at two top professional teams. The executive described how she successfully negotiated a contract with a baseball player when she was with a team by taking a more empathetic approach to negotiations rather than just focusing on dollars.

“I could have talked to her for hours. She was so interesting,” says Lewandowski, who hopes to land a job in corporate strategy but is not yet sure in what industry.

“Even if I don’t ultimately make my career in sports, this trip was just one of those great experiences that crystallized that our classmates really did go beyond themselves, especially Juan and Brandon, in terms of organizing this trip and getting these meetings,” she says of the New York sports trek. “It showed the strength of the Haas network and my classmates’ willingness to stick their necks out and help us have a really fantastic experience.”

Five Things: >play Digital Media Conference 2013

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Making it even easier for industry innovators to attend, >play, the Berkeley-Haas digital media conference, this year moved across the Bay to San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel and from Saturday to Friday; Non–student attendance doubled over last year.  Below, five more things about >play 2013:

1. Who made it happen: Co-chairs Noa Elan and Chao Li, both MBA 14, along with 67 MBA student volunteers

2. Broken records: 600 people in attendance–the most ever.

3. “Always On”: A Body Electric panel on wearable technology and a Cutting the Cord on Cable panel were two ways of exploring the “Always On” theme.

4. Just one observation:

5. Covered in Inc: The 45-Minute Onboarding Rule and Lyft CEO: You Must Keep Your Consumer Focus


Backstage: Salman Khan’s Meet-up with MBA Education Club

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The student-led spirit at Haas recently resulted in a Dean’s Speaker Series event featuring Khan Academy founder Salman Khan, whose simple YouTube tutorials to help young cousins with homework exploded into a “one-world schoolhouse” with 3,900 lessons viewed more than 230 million times.

With an introduction made by Bryan Wong, MBA 14, Co-presidents of the Berkeley-Haas Education Leadership Club (ELC), Erica Butow and Tom Pryor, both MBA 14, took on the initial outreach and legwork to connect with Khan. The Dean’s office then helped to make the talk a Dean’s Speaker Series event—attended by more than 400 people. (Catch Khan’s lecture in the Haas video room.)

Butow introduced Khan before the lecture and says, “While I was thinking on what to say, I started to wonder how this was possible. How was I able to come from Brazil, from a non traditional background, and suddenly be there introducing Salman Khan to the Haas Community?”

“Thinking about it, I got to the core of what I am passionate about,” says Butow. “All of this was only possible because one day I was given opportunities and these opportunities opened doors, including Haas. As with most of us at Haas, I want to make sure I don’t forget about those who are not given the same chances.”

Khan stayed after his lecture to meet with members of the Education Leadership Club in a more intimate setting, an experience called “amazing” by ELC member Mike Ciccarone, MBA 13.

“At one moment, Sal Khan was trying to describe the way in which he thought virtual education might impact the labor market, and you could tell he was going into ‘teacher mode’ like in his videos,” says Ciccarone. “He asked for a piece of paper to diagram on and I was lucky enough to be sitting next to him. He drew a few scribbles in my journal to illustrate his point, and only afterwards did I realize that I now had an original Salman Khan teaching aid. I’m thinking of getting the page framed.”

“For someone like me, who wants to build a career working in the education space and bringing the lessons learned at Haas to bear on the problems of education equality, getting to meet Sal Khan was nothing short of getting to meet a celebrity or a hero,” Ciccarone says.

Butow says Khan exemplifies the mission of the ELC. “We believe that in order to have the impact we want, we need to multiply the effect we could have on our own by empowering others who will empower others and so on. We believe education has the greatest potential to change lives and break the cycle of poverty.”

Adds Butow, “We are really thankful to Deans Lyons and grateful for being part of this incredible and student lead community that keeps opening doors for us.”

Linked In: Broadening Access to the Game of Golf

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Working as an engineer in the oil and gas industry, Amara Aigbedion, MBA 13, received frequent invitations to golf with her (mostly) male co-workers. Not knowing the game, Aigbedion declined, but she noticed that missing a day on the links with clients meant missing out when “Others were out there making the lasting relationships important in business.”

So, when Aigbedion got to Berkeley-Haas last year and noticed Tilden Regional Park close by, she made the time to learn. She joined a large number of classmates in the “Tee It Up” lessons offered by the park’s golf course and says, “ I quickly got to know my fellow MBA teammates  and recognized the importance of being out there.”

“I had never had exposure to golf until those lessons,” Aigbedion adds. “And I have noticed that this is true for many women, minority, and international students.”

To remedy this, Aigbedion, VP of Diversity for the MBA Association, teamed with the Women in Leadership and Sports Management clubs to offer a Saturday morning golf clinic. The event quickly sold out, with more than 35 students signing up to learn the basics of putting and driving.

The outing was one in a series of “Beyond the Circles” events organized by Aigbedion. “These are designed to get people out of their comfort zone and regular social circles or cliques,” Aigbedion says.  Last year’s events included pottery and cooking lessons.

Due to demand, Aigbedion says that  she may offer another golf clinic. She timed this one so participants could sign up for the fall session of Tee It Up as follow-up and believes that several students will. Simply put, “It’s an important networking tool in the business world.”

Berkeley MBA Students Escape from Alcatraz

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By Guest Blogger Dennis Ducro, MBA 13

As happens so often in business school, an ordinary conversation can lead to great adventures and impact. When Federico Acabbi, MBA 12, mentioned he had heard stories of an Alcatraz Crossing swim,  I took the hint.

As co-president of Redwoods at Haas, I work to bring the natural beauty of California closer to our MBA students, and to challenge them. This event fit into Redwoods’ calendar, and the first edition of “Haas Escapes from Alcatraz” was born. It promised not become a walk in the park…the Bay is extremely cold, the currents are strong, and the island lays 1.5 miles out in the open water.

Eighteen MBA students immediately signed up for the challenge, and the team could be spotted regularly in the swimming pools on campus in the months preceding the event. Both amateur and former professional swimmers had made this their goal for the end of the academic year, before heading out to internships and full-time roles.

On Sunday April 29, at 6:45am, the time had come! The team boarded a boat that brought them to a deserted Alcatraz Island, and at 7:00am they jumped in the water! Classmates, a gorgeous sunrise, and views of the impressive Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco accompanied the students during their swim. Their white caps read: “No One escapes?! Challenge the Status Quo!” referring with a smile to one of the four principles that define Berkeley-Haas.

All of us made it to shore, and the supportive community that had showed up to cheer could read a great sense of achievement from the exhausted, but happy faces. Two students even swam without any wetsuit, which is truly unbelievable since the thermometer indicated 51F for the water. The shower, sauna, and brunch with friends were well deserved (as was the afternoon nap).

Top row left to right–Julie Miller, Sebastiaan Verhaar, Hans Lintermans, Dennis Ducro, Federico Acabbi, Mark Stolze, Brandon Piper, Bernie Murphy, Gene Boyle.; Two in the middle–Tycho Moencks and Ismael Ghozael;Bottom row left to right–Gustavo Ribeiro, Suresh Krishnamoorthy, Boris Kopinitsch, Jaime Szigethi, Dan Stotts, Ariel Dekovic

Look out for next year’s edition!

Haas Achieves: A Video Year-in-Review

Congratulations to the full-time MBA classes of 2012 and 2013. In just one year you have accomplished an extraordinary amount, from organizing conferences and international treks to winning case competitions. We are so proud of all you achieve at Haas–and have captured what we could (i.e. some, certainly not all!) in this Haas Achieves video. We know you have many achievements yet to come and wish you the best.

Video produced by Tritone Media

Winning Approaches: University of Michigan Renewable Energy

The Winning Team: Dave Hirsch, Rohan Ma, Dan Stotts, Josh Lich, all MBA 13

The Competition: Renewable Energy Case Competition, University of Michigan, Feb. 2nd.

The Team: Dave Hirsch, Josh Lich, Rohan Ma, and Dan Stotts, all MBA 13.

The Outcome: First place.

The Field: Fifteen other teams, including those from Columbia, Tuck, Fuqua, and Kellogg.

The Challenge: To move a Michigan utility closer to achieving 20% of electricity generation from renewable energy technology. The team analyzed the cost-effectiveness of both renewable  and conventional energy generation; conducted risk and extraneous cost assements, and developed a risk-minimizing strategy that included analysis of tax implications.

The Winning Approach: Diversification. “We suggested a solution similar to diversifying a stock portfolio that would minimize the risks associated with renewable energy,” says Stotts. Also, a dose of reality.” We emphasized that there is no ‘magic bullet,’ but rather a combination of best-practices to employ around locational diversification, smart grid, energy storage, and market integration. Behind these recommendations, we provided robust financial modeling the corroborated our story.”

Won Because: Judges praised the team’s thorough and consistent approach. Stotts says the team’s two “quants,” Ma and Hirsch, exhaustively researched the inputs to the financial models that eventually led to the final costs presented. “The judges, industry experts, could see our costs were logical and realistic,” Stotts says” Additionally, the team’s strategy was specific to the market in which it operated and highly applicable.

The H Factor: “There’s no question that Berkeley-Haas has a vibrant energy community,” says Stotts. “The access that we, as first-years, have received through BERC, the Energy Institute, and experiential learning really provided an intuition from which we could think through the problems.” The team also credits the Leadership Communications course with helping deliver a confident presentation.

Defining Principles at Work: “Everyone left their egos at the door in order to facilitate collaboration,” says Stotts. The team took a Students Always approach by believing they could learn from each other and incorporating peer feedback to arrive at a more refined message. “Our maturity and authority on the subject matter also showed the Confidence without Attitude” that was behind our teamwork.”

Why it Mattered: “These are important problems and this is the preeminent energy case competition in the U.S. We wanted to represent Haas and leverage our respective backgrounds to develop solutions.”

ZZZ Factor: Every spare moment from receiving the case on Jan. 27 to presenting solutions on Feb. 2. was spent on the case. The night before departure, the team worked until 2 a.m., then left to pack for 6 a.m. flights. Copious amounts of caffeine and 80’s pop via Spotify kept them going in those final hours.

Winning Approaches: UT Austin Real Estate Challenge

L. to r., and top to bottom: Mogabgab, Kepler, Eder, Simmons, McEachron, and Romero take on a market in turmoil

The Competition: Real Estate Challenge, UT Austin, Nov. 2011.

The Team: Full-time students Christian Eder, Josh Mogabgab, Derek Simmons, Nicholas Romero, and Tyler Kepler, all MBA 12; evening student Charlie McEachron, MBA 12.

The Outcome: Second place (second year in a row).

The Field: Haas came in ahead of Stanford, MIT Sloan, Wharton, and Yale.

The Challenge: How to buy a partner out of a joint venture involving three office buildings.

The Winning Approach: The Berkeley team used rights embedded in the joint venture agreement to buy its partner out of the deal.

Defining Principles at Work: “We learned to think about deals from the perspective of each party at the table—developer, investor, counter-party, lender—and evaluate each of their incentives to push a potential transaction forward,” says Romero of a Students Always approach.

The Motivation:  “We’re interested in how the built environment shapes urban areas,” says Kepler. “There is still tremendous opportunity to think creatively about real estate finance-related issues leftover from the recent financial crisis.”

Fuel of Choice: Take-out Thai food, Cut Copy mixtapes, Peet’s coffee, and Tony Romo jokes.

Demonstrated Prowess 2011-12: Education, management of organizations, marketing, entrepreneurship, and real estate.

Winning Approaches: MIT EdTech Competition

The Competition: MIT EdTech Case Competition, Nov. 2011.

The Team: Full-time students Gordon Chan and Kawai Lai, both MBA 12, Mike Ciccarone and Flora Kuo, both MBA 13.

The Outcome: First place.

The Challenge: Marketing and CSR strategy recommendations for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on a new online tool that helps parents to help children with schoolwork. “The aim was to reach especially those parents who may be low income and lack access to technology,” says Chan.

The Field: Included Harvard, Stanford, and Duke.

The Winning Approach: A holistic view addressing parents and school districts as separate segments. Also, a creative presentation featuring mock-up of a parental awareness video (pictured above).

The Motivation: “There have been many broken promises in education reform, but I truly believe that technology has the potential to deliver in its promise to improve education,” says Lai of her interest in the ed tech space.

Defining Principles at Work: “We actually had other competitors tell us that our team came across as confident–yet approachable,” says Kuo.

ZZZ Factor: Six hours of sleep over two days.

Fuel of Choice: Caffeine and shrimp chips.

The Berkeley-Haas first-place winners of MIT EdTech Case Competition: Kawai Lai, MBA 12; Mike Ciccarone, MBA 13; Gordon Chan, MBA 12; and Flora Kuo, MBA 13.

Demonstrated Prowess 2011-12: Education, management of organizations, marketing, and entrepreneurship.