MBA 12s at Work: Honest Tea

Welcome to MBA 12s at Work, a periodic series on the new career launches of the Berkeley MBA class of 2012.

MBA 12s at work Jenny BurnsGrad: Jenny Burns, MBA 12.

Working as: Brand Manager with Honest Tea in Bethesda, MD, responsible for all bottled tea and “ade” (e.g. juice) products. Her role includes product development and innovation, packaging, retail marketing and partnerships, and brand advertising.

Most excited to be working on: Helping develop a new line of zero-calorie sodas called Honest Fizz–the company’s first foray into carbonated drinks. “I feel such a sense of ownership and pride over the finished product.”

Honest Tea because: “I went to Berkeley-Haas specifically to work for a small, sustainable food or beverage company. I’m now in the exact role I described wanting in my admissions essay.”

Inside Honest Tea: “After 15 years (and acquisition by the Coca-Cola Company), our R&D lab is still located in our office, right next to the employee kitchen. I’m often greeted by boiling tea and wonderfully fragrant smells as I grab my breakfast each morning.”

Best career search strategies: Burns attended industry trade shows to stay on top of trends, new products, marketing tactics, and recent corporate acquisitions. “I was able to speak like an insider during interviews.” Mentoring and open office hours with the MBA Career Management Group provided “invaluable professional guidance before interviews and during negotiations.”

Classroom lessons in action: A Stonyfield Yogurt case from Wasim Azhar’s Channels of Distribution course detailing the structure and incentives of channels in the food industry helped Burns tailor Honest Tea’s bundle partnerships, marketing materials, and discounts “to better meet the needs of each of our key retailers and its shoppers.”

The Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD) approach: “I took Entrepreneurship for my experiential learning class and the tools for developing an investor pitch have proved applicable to my work at Honest Tea. Managers are often too busy and impatient to deal with a lot of ‘process,’ but you still need to get everyone aligned before getting too far down a path. I’ve found creating mini pitch decks with a few key visuals and actionable insights are the best way to sell ideas up the chain.”

Living the D.C. life: Drinking wine and dancing to French pop music at an embassy party with classmates Asher Burns-Burg and Chelsea Tanaka felt “like such a ‘D.C.’ way to spend a Saturday night.”


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.

On the Road with Problem Finding Problem Solving: New Skills Fuel Shuttle Startup

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It’s 10 p.m. on a Saturday night in June and Michael Vladimer and Tuyet Vu, both MBA 13, are at the corner of 19th and Valencia Streets in San Francisco’s Mission District, a thriving area for nightlife. However, Vladimer and Vu are not club-hopping, they’re…playing in traffic.

The two have spent the summer working on their early-stage startup, Yaygo, a shuttle service requested via smartphone that aims to be fast, fun, and affordable. As part of their launch process, they’ve used skills honed in the Berkeley MBA Program’s Berkeley Innovative Leader (BILD) curriculum, including the required Problem Finding, Problem Solving course (PFPS)–making firsthand observation one of their first priorities.

Hence, a Saturday night spent charting the frequency and direction of taxi traffic and interviewing club-goers on how transportation is enhancing their evenings (or not). Observed on this night were 30-minute waits for taxis, women in spiked heels darting into traffic to flag down cabs, and one would-be passenger calling out in frustration, “Hey, that’s our cab!” as it drove off with a more aggressive fare.

“This is not how transportation should work,” says Vladimer, shaking his head. “Not when we have smart phones as a way to share where we are and when and where we want to go.”

“I’ve had many bad experiences with transportation and many times secretly wish for a faster, safer and cheaper way to get around,” agrees Vu. “Designing Yaygo’s operation and actually implementing it has been a fascinating experience and it feels good to help make people’s transportation experience better.”

The team entered three competitions this past spring, making the finals in Big Ideas@Berkeley and the semi-finals in the UC Berkeley Startup Competition. From there, they launched into trial operations this summer, renting some plush wheels and giving free rides to continue the information-gathering process. The team began by targeting weekend club-goers, which let them operate and observe on Saturday nights and spend the week incorporating what they’d learned into the rapid prototyping processes learned in PFPS.

For instance, the ride theft observed on that Saturday night in the Mission arose because the cab driver had no way to validate that he was picking up the person who had actually called for the lift. This observation led to a Yaygo response that would reassure customers that the ride they’d called for couldn’t be pilfered—the introduction of “pirate” passwords to be given before boarding.

“I’ve found that it’s easy to fall into the trap of tacitly assuming that I understand the problem correctly and jumping into developing a solution,” says Vladimer.  “My studies at Haas, and in PFPS in particular, have taught me to step back and re-evaluate the problem itself.”

“Similarly, PFPS taught us how to create a playful, fun environment that produces meaningful real-world results — a culture that we’ve deliberately included in Yaygo,” Vladimer adds. “We’re tearing down the wall between work hard and play hard.”

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

Dinner with eBay’s Chief Marketer

Richelle Parham, eBay's chief marketer for North America, addresses the CMO Insight Series

Richelle Parham could have spent last Tuesday evening with actor Brad Pitt. Instead, the chief marketing officer for eBay North America was discussing brand strategy with Berkeley MBA students over dinner and seemed delighted to be doing so.

Parham kicked off the first session in this year’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Insight Series, a Berkeley MBA course in which top marketing executives from companies including Wells Fargo, Jamba Juice, Salesforce, and Genentech will share wisdom with students in the classroom and in a more intimate setting over dinner.

Parham’s missed opportunity to rub shoulders with Pitt was during an eBay online charity auction experience brought to life in a physical and interactive gallery hosted by eBay and Make It Right, an organization Pitt founded to help rebuild New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. She fit in her Haas engagement between serving as a panelist at a White House Urban Economic Forum and as keynote speaker at the Dare 2B Digital conference on tech careers for young women.

In class, Parham discussed the company’s auctions aimed at raising funds for charity, sharing examples from Buffet, Bieber, and Beatrice (Warren, Justin, and Princess). Each auctioned off something of value (lunch with, lock of hair, famous pink party hat) to raise funds—together more than $2.9 million in this case—for worthy causes.

Repositioning the World’s Largest Online Marketplace

However, eBay is now about much more than auctions, as Parham pointed out while sharing insights on repositioning “the world’s largest online marketplace.” Parham, who previously served as head of global marketing innovations and initiatives for Visa, launched the class with one of eBay’s new TV spots. “Good, you laughed!” she said at the end. “I’ll say more later about why that was important.”

Parham said that while eBay enjoys 99.9 percent to 100 percent brand recognition, the company still has legacy perceptions to battle. “A lot of people still think of eBay as the place for auctions and used merchandise, but, in fact, 90 percent of eBay items today are fixed price and more than 50 percent of our merchandise is brand new,” she said. Much of her work since joining eBay in fall 2010 has been to align consumer perceptions with eBay’s new reality.

Whimsy is part of the approach, hence Parham’s appreciation of the laughs that followed her TV spot about parental attention deficit at a child’s school play. The new campaign pokes gentle fun at everything from “mom jeans” to gossiping about celebrities during a mani/pedi and features eBay’s new messaging: When it’s on your mind it’s on eBay. Buy it new. Buy it now.

The spots also feature shoppers making purchases via mobile devices. “Mobile is where the online and offline worlds meet,” said Parham. In 2011, eBay’s mobile application was downloaded 70 million times.

Parham chats over dinner with Emma Qian, MBA 12

Over dinner, the group of five students had fewer than 70 million questions, but still quite a lot. For a relaxed two hours, they asked anything they wanted of eBay’s CMO—and in the course of the semester, each student has dinner with one speaker.

They wanted to know how Parham had charted her career, how eBay’s product organization is structured, how budgeting happens, how she achieves work/life balance, and what she looks for in hiring, to which she responded, “Know my business. Ask me questions that make me think. Don’t be afraid to break some glass.” Parham also shared thoughts on the importance of drawing youth, and girls in particular, to technology and about beloved collections (Barbie in her case, 80’s action figures for participating student Andrew Wisnewski, MBA 13).

As the evening wound down, Parham asked the group what they wanted to get out of the course and what they felt they got from her presentation. “For me this is a guide for how people who do marketing think about their customers, since I don’t have that background,” said Meredith Benedict, MBA 13. “It’s like getting all the lessons of a marketing class, but from real people.”

Courses Make their Mark on Part-time MBA Students

With the spring semester sprung, students in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program take a moment to look back on some of the courses that made lasting impressions this past fall:

Lynn Upshaw's Strategic Brand Management course: Real-world examples, insightful guest speakers

Emily Douglas, MBA 13, says real-world examples in Lynn Upshaw’s Strategic Brand Management elective helped her to understand the importance of human nature in marketing. “We talked about connecting with human emotions on more obvious products like diapers, where new moms are looking for guidance, but also for less obviously emotional products like routers, where buyers want to use products they can trust with their jobs.”

Yelena Bushman, MBA 13, says guest speakers in Upshaw’s course added to her learning experience. She appreciated the chance to walk through the evolution of a corporate mass media campaign with Cisco’s director of marketing brand strategy and identity, Monique Mulbry.

Jill Rea, MBA 13, says it was eye-opening to learn from Holly Schroth that “everything is negotiable.” She says the Negotiations course offered extensive practice and a wealth of stories from Schroth’s professional experience, as well as the opportunity for students to share examples from their own workplace experiences.

First-year student Ronan Kennedy, MBA 14, was impressed by Shachar Kariv’s teaching of the core Microeconomics course and says Kariv held a reality game show to demonstrate the power of second bid auctions. “We also used game theory to discern how smart we think we are–and how smart our opponents think we are.”

The message from Kariv’s course that will stay with Kurt Zhao, MBA 14: Everything in life is quantifiable. “Shachar totally stunned me when he explained the root cause of unemployment using just one simple graph within a minute, precisely and elegantly.”

For Hussein Khazaal, MBA 12, the mix of lecture, exercises, and reflection offered in Sara Beckman’s Problem Finding, Problem Solving (PFPS) course drove home the importance of understanding customer needs before searching for solutions. “It is critical to observe potential users and learn first-hand about their pain points,” he says. “My engineering background was focused on solving a problem, but that is only one part of the puzzle,” says Khazaal. PFPS provided a step-by-step guide to an entire problem framing, problem solving process, as well as a safe environment for learning and applying concepts.

Part-time MBA students gave kudos to a number of other courses, including: Mark Rittenberg’s Active Communications course, touted by Bernie (Bernadette) Geuy, MBA 12, for offering the chance to “find your authentic voice and leverage your life stories to be an effective communicator;” Leif Nelson’s Market Research class, hailed by Jessica Galeria, MBA 13, for imparting solid skills in regressions and cluster analysis in remarkably entertaining ways; and Jo-Ellen Pozner’s Leading People course, said by Erik Krogh-Jespersen, MBA 14, to provide a set of tools for influencing opinion and shifting biases.

Maker Lair: Students Develop New Products in Hands-on Course

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Creativity is a matter of course in Managing the New Product Development Process. For nearly 15 years, this joint Berkeley MBA/Mechanical Engineering course has guided inter-disciplinary student teams from concept generation through prototype development in a semester-long project.

Industry professionals from IDEO, Frog Design, and Google provide coaching to the teams, whose students come from Berkeley MBA and graduate engineering programs and from the California College of the Arts. Work culminates with a product tradeshow.

Alden Woodrow, MBA 12, worked on Project “Reinventing the Briefcase,” an idea from Mechanical Engineering teammate Emily Rice, MS 12, who observed that urban professional men use different bags for work, working out, and going out. A flap on the team’s “Either” bag changes the look from conservative black with a leather handle to bright print with shoulder or backpack straps. “We envisioned a young SF lawyer going from an important client meeting to drinks with friends in the Mission,” says Woodrow.

Sue Young, MBA 12, worked on PocketKey, a keychain that can charge a cell phone.”We’ve all had the moment where we can’t call our friend, reply to our boss’ email, or find the restaurant because our phone ran out of battery,” says Young. Learning the importance and the how-to of understanding customer needs was her biggest takeaway from the course. “In a corporate setting, I find the focus within problem solving is more on finding solutions and less on a deep understanding of the problem. In the design process, understanding the need is absolutely critical.”

See the World. Make it Better.

Students Make a Difference through International Consulting Projects

Phil Seo spent part of his summer working with an NGO in Kenya; Hamid Schricker, working on sustainable forest management in the Amazon; and Elise Mariner, in India with a Clinton Foundation AIDS/HIV mission. The three MBA 11s discuss their consulting projects through the International Business Development course and provide an overview of global learning at Berkeley-Haas, from conferences and clubs with an international focus to the Haas-originated Global Social Venture Competition. Plus, greetings from just a few of the Berkeley MBA program’s global citizens.

Who makes you proud to be Berkeley-Haas? Share your stories with

Top 40

Terry Taylor Makes Poets & Quants Top B-School Profs List

Associate Professor Terry Taylor was touted as one of “The World’s 40 Best B-School Profs Under 40” in a Poets & Quants post.

“Poets and Quants searched near and far to uncover this remarkable group of men and women…” noted post author Andrea Carter. The all-things-B-school website asked school officials, students, and alumni for favorites and then sorted through the nominations to come up with the list.

In addition to research work in the economics of operations management and supply chain management, Taylor teaches Operations in the Full-time MBA Program and Quantitative Analysis for Business Decisions in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program. However, notes Bernie Murphy, MBA 11, “Professor Taylor doesn’t just teach Operational Leadership, he personifies it.”

Adds Murphy, who was quoted in the post, “…Prof Taylor takes a deep interest in ensuring his students are connecting with course material and is both responsive and available to address student concerns of a professional as well as academic nature.”

Learn more about what it’s like in Taylor’s classroom in the student blog post Experiential Learning in the Classroom: What do operations and beer manufacturing have in common?

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Marketing Matters

Marketing Officers Share Insights in New Speaker Series Course

Del Monte CMO Bill Pearce kicks off the series on February 9.

Experts who “thrive” and “think outside the bun” will share wisdom with students in the Full-Time MBA Program through a new course launching this spring: the Chief Marketing Officer Insight Series. The CMOs and senior marketing VPs who drive the thrive at Kaiser Permanente and shun the bun at Taco Bell will speak, as will marketing leaders from Levis, Yahoo!, Chevron, and more.

In addition to sharing insights and case studies from their organizations in a lecture, the marketing execs will join a small group of students for dinner after class and engage in additional mentoring. The 10-week course was developed by the Berkeley-Haas marketing area and will meet on Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Feb. 9 through April 20. See the full CMO speaker schedule for more details.

For more on marketing, check out the Haas Marketing Club, which offers case workshops, corporate day-on-the-job treks, and its own speaker series. Next up: Lunch and learn with Neutrogena on Jan. 19.

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