MD + MBA = Improved Health Care System

HaasDiPerna-034-WebDr. 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.





Classified: An EMBA Immersion Applies Innovation Cycle Lessons to Dating

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This article is part of a series called Classified, in which we spotlight some of the more powerful lessons faculty are teaching in Haas classrooms. If you have a suggestion for a class to feature, please email Haas News editor

Two days into Applied Innovation Immersion Week at San Francisco’s towering Grace Cathedral, Joe Inkenbrandt, EMBA 14, is on the phone with his co-founders to schedule an urgent meeting. Inkenbrandt, an entrepreneur launching a startup to provide security for 3-D designs, is excited to share what he’s learning about the importance of gathering customer insights before the team goes much further.

This epiphany strikes during a week in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program when students move through an entire innovation cycle—gathering customer insights to frame problems, ideating and iterating their way to a product or service, and sharing their ideas in a culminating challenge.

Cast Assumptions Aside

Haas Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman, a leader in making design thinking and problem framing part of b-school curriculum, and Michael Barry, of Stanford’s Design Program, are teaching this applied innovation module, one in a collection of EMBA immersion experiences.

The challenge: develop a product or service aimed at easing the pain points of dating. In one exercise, Beckman has students generate “how might we” questions to get ideas flowing. “The goal is to generate as many questions as possible,” says Beckman of this process, known as “diverging.”

Post-its, each with a single question, seem to fly onto the walls: How might we help people have more fulfilling social lives? How might we soften the blow of rejection? How might we cure loneliness?

The shared element is focus on the customer, an orientation Inkenbrandt finds helpful. “I can see that my company’s founding team is making a lot of assumptions about what the customer thinks,” he says.

Rapid Prototyping

Surrounded by walls festooned with fluorescent sticky notes, Beckman issues the call to “converge” and the EMBA student teams begin the process of selecting one “how might we” question around which to design a product or service.
But first, they get a lesson on building—prototyping being an important part of the innovation process. The challenge: In 10 minutes, using only paper and tape, create an object that will drop as slowly as possible from an indoor balcony in the cavernous Cathedral to the floor below.

Suddenly the room is full of people standing on chairs counting as they drop an array of paper airplanes, doilies, and parachutes. In the end, the top performers are a tiny scrap of paper and, the winner, at 12.9 seconds—a completely un-embellished 8.5×11 sheet of paper.

Ahead of a second build (this one involving toilet paper and foil), Barry instructs, “Pay attention to how your team worked and pulled knowledge together rapidly—you’ll need this on Friday.”

Create under Challenging Conditions

By Friday, challenge day, the teams have begun developing solutions to problems that plague dating. Three tables of judges await, and each team, sticking with the same judges, cycles through in a process rather like washing one’s hair—with iterate, feedback, repeat standing in for lather, rinse, repeat.

Team “Sage Date” launches into its initial pitch, acting out a skit in which an anxious woman on a date suddenly excuses herself to make a stealth call to Sage Date for advice. The judges express reservations about mid-dinner disruptions. After five rounds, the team has added pre-date prep to their panic-abatement model.

“The process isn’t about coming up with the perfect presentation for the afternoon challenge,” says Barry. “It’s about teaming and about figuring out how to be creative while managing resources and incorporating (potentially contradictory) feedback.”
“I’ve been doing some of these things,” says Inkenbrandt, “but now I feel like I’m moving forward with even more tools that have proven success.”

Executive MBA Alums Back Classmate’s Biotech Venture

Matt Cooper of Carmenta Bioscience

Asked to describe the ROI on his executive MBA studies at Haas, Matthew Cooper, MBA 11, has no difficulty with the calculation: Lifelong connections and 25 percent of the funding for his new venture, Carmenta Bioscience.

Cooper, previously Global Head of Non Clinical Safety Information at Roche, co-founded Carmenta in April 2012. The startup is developing a highly accurate diagnostic test for preeclampsia, a high blood pressure condition affecting pregnant women that can lead to life-threatening seizures. Cooper, who nearly lost his wife to preeclampsia, says, “I am passionate about making this disease irrelevant.”

Apparently, several of his classmates are as well. When Cooper went out for a recent round of funding, this group of alums from the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program (Haas now offers the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program) invested nearly $500,000 of the over $2 million raised by Carmenta.

Among the investors are Tim Campos, MBA 11, CIO, Facebook; Bala Kudaravalli, MBA 13, IT architect, Symantec; Sonal Sinha, MBA 11, VP, industry solutions, Metric Stream; and Krishna Srinivasa, MBA 11, VP, Manthan Systems. Cooper, who also holds a PhD in toxicology, was greatly moved by the support, but says he knew he had chosen the right MBA colleagues before he even began the program.

“I initially had a very difficult time choosing between two EMBA programs,” Cooper says, “but I went to admit receptions for both and was most impressed by the attitudes of people  in the Berkeley-Columbia program. They were genuinely interested in you as a person and what you wanted to accomplish. They were all impressive and completely without attitude and that was extremely refreshing.”

Bitten by the entrepreneurship bug at Berkeley-Haas, Cooper, previously “a big company guy,” launched one venture while earning his MBA. Then, as an adviser for the SPARK biotech accelerator at the Stanford School of Medicine, Cooper was approached by two Stanford professors, Atul Butte and Bruce Ling, to discuss their research on preeclampsia. Cooper immediately became a strong advocate for their research. “Atul and Bruce subsequently asked me to join and lead Carmenta’s commercialization efforts,” Cooper says.

He was so “all in” that he left his previous venture and sold his house to seed Carmenta—a level of commitment that did not go unnoticed by his BCEMBA colleagues. “A number of them approached me about investing, but I had to hold them off,” says Cooper. “I was uncomfortable accepting funds from my friends and colleagues until I had bona fide life science investors on board.”

An initial bid to raise $300,000 resulted in more than twice that, so Cooper increased the stakes to $1.8 million and opened the door to additional investors. That funding round closed oversubscribed at $2 million, with a quarter of that coming from Cooper’s BCEMBA colleagues.

“The investment in Carmenta was at its core a great business opportunity,” says Tim Campos, “but it was also an opportunity to do something with someone that I have grown to respect and appreciate. I would consider investment with any of my classmates—a cohort of incredibly smart, ambitious, and capable people—who have great business ideas. I see this as a perfect example of what Berkeley-Haas has to offer to its alumni network.”

Cooper agrees. “Beyond the financial support, there was a ton of advice, guidance, and mentorship from many of my classmates,” he says. “I am so glad to be able to share this potentially lucrative opportunity with them and work together towards saving lives of mothers and their babies.”

Vetted: Jeff Allen

This week we are showcasing students at Haas who are veterans of the U.S. military. Today, meet Jeff Allen, MBA 13, from the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program:

Service: Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army and Washington National Guard.

The path to military service: “I grew-up near Fort Bragg, NC, during Vietnam, saw the difficulties military life put on the soldier, family and community, and remember thinking, ‘I will never serve in the Army.’  But, as I grew, I saw wonderful examples of Service and it instilled a sense of duty. I went on to gain acceptance into West Point and then into Army Aviation. My active duty service was primarily at Fort Lewis, WA, and ended with a deployment to Operation Desert Storm.”

Invaluable experience: “Following active duty, I began a 20 year career in financial services practicing as an advisor with Merrill Lynch, McDonald Investments, and UBS. After establishing my practice, I rejoined the Army through traditional service in the Washington National Guard. I balanced a dual career during which I worked through two bear markets and two deployments—and some rewarding experiences. In 2005 my WA Guard unit mobilized to help in Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. In 2010, in my final military role, I volunteered to mobilize to support four deployments drawn from my Guard unit, looking after soldiers downrange, their families at home, and rebuilding a leadership team to train those who did not deploy. God bless the citizen soldiers and their families.”

B-school because:  “Sometime during the turbulent decade that began in 2000, I got the crazy idea to conduct a career ‘pivot.’ I wanted to prepare myself for life’s next adventure and needed to retool and hone my management skills.”

Chose Haas for: “Its distinctive leadership in strategy, entrepreneurship, and innovation, which challenge executives to challenge the status quo.  Most people do not realize that military leaders are seldom told how to accomplish the mission. Berkeley-Haas is an excellent environment in which to practice leadership while being a free thinker.”

Opportunity capture: “Through the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA Program, I have built strong connections with people who enhance my learning experience with their skills and will forever be a part of my network. My past career was very local and I now need to be better connected on a national or even global level. The resources and people willing to help at Berkeley, Columbia, and West Point are endless and there is a welcome mat out at most American corporations for the talent and leadership veterans can bring.”

Meet other Haas vets:

Brandon Doll, MBA 14, U.S. Navy

Stephanie Knoch, MBA 13, U.S. Navy

Robert Shaye, MBA 14, U.S. Coast Guard