Leadership Communication & Ferran Adrià

As most of the other first-years, I’ve been spending the last few days racing against the clock to get some decent studying before Fall A finals. They’ve arrived so quickly, all of a sudden! It’s OK though, I tell myself, they’ll be finished as quick as they came. Hopefully….

In the meantime, I just wanted to write a few quick lines to reflect on two events that have recently taken place in the Andersen Auditorium.

The first one is yet another tribute to a very popular Fall A class: Leadership Communication. We have definitely been put outside our comfort zones in this one, and we’ve learned about public speaking and human relations in a very unique and experiential way. Check out the picture below, for example: during a class, all 60 of us participated in an exercise in order to prove that not only will people treat you differently according to your perceived status within society or your organization, but that you are prone to adapt your own behaviour accordingly. In practice, we held oversized cards on our foreheads representing our position within the hierarchy, although we only got to see the value of the card at the end of the exercise. If it looks like fun it’s because it was…

The second event took place earlier this week. It was the presentation of the “Ideas for Transformation” challenge, by famous Spanish chef Ferran Adrià in partnership with Telefonica.

Adrià wants to transform the relationship between creativity and society through the creation of El Bulli Foundation. He has selected five business schools to participate, Haas being one of them given our strengths in blending innovation and technology.

As a Spaniard myself, I grew up admiring Adrià’s boldness and foresight. Needless to say, I felt honored to share with him a few moments over lunch and during his presentation. This will be a tough challenge though, given how high up the bar is set; in the chef’s words, “if they can understand you when you explain your innovation, it’s not novel enough”.

Haas Venture Capital Competition

This is a guest post penned by Robbie Horwitz (FTMBA 2011), VCIC Organizing Committee, Judging Representative:

This Friday, February 5th, 2010, six teams of UC Berkeley graduate students will take on the role of venture capitalists for the day as they face off at the Haas school of Business for a chance to compete in the regional VCIC semifinals at the University of Southern California in mid February. Each team will be asked to evaluate business plans from promising entrepreneurs who are currently seeking funding for their businesses. The teams will perform due diligence in the form of a question and answer session with each entrepreneur, and will then prepare a valuation and term sheet for the business which they believe represents the best investment. A panel of experienced Silicon Valley venture capitalists will assess how well each team performs these tasks and determine the competition’s winner.

Recently, on January 22nd, 2010, the teams had a chance to practice their skills by participating in a series of workshops led by a team of two seasoned venture capitalists, an innovative entrepreneur, and an experienced and knowledgeable corporate finance attorney. These experts provided valuable feedback and guidance to the teams, which is sure to come in handy during the competition. Now, with less than one week to go before the competition, the teams are ready to compete and excitement has been growing on campus. It should be a fun event and a great learning experience for all involved!


First blog ever

I haven’t been this tired in a while. Orientation week (O-week) was an absolute blast; meeting the 239 individuals who comprise the Haas MBA Class of 2011 was an exhilarating yet exhausting time.

Being from the East Coast, I was not sure what to expect from Berkeley. The unbelievable diversity among the Haas students has really impressed me. My classmates come from all over: U.S. Naval Captains in China, an AIDS initiative fellow in Africa, plus plenty of Consultants from all over. One of the O-week activities was a mini case competition. We broke out into teams of 5 and representatives from HP evaluated our solutions to business challenges facing their firm. Although no one in my group had a technology background, the business insights we were able to generate really impressed the judges.
Outside of the classroom, we enjoyed social activities. My favorite was the cohort olympics, where we spent an active afternoon playing various games. Although I lost the cupcake eating competition, it was a fun way to get to know the rest of the class. For me, the students make the school, and the people here have been so welcoming to my fiancee and me.
Classes start on Wednesday, I will let you know how it goes.



Long time no blog, I guess. But then the first-years have done a good job taking over this blog, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

My third semester is almost over. Three down, one to go. I am currently busy finishing papers for a number of classes. Having just come back from a four-day trip to Copenhagen for the final round of the Vestas Winnovation Case Competition, I am both jetlagged and a little behind on all of the end-of-semester work, but the trip was well worth it.

I had worked on this case competition together with another second-year student and along with another team of Haas students we made it to the final round in Copenhagen where we presented our proposal to Vestas executives. Key buzzwords for our presentation: Renewable energy and China. Even though we did not win, this was a great opportunity to learn more about the energy sector, to network with people from Vestas and other MBA students (15 MBAs made it to the finals along with 15 engineers) and to visit beautiful Copenhagen. And since a UC Berkeley engineering student came out winning the Engineering price we still got to cheer for a fellow Cal student.

Now back to my marketing research paper.


Leeds Net Impact Case Competition: February 22-23

The Leeds Net Impact Case Competition finals held at the University of Colorado at Boulder focused on issues of eco-responsibility facing the technology sector. In particular, the case prompt was to develop a strategy for Sun Microsystems to increase revenue from its eco-conscious products and services by $1 billion over a three year period. Our team’s proposal constituted a three pronged approach. The first step was to develop the technology services competencies of Sun through a strategic investment in a company operating in the area of datacenter design and construction. Concomitant was to introduce two business model innovations: datacenters-as-a-service inspired by the Salesforce model and project financing for datacenters inspired by the innovative structures used for solar and wind energy installations. While we did not advance to be among the five teams to present to Sun, we did receive favorable feedback, and we feel our effort and work product reflected Haas’s aspiration to lead through innovation.

And we got in a sweet day on the slopes of Vail!

-Ben Biddle ’09, Morgan Clements ’09, Jeff Denby ’08, Elizabeth Singleton ’08

Case Competitions: They Only Come Out At Night – By Luke Filose ’09

“In a world of normal people who go to sleep at eleven o’clock, one crack team of analysts is working through the night…”

If this were a film trailer, the sentence would probably continue…“to decipher a long-lost Babylonian tablet containing the answer to an ancient secret of apocalyptic proportions.” In the world of business school, however, you’d probably be talking about a case competition. My first competition – the Leeds/Net Impact Case Competition at the University of Colorado, Boulder – focused on a leading internet infrastructure firm moving into “green business.” While we had plenty of background reading over the preceding weeks, our actual assignment (drive significant incremental revenue by 2011 through a new line of energy-efficient products) was given to us at 8 pm on Friday. Our deadline: 8 am Saturday morning. Cruelty, as it turns out, still exists in this world.

Despite the lousy hours, I felt good going in since my team consisted of a former management consultant and two former employees of major technology firms (Jon Burns ’09, Megan Ryskamp ’09, and Naveen Sikka ’09). Given this fountain of expertise, I focused on my core competencies: cracking jokes and procuring snacks to keep us going through the night. Here’s a summary of the Safeway receipt I just dug out of my trash bin:

· Six pack of Coke
· Six pack of Mountain Dew
· 12 pack of Corona (in case things got really desperate)
· Bananas and apples (they look good on a table)
· Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars
· Chips and salsa
· Spicy nuts
· Roasted and salted pistachios

At 8 am, delirious but full of snacky goodness, we submitted our presentation, slept for two hours, and then presented our strategy to a panel of obscenely well-rested judges, including members of the company.

Did we win? Well, let’s just say that none of the three Haas teams that qualified for the top 20 semifinalists advanced to the final round. Haas was recently ranked #1 and #2 in CSR, so my guess is that our ideas were just too advanced for the judges to understand.Like a good film, this experience had a happy ending, but not the one you expected. Due to the knowledge of the firm gained through the competition, I got an interview for a summer internship. If they ask me to name two weaknesses, I’ll probably say spicy nuts and granola bars.

—Charlene Chen

Race & Case Competion in Vail, Colorado: Feb. 7-10

My name is Charlene Chen, and I am currently a 1st year full-time MBA student at Haas. I also happen to be the VP of Communications of the MBA Association (MBAA), our equivalent of b-school student government. One of our new initiatives this year is to do a better job of sharing our classmates’ participation in case competitions with the greater community. I hope that this series of case competition posts will get you excited for this type of opportunity – enjoy!

-Charlene Chen, Haas MBA ’09

It all began with an innocent MBA Alert (the weekly email summary of events). Club meeting here, guest speaker there, and then, as if the words burned a bright light through my laptop screen, I saw it: “Race & Case Case Competition, Vail, CO”. It was an ethics case competition combined with a ski race, hosted by the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. I went into turbo mode like never before, assembling a team of avid skiers with questionable ethical standards to take on the best of the rest in the Rockies. The case was given to us over winter break, so we held a couple meetings in the week prior to our departure to formulate ideas and a work plan. We met with Professor David Vogel once to gather his input, which was helpful in providing us some direction for our answer to the question. With that, we grew out our beards, packed our fleece underwear and beanies, and headed east.

The case question centered around whether a union-oriented pension fund should divest a holding in its portfolio that was exhibiting objectionable labor practices. We spent the afternoon and evening before the competition and the morning of the competition preparing our presentation, which came together quite nicely in the end. We were able to incorporate ethical theory and practical experience in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) into our presentation, arguing that the fund should encourage the company in question to implement a CSR program with financial incentives that would allow all relevant stakeholders – the fund’s shareholders, the company’s workforce, and the company’s management team – to reap long-term benefits. We took a creative and relatively unique stand, which helped us get selected as one of four teams out of 12 to participate in the final round of the case competition. After the second round, we ended up taking 3rd place, behind Brigham Young and Vanderbilt.

That night we were supposed to head up to Vail, but the road was closed due to weather so we went out BIG in Denver. We met our classmate Jeff’s little sister, who is getting her MBA at the University of Denver. Small world! We had a nice dinner downtown and ended up at a bar called Red Square. We boarded a bus the next morning at 5 am for Vail and hit the slopes in less than ideal condition. We placed 6th in the ski competition, which was dominated by schools from the mountains – University of Denver, University of Colorado-Boulder, and BYU – no surprise there. We enjoyed the closing dinner and ceremonies on Saturday night up on the mountain at Vail, at which we were all earned various medals for our skiing prowess (bronze, silver, etc.). By virtue of a gross clerical error, I was awarded a platinum medal.

Overall we finished 4th. Not bad. We skied Sunday and enjoyed a glorious, sunny day of light and fluffy snow before heading home that night. In the end, we accomplished all of our goals: we represented the Haas name well, partied, got to know a few of our classmates better, and got a couple great days of turns in at one of the best ski areas in the world.

I like business school.

Clayton Schloss
MBA Candidate, 2008