Student Perspectives:

Tracy Ericson

"Being able to pick up the phone and talk with peers in any given industry, and get insights is priceless."

Tracy Ericson, MBA 2010
Vice President, Wells Fargo Community Development Corporation

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Columbia and Berkeley each provide a strong draw for influential business and policy leaders, and the program is distinguished not only by its rigorous academic experience but also by its robust bicoastal campus offerings. In a recent town hall event filmed for global broadcast by CNBC, Warren Buffet (Columbia MS ’51) and Bill Gates spoke to more than 700 students from Columbia Business School on the financial crisis, business ethics, and opportunities for growth. “They talked about how we should think about and position ourselves for our future, what we should and shouldn’t do,” says Christian Klotz, MBA 2011, who attended the event. “It was absolutely fantastic. The School is very involved with the community and is always generating valuable opportunities for the student.”

Access to Thought Leaders

In recent semesters, students have heard from President Bill Clinton, former Democratic Party leader Howard Dean, and former Treasury Secretary John Snow, as well as Vikram Pandit (Columbia PhD ’86), chief executive of Citigroup; Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO; and Former Argentine Minister of the Economy Martin Lousteau, keynoting Haas’s first-ever Latin American Business Conference. Through the “Thought Leadership” Speaker Series, students have learned about the regulatory issues arising from the current financial crisis from Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley, an advisor to President Obama’s campaign. The student-initiated “Boardroom Series” brings CEOs, venture capitalists, and other innovative leaders together with students over dinner (the series motto is “great food, great wine, great conversation”). Another student-led series, the Berkeley-Stanford Cleantech Conference, this year featured, among others, California Public Utilities Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich and Marc Tarpenning, co-founder of Tesla Motors.

...And Much-Needed R&R

Events such as the annual charity gala, field day, winery visits, and local sporting events balance the rigors of intensive academic pursuit. Socializing within your cohort, across the broader business school communities, and with family and friends is an integral part of your experience here. For the past several years, members of the class have even decided to train together for an Ironman competition in Hawaii, exemplifying the mix of collaboration and drive that characterizes Berkeley-Columbia students.

The EMBA Experience: Community Building

The Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA class of 2012 got a chance to put the program’s values to work during an orientation team-building project that both fostered collaboration and had profound real-world implications—building prosthetic hands for victims of the earthquake in Haiti and land-mine accidents worldwide. Working with a facilitator from Odyssey Teams, a Chico, California, company that specializes in philanthropic team building, the students were divided into groups and given the task of assembling the simple prosthetics from a bag of parts—without being told what they were building. As the end goal was revealed, so, too, was the Haas tenet “Beyond Yourself,” as students successfully assembled 22 hands, to be distributed to amputees throughout the world through Odyssey's Helping Hands program.

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