What happens in Vegas...reveals the future. At least in early January when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is in town. Berkeley MBA students, naturally drawn to this celebration of questioning the status quo, made their way to see and, in some cases introduce, what’s new.
Natalia Psakhye, a second-year student in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program, was at the show to work. “The product I have been building for over a year was officially announced and got nominated for several awards including Best of CES People's Choice Award,” says Natalia, Staff Product Manager for Sling Media.
The Dish Network product, HopperGO, lets consumers watch recorded TV shows and movies anywhere, simultaneously on multiple mobile devices, and without an internet connection. “The product was very well received and made a great splash at the show. I have been going to CES since 2008 but this year was the most exciting for me,” says Natalia. “The release date is this spring and, while the adventure is not over yet, it’s a nice start.”
David Liang of the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program and VP of sponsorship for the Haas Technology Club, organized a student trek to the show and says, “One of the best things about attending CES was being able to speak with exhibitors about their products and technology.
“Just by talking to the company representatives, you can get a high-level sense of the technology’s capabilities, challenges, and potential use cases,” he says. “Also, CES was a great place to see and play with different people's interpretations and implementations of these trends.”
Berkeley MBA students with Qualcomm Director of Marketing Ignacio Contreras (2nd from right)
Trekker Johnny Zhu, of the evening and weekend MBA program, says, “The single thing that was most impressive was the scale of how many people are working use cases for new technology. Seeing all the Chinese suppliers and component makers made everything seem possible, with the ability to do amazing things at a low cost—purchasing parts or setting up a manufacturing line seem just a call away.”
Full-time MBA student CJ Dubash was most intrigued by drones and virtual reality. “I think there are some really interesting, outside-the-box (question the status quo) applications for these technologies. It was refreshing to see that there was a diverse array of use cases beyond simply media and entertainment.”
Students on the trek also took the opportunity to network, connecting with Haas Alum Ignacio Contreras, director of marketing at Qualcomm for an all-access tour of its booths. “This included demonstrations of their latest chips being used in augmented reality, virtual reality, smart cars, and even smart clothing technology,” says David.
An insider tour of the drone industry came courtesy of second-year full-time MBA student Kevin Sartori, enterprise product manager with 3D Robotics, “I can say that I left CES with a basic understanding of where the drone industry sits today and what possibilities might be on the horizon,” says David.
Students also felt that their Berkeley MBA experiences helped them view CES through a new lens. “Pre-MBA, I would have seen this conference as an opportunity to view the latest consumer technologies and judge them by their ‘cool’ factor,” says David. “Attending CES with other MBA students made me think more about the commercial viability and business models of the different products being shown.”
“Experiencing the show with classmates and traveling with people who were knowledgeable about drones or eCommerce made the trip a great learning experience,” says Johnny Zhu. “While it's still early for me in the MBA program, it’s awesome learning about different job functions and perspectives as they apply to all the technologies we were able to witness at CES—something that I definitely didn’t have pre-MBA.”
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