Get Your Hands Dirty: Applied Innovation in the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program


In the Berkeley MBA Program, we shape innovative leaders, who question the status quo.  

It starts with a core curriculum that requires a course in Problem Finding, Problem Solving (PFPS) that teaches you several modes of thinking, such as design and systems thinking, and gives you new ways of taking on complex challenges.

This proves invaluable when you roll up your sleeves for the Applied Innovation requirement, choosing from 13 hands-on courses, offering everything from international consulting opportunities to partnerships with scientists to bring new clean tech to market

We knew we were on to something with PFPS when a team of first-year students were named "America's Most Innovative MBA Team" during the first-ever semester of the course in Fall 2010:


Haastile Takeover won the world's largest innovation competition in Fall 2010, right after the launch of PFPS. 

Then, more Berkeley MBA students went on to win competitions—and credit PFPS with their success, like this team, and this one, and this one, which didn't win, but came to appreciate the iterative process:

FTMBA_academic_post_PFPS_other_competitionAnother team of Problem Finders

Students also used PFPS in internships and new careers:

Eamonn Courtney, MBA 12, Business Analyst to Gucci President & CEO, Patrizio di Marco in Milan

But first, they use their growing skills in applied innovation courses.

They consult globally through International Business Development (known as IBD around here), this past summer partnering with Population Services International in Tanzania to improve the health of vulnerable people, identifying growth opportunities for a social media company YY in China, and helping SAP Labs in India bring technology to the country's huge system of small retail stores:

Team SAP Ganges in Bangalore

In Cleantech to Market (C2M), students are part of interdisciplinary teams that help bring to market everything from tobacco as a biofuel to a "smart" window that adjusts itself depending upon the weather and ways to reduce the environmental impact of fracking:

A heat-powered fuel cell that could help reduce the environmental impact of fracking

Students in Social Sector Solutions work with nonprofit clients on projects such as developing a strategy for a new Acumen Fund program in the U.S. and training San Quentin inmates in the entrepreneurial skills needed to take a prison newspaper statewide:  

From The Daily Cal: Arnulfo Garcia, center, editor in chief of the San Quentin News, works in the newsroom at Marin County’s San Quentin State Prison.

Students interested learning more about new ventures can take courses such as The Startup Lab and Steve Blank's Lean Launchpad course:

Steve Blank launches lean.

And they hone their skills by running and entering startup competitions, such as LAUNCH the UC Berkeley Startup Competition and the Global Social Venture Competition.

2013 Startup Competition winners Resido Medical

 How might you roll up your sleeves with applied innovation opportunities in the Berkeley MBA Program? 

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About The Author

Morgan is the Executive Director of Full-time MBA Admissions at Haas as well as a graduate of the program. She enjoys making personal connections with prospective students and guiding them through the MBA admission process.