Class 17 Embarks on a West Coast Residency to Experience Silicon Valley’s Extraordinary Management and Innovation
From January 11th to 19th, the WashU-Fudan EMBA Program organized the first west coast residency for Class 17 students, combining theory with practice as an important part of curriculum innovation. The residency was designed to raise the awareness of innovation and entrepreneurship, and to gain a truly exceptional managerial and innovative experience from Silicon Valley.
The west coast residency not only offers full theoretical guidance, but also offers in-depth visits to Amazon, Facebook, Cisco, and Nvidia at the “heaven of startups”— Silicon Valley. Students have the opportunity to meet with local business leaders and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to explore the secrets of how they lead these companies to success.
On the first day of the residency, Jackson Nickerson, a tenured professor at Olin Business School, presented the “Strategic Management of Innovation” to the students. Professor Nickerson graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1997 and is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Many of his works have been well received by the industry and have provided innovative thinking for institutions such as the FDA. His teaching further deepened everyone’s understanding of strategies and provided additional thinking for everyone to find solutions when they deal with innovative projects in daily work.
Amazon: The World's Richest E-commerce Empire
After the classic business school courses, the students began the corporate visits. For their first stop, the students visited Amazon, where Alex Rosenberg, who heads Business Development for Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, introduced Amazon's history and development strengths. Before joining Amazon, Alex Rosenberg was a senior executive at Graphiq, a prominent natural language Q&A startup company, which was invested in by many investors including KPCB in 2017. Rosenberg graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and also has worked at Bain & Company.
Nvidia: The Leader of the GPU Market
NVIDIA was founded by Jensen Huang in 1993, with its headquarters in Santa Clara, California, USA. In 1999, NVIDIA invented GPU, which redefined modern computer graphics technology and revolutionized parallel computing. Nvidia is not only a leader in high-profile graphics card brands for hardcore gamers, but also a leader in artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, and self-driving vehicles.
During the visit, Ned Finkle, Vice President of External Affairs at Nvidia, led the students on a tour of Nvidia, and also introduced the latest development in the fields of AI and deep learning, which further expanded the students' understanding of top innovative companies. Ned Finkle has worked at Nvidia for 12 years and his responsibilities for Nvidia include business, marketing, and government relations. Finkle graduated from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and completed an executive education at Stanford University.
Cisco: The World's Leading Network Solution Provider
Cisco Systems, Inc. was founded in the U.S. in December 1984, and has been recognized as a leading global network connectivity solution provider. With the company’s stock valued at more than $200 billion, Cisco is one of the world's most innovative high-tech companies.
Cisco’s Rick Butler, Sr. Director (HR/Compensation Executive), showed how the company works and its latest developments in technology, providing students with a better understanding of the “Cisco solution.” Mr. Butler has extensive experience in HR, payroll, and employee affairs, and joined the Olin Business School Alumni Council in 2016.
Facebook: A Global Social Hegemony with 2.6 billion MAU
Facebook is an American social networking service founded by Mark Zuckerberg on February 4, 2004. Today, Facebook has more than 2.6 billion monthly active users (MAU), making it the world's biggest “social empire.” Facebook's stock is now worth more than $430 billion, making it one of the world's most valuable Top 5 Internet companies.
Dev Bala, Facebook's product leader, showcased Facebook's product development system and creative thinking in her vivid and detailed presentation of Facebook’s case studies of products. Bala's department is responsible for projects related to AR/VR, and her team has developed products that provide voice recognition and the internal ecosystem support for Facebook. She worked at Google for seven years before joining Facebook and had extensive app development experiences.
In addition to the mobile classroom tours, a special "Investor Dinner" took place, where several Silicon Valley founders and executives were invited to share experiences with the Class 17 students.
In the second half of the residency, Professor Cliff Holekamp from Olin Business School brought students an exciting course titled “Entrepreneurship.” Professor Holekamp grew up in Los Angeles and earned his MBA degree from Olin Business School after working for IBM for many years. On becoming a professor at Olin, he spearheaded a range of innovative oversea outreach programs, including working with universities and businesses in Israel and Hungary, and created the Holekamp Seed Fund to provide financial support for startups.
The program also invited other guests, including Sfara’s CEO (Erik Goldman) and Yield Lab’s Partner (Kyle Welborne). Their excellent presentations further enriched the students' visiting experience.
This international residency to the western part of the U.S. ended by wonderful interactions with industry masters and interviews with the Silicon Valley innovators. After completing the residency, many students said they have not only systematically learned knowledge about innovative strategy management in one of the most innovative places in the world such as Silicon Valley, but also experienced first-hand innovative atmosphere—especially when directly communicating with executives from well-known companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Cisco, and Nvidia.
Since its inception, Washington University-Fudan University EMBA Program has been innovating and upgrading its curriculum in accordance with the rapid changes in today's business world. In 2018, the EMBA Program was named sixth in the Financial Times Global EMBA Ranking, which was also the seventh consecutive year that the program ranks among the top 10 in the world.
In the future, the WashU-Fudan EMBA Program will continue to expand the international residency and make the program more rich and fruitful.