Dean Lyons on 5 Years of Haas Defining Principles

When the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business introduced its new curriculum five years ago, the emphasis would be on creating innovative leaders. Haas students have a distinct profile in the marketplace: MBAs who have tried unusual things, taken risks, and explored new frontiers.

The school published a Q & A this week with Dean Rich Lyons where he reflects on the fifth anniversary of introducing the Haas Defining Principles, an initiative that has touched all aspects of Haas: admissions, curriculum, staff hiring and reviews, alumni relations, and day-to-day operations.

Here is an excerpt from that interview that current Berkeley MBA applicants may find interesting, as it conveys how Haas strives to differentiate itself while creating ‘path-bending leaders’:

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Q: Haas now has five years worth of graduates who grew up with the Defining Principles. How are you seeing this reflect back on the school?

A:  I see it all the time. Here’s an example: we hand out our “culture cards” that list the Defining Principles. When I go to see a donor or alum I always ask, “Do you know about the culture work we’ve been doing?”

Many, many of them say, “I’ve got the culture card on my desk.” Or they have it in their wallet or purse. It’s not just that they’re aware of it—they are using it, and they have an appetite to be guided by it. They’re proud of it.

Another example: I was at lunch recently with some venture capitalists who don’t know the school very well, and I handed a culture card to them. They said, “This describes the kind of people we like to fund.”

Questioning the status quo is the first principle on the list, and most entrepreneurs are very good at that. But these VCs also know that if you can’t build a team as an entrepreneur, you won’t be successful. Confidence Without Attitude—they said that’s exactly what they’d like to see more need of. Students Always and Beyond Yourself fit in as well.

This article has been re-published as per the terms of LEAP Partners Program with Stacy Blackman Consulting.

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