Haas Executive Education: A $13.5 Million Business

The New Manager Boot Camp is really meant for first-time managers. “But we found that it attracts people who have been managers for 20 years despite the name! It is stuff that’s often not even taught in an MBA, or the kind of things that you never really paid attention to and it becomes relevant later in your career,” says Hischier. That’s why CEE is now building a more advanced manager’s boot camp which addresses the needs of the more experienced audience. “We are just trying to figure out what’s the next level. There is also the subtle distinction between management and leadership,” says Hischier.

A lot of CEE’s programs pull in strands from across the university. “Our faculty co-teach and integrate their research with other parts of campus like psychology and engineering. We do that for clients too,” says Hischier. “We leverage Berkeley around the desire of clients to learn not just about business.” Recently, CEE ran a program for Dow on sustainable chemical intensive supply chains. For this they collaborated with the College of Chemistry. The program was co-taught by chemistry and business faculty with public health engineering.

Heavy Emphasis on Custom Programs

Interestingly, nearly 70% of CEE’s business comprises of custom programs tailored for specific clients. “We have been able to build on existing custom clients so it’s just an organic growth pattern,” says Hischier. She says that open enrolment, on the other hand, is like a marketing machine as it is all about filling programs. Unlike Haas, a lot of schools tend to lean more towards open enrolment programs because they say that custom programs are too resource-intensive. Hischier disagrees. “I often think that over 85% of our internal resources are spent on that 30% (the open enrolment programs) just in terms of the transactional handling to register folks and marketing, etc. For us, I actually feel that custom is less resource heavy and our faculty like it,” she says, adding that there is a side of open enrolment programs where faculty develop something and they can just iterate over and over. Some people like it that way but those at Haas prefer custom and the client relationships there.

On the custom side, CEE does a lot of work with global clients in Norway, Panama and Asia and sometimes delivers modules on-site as well. For instance, in the case of Norway’s Statoil the program has four modules a year. The executives travel to Berkeley for two of them. The third one is held in Norway. And the fourth one is held in a place where they a joint venture and this year, that would be in Angola. Previously, this module has been held in Rio de Janeiro and Moscow.

Competition in the Bay Area

The market for executive education in the Bay Area is heating up with Wharton upping the ante at its San Francisco campus. “I would fully expect them to come out here to play. There are very few places in the country that have this combination of companies and wealth,” says Hischier, adding that CEE has some distinct advantages. “We have a campus environment and our faculty already here. They have to fly people in and out. There is less of an attraction on the university side – it’s much more of a corporate environment,” she says. “Wharton has a reputation as an excellent finance school. So they have a brand that they can leverage to their alumni out here. I think they will give us a run for our money.”

But that’s not the only competition Hischier is watching out for. “We are also competing against consulting firms and search firms. Also, why wouldn’t a client just hire a professor directly? There is a lot of competition and it forces us on the university side to think of our proposition,” she says. “It constantly tests us on what value does this lot here provide. And it really is the consulting, project management and client management, but we are really going to have to up the ante.”

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