2016 Best EMBAs: Mark L. Gorenflo, UC-Berkeley (Haas)

Mark Gorenflo UC Berkeley

Mark L. Gorenflo

Berkeley MBA for Executives Program, at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

“Mark brought wisdom and maturity to our class discussions. He doesn’t mince words, but rather ‘calls them like he sees them.’ He has a knack for taking a theory taught in class and making it more real and practical by asking insightful questions and sharing his experiences.”

Age: 54

Location: San Francisco, CA

Family Members: N/A

Education: United States Naval Academy (B.S.); University of Oxford (M.A.)

Where are you currently working? Director of operations, Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, Department of Defense, Mountain View, CA

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: Vice president of academics, EMBA 2016 Cohort, Haas School of Business; Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (life member, vice chairman of the Education Committee); U.S. Naval Institute (life member, member of the board of directors); Naval Submarine League (life member, award-winning author).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Serving as vice president of academics. It’s a great opportunity to help my “Haasmates,” both present and future, as we work with the professors and administration to make the program as relevant and rigorous as possible academically and as rewarding as possible professionally and personally.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Commanding a nuclear submarine. Command at sea is the pinnacle of a naval officer’s career. And it was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.

Favorite MBA Courses? Operations Management, Microeconomics, Marketing Management, and Accounting

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I had investigated several executive MBA programs on both the East and West coasts. I was attracted to the Haas program because of its Defining Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself, because they resonated with my career as a naval officer and then as a federal civil servant. During an information session, I was able to sit in on Joe Hall’s Operations Management class with the 2015 cohort. I liked the energy of the class and the professor; the interest the students took in those of us who were visiting; and the way the class was conducted — a rigorous discussion and analysis done in a fun-loving manner. Everyone was enjoying what they were learning and each other’s company. It sealed the deal for me.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Every class had “high marginal utility” and the professors are just top-notch. They so clearly enjoy teaching. By far the best aspect has been my wonderful classmates, who bring incredible energy, interest, camaraderie, and concern for each other to the experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of “Haasmates” to share this journey.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The most surprising thing is how much fun you can have, even in the midst of hard work, long days in class, and seemingly never-ending assignments.

What is your best advice for juggling work, family, and education? Planning, planning, planning. Take advantage of the free time you didn’t know you had to tackle business class assignments. Also, find a way to involve your family in the fun aspects of the EMBA — whether it’s including your significant other in EMBA events or a get-together after each block for brunch or dinner.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your executive MBA program? Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Think deeply about what you want to get out of an executive MBA and how each program you investigate would fit into your personal life and professional goals.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when …” I sat in Joe Hall’s Operations Management class as a visitor.

What are your long-term professional goals? Leading a company as a member of the C-Suite. The company should create real value for all of its stakeholders and for society at large.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents laid the foundation for my success. My mom gave her all to me and my brothers. And my dad, a career naval officer, sacrificed career prospects for family stability when my brothers and I were entering intermediate school.

Fun fact about yourself: As a result of my engagement with the Oxford Union debate society during my time at the University of Oxford, I was lucky enough to be Newt Gingrich’s debate partner against the vice president of Nicaragua and to become infamous in New Zealand for my intervention with David Lange, New Zealand’s prime minister.

Favorite book: Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series of historical novels exploring the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Era

Favorite movie: The Princess Bride

Favorite musical performer: Glenn Gould

Favorite television show: “House of Cards”

Favorite vacation spot: Provincetown, MA

Hobbies? Biking, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, movie watching

What made Mark such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Rather than using his intellect to dominate the classroom, Mark’s contributions often served to logically buttress a point made by another student. Mark is also willing take risks, more than once serving as my ‘respondent of last resort’ for really meaty, challenging questions.”

Joseph Hall

Adjunct Professor, Operations Management

Berkeley MBA for Executives Program

“Mark arrived at Haas with years of experience in the defense sphere, overseeing a variety of areas related to cutting-edge innovation and its impact on the military. Despite his vast experience, Mark came to the classroom with an open mind and a desire to learn new ways of thinking. He demonstrated a great ability to understand many new economics concepts as well as connect those concepts to his own past experiences. This enabled him to see in a new way why some decisions and engagements were more successful than others. Mark is the kind of student who gracefully keeps you on your toes, ready to jump in with a penetrating question or an insightful comment. It’s students like Mark who make teaching at Berkeley-Haas the rewarding experience that it is.”

Steve Tadelis

Professor, Economics for Business Decision Making

Berkeley MBA for Executives Program

“Mark brought wisdom and maturity to our class discussions. He doesn’t mince words, but rather ‘calls them like he sees them.’ He has a knack for taking a theory taught in class and making it more real and practical by asking insightful questions and sharing his experiences. It is clear to me that the cohort is much more with him than it would have been without him.”

Steven Huff

Lecturer, Marketing Management

Berkeley MBA for Executives Program


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