Third Week – being “in a moment”

The Top 500 Innovators Program is keeping us focused and happy. Both Peter and I enjoy the spirit of exploration and camaraderie that we feel with the group. We feel so fortunate to be learning and working all together. Not much time to blog each day but we are truly “in a moment.”


Program Day 1

October 15 – most anticipated day of the Top 500 Innovators Program. Today, we, the Berkeley Haas CEE crew meet the participants for the first time, and kick off the program. Molly and I already met some of the participants at the San Francisco Airport.

We are making final preparations at the Skydeck, a significant location for the program. Skydeck is a startup accelerator and technology entrepreneurship center where the young Berkeley students explore their ideas which might make them potential billionaires.

Skydeck, photo by Michal

Meanwhile, Molly, Julie and Peter meet the participants at their respective hotels and walk with them to Skydeck.

Program participants walking to Skydeck, Berkeley, CA, photo by Michal

Julie Shapiro, a Berkeley native, shares the town insights, photo by Michal

We are almost ready. Kristina Susac, our Director of Marketing and Open Enrollment Programs brings cookies baked over the weekend by her Mom. Kristina is Croatian and very proud of her heritage. She makes the morning really special by unraveling all the goodies.

From Kristina: “Cookies crafted by Croatian pastry chef extraordinaire Jana Susac to welcome our esteemed Polish guests. World expert on all matters, Papa Yanko Susac is reminding me to make sure to have the best Polish vodka on hand for a welcome toast.”

We are ready to start! Abby, Molly, Julie, Peter, and I welcome everyone to the program. We are so excited. I am proud of the planning and work we have done in anticipation of the Top 500 arrival. Here we are!

Molly and Ula welcoming the participants to the program, photo by Michal

Kristina gives a welcome speech in Croatian

…and then we all sing “Sto Lat ” (happy birthday in Polish). Today is Kristina’s birthday!

“Sto Lat” to Kristina

Our first lecture begins with Prof. Paul Campbell’s presentation on Corporate Entrepreneurship in the European Context.

Paul Campbell lectures at the Skydeck, Oct 15, 2012

Paul Campbell’s lecture

This is a really long day for the participants but they are such good sports. Everyone seems to be happy and excited about the program.

Boleslaw, photo by Michal

Our faculty program director, Prof. Andrew Issacs takes us on the UC Berkeley campus tour. He underlines the importance of wanting to make a difference in the world. This is what Berkeley is all about.

Campus tour with Prof. Isaacs, photo by Michal

We end the tour at the Haas School of Business compound. This is our final picture on campus. We are finally here!

Arrival Part II – It Is Happening!


First group arrives at Haas Business School

Our first 20 program participants have arrived! We met at the San Francisco Airport this afternoon. I was holding a Top 500 Innovators Program sign, awaiting the planes from Amsterdam and Paris. Everyone arrived safe and sound. What joy to have seen each and everyone smile. We got to the Haas School of Business this afternoon. We are so happy you are here!
Molly will be heading to the SFO shortly to pick up the second group arriving from Warsaw via Chicago. I cannot wait to meet them tomorrow at the Skydeck. We have a great day planned tomorrow. We get to meet each other for the first time, hear prof. Cambell lecture, go for a campus tour with our faculty director, and head over to the Lawrence Hall of Science for the program opening dinner.

This is our first photo, taken in Berkeley at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. Welcome Top 500. You are awesome!

– Ula

Arrival Day!

It’s 8 am on arrival day. In about 12 hours I’ll be leaving for SFO to pick up the second group of Top 40! Ula will pick up the first group this afternoon. Hang in there, Top 40 — you’ll be in Berkeley soon!


The Banners Are Here!


Molly and Ula with the Top 500 Innovators Banners, Center Street office, Berkeley, CA

Today is Friday, last business day before the program. We are so excited and busy!

The arrival of the program banners heightened everyone’s spirit. Our colleagues at the Center Street office kept coming up to my cubicle (=work station with four walls and a small entrance) to look at the banners, proudly displayed for everyone to admire. Some of my colleagues played pranks telling me that the word “Berkeley” was misspelled.

That was not the case! The banners were  perfect!  .. and Witamy w Berkeley means “Welcome to Berkeley.”

At the end of the day, Molly, Peter and I took our program supplies to our Monday classroom at the Berkeley Skydeck. “It is happening!” we kept saying to each other as we worked on the room set up.

Here are some photos taken during the pre-program set up.

Pre-program set up at Berkeley Skydeck, Justin working on the sound system for Monday

Ula hanging program banners, Berkeley Skydeck

Nearby, Prof. Arek Goetz and two UC Berkeley undergraduate students discussed their start up ideas. Shortly before that, they had shown me their 3D printer that was in a process of creating a 3D object. It was really cool! The Silicon Valley innovation was there in the making! Welcome Top 500 Innovators!!!!

Prof. Arek Goetz and UC Berkeley undergraduate students discuss their startup ideas

Program Preparations

We are getting ready to welcome Top 500 Innovators Program Participants!
Molly and I can feel the excitement as we gather our program materials, go through our multiple checklists and brainstorm on program activities. We are on email and phone 24/7.

Jennifer Zerfas of the Berkeley Lab House has visited our headquarters at Berkeley Center Street where we discussed the logistics of the participants’ stay at the Berkeley Lab Guest House. This is truly a collaborative project.

Now we have Peter Quintin on board and his expertise in hospitality management is outstanding. I tend to like to “keep things simple” and Peter looks at things carefully and is keen on details. We all count on each other and learn from each others’ strengths.

Our objective is to make this program as beneficial and logistically viable as we possibly can. It is about the participants’ experience and and their journey into the  inner workings of the Bay Area spirit innovation. As our Dean Rich Lyons has once said, the Haas School of Business prepares its students to be “path – bending leaders.” I sincerely hope that this program and our mutual cooperation will result in new ideas, innovative projects and help define a new generation of path-bending, science and technology experts and leaders of Poland.

Peter and Ula at their office at Center Street in Berkeley, CA