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COBE Success Story

Certificate in Business Excellence: an Immersive Experience

Headshot of Steve Hubert

A Conversation with COBE Alum Steve Hubert

In 2016, Steve Hubert of London, United Kingdom, was ready to take his personal development to the next level. He approached his boss at Hewlett Packard Enterprise with a proposal for the company to cover expenses for his professional development. With a thumbs-up and carte blanche from his boss, Steve began researching available programs. He knew there were reputable schools in the U.K. and throughout Europe, with plenty in the U.S. as well. He was highly motivated to find just the right fit, so he cast his net far and wide.

That’s when Steve discovered the UC Berkeley Executive Education program. Reading the website for the first time, he felt inspired by participants’ testimonials and was moved by the program’s views on education. The UC Berkeley and Haas School of Business philosophy resonated with him.

The High-Impact Leadership program, in particular, is what first interested Steve, so he signed up, curious to see what it would bring. He intended to take the program as a one-time educational experience, but he enjoyed the program so much, decided to continue on and is now set to complete his fifth and final program to earn his Certificate of Business Excellence.

In a recent conversation, Steve shared his experience.

“I’m not over exaggerating when I say this — the initial program I completed, High-Impact Leadership, was life-changing for me. It sparked a passion and put a new emphasis on the value of education for me. It has challenged me to learn more. I now look for the attribute of continual learning in individuals whom I bring onto my team.”   

“The High-Impact Leadership program also gave me practical tools that I took back to my role, that is, new ways of thinking and methodologies that I use on a regular basis. To me that’s the greatest testament to the value of the program. I had asked myself, if I am going to invest time in becoming more educated, will I use what I’ve learned? On the one hand, I could learn something and put it on the shelf and never use it. On the other hand, I could learn something and use it regularly in my work and beyond. For me, it’s been the latter. What I learned in this first course are things that I come back to time and time again.”  

Champing at the Bit for Advanced Executive Presence

In 2017, Steve had started a new position at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and wanted his new leadership to support this educational journey. Around the same time, he had been in touch with faculty he’d met in the High-Impact Leadership program and learned there was a new program in the works, Advanced Executive Presence.     

“Moving into my new role at HPE, I needed my new leadership to support my educational journey. When I heard about the new Advanced Executive Presence program, I knew I wanted to participate. During negotiations for the new position, I presented a strong business case on why continuing my education was a good idea, detailing what I had learned in the first program and how I brought new skills to my role. The thought of spending more time with UC Berkeley faculty — individuals who had changed the course of my life — well, I jumped at it. I was chomping at the bit to take this program.”

Steve was part of the first cohort to take the Advanced Executive Presence program. 

In 2018 Steve moved from his role at Hewlett Packard Enterprise to a new position at Salesforce.  

“Through the interview process at Salesforce, I talked a lot about my experience at Berkeley and my philosophy on education. Ironically, in 2016 when I participated in the High-Impact Leadership program, I had asked Berkeley instructor, mentor, and friend Mark Rittenberg about great companies to work for. He had mentioned Salesforce because of the culture and the way they look after their people…so when I had the opportunity to join Salesforce in 2018, I had his endorsement in the back of my mind. Plus, Salesforce has an annual educational allowance. At that point I was fully engaged in a Certificate of Business Excellence, which is very important to me. I completed the Executive Decision Making program in 2018 and Financial Data Analysis for Leaders earlier this year.”  

Learning and Diversity 

“Berkeley Executive Education offers a unique learning environment. I feel that I have found a spiritual home on the Berkeley campus. Everything feels right. The culture. The learning environment. It challenges me in many, many ways — especially to be my authentic self. I have learned that being my true self is the best way to thrive as a leader and to invigorate others around me.” 

“Because of my experience at Berkeley, I have a deeper sense of appreciation for diversity and for individuals who challenge me to see things differently. Now, as I build my teams at work, I look for candidates who bring different thought processes and backgrounds. I make it a point to bring in diverse individuals — ethnically, experientially, through thought processes, gender diversity, geographic origins, and so forth — to make a stronger team.”

An International Perspective—Advice for New Program Participants

One of the appeals for Steve in choosing Berkeley was to meet students and faculty from the United States as well as other parts of the globe. 

“When I was searching for a program, I looked beyond European schools to be challenged beyond what’s familiar. I met one other fellow from the U.K. in the Berkeley programs. The majority of students were from the U.S. — many of them born elsewhere, but after attending college or university in the States, they stayed. I’ve gained perspectives and ideas at Berkeley that I couldn’t have by staying near my home country.”

Now, set to complete his fifth and final program to earn his Certificate of Business Excellence, Steve has found his Berkeley groove.     
“Back on campus, I go straight to Caffé Strada, order my 7 a.m. coffee and cinnamon roll, and dial into their Wi-Fi. It puts me immediately back into campus mode. In the evenings, I enjoy dinner with faculty or other program participants. As for where to stay, I enjoy staying in San Francisco. It’s a 24-minute BART ride to Berkeley – it’s so easy. That way I get the cosmopolitan feel of the city and I can easily meet with my San Francisco Salesforce colleagues. I have also stayed at the Graduate Hotel near campus, it’s great, but has more of a student vibe.” 

After you have registered and paid for the program, participants are invited to a private program site specifically for your cohort. Steve opined, “I would recommend you use the travel tips advice sheet to get to know the area. I went off script once and chose a non-listed hotel in downtown Berkeley, and consequently had a very, very long walk all the way across campus. I’d recommend sticking to their suggestions. They know what they are talking about!”   

The Faculty—a Pervasive Sense of Enthusiasm

“Every faculty member I met at Berkeley was inspiring — and in my opinion, showed a great sense of humility. Given their achievements they could easily be wildly boastful, but it’s just the opposite. They are some of the most humble and down-to-earth people I have ever met. That makes it the perfect place to learn. It makes me want to listen to them, to hear more of their stories. They are friendly and accepting; it’s a non-judgmental learning environment. The faculty are passionate about learning and education. There is a pervasive sense of enthusiasm and it’s simply infectious.”   

“I have the Berkeley faculty to thank for the positive impact they have made on my life. They inspire me, challenge me, and give me useful, practical skills — not just theoretical skills — but practical skills and tools that I refer back to in my day-to-day life.” 
“I have also made strong connections with peers. I meet once a month over video chat with a fellow participant who lives in New York and who works in a completely different industry than I do. We share our business challenges, discuss concepts from our programs, and encourage and support each other to put these skills into practice.”

An Immersive Learning Environment

“It’s not just about the class content, it’s not just education for education’s sake. Berkeley’s immersive teaching style, experiential learning, and interactive setting will change the course of your life – if you are prepared to let it.”

“My advice to anyone embarking on an educational journey at Berkeley Executive Education is: allow yourself to be vulnerable, allow yourself to be your true self, surrender yourself to the process and know that you are safe there.”

“I feel very indebted to Berkeley Executive Education. The programs unlocked something in me — an appreciation for the value of learning and being curious. It stretched me to want to be my true authentic self. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today without Berkeley Executive Education. There is so much to be grateful for.”