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COBE Success Story

Certificate of Business Excellence: a Nine-Month Journey

headshot of John Hui

COBE Alum John Hui: Healthcare Executive and Entrepreneur 

For John Hui, living in the greater New York area and arranging his schedule to attend UC Berkeley Executive Education in-person programs would be akin to completing a Rubik’s cube. His work, travel, family obligations and personal life colored his schedule with precision, leaving little to no wiggle room. It was a year ago during an online search for product management training courses that he discovered Executive Education, but at the time it would have been nearly impossible to fit such an endeavor into his busy life.

Fast forward to 2020. When Covid-19 forced the nation into sheltering in place, John turned to UC Berkeley Executive Education’s online offerings with serious consideration. After all, he had more time on his hands to focus on learning, plus he could do it all from home.

John is an entrepreneurial business executive in the healthcare industry who has more than 17 years of expertise in digital health, healthcare management, clinical laboratory, diagnostic imaging, medical device and pharmaceuticals. John was aware of many programs at other top tier business schools, but his interest in UC Berkeley Executive Education was piqued not only because of the institution’s reputation, being a part of the Silicon Valley ecosystem and inclusion of likeminded individuals – but ultimately because of Exec Ed’s speedy navigation to offer online programs when the pandemic first took hold.

“When I learned that Executive Education made a quick pivot to online learning because of Covid-19, I was impressed. I believe UC Berkeley was one of the few top business schools to start offering many online programs so quickly. As an entrepreneur I was looking for a way to pivot my own business – so I wanted to learn from an organization that could do that I signed up for my first Exec Ed program, online Digital Transformation” says John. 

At first a bit uncertain about how the online experience would fare, John says he quickly got into the groove. 

“Right away I was impressed by the teaching quality and the way the instructors combined the coursework with live online sessions. In Product Management Studio, we had access to a product coach who followed up with us regularly. The facilitators were more hands-on than I would have ever expected from an online program,” says John. He got the bug.

 “I became addicted to learning. I was interested in other courses and I realized that a COBE was a great way to tap into the Berkeley ecosystem to continue to build my business network and connect with other professionals like me,” he says. John committed to focusing on a COBE.

Completing an Online COBE with Remarkable Speed

John already has an MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management under his belt, but he says the Financial Data for Analysis for Leaders live online program amazed him. “Surprisingly, I thought this course would be the least valuable to me, but it was a great refresher and the professors were extremely knowledgeable – they really understand how to simplify the subject of financial data and make it really easy to grasp, while providing concepts that I continue to use on a regular basis.”

In the Communications Excellence live online program, John learned skills that have helped him improve his speaking presence. “As a seasoned sales executive, I consider communications a core strength of mine, yet I learned how to make my voice fuller, and learned how to be a better story teller,” John explains. “We heard from an Award-winning documentary film producer who gave us insights about pitching and communications, on how to be passionate and deliberate was something I have never experienced before.”  

John believes the Open Innovation for Leaders live online program is a tremendous value. “Given the time investment from Professor Henry Chesbrough, the pioneer of Open Innovation, and the cost of the course, well, it’s just the best value out there.”  

John says he initially hesitated signing up for his final online program, Executive Decision Making with Data Science, thinking that it might be too statistical for his liking. “The course ended up being very easy to follow, it challenged me to think of issues and situations that could arise, and how the decision-making process should unfold without bias,” he says.

Forging Connections with UC Faculty

For John, the overall quality of teaching was excellent and the connections he made with faculty were invaluable. He especially benefitted from his Product Management Studio program coach, Ciara Kennedy. “I feel that I have forged a great connection with my coach. I believe that in the future I could reach out to Ciara to ask questions and exchange ideas,” John says. “All of the professors were generous with their time, offering their email addresses for questions or follow up whenever we need it.

John says Exec Ed “did another thing really well” by making lecture recordings available. “I can go back to the recordings at any time, there is no expiration date. I have gone back to them and reviewed presentation slides several times. I’ve brought one of the frameworks back to my team.”  

Lasting Impressions 

When asked what stood out the most for John in his COBE experience he quickly replied, “the teaching quality.”  

What about his biggest take away? “There are two things,” he says. “The knowledge I gained and the network connections I made – those are the two biggies.” 

John has conducted extensive research on executive education offered by many of the top business schools. “I have to say that UC Berkeley is probably the most cost-effective program offered among its peer schools, yet it’s not short on its worldwide reputation, with students from all around the globe. The diversity of the participants and the faculty is great. Overall UC Berkeley Executive Education is, in my opinion, the best value available.”

As John reflects back on his remarkably fast-paced, nine-month COBE journey that took place from March – November 2020, he shares that the Exec Ed staff made a lot of effort to help make the COBE participants feel significant and welcomed. “They really do a great job of making us feel special.”