EMBA Students Study Innovation in Sacramento and Silicon Valley

Each summer, EMBA students study innovation and entrepreneurship and take a one-week trip to Sacramento and Silicon Valley to meet with innovative companies and individuals who shape policies and decisions.

“Students learn how organizations gain competitive advantage through the way they manage innovation – via services, processes, marketing, management systems, technology and products,” said LMU Adjunct Professor Bob Clark, who accompanied the students to Northern California along with Program Coordinator Shelley Wells.

The trip kicked off in Sacramento where students gained a better understanding of the legal and regulatory climate in California to support – or challenge – innovation. They toured the State Capitol and met with a number of individuals who shape policies and decisions, including assembly members, lobbyists and legislative consultants. Topics discussed included government-industry relations, lobbying activity, state budget initiatives/constraints related to innovation, educational and environmental issues, and laws and regulations affecting innovation.

Next, students headed to Silicon Valley to get a closer look at examples of innovation management inside some of California’s most cutting-edge companies, including Oracle, Genentech, Facebook, Microsoft, Flextronics and Plug and Play. Students were welcomed inside these high-profile companies where they got the rare opportunity to meet with executives and ask questions about leadership, product and managerial development, investing and culture. By the end of the week, they were tired but energized by what they saw and learned.

“Overall, the trip was a success and really helped broaden my view of politics and innovation and the effects they have on businesses and our everyday lives,” said EMBA student Alena Andrews.

"Policy will always be relevant; however, innovation is a lifestyle,” added EMBA student Robert Tisdale. “Innovation is the catalyst to a thriving alignment of personal, operational and strategic networks that fuel strategies within the corporate culture; igniting a competitive advantage that enlightens the commitment of a company's vision.”

As part of the summer course, students must analyze a company and identify how that company does (and does not) foster and support innovation. After returning to Los Angeles, student teams completed a Trip Findings Report recapping what they learned and how it could be of value to their company. In a few weeks, they will give presentations that describe the primary and secondary data collected prior to and during the trip, their analysis of the data and recommendations for the company.