LETTER FROM Eric Mokover

written by Eric Mokover
photography by Stephen Sakulsky

 

UCLA Anderson has always been at the forefront of new ideas, cutting-edge research and curriculum innovation. I would argue that thoughtful experimentation and intelligent risk have been the hallmarks of our success over the years.

There was the early decision to hire and nurture a research-based faculty and to always teach toward the future. There were required courses such as "nucleus" in the '70s and '80s that had mixed reviews among students at the time, but which our alumni 10 years into their careers and beyond told us was the most valuable experience they had here - it just took a while for its value to become obvious. And, it was the relationships developed in nuke that forged multiple business partnerships and life-long personal friendships.

Our Field Study Program was pioneering in the '70s and continues to be refined and improved through AMR, SMR and GAP. All were the first of their kind anywhere, and provide students valuable real-world, strategic, problem-solving experience.

I don't usually admit this, but I still have copies of some of my early emails from the late '80s. Our system was built "in-house" by alumnus Glen Gordon ('85), and it was brilliantly conceived and implemented. Yes, we were ahead of the IT curve then - well before the competition. EMBA students had laptops in the early '90s, and we were the first MBA program to require laptops of all our students by the time we entered our current complex in 1995, thanks to a partnership with Hewlett-Packard. And, there were wired connections to the Internet at every desk and elsewhere throughout the complex - in 1995, ahead of everyone else at the time.

The idea that entrepreneurship can be taught was pioneered here through the efforts of Hans Schollhammer and Al Osborne in the mid-to-late '80s. We have built this concept through continued innovation and a strong emphasis on social entrepreneurship through the work of Big Al and Elaine Hagan ('91), the Price Center's Executive Director. Another partnership with Johnson & Johnson has enabled us to train thousands of Head Start directors nationwide, and we are similarly ensconced in the training of AIDS workers throughout Africa. Our students get to experience this, and we all take pride these efforts accordingly.

Speaking of entrepreneurship and innovation, Professor Bill Ouchi has taken on a new role at UCLA, spearheading the creation of a nonprofit subsidiary that will manage all the university's intellectual property. The goal is to boost UCLA's entrepreneurial zeal by refining the technology-transfer processes that bring faculty members' discoveries to the marketplace. The university's $1.2 billion annual research budget and interdisciplinary collaboration create opportunities to pursue more patents, licensing agreements and startups.

Even the critical importance of teamwork was stressed here in the '70s and beyond, as we all remember being "teamed to death." It had a worthwhile purpose and positive outcomes galore, though it often wasn't easy. And, other schools began to "get it" and to start talking about the importance of teamwork in their curricula 25 years later. Sara Tucker ('88) now leads an innovative program to enable student teams and individuals within teams to be even more effective.

The "challenge course" as our students enter all MBA programs was initiated in the EMBA Program in the early '90s, when students went out to Pomona to experience this new learning mechanism. Few know that UCLA Anderson built the ropes course on campus so that students from all of our programs can benefit from its valuable team and individual learning.

There's so much more, but you get the point. Our school has always been ahead of the curve and we will continue that habit. We are taught and we know inherently that embracing change is good - even necessary - but it's rarely easy. I'm proud to be part of an institution that has such a rich history of innovation and intelligent risk taking. Let us all embrace this attitude as we forge forward.

This digital issue of Assets is another example of thoughtful experimentation. It's different and it's certainly not your everyday alumni magazine. We hope you like it.

 

Eric Mokover ('80)

Associate Dean, External Affairs
Executive Director, Office of Alumni Relations

The idea that entrepreneurship can be taught was pioneered here.