What is a BHGAP Site Visit?
With having substantial work experience in my home country of South Korea, one of the reasons I decided to join Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP) was to learn about innovation in Silicon Valley.
When I was finishing my second semester at Berkeley Global, one of the highlights of BHGAP was the company site visits. Other than taking a typical courseload of 15 units, we had site visits almost every week. We had the opportunity to tour more than 20 big-name companies and speak directly with the employees about their experiences. These included world-renowned companies such as Google and Amazon to smaller, innovative startup companies. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the site visits were in-person tours at a variety of businesses in the Bay Area. Now we have transitioned to fully virtual tours.
BHGAP Site Visits During a Pandemic
The site visits were an open-discussion format co-led by great faculty, Professor Gregory La Blanc and Professor Elizabeth Kovats. They brought together BHGAP student innovators with different backgrounds in various companies from a variety of different industries. A majority of them were even Haas alumni. The speakers were not just CEOs and founders, but also C-level positions, project managers, marketers, engineers, et cetera. Speakers usually shared slide decks about the company and then had a Q&A session with us. We were able to learn not only about the company, but also about the detailed job functions and day-to-day tasks.
Many people might be wondering if the virtual site visits were still worthwhile—my answer is, yes! It was discouraging that I couldn't visit the company in person nor have direct interactions with the employees. But there were some advantages of virtual site visits.
In-person site visit tend to have some constraints such as a limited number of visitors and a required travel time. Sometimes we had to choose one company between two site visits happening at the same time. Without these barriers, we were able to have double the amount of site visits. While in-person tours allowed us to see a lot of the business, virtual visits allowed us to see even more areas inside the company.
Learning From BHGAP Site Visits
The great thing about site visits was that I could connect what I have learned in class to the real world. All of the speakers were open to connecting with the students, willing to answer any questions and help us as much as they could.
My favorite part was hearing all of the stories about innovation from big-name companies and startups while learning about different industries. It was meaningful to hear from people who had genuine experiences in a field that I was also interested in. Hearing about others' career journeys was inspiring, and I appreciated the advice that I can take into my future career.
My goal is to become an innovative leader who can contribute not only to the companies that I work for, but also to our society. That being said, these site visits have taught me the importance of being resilient and creative in the workplace as a successful innovator.
I also realized how important it is to always continue learning throughout my career. There is so much I have learned from the multiple BHGAP site visits, and I am confident that these experiences will help me achieve my career goals in the future.