- IMD Business School
News Stories · Strategy

IMD MBAs Visit Silicon Valley, a hotbed of technology and Innovation

They will meet with some of the Valley’s many companies and entrepreneurs pioneering science and high-tech ideas that are often worth millions and billions, and just might change the way society works
June 2018

Silicon Valley is an intense cacophony of innovation, full of the world’s most valuable internet companies, top universities, an abundance of intellectual property and venture capital that no city, seemingly, can match. Little wonder, then, that the leading global business school IMD is bringing its 90 MBA participants to the San Francisco Bay Area this month.

The trip is part of the Discovery Expedition, which sees IMD’s MBA participants visit three international business and innovation hubs from June 17-29. The Silicon Valley leg of the trip will be led by Jim Pulcrano, an affiliate professor of entrepreneurship and an MBA alumnus of IMD, who has been leading trips to the Valley for two decades.

But the IMD MBAs are not there for industrial tourism. There is a visceral need for them to understand why this place works, and what they can take from it for their careers, and the impact technology may have on the way they lead in the future.

“It’s a cauldron of high-tech ideas bubbling up everywhere,” Prof Pulcrano said. “The amount of intellectual property coming out of this small slice of land, and the money and talent it attracts, is staggering.”

He said the key to the valley’s success is the efficiency with which ideas, people and money come together more so than other places in the world. The Bay Area thrives on people who create something from nothing, served well by its world-class universities such as Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley. Almost 18,000 science and engineering degrees were conferred by Bay area schools in 2016.

The MBA participants will be asked to form their own hypotheses for why the Valley is so successful, before testing it while they’re there.

IMD’s MBAs have been travelling to Silicon Valley for the past three years in addition to the school’s EMBA cohort, who have been visiting the Valley as part of their rigorous program for nearly 20 years. One EMBA alumnus said of the Valley after spending a week there: “Business is so important that it almost takes the role of religion.” Another said: “I learnt what motivated people are capable of creating.”

But while Silicon Valley may be the world’s number-one innovation and entrepreneurship hub, other locations, especially in fast-growing Asian economies, are on the rise. “It’s not a question of Silicon Valley slowing down”, said Pulcrano, “but rather other regions, especially in Asia, starting to catch up.”

With that in mind, the IMD MBA cohort will also visit Singapore and Bangalore immediately after Silicon Valley, to explore the companies, entrepreneurs and government institutions that are working to shape the future. Requiring significant planning, the trips will enable the MBA participants to learn about the locations as business destinations, and the role technology is playing in business in each location.