Our Big 3 with Dean H. Rao Unnava: May 2023

2023 Outstanding Alumnus Award, Big Bang! Business Competition Winners, Advanced Collaborative Leadership Retreat

Dean H. Rao Unnava's May 2023 edition of the Big 3 features:

  1. Silicon Valley executive and UC Davis MBA graduate Michael Hurlston honored with the 2023 Outstanding Alumnus Award by the UC Davis Cal Aggie Alumni Association. Read more
  2. Final awards of the Big Bang! Business Competition with two UC Davis MBA students on the first place team, SchedGo, which won $20,000 plus another $10,000 for being the People’s Choice. SchedGo is an Ai-powered degree planning platform for college students. Read more
  3. Our annual Advanced Collaborative Leadership Program retreat in Monterey, California. For our MBAs, it’s the culmination of a two-year commitment to mentorship, introspection and skill-building. Read blog


Welcome to our May 2023 edition of our Big 3 video newsletter.

2023 Outstanding Alumnus Award

As we near the end of our academic year, it's time to celebrate our alumni, our student entrepreneurs and our future leaders. We are delighted that veteran Silicon Valley executive and our MBA graduate Michael Hurlston has been honored with the 2023 Outstanding Alumnus Award by the UC Davis Cal Aggie Alumni Association. Michael is a triple UC Davis Aggie. He earned a B.S. and an M.S. in engineering and his MBA in 1990. Today, Michael is CEO of Synaptics, a leading developer of human interface technology solutions. 

He also served as CEO of Finisar, an optical communications company, and he held executive roles at Broadcom, a global leader in wireless chips.

Michael serves on the boards of several public companies, the UC Davis Board of Trustees and on my advisory council. He has shared his experiences and insights with our students on many occasions. And our own Graduate School of Management Alumni Association recognized Michael with its Distinguished Achievement Award in 2016.

Michael and his wife, Joelle’s, most recent $8 million gift provides  student support and establishes the first endowed deanship on the Davis campus at the Graduate School of Management, which I am grateful to hold today. We congratulate Michael for this outstanding alumnus recognition.

Big Bang! Business Competition

This month also marked the climax of our seven-month Big Bang! Business Competition. Seventeen startup teams advanced to the final awards ceremony of the 23rd annual competition.

Big Bang! is organized by our Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Innovators benefit from workshops, mentoring and advice throughout the year as they finesse their ideas. It was exciting to see two UC Davis MBA students on the first-place team, SchedGo, which won $20,000 plus another $10,000 for being the People's Choice.

The platform uses AI and machine learning to streamline course registration, scheduling and degree planning for college students. SchedGo is a great example of collaboration and networking. Henry Yu, a UC Davis computer science major, developed the tool. He partnered with UC Davis MBA students Akshaj Aravind Raghavi and Dillon Hill for their strategy, finance and marketing skills.

This year, the Big Bang! awarded $80,000 in cash and $12,000 in in-kind services. At the award ceremony on May 23rd, teams also won $10,000 awards in several specialized sector categories: Food and Agriculture, Energy and Sustainability, Social Entrepreneurship, Human Health and Education.

Thank you to the sponsors and congratulations to all the 2023 Big Bang! contestants.

Advanced Collaborative Leadership Retreat

What better location to escape to for a long weekend than the scenic beaches of Monterey, California? It's the perfect backdrop for our annual Advanced Collaborative Leadership Program retreat. For our MBAs it's the culmination of a two-year commitment to mentorship, introspection and skill building.

I joined this year's group of 15 students from our MBA programs—Full-Time, Part-Time and Online. We had the opportunity to bond on the sand and hear the stories of prominent thought leaders and alumni. The speakers motivated and inspired all of us.

UC Davis’ Dr. Bennet Omalu highlighted his journey that inspired the major motion picture “Concussion.” Tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa spoke about exponential innovation from his new book. Our advisors Michael Hurlston, Jack Clare and Julie Meier Wright shared their leadership journeys.

On the final day, students presented their personal leadership legacy statements — an emotional moment for many, as they poured out their hearts about making a lasting and positive impact.

Thank you for watching the Big 3 video newsletter!

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