Each summer, EMBA students at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) spend a few days in Sacramento and Silicon Valley as a part of their Innovation in Practice course to gain a better understanding of the legislative process and ways organizations can more effectively manage innovation.
The trip kicked off in Sacramento on the eve of Election Day with a visit to the State Capitol where co-instructors Bob Clark, Rob Beamer, and EMBA alumnus Clarence Griffin (MBA ’09) led students in meetings with State Treasurer Fiona Ma, capitol staff, lobbyists, and representatives from NGOs, state departments, and the Public Policy Institute of California.
In just two days, students obtained an insider’s perspective on the legislative process, the various players who support the effort, and the essential role that relationships and trade-offs play in maintaining the fabric of a functioning state government. They also learned how to engage with the state government and legislature through their elected officials, industry lobbyists, and representatives from NGO/advocacy groups and state departments.
EMBA student Jill Yang was surprised to learn the accessibility of government officials and the many ways that private citizens can help drive change, such as joining special committees and contacting politicians.
“Prior to this trip, the only role I thought I had in politics was to vote and that was where my impact ended,” says Yang. “I feel so empowered after the trip knowing I can do so much more for my community.”
Students visited Silicon Valley next, where they met with executives and LMU alumni at some of the top innovative companies in the world including Google, Dell, Oracle, Jabil, and Absolute EMS. They also explored the Computer History Museum and Apple Park Visitor Center.
Overall, the students enjoyed hearing insights from government and business leaders working at the intersection of business and policy through the lens of innovation.
“I learned that a big part of innovation in government or business is about relationships, asking the right questions and building a creative team with diverse skill sets,” says Ruth Amanuel. “The trip brought to life the impact of both public and private sectors on driving this trillion-dollar California economy forward.”
For Mike McKenzie, the experience opened his eyes to a new approach for team collaboration and effectiveness that he plans to implement in the workplace.
“The time we spent with various companies and legislators created a different narrative for each of my classmates – very different takes from the same meeting,” says McKenzie. “Post-meeting takeaways are so valuable and will now be part of my team’s roadmap going forward. I want to take the time to learn from each participant to create a more collaborative and worthwhile experience.”
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 later presented an analysis of their data and recommendations for the company.
“We’re thrilled to be able to foster an experience like this for our students, that brings together learning and action,” says Beamer, director of Executive Programs at LMU. “Hearing and seeing our participants so engaged was tremendously reaffirming. A highlight was hearing students discuss how they planned on applying what they had learned into their communities and workplaces.”