2017 MBAs To Watch: Rob Bohn, U.C.-Davis

Rob Bohn

University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management

Age: 31

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Former Marine and future leader in California energy market. Husband and father of two.

Hometown: Davis, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I grew up in Vanuatu, a group of islands in the South Pacific

Undergraduate School and Degree: UCLA – B.S. Mechanical Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? United States Marine Corps – Company Commander

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Pacific Gas & Electric | Energy Efficiency Product Management

Where will you be working after graduation? Pacific Gas & Electric

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, Graduate Net Impact chapter | Military Ambassador | Challenge for Charity

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of supporting GRID Alternatives’ Solarthon event in May 2016. I led a team of nine other students which raised more than $5,000 for a solar PV system for a low-income family. We also helped install the system which is estimated to provide a lifetime savings of $33,319. In addition, this system will prevent 68 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the environment which is equivalent to planting 1,590 trees.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my professional career, I’m most proud of leading a team of 30 drill instructors and training more than 1,200 new Marines as a company commander at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. This is an incredibly demanding and important job but it’s also incredibly rewarding. I was part of a high functioning team with some of the most hardworking and dedicated people on the planet.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Chih-Ling Tsai. In all my years of education, I have never had a teacher who cares more about students than Professor Tsai. He cares not only about them learning statistics but also about them learning how to be a manager with a good heart.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite MBA course was Technology Strategy and Competition. Professor Bhargava did a phenomenal job expanding my understanding of the fundamentals of platforms and how to position one for success. The biggest insight was the power of a platform and the opportunities for making a difference with one.

Why did you choose this business school? There were many reasons I chose to go to the GSM, including the small program size and access to the Energy Efficiency Center on campus. One of the main drivers though was after seven years on active duty, and two deployments to Afghanistan, it was time to give back to my family. My wife and I are both from Davis and it’s an amazing place to raise children, especially with extended family support.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the intimate nature of the program. Small class sizes allowed me to get to know my classmates and professors on a level that I’ve never experienced before.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The best advice I received when I started my MBA was to “not let your classes get in the way of your education.” This surprising and counterintuitive statement acknowledges that learning opportunities come from both inside and outside the classroom, in internship opportunities, extracurriculars, and elsewhere.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Learn about the culture of the program by talking to the students. It’s a very friendly and collaborative environment that many students wouldn’t necessarily thrive in.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Apparently that there are myths about the GSM.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not playing on any of our intramural sports teams.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Betty Yao – she is an incredibly sharp and dedicated woman who is always on top of everything. Despite working for a startup in San Francisco for more than 20 hours a week, she is always the most prepared person for any class meeting. Betty is a natural leader who takes charge and gets things done.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized my dreams of going to medical school were fueled solely by watching too much E.R.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…the lead singer in an 80’s cover band.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Reduce the importance of faculty research on their evaluations. 

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To help California reach its current and future climate change goals and start a company that addresses energy access issues.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents. As a parent myself, I can now begin to understand how much they sacrificed for me. Their unconditional love and support created unlimited opportunities for me.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like my peers to remember me as someone who cared about them and who always made time to help others.

Favorite book: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Favorite movie or television show: Top Gun & Tommy Boy (Sorry, it’s a tie)

Favorite musical performer: The Beatles

Favorite vacation spot: Port Vila, Vanuatu

Hobbies: Woodworking, SCUBA diving, playing the ukulele and singing with my kids

What made Rob such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

What made Rob Bohn such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

Rob has been an effortless campus leader stemming from his year of leadership engagement in the Marines, to diving into all things energy for the benefit of the Graduate School of Management and UC Davis community.

One of the reasons Rob decided to attend the UC Davis MBA program is because of the focus on energy and sustainability, most notably, our collaboration with the Energy Efficiency Center. While a first year MBA student Rob became involved in UC Davis NEPTUNE Program. UC Davis was selected as one of six universities to receive multi-million dollar funding from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) to conduct energy research and train military personnel as part of the Navy Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence (NEPTUNE) pilot program. NEPTUNE aims to help the Navy and Marine Corps discover ways to improve energy conservation, generate renewable energy, and implement energy-efficient technologies, while giving active duty military, military students, and veterans the chance to immerse themselves in university-level research.

As part of the NEPTUNE program, the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center (EEC) and its affiliated research centers are undertaking four research projects. Each project will help the Navy reach its energy goals and will employ and train undergraduate and graduate level students that are prospective, current, and former military personnel.

Rob has helped shepherd this amazing program as energy is something that resonates for him. Reliable power is critical when you are serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which Rob did for years. During his stints in Kandahar, Bohn learned not to take electrical power for granted, since the only thing reliable about the energy there is that it would wax and wane. The experience is among the reasons Bohn decided to work in the energy field. “I saw first-hand how energy impacts every aspect of our lives, from economic development to national security,” says Bohn.

Rob’s interest in the energy field also helped him land an ideal internship at Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco where he evaluated product management software packages, and worked with new tools which facilitated product prioritization. Additionally, Bohn’s capstone project syncs with his long term career interests. He is working at a local public utility on a cyber security project.

Finally, Rob also serves as president of the Davis chapter of Net Impact, a global volunteer organization of students and professionals designed to help people use their careers to make a difference in the world. Bohn and others in his chapter organized an event in January called the Global Food Solutions Challenge, which focuses on teaching others about the connections between food production and climate change. Additionally Rob has attended both Net Impact Conferences over the past two years, along with the National Veteran’s Conference.

Rob’s continual push in the sustainability and energy realm makes him a standout MBA student for the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. He is helping reduce energy use with his work on the Neptune Project, his internship with PG&E (an investor owned electric utility) and his capstone project with SMUD (the 10th largest publicly owned utility in the US) while serving as a brand ambassador for the GSM at Net Impact and Veteran’s events. It is for these reasons Rob deserves to be honored as an outstanding MBA student.”

Chris Dito

Director-Career Development

UC Davis Graduate School of Management



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