Leadership

Dariush Zahedi   //   Founder and Director

Dariush ZahediDariush Zahedi is Director of the AMENA Center for Building Innovation Economies in the Middle East at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Since 2001, he has taught a diverse array of courses for the Departments of Political Science, Political Economy, and Peace and Conflict Studies as well as the Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley. Zahedi has also taught for the College of Letters and Science’s Discovery Courses Program. Teaching in the program is by invitation only, with invitations issued solely to instructors whose teaching record is stellar. He has published three books on the political economy of the Middle East, and his articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review, and Middle East Policy, among others. He is the co-editor of four book series for Palgrave Macmillan, including Institution Building in West Asia and North Africa, the Political Economy of Islam, Natural Resources Management in West Asia and North Africa, and Financial Institutions, Reforms, and Policies in West Asia and North Africa. His knowledge of the political economy and business milieu of the Middle East and North Africa, however, is not purely academic. He has worked for a Middle Eastern investment bank and Iran’s largest private mining corporation. In his capacity as an analyst for the investment bank, he traveled widely throughout the region, and became intimately familiar with various sectors of the region’s economies as well as impediments to inclusive growth and democratization. Zahedi has also worked as an academic in Turkey.

Dariush Zahedi

Dariush Zahedi

Founder and Director

Dariush Zahedi is Director of the BIT-AMENA Center for Building Innovation Economies the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Since 2001, he has taught a diverse array of courses for the Departments of Political Science, Political Economy, and Peace and Conflict Studies as well as the Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley. Zahedi has also taught for the College of Letters and Science’s Discovery Courses Program. Teaching in the program is by invitation only, with invitations issued solely to instructors whose teaching record is stellar. He has published three books on the political economy of the Middle East, and his articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review, and Middle East Policy, among others. He is the co-editor of four book series for Palgrave Macmillan, including Institution Building in West Asia and North Africa, the Political Economy of Islam, Natural Resources Management in West Asia and North Africa, and Financial Institutions, Reforms, and Policies in West Asia and North Africa. His knowledge of the political economy and business milieu of the Middle East and North Africa, however, is not purely academic. He has worked for a Middle Eastern investment bank and Iran’s largest private mining corporation. In his capacity as an analyst for the investment bank, he traveled widely throughout the region, and became intimately familiar with various sectors of the region’s economies as well as impediments to inclusive growth and democratization. Zahedi has also worked as an academic in Turkey.

AMENA Center Fellows

Yahya Tabesh   //   Senior Fellow

Yahya TabeshYahya Tabesh is a Senior Fellow at the AMENA Center and professor Emeritus at the Sharif University of Technology (Tehran, Iran). Yahya served as the chairman of the Department of Mathematical Sciences as well as the Director of the Computing Center at Sharif University. He was also the Director of Math and Computer Olympiads in Iran. A pioneer in developing Math House and Schoolnet, he has written several text-books and developed curricula for thousands of students in the field of mathematics and computer science, who have gone on to become highly successful entrepreneurs and educators, including the late Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female recipient of the Fields Medal (the highest honor a mathematician can receive). Dr. Tabesh has done research in computational linguistics, and was a leader in helping develop Farsi under the Unicode standard. Dr. Tabesh won the Erdos international award in 2010 for his sustained and distinguished contributions to the enrichment of math education. Dr. Tabesh is also the co-founder of seven technology startups.

Yahya Tabesh

Yahya Tabesh

Senior Fellow

Yahya Tabesh is a Senior Fellow at the AMENA Center and professor Emeritus at the Sharif University of Technology (Tehran, Iran). Yahya served as the chairman of the Department of Mathematical Sciences as well as the Director of the Computing Center at Sharif University. He was also the Director of Math and Computer Olympiads in Iran. A pioneer in developing Math House and Schoolnet, he has written several text-books and developed curricula for thousands of students in the field of mathematics and computer science, who have gone on to become highly successful entrepreneurs and educators, including the late Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female recipient of the Fields Medal (the highest honor a mathematician can receive). Dr. Tabesh has done research in computational linguistics, and was a leader in helping develop Farsi under the Unicode standard. Dr. Tabesh won the Erdos international award in 2010 for his sustained and distinguished contributions to the enrichment of math education. Dr. Tabesh is also the co-founder of seven technology startups.

Nima Shomali   //  Fellow

Nima Shomali is the Founder and Managing Partner, Acceleration Technology Partners. Shomali is an expert in technology strategy and organizational behavior, specializing in creating high-performance corporate cultures, building elite technology strategy, and leading large-scale corporate turnarounds. Prior to ATP, Nima served in the Office of the CEO for Yahoo as strategic initiative and corporate culture lead, where he created the Yahoo IdeaLab Internal Product Incubator. Nima has also served as Program Coordinator of the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management’s MBA Foundations of Technology Program, and holds an appointment as Assistant Professor of Strategy and Organizational Behavior in the MBA program at St. Mary’s College of California, where he was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Faculty of the Year. He is also an Instructor at University of California, Berkeley Extension, where he teaches Innovation. He has guest lectured at the London School of Economics, HEC Paris, and New York University Stern School of Business.

More about Nima Shomali

Nima spent four years in IBM’s elite Strategy and Innovation Consulting Practice, creating Afghanistan’s first private equity fund and start-up incubator. He also operated as Project Lead for the University of California, Office of the President’s key initiative to rebuild their university wide risk management system. He has worked in the Investment Management Division of the Goldman Sachs Group, and has spent two years designing jet engines for the F22 Raptor and F35 Joint Strike Fighter Planes as part of Pratt and Whitney. Previously, he designed satellites at UC Berkeley’s NASA affiliated Space Sciences laboratory. His publications include articles in the Washington Post. He is fluent in Farsi, Dari, and Spanish.He holds a Masters of Business Administration Degree from the New York University Stern School of Business, a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is an alumnus of the London Business School’s #1 world-wide ranked MBA program.

 

Nima Shomali

Nima Shomali

Founder and Managing Partner, Acceleration Technology Partners

Yahya Tabesh is a Senior Fellow at the AMENA Center and professor Emeritus at the Sharif University of Technology (Tehran, Iran). Yahya served as the chairman of the Department of Mathematical Sciences as well as the Director of the Computing Center at Sharif University. He was also the Director of Math and Computer Olympiads in Iran. A pioneer in developing Math House and Schoolnet, he has written several text-books and developed curricula for thousands of students in the field of mathematics and computer science, who have gone on to become highly successful entrepreneurs and educators, including the late Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female recipient of the Fields Medal (the highest honor a mathematician can receive). Dr. Tabesh has done research in computational linguistics, and was a leader in helping develop Farsi under the Unicode standard. Dr. Tabesh won the Erdos international award in 2010 for his sustained and distinguished contributions to the enrichment of math education. Dr. Tabesh is also the co-founder of seven technology startups.

Sina Tabesh   //  Fellow


Sina Tabesh is the founder and CEO of KrowdLearn, a San Francisco-based education technology startup with a mission to provide more tools and opportunities for language teachers and learners. He received his MBA from ISM in Paris, France. He is currently completing his PhD dissertation in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and teaching courses in Strategic Management and Multi-Cultural Management at the same institution. Prior to founding his startup, he worked as a management consultant in France and the Middle-East. In recent years, his multi-cultural experiences have enabled him to work with different communities as a board member and adviser in variety of French, American and Middle Eastern nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area, where he has build entrepreneurship, innovation and education bridges across varying communities. Sina serves on the board of directors of Alliance Française of San Francisco, and is a board member of the Generarion+ initiative at the Pars Equality Center.

Sina Tabesh

Sina Tabesh

founder and CEO of KrowdLearn

Sina Tabesh is the founder and CEO of KrowdLearn, a San Francisco-based education technology startup with a mission to provide more tools and opportunities for language teachers and learners. He received his MBA from ISM in Paris, France. He is currently completing his PhD dissertation in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and teaching courses in Strategic Management and Multi-Cultural Management at the same institution. Prior to founding his startup, he worked as a management consultant in France and the Middle-East. In recent years, his multi-cultural experiences have enabled him to work with different communities as a board member and adviser in variety of French, American and Middle Eastern nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area, where he has build entrepreneurship, innovation and education bridges across varying communities. Sina serves on the board of directors of Alliance Française of San Francisco, and is a board member of the Generarion+ initiative at the Pars Equality Center.

AMENA Center Staff

Raymond Yun Zhao,Chief Representative and Recruiter for Greater China Region

An experienced business consultant and entrepreneur, Raymond Zhao has worked and lived in more than 6 countries across 3 continents in his 20 plus years of professional career.Mr. Zhao is a key regional leader and consultant in Strategic Marketing, Sales and Business Development for various industrial verticals including Clean Renewable Power, Advanced Energy Storage and Electric Transportation (HEV, PEV, and off-highway vehicles). Mr. Zhao has held executive positions such as Group Vice President and Executive General Manager for various large Chinese enterprises before he began his own practice.  He has advised and consulted for private and public Chinese enterprises, as well as multinational conglometers like General Electric.  His engagements crossed from technology adaptation to mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

 

Raymond Yun Zhao

Raymond Yun Zhao

Chief Representative and Recruiter for Greater China Region

An educator and entrepreneur, Mark has spent his career building high growth companies and helping shape the next generation of business leaders. At Haas Mark teaches the sought-after Workshop for Startups course from which a broad range of innovative new ventures are regularly launched. Mark also co-teaches the pioneering course “The Other ‘F’ Word” about how insights developed from failure can drive innovation, growth and long-term success. Mark is also an accomplished executive and an advisor to businesses ranging from VC-backed ventures through global corporations such as Intel and DirecTV. Previously Mark led the $350mm Global Technology Brands group at Newell Rubbermaid, founded and built a $150mm consumer products and online commerce division for Sony, and was founding CEO of online payments venture WebOrder. Mark has been quoted in the The Economist, the New York Times and USA Today, and has appeared in media including Fox News, CNN, The Huffington Post and NPR. Mark also mentors aspiring entrepreneurs and teams including those working at the UC Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator. Mark is an alumnus of UC Berkeley, where he earned his BA and MBA degrees.

AMENA Center Faculty

Gregory La Blanc, Lecturer in Law, Economics and Business, UC-Berkeley

Gregory La Blanc, Lecturer in Law, Economics and Business, UC-BerkeleyChair of the Berkeley-Haas Professional Faculty and Lecturer at the Haas School, Berkeley Law School, and the Department of Economics at Berkeley. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, he teaches classes in executive leadership, innovation, finance, organizations, law, and big data. He is a graduate of the Wharton School, and has consulted in the areas of innovation, decision making, risk management, and strategy around the world and has taught in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.  His research is in the development of human capital in emerging economies and industries.

Gregory La Blanc

Gregory La Blanc

Lecturer in Law, Economics and Business, UC-Berkeley

Chair of the Berkeley-Haas Professional Faculty and Lecturer at the Haas School, Berkeley Law School, and the Department of Economics at Berkeley. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, he teaches classes in executive leadership, innovation, finance, organizations, law, and big data. He is a graduate of the Wharton School, and has consulted in the areas of innovation, decision making, risk management, and strategy around the world and has taught in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.  His research is in the development of human capital in emerging economies and industries.

Adam Sterling, Executive Director, Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy

Adam Sterling, Executive Director, Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the EconomyExecutive director of the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE) at Berkeley Law. Previously he was a startup attorney at Gunderson Dettmer and the co-founder and director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force and Conflict Risk Network (CRN). Adam currently serves as a non-resident senior fellow for the Enough Project at the Center for America Progress Adam’s writings and work have appeared extensively in the press; including contributions to The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and National Public Radio. He has appeared on a number of broadcast news programs, including CNN’s Situation Room and CNBC’s Street Signs.

Adam Sterling

Adam Sterling

Executive Director, Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy

Executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE) at Berkeley Law. Previously he was a startup attorney at Gunderson Dettmer and the co-founder and director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force and Conflict Risk Network (CRN). Adam currently serves as a non-resident senior fellow for the Enough Project at the Center for America Progress Adam’s writings and work have appeared extensively in the press; including contributions to The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and National Public Radio. He has appeared on a number of broadcast news programs, including CNN’s Situation Room and CNBC’s Street Signs.

David Charron, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, UC Berkeley

David Charron, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, UC BerkeleyMember of the professional faculty at UC Berkeley, entrepreneur and consultant. He teaches courses in innovation and entrepreneurship including Business Model Innovation and Entrepreneurial Strategy and the core Entrepreneurship class for MBAs, Product Market Fit in Health and Applied Open Innovation for undergraduate students, Venture Capital Investing for Executives, and NSF I-Corps / LLP programs for scientists and corporations. Mr. Charron has held leadership positions at Berkeley, run incubators, and worked in the field of technology commercialization and entrepreneurship for over 25 years at corporations such as Xerox PARC, academic institutions including MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley and UCSF, and the national labs such as LBNL, LLNL and Sandia.

David Charron

David Charron

Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, UC Berkeley

Member of the professional faculty at UC Berkeley, entrepreneur and consultant. He teaches courses in innovation and entrepreneurship including Business Model Innovation and Entrepreneurial Strategy and the core Entrepreneurship class for MBAs, Product Market Fit in Health and Applied Open Innovation for undergraduate students, Venture Capital Investing for Executives, and NSF I-Corps / LLP programs for scientists and corporations. Mr. Charron has held leadership positions at Berkeley, run incubators, and worked in the field of technology commercialization and entrepreneurship for over 25 years at corporations such as Xerox PARC, academic institutions including MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley and UCSF, and the national labs such as LBNL, LLNL and Sandia.

John Danner, Senior Fellow, Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program

John Danner, Senior Fellow, Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship ProgramAn experienced management consultant and entrepreneur, John Danner has advised senior executives of multi-billion-dollar international enterprises on strategy, value management and business growth, as well as management teams of emerging ventures on competitive positioning, marketing and product strategy. His clients include leading companies in healthcare, energy, entertainment, food products, telecommunications and information and startups in energy management, e-commerce and supply chain integration. He has designed and successfully launched several new business initiatives for client organizations over the past twenty-five years. Mr. Danner is a senior moderator for The Aspen Institute, and conducts seminars on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship around the world.

John Danner

John Danner

Senior Fellow, Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program

An experienced management consultant and entrepreneur, John Danner has advised senior executives of multi-billion-dollar international enterprises on strategy, value management and business growth, as well as management teams of emerging ventures on competitive positioning, marketing and product strategy. His clients include leading companies in healthcare, energy, entertainment, food products, telecommunications and information and startups in energy management, e-commerce and supply chain integration. He has designed and successfully launched several new business initiatives for client organizations over the past twenty-five years. Mr. Danner is a senior moderator for The Aspen Institute, and conducts seminars on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship around the world.

Naeem Zafar, Lecturer in Engineering and Entrepreneurship, UC Berkeley

Naeem Zafar, Lecturer in Engineering and Entrepreneurship, UC BerkeleySerial entrepreneur, is a member of the faculty of the School of Engineering at the University of California Berkeley, Naeem teaches Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the MBA program. Naeem is the founder of Startup-Advisor.com and focuses on educating and advising entrepreneurs on all aspects of starting and running a company. Naeem’s entrepreneurial experience includes working directly with six startups, and he has extensive experience in mentoring and coaching founders and CEOs.

Naeem Zafar

Naeem Zafar

Lecturer in Engineering and Entrepreneurship, UC Berkeley

Serial entrepreneur, is a member of the faculty of the School of Engineering at the University of California Berkeley, Naeem teaches Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the MBA program. Naeem is the founder of Startup-Advisor.com and focuses on educating and advising entrepreneurs on all aspects of starting and running a company. Naeem’s entrepreneurial experience includes working directly with six startups, and he has extensive experience in mentoring and coaching founders and CEOs.

Peter Wilton, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, UC Berkeley

Peter Wilton, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, UC BerkeleyPeter Wilton, PhD., and at the Haas School of Business since 1992. Professor Wilton is a leading thinker, teacher, and advisor in the area of organizational innovation. Based out of Australia and the San Francisco area, Prof. Wilton has helped dozens of organizations around the world to set and execute on their “stretch goals,” achieving transformations previously thought impossible. His work ties together strategy, marketing, and organizational culture.

Peter Wilton

Peter Wilton

Senior Lecturer in Marketing, UC Berkeley

PhD., and at the Haas School of Business since 1992. Professor Wilton is a leading thinker, teacher, and advisor in the area of organizational innovation. Based out of Australia and the San Francisco area, Prof. Wilton has helped dozens of organizations around the world to set and execute on their “stretch goals,” achieving transformations previously thought impossible. His work ties together strategy, marketing, and organizational culture.

Sara Beckman, Faculty Fellow and Teaching Professor, UC Berkeley

Sara Beckman, Faculty Fellow and Teaching Professor, UC BerkeleySara is Earl F. Cheit Faculty Fellow at the Haas School of Business where she designs and delivers courses on design, innovation and product management and a Teaching Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department in the College of Engineering. Her 25 years of experience teaching design and innovation-related topics at the Haas School of Business culminated in creating a course, Problem Finding, Problem Solving, which is now offered to all business students at Haas. For the past two years, she has served as the Chief Learning Officer of the recently founded Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation within University of California, Berkeley’s College of Engineering. Sara directs the Product Management Program for the Berkeley’s Center for Executive Education, serving 350 product managers from around the world each year. Before joining Berkeley-Haas, Sara worked in the Operations Management Services group at Booz, Allen & Hamilton and ran the Change Management Team at Hewlett-Packard. Sara received her BS, MS and PhD degrees from Stanford University in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management.

Sara Beckman

Sara Beckman

Faculty Fellow and Teaching Professor, UC Berkeley

Sara is Earl F. Cheit Faculty Fellow at the Haas School of Business where she designs and delivers courses on design, innovation and product management and a Teaching Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department in the College of Engineering. Her 25 years of experience teaching design and innovation-related topics at the Haas School of Business culminated in creating a course, Problem Finding, Problem Solving, which is now offered to all business students at Haas. For the past two years, she has served as the Chief Learning Officer of the recently founded Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation within University of California, Berkeley’s College of Engineering. Sara directs the Product Management Program for the Berkeley’s Center for Executive Education, serving 350 product managers from around the world each year. Before joining Berkeley-Haas, Sara worked in the Operations Management Services group at Booz, Allen & Hamilton and ran the Change Management Team at Hewlett-Packard. Sara received her BS, MS and PhD degrees from Stanford University in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management.

Elizabeth Kovats, Director, Berkeley Roundtable on Applied Innovation and Design, UC Berkeley

Elizabeth Kovats, Director, Berkeley Roundtable on Applied Innovation and Design, UC BerkeleyElizabeth currently serves as Director of the Berkeley Roundtable on Applied Innovation and Design (BRAID). In this role she cultivates a learning community comprised of Silicon Valley executives and UC Berkeley faculty, teaching design-related workshops to a wide-range of industry partners. She has also served as a guest speaker at Stanford University’s d.school. Elizabeth’s particular focus is on adapting design principles for personal transformation, and the area of design and ethics. Previously, Elizabeth served as Associate Director of the International Business Development MBA course at Berkeley-Haas. She was responsible for significant expansion within the program, and also served as a faculty mentor to MBA teams working on high-technology consulting projects. Additionally, she co-led Seminar in Business courses to Turkey, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.

Elizabeth Kovats

Elizabeth Kovats

Director, Berkeley Roundtable on Applied Innovation and Design, UC Berkeley

Elizabeth currently serves as Director of the Berkeley Roundtable on Applied Innovation and Design (BRAID). In this role she cultivates a learning community comprised of Silicon Valley executives and UC Berkeley faculty, teaching design-related workshops to a wide-range of industry partners. She has also served as a guest speaker at Stanford University’s d.school. Elizabeth’s particular focus is on adapting design principles for personal transformation, and the area of design and ethics. Previously, Elizabeth served as Associate Director of the International Business Development MBA course at Berkeley-Haas. She was responsible for significant expansion within the program, and also served as a faculty mentor to MBA teams working on high-technology consulting projects. Additionally, she co-led Seminar in Business courses to Turkey, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.

Mark Coopersmith, Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, UC Berkeley

Mark Coopersmith, Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, UC BerkeleyAn educator and entrepreneur, Mark has spent his career building high growth companies and helping shape the next generation of business leaders. At Haas Mark teaches the sought-after Workshop for Startups course from which a broad range of innovative new ventures are regularly launched. Mark also co-teaches the pioneering course “The Other ‘F’ Word” about how insights developed from failure can drive innovation, growth and long-term success. Mark is also an accomplished executive and an advisor to businesses ranging from VC-backed ventures through global corporations such as Intel and DirecTV. Previously Mark led the $350mm Global Technology Brands group at Newell Rubbermaid, founded and built a $150mm consumer products and online commerce division for Sony, and was founding CEO of online payments venture WebOrder. Mark has been quoted in the The Economist, the New York Times and USA Today, and has appeared in media including Fox News, CNN, The Huffington Post and NPR. Mark also mentors aspiring entrepreneurs and teams including those working at the UC Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator. Mark is an alumnus of UC Berkeley, where he earned his BA and MBA degrees.

Mark Coopersmith

Mark Coopersmith

Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, UC Berkeley

An educator and entrepreneur, Mark has spent his career building high growth companies and helping shape the next generation of business leaders. At Haas Mark teaches the sought-after Workshop for Startups course from which a broad range of innovative new ventures are regularly launched. Mark also co-teaches the pioneering course “The Other ‘F’ Word” about how insights developed from failure can drive innovation, growth and long-term success. Mark is also an accomplished executive and an advisor to businesses ranging from VC-backed ventures through global corporations such as Intel and DirecTV. Previously Mark led the $350mm Global Technology Brands group at Newell Rubbermaid, founded and built a $150mm consumer products and online commerce division for Sony, and was founding CEO of online payments venture WebOrder. Mark has been quoted in the The Economist, the New York Times and USA Today, and has appeared in media including Fox News, CNN, The Huffington Post and NPR. Mark also mentors aspiring entrepreneurs and teams including those working at the UC Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator. Mark is an alumnus of UC Berkeley, where he earned his BA and MBA degrees.