Half way through my 3-month exchange on the MBA programme at California Polytechnic State University (or “Calpoly” for short) I was fortunate enough to take part in a 2-day field trip to visit several companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, organised by the MBA coordinators.

I was really excited to visit the infamous Silicon Valley and when the itinerary detailing the companies we would be visiting was revealed I could not quite believe my luck!

After an early start, a long bus journey, and the obligatory Starbucks breakfast/coffee pit stop we arrived at the first company, Real Scout. A fast growing start-up providing a software platform to real estate agents aimed at simplifying the house search process, founded by Calpoly alumnus Andrew Flachner. We heard first hand about the early days of the company (forming the team, raising finance, dealing with investors), and their plans for the future.

Next stop, the Apple headquarters, where the Vice-President of Finance spoke with us. Despite Apple having recently overtaken ExxonMobil to become the most valuable listed company in the world, we heard how stringent Apple was in the allocation of resources and its financial management. It was a truly fascinating insight into the company, and the high caliber of people that work there.

If day one of the trip was anything to go by, day two surpassed all expectations.

Day two started in the heart of San Francisco, hearing from three top executives at First Republic Bank, followed by a visit to the Zynga headquarters (which can only be described as the most amazing, un-office like office I have ever seen: a large warehouse with cafes, a bar, a gym and dogs everywhere as staff bring their pets to work!). We finished the trip by visiting a couple of US companies some may have heard of… Google and Microsoft!

All in all, the trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my MBA, and one that will stay with me for a long time to come. Thank you Calpoly!

Holly Sloan, former MBA