Emeritus’ Silicon Valley AI Tour for Business Leaders is a Game Changer

Emeritus’ Silicon Valley AI Tour for Business Leaders is a Game Changer | Leadership | Emeritus

Generative AI has definitely become a part of regular lives since the launch of ChatGPT in 2022. While the rest are just using AI, the leaders of the world must go beyond to understand AI and the true extent of its potential. Naturally, there is a lot of FOMO among top-brass business leaders as far as AI is concerned, along with an urgency to make the best use of AI for their businesses. That is where the Silicon Valley AI Immersion Study Tour comes in to address a widening knowledge and network gap. 

Silicon Valley is more than just home to major tech, internet, and software companies. The Bay Area is a living, breathing ecosystem where innovation has thrived since the 1950s, and it is currently the think tank for AI. You could, of course, read all about AI online, but imagine experiencing it firsthand! From visits to Stanford and Berkeley to Mark Zuckerberg’s former home where Facebook was born, fireside chats with the who’s who of venture capital and AI, and a walkthrough of Apple and Intel, this is the stuff of any tech enthusiast/entrepreneur’s dreams. Curated by Emeritus, the much-anticipated Silicon Valley AI study tour concluded recently to rave reviews. Read more below if you want to sign up for the next trip!

What is the Emeritus Silicon Valley AI Study Tour?

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This tour is replete with opportunities for engagement with founders, thought leaders, and C-level executives who belong to academia, the technology industry, or are venture capitalists with a specialized portfolio in tech/AI. The itinerary includes a range of fireside chats, classes, visits to iconic technology companies, and several other networking opportunities. The tour is meant to establish the groundwork for potential collaborations that can help position any organization prominently on the global technology landscape. 

For more details, you can explore the Silicon Valley AI Immersion Itinerary page. 

Meet the Participants of the Emeritus Silicon Valley AI Study Tour

Risyad Learner

We often associate the term ‘study tour’ with teenagers traveling to different campuses to figure out who their alma mater should be. But the Silicon Valley AI Immersion is a very niche study tour specifically meant for CXOs, thought leaders, and business owners. In essence, the changemakers. This naturally begs the question, who are these changemakers, and why did they choose this tour?

The last concluded cohort of the Silicon Valley AI Immersion had a diverse group of 35 leaders and executives. Not only did they hail from different sectors, including mining, healthcare, finance, logistics, and engineering, but they also function in different capacities like CEO, Chief of Staff, Board Director, to name a few, creating an interesting intersectionality of sectors and functions.

Sayan Kumar Learner

Also part of this mix were two CXOs from Chile’s mining giant Collahuasi on this tour, and a couple of Indonesian executives from the education sector were also included. Two CEOs from India also participated in the tour, alongside a Chief of Staff for a UAE-based logistics giant, who was part of the Indian diaspora. 

Highlights From the Emeritus Silicon Valley AI Study Tour

1. Ice Breaker Session

The journey began with a fun ice-breaking session called the ‘Marshmallow Challenge’. It was meant to help the participants engage with their peers. Post the customary introductions, there was a whole range of fireside chats and mingling sessions, connecting our participants with pioneers at Google Gemini to the innovators at Open AI. 

2. Stanford UC and Design Workshop with Prof. Barry Katz

Meeting with Professor Barry Katz, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, famous for ‘teaching Silicon Valley’ for 30 years, during an intimate tour of the iconic Stanford University campus was one of the events that stood out for most of the participants. “In a single word, awesome! That’s how it was!” says Balamurali Rengasami, Chief Executive Officer & Board Director of Monyx Engineers Private Limited, encapsulating his experience. Professor Katz also conducted a Design Thinking workshop that focused on how design can bridge the gap between AI capabilities and human adoption, ultimately solving the right problems.

3. Visit to Berkeley UC and a Masterclass by Pieter Abbeel

The next stop was Berkeley University, where Pieter Abbeel’s masterclass on the evolution of AI, merging academic, industry, and entrepreneurial perspectives on what lies ahead, was prophetic. Abbeel is the Director of Berkeley Robot Learning Lab and is known to be the mentor and advisor to Open AI. 

“I already knew about Pieter’s work, and just him physically was like spotting a celebrity! This is the inventor, and here I am,” says Suresh Jain, Founder of Sun Capital and Managing Director of Alan Scott, who was having a fanboy moment.

4. Visits to the Search Giant’s Office and Apple Park

The Apple Park Visitor Center is a landmark in itself. The legendary building is often referred to as the home button of planet Earth. You can call it one of the last masterpieces envisioned by Steve Jobs. With augmented reality (AR) devices, the participants had the opportunity to zoom in on the headquarters of Apple Inc! 

5. Visits to the Headquarters of a Leading OS Company and the World’s First Chip Manufacturer

Walking into the premises of the world’s first chip maker is a dream come true moment for most tech enthusiasts. Add to that the opportunity to hear none other than Jensen Huang, Founder, and CEO of NVIDIA, in a fireside chat, and it’s a perfect ten! He spoke about the culture of the company and how it has grown in the last 30 years. This was followed by a compelling panel discussion featuring Steve Hoffman, CEO/Founder of Founders Space, and another panel featuring Zack Kass, the very well-known former Head of GTM at OpenAI. An experience to remember!

The Learning Value: What Participants Learned About AI

One of the main goals of this immersion trip organized by Emeritus is to make sure that participants, who are leaders in their organizations and industries, get to experience the latest in AI from its very crucible in the Bay Area. 

“The first-hand insights you will gain will far outweigh anything you could garner from thousands of miles away from news articles and YouTube videos, and the connections you build will be invaluable to help you hit the ground running if you choose to set up a business or invest in the future,” explains Robert Hsiung, CEO Emeritus China, also heading the Study Tour initiative. 

1. Understanding all the ‘Moving Parts’ of the AI Ecosystem

“We already know that Silicon Valley is a citadel of start-ups and venture ecosystems. But through our interactions during this tour, we understood how the different moving parts of this ecosystem, be it the start-ups, the talent pool, the capital formation, and the sources of venture capital, are intertwined,” explains participant Sayan Kumar Dev, encapsulating the learning value of the Silicon Valley AI Immersion tour, that that is a key reason why Silicon Valley is where it is today and any space with aspirations to be the next Silicon Valley would have find a way to make all these ‘moving parts’ collapse into a cohesive whole. 

2. The Next Disruption is Physical AI

Another participant, Hilmi Kocak, CIO of Eczacıbaşı Group, a global healthcare and consumer products brand based out of Turkey, notes, “If I have learned something most specifically about the direction of AI in Silicon Valley, then it has to be physical AI, which will be the next disruption.”

3. AI Makes Moving From Competition to Collaboration Easy

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From super-intelligent robots to greener pastures — both literally and figuratively — sustainability, Maciej Marian Adamkiewicz, Supervisory Board Director of Adamed, a pharma company from Poland, spoke about AI leveling the playing field. “We can change the model from competition to cooperation for sustainable growth,” he affirms. 

4. Don’t Reinvent the AI Wheel. Just Customize for Speed

Risyad Ridho Hasbullah made another critical observation about the future roadmap for AI development. “We don’t all have to build our own AI,” he asserts. “We can rely on the larger models from Google and OpenAI and customize them as per our needs,” he adds. 

The Biggest Takeaway From the Tour: The Networking Opportunity

AI is dynamic, and so much of the future depends on it that it puts a renewed focus on how collaboration among business leaders and technocrats is imperative. Not only does this ‘network’ ensure a smooth flow of knowledge from invention to execution, but it also works as a sounding board for ideas and experiments. Hence, we are as good as our network, one could say. 

This makes the networking opportunities afforded by this trip one of its main takeaways. There are three kinds of networks open for participants to tap into during the trip:

#1: AI Experts

Firstly, there were masterclasses with inventors and AI experts from top-brass academia, like Pieter Abbeel, Director, Berkeley Robot Learning Lab, and Barry Katz, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University. These academicians familiarized the participants with the possibilities of AI and its directional roadmap for the future. As Sayan Kumar Dev says, “Now I know all the possibilities of AI and how it can translate into business,” a sentiment echoed by most of the participants. 

#2: Entrepreneurs

The missing piece between an ingenious idea and a million-dollar company is a capable entrepreneur with ample business acumen. And there are so many of them in the Bay Area. Techprenuers, as we call them, must have a balance of technology knowledge and an entrepreneurial spirit. The participants of the Silicon Valley AI Immersion had several such interaction opportunities with big-wigs, like Zack Kass, ex-head of Commercialization, OpenAI and Steve Hoffman, fondly known as Captain Hoff, who is the Chairman and CEO, Founders Space. 

Participants were also part of various fireside chats and visits to the offices of iconic tech organizations, where they could interact with those in the business of AI and build a solid network for the future, 

#3: Peers

Last but not the least, the group, with its diverse composition in itself, was a fertile ground for building collaborations. The first session of the tour focused on introducing the participants, and it had a section where each of them had to explain how they could be of use to the group. Besides, sharing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this tour is bound to leave them with very special memories, and these relationships are likely to go beyond the duration of the week-long tour. 

An Immersive Experience 

You know what they say about all work and no play? Obviously, socialization and some downtime are essential to make this tour a truly immersive experience. Right from the orientation to the distribution of certificates at the end of the tour, every event had an element of fun to it. The participants were part of wine tasting at Thomas Fogerty, a gorgeous winery nestled in the hills of Santa Clara overlooking Stanford University, and a picturesque sunset dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf, a popular restaurant in the Bay Area. 

Over and above these fine experiences, the photo opportunities on this tour were an added bonus. Participants could get any number of LinkedIn-worthy photos with AI celebs, creating some fantastic memories on their LinkedIn timeline.

Can We Expect More Immersive Tours?

Yes, and the next tour begins on July 28, 2024. To apply and get a seat, click here.

AI is now a must-have for any contemporary business’ armory. Hence, it is crucial for leaders to arm themselves with AI. And the path to that ownership starts with knowing what is coming next and how it can be leveraged for growth. Sign up to become a part of this revolution!

The Silicon Valley AI Executive Study Trip is the first of what will be many new opportunities for executives to travel to international destinations to learn about the most exciting new technologies, new markets, and new cultures. 

Robert Hsuing

Look out for the variety of immersion tours Emeritus is crafting on topics beyond AI and span different parts of the world as prospective hotbeds of technology, business, and innovation.

About the Author

Managing Editor, Emeritus Blog
Anwesha is our in-house expert on careers, trends impacting the workforce, and what makes content tick. As a journalist and content creator for 10+ years, Anwesha leaves a bit of herself in every story. Her superpower is to take the bare bones and turn it into a winning narrative for brands. Her passion to tell stories of human triumph led her to Emeritus where she continues to weave engaging tales. Anwesha is also a doting dog mom and hopes to make her boisterous canine a pawfluencer.
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