A priest walks into a business school. It sounds like the set up to a bad joke, but UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has proven that it is no laughing matter.
Ordained as a priest in 2015, John Gribowich now spends time learning alongside business professionals having enrolled in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program (EMBA).
Mr Gribowich was reportedly drawn to the program after being released from his parishioner duties as assistant pastor at a church in Brooklyn.
The move was so he could work at DeSales Media Group, the communications arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn responsible for publishing and broadcasting news from a Catholic point of view. The company had been on the lookout for suitable individuals to assist with a new tech project that would connect and modernise the systems shared by all of the diocese’s local parishes.
Mr Gribowich was chosen to be a consultatn for the project and was told by senior members of the church that he would to obtain the suitable technology project management skills needed for the role.
“My bishop said, ‘You need the right schooling,’” he told Berkeley.
“I said, ‘An MBA makes sense for everything I need to do.’ I set my sights to the west, where there’s a great creative and progressive vibe.”
The Haas School of Business EMBA is an experiential program that is delivered across 19 months and typically draws a cohort of about 70 professionals from around the world. Its schedule spreads classes out into blocks of three that run every three weeks, and contains with five field immersions that explore leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, international business, and business and public policy.
Despite the well-known demands of studying an MBA, Mr Gribowich still finds time to do what he loves – connect with the community and deliver the word of God. He reportedly often leads Mass at California’s St. Joseph the Worker Church after serving a dawn breakfast to the homeless in downtown Berkeley.
“Some people mistakenly think being a priest is just working Sundays,” he told Berkeley.
“But you’re meeting with people, attending to sick calls, going to hospitals. It’s a very demanding and full schedule.
“I never take my priest hat off … I am always conscious of it. As a priest, you are always connected to ministry.”
Mr Gribowich plans to return to Brooklyn and DeSales after graduating from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, taking up his role of providing local parishes and nonprofits with tech tools. His new responsibilities will help manage financial records and data like information found in marriage and baptism documents, bringing the church into the modern age.