Spring Break Treks: Camels, Monks, and Business Leaders

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nearly 200 Berkeley MBA students criss-crossed the globe over spring break in the pursuit of camel riding, finding spirituality, meeting key business leaders, and building even stronger bonds with some of their new closest friends. Spring break trekkers traveled to Israel, Japan, Cuba, and Morocco and brought back with them a wealth of new experiences. Here are some of their stories:

Israel

The five tour leaders who guided 55 travelers through Israel wanted their guests — 47 of whom had never been there before — to experience of the “reality” of the country, based on personal experience and not on the perception of the small Jewish state they get from the news. Romi and Noa Elan, Adi Rubinovich, Yaron Leyvand, and Nadav Shem-Tov, all MBA 14 — believe they accomplished just that.

On several occasions, the leaders shared personal stories, such as how relatives died while fighting in the military, or introduced their relatives to their travel mates in person. In Tel Aviv, for example, some tour leader family members manned the stations of a scavenger hunt.

The tour group visited religious sites of both Christians and Jews, walked along the Syrian border, floated in the Dead Sea, and woke up early to climb Masada.

For Elan, who grew up in Israel, seeing the country through someone else’s eyes was illuminating. While climbing Masada, one guest commented, “This is the coolest thing ever.”

“Just hearing that about these things that I had taken for granted was amazing,” Elan says.

The tour group also visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, which Elan thought showed the students “the context for the state of Israel and why some policies may seem so strict.” The group also spoke with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, a former businessman who got his start by co-founding a high-tech antivirus software company. “He laid out governing in business terms,” Elan says, “and how he intends to solve the issues of Jerusalem.”

Japan

Fifty-six Haas students traveled to Japan during spring break and toured the cities of Hiroshima, Kyoto, Atami, and Tokyo.

Highlights included waking early to listen to the holy sutras, living as monks do at the Buddhist temple in Mount Koya, and dining on vegetarian delicacies.

Ryo Itoh, MBA 15, helped lead the tour, which he described as a mixture of “culture, fun, andbusiness.” The group also visited a Toyota plant and Softbank, one of the largest telecom companies, and the atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima.

While everyone was really “cooperative,” getting 50-plus people on a bullet train in a one-minute window was a logistical challenge, Itoh says. So were some food allergies, which the group remedied by writing up cards with food instructions in Japanese to bring to restaurants.

In Tokyo, some students enjoyed a one-night homestay in which they were picked up by a Japanese host family and enjoyed an evening with a local family.

The trip concluded with a final dinner of more than 70 people, including Haas alumni in Japan and recent admits for the class of 2016.

Cuba

Eleven Haasies traveled to Cuba for the spring break, where they took in a lively salsa show in the colonial city of Trinidad, and half the group woke up early to trek to a secluded waterfall.

Brad Malt, Paul Cole, Matt Richards and Billy Blaustein, all MBA 15, even jumped off a 40-foot cliff into a swimming hole at the base of the waterfall. “It was really cool and definitely a highlight of the trip,” Malt says.

The students received one credit for an independent study called “Innovation in a Closed Economy,” looking at how the recent changes and loosening of restrictions are affecting Cubans. The MBA students had lunch with a Cuban veteran who worked closely with Che Guevara and Fidel Castro and shared his perspective on the embargo, recent changes, and how they are affecting Cubans.

The group also came to Cuba with two dozen baseballs and hats donated by the Cal baseball team to hand out to Cubans, who were grateful for the American gifts. On the students’ drive to the Bay of Pigs, Malt said they spotted a baseball field in town and pulled over for an impromptu pickup game. They didn’t have a bat, so a local Cuban lent them a partially broken wooden one. As they played, more and more townspeople came either to watch or to join the game.

“It was one of the more memorable experiences of my life,” Malt says.

Morocco

The Morocco trip started off small, with five people asking to tag along as Moulay Driss Belkebir Mrani, MBA 15, planned a visit to his homeland. In the end, Mrani ended up leading 66 people through Essaouria, Marrakech, Ouarzazate and the desert of Zagora.

The group enjoyed sightseeing, shopping, and camel riding, but there was also a purposeful business angle weaved into the trip. Mrani took the group to meet the CEO of the OCP Group, otherwise known as Office Cherifien des Phosphates, the world’s largest phosphates exporters and Morocco’s largest corporation. . “We had lunch and discussed the future of the fertilizers industry and the impact on farming in the world,” Mrani says.

The group also visited a mining complex and the site of a new university and met with a woman’s cooperative, where they learned about oil production.

One of the most memorable parts of the trek was the road trip to the desert in Zagora. There, under the stars, the group listened to tribal songs, lit a huge camp fire, and smoked in the “hookah corner.”

For Mrani, one of the greatest aspects of the trek was showing his country to his peers and re-discovering it himself.

“When you spend a week day and night with people, you get to know them better,” he said. “And to be in the desert in the middle of nowhere, in tents with food and music … Well, it was surreal and pretty amazing.”

The Great Global MBA Experiment: A Defining Moment in My MBA Journey

Summit Collage

Michael Nurick, MBA 14, was among these 60 MBA students from around the world selected to attend the First Annual MBA World Summit in Hong Kong.

By Guest Blogger Michael Nurick, MBA 14

Michael Nurick

Michael Nurick, MBA 14, presents his talk, “What Rockstars Can Teach Us About Leadership.”

What would happen if you brought the best MBA students from around the world together in one place to exchange ideas and forge lasting relationships? That was the question Thomas Fuchs, Yannick Reiss, and the rest of the team at Frankfurt-based networking company Quarterly Crossing (QX) sought to answer with the First Annual MBA World Summit in Hong Kong.

QX designed a rigorous application process consisting of essays, resume reviews, and invitation-only interviews. Out of more than 2,000 applications, QX selected 60 MBA students from around the globe to attend the summit fully sponsored by the summit’s corporate partners: Henkel, BASF, among others. Three months after beginning the process myself, I learned that I was one of those lucky 60 and would be the sole representative from Haas. I was thrilled, but with no precedence for such an event, I had no idea what to expect!

The summit began with a welcome reception at the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon, which boasts stunning views of the striking Hong Kong skyline.  I was nothing short of impressed by the other MBA students in attendance. Everyone had his or her unique stories to tell and ambitious goals to achieve.   But reminiscent of the Haas culture, everyone exhibited a sense of humility and honor to have been lucky enough to be a part of this event. The excitement in the air was palpable, and we couldn’t wait for the official events to begin.

The first full day of the summit was dedicated to the goal of sharing ideas. Eighteen of the 60 student attendees were invited to host Summit Leadership Sessions, hour-long seminars on a topic of the student’s choosing. The goal of my session, titled “What Rockstars Can Teach Us About Leadership,” was to convey key leadership lessons I had learned during my years as a performing musician, using vivid storytelling to translate those lessons to a management context.

One such story touched on a topic that Haas’ own Lecturer Cort Worthington has designed classes around: authenticity. As a musician, maintaining authenticity is a constant struggle between staying true to your artistic expression and tailoring your music for market success. I’ve witnessed this struggle firsthand during my seven years as the guitarist of Nine Leaves, an innovative band of hip-hop artists. Despite a loyal fan base and strong reviews, we were often told that our music wasn’t mainstream enough, but we weren’t willing to change. Our music was best when it came from our hearts, and our fans could tell the difference.

I also shared stories about famous artists such as ?uestlove and Sara Bareilles who struggled with maintaining authenticity but came to the same conclusion: Authenticity enabled them to best connect with their audience. In a management context, that same connection can both motivate and inspire a team.

The second day of the summit was dedicated to forging relationships, while enjoying all Hong Kong had to offer. Through excursions to the big Buddha, a junk boat cruise around Hong Kong harbor, and a long night out in Hong Kong’s famous Lan Kwai Fong, the 60 of us grew closer together through a shared and remarkable experience.

Before I knew it, the experience was over, but I was left with incredible memories and a renewed vigor to continue pursuing my ultimate goal of using my skills developed at Haas to support the careers of fellow musicians through innovative music businesses. More than that, I can now say that I have a friend in every major city across the globe thanks to my MBA counterparts. As MBA World Summit alumni, we’ll have the opportunity to reunite every year when QX admits a new batch of top global MBA talent into the network. And I plan to be there, promoting Haas and supporting the future success of this great global MBA experiment.

SIB South Africa – Day 4

Anne Sromek is a third-year student in the EWMBA program at Haas, and one of 20 students enrolled in Seminars in International Business: South Africa during the Spring 2014 semester. Class instruction is led by Doy Charnsupharindr, Professor Mark Rittenberg, and Ingrid Gavshon. The 2-unit course is comprised of several pre-trip evening meetings at Berkeley, during which students explored South African history, business, political climate and culture through guest lecturers and selected readings. The students also spend one week abroad to solidify the lessons learned and connect with a country outside of their own. 

This blog is assembled from the experiences and musings of the author for the purpose of showcasing the SIB experience for prospective students and future SIB participants.

On Thursday morning, we jumped a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. The direct flight takes about two hours, and I have to admit that it was refreshing to take a water bottle and wear my shoes through the checkpoints for domestic South African travel. As the plane was landing, we were treated to some of the most amazing views of mountains and ocean – already, Cape Town was making an impression on us. Our tour bus was waiting for us at Arrivals.

We began driving toward our first stop – Fundamo, a branch of Visa (it was acquired in 2010). Many of us were dressed in jeans due to our early morning flight from Johannesburg, but it seems that jeans are totally acceptable in the “Silicon Cape”. Hannes Van Rensburg welcomed us to Visa with an overview of Fundamo. Hannes began Fundamo in September 2000, in order to help relieve the poor areas of their reliance on cash transactions. It was interesting to hear how he saw that Africa’s disadvantaged population has more complex financial needs than anyone would initially imagine – they hide cash in mattresses, don’t have credit, and usually don’t have bank accounts. Naturally, cash money is subject to theft and these people lose up to 30% of their income due to loss.  Thirty Percent!!!

The technology behind Fundamo piggy-backs upon the mobile phone phenomenon across Africa. Those who don’t have electricity or even running water have the ability to own a phone. To recharge the phone is another challenge – but most of the continent is connected nonetheless. Fundamo effectively used the technology of SIM cards and phone cameras to create encrypted, user-friendly applications that can be used to transfer money across mobile networks within Africa. Those on the receiving end of a transaction can walk in to any participating merchant to cash out and complete the transfer. The adoption of the application took approximately 2 years, before it spread like wildfire in Zambia. Even M-Pesa (from our previous day’s visit to Vodacom) used Fundamo’s model as a roadmap for their entrance in Kenya.

Its exponential adoption rate aside, Fundamo did not turn a profit until 2007, exactly seven years after its launch. Today, the company has over 200 million subscribers, a number that grows every day. The Fundamo footprint includes East Africa, West Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The best advice the Haas group got from Hannes is, “Don’t complain if the barista doesn’t get the foam correct on your cappuccino” – instead, we should dream big, change the world, and have faith that success will follow. I love this advice, and it truly is so reflective of the attitude of all of the successful entrepreneurs we’ve met thus far in South Africa. The glass is always half-full, despite obstacles that are encountered along the way.

With that healthy dose of confidence, the Haas students piled back into the tour bus for lunch at Stellenbosch, which is one of the major wine regions bordering Cape Town (the others being Franschhoek, Paarl, Constantia, Robertson, and Wellington). We visited Tokara winery specifically, and had lunch at their Deli Cat Essen. The views were beyond gorgeous, and we all enjoyed the outdoor setting after our plane ride earlier in the day.

Image

EWMBA Students at Tokara Winery

We returned to Cape Town after lunch where we stopped in to the 15 on Orange Hotel to enjoy a networking event with professionals in technology who are involved in Silicon Cape initiatives. We were able to network with the event’s participants, enjoy some great jazz music and appetizers with like-minded businessmen and businesswomen.

After the networking event, we drove to our hotel in Bantry Bay, The Ambassador. At this point I think all of the Haas students were ready to move to Cape Town on a permanent basis, or at least seriously entertain the idea. The hotel is perched on a cliff, and the waves crash on the rocks just outside of the hotel’s pool deck. The sunset was gorgeous and I think I speak for the entire group when I say that we are so blessed to be a part of this journey together.

Image

Billion-Dollar Startups, Splunk Founder Michael Baum, and One-Minute Pitches at Annual Haas Celebration

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What’s one secret to launching a billion-dollar startup? Continually innovating your business model, not just your product or service, says Michael Baum, founder and former CEO of Splunk, which creates software that helps companies glean insights from machine data and was one of the most successful IPOs of 2012.

Baum was the featured speaker at the 12th annual Haas Celebration at Gap Inc. headquarters in San Francisco on March 18. Nearly 400 alumni, students, and friends of Haas attended the event, which this year highlighted the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship. The evening also included a one-minute pitch competition for teams of alumni and students.

In a conversation with Lester Center Executive Director Andre Marquis, MBA 96, Baum spoke about how he built Splunk and the changing landscape of entrepreneurship education. Baum’s 25-year entrepreneurial career has included six startups and five acquisitions that have created more than 3,000 jobs, more than 150 millionaires, and more than $10 billion in shareholder value.

One way Splunk innovated its business model in the early days, when it was competing with companies like IBM, was to buy Google AdWords on troubleshooting topics users might have with a competitor’s software. For anyone seeking help with a problem, Splunk repeatedly appeared as the solution.

Baum also stressed that success is about execution, not ideas. That’s why Splunk cofounders weren’t concerned with competitors seeing the product roadmap they posted online for two years to crowdsource feedback from potential customers. They knew they could deliver the software faster and better than anyone else.

Baum’s current startup is FOUNDER.org, which works with colleges, universities (including Cal), and research institutes to help students become successful entrepreneurs. Its initiatives provide students funding, education, and mentoring to prepare them for long-term success. Baum’s goal for FOUNDER.org is longevity (he’s aiming for a hundred years), so he made it a nonprofit. He says it may be one of the first nonprofit venture capital projects.

The evening also included a one-minute pitch competition among Haas and Cal student and alumni representatives from 10 startups. Audience members could learn about each startup during the cocktail hour and voted via text message. Teams pitching their ideas represented Brandizi, Twindom, Eko Devices, Magoosh, Modify Industries, OCHO Candy, PlushCare, POWr, Xcell Biosciences, and YadaZing.

The winner of Cal swag and bragging rights was Eko Devices (coincidentally affiliated with FOUNDER.org), which helps clinicians amplify, digitize, and analyze patient heart sounds through a smart device that attaches to a stethoscope. Traditional stethoscopes can’t diagnose most heart conditions but an Eko Device can. “We want to put a cardiologist in every doctor’s pocket,” said Eko cofounder and CEO Connor Landgraf, BS 13 (Bioengineering), during his pitch.

Guests at the event also enjoyed access to the renowned modern art of Gap founders Doris Fisher and her late husband, Don Fisher, BS 51, whose collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Cy Twombly, Sol LeWitt, and many others.

SIB South Africa – Day 3

Anne Sromek is a third-year student in the EWMBA program at Haas, and one of 20 students enrolled in Seminars in International Business: South Africa during the Spring 2014 semester. Class instruction is led by Doy Charnsupharindr, Professor Mark Rittenberg, and Ingrid Gavshon. The 2-unit course is comprised of several pre-trip evening meetings at Berkeley, during which students explored South African history, business, political climate and culture through guest lecturers and selected readings. The students also spend one week abroad to solidify the lessons learned and connect with a country outside of their own. 

This blog is assembled from the experiences and musings of the author for the purpose of showcasing the SIB experience for prospective students and future SIB participants.

We began our Wednesday with a breakfast talk at our hotel by Dr. Brian Ruff. Dr. Ruff is a trained rhuematologist who now works as an internal consultant/strategist for Discovery Health in Johannesburg. He explained the division between private and public medical practices within South Africa. 20% of the country is considered Middle Class, and that class is divided 50/50 between blacks and non-blacks. However, the black middle class does not have the advantage of generations worth of assets, and yet they have a broader responsibility to provide care for family and friends who are trying to better themselves.

During Apartheid, there were separate publicly-funded hospitals for blacks, whites, Indians and colored people. Once democracy came in to view the hospitals needed to be recreated in the private sector, which is a huge undertaking, especially for the hospitals that historically served the lower-income communities. In addition, under Apartheid, private insurance wasn’t necessary because routine visits to the doctor’s office were planned ahead of time and paid for at the time of service. For emergencies, people could buy insurance on a mutual fund basis, on a not-for-profit basis. It seemed that the medical service sector was more equitable and stable during Apartheid because of state funding.

On top of the change in funding and administration, the HIV/AIDs epidemic hit South Africa head-on in the 1990’s. 1% of the country’s population was diagnosed with the disease in 1990, which skyrocketed to a shocking 10% of the population by 1999. Currently, about 12% of the population lives with HIV/AIDS. The disease has stopped its exponential spread thanks in great part to the foreign investment in clinics and services for this population.

In 1997, Discovery Health launched Vitality, an insurance buy-up program that was meant to get people to care about their health today, and therefore decrease their need for medical procedures 15-20 years in the future (a benefit for both the insurance providers as well as the people themselves). The company forges connections with health clubs, smoking cessation services and weight management programs to offer low-cost benefits to its subscriber base. Each person who is enrolled in the program is assigned a color, which changes to reflect increasing and decreasing health status based on the number of times he/she visits the gym, attends health classes and participates in other health-related programs during the month. It has become so popular, that Dr. Ruff noted people often brag about their assigned “colors” at parties! Members who are very active also get access to perks that include discounted airfare and car rentals. I was impressed with this plan and hope that the trend catches on in the US soon, because I would definitely sign up.

Our next visit was Vodacom. Mr. Tshepo Ramodibe greeted us with a high-level overview of Vodacom’s operations in South Africa. Something that stood out to me was the idea of dynamic pricing – wherein calls during certain times of the day cost less than others. This pricing practice encourages people to carry 4+ SIM cards that take advantage of different time zones in the world on Vodacom’s network, which ends up costing the consumer practically nothing for the calls they make. Fascinating! Also, Mr. Ramodibe mentioned that there were initiatives within rural communities where Vodacom sets up networks and solar panels at community service centers, like schools or police stations. For villages without access to electricity, these networks offer local power supplies that are priceless, but also anchors the user base to Vodacom’s network.

Another interesting initiative in which Vodacom is promoting is M-Pesa, a service that utilizes mobile networks and local businesses for person-to-person money transfers. In case you’re wondering about the name, M-Pesa means “money” in Swahili. The service is hosted by a bank, and allows African customers (the majority of whom are in Kenya and Tanzania) to transfer money to relatives across the country, as well as merchants and neighbors, by using a mobile phone and verification codes to help eliminate fraudulent activity. The interest earned on the float of money within the system is put in to the M-Pesa Foundation’s account, which is then funneled back into the villages within the network. Well-done, Vodacom.

Our next stop was a visit to Soul City. At this company, we were welcomed by Bongani Ndlovu, who is the Senior Manager for Media. After letting us know that his name means “Give Thanks for Elephants”, he introduced us to his wonderful organization. The main focus of Soul City is to promote a reduction of sexual partners and an increase of condom use within the country of South Africa, in order to change the tide of teenage pregnancy and the spread of HIV/AIDS. To realize this mission, Soul City has written, produced and published television dramas since June 1994. The topics of the shows are determined by the epidemics faced by the nation’s people – from AIDS and the risks of having more than one partner, to alcohol abuse and the consequences around that behavior. The television dramas aim not to preach or judge, rather cast a spotlight on certain behaviors that can be used as discussion catalysts within communities.

Image

Haas Students & Instructors at Soul City, Johannesburg

The shows take 14 months to develop before they are released to viewers. Each show’s review process includes multiple private screenings, to assure that the shows are on-target with viewer expectations. Soul City reaches 27 million viewers – which is remarkable, given South Africa has 51 million people within its borders. Such viewership is unprecedented.

Bongani really reached our hearts when telling us about Soul Buddyz, which is a program run for kids aged 8 through 14. The topics of these programs include race discrimination, inappropriate adult contact and bullying, among others. Kids are really getting behind these programs – for instance, one group of young boys wrote in to the studio to ask whether they could produce a show around the life of one of their friends, who was albino. The kids were hoping to cast a spotlight on their friend in hopes of helping others understand that their friend is no different than anyone else. Soul City picked up the story and cast the group in an anti-discrimination commercial that was widely-viewed.

Image

Entrance/Exit to Soul City

On the ride back to the hotel, I was thinking about the change management that Soul City was taking upon itself. The scope is just enormous, and changing any long-standing behavior across the masses is no small undertaking. I give the team a lot of credit for what they are doing. It sounds like they found a popular way to convey their messages, and I am really cheering for their future success.


After our visit to Soul City, several students went shopping at a local mall, while others returned back to the hotel to rest before dinner. We were due on a super-early morning flight to Cape Town the next day, but we still celebrated our last night in Jozi in true Haas spirit.

SIB South Africa – Day 2

Anne Sromek is a third-year student in the EWMBA program at Haas, and one of 20 students enrolled in Seminars in International Business: South Africa during the Spring 2014 semester. Class instruction is led by Doy Charnsupharindr, Professor Mark Rittenberg, and Ingrid Gavshon. The 2-unit course is comprised of several pre-trip evening meetings at Berkeley, during which students explored South African history, business, political climate and culture through guest lecturers and selected readings. The students also spend one week abroad to solidify the lessons learned and connect with a country outside of their own. 

This blog is assembled from the experiences and musings of the author for the purpose of showcasing the SIB experience for prospective students and future SIB participants.

Tuesday brought a very packed schedule. Our day began at Power FM where we met our hosts from MSG Afrika Investment Holdings, Andile Khumalo, CIO and Given Mkhari, CEO. Power FM is just one of their many business ventures. The station runs radio talk segments on current events and hot topics that directly effect South Africa’s black communities.

Image

Power House, home of Power FM Radio

Both Given and Andile are entrepreneurs whose upbringing and education shaped them in to leaders. Andile explained that when he was growing up (near Durban, South Africa), it didn’t seem strange to miss school because of warfare in his village. After reading biographies of CEOs, Andile decided to pursue a career as a chartered accountant, noting that most CEOs had accounting or engineering backgrounds. Thanks to a bursary from Deloitte, he finished his studies and spent several years in the United States as an auditor. He then returned to South Africa to work for Investec Bank.

Given’s education was sponsored by his homeland. He studied to become a history teacher and started a radio station on his university’s campus. He also studied International Relations abroad at Bard College, where he tried to start another radio station, but gave up due to the bureaucracy he encountered. After his studies, Given worked at a radio station in Manhattan, at Castle Rock Entertainment as a producer in Los Angeles, and at Sony Entertainment in the Artist Management Division before moving back to South Africa in 1997.

The men became business partners after meeting at an Investec function, and admit that the opportunity they were presented with in their business was extremely special. 80% of the South African population is black, and that 80% is under-served by existing media. Both men believe that the radio stations they have built provide an education service to the disenfranchised majority of the black population. Given likened South African democracy for the poor to a situation where a person is given the rights to play a sport, but no equipment with which to play. If given the right equipment – which includes a solid education, provided by the government – the poor population can begin to prosper under democratic rule. Once that is established, there is a need for early-stage venture funding so that businesses can begin and grow, since entrepreneurs can’t always rely on friends and family for seed capital.

Image

SIB participants with Given Mkhari (left) and Andile Khumalo (right) at Power FM Studios

Haas students were given a tour of the studio, and the station interviewed Professor Rittenberg on the air. We were grateful to have had a chance to visit the station and we left feeling very upbeat and positive about the efforts that Andile and Given were making toward a better, more informed South Africa.

Our next stop of the day was Harambee. Helen Smith, who had been with the company since its inception three years ago, gave us a detailed account of the not-for-profit organization and what it hopes to achieve in the future. The organization’s mission is to help match unemployed South African youth with open entry-level jobs. Unemployment is high (over 25% in South Africa over-all) and yet so many entry-level jobs are left unfilled. The companies who have these job openings often complained that it was a huge risk to take on students who possess a School Leaver’s Certificate, or the equivalent to a high school diploma in the United States, because the students had no real-world experience. A vicious cycle ensues, wherein a diploma holder can’t find work because he has no work experience. This is where Harambee can help.

Harambee accepts applications for its 8-week training program, which is designed to help talented but disadvantaged South African youth build skills in math, business communication and English language. Students are also taught how to make better decisions around emotional impulses within a work environment, and receive demerits for tardiness and absenteeism in order to instill the importance of punctuality. Based on their job preferences, students are then put in to simulations for their chosen industry. For instance, hospitality students are tasked with customer interactions (some of which are difficult) and various management styles to help them understand what they will face at a full-time job. Once students complete their 8 weeks of training, they are given the chance to interview for up to two jobs from outside firms who seek entry-level hires from Harambee’s job listings. Those who are successfully placed with a company are tracked for a year, because Harambee found that students who hold a job through their first year in the workforce have an 85% chance of lifelong employment.

Image

Harambee Lobby

Harambee’s next ventures include creating a “step up” program with the help of corporate sponsors. This program will bridge the employment gap for the many hopeful students who are not admitted to the main program because of low entrance assessment scores. If the applicants show promise, the bridge program will help improve their skills and therefore their performance on the assessment on a future attempt.

We heard from five Harambee graduates who finished the 8-week program and now work full-time at Harambee headquarters, doing administrative work and instructing newly admitted teams of students. Having completed the program, these young adults are well-suited to help the incoming classes reach their full potential. The personal stories of these five accomplished young adults filled me with awe. These people are not afraid of working hard. They admitted that the classes were very challenging, and that it would have been easier for them to give up on the program. They instead chose to work hard and achieve their goals. The entire Haas group was so inspired by these students and their ambitions.

After a delicious lunch at Harambee, Haas students visited the Apartheid Museum. We had two hours to walk through the exhibits. Having read books about Apartheid and Nelson Mandela as pre-work for the in-country portion of the trip, it was very affecting to see the museum exhibits and movies. The stark museum itself is a work of art. Visitors are encompassed by looming walls, barren courtyards, dead-end paths and jail cell-like exhibit rooms. It was a memorable and haunting experience for me.

Image

Entrance to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

We also had a chance to drive through Soweto, which stands for South West Township. This was the area that where the black population was approved to live under Apartheid.  We drove past the modest Soweto homes of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu, both of which are on Vilakazi Street. We also visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial and learned about the tragic shootings that occurred in Soweto in 1976. At that time, a protest was begun by high school students against the mandate of Afrikaans language in local schools. Violence erupted as police opened fire into the group of protesters. Over 550 people were killed in the violence that ensued. Hector Pieterson was the first student who was shot in the incident.

Image

Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto

After a quick dinner at Nex Dor restaurant on Vilakazi Street, we had the great fortune of attending a play at the historic Market Theatre in Johannesburg. The play, titled “A Human Being Died That Night”, told the story of a female psychologist named Pumla Gobodo-Madikisela, who visited Eugene de Kock in prison on several occasions.  de Kock was sentenced to two lifetimes plus 212 years in jail for the 89 murders he committed during Apartheid. He testified to his crimes at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1994.

We returned to our hotel close to midnight. It was a very full day, but a very successful, emotional and inspiring day nonetheless.

 

 

 

SIB South Africa – Day 1

Anne Sromek is a third-year student in the EWMBA program at Haas, and one of 20 students enrolled in Seminars in International Business: South Africa during the Spring 2014 semester. Class instruction is led by Doy Charnsupharindr, Professor Mark Rittenberg, and Ingrid Gavshon. The 2-unit course is comprised of several pre-trip evening meetings at Berkeley, during which students explored South African history, business, political climate and culture through guest lecturers and selected readings. The students also spend one week abroad to solidify the lessons learned and connect with a country outside of their own. 

This blog is assembled from the experiences and musings of the author for the purpose of showcasing the SIB experience for prospective students and future SIB participants.

Our first official SIB event took place on Sunday night at a private estate in Parkview, Johannesburg. Ingrid Gavshon’s family kindly hosted our group for an outstanding barbecue (Braai in Afrikaans) dinner in their lovely backyard. After dinner, we were treated to a talk by Professor Anton Harbor of Wits University and Justice Malala, social commentator and news columnist. Both men conveyed that they were neither pessimistic nor optimistic about the outlook for the New South Africa. There are many good things that they notice today, especially pertaining to the opportunities available to the black population, versus just twenty years prior at the beginning of the country’s democracy. As students, we were moved by how well these two men knew the hearts and minds of the people of South Africa, and how they downplayed their own sacrifices and involvement in the struggles against apartheid during their journalism careers. It was clear they love this country.

Image

Professor Anton Harbor (left), Justice Malala (right)

On Monday morning we began our day with a trip to Transnet’s Koedoespoort Plant, which produces train cars and locomotives for domestic and export markets. We were welcomed Richard Vallihu, Chief Executive of Transnet Rail Engineering, who gave us a detailed presentation of Transnet’s current business model as well as where the company was going in the next five years. Transnet is a state-owned, but privately-run company that provides low-cost, efficient service and machinery to ports, pipelines and railroads. Johannesburg is a city with major mining output, but no surrounding waterways. This situation lends itself to development of the rail system for low-cost transportation. Transnet currently owns and operates 21,000 km of narrow-gauge track, due to topography in South Africa that necessitates tracks to be built on hilly and curvy terrain. The company participates in some inspiring initiatives, including the Phelophepa Health Train, a rural railway project that brings healthcare to some of the most remote regions of South Africa. Residents of these areas line up the evening prior to the train’s arrival to benefit from cataract surgery, dentistry, eye exams and eyeglass production, which takes twenty minutes from exam to delivery. This train initiative won the United Nations Public Service Award for each of the last ten years.

Image

Haas Students at Transnet

We were escorted through the production lines, where workers employed six sigma efficiencies while assembling locomotive parts for a large contract with a foreign railway. We learned that a locomotive has an approximate 30 year life cycle, after which it can be returned to the Transnet to be refurbished repurposed elsewhere in Africa. The company counter-cyclically invests its assets to get ahead of orders, which inevitably pick up during times of economic upswing. Transnet plans on expanding a lot over the next five years and has made strong investments in its 18 nation-wide technical schools, which accept 3,000 students each year. This training program benefits both Transnet as an employer as well as other transportation and logistics-related companies within South Africa. In addition to the education facilities, the company runs a full-service medical clinic onsite for the use of all staff. The level of dedication that Transnet shows its employees is remarkable.

After the Transnet tour, our bus tour operator took us on a ride around Pretoria to the Union Buildings, where we took photos in the beautiful gardens and the 30-foot tall Nelson Mandela statue. The view from the grounds was beautiful – we were surrounded by green hills, beautiful private estates and thousands of jacaranda trees. We also stopped for lunch at Nando’s for their world-famous chicken sandwiches.

Image

Our second business meeting was with Herman Mashaba, founder of the Black Like Me haircare product line. He is now a private investor and the Chairman of the Board of Free Market Foundation in Sandton, where we met him after lunch. Herman gave us a detailed account of his life and how he found his entrepreneurial spirit. After losing his father at the age of 2, Herman was raised by a neighbor while his mother worked for a wealthy family in an all-white neighborhood. Seeing the great divide of wealth, he grew up resenting the segregation of people in South Africa. Herman took to gambling as a way to fund his education, as education was always important to him. He wasn’t able to finish his college studies because the army invaded campus during his second year at school. Instead, he took a job in a warehouse, after which he decided to try his hand at sales. Herman earned commission from products he sold from the trunk of his car. In 1984 he went in to business for himself. This was very brave given that he began his business during Apartheid, something unheard of for a black man at that time. He purchased a small 400 square meter factory space close to Pretoria to manufacture haircare products designed specifically for the black population. By 1988 he was able to buy a factory that was 6000 square meters in size, which was unfortunately destroyed by arson in November 1993. Herman downsized his business and moved back to a handmade production line, until Colgate-Palmolive purchased a 75% stake in his business in 1997. He later regained control of the company, which his wife currently runs.

Image

Herman Mashaba

We learned that Herman’s involvement in the Free Market Foundation is due to his beliefs on social protection from government intervention in all business matters – that government is preventing the establishment of new small businesses in South Africa by setting minimum wage levels that are out of reach for many entrepreneurs. The FMF proposes that the abolishment of government regulation around minimum wage would encourage small businesses to hire employees at a level they could afford, allowing the market to determine the wage rate. The downstream effect would be to drive residents who are on state-funded welfare programs to instead seek employment. The team of Berkeley students listened and questioned these ideas, and a lively conversation ensued. Though not all of the ideas of the Free Market Foundation were accepted by the students, the ideas presented by Herman certainly did get everyone talking.

Our last stop of the night was at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) where Professor Nick Binedell, Dean of GIBS, gave us a crash course on economic and social factors in and around South Africa. The Berkeley students had the opportunity to meet GIBS MBA students over cocktails and appetizers. A huge THANK YOU to our friends at GIBS – we hope to return the favor and host you at Berkeley someday soon.

Image

SIB South Africa – Pre-Game

Anne Sromek is a third-year student in the EWMBA program at Haas, and one of 20 students enrolled in Seminars in International Business: South Africa during the Spring 2014 semester. Class instruction is led by Doy Charnsupharindr, Professor Mark Rittenberg, and Ingrid Gavshon. The 2-unit course is comprised of several pre-trip evening meetings at Berkeley, during which students explored South African history, business, political climate and culture through guest lecturers and selected readings. The students also spend one week abroad to solidify the lessons learned and connect with a country outside of their own. 

This blog is assembled from the experiences and musings of the author for the purpose of showcasing the SIB experience for prospective students and future SIB participants.

After a 24-hour+ long plane trip, I finally arrived at O.R. Tambo International Airport. It was the longest flight I have ever taken to any destination in my life, to date. The first order of business (after Passport Control & Customs) was to find my classmates and our local point-of-contact, who would be taking us on a pre-class safari trip to Pilanesberg Game Reserve. One by one, we gathered in the arrivals hall, a spacious, airy dome of a building that is filled with sunlight and activity. It was so nice to see familiar faces after that long flight. On the plus side, I also caught up on most of this year’s Oscar-nominated films while in the air.

Our driver loaded us in to his van, and we were on the road for about three hours before reaching the game reserve. During my first few hours on the ground, I noticed several interesting things about South Africa:

1. Some of the older men at the airport were holding hands. I did a little research and noted that this is similar to what I observed in India last year. Hand-holding is a sign of friendship and not on-par with the intimacy/romance that Americans would normally associate with it.

2. At every intersection, groups of people are selling things, performing dances/juggling and or begging in the middle of the road. This is a nod to the high unemployment rate (25%+) that we learned about in class. Not surprisingly, most of the sellers and performers are young, appear to be in good health and are very resourceful. We are lucky enough to be in-country during election season, so there are also representatives who are passionately lobbying for their political party with hand-outs and brightly colored shirts whenever the stoplights turn red.

3. Our driver pointed out several mines along the way to Pilanesburg, specifically chrome ore and platinum mines. The proximity of the shanty towns that are built up around the mines were of no surprise. It appears those who work in these mines are not sharing in the wealth to any great degree.

4. Everywhere, there are advertisements for “biltong” – turns out it is jerky, made out of beef but sometimes also kudu, game, ostrich and antelope. No, I haven’t tried it, yet.

At Pilanesberg, first game drive was scheduled for 4:30 pm. We were amazed at how many animals we saw along the pathway. Hippos, rhinos, elephants, springboks, warthogs, impalas, giraffes, zebras, blue wildebeest, gemsbock, kudu, and antelopes all showed up to greet us. The next morning at 5:30 am, we had another game drive. This time, the animals were a bit more shy, but we still managed to see all of the previous specimens in addition to monkeys, a Nile crocodile, a hyena, and a black-backed jackal. The entrance to the resort and park has a long, winding drive that goes up a hill with several electrified fences along the way – which we compared to Jurassic Park.

safari

After the morning game drive, our driver picked us up and we all headed back toward Johannesburg. Along the way, we stopped at a craft market close to Sun City, where we did some souvenir shopping and tested our negotiation skills. Almost everyone walked away with something unique for friends and family back home.

Later in the evening, the students got together for dinner at Fishmonger restaurant. We asked a nearby patron to help us take a group photo. He later returned to our table with a bottle of wine, saying “Welcome to South Africa. I hope you enjoy my country.” What an incredible but unexpected gesture of generosity.

We finished off our night with a visit to local nightclub Kong. The evening provided us with the opportunity to celebrate our group birthdays, and to bond before the intense class schedule we had ahead of us. We have so much to look forward to in the days ahead and I feel so fortunate to be in-country with such amazing classmates.

Alumni Abroad: Sebastien Brion in Barcelona and Life After a Haas PhD

By Haas Undergraduate Nathan Tudhope

Sebastien Brione

Sebastien Brione

While studying abroad this past fall term in Barcelona, I was glad to find how much connection I was able to make with the Haas network.  Upon learning that I was going to Barcelona, Leslie Kanberg from Alumni relations kindly e-introduced me to Sebastien Brion, who completed his masters and PhD in Organizational Behavior in 2010.  For the last 4 years he has been teaching at Barcelona’s world-renowned IESE business school.  His work has been highlighted in The EconomistLe MondeDie Welt, and Valor Económico. I learned upon arriving at IESE that Sebastien was leaving for an international flight to the U.S. the following morning, yet he was still able to find time in his evening to sit down with me. Although Sebastian and I had no connection beyond Haas, he made me a priority. Wow! He is an impressive and smart guy, and I really enjoyed learning from his story.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

Bird's eye view of IESE

Bird’s eye view of IESE

You have a really interesting life path. Give us a quick play by play on where you have been in your life.

Sure, I was born in Belgium; we moved for my parents’ work when I was four.  We spent a year in Canada, then to New York when I was five.  I was in New York until starting my undergrad at Tufts in Boston.  After I finished there I moved out to California with a friend and worked in HR consulting.  It was great to get real-world experience, but I always knew that I wanted to go back to school and get my PhD doing research.  I also knew that I wanted my research to be something in the intersection of psychology and business. I was accepted at both Stanford and Cal and I am proud to say that the choice was Cal.

What made you make the life-changing decision of becoming a Golden Bear?

I chose Cal for the faculty.  They were a better fit for what I was looking to research.  They were very aligned with my goals, and in the end it turned out exactly right.

Was there anyone in particular that you could tell us about?

At the time of application I was impressed with the group collectively.  Specifically speaking though, I really liked my PhD adviser.  As a PhD student you work really closely with your adviser and they really end up as a mentor and someone you can always tap for advice.  He actually was not there when I applied, but it was a huge part of my PhD experience at Cal.

View from the IESE terrace

View from the IESE terrace

View from the IESE terrace

So, we are here at IESE in Barcelona (check the pictures for the great views). Why here, why now? As a PhD student you need to be open minded about where you end up.  If you want to stay in Academia there are not an overabundance of options.  You need to say okay, “Who is hiring?” and then “where do I fit?”  That narrows down the options, but I was lucky to interview here, find a great connection, and get the job offer.

What do you think about Barcelona as a city?

Barcelona is fun; that much is obvious.  There is also so much history and culture which provides a great mix.  I like living here for so many reasons, the weather is great, there is always something to do, and the people are very international.  It is a warm and welcoming place.  Also, these people are proud of their region, Cataluña, and the active movement for independence is really impressive.

What do you think about the Catalan movement?

Well, I can see their point, and as an outsider you can educate yourself on the subject, but it’s hard to form an informed opinion without having grown up here in the culture.  The motivations behind seeking independence are not always that clear to outsiders – there are many factors, some historical and others economic that have contributed to this growing movement. But it’s certainly a topic on many peoples’ minds and it’s a discussion that comes up frequently…sometimes casually, and other times quite emotionally!  It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of years and to experience this potentially huge political shift as a foreigner.

IESE Business School Barcelona, Spain

IESE Business School
Barcelona, Spain

Tell us a bit about IESE and how it is similar or different to Haas?

IESE is unique in that it is a top-ranked school, but historically it has not been much of a research school, but more of a teaching school.  On the other hand, an obvious strength of Haas is its incredible faculty doing really amazing research. There has been a recent push to get more PhDs who are focused on research so that is something I am trying to bring here.   IESE Business School Barcelona, Spain There is always the balance between rigor and relevance in academia and they typically come at the cost of each other. Coming from Haas, which is such a strong school on both aspects, it is really cool to try to bring more of that side of the balance to IESE.

So are you pretty focused on research?

I am.  As a Haas PhD that is very typical.  Research is important here, but not as much as many American institutions.  I like the mix, and I was lucky to find IESE.  There are strong teachers, collaborative environments, and tons of opportunities.  We have campuses all over the world.  It’s really crazy!  We also have a lot of students doing MBA exchanges, and even beyond MBAs we teach to a lot of executives, and for that we have campuses all over the world, you name it, New York, Brazil, Munich, Madrid, and it goes on… You can really see that international influence in the classroom on a day-to-day basis.  Business schools in the states do a good job of forming an international student base, but here that is much more evident.  The variety of opinions we see simply as a function of differing backgrounds and perspectives of the students is such a great thing here at IESE.

Do you see yourself using this network of campuses you mentioned to see more of the globe?

I have already done a lot of travel with IESE.  I have taught in the Netherlands, in France, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, USA, and more.  Teaching in Africa has been amazing. This travel is super unique and something I love about IESE. We also have tons of groups coming here to the campus from all around.  Even this week we had our Pan-African executive MBA.  They come from two schools, Lagos Business School from Nigeria and Strathmore Business School in Kenya.  They come for a week and these students are really fantastic. They are great workers and these are some of my favorite sessions of the year.

Bringing it back to the research, what is it that you research? Broadly speaking I focus on organizational behavior.  I look at the psychology behind how people see the world, see themselves, see each other, work in teams, etc.  Specifically I have looked at the psychology of power, how people get it, maintain it, and lose it.  All of this is within the realm of organizations and business.

What kind of reaction are you getting to your research from both faculty and students? Well, when I have been preparing my lessons, I try to cover similar topics, yet cover them through the perspective of the research, and using research to help tell the story.  A student actually came up to me today and told me he really likes that aspect of the class.

He liked the use of more research? He liked the balance.  IESE is typically a case-based school where the students read a case and we discuss it in class.  It’s really about letting the students discuss the situation and using the research to support that is part of the balance.

I ask the students, “What does the research say about the particular situation?”

[Nathan: I’d call this a Defining Principles Moment! This is a great example of challenging the status quo.  Sebastian is teaching at a top-flight business school, yet still sees that there is always room to grow and bring something new to the table.  He uses what he has learned and what he knows to try to give his students a new perspective and challenge them to think in a different way.  Cool to see real examples of the principles.]

PrintDo any of the four Haas Defining Principles resonate particularly with IESE?  

Haas has done a great job of pushing these principles and it is great seeing Dean Lyons talk about them.  They have identified what they think is important and they have pushed those ideas throughout the school.  IESE has a strong mission statement, which aligns well with Beyond Yourself. We focus on creating leaders that will have a lasting impact.  Thinking about what you can do to benefit your own career of course, but more so what value you can add being a leader.  The students know that people’s futures will be in their hands.   We try to push the reality that our students will be able to benefit these people and also society at large.  The international influence also helps our students get a broader perspective and think beyond themselves.

What is your rough plan looking forward?

I am hopeful that I will stay here and I am doing what I can to stay here.  I am honestly really happy here and do not see myself moving soon.  Who knows, maybe someday I will even learn Catalan!

India Day 2 – Medical Innovations by Apollo Hospitals

This article was contributed by Haas student Helen Cai and Haas intern Micah Sanders.

The Haas Group is warmly welcomed by the village’s school children.

The Haas Group is warmly welcomed by village schoolchildren.

It is Jan. 4, 2014, Day Two of the UGBA193i Travel Study course. The day started off bright and early: Everyone met in the lobby and piled into the bus at 5:30 a.m., ready for the 4-hour drive ahead to the Aragonda Village in the Chittoor District. Professor Solomon Darwin had arranged a visit for the students to the village on the outskirts of Bangalore to observe the work of Apollo Hospitals, one of the largest health care groups in Asia, in rural India. They drove across state borders and saw beautiful sights such as the Indian sunrise, monkeys climbing on trees, and twin mountains in the countryside. Accompanying the Haas group today were senior managers of Apollo Hospital, as well as the son of Apollo Hospital’s CEO, Dr. Umapathy.

Around 10:00 a.m. Professor Darwin and the students were greeted by the president of the village. She has been in office for the past six months, winning her election with over two-thirds of the popular vote, and is also actively involved in providing water for the entire town. The technology of the water purification system has greatly improved since she was elected; it is now able to process 1,000 liters of water per hour. After seeing the facilities for water provision, the group of students arrived at the chairman of Apollo Hospital’s guesthouse. They were able to see the contrast between different standards of living both within the village and compared this to their own Western lifestyles.

They first visited AIVN, the elementary school funded by the chairman of Apollo Hospitals, Dr. Reddy. The Haas group was showered with kind notes, flowers, and friendly waves from the students at the school, who ranged from pre-kindergarten to 5th grade. The kids were so adorable; no one could resist smiling and introducing themselves. Seeing the pristine setting as well as the quality of education really impressed the Haas students and showed the extent of the chairman’s commitment to education as a solution to various rural community problems. The visit concluded in a flag-raising ceremony and the Indian national anthem.

Next, the students traveled a short distance to the local Apollo Hospital clinic, which provides free operations and examinations that are worth between 3000-5000 Rupees. The students saw the long lines of people waiting for care, demonstrating the importance of the hospital in village life. They participated in a video-conference with Dr. Reddy, who spoke passionately about working for a purpose you find enjoyable—he himself was a cardiologist before heading Apollo Hospitals and continues to work every day to create meaningful change.

india-telemedicineStudents saw open innovation in action when they observed a real-time telemedicine conference with an Apollo Hospital doctor and 25-year-old military man who was experiencing arthritis and swelling in his fingers and feet. He was diagnosed with chikungunya fever and prescribed a typical solution: steroid injection. The entire exchange took place with a nurse practitioner explaining the patient’s case and statistics to the doctor, who was then able to provide his counsel, to be administered by the nurse, within a 15-30 minute time period. The doctor explained how this cost-effective nature of telemedicine allowed for more frequent appointments with patients and had all but replaced regular patient care in rural areas. Patients wanted in-person care, but were usually convinced by being able to see the doctor on a more regular basis. During the entire process, students were joined by the president of the village and a doctor and administrator of the hospital.

One main point of telemedicine that was emphasized is that the doctor only needs a nurse on the other side of the camera to administer any treatments. Apollo Hospitals has set up a school of nursing in Aragonda as well, which provides training and is currently compiling a database of medical records for the 7000+ villagers by going directly to their homes and educating them.

The Haas group boarded the bus for the long ride back with a greater understanding of the medical challenges many Indians face.