Updates from EWMBA IBD – Team Ashesi in Ghana

Devin Christiansen, Linda Jiang, Nikhil Mansukhani, Stephanie Shen, Jathurshun Sivaloganathan, and Brigid Warmerdam are part-time MBA IBD students working with Ashesi University, a private college in Ghana founded by Haas alumnus Patrick Awuah, on risk management strategies.

You’re “Ghana” have a blast! That’s what previous IBD teams told us as we departed for the West African country of Ghana – and they were right!


The Team (left to right, as pictured): Stephanie Shen, Linda Jiang, Brigid Warmerdam, Jathurshun Sivaloganathan, Devin Christiansen and Nikhil Mansukhani

We had the pleasure of working with Ashesi University, a private college founded by Haas Alumni Patrick Awuah (pictured above in the middle). Only 12 years old, Ashesi has quickly become a premier university for undergraduate students in West Africa.  Current enrollment has grown to 600 students and impressively Ashesi has a track record of 100% work placement for its graduates with the majority choosing to stay in Africa which is in step with its mission – to educate a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa…to help transform a continent.  The passion and determination to make a difference can be felt throughout the campus and it is truly “in the air”. We learned we were the 10th IBD team to work with Ashesi and we were optimistic that we too could help make a difference and further strengthen the connection between Haas and Ashesi.

The Road to School

On day one, we weren’t sure what we had gotten ourselves into when we were picked up from the Salmarise Hotel in North Legon (Greater Accra) and were driven up this bumpy dirt road to campus in Berekuso, located about one hour outside of Accra, Ghana.


You can imagine our surprise when we arrived on campus. It’s beautiful! How can anyone concentrate here when you have a view like this!




The School

Given that Ashesi was founded by a Haas alum, we found many similarities between Haas and Ashesi, especially the focus on ethics and the structure of the lecture rooms.


Lecture hall at Ashesi University


We are (almost, kinda, sorta) sure that Dean Lyons will approve our request to build this outdoor classroom on the Berkeley campus!

Project Scope

“Team Ghana” was tasked with delivering a set of risk management guidelines to Ashesi and our framework was rooted in capital projects such as the new engineering program and building (currently under construction). It was inspiring to see the new building come to life over the 2 weeks we spent on campus.  On our last day on campus workers were beginning to tile the roof (which wasn’t there when we first arrived).  The photo below was taken at the beginning of week two.


Ghanian Cuisine

It took us a few meals before we figured out what side dish went with each entree. On the first night, it took us 25 minutes to order. Brigid: “I’d like the grilled chicken with fufu, please.” Waitress: “Haha! No. That doesn’t match!”  There are many starchy side dishes that are made specifically for a particular entree. Now we know!



In addition to the juicy tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango, Nikhil enjoyed some coconut with Walter, our new friend and Operations Assistant of Ashesi University

Cape Coast

After a long week one, we ventured to Ghana’s Cape Coast (3.5 hours by car). Here we visited the Elmina Castle, an eerie building that was once the hub of slave trade in West Africa. Next we visited the Kakum National Park. Before we started our hike, the guide warned us – “Don’t worry, no one has died on this walk.” We understood what the potential fear was all about when we crossed the seven swaying bridges 30 meters above the lush rainforest canopy. Before we headed back to Accra, we stopped for lunch at Hans Cottage Hotel, where they have a large lake full of crocodiles!



It was such a privilege to spend some time in beautiful Ghana. To future Ashesi teams, we have these words of wisdom: There will be bugs and hugs, fears and beers, but above all there will be memories for years.

Updates from EWMBA IBD – Team KIDU in Brazil

Renata Bell, Milan Lee, Roger Pai, and Paul Roberts are part-time Berkeley-Haas MBA students who had the opportunity to advise KIDU, a Brazilian Education Technology startup in Sao Paulo, on potential go-to-market strategies. Combining their diverse professional experiences, the four MBA team members proposed a solid recommendation for KIDU, through insights generated from seven weeks of interview, research, and design thinking.

Despite lost luggage and sleep deprivation, our first day in Brazil was amazing. We went straight to the market to sample the food and coffee, and were immediately welcomed by the warm Brazilian helpfulness. Before the trip, we had been warned of robbery, violence, and kidnappings in the surrounding São Paulo area, but that was not our reality. Although our hotel and KIDU office were in a nice neighborhood, we never had any trouble venturing out of the neighborhood.


Our first meeting with KIDU over delicious Brazilian style pizza

We were greeted by our hosts on the first evening. They were incredibly nice people and took every opportunity to share their favorite places to go and best places to eat with us. Brazilians love their food, and Paulistanos (San Paulo residents) regularly flock to their favorite restaurants. On the subsequent work days, we had the opportunity to meet the rest of the KIDU staff and interviewed them regarding their teaching experiences in Brazil. The KIDU staff had an infectious enthusiasm for life and teaching that we’ve never seen before.


Meeting with other KIDU staff and teachers

During our first week, our hosts arranged a series of K-12 school visits and cultural activities for us. One of the most impactful experiences was when we visited Jardim Angela, located near São Paulo.  During the 90’s, this area was considered one of the most dangerous places in the world by the United Nations.  The area is much safer now and currently has 400,000 residents. We met up with our NGO contact at A Banca who generously showed us around the favela. Our impromptu interviews with a group elementary school aged students, who were playing soccer barefoot, allowed us to realize how the underprivileged kids share the same curiosity as kids coming from better socio-economic background.


Kids at Jardim Angela sharing their stories with a KIDU staff; the favela is in the background 


The Haas team with NGO A Banca


Another cultural visit: Haas team at one of the Sao Paulo stadiums

In the weekend between our two-week project engagement, we were fortunate to visit Rio de Janeiro for sightseeing. Coincidentally our trip aligned with the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany that was being played in Rio. The whole scene was chaotically filled with Argentinean fans chanting the rivalry song, Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”.  We almost lost one of our team members to a group of Argentinians; as we were leaving the restaurant after a dinner, Roger was hoisted above the Argentinian fans to be transported to the next bar for party. Despite the craziness, the fans released Roger, and we were able to proceed with the rest of the itinerary to visit Lapa (the nightlife district), Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana beach.


View from Sugar Loaf Mountain at sunset

The second week was intensive as the Haas team worked in “Brazilian hours” to converge all insights and finalize project recommendation. Brazilians generally work long hours and dinner often takes place around 9pm. The Brazilian stereotype for their love of beef is no exaggeration, but they also have excellent seafood, cheese, finger food, and juices. It is typical to have coffee after lunch and sometimes after dinner; however coffee is usually in the form of an espresso shot rather than the large cup of coffee that Americans are used to.  We enjoyed fresh squeezed juices every opportunity we got—our very favorite was the superfood Acai.


Delicious meal of Bahia (South of Brazil) cuisine


Haas team working on a late night to prepare for final presentation

On a final closing note: The four Haas team members were from different cohorts, classes, and backgrounds that interacted mainly only over the phone prior to this trip. Being thrown together day-and-night for two weeks is a crash course in learning how to compromise and work effectively together. We each quickly learned to be patient with each other’s eccentricities but also discovered new things about each other that brought us closer together. We ended this trip genuinely caring for each other not only as classmates, but close friends who experienced a unique experience together.


Updates from EWMBA IBD – Team SRS in Haiti

Berkeley-Haas part-time MBA students Cherian Abraham, Matt Heling, Abhishek Singh, Saket Srivastava, Sumedha Swamy and Mahesh Vencata are in Haiti working with Sustainable Recycling Solutions (SRS).

SRS Haiti, a for-profit plastic recycling company based in Port-Au-Prince, asked us to make 3-5 year strategic recommendations on increasing market share and profitability and in the process also help SRS improve the lives of local Haitians and clean the streets of Haiti.

The company was started by 2 Americans – Andrew MacCalla and Brett Williams – in 2012 after the 2010 earthquakes and tornadoes devastated the country. However the co-founders soon realized the challenges of running a business in Haiti and were hit hard by the “Green Fence” enforced by China and had to close in 2013 for 6 months. With additional funding from the Clinton Foundation, they restarted operations in late 2013. SRS Haiti was still losing money and needed guidance from us to help them with strategies that would make them sustainably profitable.

We spent five Saturdays in the Innovation Lab at Haas working on ICO reports, affinity diagrams, and hypothesis trees and defining the scope of the project. In addition we spent countless hours on calls analyzing and discussing the information passed on by the client.

We reached Haiti and were welcomed not just by Sarah Leddy, SRS COO, and Socrates, SRS Director, but also by the extreme hot weather and poverty in Haiti. Driving to the guesthouse, the damage caused by the 2010 earthquake was still evident.

The next day we went to the facility and things began to make a lot more sense. We built up a good rapport with the client and started interviewing a number of people including potential partners, employees and plastic collectors.


IBD Team at the SRS facility

Talking to the plastic collectors and employees at SRS gave us a sense of the real difference SRS was making in the lives of Haitians. It would be a pity if SRS couldn’t continue to contribute to the Haitian economy. The more we saw the more it seemed like a distinct possibility.


IBD Team talking with SRS employees

One of our most exciting visits was to the largest dump site which was controlled by the mafia carrying guns. Tapping into this supply source could possibly take care of all plastic supply issues for SRS.  This project did not have any constraints and we had the freedom to explore all aspects of the business. The real question was whether we would be able to offer recommendations to turn this company around and make it profitable.



The first week breezed through with multiple visits during the day and crunching numbers in the evenings. The six of us were staying in a modest guest house with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. After a few kitchen mishaps and near accidents we settled into a smooth routine. Abhishek was the designated cook and we appreciate all the pasta he cooked for us, but we are done with Italian food for a very long time.


“piece de resistance”

For a weekend getaway, we had two options – Jacmel – a quaint small town with cobbled streets and beaches in the south of Haiti or the coastal city of Cap Haitian in the North of Haiti which also boasted of some beautiful beaches. Even though both these cities were less than 100 miles from Port-Au-Prince, driving could take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours. We decided to take a 20 minute flight to Cap Haitian instead.

The plane was a small 18 seater which would sway in the lightest of winds and cannot be recommended for the faint of heart.


Leaving on a Jetplane

We checked into a fancy hotel on Saturday and went to see the historic citadel. It was quite a walk from the parking spot but the grandness and historic significance of the citadel made it all well worth the effort.

The next day we started early for Cormier De Plaag – a beach hotel. A few of us took a dip in the clear water, and in the process also got bitten by a sea urchin. We then played some beach volleyball and feasted on some amazing grilled lobster.

Cormier De Plaag

Cormier Plaag- What happens at the beach stays at the beach


Fresh catch

This was followed by watching the World Cup finals with some die hard German and Argentine fans at a bar by the beach. Pity Messi didn’t oblige us with a goal that day.

The next morning we traveled back to Port-Au-Prince to continue with our IBD project. There was a huge amount of work pending and our final presentation was scheduled for Thursday morning. We had a number of issues to work through before making our final presentation, including SRS’s organizational challenges, and I am glad we did a fine job handling these challenges.

In all the stressful moments, the one thing that guaranteed hilarity were our interactions with the cleaning lady who could only speak Creole. Our knowledge of Creole was restricted to Merci and Oui so Sumedha Swamy, a Microsoft fan, would use the Bing translator for our conversations and Bing ensured that we were constantly entertained.

Another faithful ally throughout the stay was the local Haitian beer – Prestige and Barbancourt 5 star rum. Probably the best beer and rum I have had in a long time. Highly recommended.

Wednesday was a crucial day and for most of the day it seemed we wouldn’t be able to complete our work in time for our Thursday morning presentation. But we doubled up our efforts and by late evening the presentation was coming together well and all our hard work seemed to be bearing fruit.

We crunched the numbers and now knew exactly how much the company was losing on every pound of plastic sold; our recommendations included recommendations around increasing the supply of plastics, improving operational efficiency and also around increasing demand by producing higher value plastics which would fetch higher returns.

We believe we made solid strategic recommendations and our analysis will certainly help SRS make adjustments that will be critical to their business’ success. Though some of the findings that we presented were unnerving, the SRS management team appreciated our analysis.

With the presentation out of the way, we went out to the historic Oluffson hotel that evening for a fun evening of drinks and dinner with the client.


Hotel Oluffson – Ready to partyyyyy

The client had a few follow-up questions which we addressed on Friday and then shortly after we flew back to the USA. The two weeks have been an amazing experience and Haiti should definitely be on your list of places to see. Just bring lots of Deet (mosquito repellent) and drink bottled water and you will have a wonderful time mingling with the people of Haiti and learning about its history and culture.

Updates from IBD South Africa – Team EPI-USE

BEPA Redefines Corporate Travel Management

Albrecht Wiedersberg, Benya Phetkaeo, Emily Roesing and Paul Hogan are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Sydney, Australia and Pretoria, South Africa. Their team, BEPA, have been visiting London, Sydney, and Pretoria over the last three weeks working on innovative ways to redefine corporate travel management for EPI-USE, a global IT consulting firm.

EPI-USE, a leading IT service provider in the SAP HR space, asked our team to investigate ways to reduce travel expense and to develop a potential business model for the group. Throughout the spring semester, our team had analyzed travel data, interviewed with consultants and travelers from different verticals, and tested potential solutions for EPI-USE.

Led by Haas alumnus and EPI-USE executive Quintin Smith, our team set a game plan and aligned it with key stakeholders; among them was Jonathan Tager, CEO of EPI-USE. Only a few days after the end of spring semester, our team started a great journey visiting EPI-USE’s core regions to get a better picture of the travel situation and to come up with a high impact recommendation.

Our team spent the first week in Sydney and London where we met with local travel managers, consultants, and members of EPI-USE’s leadership team. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful and great to work with. In our first week, Susan from the London office and Yaron from the Australian office made it very easy for us to get started! After an intense week of analysis and a short sightseeing weekend we packed our bags and first results to transfer to South Africa where the very exciting final phase of our project was to take place.

epi-use1Paul Hogan at Bondi Beach

epi-use2Sydney skyline

epi-use3Working lunch with Yaron

The next morning, we were all excited to meet Quintin who introduced us to the EPI-USE team and made it really easy for us to start work. Over the following days we further investigated travel in the local office while summarizing our results and working on the final project deliverables. We designed and ran a survey within EPI-USE to find out how consultants value comfort and time in business travel, and validated the survey results with a representative survey among Australian, UK, and US business travelers. Based on the survey results we developed a financial model and estimated the potential impact of an incentivization model for EPI-USE.

epi-use4Our team at work

However, our time in South Africa was about a lot more than models and slides only; during the first days in the country, Quintin introduced us to the team with a big dinner at a great restaurant. It only got better from there: Quintin invited our team to spend the weekend at a South African game farm where we had a truly outstanding time. Not only was the place one of the nicest lodges we had ever seen, Quintin and the game farm staff made it very special for us. We were invited to morning and sunset tours where we saw lots of animals, great scenery, and the beautiful night sky. It was also action-packed: The team learned to set up a proper (and amazingly big) fireplace, to shoot a rifle, and to read tracks and signs of the African bush. Finally, in a traditional bosberaad Quintin and our team decided the strategy for our last week of project work.

epi-use5The awesome lodge where we spent almost three days

epi-use6The team getting ready for a bush ride

epi-use8Quintin and team BEPA at sunset 

epi-use9Right before sunset – It took 5 minutes and the sun was gone!

epi-use10Before the BBQ comes a serious fireplace workout

epi-use12Delicious IBD project

epi-use13The team happy after a big meal

As if that were not enough, on the way back from this fantastic weekend Quintin announced the next adventure: Our team would go to another game farm the day before our final presentation. Equipped with this extra portion of motivation and due to the great support of Quintin, the EPI-USE leadership team, and everyone in the EPI-USE offices we had a polished final presentation document in place only a few days later.

The day before our presentation, we got up very early. Everyone was excited about what was going to happen since Quintin had not reveal what exactly our team was going to do this day. The day did not disappoint our expectations: We went to a farm that was focused on veterinary work with rhinos and witnessed how a professor examined three rhinos. This required the rhinos to be darted, a process where the rhino has to be anesthetized for a short period of time to carry out the examination work. This was a big spectacle as a helicopter had to spot the rhino before it was darted and we could witness the veterinarian’s work first hand. It was very impressive to see the rhinos close-up. They are outstandingly huge and powerful animals!

epi-use14A helicopter is used to locate and dart the rhinos

epi-use15The rhino after being darted – Everyone takes care that it does not fall down uncontrolled

epi-use16The rhino is sleeping while the veterinarian examines it

epi-use17A break at “4U2P”

On our last day, we gave a very successful final presentation to a large EPI-USE audience including the group CEO and all key stakeholders. When it was time to say goodbye a couple of hours later and over a glass of champagne we felt very happy and proud of the result we had delivered. However, even more important was the feeling of gratefulness for our very special memories. Or, to say it in Quintin’s words, our team felt our IBD experience with EPI-USE and particularly with Quintin was truly “a treat”!

Updates from IBD Germany & Russia – Munich & Moscow

Brian Canty, Nipun Misra, Jesse Tao and Ajoy Vase are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Munich, Germany and Moscow, Russia.

Week 1 – Germany

Our client is Moscow, Russia based but our first stop and first week was in Munich, Germany to visit a strategic business partner.  Germans have a reputation for punctuality, efficiency, and technical mastery; our business experience in Germany reflected exactly that.

Our meetings were held on the 3rd floor of an office complex about an hour to the northeast of Munich.  We were ushered past a clean and minimalist working space and into a conference room that doubled as a showroom for the company’s products.  A plate of buttered pretzels was waiting for us.


It was much warmer in the conference room than outside.  We initially wrote it off as inadequate air conditioning for such a sunny day but later learned that the heater was on because the control knob was broken.  Our first meeting was with the CEO, a serial entrepreneur.  About 10 minutes into the meeting, he excused himself for a moment, retrieved a tool kit from his office, and fixed the control knob right in front of us while continuing the conversation.  He then made a comment about how he didn’t want to wait for maintenance to fix it.  I guess the idea that no task is too small when you’re the CEO of a small company is cross cultural.

In addition to speaking with the CEO, we also spoke with the sales and technical teams.  Before officially meeting with the sales team, we had an unofficial business lunch – a reoccurring theme during our trip – at one of the oldest wheat beer breweries in the world.  I’m personally a huge fan of wheat beer so I thought this would be a tourist hot spot.  Surprisingly it was fairly empty during Tuesday lunch.  More surprisingly there was no English menu and the staff didn’t know English.  Fortunately our business contacts translated the menu for us or else I would have just pointed at the most interesting sounding schnitzel on the menu.


We found our meetings with the technical staff to be very useful.  The sales team validated our research around potential customers, products, and markets.  The technical team provided execution level details about the benefit and limitations of certain technologies and processes.  The diversification of knowledge helped provide more substance to the market research we did.

Back in Munich, our team visited at least one beer garden every single night.  The beer are served in large 1 liter steins and are very easy to drink.  A 2 euro deposit is also charged to encourage customers to return the glassware when done.  In all honesty, after a few beers I was doing a cost benefit analysis in my head and justifying that 2 euros for a stein is quite a steal.  But I remained civil.


Week 2 – Arrive in Moscow
Upon arrival in Moscow, we were surprised to learn that we had a meeting with one of the largest venture capital funds in Russia the next day.  We were told that in Russia it’s not uncommon for meetings to be booked very close to the actual meeting time, sometimes even morning of.  With the work we did in Berkeley and on the ground in Germany we were prepared.

The next morning we went to the main business center of Moscow, which is an impressive area of newly constructed high rises.  Our guide told us that many large companies have offices in this area to make it easy to have meetings since one would only need to walk to a different building or different floor to meet with another company.


Our meeting with the investors went well.  We spoke with 2 individuals and there was an obvious element of seniority: the more junior person asked many detailed questions whereas the more senior person only asked a few high level questions. Overall they were interested and impressed by our work and the fact that we were American MBA students.

After the meeting we had lunch with our client contact. He told us that business lunches were very popular in Russia which is why many restaurants offer a special business lunch menu. We compared and contrasted with how in the US, lunches weren’t long and it was not uncommon for people to just get food to eat at their desks and continue working.  We were told that only people who needed to be at their desks, such as traders, would actually do that in Russia.

Over the rest of the week we met with many other investors.  The seniority we noticed in the first meeting continued to be prominent. For example, whenever we met with a more senior person, he would be more interested in high level trends and pushing his point of view. Whenever we spoke with more junior people, they dug into the details more and were more open and receptive towards our recommendations. When we asked our client contact why that is, we were told that Russia is still fairly hierarchical and once you work for a few years and move up, the expectation is to just start delegating work rather than doing work.  This model is not that different from the US model but appeared much more pronounced.

During our initial cultural research, we learned that Russians tend to be more to the point and engage in less small talk.  In almost every one of our meetings, we had some small talk with our counterparts but it was always at the end and felt a bit forced. It wasn’t clear to us if the cultural norm is to talk business first and then have a casual chat or if the investors we were speaking to were just humoring us.

The feel of Moscow was very business focused but we tried to have fun too. During our exploration adventures we met physics and business students from the local Moscow State University.  There was a general fascination that we came from America and we compared perceptions of culture over drinks.  Business was apparently not very popular as a topic of study and most students obtain a technical degree such as math or physics.  Students also often go straight into a higher education program.


We also met other entrepreneurs since startups and creating your own business is currently popular in Moscow.  What’s interesting though is that many of these Russian startups merely copy successful ideas and apply it to the Russian market.  Ideas like coupons on mobile devices or professional networking using social media exist in the US but because of both the difficulty in breaking into the Russian market as well as the low barrier to entry of copying a successful idea if you’re Russian, many of these startups are sprouting up.  We were even told that the search and maps market leader, Yandex, is just a copy of Google and Google maps.  It was a very interesting type of capitalism and entrepreneurship through copying ideas.


Week 3 – Startup village

In our final week, we attended the Startup Village event at Skolkovo, which is about an hour to the west of Moscow. Skolkovo Innovation Center is a planned high tech business area that the government wants to turn into the Silicon Valley of Russia.  Despite the billions of rubles spent in developing the area, only a handful of completed buildings.  The remaining area were still working on the groundwork.  We were told that this is just the result of inefficiency and corruption and Russians more or less just accept it even if they don’t like it.


The event took place at a modern looking 6 story building.  Inside there were demos of ideas and products, classes for students, and a stage for speakers.  A ring of food vendors encircled the building though the most popular stand was probably the one giving away free Angry Birds branded soda.  A temporary outdoor stage was erected as the main stage.  One medium sized outdoor covered area housed many booths for companies to demonstrate their product; our client had a booth there. There were four smaller covered pavilion areas that served as stages and pitch areas for companies focusing on digital technology, health, energy, and high tech manufacturing.  The entire venue was scattered with bean bag chairs, which was fun and added to the startup vibe.



Speakers came from around the world to talk about startup trends, give advice, or provide interesting insights.  The topic of international expansion was touched upon by many speakers.  The key takeaway many emphasized was to plan and think about what you want to do early in the startup lifecycle. That’s probably easier said than done.

Another major component of Startup Village was the startup pitches.  There were probably more than 50 companies pitching across the various stages.  One startup pitched an idea that was very similar to what we recommended our client to do but, lacking the thorough market research we did, was unable to answer some of the questions from the judges.  Our client pitched well and advanced to the second round of pitching the next day.  At the end of the competition, our client was one of the top finishers and received a notable cash prize.


There was a surprise visit by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who listened to a few pitches before making a speech.  As an early backer of Skolkovo, it was rumored he would have appeared.  Traffic and security went through the roof in the hour before he publically appeared.

We also met with 2 new admits during our final week in Moscow.  We had brunch with them and a recently graduated classmate.  During our meal we eased their concerns about moving to Berkeley and finding housing – a daunting task even for someone not international.  Afterwards, they were generous enough to guide us around their city and to Gorky Park.  It was great to connect and meet with some of the incoming class.  We had a lot of fun chatting with them and I’m excited to see them on campus next year.

Updates from IBD Tanzania – Team PSI

Aaron Beaudette, Andrew Berry, Chris Pfab and Eric Prando are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Tanzania with Population Services International (PSI).

It was 6:30am and the sun had just come up. Our driver pulled a quick 180 and sped off after the lion, which had just leaped up and broken into a run after a small pack of hyenas on the hunt. We were the first (humans) on the scene and just in time to see the lion charge in and steal a freshly killed Thomson’s gazelle from the hyenas, which numbered only six or seven and did not have the numbers to retaliate. Instead, they simply drifted closer and closer until a growl and a lunge from the lion put them at a distance for good. A jackal also wandered over and joined in the spectacle, waiting for an opening to steal a mouthful itself. On our way back to the lodge after our most memorable safari moment, our driver taught us how to say, “In the Serengeti, we saw a lion eating a Thomson’s gazelle,” in Swahili. The resulting “Serengeti tumeona simba anacula swalatomi” became a commonly repeated phrase throughout our trip.




Spring 2014 IBD Team “Simba Anacula Swalatomi” is in Tanzania working with Population Services International, Tanzania (PSI/T), a global health nonprofit with a mission to use sustainable and effective collaboration to measurably improve the health of vulnerable people in Tanzania by promoting healthy behaviors and delivering quality affordable products and services. The team – Eric Prando, Andrew Berry, Aaron Beaudette, and Chris Pfab – are providing a recommendation on how PSI/T can best fulfill its goal to reduce deaths from diarrheal disease in children under five years old. We are tackling this problem by looking at household water treatment technologies (focusing on WaterGuard, PSI/T’s current chlorine-based product on the market) and alternative financial mechanisms such as carbon credits.

From the moment our team stood up in the first IBD class at the beginning of the semester and heard that we were going to Tanzania, every one of us was excited with the placement. None of us had ever been to East Africa, for one, and what’s more we were all thrilled to be working with PSI/T’s Director of Programs, Melissa Higbie, who herself graduated from Haas in 2009 with a joint MBA/MPH. Melissa worked with the University of Botswana and in Tanzania for Venture Strategy Innovations before joining PSI last year and was already familiar with the IBD process.

Shortly after our kickoff presentation, we left for a week and a half of field trips around Tanzania to understand water consumers in both urban and rural – some very rural! – areas. Our goals were to familiarize ourselves with different approaches to water sourcing and consumption, as well as to become acquainted with perceptions and attitudes towards treated and untreated water. One interesting insight we had on these trips was that customer education and behavior change are separate concepts, and while they can be achieved independently they need to be integrated in order for PSI’s project to be sustainable.




On our trips, we quickly learned that infrastructure is a big problem in Tanzania; it took us three and a half hours to drive 70 miles to a nearby city, and even the roads in the most developed parts of the capital, Dar Es Salaam, are riddled with potholes caused by the rainy season. Some were so deep that our 4×4’s almost got stuck. Getting around on Bujaji’s, the local iteration for a scooter fitted with seating for 4,5, or even 6 people, turned out to be an adventure by itself, but always fun.



Upon returning to Dar, we set up meetings with water experts in the government and nonprofit sectors to test our theories. Before we got too far, though, we had to try WaterGuard for ourselves! After hearing substantial negative feedback on the “chemical” or “swimming pool taste,” we were surprised to find the taste rather mild! Upon further reflection, though, we considered that this may have been to us associating a slight chlorine taste with something that is free from bacteria, i.e. safe to consume. Someone without this context could have a very different reaction.

The food in Tanzania is really good. Between the local lunch shacks on the streets that served fresh cooked fish and omelets with fries, the incredible Ethiopian in Dar, the Indian curries, and eaten-with-hands full tilapias we had on Lake Victoria, there were always new things to enjoy. The local brews also stood out, with memorable brands such as Kilimanjaro, Safari, Serengeti and Castle.

Before delivering our final presentation, we were able to head off to beautiful Zanzibar for a weekend. We took a tiny prop plane – about a 15 seater – for the 20 minutes flight, and upon landing and opening the door everyone on the plane stayed put. We did as well, initially thinking that everyone was waiting for someone to come and get us to lead us down the tarmac. This thinking quickly shifted when other passengers began boarding and we realized that everyone else on the plane was continuing on to another destination! We quickly gathered our things and deplaned before they had a chance to whisk us away to a far less desirable destination… We spent time in Stone Town walking through the medina, getting Zanzi-beards (i.e. a shave at a local shop), and chatting with many, many friendly children all eager to teach Swahili and learn some English. On our flight back to Dar, our very own Aaron Beaudette was promoted to co-pilot (!), which was as exciting for him as it was terrifying for us. (It turns out that there is no co-pilot on these flights and that one passenger gets to sit behind the second set of controls!!).


Over our last few days, we consolidated our ideas into a practical solution we described as, “In rural areas, empower trusted community members to be door-to-door entrepreneurs who educate on and sell clean water products.” These local entrepreneurs could fill out their basket-of-goods with additional water treatment options, such as ceramic filters, or child health products, such as vitamins or Milo, for sale. This solution is a departure from PSI/T’s current pull-dominant strategy that does not feature simultaneous marketing and sales.

Looking back on our time over the last three weeks, a few things really stand out. The first is that the Haas spirit is alive and well in East Africa. Melissa truly represents everything that makes Haas a fantastic place. We also learned that taking some time to learn the local language – and really have a genuine interest – does wonders to help break the ice. Almost without exception, our best local interactions came when we tried, and often stumbled, to speak and learn Swahili. People loved it. Last, harkening back to our safari adventure, sometimes it does not matter how fast or skilled you are. Sometimes the strongest just wins out. We loved our trip to Tanzania: We had a fantastic team, project, and client and cannot wait until we can get back there for another adventure.


Updates from IBD India – Team SAP Ganges

Spring 2014 IBD FTMBA students Carmela Aquino, Dora Chai, Chasen Goudeau, Charles Guo, and Nate Wojck are in India working with SAP Labs India.

The road to the heart of the city teased us with twinkling night-lights in the distance, as we made our way past midnight into this strange, foreign town that would be home for the next 3 weeks. We would come to learn over the next few days and weeks that Bengaluru, or Bangalore as it was once called by the British, was once known as a “pensioner’s paradise” – for its relatively cool climate compared to the rest of the country.

These days, it was known more for being the technology capital of India, home to sprawling campuses of many of the world’s largest technology firms. We walked into Bangalore anticipating another version of Silicon Valley on the other side of the globe. We were not prepared for what we came across, a city that was both developed and yet steeped in so much tradition, both modern and yet traditional, and altogether unpredictable. What we learned over the next three weeks was that this would be a theme rippling across our experiences in India .

After 5 months of planning and 24 hours of travel, our team had finally arrived in Bangalore to carry out fieldwork for SAP Ganges, a project incubated by SAP Labs India, the research and innovation arm of SAP. For the next 3 weeks, we would be working with the SAP Ganges team to serve India’s unorganized retail industry, which is composed of several tiers of mom-and-pop shops, or  kirana stores.  They are small shops  that sell a rich variety of consumer packaged goods and bulk items such as rice, and could be found on practically every corner of most Indian cities. India’s 8 million plus kirana stores  account for more than 90% of the country’s multibillion retail industry, far outpacing the reach of modern big-box outlets, presenting immense opportunities and daunting challenges at the same time.

Reaching Indian Retail’s Last Mile

Our team had been preparing for this project for months, with numerous weekly phone calls with our project stakeholders from SAP, both in Palo Alto and Bangalore, and our IBD coach. We had interviewed subject matter experts and industry professionals to gain initial insights into our task. We had conducted research on best practices that could be applicable for the project. But the bulk of our work had to be done in-country, as it was only through fieldwork that we could find ourselves truly gaining the understanding needed to answer our questions. How could SAP truly help bring light to the whole unorganized retail value chain? How could we help bring SAP technology to kirana storeowners, many of whom had relied on pen and paper their whole life to account for their business?

sap1Team SAP Ganges visiting SAP America in Palo Alto in February 2014

Upon reaching Bangalore, we met with the entire SAP Ganges team. The diverse background of the team members, and more importantly, their shared passion for SAP Ganges impressed us. Many of them had switched into the project initially as volunteers. With the help of many of the members of the team, we set out to validate our initial hypotheses in the field by talking to kirana owners, CPG distributors, organized retail players, and CPG companies

The true highlight of the project was speaking with kirana owners, who surprised us with how unique they all were in their aspirations for their businesses and the practices they maintained that kept their businesses alive and thriving. Still, we found that many common things remained – many of these shops would have been around for more than a decade and had developed close community relationships. It has been customary for many Indian households to call the nearby kirana shop to pick up ingredients or household items, over going to a modern supermarket. It was also customary for many of these shop owners to offer revolving lines of credit to loyal customers, to be settled at the end of the month – offering a unique credit service that could be challenging to maintain.


store visit 2Speaking with a FMCG distributor at a kirana store

sap2Our team and our client visiting a kirana store in Bangalore

nate&chasenNate and Chasen discussing notes from our interview at our first kirana visit

These kirana shops keep themselves stocked by relying on their distributors, who would visit the shops on a weekly basis to take orders and fulfill them by ordering from the CPG companies. Since each distributor was dedicated to only one CPG brand primarily, any given shop could be dealing with more than 40 distributors. Accounting is done primarily through pen-and-paper, and shopkeepers rely on their books, intuition, and memory to estimate how much inventory is in their shop and how well they are doing financially. Still, these methods are not foolproof. SAP Ganges, with its all-in-one Point-of-Sale device offered a better way for these shop keepers to keep track of their sales, manage their customer credit lines, and keep stock of their inventory. But would shop owners be amenable to it? Our work lay in understanding how to reach SAP Ganges’ target kirana storeowners with the message that would truly appeal to them.


Along the way, we were surprised by many things. We had assumed that certain aspects would be more important than others in selling the SAP Ganges solution. And yet kirana owners would surprise us with how they valued some things over others, and completely disregarded certain aspects that we had initially surmised to be important.

For instance, we initially thought the price of the device was too high for kiranas to fully absorb. However, throughout our interview process we learned that many of the upper-tier kirana owners were receptive to the price and possessed a willingness-to-pay that was much higher than what we assumed. We quickly learned that these storeowners saw value in one of the device’s most subtle features, which was the ability to print a receipt and give it to their customer. Phone orders are extremely popular in India, and shopkeepers spend significant time handwriting their bills for their customers. SAP’s solution would allow them to more quickly prepare these bills and provide a more professional invoice than the handwritten alternative. As a result of our discovery and understanding of the value of being more professional for shop owners to compete with emerging organized retailers, we decided to focus our messaging on selling SAP Ganges as “the next generation of affordable point-of-sale technology that promises simple and professional business management.”

kirana1An owner of a kirana store that sells primarily bulk goods

sap3The Nandi Departmental Store, our first kirana store interview

On the contrary, we were also surprised by how many storeowners were unreceptive to change. Many of these kirana owners had worked in their shops for decades. To them, technology was an unnecessary distraction from their current business operations. Even though we could see the value, in particular the efficiency, that SAP Ganges provides, we began to understand why these owners were resistant to adoption. Given the success of their business to-date, they didn’t see the need to invest in a device to make their business better. These owners also have yet to be exposed to the modern technology and retail systems of the United States and other developed countries; therefore, they couldn’t even imagine the benefits that such a technological solution could deliver.

Ultimately, we knew we needed to be sensitive to the kirana owners’ behaviors and practices and couldn’t force a product onto them. Therefore, we decided to focus our marketing efforts on a specific target segment of kirana owners that could envision the benefits SAP Ganges would provide them.

The interviews and visits were immensely helpful in that they provided us a first-hand exposure to SAP Ganges’ target customers, the unique role they play in the Indian society and the transformation India’s retail industry has been going through. Through our visits to the distributors and a local wholesale market, we came to appreciate the entrepreneurial spirits of Indian businesses, from the likes of the Reliance Industries Limited and Tata Group that touch every aspect of Indians’ life to Mr. Raghuram M.V.’s small distribution company which supplies packaged goods to thousands of kirana stores in Bangalore.

sap4Team SAP Ganges visiting distributor Mr. Raghuram M.V.

Not Just Work

Outside of our 5-day work schedule, our team still found time to hang out and explore India. During our first full-weekend we took a trip down to the southern state of Kerala, which was recommended to us by our client. They told us about the houseboats we could rent to explore the Kerala backwaters. These boats were decked with full kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. We could stay overnight and our boat staff would cook for us while exploring the waters. Our client introduced us to  a friend who owned one of these boats and we moved quickly to finalize our transportation plans to Kerala.


sap5View from our houseboat on the Kerala backwaters

We decided on hiring a driver to drive us down to Kerala and back over the weekend. Drivers in India are pretty affordable, and hiring one is much better than trying to navigate the insane driving in India. Flights to Kerala last only about an hour, but since we planned the trip on such short notice, flights were expensive and we would’ve had to figure out transportation once we landed. Little did we know that the trip to Kerala would take 14 HOURS one-way! We left late Friday night in order to beat the traffic and didn’t arrive to the houseboat until about 2:00pm on Saturday. Granted we stopped to see elephants along the way, but the trip lasted much longer than originally anticipated. Not to mention that driving on Indian highways at night is one of the most terrifying experiences ever. Once you get to Kerala, the highways become one lane in both directions. In the middle of the night, our team woke up to find ourselves driving head-on with another car on the highway! At the last minute our driver would swerve back into his appropriate lane, all in an effort to pass the slow-moving car that was in front of us. It was like a crazy game of chicken, waiting to see which driver would flinch first in order to avoid a head-on collision. This practice of passing up others on the highway was the norm in India, and only us Americans were the ones who seemed to be terrified. We learned how to deal with this by just closing our eyes while we were in the car—ignorance is bliss right?

Kerala was amazing, however. Once we boarded our houseboat, our captain took us to a remote Indian village where we spent $50 on live crab, prawns, and fish. This much seafood would’ve cost over $100 in the States. Our cook prepared the best meal for us as we rode the backwaters and drank Kingfisher (one of India’s most popular beers). During the night we docked, played games, laughed, and listened to the rain while sitting on the deck of our boat. It was such a relaxing experience, aside from the mosquitos, that brought our team closer and gave us a deep appreciation for India.

seafood1Picking up some fresh seafood from a village in Kerala!

seafood2Tons to choose from!

Beyond Kerala, our team got to explore Goa, New Delhi, Agra, and Mumbai. We didn’t know how huge of a country that India is, and one needs more than a month to explore all that it has to offer. As a team, we found Mumbai to be such an incredible place. We were disappointed that we only got to spend one night there (for work purposes) but we were able to get a glimpse into how amazing it was. Our client took us to the Gateway of India, where we posed for photos after being heckled by a photographer. (Indians are very persistent!) We saw the Taj Hotel and ate dinner at Leopold Café, both sites of the devastating terrorist attacks that Indians refer to as “26/11.” Mumbai was the last trip that our group would take outside of Bangalore, and it marked an incredible end to our exploration of India.

mumbaiTeam SAP Ganges visiting Mumbai


Our departure from India was bittersweet. While we were excited to return to warm showers, consistent electricity, and American cuisine, we knew that we would never be able to experience India the way we did again. IBD was a once in a lifetime opportunity that allowed us to fully immerse ourselves within the richness that is India.

Despite India’s complicated and long history of British governance, we were impressed by how resilient the people of India are. Practices and customs that we observed on our trip dated back to India’s early history, and there are very few societies that have been able to maintain their cultural integrity throughout hundreds of years.

There was never a dull moment in India. Every street, corner, temple, market, and car-ride was a surprise that kept us so intrigued. There were so many moments that our team would sit in silence while in traffic just observing what went on before us in the streets. We asked many questions in order to get a better understanding of what we were seeing, but we left knowing that there are just some things we won’t understand about India.

We left India with all sorts of feelings and thoughts. It is chaotic yet it is vibrant with abundance of life. It is blessed with thousands of years of history yet exhibiting enormous potential reclaiming its historical prominence in the world. It could be overwhelming yet you can always expect to be greeted with a friendly smile. It is such a rich place that is so indescribable, and no one will understand how different of a place it is until you visit.

We loved India, and we hope India loved us back.

departureFinal departure from Bangalulu International Airport with blessing from our dear Indian friends

Updates from IBD Thailand – Bangkok, Krabi, and Vientiane, Laos

Spring 2014 IBD students Christen Chen, Garima Dhingra, Zane Keller and Andrew Mitsch are in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Week 1

Our team arrived in Thailand on Sunday, May 18th. One of the things you first notice when you arrive in Bangkok is the climate. To say it’s warm and humid here would be an understatement: daily high temperatures routinely reach 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) with humidity in the 70-80% range. Needless to say, the best time to explore the city is in the morning and evenings when temperatures are cooler.

shell1Morning in Bangkok

We are staying in the Sukhumvit neighborhood of Bangkok. Sukhumvit is a very modern neighborhood bustling with street life, soaring office and residential towers, and a vibrant mix of western and eastern stores and restaurants. The neighborhood is bisected by Sukhumvit Road, one of the main thoroughfares in Bangkok. This has worked to our advantage since the road is served by both the MRT (subway system) and SRT (monorail). We have found the public transit system here to be cheap, efficient, and safe. Transit is an especially favorable option due to local traffic and road conditions, which we will describe in a later post.

shell2The Sukhumvit skyline

On the second day of our trip, we woke up to the surprising news that the Thai military had declared martial law in response to recent political unrest. This development took a further turn when the army declared on the fourth day of our trip that a coup was in progress. Despite these alarming headlines, we thankfully saw little change in day-to-day life in our neighborhood in Bangkok.

shell3Coup in Thailand (source: CNN)

When we aren’t working on our project, we have enjoyed the local cuisine and coffee shops which are prevalent throughout the neighborhood. Thai food, which is most well known for being spicy, can also be surprisingly sweet and comes with various forms of meat (generally chicken or pork), seafood, and vegetables. To the surprise of the vegetarian in our group, it is relatively challenging to find strictly vegetarian food in Thailand.

Our first week in Thailand was an interesting one between the coup, the surprisingly modern and western environs of Sukhumvit, and the bustling street life of Bangkok. This weekend, three of our group members are heading to Chiang Mai, well known for its rich history. The fourth member will be staying in Bangkok and exploring the Rattanakosin neighborhood which includes sites such as Wat Pho, a well-known Buddhist temple.


Week two

During the second week, we finally had the opportunity to meet with our client in their office (the political situation previously delayed us from meeting with the client in-person). During the meeting, we discussed our project plan and scheduled some interviews with some of the client’s employees as well as several external parties.

shell5Discussing our IBD project with our client as we walk through the streets of Bangkok

shell6Meeting with our client in their office

We conducted these interviews throughout the week. When conducting these interviews, time zone differences often created a significant challenge: since our client is a multinational company, many of the employees that we spoke with were located in Europe or the United States. As a result, we conducted many of our interviews early in the morning or late at night from various locations. Additionally, employees in different geographical regions have different conversational styles: in Thailand, they prefer to build a relationship first before speaking, whereas in Europe and the U.S. the employees preferred highly structured and direct conversations. Subtle differences such as these are what make the IBD experience a true learning opportunity.

At the end of the second week, half of our team headed to Vientiane, Laos while the other half headed to Krabi, Thailand. Krabi is a quaint beach town located in southern Thailand which is lower profile than its sister beach town Phuket. On the first day, the group climbed up the famous Tiger Mountain; 1,200 steps the team finally made it to the top. The breathtaking views made the hour long climb worth the effort. Meanwhile, the pair that went to Laos enjoyed the French-influenced city of Vientiane and the relatively undeveloped countryside of Laos. When the team arrived back in Bangkok, the political tensions seemed to have eased a bit as the curfew was extended from 10pm to 12am.

shell7IBD team members visiting a Buddha garden near Vientiane, Laos 

shell8IBD team members riding an elephant near Krabi, Thailand

Week three

On the last week, the team was able to extract some great insights from internal employees of the company. Because the Thailand market in which the client operated was underpenetrated, we were able to gain best practices from other parts of the company. These insights were very informative in when forming our final recommendations to the client. On Friday June 6th, we presented our conclusions to three members of our client’s country management team. The recommendations were well received and we discussed the next action items as well as possible future consulting projects.

Updates from IBD China – Entering the Largest and Fastest Growing Market in the World

Spring 2014 IBD Student Joseph Kim shares his IBD team’s experiences in Shanghai China.

Our team is working in Shanghai, China for a large lab equipment distributor to improve the partnership and product selection process.  We had the chance to interview current customers from top research universities and leading multi-national companies while in Shanghai.  Although the project was challenging at first, as none of the team members had scientific backgrounds, the team pooled its collective experiences together and delivered clear process recommendations that will be implemented both internally and externally.

When we found out that we would be working for a lab equipment distributor, we looked at each other in bewilderment; first, we weren’t entirely sure what the company did, and secondly, we weren’t sure why they had selected a group of MBA’s all with finance backgrounds instead of a group of scientists in white lab coats.  Upon doing some company and industry research, we quickly learned that the company was a mature, industry leader in a growing Chinese market but that the U.S. parent company wanted to continue to grow its already large footprint.  It became clear that given our backgrounds we could help analyze the market opportunities and introduce processes that would increase success in product launches and finding new relationships.


tf1Rickety, pedal-powered wagons share the road with luxury vehicles on newly paved roads

Although the team was prepared to conduct a lot of analysis and have customer interaction once in Shanghai, we underestimated the large culture shock, especially for the members of the team who hadn’t worked overseas before.  Shanghai and its 24+ million citizens kept us on our toes and there wasn’t a dull moment that passed by.  Whether it was being hoodwinked in expensive cab rides or trying to find a restaurant that met all four team members’ dietary needs, we quickly realized that working in a developing country would be challenging even if our surroundings appeared to be developed.  Luckily for us, there were two other Haas IBD teams to share travel and experiences together.

tf2Even the chefs wanted to join the three Shanghai IBD teams at the world renowned restaurant, DTF – Din Tai Fung

Even with the language barrier, our best insights about the business came from interviewing customers.  We learned how culture can affect so many aspects of a business.  For example, one customer pointed out that Chinese workers prefer opening windows instead of turning on the A/C like her French counterparts.  Albeit a subtle difference, the smog and dust accumulation from opening a window affected lab results given the sensitivity of experiments, leading to opportunities for our client to introduce more durable machines.

tf3Overcoming language barriers and Questioning the Status Quo by feeling the sign loudly

Overall, IBD was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We had the chance to put our MBA core learning to work from start to finish and had a blast while delivering recommendations that we know will make a difference.

tf4PFPS invades Shanghai

Updates from IBD China – Team YY

Spring 2014 IBD Team YY (Brandon Cato, Justin Harnoss, Peter Garai, Simon Yoo) worked with Chinese social media company YY in Guangzhou, China.

Our team spent three weeks in China working with social media company YY.com, identifying growth opportunities for the firm. We had a fantastic experience, coming away deeply impressed by the people we worked with, the Chinese internet industry and the country’s culture.

yy1The Team at the YY office (L-R: Peter Garai, Justin Harnoss, Simon Yoo, Brandon Cato)

YY is a Chinese internet company listed on NASDAQ with a market cap over $3.5 billion. They provide a live p2p streaming product and have been wildly successful in attracting amateur performers and their fans to their platform but also have services in a number of other verticals, including dating and education. While we already knew some of the impressive numbers associated with our client and the Chinese internet industry during the semester, our in-country experience really opened our eyes on how advanced their products and services are. We were blown away from the smart people we worked with, the state-of-the-art technology and the advanced monetization models we saw at YY.

One particular business practice we thought everyone should immediately adopt is quite simple though: after lunch, employees are permitted to take a nap until 2pm! Some of them have serious gear with them: foldable beds, eye covers, noise-cancelling headphones help turn the otherwise buzzing office into a silent snooze fest in the early afternoons.

yy2Nap time at YY!

yy3The team hard at work with the YY Bear

After three weeks of work, we capped off the project by presenting our recommendations to the management of YY. While we don’t know yet whether any of them will come to fruition, we definitely gained a lot by learning about how the hottest industry works in the largest economy of the world!

yy4Dinner after our final presentation

Guangzhou may not be on everyone’s radar as a top tourist destination, but the third largest city in China with a population of 11 million is growing at a blazing pace. The downtown area is already full with impressive skyscrapers, lit up in bright colors at night, and everywhere we went we could see at least 3-4 new ones being built. The growth was also represented by the Aston Martin, McLaren, Lamborghini dealerships located within a few blocks from our hotel, and their products on the road.

yy5We couldn’t find the color in the catalogue

The huge size and growth are accompanied with crazy traffic, as 5-6 lane roads slice through the city everywhere, and the local driving style left us with a couple of scares each time we were cabbing around the city. We quickly learned that pedestrians here are at the bottom of the food chain and one should carefully look in all directions even on a pedestrian crossing with a green light in a one way-street!

Weather-wise the time of our visit was less than ideal, the rainy season greeted us with showers, high humidity and temperatures around 90 degrees almost 24/7. Luckily, air conditioning was available everywhere, but the weather certainly did not encourage long walks outdoors.

yy6Dragon’s Boat Festival treats being prepared

yy7Guangzhou’s impressive skyline at night

The city has less expats than the others we’ve visited (Hong Kong and Shanghai) and thus is a bit tougher to get around for foreigners, but we didn’t have major problems. The language barrier was the greatest hurdle, but colleagues at our client and the hotel staff were always very helpful, and our sign language skills have definitely improved during the three weeks, while thankfully almost every restaurant had picture menus. Speaking of food: exploring the Cantonese cuisine was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. On occasions we had dinner with our clients who recommended us the best dishes, otherwise we just leaned on our awesome picture analysis skills to figure out what we are ordering (and what we definitely do not want to order).

During the weekends we visited Hong Kong – which is only a 2 hour train ride away – and Shanghai, were we met with Team Galderma. Both cities were phenomenal and we really enjoyed exploring the different faces of China. Unsurprisingly Hong Kong was the most “international” of the three, Shanghai showed its heritage as China’s most cosmopolitan city while Guangzhou made the impression of a city that at its current pace of development may very well present a picture much more similar to the other two in five years. We’ll have to check it out again!

yy8IBD Teams Galderma and YY join forces in Shanghai