Ananda Development Public Company Limited

Written by: Fay Yu, Paolo Casumbal, James Greff, Torie Dalton and Tyson Johnson

Week 0 – SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing + Chiang Mai

A few of our team members arrived a week ahead of time to attend the SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing Conference in Bangkok. Our client, Ananda Development, helped with this year’s conference focused around exponential technologies in the manufacturing space. We are grateful to have been invited as volunteers, giving us the opportunity to be in close proximity with all of the interesting speakers including Mark Post (co-founder, MosaMeat), Andres De Leon (COO, Hyperloop), and Samantha Radocchia (co-founder, Chronicled). Over the course of two days, we were able to learn about emerging technologies, new research, and startup ideas in a variety of industries. 

In preparation for the upcoming IBD start, we spent the weekend relaxing in Chiang Mai. We visited the Elephant Nature Park and spent most of our first day there. This park rescues elephants that have been forced into circuses, have been forced to work for logging companies, or have been injured. During this weekend, we also got our first exposure to the role religion plays in Thailand. Chiang Mai is home to many beautiful temples and we pushed through the triple digit temperatures to visit many of them. Thailand is a largely Buddhist country, and our weekend coincided with Vesak – a national holiday celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. We were unaware that this would mean that establishments were banned from selling alcohol and many social establishments were closed. We made the best of it and left with fond memories of this ancient city.  

Week 1 – A Warm Ananda Welcome + Krabi

This was our first week at the Ananda office. The team met Lloyd, our main contact for our project, and the wonderful team he leads. We learned a lot about Thai business culture and also got a better understanding of what the company is working on and how they are aiming to grow in the future. The office itself reminded us of the startup and tech offices found throughout the Bay Area. One day was spent touring the different properties that Ananda owns or developed. As one of the top condo builders in Thailand, we were able to learn about Ananda’s various luxury townhomes and condo complexes, and our day navigating Bangkok exposed us to the headaches of its traffic. 

On Friday afternoon, we left for Krabi where our island hopping tour gave us the opportunity to explore beaches, go on hikes, and see some monkeys. We visited the famed Railay Beach, which is only accessible by boat. There we took on a steep hike and were rewarded with a beautiful view overlooking the beach. Our remaining time was spent out in the warm waters of Southern Thailand. 

Week 2 – Exploring Bangkok + Siem Reap

Back in Bangkok, we continued to work on our IBD project. The team settled into a routine of game-planning at the start of the day, working either as a group or independently in the various cool workspaces around the open office, eating the Ananda-provided lunch, and heading out around 5 PM, often after a friendly debrief with Lloyd. In the evenings, we explored all of the great sights and food that Bangkok has to offer – from the street-food in Chinatown to gourmet burgers in Thong Lor – and of course, its’ famous nightlife. We were also able to visit the Grand Palace and watch a cabaret show – that is until the power went out throughout the entire neighborhood.

Over the weekend, we met with the Cambodia team in Siem Reap. The main attraction in Siem Reap is the ancient temple called Angkor Wat. We visited Angkor Wat at 5 AM in the morning in order to watch the sunrise. Despite not seeing the sunrise due to cloud cover, we took advantage of the minimal crowd and stayed around that morning to walk around the grounds. It’s an incredible complex and it still serves as a Buddhist religious site. Throughout the weekend we visited other incredible sites of the ancient city of Angkor, including Ta Prohm, famous for the huge trees woven throughout its ruins.

Week 3 – Thailand From a Different Perspective 

The last Monday was a holiday celebrating the newly coronated Queen’s birthday. One of Lloyd’s team members, Pang, was so kind as to take us under her wing for the day. We started off by visiting her uncle’s home in the suburbs of Bangkok and got to see his impressive prayer room. We learned that many Thai homes have a prayer room where there are both Buddhist and Hindu relics. Afterwards, we ate lunch at a restaurant outside of the city frequented by Thais and then went to Phutta Monthon where we fed fish with local park goers. We finished the day at Pang’s house where her helpers prepared fresh coconut and other local fruits for us to enjoy. 

After seeing so much of Bangkok from a tourist’s point of view, it was refreshing to spend a day with a local. Thank you, Pang and Kong! Our team had an incredible time in Bangkok, where we were warmly received by the Ananda team (thank you Darrell, Shawn, Frankie, and Sam!). We’d be remiss not to once more give a huge shout out to Lloyd, who was an incredible, attentive, and kind host! 

Team HaAshesi – Educating Ethical, Entrepreneurial Leaders in Africa

Written by: Joseph Bird, Carolyn Henderson, Nicole Quinty, Jessica Slocovich and Nicholas Meyer

Our client, Ashesi University, was founded by Haas alumnus Patrick Awuah in 2002 with the grand mission of educating a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa (Patrick, coincidentally, was Haas’s Class of 2019 MBA commencement speaker). The school has a longstanding relationship with Haas and has partnered with IBD to host 12 (!) IBD teams to date.

Prior to arriving on campus, our group dove deep into the current educational landscape across Africa, distributed and analyzed results from an international student survey, spoke with a number of university admissions teams, worked with Haas African Business Club points of contact, and even enjoyed early exposure to potential customers by spending time with current students at Haas in early March.

Before getting to work, our team was thrilled to start our time in Ghana with four safaris at Mole National Park.

We then embarked upon the drive from the country’s capital, Accra, to our client in the remote town of Berekuso, situated high on a hill with stunning views of the surrounding Accra metropolitan area and the Gulf of Guinea.

Given that most students had already departed campus for internships or summer vacation, our team largely had campus to ourselves. We were treated to a tour of the school’s beautiful facilities and were afforded access to any room on campus to ensure that we had ample space to work during our time with the project. Accommodations were in on-campus faculty housing, three-bedroom homes with shared living rooms and kitchens that also served as great spaces to meet and work.

One of our first large objectives during our time in-country was to conduct focus groups with current international students. Ashesi’s staff was instrumental in helping us coordinate a group of 30 students to speak with, and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon learning more about what drew them to the school and developing hypotheses on what the institution could do to attract additional international fee-paying students.

Our group resolved early in the project that a sustainable solution for our client would be one that they were heavily invested in and that they would be inspired to carry forward our recommendations regardless of our geographic proximity or duration of time removed from the project. We wanted Ashesi to be invested in the ideation process early and coordinated a three-hour design thinking workshop with key staff members. Hearing directly from those stakeholders, brainstorming, and collaborating on potential solutions to achieve the client’s lofty goal was extraordinarily productive, and the enthusiasm and energy from the afternoon was palpable. 

Ashesi’s staff were eager for us to continue to explore Ghana, and were kind enough to build an itinerary for us to visit Cape Coast during our first weekend between work. Crocodiles, castles, and rainforests filled our days, and we were very appreciative of the cultural experiences we enjoyed together.

 At this point, our group had enough information to begin synthesizing final deliverables for the client, but not without the buy-in of our final stakeholders. We facilitated a brief check-in to lay out our proposals and rationale to ensure that we were meeting expectations and any substantial questions or reservations from the client were being proactively addressed.

We were also thrilled to be on campus for Ashesi’s graduation. It was a remarkably fulfilling and inspiring experience knowing that our work today would influence the lives of those walking across the stage a few years from now.

Our last few days in-country were spent refining our deliverables with a handful of key stakeholders, continuing to extract insights, and synthesizing our final recommendations. The final presentation on Thursday, June 6th was well-attended, as members from our stakeholders’ entire teams were eager to hear what we had learned and understand first-hand our proposals for their day-to-day responsibilities going forward.

Upon the conclusion of our final presentation, our team took time to reflect on the project and pulled together a few closing observations. While timelines, deliverables, and audiences shifted a number of times, our group did a wonderful job of staying grounded and focusing on the importance of our work to the client. Each and every one of us was heavily invested in the school’s mission and the overarching goal of our project, which kept day-to-day challenges and project scope fluctuations in perspective and kept us motivated to deliver our best. We were also mutually appreciative of the comportment of our teammates and the easygoing nature by which we all approached our work and collaborative efforts. This, in tandem with the unwavering support of our client, created a memorable work experience and end-state deliverables that we are all very proud of. Next steps: planning a team reunion in Ghana a few years from now!

Navigating Uncertainty in Brazil

By Soobia Haider, Katharine Hawthorne, Paula Moren, Arthur Tong, & Sam Smith

It was 7am when we arrived at Congonhas airport in São Paulo.  We were supposed to catch a flight to Rio de Janeiro to interview a venture capital firm about their outlook on the Brazilian economy.  As we stood in line waiting to board, we nervously checked our watches as the clock ticked past our scheduled boarding time. An announcement came over the loudspeaker in Portuguese – we missed most of it but understood the most important word: “cancelado” – our flight was cancelled.  Over the next few hours, we learned that all Avianca flights had been grounded as a result of a worker strike in response to the bankrupt airline’s delay in processing payroll.

After the announcement, the passengers swiftly exited the terminal and lined up near the Avianca desk.  A few harried employees handled rebookings and refunds. All interactions had to take place in person, and it took over two hours waiting in line to simply refund a ticket.  The Brazilians waiting in line seemed resigned to the situation, and there were no angry outbursts or twitter rants, which might have ensued had the same situation unfolded in the U.S.  Unfazed at the disruption, the Brazilians chatted, scrolled the internet, and messaged friends and family.

While the strike and cancelled flight were an inconvenience, we learned more about the Brazilian attitude towards uncertainty that day than anything else.  In an environment where you can’t rely on systems like transportation, banking, or communications to always work when you need them, you anticipate how things might go wrong, and you adjust your life accordingly.  This equanimity in the face of uncertainty is not complacency, and, in fact, we found that consumers had plenty of stories and complaints to share.

Consumer pain points

The Avianca strike gave us insight into the Brazilian consumer experience.  Our IBD project focused on financial services, which has many similarities to the airline industry – it is highly regulated, concentrated among a few strong players, and there are significant customer pain points.  

During our time in-country we assessed the overall financial services market with a focus on consumer research to better understand how Brazilians interact with the banking system as well as their motivations for saving and investing.  We heard many stories of frustration around the lack of responsiveness of big banks, the high fees, and outdated branch service models. For instance, if you forget your password and get locked out of your bank’s app on your phone, you have to go in-person to the branch where you opened your account in order to regain access.

The rise of fintech

Consumer dissatisfaction with the big banks has led to the proliferation of fintechs.  Brazil has one of the most developed and fastest growing start-up ecosystems in the world, with 380 fintechs, growing at a rate of 48% in 2018.  As part of our IBD project, we met with a number of start-ups to understand their business models and how they are attempting to compete with incumbent banks.  Many are offering new products and services previously unavailable in the Brazilian retail market, for instance in insurance and consumer lending.

Despite the energy around fintechs, Brazilian consumers seem reluctant to completely cut ties with the banking establishment.  Of the consumers we interviewed, 100% bank with at least one of the major banks. We hypothesized that consumers view fintechs as risky and thus seek the safety of a traditional bank, despite their frustrations with the poor service and limited products offered.

Testing our own resiliency

As the team prepared to depart Brazil, we had an opportunity to test our ability to manage uncertainty.  As we sat on our plane for the return flight to the U.S., waiting to push back from the gate, we felt a jostle.  We listened to another announcement in Portuguese and heard that fateful word again: “cancelado.” A maintenance truck had collided with the plane and the aircraft needed to be inspected for safety before flying again.  We deplaned, shaking our heads, and passed through Brazilian immigration, re-entering the country and adding a second stamp to our passports. This time we knew the drill – we exited the terminal, lined up at the ticket counter, and prepared to wait. 


The “Best” IBD Conference!

Haas IBD Conference group photo

The latest annual IBD Conference was held in Chou Hall at Berkeley Haas on September 13, 2019.  In his concluding remarks, IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz proclaimed that this year’s Conference was the “best IBD Conference ever.”  Frank has been an IBD faculty mentor since 2012, so after experiencing years of IBD Conferences, he knows what it took to make the 2019 IBD Conference stand out:  “After listening to our students’ feedback, we wanted to try a new format for the Conference. I think it really worked; and students, staff, guests and faculty had the opportunity to reflect, reconnect and learn from each other.”

Audience clappingChange of Conference Event Format:

In place of the poster sessions of past IBD Conferences, this year student teams were asked to bring photos, props, souvenirs and local dress to celebrate their IBD experience and their project countries.  All totaled, in 2019 there were 80 Full Time MBA (FTMBA) IBD students and nine Evening & Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students, representing 18 separate IBD teams. Guests, staff, faculty and students mingled among the IBD team tables, as each IBD student team shared stories and anecdotes from their time spent living in-country and working with IBD project clients.  IBD Aditya Team Member Lauren Grimanis thought the “mix and mingle” part of this year’s Conference was “a great way for all of us to come back together after spending the summer apart to hear more about our IBD in-country experiences.“

Wildlife Conservations Society (WCS) Belize presenting their learnings at their table

Some of the IBD student teams displayed their client’s projects openly at their tables.  Team Samai showcased client-made rum from Cambodia. Team We Care Solar, which worked in Kampala, Uganda, displayed a bright yellow solar powered suitcase. This student team explained that these suitcases provided efficient solar energy systems to health facilities in areas without reliable electricity.

We Care Solar Team

We Care Solar Team

Berkeley Haas staff member David Moren, Associate Director for Haas Alumni Relations & Development, was one of the Conference guests who spent time talking to different IBD student teams during the mix and mingle portion of the event.  After speaking with EWMBA student and We Care Solar Team Member Steven Wang, David was impressed by the work the student team performed together with their client: “Talking to Steven and hearing about their project was incredibly inspiring.  Just five minutes with him gave me a great sense of the impact he and his team made in Uganda.“

Team Aditya presenting their research at their table to members of Team Dura-Line and SAP Ariba

Every IBD Team Presented this Year:

Team Seva giving their presentation of their project at the conference

The Conference event program also changed to include a two minute presentation by each IBD student team.  IBD students were asked to share their own “lessons learned” from their time spent in-country working with their project clients.  The presentations varied in content and message, but the new format was appreciated by IBD students. MBA ‘20 Lauren Grimanis was one of the many students who enjoyed the new format feature of peer presentations:  “The highlight was each team’s two minute presentations, which included project and experience takeaways and funny team dynamics.”  

Team Samai giving their presentation at the conference

IBD Student Contests:

One aspect of the Conference that remained the same this year was handing out awards for the best IBD in-country photo (Aesthetic and Team versions) and the best IBD in-country blogs.  Each year as part of their course deliverables, IBD student teams write blogs about their time spent working in-country. IBD staff post the blogs on a weekly basis on the Haas in the World site.  This year’s IBD student team blog winners were:

Team We Care Solar receiving their award for winning best blog entry 2019

Each year the IBD program also recognizes and awards winners for the best IBD team photos taken during the project in-country period.  The winning photos are displayed at Berkeley Haas in the IBD hallway near Faculty Building Office 445. The best photo winners for 2019 are:   

  • Team Dura-Line – Best Aesthetic Photo 
  • Team Ananda – Best Team Photo

Team Ananda posing on stage after winning best team photo 2019

Finally, this year’s Conference concluded with thank you messages to the many people who make the IBD program happen, including our amazing IBD Faculty Mentors Judy Hopelain, Whitney Hischier, Jon Metzler, Arman Zand, and retiring Faculty Director Frank Schultz.  The IBD program can’t thank Frank enough for all the time, expertise, passion and dedication he has given willingly to IBD during the last seven years. All of us will miss him!

Faculty members receiving gratitude on stage after conference. Please look for an article on Frank Schultz’s retirement in future IBD newsletters and blogs. Frank Schultz Ending Speech

Find more photos from the day and the conference here!

Team Confidex

Written by: Adriana Bonifaz / Armand Amin / Haley Braun / Stephanie Rank / Katie Rentz

From the moment you step off the airplane onto the tarmac, clouds of breeze-borne cottonwood fluff give Finland in May a dreamlike aura. Whether standing on the shore of an impossibly glassy, tree-rimmed lake, or dodging extensive teams of construction workers taking advantage of snowless springtime streets in the city, the fuzzy white floating seeds fill the air. They cluster in still pockets of air on the tracks of Finland’s excellent train and tram systems before being blown aloft by a passing locomotive with all the whimsy of loose feathers in a pillow fight. When catching the train or tram, connecting with one of the country’s many bus routes to complete the final leg of your journey, or even hopping on a ferry for a reasonably-priced long-haul option, Finland’s transit system is likely to strike you as efficient, clean, and quiet. 

What perhaps may strike you as less certain, as it did our team, are the dishes you may receive when ordering at a restaurant! The complex Finnish language creates its own set of challenges for the visiting, curious restaurant-goer, but even when items are described in English to an English-speaker, often our team was surprised by the unexpected foods brought out: we once saw a half-vegetable, half-meatloaf patty advertised as steak, a fully-liquid soup with tiny specks of meat termed reindeer stew, and we quickly learned that “fried” often means “grilled”. 

Nonetheless, we quickly discovered a love of the popular mustards, the fresh and smoked salmon, and the many-flavored jams available at most local establishments and grocery stores. The Finns seem to put jam on almost anything—meats, bread, cheese, cake, and even eggs. 

While the food can be hit or miss, the Finnish language is inarguably a true challenge, equally as unfamiliar to our team’s native English and Spanish speakers. We occasionally made a game of guessing the proper translation of Finland’s notoriously long words (and were most often wrong). Not only is the Finnish language structure and etymology quite unintuitive, it’s also known for a tendency to join disparate words together, forming intimidatingly long single words. Usually, we found that when we saw a fourteen or seventeen-letter word, we immediately gave up on trying to pronounce anything beyond the first syllable. In light of this running joke among the team, I decided to look up the longest word in the Finnish language, and discovered that a 61-letter word holds the title! “Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas” means “airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student”. As you can see, their practice of word-combining would constitute a bit of a farce in other languages when it comes to the competition for the longest word, but such extremely long words are commonplace in Finland. 

What was reasonably predictable and consistent throughout our experiences both in business and casual settings, however, was the no-nonsense, straightforward nature of the Finnish people. This made for very good business relations with our IBD client, with whom we never had to worry about ulterior motives, unspoken sentiments, or hidden agendas. Although, on the flip side, it took some adjustment for me to stop myself from my American tendency of saying hello to strangers (I was not aware that this was “American” of me until traveling to Finland!) The Finns, while always helpful and kind if asked for help or directions, do not go out of their way to have conversations or interactions with strangers, 

preferring on the whole to keep very much to themselves in public.

Working with our client, Confidex, was an overall enjoyable and rewarding experience for our IBD team. Confidex employees at its Tampere, Finland headquarters were warm and welcoming, always going above-and-beyond to ensure we had everything we needed, from Post-It notes to fresh fruit, and an endless supply of the Finns’ workplace fuels of choice, coffee and tea. Our IBD team’s day-to-day life began with a twenty-minute bus ride from our characteristically Finnish simple, efficiently-furnished apartments, to the similarly unadorned, clean, Confidex office building. Their office is located in a somewhat remote office park area bordered by neighborhoods, a few other businesses, and of course, plenty of expansive grassy fields effusing and ensnaring clumps of drifting cottonwood fluff. The small office serves as home-base to about twenty employees, mostly local Finns. The rest of the company’s employees are dispersed among its global offices. 

Each day we continued our project research, interacted with and interviewed employees both local and remote, and hosted interactive brainstorming workshops to generate new ideas. We were surprised at how our project framework changed and adapted over time as we refined our strategic recommendations and priorities based on new learnings. We usually brought our lunch to the office, but sometimes took a fifteen-minute stroll to the only food bistro nearby, which ended up having a delicious buffet. Most days we worked until late afternoon or early evening and caught the bus back to our apartments before either enjoying a (very basic!) home-cooked dinner or eating out at a local restaurant. While our apartment certainly had all the amenities necessary to cook a decent meal, we found that planning to buy the supplies and having the time in the evening kept us from doing so most of the time.

One of the top highlights of the trip was the proximity and access to incredible weekend travel opportunities, which we will continue to take full advantage of, including Estonia, the arctic circle, Norway, Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Russia. Our trip to Estonia, by way of train and ferry, over our first weekend in country doubled as a wonderful team bonding experience. We stayed at a charming, beautifully-decorated Airbnb apartment in the heart of old town Tallinn, Estonia’s historic capital. Exploring the city with no solid plans meant a carefree afternoon of laughter and awe-inspiring sightseeing together, punctuated by tastings of Estonian beer and cocktails and what we agreed was the best food we’d had on the entire trip so far. Fresh seasonal fish topped off crisp-lettuce salads with a customizable motley of flavorful trimmings including olives, chewy cashews, mushrooms, herbed feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds. Starters were impressive unto themselves—tuna tartare beautifully adorned with crisp cucumber spirals, crunchy orange roe, crispy wonton strips, and sesame seeds, or savory noodle soup topped by a single sunny-side-up egg, perfectly browned on one side. When it came time to leave Estonia, I wished we could have many more days to explore the seemingly endless winding cobblestone streets and alleyways. 

We have two more weeks in Finland, and are looking forward to continuing to move our project forward, exploring new places, trying local foods and drink, and learning more about new cultures!

Team Dura-Line

Sharon Lau is a full-time MBA student working on an International Business Development project spanning across Gurgaon, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Singapore. She and her teammates, Roland Ekop, Alberto Francisco Granados, Daisy Huang, and Maryam Rezapoor, worked with Dura-Line to assess market entry strategies for the data infrastructure industry in Southeast Asia.

On the day of the Big Reveal, as if it wasn’t exciting enough just to find out who our client and teammates were, we also learned that our project would be based out of India, with “possible travel to Vietnam and/or Indonesia.” After working with our client to better understand our project, it turned out to be all of the above, and more.

Asia is a unique landscape with diversity in all its forms across so many countries, cultures, climates, and economies. In order to better understand how successful market entries and business development worked in Asia, we first studied two countries in which they had done exceptionally well: the US, which we learned more about during our semester, and India, which we explored during our first week of IBD. After India, we would split up for on the ground research in two target markets for our client: Indonesia and Vietnam. After our in-country assessments, we would return to India to work through our findings with the client before flying to Singapore to present to their global C-suite at their off-site management retreat. With a lot of miles ahead of us, we packed up and got ready for a very eventual 3 weeks.

Week 1 in Gurgaon: Understanding a Success Story

We landed in Delhi in one of the hottest months of the year and were immediately fascinated by all the differences and familiarities in our new environment. One of our team members remarked how the way locals crossed highways and traffic patterns reminded him exactly of home. Another team member was so excited by the incredible variety of new foods and spices that she went on a food tour and sampled as many new things as she could. 

After meeting with Dura-Line’s Asia management based out of Gurgaon as well as some of their largest infrastructure and telco partners in India, we were armed with insights and more questions for our interviewees on the ground in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Team Dura-Line ready for our Day of Arrival Presentation at Le Meridien Gurgaon: Roland Ekop, Daisy Huang, Maryam Rezapoor, Sharon Lau, Alberto Francisco Granados (left to right)



Team members Roland, Maryam, and Daisy at Dura-Line’s Gurgaon office with a display and samples of their products

Team member Alberto with chipmunks from the gardens at Agra Fort

Team lead Roland appreciating the history and intridcate script carved into the tower at Qutub Minar

Team members Maryam and Daisy at the Taj Mahal

Week 2 in Jakarta and Hanoi: Exploring New Markets

After we bid India goodbye for the first time, we split up into our Indonesia and Vietnam teams. In our second week, we interviewed stakeholders and players in our clients’ ecosystems, learning about the intricacies of the industries in each country that couldn’t be found with online research. This proved to be especially interesting, as both countries have a highly relational business environment in which the best way to learn more is to actually speak with people face to face.

Although we had our schedules packed with meeting industry experts and navigating around our new countries, we were especially thrilled to be able to meet Haas alum Matthew Sinder MBA 99, who had a wealth of experience in the region as well as fond memories of campus.

Our Indonesia team catching up at drinks with Haas alum Matthew Sinder MBA 99 (from left to right: Roland, Daisy, Matthew, Alberto)

Team member Daisy Huang on a scenic weekend trip to Bali

Week 3 in Singapore: Sharing Our Learnings

After a quick trip back to India to realign with the Asia management team on our findings and recommendations, we were off to Singapore to present to our client’s C-suite on the famous bayfront. Our presentation was the centerpiece of a 3-hour workshop, and it was such a rewarding experience to have all of our in-depth research lay the groundwork for an important strategic discussion for truly aspirational leaders.

We wrapped up the project with hours of lively dinner and drinks with the Dura-Line executive team, during which we were inspired to see how CEO Peter Hajdu, Haas MBA ‘05, was boldly and unapologetically leading the company in line with our Haas values. As we packed our bags for what seemed like the millionth time in 3 weeks, we knew we had flown an exceptional number of miles to live out a quintessentially unique Haas experience.

Our IBD team and the Dura-Line C-suite team celebrating a successful wrap to our semester-long project with the Singapore Maria Bay Sands in the background. The Dura-Line team is led by Peter Hajdu, Haas MBA ’05 (back row, far right)

A #HaasFlyBD Update from Team Embraer

Brian Bell, Swamit Mehta, Erlangga Renggana, Kylie Sale, and Quinn Sure are full-time Haas students working on an IBD project with Embraer, the third largest aerospace manufacturer, in São Paolo, Brazil.

Fallin’ for Iguaçu – The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

We finished our finals, passed in our papers, and hopped on a plane to Foz do Iguaçu, the jumping off point for Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall chain in the world which straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina. Here, our team (along with a couple other IBD Brazil teams) experienced our first taste of Brazil; the friendliest of people, delicious barbeque, and the beautiful scenery of the rainforest. Brazil is vibrantly green; even in its more urban areas the flora and fauna of the rainforest is pervasive, giving the cities and countryside alike a unique sense of vitality. In the national park, we stared in awe at the thunderous falls and the multitude of rainbows shimmering in every direction. We even got up close and personal to the falls by taking a boat ride to the base of Iguazu and getting drenched in the deluge. For our first dinner, we sought out a churrascaria – where everything is grilled to perfection from cuts of beef we never knew existed, to cheese, and pineapple. What a welcome to Brazil!

Taking in Iguazu Falls from the Brazil side

Reaching New Heights – Embraer’s Innovation Team

Embraer is one of Brazil’s prized companies – a national success story and a well-recognized global aerospace manufacturer. Our IBD project comes at a fascinating turning point in the company’s history. Embraer recently sold its commercial division to Boeing and is being split down the middle, renamed, and re-envisioned. As the new Embraer emerges with its remaining defense, executive jets, and services divisions, leadership determined that innovation is critical for the company’s future ability to grow, especially in the competitive and rapidly changing global aviation industry. 

Through the course of the project we’ve met with senior level VPs, Directors, and Project Managers to learn about innovation across the company and how different leaders believe the company should grow in the future. In our time here, we discovered that employees are enthusiastic about Embraer, passionate about their projects, and generous with their time – often our meetings and interviews run several hours long!

The Haas IBD Team at Embraer’s facility in São José dos Campos


We are working closely with Embraer’s innovation team – a motivated group of intrapreneurs with a mission to bring Embraer into the future through radical innovation and culture change. The team exemplifies Brazil’s warm and friendly culture. On our first day in the Embraer global headquarters, Guilherme, Portfolio Manager with the Innovation Strategy Team, introduced us to strong Brazilian coffee and chocolate-filled cappuccinos. We’ve enjoyed happy hours and dinners getting to know the rest of the Embraer innovation team including Izabela, Leticia, and Thiago. Our project sponsor, Sandro, Director of Innovation Strategy at Embraer, welcomed us to his home for a true Brazilian barbecue experience. 

Embraer’s Innovation Team and Haas IBD Team enjoying a BBQ








Embraer IBD team and Innovation Strategy Team following close of the 5 day Kaizen workshop

Keeping it Rio

While our three weeks in Brazil were largely spent in our clients offices, we also took advantage of our proximity to visit Rio, one of Brazil’s most well loved cities. Known for its beaches, favelas, and caipirinhas, Rio de Janeiro a city that moves at its own beat. Along with visiting Copacabana, we enjoyed the Rio Sunday farmers market, visited Christ the Redeemer, and hiked Sugarloaf.

We enjoyed two days swimming and snacking across Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro




Eating our way through the colorful fruits, pastels, and juices of the São Paulo Municipal Market

Pretty Fly – A Visit to the Airplane Factory 

Touring Embraer’s airplane manufacturing facility in São Jose dos Campos was a highlight of our experience with Embraer. Expansive factory buildings, several football fields in length and filled with dozens of line workers, held awe-inspiring assembly lines of commercial planes (capacity of up to 155 people) and executive jets, with wings being attached, engines installed, and designs painted reflecting top airline companies from around the world. The individual plane components are made on site, manufactured in massive metal machines, and later assembled into recognizable parts like wings, fuselages, and tails through both automated and manual processes. The coordination and organization required to turn tens of thousands of parts into an airplane is mind-boggling, and Embraer is one of the best in the world. They can turn out 20+ executive jets per month from a single product line!

Our work with the Embraer team is bringing our strategy, operations, design thinking, and other Haas coursework to life in the real world. Each day has been an incredible learning experience, and it’s our privilege and pleasure to be working with our client team at Embraer.

As we worked in our office alongside the Embraer runway, sounds of test flights overhead brought a constant reminder of what we were here to achieve, an Embraer ready for the future