Congratulations to the Spring Semester 2020 IBD Project Team Leads!

This year we were once again fortunate to have a group of talented Berkeley Haas MBA students apply for the spring semester IBD student Team Lead position.  Each project Team Lead brings a unique perspective, set of skills, and experience to the role.  We would like to share something about each of them, including why they applied to be a Team Lead and what they hope to gain from the IBD experience.  Enjoy!

Adolfo at Dolomites skiing this past spring

Adolfo in the Dolomites skiing this past spring

Adolfo Quesada Viciana: 

Adolfo spent most of his career prior to coming to Berkeley Haas at Deloitte Consulting in Madrid, Spain. In addition to his extensive consulting background, Aldofo co-founded and managed a small event-planning business throughout high school and university.  Adolfo is passionate about skiing takes the time to pursue it several months every winter and spring.

“I hope to collaborate to create stronger bonds among the team while at the same time looking for the best outcome for our client, in a challenging environment in which we will be exposed to uncertainty and quick decision making. I also would love to get immersed in the culture of the country and region where we will be located, learning from our client, mentors and communities around us, taking advantage as a team of the unique opportunity that IBD will provide to us.” –  Adolfo Quesada Viciana

Akshay rafting

Akshay Dalmia

Akshay Dalmia:

Prior to coming to Berkeley Haas, Akshay was senior consultant and analyst at Ernst & Young and Orios Venture Partners in Mumbai, India. He has a passion for volunteering, youth education, and traveling — he has visited 45 countries.

“The IBD program is an incredible platform to partner with an international client to help solve real business issues they face. It helps us apply the concepts in class in a practical context and stay plugged into the global business environment while studying.” –Akshay Dalmia

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo: 

Cassandra has experience working across multiple industries including nonprofit, technology and financial services. Most recently she worked with Pro Mujer International, a social enterprise, empowering underserved women in Latin America. Cassandra also likes hiking and salsa dancing.

As an IBD Team Lead, I will continue to push myself and my teammates outside of our comfort zones in order to make our IBD adventure an unforgettable experience.  I am excited for this opportunity to bring together a diverse group of people, learn from each other’s perspectives, take personal and professional risks as a team and help each other grow in the process.  The journey is the reward!” – Cassandra Salcedo

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann: 

The majority of Charlie’s career has been with Morgan Stanley in London, and most recently as an associate in UK Mergers and Acquisitions.  Charlie is an international athlete and has represented Great Britain in competitive target shooting. 

“The IBD program was one of the reasons I applied to Haas, and building my leadership abilities is one of my main goals while here. I want to help my team have a material impact on a major project. I also want to experience leading a team outside of the western world!” Charlie Davidmann

Devan Courtois:

Devan Courtois

Devan Courtois

Post college, Devan worked for two years in Houston, Texas with Teach for America (TFA). After TFA, Devan moved on to Deloitte as a Strategy and Operations Business Analyst. Devan also spent time teaching English in Cusco, Peru.  She loves hiking, running and backpacking.

“One of my goals for coming to Haas was to improve my leadership skills and to learn best practices for effectively managing teams. Becoming an IBD Lead is one of the best opportunities Haas offers to refine these skills, and to use best practices learned in the classroom to lead a team of my peers and take on a manager-level role on a consulting engagement.” –Devan Courtois

Eddie Consigliere

Eddie Consigliere

Eduardo Consigliere:

Eddie most recent work was with Juntos Global, as a client Services Manager, supporting Latin America.  He also led several teams as a Senior Auditor at Ernst & Young.  Eddie enjoys cooking Peruvian food, indoor climbing and yoga.

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I believe the IBD program will be one of the most meaningful experiences of my time at Haas, and I wanted to have an active role in making it memorable for my classmates. Leading a team through a global consulting project is an incredible opportunity to further develop the skills I’ll need to be successful as I pursue a career in consulting after Haas. I believe that understanding how organizations operate abroad is important in order to foster greater empathy for clients and stakeholders in an increasingly global context.” – Eduardo Consigliere

Emily Lapham:

Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham:

Emily has background in global business operations and consulting for private and public sector entities. She sent time prior to Haas at the Cadmus Group in Washington, D.C. working as an Emergency Management Senior Analyst and at Northrop Grumman. Emily has completed four marathons and six half marathons. 

“As someone with an academic and professional background in international business, a desire to hone my consulting skill set, and an enthusiasm for travel, I felt that being a Team Lead would be a perfect position to combine my professional and personal interests. In my first job out of college, I worked with our company’s international offices on a day to day basis, often communicating with colleagues from 3-4 different time zones within a single day. I grew so much during this time, both as a professional and as a person, and I wanted to be a Team Lead to continue this learning trajectory.” Emily Lapham

Jorge Abreu cycling in Rio

Jorge Abreu cycling in Rio

Jorge Abreu:

Jorge has spent the majority of his career working for Roland Berger, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a Consultant.  Prior to Roland Berger, Jorge was an intern at Imerys in Paris, France and Hanoi, Vietnam.  In addition to Portuguese and English, Jorge speaks Spanish and French.

“I applied to be a Team Lead in IBD due to three main reasons: (i) to keep exploring and learning how different cultures influence businesses worldwide; (ii) to challenge myself as a leader, seizing this unique opportunity of leading a highly skilled team through a complex and ambiguous scenario; and (iii) to develop and sharpen hard and soft consulting skills such as project management, problem solving, client relationship, teamwork and communication.” – Jorge Abreu

Josh Raines-Teague:

Josh Raines-Teague in the mountains

Josh Raines-Teague in the mountains

Josh is in the concurrent MBA and Master of Public Health (MBA/MPH) program. Prior to Haas, Josh was a Senior Consultant at Deloitte working primarily with public sector health clients on a variety of projects aimed at improving our country’s ability to respond to emergencies. Josh is also a semi-professional musician with over ten years’ experience performing symphonic repertoire with orchestras and chamber ensembles. 

“I applied to be a Team Lead for IBD because I know that the best way to learn how to lead is by doing it. If I can develop my leadership skills while working on an impactful real-world issue and learning about another country and culture, then the proposition becomes impossible to pass up.” – Josh Raines-Teague

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds:

Julie is also in the MBA/MPH program.  Julie has a healthcare background, having spent the majority of her career with Foundation Medicine and Shire PLC.  Most recently, Julie was a manager on the corporate development and strategy team at Foundation Medicine, although she started her career as a public accountant at E&Y. Julie is a marathoner and is chasing a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I wanted a challenging real world leadership experience.  I managed teams earlier in my career but haven’t managed people directly for the last three years.  Coming out of business school, I want to be ready to lead teams and thought IBD would be a good way for me to exercise my management skills.  I also love to travel (and eat good food while traveling), so IBD seemed like a win-win opportunity, combining a professional experience with something I love to do in my spare time.“ – Julie Reynolds

Krutika Pursna dancing "Kathak"

Krutika Pursna dancing “Kathak”

Krutika Pursna:

Until coming to Haas, Krutika was the Outreach Director (and founder) for SheSays, a women’s empowerment organization in India. She is also a consultant at E&Y in advisory services.  Krutika is a dancer, practicing classical “Kathak” as part of B.A. degree from the Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya Mandaland, and a Belly Dance instructor.

“I applied to be IBD Team Lead because I hope to put together a team that not only comes from different backgrounds and is able to work well together and get along, but also one that is looking to learn and share expertise. In that way, as a lead my job would be to mainly facilitate these learnings and help those around me grow with the project.” -Krutika Pursna

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto:

Before coming to Haas, Luisa worked at Accenture Strategy in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, as manager and business consultant. Her expertise includes strategic and organizational planning, and developing/implementing cost optimization strategies. Luisa enjoys sports, especially volleyball.

“As I advance in my career, it becomes more clear to me that managing people (bosses, co-workers, clients…) and getting them to work productively as a team constitutes the most important part of any job, and I would much like to get better at it. I believe leadership is not innate, and to get good at it we need to practice, learn and improve every day – and this was the main reason why I applied to be a Team Lead.” – Luisa Bisinoto

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert:

The majority of Megan’s career has been as a business analyst and consultant at Deloitte Consulting focused on environmental sustainability and design innovation. Before coming to Haas, Megan spent four months working with a for profit organization called Accite Holdings in Botswana and South Africa, and in Winneba, Ghana with Challenging Heights, a non profit.

“I hope to gain greater leadership perspective by leading a team of talented peers to help balance all of their individual interests, skills, and objectives while also meeting the needs of our client. I also hope to form deep friendships as we throw ourselves into a new work environment and spend three weeks together in a foreign country.” – Megan Reichert

Oriana WWOOFing (voluntourism) in the southern Netherlands at a local organic vineyard!

Oriana WWOOFing (voluntourism) in the southern Netherlands at a local organic vineyard!

Oriana Chiu:

Oriana has worked with Deloitte Consulting as a consultant and business technology analyst for her entire career.  Oriana was the networking lead and nonprofit liaison for Women’s Bond Club, an organization for women in financial services. She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and Spanish.  

“I hope to experience how to successfully create a productive and fun team environment while in a different &/new cultural environment.” Oriana Chiu

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves:

Thais most recently worked at BCG–The Boston Consulting Group in São Paulo, Brazil, as a consultant.  She has worked with many industries during her time at BCG, including sustainability, food-systems, agriculture, education, and impact investing strategy.  Thais is passionate about social impact, and continues to work with a São Paulo global social impact organization called Inspiring Girls.

“For me, being a good leader is the most critical point to achieve success in any career path. I believe being an IBD team lead will enable me to continue developing my leadership skills; leveraging my past experiences as a consultant to lead a team of highly capable MBAs; understanding each team member’s motivations and how to work together to deliver impact for our client; and at the same time, ensuring a great experience for everyone in the team. I am really excited – it is gonna be a lot of learning, and a lot of fun! “ Thais Esteves

Victor as goalkeeper at semi-professional level for over 17 years

Victor as goalkeeper at semi-professional level for over 17 years

Victor Gorrachategui:

Victor most recently served as associate at A.T. Kearney in Madrid, Spain.  Throughout his career working as a strategy consultant, Victor has worked on a variety of industries including consumer goods, analytics, retail, and oil & gas. Victor has pursued Aerospace Engineering with great passion, including taking pilot lessons for light aircraft.  He is also an avid player of chess and soccer. 

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to create (as a Team Lead) and be a part of such a transformational personal and professional experience that IBD is. I hope not only to continue broadening my perspectives on how business is done in different parts of the world and learning from other cultures, but also to live this experience with a great group of Haassies that will hopefully become a close group of friends for the rest of my life!” Victor Gorrachategui

We look forward to working with all of these terrific student Team Leads in January when the spring semester IBD course begins.

IBD Alumni Interview: Beth Foster (‘18 MBA and IBD alum) loves working in East Africa

Written by Danner Doud-Martin

Beth with the city of Kampala

Beth with the city of Kampala

IBD caught up with ‘18 MBA Beth Foster who was visiting the bay area this August before returning to Kampala, Uganda, where she works as part of the investment arm of Engineers without Borders; Canada (EWB).  Beth sat down with us to talk about her experience prior to Haas, how IBD impacted her future career and her love for working with entrepreneurs in East Africa. 

Before coming to Haas, Beth was in the Peace Corps in Rwanda building a small business with a co-op of farmers. “I understood the potential of business to address societal challenges and be transformative in a way that other foreign aid projects couldn’t be.”  She knew she wanted to pursue international business development but didn’t have a business background or even know the terminology of the type of work she was interested in pursuing. Through conversations with people in the field she learned about social entrepreneurship and impact investing,  terms that are now part of her everyday vernacular.  

Beth's and her 2017 IBD Team with members of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum after our kickoff presentation

Beth’s and her 2017 IBD Team with members of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum after our kickoff presentation

Haas offers opportunities in these areas:

At Haas, Beth took advantage of all the different opportunities in the space, including relevant coursework such as IBD and opportunities outside the classroom, like the Haas Impact Investing Network (HIIN), Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) and internships.  As part of the 2017 IBD program, Beth worked with client Makerere University Private Sector Forum on a project in Kampala, Uganda. “It was great with IBD to get the chance to affirm that I wanted to return to East Africa. It was a really big decision, and not an easy one, but it felt right when I was there for IBD working with Makerere in Kampala.  It was the last piece of validation for making that move after Haas.” 

IBD 2017 Makerere team: Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

IBD 2017 Makerere team: Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

Beth’s IBD experience:

IBD’s policy is to provide students unique opportunities in international experiences and so even with her prior work in Rwanda, Beth shared that she thought it made sense she was assigned to work with the only project located on the content of Africa.   “I have a background in education and youth development and the IBD project was with the leading University in Kampala. We were specifically working with Makerere’s Private Sector Forum to develop a strategic plan. The Forum was trying to address two challenges. The first was youth unemployment in Uganda which is incredibly high. Secondly,  they wanted to address the issue of the university’s students graduating without jobs. Given that Uganda is a very entrepreneurial country, we saw the potential of many of these students becoming entrepreneurs and that informed the strategy we laid out.”

IBD leads to connections for future job:

During her three weeks in-country, working with Makerere, Beth learned about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Uganda, built connections with accelerators and investors and met with a lot of entrepreneurs.  “IBD was a great experience,” shares Beth. “It was good prep for my job interview with EWB as I had already made the connections. Meeting with the entrepreneurs there made me more excited than I had been in a very long time and hearing about their ideas gave me goosebumps.  When I came back (from IBD) I was on a mission to find a job in back in East Africa and am so grateful it worked out that way.”

How did you land on the field of Impact Investing?

When Beth was working in Rwanda, she realized that the most challenging part of making that business successful was the community politics and just knowing certain things about the consumer that aren’t obvious.  Beth came to the conclusion after much reflection that “I loved the idea of social entrepreneurship but if I am going to work in this region, I would rather have my whole focus and energy be towards focusing on supporting local entrepreneurs.  They have great ideas and know how to navigate the challenges of their space, but need the encouragement and resources.”

Beth admits that impact investing can mean a lot of different things so when she got to Haas she took two years of discovering where on the spectrum she wanted to be.  Through all her encounters with Haas opportunities, she solidified that she wanted to work in very early stage venture capital in East Africa and in impact-first investing.  She loves her job and the impact she has made with small business owners.

Do you have any advice for potential future students interested in IBD?

One of the unexpected surprises of IBD for Beth was getting more experience in the area of consulting.  “I don’t have a consulting background, but I had an amazing Team Lead who taught me so much. IBD was like a semester long intensive consulting class.  If you want to gain real world consulting skills, travel, and work on a meaningful project with impact, IBD is a good option,” shares Beth. Personally, she learned:

  • How to properly lead team meetings 
  • How to implement design thinking approaches
  • How to best interact with your client, including how to have tough conversations 
  • How to create timelines and deliverable that hold everyone accountable, including the client 

The 2019 IBD Team meets with Beth in Kampala:

This summer, IBD sent a third team of five MBA students to work with Makerere University.  Beth met up with the team and enjoyed seeing how excited they were about being in-country. “I just loved seeing how into the project the team was and the fact that I had that client previously meant that they wanted to know a lot of my thoughts.  It was a proud Haas moment.” 

Beth’s advice to the IBD Program Staff:

“I want to see more Africa based projects! My job is to research start-ups on the continent and there are just such amazing businesses out here.  Haasies can support these businesses and there is so much they can learn.”  

Perhaps IBD will have a future project with Beth and one of the many start-ups she is working with in Africa.  In the meantime, we congratulate Beth on her many successes and wish her the best moving forward.  

Refashioning a more sustainable future for apparel in India

Lauren Grimanis, Nish Samant, Felix Schadeck, Mark Sheiness, Molly Zeins

From our first steps off the plane in Bengaluru (Bangalore, for those outside of India), it was clear that fashion and color played an important role in Indian society: both in terms of individual self-expression as well as a market and income for a large swath of the population. Women in vibrant, traditional sarees ambled next others in more muted, contemporary getups while street bazaars of bargained handmade goods coexisted side-by-side with fixed price retail locations offering the latest mass-produced styles. We were here to help our client change this universe for the better and the sheer scope of our undertaking was finally sinking in.

Team ABFRL on our way to the client Day 1. The client provided private transportation to navigate Bangalore’s busy streets, which also meant we had no excuse to be late.

Our client, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd. (“ABFRL”) is a subsidiary of the gigantic conglomerate Aditya Birla Group (“ABG”) and one of India’s largest pure-play fashion companies. ABFRL had undertaken an ambitious sustainability campaign “Re-Earth: For Our Tomorrow” that kicked off a few years ago and was on-track to meet or exceed many of its goals by 2020. We were enlisted to help refocus the plan with a 2025 horizon and for the past 5 months had scoured the internet investigating the sustainability plans of apparel peers around the world before interviewing experts for their insights. Now it was time to roll up our sleeves in-country and explore the unique fashion landscape within India before landing on a set of recommendations for ABFRL to implement.

Pantaloons was one of ABFRL’s flagship brand umbrellas, with a deep penetration in Bangalore and presence across most of India so it wasn’t long on our first day in-country before we stumbled across one.

ABFRL put us up in a top-notch hotel near their office complex by the old airport that had been converted to an Indian Air Force training base. This was where they situated all of their external consultants and it was readily apparent from our first day in the office that despite our student status, the expectations set for us would be as lofty as any third-party agency brought in for a specific endeavor. Our task was ambitious and the demands high but there was an exhilarating drive at the chance to make a real impact given our client’s reach. As one interviewed employee aptly put: “removing even a single button from a garment could be a drastic improvement given our size.” This was the type of project many of us had left jobs to come to Berkeley to explore: to roadmap a way for business and society to harmoniously develop together into the future.

Based on the attendees at the kickoff ManCom meeting and our final presentation (above), it was apparent that sustainability is an increasing area of emphasis within ABFRL

Our first week kicked off with a early presentation to ABFRL’s “ManCom” (management committee) where we set out our desk research findings and structured our goals for the subsequent 3 weeks. Attendees included the Managing Director of the organization as well as brand heads and various CXOs of the Fashion & Retail subsidiary. Given the number of high-powered and the shrewd yet relentless line of questioning we faced, it was very apparent to us that sustainability was not simply lip service within ABFRL but that we also had our work cut out for us if we were going to make the business case for adopting our recommendations. 

Bhagya, our corporate liaison, was with us practically every step of the way and, as a native Bangalorean, an invaluable resource in navigating the unique metropolis of India’s “Silicon City.”

Early on Day One we met the most important person within ABFRL: Bhagya Lakshmi, a long-time member of the sustainability team and our liaison within the organization. Bhagya possessed an almost superhuman ability to get things done within ABFRL and quickly became one of our biggest champions in securing interviews and site visits over the duration of our trip. In all over the 3 weeks, we chatted with more than 3 dozen ABFRL employees and a handful of strategic partners. We visited 3 factories (which sported some of the best food the entire trip), a warehouse, a “model village”, and a half-dozen retail locations all in the name of better understanding our client’s operations and how they accomplish the herculean task of supplying garments to every corner of India.

Every location had amazing and authentic Indian cuisine that was a highlight of the tours. Each factory employed a few thousand workers so the meal logistics themselves were an incredible undertaking.

ABFRL’s is setup with at least 5 in-house brand umbrellas where they design, produce, and sell apparel items as well as a number of additional third-party brands where they are the exclusive retailer within the Indian market. An early takeaway from our peer research was to “Start where you have the most control” when it comes to sustainability so much of our time was spent focusing on the full-featured brands where they had the most power to implement our recommendations. India’s climate and generally hot weather year-round leads to only certain materials being viable and, indeed, over 70% of ABFRL’s lineup was from cotton so that became a big focus of our investigation and interviews. 

One of the most impactful visits was traveling to a “model village” and seeing the direct impact ABFRL was already having through its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives such as bringing a Water ATM to the town of Sollepuram.

Our final presentation constituted 10 recommendations they could implement between now and 2025 that encompassed the company’s own operations as well as upstream (vendors, materials) and downstream (retailers, customers). Any one of our recommendations could be an entire IBD project in its own right and given the large scope of our project, we struggled with the timeless challenge of depth vs. breadth. Nonetheless, the feedback was that our presentation was well-received with ABFRL commenting that 80% of our suggestions would be piloted by 2025. Because we knew the audience was limited for our concluding presentation, we designed our final deliverable to also function as a shareable roadmap to stand on its own without us. We had a fantastic time in India and have high hopes for ABFRL and its stakeholders going forward. The project gave us unprecedented insight into the Asian apparel industry and a lens into manufacturing we rarely see Stateside. IBD will certainly be one of the highlights we each take away from the Haas experience and a bond the 5 of us will always share. 

Despite the demanding work schedule, we still found plenty of time to goof off. We opted for a lot of nature and remote outdoor excursions to limit the number of stares we attracted with our antics.

While the demands of the project kept us mostly local to the hotel premises and the 3 restaurants/bars it sported, we did manage to escape to surrounding areas over the weekend. During our first weekend in the city, still fighting off the jetlag, we opted for a night hike in the majestic Naandi Hills and even the bus breakdown, 3-hour delay, and deceptively steep climb  couldn’t keep us from enjoying the great sights this former hillside sanctuary fortress offered. Our taste for the Indian outdoors were whet and for the next weekend we opted for a more immersive experience exploring the Kabini region in a jungle resort near the Nagarahole tiger reserve. We saw plenty of flora and fauna during our two morning safaris by boat and vehicle but sadly the majestic big cats eluded us until we can next come back. The great preservation  efforts by the Nagarahole rangers combined with our ABFRL work towards sustainability gave us real hope that the landscape and mindset within India is changing to a more eco- and socially-conscious future that would allow many generations to come to explore its rich geography and benefit from varied and historic produced goods. 

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!