Meet Judy Hopelain, our Newest Faculty Mentor!

Judy Hopelain

Judy Hopelain

As the IBD team works to solidify IBD projects around the world, we are proud to have our amazing group of Faculty Mentors ready to start working with our students and clients in January.  We recently added our fourth mentor to the team, Ms. Judy Hopelain.  Judy has been a member of the Haas Marketing Group’s professional faculty since Spring 2011. She started out teaching UGBA162, Brand Management & Strategy in the Undergraduate program and has since added Principles of Marketing, UGBA106, and the Marketing Module of Principles of Business, UGBA10.  Judy is also an undergraduate faculty mentor.

In addition to teaching, Judy is an experienced management consultant and continues to serve clients across industries. She started her consulting career at The Boston Consulting Group, where she worked across the global economy. Her experience there included extensive work for the World Bank in Mexico’s textiles and apparel supply chain to prepare domestic manufacturers for the elimination of trade barriers. Judy spent 7 years at BCG, another 7 in Accenture’s Strategy Practice, and 5 years at Prophet Brand Strategy. She has also held leadership roles in specialty retail at Patagonia and Illuminations, and now serves clients at her own consulting firm, Pure Gravy LLC, and through her partnership with Brand Amplitude LLC.

We wanted you to get to know Judy a little better and so we asked her thoughts on being a part of the IBD team, what she wants to get out of this experience and how she feels she can best benefit the MBAs in the course.  Here are her answers:

Question:  Why become an IBD Faculty Mentor? 

I jumped at the chance to join the IBD faculty and participate in the MBA program by sharing my experience and passion for business and brand strategy with our students who are our next generation of leaders. IBD’s global client base and issue set are also a big part of the program’s appeal for me, both intellectually and in terms of opportunity for impact.

Question:  What do you hope to get out of the experience of mentoring 20 MBA students? As an UG faculty mentor do you foresee it will be a different experience? 

I thoroughly enjoy mentoring and learning from the undergraduate students I teach and advise. And I expect to enjoy doing the same with the MBA students. I suspect the experience will be quite different largely because MBA students are at point in their lives and their careers where the stakes are higher and the issues are more urgent. I expect their questions and concerns will be both broader and deeper than undergraduate students

Question: What do you hope to provide/teach/instill in the 2017 IBD MBAs?

I hope to provide relevant experience and actionable advice to the teams I mentor, and to help them see and capitalize on the tremendous opportunities for creativity that consulting affords. Decisions about where to focus, what to analyze, how to illustrate and present the findings and recommendations, how to structure a meeting or brainstorming session – whatever the task, there is opportunity for creativity.

Question: What do you want them to get out of this experience?

I want students to develop core consulting skills*, gain perspective and experience on doing business across cultures and geographies, and better understand their own professional strengths and interests
(*e.g., problem framing, problem solving, team dynamics and leadership, client relationship management, project management, business writing and presentation)

Question: What qualities make a good faculty mentor? 

A good mentor needs to be accessible and provide help that’s actually helpful. Active listening skills, critical thinking and relevant experience are among the keys to effective mentoring.

Question: What does success look like for this role?

To me, success in this role hinges on the quality of the:

  • Individual participant’s experience
  • Team experience
  • Team output/recommendations
  • Client experience

Question: Is there anything that is new for you?  Do you foresee any challenges? 

Working with MBA students is not exactly new for me – in my consulting career, I have worked with lots of summer associates and recent business school graduates (and recruited them, as well). But that was a while ago, and the economy has changed a lot since then, putting new pressures on MBA students. So, that’s what’s probably new and potentially most challenging.

Question: You have your own consulting business and worked in the industry for a large part of your career, do you have a strategy for introducing MBA’s to the consulting industry?

I don’t have a specific strategy, though I do have a point of view on what’s important: developing core consulting skills will serve students well regardless of the career path they choose.

Question: Where is your favorite place in the world?

I love travel, and while I’m always up for going someplace new, Mexico is one of my favorite places in the world – I love the people, the food, the language, the culture and more.

Question: Where would you like to go that you haven’t been yet?

There are so many places I’d like to go to! I’ve been to East Africa, and would like to know others parts of Africa. I’ve been to Brazil and would like to know more of South America.

Question: What are your dogs’ names?

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Rosey and Barney

We have 2 dogs that we rescued as pups – Rosey is an 11 year old Rottweiler-basset love child and Barney is a 2 year old boxer-Dalmatian sweetheart. They are the best!

Question: Is there a book that MBAs should absolutely read?

I’m reading (and enjoying) BCG’s Your Strategy Needs a Strategy now. It is based on the insight that companies operating in diverse environments should develop their strategies in markedly different ways, but often don’t. It introduces a new framework for thinking about business strategy, the strategy palette and proposes five distinct approaches to strategy, helping leaders to match their approach to their business environment and execute effectively.

As you can see, Judy is going to be a wonderful addition to our already amazing team of Faculty Mentors.

IBD in the World

IBD Director of Development, David Richardson and Executive Director, Kristi Raube, have been traveling around the world the last couple months meeting with alumni and prospective clients to talk about the IBD program.  In fact, Kristi and Dean Lyons were all in Santiago, Chile, this past week at the spectacular venue, Los Majadas de Pirque.

Haas Alumni in Santiago at Las Majadas de Pirque

Haas Alumni in Santiago at Las Majadas de Pirque

120 Haas alumni were in attendance, including the Chilean Haas Alumni Network Chapter President, Marcello Vasquez ( ’02) and one of the owners of Los Majadas de Pirque, Pablo Bosch (’15).  Pablo is also an IBD alumnus and in 2014, he went to Haiti to work with the Haitian Education & Leadership Program (HELP), which provides scholarships to low-income, high-achieving Haitian college students.

David’s travels took him to Bogota, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, this past week and Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing in October.  Meanwhile, Kristi has been to four continents in the last 3 months.  Her travels have taken her to Nigeria, Ghana, Sweden, Norway, Shanghai, Ecuador, Vietnam, and Chile.  All the fruits of Kristi’s and David’s travel will soon reveal themselves in January when the 16 team leads will be assigned to their projects.   We can’t wait to reveal the clients, projects and destinations in March 2017.  Stay Tuned!

Berkeley-Haas alumni dinner in Bogota

Berkeley-Haas alumni dinner in Bogota

Please enjoy photos from both of David’s travels.  To view photos from David’s trip to Latin America, click here and to view photos from his trip to Asia, click here.

Dinner in Hong Kong with Berkeley-Haas alumni James Man and Alan Cheng

Dinner in Hong Kong with Berkeley-Haas alumni James Man and Alan Cheng

IBD 2016 Crowns Conference Winners!  Team Apsara Takes Home Best Presentation.

Every year at the Berkeley-Haas IBD Conference, the IBD faculty announces student team winners in a variety of categories to celebrate another successful year of IBD spring and summer courses.  This year’s IBD team winners were:

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After reviewing six IBD team presentations delivered during the Conference, the award of Best IBD Presentation was unanimously awarded to Team Apsara.  Team Apsara traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, to develop and teach a two-week entrepreneurship program named ACT (Apsara Capital Trust).  The ACT program was directed to young Zimbabweans who are passionate about social change in a country that faces challenging economic and political conditions.  This was the fourth IBD team to work with Apsara, and the team’s main project objective was to develop curriculum for an online and in-person course for ACT’s Intensive Entrepreneurship Program.   During two weeks of teaching, Team Apsara worked with 21 students daily on design thinking, prototyping, brainstorming, constructing empathy maps, and developing interviewing skills.  At the end of their in-country experience, the IBD team delivered more than course materials. They also recommended how to create an ACT Ecosystem whereby students could share and help each other with entrepreneurial ideas.  In addition, the IBD team suggested possible revenue streams to help ACT become more sustainable.  IBD team member Julian Garzon shared this conclusion from his project experience: “We were impressed to find great people with great ideas everywhere, but the resources are not for them all the time.  It makes us think how privileged we are, and how we should be committed to give back and contribute to the community because these great people should have a shot to flourish with their business ideas. Finally, we can’t underestimate the power of bringing people together who are motivated and driven to work hard and achieve their dreams”.

To read Team Apsara’s blog click here.

Greetings from Team Nando’s

Starting our project

The first thing we realized as soon as we stepped out to the field was that Malaysians take eating out very seriously (they eat out on average 5.6 times a week).  Our project was no small task: we had to analyze the customer journey for both our client and its competition, to identify what works best for the Malaysian customer.

In less than 5 days, we had already visited over 10 Nando’s locations and more than 20 competitors, interviewing employees, managers and customers – and probably gained a few pounds while at it!

Our first group Nando’s meal – the first of many. If you have not tried Nando’s famous Peri Peri chicken, we recommend you get to it!

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Uber drivers who don’t speak much English and don’t know the streets make for very fun rides…if you finally make it to your destination on time!

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One very important highlight of our trip: location! Nando’s chose an Airbnb for us, in the middle of KL center, which provided us easy access to all main dining locations. The biggest perk of it? We had an infinity pool on the rooftop! Our daily morning routine included gym and pool to help us cope with jetlag.

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Arriving to Malaysia in the middle of Hari Raya

Over 60% of Malaysia’s population is Muslim – and we arrived during their main festivity. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the day that marks the end of the Ramadan fasting month, and many Malaysians take these days off to travel and spend time with their families. Every mall we visited was packed, which meant plenty of customers for us to interview and observe for the project.

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Visiting Nando’s offices

We visited the central support office multiple times to meet with different key stakeholders, from Human Resources to Operations to Marketing, digging deeper into Nando’s culture, brand and operations.

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We even got our own Nando’s shirts – we used these while interviewing customers in restaurants in stores, to make customers more comfortable about sharing their experiences with us.

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Visiting Nando’s Casas

We visited over 10 Nando’s restaurants in Malaysia to interview staff and customers.  All employees were extremely helpful and cooperative in providing us the information we required to shape our project.

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Visiting competitors

While in country, we split into two smaller groups to be able to visit as many competitors as possible. After a couple of days, we were almost professional mystery diners, ready to identify what differentiated each restaurant and what Malaysian customers experienced at each location.

One single mall had over 100 restaurants. So many choices!

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Some restaurants used technology for certain steps of the ordering process. This sushi restaurant had iPads to place orders with.

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Design thinking –  Airbnb style

Most of our work was field based, and we spent many working hours in restaurants – which meant we had to debrief late at night.  Luckily, all of us proved to be night owls. Our Airbnb walls were quickly turned into impromptu boards for our design thinking exercises, which ran until late hours at night.

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You don’t have 2 minutes?

Probably one of the most interesting parts of our project was having to intercept customers after their meals, in order to obtain their insights. You know how you feel when people approach you at the mall and try to ask you some questions for research? Well, put 5 MBA students at it, and see if you can say no! We will probably have to trademark the phrase: you don’t have two minutes? 

Exploring Malaysia

Besides visiting what seemed like hundreds of restaurants, we also played tourists during our free hours. One of the most fun areas in KL is Changkat Bukit Bintang, where you can find restaurants, clubs, and a night food market which offers bbq frogs, to satay, and of course the infamous Durian! We were adventurous enough to try it, but we never got over the smell.

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Students Shine at 2016 IBD Conference

We officially wrapped up another amazing year of the Berkeley-Haas International Business Development (IBD) program with our final event, the 2016 IBD Conference on September 16th. The Conference started with an interactive poster session during which 22 IBD teams presented their projects, answered questions and showcased their unique experiences and wearables.  Some of the IBD students who went all out were Team Nando, who wore custom designed clothing produced by their client; Team Ashesi, who had matching pockets sewn onto their shirts; Team Inka Moss, who sported Peruvian sweaters and caps; and Team PAG, whose student team lead, Zarrah Birdie, donned a panda hoodie in honor of her team’s experience working in China. 

“All of the students were excited not only to share their adventures and the consulting work they did with their clients around the world, but also to see the huge variety of other projects and cultures that their classmates completed and experienced. Curiosity and enthusiasm were extremely high, and the noise level even higher.” Mark Coopersmith, IBD Faculty Mentor.

The energy was high for everyone at the Conference, including Haas’s CFO, Suresh Bhat, who came by the poster session to engage with IBD students and spend time learning about their projects.

“Attending the IBD conference is always a fabulous experience and seeing the enthusiasm from both FTMBA and EWMBA students as they present their findings, brings their project to life.  The students favorably commented on the experiential learning process. In addition, having to face and overcome language and cultural barriers is a mirror of what many of them will have to face as they take on new career opportunities post their MBA.” Suresh Bhat.

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Following the poster session, students and guests were treated to a lunch program that consisted of a panel presentation of IBD student team leads, overall comments from Berkeley-Haas Dean Rich Lyons, TED Talk style presentations by six IBD teams, and an acceptance speech from the 2016 IBD Alumnus of the Year, Rajiv Ball.

Rajiv, a Partner at THNK, Berkeley-Haas lecturer and host of the Design Thinking Course held recently in Amsterdam over spring break, worked previously with IBD as a project sponsor.  In his acceptance video he talked about the amazing experience that IBD provides for students:  “The notion of broadening your international horizons… and the ability to really step outside the US, and explore how business gets done there, that is a true gift that the program brings its participants.”

While there are many highlights from the IBD Conference, it was ultimately about hearing from the students their impressions of their projects and their reflections on the IBD experience.  New to the IBD Conference this year was a panel discussion with IBD student team leads.  IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube interviewed five student team leads and asked them to share their insights on serving in a team lead capacity. One student team lead, Vanessa Pau, said, “It is a rare opportunity to lead a team of peers, many of whom are much smarter than I am, and to actually work with them, learn from them and motivate them throughout times in the project.”  

In addition to the panel discussion, six IBD teams were chosen by a combination of student and faculty voting to present their projects to the Conference audience.  Videos of the lucky winners and presenting teams can be seen here.

Many IBD teams shared how their journeys changed once they were in country, including shifts in their perspectives, relationships, and overall project recommendations.  The student team lead for Team groupelephant.com, Theo Grzegorczk, said of his team’s time in South Africa, “It gave us a real reason to care, and we made this transition by actually getting involved with their company…we learned by really getting into their business.  We went through this process of understanding how they work…and by living the way they do business…we came to understand a little bit more of their company and that is the first step in the design thinking process.”

Team Samai’s Bruno Vargas said, “We had all kinds of backgrounds, not just nationally, but professional backgrounds…We were hands on, we were rolling (up) our sleeves, working hand in hand with them…We were actually giving them to tools to manage their business and in the end, we built strong relationships.”

IBD Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier summed it up best when she shared the following comment: “The students were really energized and proud of their work and the relationships they built with their clients.  A few told me it was the best experience they had at Haas, and specifically the best team experience.  Exciting to see we are having such an impact!”

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Buyer Beware

The first thing we did was the one thing we had been warned about. We entered the secret room. The shopkeeper said that he kept all the good bags in the back. To get through there, we went through a small door in the rear of the shop, through an antechamber with walls all made of mirrors, and into a narrow room with the lauded purses. The negotiation intensified quickly. The price was shouted louder, even if it did not go lower. From nowhere a second man appeared, standing behind me. The shouting went back and forth and I started to get nervous. Another Haas student had come with me, and we towered over these small Chinese men, but they were aggressive. I decided I did not want the bag and told the men. They remained unconvinced. After 5 minutes of practiced negotiations, we were able to get out of the secret room and get on with our shopping.

sapchina1Negotiating and understanding the culture was key to having an impact on SAP’s new product launch into the US. They knew the Chinese market well, but we had been brought in as consultants and ambassadors on the US small and medium business market. They were fantastic hosts, spending significant time with us helping us understand the depth of their product. They also took us to beers at the hot spots in Shanghai. We used design thinking to match our insights of the US market to the capabilities of the product to help them focus their development efforts on lighthouse customers to maximize their impact. This small but friendly team is taking on some established software players in the US.

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It was a great experience to understand the growing software industry in China and the challenge of taking a new product to a new established market. The team has a lot of work ahead, but we hope that we were able to add some focus and clarity to the path to take. And the work ahead does not mean that we did not celebrate along the way. Ganbei!

-Team Red Dragons

Updates from IBD Beijing

 

EWMBA students Tiffany Barbour, Ketaki Gangal, Benjamin Kim, and Jaimin Patel are currently in Beijing, China, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project with CreditEase. EWMBA student Leanne Chu is managing the offshore project operations in Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA.

Our Project

Our mission was to help CreditEase understand the Wealth Management (WM) industry in the U.S., and develop an implementable strategic framework recommendation for offshore investment by CreditEase target customers using U.S.-based investment vehicles. After six weeks of intense research and interviews with industry experts in the U.S., we were ecstatic to finally be in Beijing!

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A Day In The Life…

We started each morning with a call to sync up the Beijing and US teams, discuss the learning and findings from the previous day, as well as plan our next steps. Work life in the Beijing office was very similar to the U.S., except the workday typically started around 9:30a. Once the office doors opened, though, it was off to the races with product team meetings and client conference calls scheduled throughout the day and usually in different buildings across the city. No need to go to the gym… these walks definitely kept us fit.

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Team interviews with various product team leads and current WM customers.

Meeting with the product teams and current customers for an hour at a time was so illuminating. Every conversation seemed to double our learning, which helped us generate new insights and even better ideas for the market entry strategy.

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Team photo in our cubicles.

Between meetings, we would spend time at our cubicles debriefing the previous meeting, formulating new ideas, and connecting with our nearby neighbors from the Corporate Strategy team.

The Country and Culture

Even though the project kept us continually busy, we managed to find time to take in the sights, learn the history of China, and of course enjoy the delicious cuisine.

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Jaimin and Ben at the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.

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Team photo in front of entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Delicious lunch spread in a local restaurant.

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We also took some time to enjoy a traditional tea ceremony…

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… and then learned how silk is made.

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Team photo with our hosts: Bing, Kelly, and Meichen.

Our overall goal was to wow the client, and we did just that! The senior management in attendance for the final presentation were highly engaged, asked lots of questions, were genuinely impressed by our ideas. If you had asked any of us about Wealth Management, Fintech, or CreditEase two months ago, there would have been a number of blank stares. Now, we feel like experts in training and are eagerly awaiting the day when we can invest with CreditEase in the U.S.!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Welcome to Dakar. Nestled in the Cap-Vert peninsula, Dakar is the westernmost point of the African continent.

picture1          A beautiful beach in Ile de Goree, off the coast of Dakar

A city of contrasts where gleaming Range Rovers and broken Renault cabs jostle for space on the same lane, towering beachside mansions overlook decrepit shanties. And bold new-age enterprises, dysfunctional government and age-old agriculture makeup the Senegalese economy.

The first thing that strikes you in Dakar is the construction. There is an undercurrent of urgency in a city bursting at its seams as people from all over Africa, and around the world flood to it, seeking opportunities in a resurgent Africa. We visited and met scrappy entrepreneurs in a number of incubators in Dakar – working on bringing technology to transform deep social causes. 

picture2           Dakar is bustling with construction

Africa has leapfrogged the traditional banking system, with mobile banking. With over 100% mobile penetration, mobile payments and mobile money transfer are slowly replacing the cash based economy. Our host InTouch hopes to make this readily accessible to a wide swath of the population with a digital point-of-sale system as an aggregator of payments. From day one, we hit the ground running to figure out a strategy for expansion and growth for InTouch’s products.

picture3             Tigo is one of the top 3 mobile money operators. In the foreground is a                                                          rebooting Windows screen.

Our main focus was understanding the market landscape and the adoption of InTouch’s current product. We had already prepared a couple of solutions before landing in Senegal – so that we could quickly validate our hypothesis and present to InTouch.

picture4           Usability research at gas station where the product is deployed

 

picture6          Market validation with local retail stores

We visited CTIC (an incubator) and Jokkolabs (a co-working space) in Dakar. It was fascinating to meet and interact with the entrepreneurs from all over the world working on making a deep impact on some of the social challenges in Africa.

picture5                        Visiting incubators and co-working spaces in Dakar with Yann LeBeaux

Vincent, the Innovation director at UNICEF was looking to use data analytics to become a nimble and agile organization. Adam at Voto was working on technology that could be used to gather survey data from social workers in far-flung regions. Malick at Africa Mobile sought to build a service to reach uneducated massed via web and mobile communication tools. And Bagore & Edouard at La Laiterie du Berger are looking to create a distribution channel for milk produced in rural Senegal to meet the burgeoning demand in cities like Dakar. We also met a passionate Daouda Gassama at the AEME who is bringing in an age of energy efficiency to Senegal.

picture7          Met the passionate Daouda Gassama and his wall of energy efficient lights at the AEME

As a part of our secondary research, Mike also figured out that Senegalese eat 29 Kgs of fish every day. One of our goals was to consume 29 Kgs of fish in 2 weeks. Thus began a search of the local Ceebu Jen (thiéboudiène), Yassa Poisson, Grilled Thiof, Crevette et lotte, and all sorts of deliciousness. Incidentally, we also found that Ravi does not like to wait for his food – a point made amply clear while waiting repeatedly for the local made-to-order Thiof.

picture8      Food was always on our minds in Dakar

Yogesh earned the nickname of “Yekini” given his uncanny resemblance to the professional Senegalese wrestler Yekini. That and his love for fish heads and sparkling water.

picture9           Apparently Yogesh bears an uncanny resemblance to the wrestler Yekini

Our gracious hosts took us sight-seeing over the weekend to Sine Saloum islands in South Senegal. This was a weekend of touring the local villages, fishing in the delta, pickup soccer on salt flats, seeing our first ever sun halo and attending a local wrestling competition. Evenings were spent taking in the spectacular African sunsets and more eating.

picture10     Amazing Sine Saloum

 

picture11    Spectacular African sunsets

This was one of the best experiences we have had at Haas. Thanks InTouch team for hosting us.

picture12     We can fit in the back of a beat up Renault or a horse cart

An Invitation to Help Transform Agriculture in Ethiopia

Like all the other IBD stories, ours is a story of international travel. Of exploring a country for the first time. Yes, we tried new food and saw amazing new things (our oldest known human ancestor, 12th century churches carved into hillsides, and much more).

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We survived the government shutdown of the entire country’s internet. (Yes, really) We fit all of us PLUS our intrepid client/guide into his tiny car from the 80’s.

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Collectively, we even tried every single domestic beer brand (not as impressive as it sounds, considering there are only nine of them) and lots of Ethiopian buna coffee.

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But more interestingly, it’s also a story of agriculture in a country where over 80% of the population depends on the sector for their livelihoods. It’s a story of a country determined to achieve middle-income status in the next 10 years and of the proud and optimistic people across numerous sectors who are working to make this a reality.

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So it’s not really a story about us. It’s a story about an invitation. An offer to share a vision and contribute in some very small part to projects that could one day help an entire country produce key crops more efficiently and effectively. Reaching this goal will mean food security for 100 million people. Exports that provide income for public investment in roads, health systems, and schools. An opportunity for children to become educated and pursue jobs that will help their families have more than the generation that came before them.

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This is a story about Ethiopia. About the people who work here every single day with the hope that someday, together, they will reach these goals. So instead of talking any more about us, we’d like to share the story of just two of the many amazing people we’ve met over the last two weeks.

Taressa

Input Supply and Distribution Head at the local government level an hour outside of Addis Ababa

Taressa is young, a sharp dresser. He seems out of place in his surroundings – the local branch of the Ethiopian Agricultural Bureau. The office where we conduct our interview is cramped with three desks, one computer, several filing cabinets, and shoulder-high piles of what could be anything from reams of paper to leftover and forgotten agricultural inputs. By lining chairs up between the desks, we find room for everyone to sit.

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As Taressa tells us about his job, the most incredible thing is that he doesn’t seem at all frustrated by a system we view as infuriatingly outdated and redundant. Each day, Taressa spends up to eight hours on the phone collecting transaction data from 20+ primary cooperatives (agricultural distribution centers) under his office’s jurisdiction. When no one else is using one of the two working computers in the office (the one in front of us is off the “functional” list) he can update an excel sheet with his findings. If not, or if the electricity is out, he records information by hand and waits for an opportunity to update the excel sheet. Once updated, he prints it out and walks or catches a ride to the center of town to hand deliver the sheet to another office. When we ask about emailing it, he laughs. There is no internet in the office.

But he doesn’t seem upset. He smiles the entire time we’re talking and is optimistic that there are ways to improve the system. He takes us to see a primary cooperative and animatedly discusses different options for digitizing their inventory tracking system.

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Meeting Taressa gave us a newfound respect for the young people who dedicate their time and talent to improving the lives of smallholder farmers. And we left with the hope that our project can in some small way make his job slightly easier, and in turn help to improve others’ livelihoods.

Melaku Admassu

20 years working for DuPont Pioneer, the only private multinational company with current permission to sell seeds in Ethiopia

We met Melaku, the Country Manager for DuPont Pioneer  Ethiopia, at his administrative headquarters on Peacock road in Addis Ababa. We entered the building, which looked like a converted private residence, and were welcomed by an older man wearing a tweed suit and a warm smile.

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Melaku has worked for Pioneer in Ethiopia for twenty years and, though his humble demeanor won’t allow him to say it out loud, is largely responsible for the international company’s success in a country whose agricultural industry is almost entirely dominated by public sector enterprises.

At the end of our interview, during which Melaku showed extensive knowledge of both the agricultural sector in Ethiopia and innovative marketing and business practices, we asked him one final question and received an amazing answer –

Q: What is your background and why do you do this work?=

A: My background is in agronomy. When I was young, my father was a teacher but he also farmed the land. I still remember when one day a government extension agent came to our farm and he said “you should use this fertilizer” and my father, he said, “why do I need this? All I know is manure.” And the man said to my father, “Okay, don’t use it for your own sake. Use it because you are a teacher and you need to show everyone else that this works and will make their crops better.” And my father said “I’ll do this for the people.” I still remember that.

When I started this work as pioneer employee, I went to this smallholder  farmer and asked him. “Please try this improved seed.” He looked at me and said, “you know I have two wives and sixteen children to provide for. If I take your seed and it doesn’t work, you’ll be responsible for killing my family.” And I said, “Okay, I believe in this seed. I’ll take the responsibility.” He planted the hybrid corn seed I gave him as a sample (free of charge ) plus my advice on agronomy management and he harvested three fold of what he used to harvest from the same plot of land, secured food for the whole year, and started convincing his neighbors later the community.

Now, 20 year’s later, he is a big man. We promoted him from a Pioneer Extension Partner (model farmer) to a seed dealer and he has expanded from half a hectare of cultivated land to 16 hectares. His productivity has increased and his  income is also growing because he is implementing  best practices. Before, he had to decide which of his children could attend school, because he didn’t have enough money for uniforms and supplies for all of them. Now, four of them have graduated from university and the rest are all attending school. He has upgraded the grass roof of his house to corrugated iron, bought a television and radio, and now has a mobile phone to be able to keep better track of  agricultural market information. I was talking to him last month and he was going to another city for his son’s graduation. He was taking his younger wife with him I asked him, “oh, how long will your drive be?” and he replied, “We’re flying! I want my wife to experience riding in an airplane.”

Melaku smiles and says, “This is what our seed can do. It helps people. And when I see their success, it is my success. It’s like all their good fortune, it’s in here,” he touches his chest, “not just in their pockets.”

We feel similarly about our project and our time here. It’s a class, it’s an adventure, but it’s also a labor of hope. Hope that the project recommendations we make here will someday help the people we’ve met do their jobs more efficiently and, in turn, help farmers grow better crops for their children, their communities, and their country. If our project recommendations put more money in the pockets of the people who truly need it, their good fortune will be reward enough for our work. We are grateful to Haas for providing us with an amazing experience and an opportunity to go “beyond ourselves.”

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Team Lucep – Bangalore, India (IBD Summer 2016)

Background:
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in May, the IBD class of Summer 2016 walked into a Berkeley Haas classroom in eager anticipation for what was to come.  It was then that we would learn where our IBD adventure would take us, and which of our classmates would be coming along for the ride.  We were thrilled to meet each other for the first time and discover that we would be heading to Bangalore – the “Silicon Valley” of India.  Although we started out as a team of acquaintances at the time, the 8 week IBD experience would transform us into a tight-knit family.

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We hit the ground running by setting up our first client call within days after the first class.  We were assigned to work with Lucep, a startup that built a tool for lead management and sales acceleration.  This tool appears as a widget on the customer’s website and is similar to a “Contact Us” box that requires fields of information to be filled out (name, company, phone number, etc.).  The information that’s submitted is sent to a salesperson’s mobile phone in which the salesperson is then able to connect with a customer in 60 seconds or less.  The idea behind this is that businesses (especially startups and small/medium businesses) need to engage with prospective leads as soon as possible to prevent businesses from losing leads to their competitors.

Lucep then shared with us their challenge.  How do they go to market in the U.S.? How do they go to market in India? Can a single strategy be applied in both countries?  Or would each country require its own unique game plan?

The research:

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Since we all hailed from different backgrounds, we knew that gaining an understanding of the product offering would require a considerable amount of research.  We decided to focus on 3 main pillars:

  • First, we looked to industry news, articles and blogs to learn as much as we could about sales acceleration and lead management. This meant keeping up with the latest industry news and articles on sites such as TechCrunch and following relatedt tech blogs.
  • We then analyzed the competition by downloading whitepapers, watching informational videos, and even contacting competitors directly to get a more in-depth understanding of their products and how Lucep might differentiate itself.
  • Most of our research insights were derived from interviews. We reached out via our personal and Haas networks to learn about which SaaS products were currently being used by companies in the high technology indstury.  Also, we ascertained whether these companies placed an emphasis on fast response to prospective leads (Lucep’s core value proposition) and companies’ feedback on Lucept’s product.

We spent the first 6 weeks of IBD (up until we left for Bangalore) vetting out the U.S. market only.  The focus switched over to the Indian market once we arrived in Bangalore.

Day of Arrival
The day had come and we finally arrived in Bangalore after enduring a 20+ hour travel time from San Francisco to Bangalore.  Our client graciously sent a car to pick us up af the airport.  As we traveled from the airport to the office, one visibly difference between the US and India became apparent.  Bangalore traffic is unlike we had ever seen.  There is endless honking coming from a mix of rickshaws, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bikes that weave in and out of each other and avoid cows and other animals idling in the middle of the streets.  Yet, there seemed to be a hidden sense of order underneath the seemingly chaotic traffic since no accidents or road rage were observed and locals seemed to have mastered the art of the “near miss” when driving through a tangled web of people, animals, and cars.

After 2 weeks, we learned that the keys to successful driving in Bangalore require 3 things – a good horn, good brakes, and good luck.

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Interviews:
Similar to our approach in the U.S., much of our research in India was based on interviews that were mostly set up by the client.  We had the opportunity to speak to a wide range of professionals including those working in sales, marketing, and even CEOs and founders of established Indian tech companies.  This was an incredible and eye opening experience and really brought to life some of the cultural differences between the U.S. and Indian markets.
One of these differences is the idea of “jugaad.” This word, originating from Hindi, refers to intelligent hacking to find a low cost solution.  We learned that SaaS has not been a successful model because of this juggad.  Rather than purchase a SaaS solution, many companies choose to “jugaad” a solution by creating their own in-house customer relationship management (CRM) systems, adopting the use of spreadsheets for complicated tasks, or installing pirated software.  We found that this greatly differed from the Silicon Valley startup scene where SaaS products such as Marketo, Hubspot, and Salesforce were fully adopted and paid for by organizations ranging from a handful to thousands of employees.

 

TechInAsia:
To supplement our research, Charlies Salazar was sent on Berkeley Haas Team’s behalf to attend the TechInAsia conference, a gathering designed to connect Asia’s tech ecosystem.  Conference attendees included a multitude of reps from startups across Asia, guest speakers, and investor panels.  The conference culminated in a pitch competition in which one lucky startup received financial backing to pursue their idea.

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Reflection:
Looking back on the experience, it was nothing short of incredible.  We were extremely lucky to have been assgined to such a amazing client and wondrous country.  Lucep were incredible hosts and we were able to learn a great deal about the Indian technology and startup scene from them.  We thank the IBD program and Berkeley Haas for giving us this precious opportunity that definitely a trip of a lifetime.

For a more visual look into our trip, please check out our video blog:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-01RrWtqGmE