Adjusting on the Fly
Through a Berkeley-Haas pilot course, Global Consulting, FTMBAs (2014) Katie Fritts, Jeremy Gerst, Felipe Gonzalez, Young Kim, Abby Tinker, and Kyle Rudzinski consulted Axis Human Capital in Accra, Ghana on its marketing and operations.
Just like the cluttered, seemingly pattern-less traffic in the streets of Accra, Ghana’s business environment can strike outsiders as confusing and hectic. Businesses emerge and vanish as sole proprietorships dominate the small and medium enterprise landscape. Yet, just like the crowded traffic, investment continues to pour into the nation as the economy grows. Perhaps the business environment might be better described as hyper dynamic. (Traffic can still be described as frustrating.) Success in such a dynamic setting requires stability in a business’ vision while constantly making slight corrections to meet changing customer needs. As it’s grown, Axis Human Capital, a socially-conscious consulting services startup, has been no stranger to adjusting on the fly.
Led by an exceptionally talented CEO, Esi Ansah, Axis adjusted its service offerings – from recruiting to training to organizational development – to meet market demand across multiple industries for small and large companies alike. Thanks to ties with founding partner and company board member Kojo Adjei-Barwauh (MBA ’12), Axis sought an outside perspective from six Berkeley-Haas MBAs to understand which marketing and operations adjustments could ensure continued, sustainable growth.
The Berkeley-Haas Team in kente scarves given to them by Axis HC. Kojo Adjei-Barwauh (MBA ’12), a founding partner and current Board Member of Axis holds the UC Berkeley banner
From the start, our team forged its own path. With the support of Kristi Raube, Executive Director of Haas’ Institute for Business and Social Impact, and Dean Rich Lyons, the Axis project emerged from an initiative to create the Global Consulting course to expose students to international business experience. The opportunity reflects Haas’ dedication to instilling pathbending leadership traits in its students by providing them with unparalleled opportunity to gain a new, global perspective on business.
Throughout our project we made course corrections, tweaking our hypotheses and end target to best serve Axis’s ultimate goal of providing the best human capital services in Ghana. Months of research, interviews, industry benchmarking, and regular calls with businesses halfway around the world yielded preliminary findings on Axis’s marketing strategy and operations. With only one week in Accra to complete the project, we arrived with a decent idea of how are final deliverables might turn out. Or so we thought.
Additional interviews with the entire Axis staff and more interviews with Axis’s clients generated new insights, leading to adjustments in our recommendations. With time running out, we effectively conducted a three-day design-thinking sprint, featuring copious Post-Its and flexibility to move away from assumptions built into our initial findings. Applying Haas’s innovative leadership curriculum on a real-world project led to a divergent period of idea generation before a convergent period on solutions for Axis.
Design thinking sprint: Diverging with ideas before converging on solutions
A late night walk home after day 2 of our design thinking sprint
Ultimately, we shifted away from marketing strategy and focused on operations strategy instead. Just as Ghanaian businesses remain flexible in an ever-changing landscape, we adapted, making changes throughout the project to find success in recommending strategic upgrades Axis could make to establish itself as one of Africa’s finest human capital services firms.
Kyle Rudzinski, MBA ’14