FTMBA students Songwoo Kang, David Liang, Akira Matsuzawa, Lev Pogosov and Karl Brenner Román are currently in London, England, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project with IMImobile.
Our team was focused on the task at hand and listening intently to every word being spoken to us by the subject matter expert. This was the moment we had been waiting for and were making sure we were fully prepared before making our opinion known. Finally came the moment of truth as we finally sampled the expensive product in front of us.
“Wow, this whisky is amazing.”
And that is the story of how we tasted a 35-year-old whisky (older than any of us!) valued at £500 per bottle.
Let me back up. Prior to beginning our project in London, our team spent 4 nights exploring all that neighboring Scotland had to offer. We started in the city of Edinburgh and road tripped through the northern Scottish Highlands. We even spent a few hours observing intently for any activity at Loch Ness.
Sadly, our team of Berkeley Haas MBA students wasn’t asked to travel to Europe to simply enjoy the sites and sample Scotch whisky. We also had the important task of helping our client, IMImobile, develop go-to-market strategies for two industry verticals.
IMImobile is a company with a history in technology and began as a business for developing structural engineering software for the design of telco and power transmission towers. It was originally founded in 1997 as Information Management India Software (IMISoft). In the mid 2000s, IMImobile aggressively expanded its businesses and made several acquisitions, backed by prominent VCs such as Sequoia and Firstmark. Today, IMImobile is continuing to expand and has been listed on the UK stock market as of 2014.
A day in the life at IMImobile was similar to a typical 9-6 job. The company had an open seating set up similar to a Silicon Valley start-up minus the severe lack of Apple products. Fortunately, we were seated right next to sales & marketing and product teams so we were able to set up meetings with key stakeholders fairly easily.
Our work consisted of working closely with stakeholders and account managers on the front lines to build out use cases they could implement in their sales pitches. We conducted almost a dozen internal as well as external interviews, targeted our newly forming Haas Alumni network to find connections in the travel industry, and leveraged the extensive Haas business library resources to gain a deep understanding of the market. Songwoo also championed us to victory with Bain & Co. inspired slides complete with Harvey balls, 2×2 matrices and “low hanging fruit.”
We couldn’t live in London without exploring the local sites and customs. During our evenings after work, we immersed ourselves into the London culture by enjoying the pub culture, museums, and even catching a play from ‘ol Billy Shakes’. Another thing that can’t be missed is the local cuisine. The UK often gets a bad reputation for food, but we thoroughly enjoyed our meals of fish & chips, bangers & mash, meat pies, and late night doner kebabs.
At the end of the day, this trip was about delivering quality advice to our client. We spent countless hours researching, presenting our drafts to the stakeholders and pivoting our findings in order to provide them with the highest value deliverable this side of the Mississippi. On our last day at the client, we delivered two presentations for the client’s management. Both of the meetings were attended by the CEO with our proposed journeys and go-to-market strategies being very well received. One of our team members even received a soft internship offer for the summer.
We all entered the project with hopes of learning how to become better consultants, to improve our presentation skills, and gain experience working internationally. What surprised us the most was how different working styles were for a culture that is so similar to ours. In our short time, we gained a solid understanding of the multi-channel mobile communications industry, immersed ourselves in UK (and Indian) culture, and made some great friends and connections with the IMImobile team from both London and Hyderabad!