IBD Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier spent most of her career in change management and system implementation consulting, primarily on international assignments. She is a Berkeley-Haas MBA alumna, but not an IBD alumna. While an MBA candidate, Whitney was denied admission into the IBD program while because “she already had too much international experience.”
Thankfully, this rejection early in her career didn’t dissuade Whitney from joining the IBD Team in 2009 as a Faculty Mentor so that she could combine three of her passions: international work, consulting, and experiential learning. As an IBD Faculty Mentor, Whitney’s role is to coach student teams throughout the IBD course (she is currently mentoring four IBD teams during the spring 2017 IBD program), but Whitney goes beyond guiding her students to figure out a direct solution to their clients’ business challenges.
“The IBD experience for students is really powerful”, reports Whitney. “For some, it creates a lifelong love of
international travel and work; for others, they realize it’s the last thing they ever want to do. Either way, this ‘try before you buy’ experience is fantastic to help our students better determine what they want to do when they graduate.”
Ideally, Whitney wants her students to come back from their IBD projects overseas and say “that changed my life” and “I love international work” — but she would settle for good client management and awareness of the wider world. “Given the current nationalistic political climate in the US and creeping xenophobia, I think IBD is more important than ever to encourage our students to be global citizens”, says Whitney.
As for teaching students to learn or hone their consulting skills, Whitney believes that the role of IBD student consultants is to help their clients gather and structure information to make better management decisions. Whitney emphasizes that consulting is about the ability to build relationships by listening, asking good questions, and establishing trust. It goes beyond the skill of researching online. “Our projects may have a scope around strategy or technology but bottom line, this is all about relationships and people.”
Whitney practices what she preaches and her student Team Leads can’t say enough good things about her. “Whitney is so cool, and so real. She is unpretentious, approachable and yet gets right down to business to accomplish what is needed”, said Nikkei’s Team Lead, Kasey Koopmans. “In one particular high stressful moment, Whitney defused our nerves and brought everyone back to earth so we could feel good about our part in the situation.”
For Whitney being a good Faculty Mentor is leveraging her networks “to help students connect with experts and customers who can help with their research.” Whitney’s network is far and wide, said the Nikkei Team Lead. “Whitney was able to set up many expert interviews for our project. She also offered to connect me with contacts she might have that would help me in my internship hunt.”
Even with this kind of support, Whitney doesn’t micromanage her teams but encourages “students to take risks and learn enough about a subject to be dangerous.” Her students agree that she does an excellent job of walking the fine line of being there to help when she is needed and remaining hands off. “She allows us to be creative and to manage the relationship with the client”, according to one of her students. “ I have been able to be the lead on the project and actually do the real-world consulting work.”
Above all, Whitney is fun, says Team Lead Elspeth Ong. She invited all of her IBD Teams to come over to her house for a team bonding event where they jumped on her trampoline, rode a zipline, and climbed up into a tree house. As one of our outstanding IBD Faculty Mentors, Whitney Hischier clearly personifies the Berkeley-Haas defining principles of “Confidence Without Attitude” and “Beyond Yourself.” Thank you, Whitney!