IBD Team 51job

Written by Andrew Efstathiou, Johna Seo, Vir Choksi and Liz Jung

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Early in the morning, rising to my feet, I open my bedroom curtains to the cacophony of the city and the bustling freeway outside of our window, cutting through Shanghai like a knife through tofu. Today is another day where we need to suit up and head to a large, multinational firm to interview them on their international recruitment strategy. Our client, 51job, is one of the largest recruitment firms in the Middle Kingdom and has come a long way since its inception at the turn of the century. With over 5,500 employees and offices throughout first, second, and third-tier cities in China, 51job is leading the way in helping China’s youth obtain work. With an economy growing at a rapid clip, more and more students that study overseas are looking to return home to start a life and a career. Our assignment at this crucial inflection point for overseas returnees, or “sea turtles” as they are known in the local parlance, is to help our client figure out how to best serve these students.

Office visit to Bloomberg

The office visit to Bloomberg

Today we head downtown to speak with a recruiter at Bloomberg, a large, global financial services firm. The room where we are conducting our interview is filled with Bloomberg terminals and overlooks the Bund, which contains a large radio tower that rests amongst scores of recently constructed skyscrapers, emphasizing the breakneck pace of development that the People’s Republic is experiencing. Our research with various companies, students, and university employees has surprised all of us in realizing the gaping disconnect between demand for jobs from Chinese students abroad and companies with active foreign recruitment channels. After our interview, we head back to the office to assemble notes, debrief, and synthesize our findings.

Bullet train to Hangzhou

Bullet train to Hangzhou

For lunch, we embark on a walk to the local mall that houses an array of local and international food options. Yesterday we sampled a dim sum offering with buckwheat noodles and delicate cuts of chicken. Today we need to eat in a hurry to head back to the office for more research, so we grab a quick bite at Joe’s Pizza, a classic New York pizza establishment that sits aside the local mall. In the afternoon, we must call around ten students and alumni from universities in five different countries. Our room is populated with phones, coffee cups, and computers; after a few hours, we close out our marathon session of phone calls. In addition to research pertinent to our assignment, throughout the process, we have also learned a lot about Chinese traditions, customers, and business practices. During the previous weekend we took a bullet train to Hangzhou, a beautiful old city west of Shanghai that contains a lake surrounded by trees. Escaping the city has allowed us to imbibe the authentic culture and lifestyle of a different part of China. From our first night meeting with our main client contact to our daily interactions with the co-inhabitants of our building, the experience has helped us to step back and become lost in a truly transformational experience that cannot be replicated in any classroom.

Morning of the final presentation

Morning of the final presentation

Around 6pm we depart our client’s office to grab a taste of a different Chinese cuisine, this night being a vegetarian Taiwanese option near the ornate Jing’an Temple. The nebulous cloud of lights, smells, and chatter envelops us as we navigate our way to the restaurant. The food is covered in a generous helping of spices, pepper, and oil. With our food, we must order cold drinks or else we will receive a tepid cup of tea. We reach into our pockets for renminbi, the Chinese currency, to pay, as very few establishments accept credit cards. China has leapfrogged the US in digital payments, and most Shanghai denizens solely pay for everyday objects with WeChat, an extremely popular, all-in-one mobile application created by Tencent. The last stop of the night is a nearby bar popular with locals to wind down from the day and bond as a team. As we step out into the cooling evening air, we see a blue tint emanating from the overpass that greets us every morning as we rise, coming full circle as we rest to meet another day.

 

Team Seedlink- Lives and Learns in Shanghai with Dynamic Clients and Colleagues

Written by Paola Blanco, Nanor Asadorian, Ralph Boyajian, Conor Farese, and Dean Guo

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

Only a week in, and the hustle and bustle of Shanghai is slowly seeping into our lives. We wake up at 8am every morning, and our team breaks into a myriad of mobility tools to get to work. Conor and Paola on the MoBikes – a local bikeshare service. Dean, Ralph, and Nanor grab a Didi – the local equivalent to Uber. We head into the coworking space where our company, Seedlink, is based. Grab coffees, crack open our computers, and turn on the VPNs (even in China, we are never far from gmail). And we get to work. 

Seedlink, our client, is a Human Resources Tech company based here in Shanghai, with offices in Amsterdam as well. They build an artificial intelligence tool that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the science of human behavior. In a nutshell, they can use their tool to predict how well incoming job candidates will perform when compared to the talent a company already has in their organization. They have a strong foothold in China and Europe, and are working with IBD to establish their approach to the U.S. market. We have our hands full, to say the least. Our seven weeks in the U.S. prior to travel was jam-packed with interviews and insights, while our time here in China has been primarily about turning those insights into clear suggestions and tactics that the Seedlink team can use immediately.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Professionally, this has been a tremendous opportunity for all of us. In our push to build a business strategy, we’ve incorporated bit and pieces from almost every class from our core this year. Marketing lessons have influenced how we think about Seedlink’s value proposition and branding. Strategy frameworks have encouraged us to consider the incumbent response to Seedlink’s entrance. From Problem-Finding Problem-Solving, our Haas design course, we borrowed the Business Model Canvas and the insight session tactics. And of course, we lean on our diverse backgrounds to bring it all together: between the five of us, we cover Operations, Finance, Consulting, Tech and Design. Almost perfectly, our project with Seedlink has called on us to weave the lessons from these courses and experiences together into a carefully crafted plan for our client.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

But so much of this experience has also existed beyond the workplace. Our first week here was a huge learning opportunity for all of us. We struggled through the four tones of Mandarin, thankful to our teammate Dean who patiently instructs us (still) each time we stumble. We’ve tried countless food options: Dumpling (x3), Hunan, Yunnan, Hot Pot (x2), Xinjiang, Japanese, Korean… the list goes on and our bellies are full. 

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

The weekends have included a trip to Guilin to see the fabled mountains and Hangzhou for the storied West Lake.

Even today, we’re just back from a weekend on the beautiful Jeju island, one of Korea’s most famous spots. We stuffed ourselves full of Korean BBQ, took a trip through a 7km underground lava tube, climbed the side of the volcano, and hit the town at night to see K-Pop in action.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

Shanghai, in other words, has served us well: we are working in an urban hotspot, and are eager to take advantage of the proximity to beautiful places and of the melting pot of ideas, cuisines, and cultures that happens here.

It should go without saying that this upcoming last week will pass by all-too-quickly. We much more learning in store, and are preparing our final pitch to our client encapsulating the output of 10 weeks of research and energy. And beyond that, we are focused on spending time with each other, and with the other IBD teams in our Shang-Haas family. We know this time is precious, and that this rare moment in our lives – when we can live and learn abroad with dynamic clients and colleagues – will come to an end before we know it.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

The Spring IBD Program is Off and Running….

A lot has happened this past month in the life of the 2018 Spring FTMBA IBD program. On February 1st, we held the first day of Spring IBD class, revealing the names of IBD clients, their projects and country destinations to an excited group of 16 IBD Student Team Leads. The Team Leads then introduced themselves online to their project clients for the first time. Following that, IBD Team Leads and Faculty Mentors collaborated and successfully executed an IBD Team Member draft —  selecting up to four MBA Team Members for each project team.

Team Lead Reveal on Feb 1st

Team Lead Reveal on Feb 1st

This spring we are partnering with 16 client organizations in 12 different countries, spread across four continents.  Six clients from last year’s spring and summer programs, as well as three organizations from past IBD project years, have returned to work with our IBD FTMBAs on a project this spring. Our 16 Team Leads have certainly hit the ground running with their IBD projects, and they are looking forward to the first day of the full IBD class (March 15th), when incoming IBD Team Members officially join their project teams. 

We asked each of our Team Leads and Faculty Mentors to describe their impressions of their IBD projects, the “Big Reveal” of projects to the students, and what excites them about this stage of the IBD program.  Here is what they had to share:

“I am excited about the European expansion plans of Piri. It is such an ambitious and interesting project, that if it is successful it will have a big impact within YGA. So far it has been a great experience getting to know the team and the unique culture of YGA.” Team Lead Daniel Mombiedro

Catherine, Jocelyn, Daniel and Sara

“My Team Leads are in the throes of work planning and are really getting their arms around the client issues and available information. It’s so great to see them taking charge of the client relationship, and bouncing hypotheses off their client teams. I can tell their clients are excited about it, too. Keep up the good work, everyone!” Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain

“’I’m incredibly excited about both the scope of my project as well as returning to explore Latin America after many years away! Although the amount of work in front of us is daunting, my (TBD) team is amazing and I’m highly confident in our ability to deliver a great set of insights for our client.” Team Lead Colin Dunn

“I only wish I could go on these​ trips with all the students as our clients are doing incredibly important and impactful work in fascinating places.” Faculty Mentor David Evan Harris

Jorge Tellez

Jorge Tellez

“I can’t wait for the Big Reveal tomorrow. I have seen so many IBD students walking around, and I just want to shout with excitement about where they will be going and what cool project they will be on. I’m looking forward to meeting members of my team (some for the first time!) and getting them excited about our work together!” Team Lead

Catherine Soler

“I could not be more excited to be working for Ford in Shanghai this semester. Having accepted an offer to work as a consultant this summer, I’m anxious to begin developing my consulting toolkit during IBD and deliver a great project to our client.  It’s going to be an amazing experience and I’m excited to onboard my team and get things going!” Team Lead James Westhafer

Tech Team Drafting Team Members

Tech Team Drafting Team Members

“I’m very excited about my project, and I’m thrilled to be leading the first IBD team to work with Majid Al Futtaim

James Westhafer

Holding. I am confident that this project will be the beginning of a long and meaningful relationship between Majid Al Futtaim and Berkeley Haas.” Team Lead Jorge Tellez

“Being a Team Lead is a big responsibility, but I’m comfortable with the great support we have from our Faculty Mentors and the executive coaching program.” Team Lead Melea Atkins

Team Lead Reveal

Team Lead Reveal

“Our Team Leads are fantastic: full of enthusiasm and undaunted by somewhat ambiguous and ambitious client project scopes!” Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier

 

“I’m excited for the opportunity to develop my team leadership style with a group of all-star MBAs. I also can’t wait to develop a team experience that supports all of our professional and personal development.” Team Lead Michelle Boyd

“I’m really looking forward to the Big Reveal and introducing my team to the Seva Foundation project. My team has a strong and diverse set of healthcare experiences, and I can’t wait to see how we can tackle our project together.” Team Lead Jocelyn Brown

Natalie Bauman

Natalie Bauman

“I originally wanted to a be a Team Lead to push myself outside of my comfort zone and gain experience leading peers. Choosing the team and realizing how impressive and awesome my teammates are has made me even more excited/nervous about the opportunity to be a Team Lead!” Team Lead Natalie Bauman

“I’m excited about the project and client! Working with a repeat client sets a high bar, but also makes it a little easier since the client knows what to expect from a project like IBD. This was one of the top projects last year, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to work with this client.” Team Lead Stan Cataldo

“I continue to be impressed by the talent pool at Berkeley Haas.  It really was an embarrassment of riches that we could draw upon for our IBD teams.” Faculty Mentor Frank Schultz

The IBD program is indeed very fortunate to have these talented MBA Team Leads working with our international clients.  We are looking forward to expanding the energy and talent of this group with an additional 64 MBAs, when we welcome them into the IBD fold on March 1st for the “Big Reveal.”

 

 

IBD’s David Richardson Travels to India and Singapore to Meet with Friends of the IBD Program

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

During the month of October, IBD Director of Business Development David Richardson traveled to India and Singapore to meet with Berkeley-Haas alumni and friends of the IBD program.

David’s travels included a few days in Bangalore, where he met with local alumni gathered together by Aditya Gokarn of Triton Valves Ltd.  He also visited with managers from Lucep, Housejoy, and Hotelogix.

After Bangalore, David flew to Pune, where he met with the management team of ElectroMech Material Handling Systems, and visited their factory floor.  He also paid a visit to Divgi TorqTransfer Systems and Lend-A-Hand India (a local NGO).

Meeting with Freedom English Academy class in New Delhi

Next up was New Delhi, where David met with USAID at the U.S. Embassy, toured a Freedom English Academy classroom, and co-hosted a Berkeley-Haas alumni event along with Abhishek Khemka of Nandini Impex.  The next day included a visit to World Health Partners.

After New Delhi, David traveled to Singapore, where he met with the startups Banff Cyber Technologies and Lucep.  He also met with the Counsellor, Innovation and Trade Affairs, for the Embassy of Finland in Singapore.  

Check out some of David’s India and Singapore trip photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4VfjW9

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

 

Team Flowers and Team Samai Present at the 2017 IBD Conference

Team Samai After the PresentationTwo student teams were chosen to present their IBD projects to the audience at the 2017 IBD Conference.  IBD Team Samai was the first to present.  This team was made up of Evening and Weekend MBA students Sushant Barave, Bill Conry, Dan Conti and Joe Layton.

Team Samai worked with a rum distillery in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  While Team Samai had a fun project, the students also talked about the impact they had on the Samai organization, as well as the recommendations they gave their client so they could scale the business “tactically and strategically.”  The student team also focused on making sure their suggestions were actionable once they left and, in fact, Samai was already Samai-presenting-with-power-pointimplementing some of their recommendations before they departed Cambodia.  Team Lead Sushant Barave declared, “I was surprised at how rewarding that feeling can be — that you design something, you recommend something, and the client is taking action on that.  That was the best part of it.”

The second student team to make a Conference presentation on stage was Team Agripacific Holdings, aka Team Flower.  Full-Time MBA students Mary Harty, George Panagiotakopoulos, Laura Smith, Leah Finn and Anne Kramer made up the team.  In order to understand the flower business in Asia, Team Flower traveled across China, visiting flower markets and distributors in Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Team Flower 4 of the 5 and flowersTeam Flower member Leah Finn said about the IBD Conference that “it was definitely fun to reflect on our experience in China, and to learn a bit about how it contrasted with the other projects. It helped me appreciate how adventurous and hands-on our IBD experience was.  I think it’s rare to get to experience so many different sides of China in one trip, so I’m grateful that we were able to have that experience as part of the IBD course.”  Team Lead Mary Harty agreed by sharing that “it felt great to share our experiences with the broader IBD community. As we presented, the photos and slides bought back so many fantastic memories for us all!”  To view the photos from the Conference, click here.Team Flower- Presentation for web.jpg

 

 

Team Flowers: A Flower Market Tour of China

Written by Leah Finn, Mary Harty, Anne Kramer, Laura Smith, and George Panagiotakapoulos

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

Agripacific Holdings is a holding company that owns a number of cut flower farms and distribution centers across Asia, including its two main growing sites, Kunming Hasfarm in Yunnan, China, and Dalat Hasfarm in Dalat, Vietnam. For our IBD project, our team (a.k.a, Team Flowers) partnered with Kunming Hasfarm (KMH) to develop a marketing strategy for selling cut flower crops throughout China – at the moment, most of KMH’s flowers are exported to Japan, while the domestic market is primarily served through a small scale of imports from Dalat Hasfarms. As Chinese incomes rise, a growing middle class is spending more money on luxury home products like flowers, creating a promising market. KMH tasked our team with helping them strategically scale their domestic sales of cut flowers by considering the optimal target customers and sales channels.

For our in-country visit, KMH planned an itinerary that would give us a thorough look at the flower industry in China by visiting six cities – Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong – to tour flower markets, interview wholesaler customers, and even visit the farms of several of their competitors. Luckily for us, this meant we got to experience a diverse range of Chinese cultures, food, and sights as we learned about some of the nuances of each local market.

We began the trip in Kunming, a small (by China standards) city of 6 million in the western Yunnan province. We spent two days touring KMH’s greenhouses and learning about the processes of growing carnations, green wicky (a fuzzy green flower described to us as “soft, like a panda’s face), and hydrangeas. We also visited the Dounnan Flower Market, one of the largest flower wholesaler markets in China. The coolest part about this was the flower auction: an enormous warehouse full of lower-quality flowers (mostly roses) and a huge room to the side where wholesalers gathered to bid on them, Dutch auction style while smoking heavily and doing business on cell phones. It was quite a sight!

Flower auction in Kunming

In Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, and Guangzhou, we visited KMH’s largest wholesaler customers and the Shanghai-based distribution center for the import business. Through our many interviews, we learned that KMH has a strong reputation as a high-quality grower; most of their wholesaler customers would buy more flowers from them if not restricted by supply. Since the China-based farm already had plans to expand growing, we saw an opportunity to organize their Shanghai- and Beijing-based sales teams to begin selling domestic product in those regions, rather than solely managing the import business.

Another powerful opportunity we recognized for KMH is the meteoric rise of e-commerce that has taken place in the past few years, impacting all industries. In many ways, China has surpassed the US in its use of technology in commerce: for example, rather than credit cards, nearly everyone pays for things by scanning a QR code on the item with an app on their phone called WeChat. In the flower industry, many startups have innovated by offering weekly flower delivery services through a subscription model, and several wholesalers have shifted all of their operations online. We had the chance to interview several contacts from these companies to learn about their innovative models. A key question we investigated for KMH was how they could incorporate technology into their business model, and how far down the value chain they should reach to implement it – that is, whether to switch from B2B (selling to wholesalers) to B2C.

Team looking over Beijing with 2 of KMH’s staff acting as our tour guides

The trip concluded with a trip to Hong Kong, where we delivered our final presentation at Hasfarm’s office there. In addition to recommendations about reorganizing their sales force and adopting a technology platform to track customer data, we discussed the trend we observed of new flower companies, particularly in the eCommerce model, shortening the value chain (typically grower to wholesaler to retailer to customer) to increase margins and lower prices beyond the offerings of their more traditional competitors. We encouraged KMH to pay attention to competitors adopting this model as the market grows.

Overall, we were incredibly impressed by the hospitality provided to us by our clients and associates in the industry. After nearly every interview or market visit, we were taken to an elaborate meal, treated to a tea ceremony, or toured around sights like Tianenmen Square by members of the KMH staff or their wholesaler clients. We feel lucky that this experience introduced us to the warmth, beauty, and diversity of China.

Updates from IBD Shanghai – ARM Accelerator

Written by Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller

FTMBA students Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller traveled to Shanghai, China during summer 2017 to work with ARM Accelerator.

IBD team in the ARM Accelerator Shanghai office

The Internet of Things (IoT) involves embedding objects in our surroundings with sensors, which capture data and make decisions without the need for human intervention. IoT is poised to change the world, and our client, ARM, is playing a major role in the IoT revolution. ARM is a multinational semiconductor company that designs architecture for the chips that power our smartphones and tablets. Over the next 20 years, ARM expects to deliver 1 trillion chips for IoT devices.

Two years ago, ARM China launched the ARM Accelerator to support IoT startups. Our five-person IBD team traveled to Shanghai to work with ARM Accelerator, helping them develop a strategy to attract Silicon Valley startups, and crafting a plan to diversify their revenue sources.

Initial Research: Bringing Silicon Valley to China

IBD team members Jen, Harsh, and Chris presenting our recommendations to ARM leadership

Our initial challenge was to advise ARM Accelerator on a strategy for attracting U.S. startups. We hypothesized that U.S.-based startups would not want to travel to China for the program, and anticipated recommending a Silicon Valley office. To test our hypothesis, we spoke with founders from 12 different IoT startups in the U.C. Berkeley ecosystem.

We were surprised to learn that virtually all of the founders had either already spent time in China, or anticipated going in the near future. The primary reason for Chinese travel was to connect with manufacturers, but several startups were also interested in meeting Chinese investors and customers.

IBD students with ARM Accelerator leadership, including Allan Wu (center), President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘96

We also discovered that most startups learn about accelerators through their networks. The ARM brand is strong, but few startups had heard of ARM’s accelerator, underscoring the need for business development efforts and localized marketing content in Silicon Valley.

Evaluating the Accelerator Business Model

In the weeks leading up to our trip, we expanded our focus. At two years old, ARM Accelerator is still a startup, and they wanted insights into how other accelerators achieve financial sustainability. We analyzed successful accelerators from around the world, and compiled preliminary recommendations to test in-country.

IBD team member Jen Hoss at the TechCode Shanghai Accelerator, testing an Augmented Reality windshield

 

Day of Arrival

On May 12, we flew to Shanghai. None of us had ever visited mainland China, and we were eager to meet the ARM Accelerator team and learn more about the Chinese startup ecosystem.

ARM Accelerator founder Andy Chen and head engineer Shi Lei gave us a warm welcome, and briefed us on an itinerary packed with interviews. Over the following days, we met with ARM Accelerator graduates, venture capital investors, other accelerators, and the local government. We even attended a presentation in which ARM Accelerator companies pitched their autonomous vehicle technologies to representatives from BMW.

IBD team members from left to right, Jen Hoss, Justin Wedell, Amanda Eller, Chris Roberts, and Harsh Thusu, meeting with bike-sharing startup MoBike.

Interview Highlights: TechCode, Shanghai government, and MoBike

TechCode is an accelerator and incubator started in China, with locations all over the world. Daphne Han provided insights into the benefits of the accelerator for TechCode’s corporate sponsor. She also gave us a tour of their co-working office space, and IBD team member Jen got to test a TechCode company’s “Smart Windshield,” which uses Augmented Reality to provide real-time information to drivers.

Another highlight was our meeting with Zhang Lan from the Shanghai government’s Development and Reform Committee. Mr. Lan shared fascinating insights about the government’s role in supporting entrepreneurship, and the incentives available to ARM Accelerator companies.

Mr. Lan then brought us to the MoBike headquarters. MoBike is a bike sharing startup that has taken

IBD team at the MoBike Shanghai office, with Shanghai government official Mr. Zhang Lan and our ARM colleague Allan Zhong

China by storm, with support from the government. 25 years ago, Shanghai was full of bicycles, but their replacement with motorcycles and cars has exacerbated pollution. MoBike is reversing the trend, and we were impressed by the number of Chinese taking advantage of MoBike. MoBikes can be parked anywhere, and locked or unlocked with a smartphone app; each morning the bikes pile up in front of office buildings, and by evening rows of MoBikes surround the metro stations.

Our ARM Accelerator hosts took us for a traditional Chinese business dinner, which meant plenty of baiju, or Chinese spirits

Eating our way across China

The team made the most of our free time by trying every dumpling we could find. We learned about the art of handpulled noodles, sampled Uigher-style barbecue, and tasted Schizuan Province’s spicy mala peppercorns.  We even contemplated opening a Berkeley franchise of China’s popular Yang’s Dumplings chain.

Between meals, we climbed the Great Wall, explored Beijing’s Forbidden City, and hiked the mountains surrounding Hangzhou’s famous West Lake.

And throughout our trip, we were greeted by local Haasies. Alan Wu, President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘97 provided valuable feedback throughout our project and shared his visions for China’s technological future.

Making new friends over a Beijing-style hotpot dinner

And the Haas Shanghai Alumni group welcomed us with a happy hour, where we met two incoming classmates to the class of 2019.

After a successful three weeks in China, we are excited to continue following ARM Accelerator’s progress as they help build companies shaping the future of IoT.

Phnomenal Times

Written by Sushant Barave, William Conry, Daniel Conti and Joe Layton

For our IBD project, we’re working with Cambodia’s first and only rum distillery, Samai, based in Phnom Penh. Our team is partnering with Samai’s founders, Antonio and Daniel, on expansion strategy, new market pricing, operational improvement and accounting guidance.

Prior to arriving in Phnom Penh we had been corresponding with Samai to finalize the scope of the project and complete as much pre-work as possible. While our team was productive across those six weeks, it was remarkable how much more effective we became on location with the client. For instance, we had an idea of what the rum production process looked like, however being able to visualize the steps enhanced our understanding to the level required to make recommendations.  Additionally, speaking face to face with Daniel, Antonio and Champich, the master distiller, we were able to have more insightful conversations and gain a better feel for the business and its needs.

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Another byproduct of live meetings is shifting priorities. While the project work streams had been determined in advance of our arrival, it became clear our first-day additional challenges that require support will surface. Our team recognized the importance of prioritization as a guiding principle – we need to invest our time and resources into the projects that are most vital to Samai and also ensure our deliverables are actionable.

 

Cocktail Competition

Samai’s distillery is open to the public on Thursday nights, when it serves up Samai rum-based cocktails to a lively, mostly expat, clientele. During our required rum tasting our first day on the job I suggested –  somewhat jokingly –  that we have a competition on Thursday to determine which Haas team member can create the best cocktail. Antonio sounded intrigued and within a day we had teams decided, menus set, ingredients purchased and a professional flyer posted on social media. That escalated quickly!

Dan and I settled on a variation of a Dark and Stormy entitled Ann’s Arbor, an homage to our undergraduate institution. Leveraging Joe’s advanced rum knowledge, he and Sushant crafted a more complex, boozy concoction, a Queens Park Swizzle.

We met at the distillery early to pour practice drinks and tweak the recipes until we had it right. This was not just a fun experiment; patrons would be paying for these cocktails! Once we had the proportions, preparations, and presentations down, it was game time.

It could have been the Berkeley-Haas name on the flyer, perhaps it was the sophisticated drink selection or maybe it was our rugged good looks and charm behind the back bar, but the orders flowed in like Trump tweets after a New York Times bombshell report.

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

At a few points we couldn’t keep up with the demand – we were forced to act like seasoned bartenders who knew how to accommodate a packed bar.

For the competition piece, believe it or not, according to the official tally the contest ended in a tie! The Ann’s Arbor team will point out that our drink had a higher volume of orders, which should be the tie breaker. The Queen Park Swizzle duo will remind us that more orders led to more misinformed votes from those who only sampled one beverage.

Regardless of who deserves the crown, overall the cocktail competition was a win. We learned useful skills that aren’t often taught in the classroom, had fun, brought in incremental sales for Samai and met some interesting people.

After shaking and stirring as celebrity bartenders for the night, it was back to our real lives Excel modeling and PowerPoint-ing as consultants at the Samai office the next morning. It was fun while it lasted, but there’s still work to do!

Back to work

Back to work

The Adventure Begins, Team Ananda in Bangkok

Written by Kevin Cottle, Gian Gentille, Jordan Taylor, Mike Solarz and Elspeth Ong

Lunch with fellow classmate and IBDer, Harsh.

Lunch with fellow classmate and IBDer, Harsh.

After a whirlwind week of finishing finals, packing up our apartments and saying goodbyes to our friends in Berkeley, our team of five – Elspeth, Mike, Kevin, Gianfranco, and Taylor – headed to Southeast Asia to complete our consulting project for Ananda, a premier real estate developer in Thailand.  Ananda, founded by a Haas alum, is one of the largest condominium developers in Bangkok.  We were tasked with conducting a competitor analysis and developing a growth strategy plan to help Ananda achieve its aggressive growth targets. 

Team Ananda in front of Marina Bay Sands

Team Ananda in front of Marina Bay Sands

The Adventure Begins

The team decided to take a detour en route to Bangkok and spent the weekend before our official start date in Singapore, our team lead Elspeth’s home country.  Harsh, another classmate and IBD team lead, was also in town and the two of them were incredibly gracious hosts, showing us all of their favorite Singapore hotspots.  We explored Orchard Rd, Clarke Quay, Gardens by the Bay, and the beautiful Marina Bay Sands hotel, where we took breathtaking photos of the city.  We enjoyed an incredible dinner with Elspeth’s family and a great day at Sentosa, definite highlights of the weekend.  The weekend was the perfect start to our Southeast Asian adventure and was a nice mini vacation prior to arriving in Bangkok and hitting the ground running with our client.

       Enjoying dinner with the Ong Family.

Enjoying dinner with the Ong Family.

Ananda Week 1

Our client met us in the lobby of our hotel Monday morning to bring us to the office, which was conveniently located next door; the proximity proved to be a huge blessing as we came to know the huge challenge that is Bangkok traffic.  We spent the first week introducing ourselves to key stakeholders within the company and conducting interviews to validate the work we had done in Berkeley.  We spoke to employees who had worked at other real estate development companies and pulled on the expertise of strategic business development VPs.  We made use of consumer surveys and other market intelligence research the company had conducted and incorporated all of this new information into our analysis.

By the end of the first week, we had validated our competitive analysis processes and reworked some of our strategies based on client feedback.  We had spent most of our time with our main point of contact, Khun Lloyd, who was incredibly generous with his time and went out of his way to ensure we had a proper introduction to Bangkok.  He kept us busy with lunches and dinners throughout the week, and it quickly became evident how important relationship building is to doing business in Thailand.  We had also discovered the magic of Thai massages and began planning our spa visits for the remaining time in country!

Angkor Waaaat

After our first week of work, we headed out to Siem Reap, Cambodia!  Our trip to the airport was our first real taste of Bangkok traffic and we ended up using multiple modes of transportation, running through the streets and the airport, and convincing an airport employee to help us cut the immigration line in order to make our flight.  The crazy travel experience was well worth it and we very much enjoyed our time exploring various temples in Siem Reap and hanging out at our fancy Airbnb, equipped with a pool in the living room.  We had a relaxing day on Sunday at Phnom Kulen where we swam and played in waterfalls all day.

Team Ananda in action at Ankor Wat

Team Ananda in action at Ankor Wat

Week 2

Week two began with a day of site visits to both Ananda and competitor properties.  We were impressed by our client’s showrooms and model units, which clearly stood out from their competitors.  The attention to detail and beautiful interior design made us all want to invest in Thai property!

The team contemplating purchasing some Thai property

The team contemplating purchasing some Thai property

The rest of the week was spent conducting final research and putting the finishing touches on our final presentation deck, which we presented Friday of Week 2 to the CEO and our main points of contact, Dr. John and K. Lloyd.  The presentation went well and we had a great discussion about our recommended strategies, learning that many of the workstreams we suggested were already under consideration. Additionally, we discovered our client’s passion for technology.  The team is quite visionary and frequents tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv to scope innovations that could be used to improve their properties and/or work processes.

All smiles after the final presentation.

All smiles after the final presentation

Week 3

Having completed our presentation and main assignment at the end of week two, we spent week three networking and exploring Bangkok.  Our client put a strong emphasis on us using our time in country to understand Thai culture and life in Bangkok and encouraged us to use week three to gain this knowledge.  We met with another Berkeley alum, K. Paul Ark, who heads up the VC arm of SCB, one of Thailand’s major banks.  We connected with a Haas 2015 alum who started his own VC fund and learned more about his post-Haas experience and the work he does in bridging Thailand and San Francisco.  We are grateful to have had this free time to further explore Bangkok and to gain a deeper understanding of business in Thailand.  We feel spoiled to have been connected with so many interesting people and feel lucky to have spent these three weeks at Ananda.  We look forward to staying in touch with our new contacts and will see many of our Ananda contacts in August when they visit the Bay Area!

Competing with Team Indonesia’s teddy bear mall picture

Competing with Team Indonesia’s teddy bear mall picture

Exploring the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya

Exploring the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya

IBD Hong Kong Blog

Written by Andy Kang, Donald Bullock, Brian Burke, Tulio Da Silveira, and Juan Norero

Day Zero

After a 15-hour flight, we’ve finally landed in Hong Kong! Despite being jetlagged, we’re pretty excited about the prospect of living in Asia and working with our client G-Hub, a tech startup. To celebrate, my IBD teammates Donald, Tulio, Brian and I (Willy, our team lead, hadn’t landed yet) had dinner at a Japanese-Brazilian restaurant. Knowing that we would be meeting our client for the first time in just a couple of hours, we called it a night.

Day One

We commuted to work the next morning taking the subway and walking through the busy streets of Hong Kong. Not used to the humidity and covered in sweat, we met Alan, the CEO, and the rest of the G-Hub team mostly consisting of local “Hongkongers.” After introducing us to each of the 10 or so employees that made up the G-Hub team, Alan gave us a quick tour of the small, minimalist, yet quaint open-space office before taking us to the conference room.

This is where he showed us his company’s products. We didn’t fully understand all the technical jargon being used, but we were excited to finally see G-Hub’s temperature and energy-monitoring solutions in person. The products looked amazing—seeing was believing. After hearing about the company’s vision and asking some questions, we had our first official in-country team meeting laying out our project plan and action items.

For lunch, Alan brought us to a wonton noodle soup restaurant, and we were blown away by how amazing the local cuisine was. With satisfied stomachs, we had a productive day revising our Day of Arrival presentation and starting the next phase of our project.

After work, the IBD team and I went to a local bar for happy hour, played some darts, and wrapped it all up with a nice Cantonese-style dinner with two of our classmates Fede and Marisol, who happened to be in the area.

Day Two and Three

After going through our Day of Arrival presentation and receiving valuable feedback from Alan and Nic, the founder of G-Hub, we met with Yannic and Tomny, the chief UI and UX designers, for a product demonstration. This was our first deep interaction with a product designer/programmer, and so we had many questions. Simplicity was the theme. According to Yannic, “you want to make your product as easy as possible for customers to use…you need to balance the many features you want to add with simplicity.”

Afterward, we sat down with Nic and got to hear him talk about his motivations for starting G-Hub, his other entrepreneurial ventures, where he thinks technology is going, and what the future of G-Hub looks like.

For the rest of the day, we dug deep into our MBA toolkit and developed a robust return on investment and customer lifetime value models to better understand the value customers derive from G-Hub’s solutions and prioritize different customer segments.

The epic day concluded at Nic’s place. Not only did we get an amazing view of the bay from his mansion-sized house, but he also served us really good cuts of meat and cheese while sharing his travel stories. With the Latin music fading away and unable to consume any more alcohol or food, we called an Uber and headed home.

Day Five

Today we were invited by the G-Hub team to a large family-style dim sum lunch. Chicken feet, shumai, roasted pork, and steamed pork buns went around the table as we talked about life outside of work and learned about Chinese culture.

For the evening, we met a friend that one of our Haas classmates Jason introduced us to. She and her friends brought us to a brightly-lit local restaurant/bar where we shared drinks with the locals while yelling “Gom bui,” which means cheers, at the top of our lungs. We then went to a more Western area called Lan Kwai Fong where the imbibing continued…

Day 15

After about ten days of work, we trekked to Bangkok led by our very own Donald. And it was love at first sight–the mix of street food, temple visits, and Thai massages was the break that we all needed. What happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok.

Day 16

Today is a national holiday in Hong Kong, and so today we rode a boat around the Hong Kong harbor. A perfect little break right before our final presentation.

Day 18

I can’t believe it’s all over! Not only did our final presentation with our client go really well, but we all also experienced living in a different culture, worked with a startup, and became a family. IBD was a once-in-a-life-time experience. Excited about the project but a little bit homesick, we said our goodbyes and are headed back to Berkeley. Team IBD Hong Kong out.