Updates from IBD Cambodia – Team Samai

FTMBA students Jenelle Harris, Bruno Vargas, Neha Kumar, Charlie Reisenberg and Marcelo Kabbach spent their Summer IBD project working with Samai Rum Distillery in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Cambodia’s First Rum Distillery

Our team of five was assigned to consult for Samai Rum Distillery, located in Phnom Penh. Founded by Daniel Pacheco and Antonio Lopez de Haro in 2014, Samai is Cambodia’s first and only distillery. Samai relies solely on products grown in Cambodia, including sugar cane molasses from the Cambodia countryside. As a growing enterprise, Samai looked to us to help strengthen their internal operations (finance, accounting, and inventory management) as well as refine their marketing and expansion plans to ensure steady sustainable growth.

A Day in the Life of the Cambodia IBD Team

Thursday, May 19, 2016

After spending the week getting caught up to speed on the inner workings of Phnom Penh’s food and beverage scene, our team was eager to get our hands dirty in a liquor masterclass, taught by Master Mixologist, Paul Mathews. For two hours we learned about the flavorful blends of various grades of gins and tricks for how best to combine them with complementing tonics and garnishes, such as cinnamon, cucumber, and lime. In attendance were many Phnom Penh restaurant owners, bartenders and other local expat movers and shakers including a mezcalier – one of only thirty in the world.

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Team Samai at the gin masterclass hosted by Samai’s primary international distributor, La Familia, at their retail store, La Casita.

Following the gin masterclass, the crew headed back to Samai to experience their first Samai Rum night. Every week the Samai Distillery opens its doors to the public so that new and devoted Samai customers can enjoy hand-crafted cocktail beverages prepared by Samai’s internal team of bartenders. The most popular cocktail on the menu is the infamous 21 Points, cheekily named by co-owner Antonio. (A while back local bartenders were challenged to create Samai cocktails to be ranked out of 20 points. This drink scored 21.) 21 Points features the Samai Dark Rum, cola, lime, bitters, and fresh sugarcane. We can attest that it is as delicious as it sounds! We spent our evening interviewing customers, bartenders, expats and locals to gain deeper insight into their perspective of Samai and the overall beverage scene in SE Asia. These insights were an invaluable contribution to our formulation of marketing and expansion strategies.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

The next morning we met with the founders to present our initial findings. Given that Samai is a growing start up, our scope had fluctuated quite a bit over the past few weeks as we learned more about their business needs. In week 1 the team presented a new inventory tracking tool, content and reformatting recommendations for their in-progress website, an updated financial model, an expansion forecasting tool and initial research into new bars that Samai should consider supplying to in the coming fiscal years. All of these tools will enable Samai to approach growing (particularly internationally) very strategically and thoughtfully, taking into consideration the relevant financial, sales and production constraints. They will also be able rely on a strong marketing framework so that their story is communicated to the world in a consistent and meaningful way. Needless to say, it was a productive first week!

After meeting with the founders for two hours and getting their feedback on our submissions and next steps, we prepared for a weekend trip to Singapore. Given that Singapore is on top of the list for Samai’s expansion, we decided as a team to travel there to visit our target bar/restaurant list in person to provide them with more pointed expansion recommendations. We focused our itinerary on the Singaporean venues featured on the infamous World’s 50 Best Bars.

Update from IBD Team Seva

Seva-HV Desai IBD Team – Clare Schroder, Laura Stewart, Lizzie Faust, Rene Castro, Santiago Marchiori.

Altruism. It is the defining characteristic of those we have met here in India working for the HV Desai Eye Hospital (HVD). Two months ago the Seva-HVD Haas IBD team came together in pursuit of financial sustainability for the non-profit eye hospital. HVD aims to prevent needless blindness regardless of one’s ability to pay, and they do so through subsidizing those unable to pay with the profits from those able to pay, as well as donations. In India, this model is not unique to HVD, yet it is far less common in our own countries of Argentina, Chile, and the U.S. HVD’s tireless dedication to this work is evident in the significant time they have spent supporting our work here in India. Their goodness comes through in their hospitality, ensuring our own comfort and enjoyment of the city. A hospital board member even welcomed us to his chocolate factory on Sunday, where we indulged in chocolate, organic foods, ice cream, a hike, a temple visit, and a local village wedding.

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The groom, a family member, and the bride

At the wedding, we quickly came to realize this was the marriage between poorer members of society, the people HVD seeks to help. And while we were unprepared for the wedding and had nothing to offer, the bride’s family gifted each of us with a coconut.

Overwhelming altruism isn’t the only new experience we’ve had in India. We’ve tried unfamiliar foods (our stomachs regretting only a small percentage), learned burping in public is socially acceptable, and seen eyeballs in the eye bank.

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Col. Deshpande showing us a cornea in the eye bank

We have also experienced the famous (or infamous?) Indian head shake/nod/wiggle. We had heard from our pre-departure cultural interviews that the quirky motion indicates agreement, meaning yes or please continue, so during our day of arrival presentation we felt prepared when the head shakes began.

We quickly took a nose-dive though, as the head shake changed to an inexplicably clear “no” head motion. How did we get the number of people blind in India wrong? Was our average cost of surgery that off? As each of us presented, we panicked in the same way, over explaining the more vigorously they shook their heads “no.” Our cultural interviews hadn’t prepared us for this – thanks Arun.

We progressed into our first week still uncertain about the head shaking, but happy to be in country, seeing the hospital we had heard so much about. We worked alongside doctors to brainstorm patient experience improvements, visited competing hospitals, and conducted over 20 patient interviews.

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 Laura, Clare, and Santi doing some PFPS-style brainstorming with 7 residents

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Santi interviewing a patient

During those interviews, we began with, “How was your experience at HV Desai?” Head shake.

“Your experience has been ‘yes’? Could you elaborate on that?” It was after this interview, a few days in, that we mustered the courage to ask why people so often vehemently disagreed with us with their head shake while affirming yes verbally. We learned any head motion is a sign of agreement and we felt much better about our first week.

The patients have confirmed that HV Desai has incredible eyecare quality, value for money, the most advanced technology, and the most experienced doctors. We rarely heard about their altruism or their charity playing an important role in the eyecare provider selection process for the paying patients, the patients we need to attract more of to achieve financial sustainability. This finding is one we’ve seen not only in patient interviews, but also through industry research. Moreover, patient surveys and Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) data analysis have revealed the importance of amenities and eye lens differences. Again, not charity.

Here we are, five business students in India telling a nonprofit hospital to change their branding for the paying segment from a focus on charity to a focus on quality and affordability.

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Santi, Lizzie, Clare, Rene, and Laura being tourists, led by Outreach Coordinator Pravine

Unlike the staff and management, the altruism is not our target segment’s main motivator for eyecare. Our job now is to convince leadership that in addition to a shift in branding, building upon and reinforcing the most important needs of the paying patient – specific amenities, price transparency, shorter wait times, eyecare excellence – will create financial sustainability. Growing profits is not just for corporations, but also for a nonprofit hospital that can now provide even more free surgeries to those unable to pay.


Exploring Automotive Markets in India

FTMBA students Thomas Jacobson, Irene Liang, Justin Simpson, Elmer Villanueva, and Marshall Witkowski are currently in Bangalore, India, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project.

I looked left, saw open road, and took a bold first step across the street. A horn sounded and three motorbikes whizzed by, just several feet in front of me. Having forgotten again that traffic comes from the right, I stepped back to the curb defeated. Elmer, as usual, had fearlessly crossed ahead. With a new break in traffic, I darted into the road. I’d nearly made it to the median when I had to dodge one last tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) that appeared out of nowhere!

Safely on the median now, I contemplated the next half of my journey. I waited patiently for several minutes. Discouraged by the never-ending traffic, I decided to try crossing like the locals: walk slowly and deliberately one step at a time and just pray that the traffic doesn’t hit me. After a terrifying 30 seconds and amidst a cacophony of car horns and my own adrenaline-filled heart beating out of my chest, I finally reached the far side and raised my fist in triumph at my successful road crossing! I turned around to celebrate with my teammates, only to sadden at the sight of them still on the other side. They hadn’t made the journey with me. I had to wait several more minutes as they crossed one-by-one, each person utilizing a different strategy to get across.

India Mysore Thomas & Marshall Cross Street

Our Project

Having now been in country for ten days, our IBD group has been hard at work on our client project. From the moment we touched down, our client has been extremely hospitable. They’ve provided us all the resources we need to succeed and we’ve truly enjoyed the experience. All of the top executives have made themselves available to us and everyone we’ve met is eager to meet us and help in any way.



Last week, we also travelled to Mysore to tour the manufacturing facilities of our client. We spent several days learning about their processes and how their products are currently made. They held nothing back, showing us everything from start to finish. We gained great insights from the trip and it really helped to solidify our understanding of their capabilities and shape our thinking for our own product recommendation.


This past Monday, we were able to visit the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development India office. It’s a large complex of about 4,500 employees and they shared with us all about their engineering work. When Mercedes-Benz first brought their cars to the Indian market, they uncovered some interesting insights about the local market. Their car horns are typically designed for 10,000 uses, which should last the life of the car. But here in India, horns are used much more often and customers were complaining that their horns were dying within just several months! Mercedes-Benz had to install a new car horn designed for one million uses.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit a prominent local startup that’s developing its own electric scooter. This visit was made possible through one of our Haas classmates, proving already how valuable our new networks can be! We were excited to learn about their growing business and they were excited to hear about life in Silicon Valley.


We’re looking forward to the final week of our stay and the culmination of our project. Our final recommendation will be delivered to the client before we leave, and we sincerely hope that they will find it useful.

The Country and Culture

We’ve gotten a thorough taste of Bangalore during our time here. The food, mostly vegetarian, has been delicious. My personal favorite dish has been the breakfast dosa, which is similar to a pancake and is served folded over a mix of spiced vegetables. Others in the group have really taken to puri (pictured below), which is a deep-fried bread that rises and fills with air before being served.


Last week, while in Mysore, we took a short break from work to visit the Mysore Palace. It’s a former residence of the royal family and a beautiful complex only about a century old.


After our hard first week of work, we spent the weekend near to the village of Masinagudi, deep within the jungles of Bandipur National Park, also known as the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. The weekend was largely used to relax and rejuvenate, and we took the opportunity to go on a jungle safari. We saw many deer and monkeys, a variety of birds, wild boars, a couple wild elephants, one mongoose, and the prized sightings of a couple large bison and two wild leopards! I loved how freely the animals were able to roam and, in fact, a couple wild elephants went on a nighttime adventure while we were there and caused quite some damage in a nearby village.

After all of our travel in the first week, we plan to stay in Bangalore for the second (upcoming) weekend and explore the city more. We’re having a great trip and really enjoying our IBD experience!

Updates from IBD China – Team CreditEase

Berkeley-Haas Evening & Weekend MBA students Jason Eaves, William Huang, Arthur Ng, and Harish Srinivasan participated in a summer IBD project in Beijing, China with CreditEase’s P2P Online Lending platform Yirendai.

First week in country

The team received a warm welcome from the clients during our first day visit at the Yirendai office. We presented the day of arrival presenation to the Yirendai CFO (Dennis Cong, Berkeley-Haas EWMBA Alumnus) and the senior management team. Our client had also arranged meetings for us with other CreditEase departments on Tuesday, which included Wealth Management, Personal Loans and Risk Management. To fully understand the internet finance industry in China, we performed personal interviews with our clients, industry experts and end-users. Our team members were able to obtain several good insights which helped us identify opportunites for Yirendai to further improve their marketing, operations, product development and business development functions.

First day of arrival lunch with clients at the Yirendai office (Chaoyang District, Beijing)

First day of arrival lunch with clients at the Yirendai office (Chaoyang District, Beijing)

LendIt Group Dinner with CEO of CreditEase Mr. Ning Tang (Restaurant 1949, Beijing)

LendIt Group Dinner with CEO of CreditEase Mr. Ning Tang (Restaurant 1949, Beijing)

Mobile Finance and Online P2P Lending in China

We were very fortunate to be physically in Beijing to attend the 2015 China Mobile Finance Conference/LendIt China with our clients during the first week of our in-country work. With a growing mobile user base, China has elevated the use of mobile services and online P2P platforms to include services such as mobile payments, Internet finance, transportation, home renovation, and lodging.

The LendIt conference featured several guest speakers and panelists including executives from leading Chinese mobile and P2P lending companies, representatives from P2P regulatory associations, and executives from U.S. P2P lending companies/ including Ron Suber from Prosper and Jeremy Todd from Orchard Capital. All speakers offered their key insights on the growing Chinese P2P market and the steps that need to be taken in order to continue the momentum. After the conference day, our client invited us to an intimate dinner with their leadership team and the US executives where we had the opportunity to network and learn more about global P2P trends directly from the top experts in the field.

2015 Mobile Finance International Summit/LendIt China (National Conventional Center, Beijing)

2015 Mobile Finance International Summit/LendIt China (National Conventional Center, Beijing)

Taste of China

With such a large population and so much cultural diversity, Beijing had not only the traditional northern cuisines, but also a good variety of regional foods from all over China.

Peking Duck- the signature dish of Beijing

Peking Duck- the signature dish of Beijing

We are very fortunate to have worked with Kelly Zheng (Corporate Strategist for CreditEase), who kindly took us to several specialty restaurants for dinner, even after a long day of work. The cultural experience of Chinese dining certainly surprised us and some of the foods were also quite challenging to eat.

Team dinners with our client (Kelly Zheng) at traditional Beijing style restaurants

Team dinners with our client (Kelly Zheng) at traditional Beijing style restaurants

Culture, History, and Art of China

As China has emerged to become a major economic power – with annual double digit growth rates – it is easy to overlook its heritage in light of the modernization happening throughout the country. While there are countless office buildings and skyscrapers under construction in the city center, China’s rich culture has remained at the foundation of its rapid forward progress. While in-country we took some time to visit historical sites and experience the performing arts.

Chinese “Face Change” performance originated from the Szechuan province

Chinese “Face Change” performance originated from the Szechuan province

The Great Wall of China, just outside of Beijing

The Great Wall of China, just outside of Beijing

Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty Emperor located in Beijing

Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty Emperor located in Beijing

Final Thoughts

Despite only two weeks of in-country work, our team was deeply immersed in the local business culture, food, and way of life. We observed that Chinese financial technology firms can have ambitious goals while having fun at the same time. During the process of coming up with recommendations, we leveraged the strengths of each team member and used the frameworks we learned at Haas. In our final presentation, we introduced our Berkeley-Haas innovation process to Yirendai’s executive management team and got positive feedback on our strategic recommendations related to brand awareness, net promoter score, partnerships, innovation process, and data strategy.

Berkeley-Haas IBD China Team presented CAL gear to the Yirendai management team

Berkeley-Haas IBD China Team presented CAL gear to the Yirendai management team

Updates from IBD Thailand – Team Theptarin Hospital

Berkeley-Haas MBA students Dulce Kadise, Hieu Nguyen, Suraj Patel and Lexi Sturdy worked with Thai hospital, Theptarin, to create a sustainable growth strategy for its sister foundation which aims to build healthier lives by preventing diabetes and its complications.

Striving to Achieve a Dream

To be Thailand’s leader in treatment and prevention of diabetes – A tall vision for Theptarin, a family-run, 80-bed hospital located in Bangkok.  As a young doctor at a public hospital in Thailand over 40 years ago, Dr. Thep Himathongkam had a dream of what eventually became Theptarin Hospital. Experiencing the bureaucratic challenges of the public system, he decided to start a private, for-profit hospital where he could create a specialized, interdisciplinary approach to address diabetes. But Dr. Thep’s dream to expand excellent diabetes care and prevention goes well beyond the walls of his hospital; he wants to see it spread throughout Thailand and eventually the world, which is why he created the Foundation for Development of Diabetes Care Management nearly 15 years ago.

Haas-IBD team with Dr. Thep Himathongkam and his family

Haas-IBD team with Dr. Thep Himathongkam and his family

Our IBD team was tasked with helping this Foundation develop a sustainable growth strategy for it to achieve its mission of preventing diabetes and its complications in Thailand and its neighboring countries. But throughout our work with Theptarin we learned how challenging and difficult it can be to regulate and run a for-profit hospital that has responsibility to its shareholders while carrying out a dream to fight diabetes throughout the region.

After conducting several case studies and interviews with elite health institutions from around the world, we concluded that in order for the Foundation to grow as leadership wanted, it would need its own strategy, brand and structure. One of the key struggles the Hospital and its subsequent Foundation faced was the overwhelming interconnected nature their work. To help create a clear distinction between the two entities we created a new mission and set of guiding principles for the Foundation along with a suite of decision-making tools. By doing so, we hope to provide a clear identity for the foundation and help leadership make mission-driven decisions as it grows.

Dr. Thep’s dream is courageous and inspiring, we hope that by distinguishing and defining his Foundation, as well as running a fabulous hospital, he can effect change throughout Thailand and its surrounding region. This change has already begun with the trainings that the Foundation currently provides, which have inspired clinicians to improve diabetic care in their own regions.


The IBD team experiencing the engaging trainings provided by the Foundation

The IBD team experiencing the engaging trainings provided by the Foundation

Here’s a Youtube video of another fun teamwork building activity provided by the Theptarin Foundation: https://youtu.be/uKkVD53FOx8

Getting a Taste of Thai Culture

During the three weeks we spent in Bangkok, we conducted several interviews to test the hypothesis we had developed. However, these interviews turned out to be more than useful tools for our work; they gave us a glimpse into the Thai culture.

One of our favorite interviews was with a long-time patient and member of the Foundation’s committee. He invited us to his home to conduct the interview, which he described as a typical middle class Thai home as he gave us a brief tour. His wife and his dog were also there to welcome us. During the interview he told us stories about his family and his life. Before we left, he insisted that we try a variety of Thai desserts. These included mostly coconut treats, but also durian, a classic Asian fruit. Lexi seemed to tolerate it. On the other hand, Dulce really disliked it, and tried her best to hide it in front of our generous host.

The Haas-IBD team visiting a long-time patient and foundation committee member while getting a taste of Thai culture

The Haas-IBD team visiting a long-time patient and foundation committee member while getting a taste of Thai culture

Another interesting interview was with one of the top government officials at the National Health Security Office. This interviewee gave us a great overview of the healthcare system and the relationship with the private sector. As we were heading out, we took a picture together. This time it was Hieu’s turn to encounter a cultural difference, as he hugged our interviewee during the group picture, a faux pas in Thailand when engaging with those of high position, resulting in a concerned, but amused, look from our client.

Living the Theptarin Lifestyle

Given that we were living at the Hospital during our stay, we had no choice but to embrace the healthy lifestyle promoted by Theptarin.  On the first day our IBD team was given a tour of the facilities by Tanya, the assistant director for Theptarin Hospital and Dr. Thep’s daughter. We took the elevator to the 14th floor and viewed our hotel-like suites within the hospital’s Lifestyle Building. Tanya mentioned that the building embodied a part of her father’s dream – a place where patients and the general public could convene to learn about and practice healthy living.

Soon afterwards, Tanya provided a tour of all the services in the Lifestyle Building. “We take the stairs here,” she said. After walking down six flights of stairs, we reached the eighth floor, which included a spa, outdoor pool, and fully functional gym. “Let’s see your fitness. This machine measures body composition. Who wants to go first?” she smiled.

Hieu eagerly awaiting his body composition results

Hieu eagerly awaiting his body composition results

One by one we input our information and had the machine assess our body composition through electric pulses. A composition dashboard was subsequently printed, where Hieu’s eyes immediately honed on his 23% body fat metric. Everyone on the team was similarly surprised, and together we formulated a plan to live the Theptarin Lifestyle. The plan was simple – a daily 7am workout, small portions in Theptarin’s cafeteria for breakfast and lunch, alternating days of 7pm workouts, and sleep by 11pm.

After sticking to the Theptarin Lifestyle for three weeks, each team member achieved better body composition. Hieu was able to lose 1kg of body fat and replace it with 1kg of muscle, dropping his body fat to 22%. Success!

Heading back to Berkeley the team vowed to try to continue the Theptarin Lifestyle for as long as possible!

Updates from IBD – Team Singapore

Meet the Team:

-Niki Ariyasinghe an Aussie banker/consultant and bitcoin aficionado

-Moe Poonja a techie and DJ from Chicago

-Diego Vidaurre a Chilean banker and part-time magician

-Gavin Abreu a Mexican central banker and salsa dancer

We were all selected for this project given our prior banking experience.


The Country

When Singapore achieved its independence, in 1965, the country was battling unemployment and serious social and economic problems.  However openness to foreign investment and promoting the creation of new companies helped the country overcome its economic foes and become one of the world’s largest financial hubs.  The result?  Well today Singapore is the third richest country of the world in per capita terms and the World Bank has ranked them the easiest country of the world to do business.


The Project

Developing a strategy for a large financial institution in Singapore to better engage clients through digital tools allowing them to improve the customer experience. However the project had a catch to it. Instead of one client, we had two clients with two different perspectives and two distinct needs.

*Details of the client and project cannot be fully disclosed due to a signed NDA

The Process

We first started by reviewing the industry.  What are the industry standards and what are the innovations that are threatening to disrupt the industry?  To do this, we focused on the large financial institutions in North America and Europe and startups in Silicon Valley.  After we grew familiar with the industry, we talked to client-facing employees at financial institutions to gain a better understating of the costumers needs along with fintech companies with their latest disruptive innovations.  Armed with this knowledge we flew to Singapore, well equipped to offer emerging trends within the industry.  Once there, we interviewed numerous employees of the company and identified their pains and areas of opportunity.  We ideated (using post-its, of course), identified commonalities and ultimately looked to find efficiencies or enhance the customer or banker’s experience.


And came up with a list of recommendations that could help them alleviate their pains and embrace digital tools.

The Final Presentation

We set up a final document with these recommendations and only days before our final presentation we learned that instead of presenting to our sponsor (the Head of Products) we were actually going to present our findings to the CEO of one bank and COO of the other large institution.  We worked diligently to prepare the presentation and tailor it so it is relevant despite having two separate stakeholders with two different recommendations.

We had already taken Cort Worthington’s class so we welcomed the opportunity with confidence and rocked the presentation!


Updates from IBD Cambodia – Team SVC

Jamaur Bronner, Kelvin Mu, Carolina Paz, and Anette Urbina are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Cambodia.  Their client is Sam Veasna Center (SVC), a non-profit organization that helps preserve Cambodian wildlife through ecotourism.

Saving the World, One Bird at a Time

I’m not sure if you remember Captain Planet and the Planeteers, but it was a Saturday morning cartoon that was quite popular in the United States in the early 1990s.  The show centered around 5 ethnically diverse kids from around the world who each had the power to control an element of nature and would occasionally combine their powers to collectively summon the superhero Captain Planet.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an environmentally conscious cartoon series that aired in the early through mid-1990s

Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an environmentally conscious cartoon series that aired in the early through mid-1990s

These young heroes took on maniacal Eco-villains that were destroying the environment through pollution, crime, war, unethical science, and poaching.  After vanquishing the baddies, Captain Planet would end the show with his catchphrase “The Power is Yours!” – implying that we all have the power to end environmental destruction if we work together in unity.

Fast forward twenty years from the end of the TV series in 1995 to 2015 Cambodia.  The heat is stifling, the air is dusty, and dozens of extravagant hotels and restaurants stood eerily unoccupied.  This is Siem Reap in the “low season” – the May through September slog when tourist levels lull and the country is blanketed by the relentless summer heat.

Nevertheless, Cambodia – and Siem Reap specifically – is still just as fascinating and endearing as any other time of the year.  The majestic temples of Angkor Wat sprawl over 200 acres 3 miles north of town.   The Siem Reap River snakes through the core of the city, and in the evenings the bridges and side streets erupt with lighted signs for night markets and the ever-popular Pub Street.

Angkor Wat is one of the seven wonders of the world, and looks especially incredible at sunrise

Angkor Wat is one of the seven wonders of the world, and looks especially incredible at sunrise

The Haas team sent to Siem Reap was as diverse as that cartoon show – an American, Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Canadian – and the project could have easily been spun into one of the show’s plotlines.  Our client, Sam Veasna Center (SVC), is a ten year old non-profit organization that promotes conservation through ecotourism.  SVC’s clients are taken to remote areas of Cambodia to partake in birdwatching tours, and a large percentage of their tour fees are reinvested into local villages to provide incentives for sustainable living practices.  Former poachers and hunters in the village are now SVC’s greatest advocates for conservation, serving as forest rangers who carefully monitor Cambodia’s dwindling wildlife.  SVC contributes 50 cents of each dollar of revenue towards conservation and community improvement efforts.

SVC regularly meets with representatives of the communities it supports and provides funding for village projects, as can be seen here

SVC regularly meets with representatives of the communities it supports and provides funding for village projects, as can be seen here

How dire is Cambodia’s environmental situation? The country’s national bird, the Giant Ibis, is listed as a critically endangered species, with only about 250 of these birds left in the world.  Even SVC’s founding is a tragic testament to the formidable wildlife challenge.  SVC’s founder Sam Veasna died of malaria in 1999 while surveying the Northern Plans for the now extinct kouprey.

The 2015 Haas team is the third group of Haasies to work with SVC.  The first team helped design SVC’s original business model and the second team conducted site-specific investment analyses.  Our task was a fusion of the previous projects; SVC, now profitable, needed help growing the company and branching out beyond its core service offering of birdwatching tours.  Its sponsor, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), had helped SVC identify a number of strategic investments that it could make at its sites, and also had ideas on additional services SVC could begin offering.  WCS and SVC wanted help evaluating those investments, as well as conceptualizing the implementation of its new product mix.


Our project was off to a strong start during the spring semester.  Our clients, SVC Director Johnny Orn and WCS Cambodia Director Ross Sinclair, were available for weekly meetings and helped answer our initial questions as we scoped the project.  Unfortunately, one month before we were scheduled to go on-site, Ross took time off for vacation and some of our project scoping questions had not yet been addressed.  We continued working with Johnny to plan our approach for once we got on-site, but we remained concerned that our vision of project success might not align with Ross’s priorities.

Once we were on-site, we had a Day of Arrival Presentation that was well received by Johnny, and we were able to arrange an in-person meeting with Ross and WCS Technical Advisor Simon Mahood the following day.  It turned out that our plan of action indeed aligned with WCS, and they understood that our primary client for this engagement was SVC, so Johnny had the final say on our deliverables.

The Haas team grabbed dinner with Ross Sinclair and Simon Mahood, managers at WCS

The Haas team grabbed dinner with Ross Sinclair and Simon Mahood, managers at WCS

Our plan in Cambodia was to conduct a thorough financial analysis to come up with strategies for improving SVC’s profitability, conduct competitive analysis to identify best practices and optimal product mix, and to review their marketing strategy and recommend ways in which the organization could grow its reach and brand recognition.

Between the financial documents that SVC maintained and the recently-commissioned marketing strategy document, we realized that the organization had a trove of valuable information, but had not spent time analyzing this information or extracting insights.  Part of the problem was that SVC was shorthanded in manpower and technical ability – even with all of their data, few within the walls of SVC had the time or ability to extract the contents since the data was not laid out in an easily intuitive manner.  Part of our challenge was not only extracting insights and making recommendations, but also equipping the SVC leadership with tools that would improve its ability to track progress and reevaluate the organization’s position in the future.

Presentation Day

On the day of our final presentation, the contents of our deliverables were robust: we created a 129-slide deck, a 23 page Digital Marketing & Brand Management guide, an updated feedback form, an updated booking form, a competitive benchmarking database, and an extensive Excel investment model.  Our presentation was 2 hours long, including time for Q&A, and both Johnny and the WCS representative Kez Hobson were impressed with our findings.  Most importantly, our presentation included concrete recommendations and a proposed implementation timeline that gave Johnny the direction he needed to begin optimizing his organization after we were gone.

SVC hosted us as dinner guests following the presentation, and we enjoyed Khmer food and watched a documentary that described Cambodia’s wildlife landscape nearly 50 years ago.  In the film, one could see the damaging effects that environmental practices have had on the land; in the 1970’s, Cambodia’s forests covered 73% of all land area, today that figure is closer to 48%.  The country has lost more than 7% of its forest cover over the last 12 years, which is the fifth fastest rate in the world.

Dinner and documentary on our last night with SVC

Dinner and documentary on our last night with SVC

We’d like to think that the work we did this semester was a small step in improving the outlook for wildlife in Cambodia.  SVC, as one of the leading eco-tour operators in the country, is playing a pivotal role in protecting endangered species and creating habitats in which they can once again thrive.  We might not have saved the world, but we hope we’ve helped an organization focused on protecting some of the world’s most threatened animals.

From right to left: Haas teammates Kelvin Mu, Jamaur Bronner, Anette Urbina, and Carolina Paz with SVC Director Johnny Orn

From right to left: Haas teammates Kelvin Mu, Jamaur Bronner, Anette Urbina, and Carolina Paz with SVC Director Johnny Orn


Updates from IBD Turkey – Team Indofood

FTMBA students Chris Dulgarian, Joy Henderson, Mijin Sim, and Akshay Yadav traveled to Turkey to complete their Spring 2015 IBD project with Indofood, the world’s largest producer of instant noodles.

Our excitement knew no bounds when we found out who our IBD client was – the world’s largest instant noodle manufacturer, Indofood (brand of noodles is Indomie)! Much to our surprise though, Indofood was facing some hurdles introducing instant noodles to Turkey.

The challenge seemed delicious, but the only problem was that our visit was 4 months after the semester started. Going beyond ourselves as usual, our team valiantly started soaking in the Turkish experience while we were at Berkeley itself, paying visits to yummy Turkish restaurants and reaching out to the Turkish community for insights.

Team Turkey at a Turkish restaurant on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley

Team Turkey at a Turkish restaurant on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley

Soon we realized why Turkey was an uphill challenge for Indomie. Not only was the Turkish food delicious, it was also relatively inexpensive and Turkish people were extremely fond of the diversity of the cuisine available to them. Meals typically had many courses, and the cooks in the house were proud of their elaborate food preparations.

A mini version of the Turkish spread

A mini version of the Turkish spread

When the team arrived in Turkey, we set about talking to as many locals as we could to get a better perspective of the target customers of Indomie. While some families kindly hosted us in their homes, we met other target customers such as youngsters in universities and coffee shops for focused group discussions and noodle tasting sessions.

Focus group discussions with locals

Focus group discussions with locals

As we expected, many people instantly fell in love with the taste of noodles. However, there were some concerns ranging from healthiness to awareness and packaging, factors that were potentially keeping customers from buying noodles. The Turkish passion for fresh food and local ingredients was unambiguous and very impressive. The bulk of the local population bought their provisions from bi-weekly organic food bazaars, where one could find an extensive variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and spices.

Visiting a food bazaar in Instanbul

Visiting a food bazaar in Instanbul

To gain more insights on customers’ buying habits and concerns, we gathered as much data as we could through ethnographic interviews, surveys and focused group discussions. The team realized that the two biggest bottlenecks in the sales of Indomie noodles were the lack of awareness about the product and perception of noodles as an alien food.

Even though Indomie had been in Turkey for 5 years, they had not invested in marketing their product, and this resulted in very sparse awareness of the noodles. Even when people knew about them, they would hesitate to buy the pack owing to the packaging and perception of flavor of the noodles. The most popular flavors are Eggplant, Beef, Tomato and Yogurt, and a combination of any of these seem to set off hunger bells for any Turkish person. These factors put together yielded in low sales of noodles.

The team ended up giving multiple suggestions for improving sales such as localizing flavors, introducing larger packs etc., all of which fell under one of the 4 P’s of marketing – Product, Price, Placement or Promotions. The suggestions were welcomed by the management, and they reassured the team that their own findings were on similar lines too.

Chris with his recommendation on using brand ambassadors for advertising

Chris with his recommendation on using brand ambassadors for advertising

With the final presentation delivered to the customer, the team had some free time to explore the beautiful and conveniently located country. We managed to squeeze in a few trips to different destinations in Turkey and Egypt, which were all affordable and close to Istanbul. The most memorable trip was to Cairo, where the entire team got to visit the pyramids for the first time!

The IBD Turkey team in Egypt

The IBD Turkey team in Egypt

Overall, the IBD trek was a real success, and the team learned significant facts about challenges in running the instant noodles business, especially in a nascent market. Meeting the beautiful people of Turkey and seeing breathtaking sights over the country were just the icing on the cake!

So if you go to Turkey and see Tomato and Yogurt noodles on a shelf in a supermarket, remember that the Haas IBD team of 2015 probably had something to do with it. Elveda Turkey!

Elveda (goodbye) Turkey -- the team with our client representatives, Yusuf and Diaa

Elveda (goodbye) Turkey — the team with our client representatives, Yusuf and Diaa

Updates from IBD – Team Indonesia

BekeleyHaas Full-Time MBA students Remona Moodley, Alejandra Pomar, Peter Tidrick and Michael Young participated in a summer IBD project in Indonesia with a large coal mining contractor company (client name withheld due to NDA).

Quick background: Our project was to help increase productivity in the company’s mining operations through an innovative change management solution. In country, we were to pilot the proposed solution.

The first thing we noticed is that Indonesians love to shop – in shopping malls. Jakarta, where our client is headquartered, has 173 shopping malls, the most in the world, 50 of which are massive and have multiple stories. So, it was only fitting that our first team dinner was in a shopping mall – the Grand Indonesia Mall, the largest in the city, located right in the middle of it.  The tapas dinner here was one of the best dinners of the trip and to top it off SKYE, the highest rooftop bar in Jakarta, offered the best views of the city from the top of neighboring Menara BCA building.

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We used this week to get acclimated to the client and the culture and to explore the big city. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. As a result, a large majority of people, do not drink alcohol, therefore business deals and professional networking is done over meals as opposed to drinks as is American culture.

Thus, one of the highlights of the week, was dinner with the CEO. All week, we’ve been amazed by the food. This night was no different. We ate at a Dutch influenced tapas restaurant and everything we had was delicious.

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Mine time spanned from the end of week 2 to the end of week 3. To get to the mine, it takes a day of travel.  We got up before the sun even thought about coming up and bore the non-stop Jakarta traffic to the airport for an early morning flight to Benjarmasin in South Kalimantan. We then met our driver to drive six hours (sometimes it can take up to 10) to the mine site. There’s not much action on this “island” (The Republic of Indonesia is comprised of over 1,000 of them) even though it’s the biggest in Asia and third largest in the world. Most of the people here are farmers. There’s one long narrow road, one lane in each direction, which goes from the airport to mine. Along the road, for 6 hours straight are little small houses made of wood and of varying degrees of completion.  We noticed that there were many houses that the big bad wolf could blow down with a huff and a puff. Luckily, the driver informed us that rainy season consists of only rain and heavier rain; they don’t have the strong hurricane like winds that are common in America.



Once we got to our hotel in Tanjung, a town that neighbors the mine site, we had lunch as a team. We were pleasantly surprised by our hotel being that we’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s the only one in town and the nearest hotel isn’t for another 2 hours. After days, weeks, months of anticipation, we were finally going to see the mine. A collective sentiment came over our team: let’s do this. We got into our 4x4s and headed to the site, completed our mandatory safety induction, got our vests and hard hats, and met a few of the supervisors and superintendents who were at the office. We returned to the hotel exhausted after a long day of traveling and working around 7pm to prepare for a 5:15 start the next morning.  We needed to be present for a 6am meeting and mine was 30 minutes away.

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The rest of our time was filled with touring the mine site and meeting and interviewing the mine workers: operators, foreman, supervisors, superintendents and the mining manager who all couldn’t get enough photos with us foreigners. We were temporary celebrities.

We were amazed by how massive the mine site and equipment are. Being Berkeley students, we couldn’t help but notice the trees that outlined the pit and think of the destruction of what used to be at least 200 acres of land covered in trees and filled with life, which took 100s of years to grow and how quickly (2 years) it went from that to…well, a mine site.



On our last day, our client contacts, who have been working with us closely from the beginning of the project gave us the greatest parting gift: Batik shirts! Batik, a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, is a big part of Indonesian culture and history. The client has Batik Fridays, which encourages employees to wear Batik shirts along with jeans.


Updates from IBD Philippines – Team We Care Solar

IBD Spring 2015 team We Care Solar (Sherry Chen, Sarah Tomec, My-Thuan Tran, Dorothy Yang) traveled to the Philippines for their IBD project.

It wasn’t until our team landed in the Philippines that we grasped the extent of the country’s devastating natural disasters. We arrived just a year and a half after Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones ever recorded. It killed more than 6,000 people and ravaged thousands of communities.

Much of the country had recovered. But among emergency response organizations, there was a sense of urgency. How could they better prepare for the next inevitable disaster? In the Philippines, it is not a question of if the next disaster will strike, but when. The Philippines is the second most disaster-prone country in the world, and Filipinos endure frequent typhoons, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

Ruins from the 2013 major earthquake in the Bohol Province.

Ruins from the 2013 major earthquake in the Bohol Province.

One of the biggest challenges in Haiyan relief efforts was access to reliable power. The typhoon severed electricity lines, and some areas did not have consistent access to power for months. Without power, emergency responders struggled to reach more isolated and remote areas with critical help. Search and rescue responders were unable to charge their communications devices to call for additional resources. Without a consistent light source, medical personnel had difficulty providing life-saving procedures at night for victims and women delivering babies.

That is where our IBD team came in. We worked on developing a market entry strategy for Solar Suitcases to be used in emergency disaster response in the Philippines. These Solar Suitcases use solar power to charge lights and other crucial devices. Developed by Berkeley-based WE CARE Solar, the suitcases are primarily used to light maternity clinics in rural areas. But following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, WE CARE saw a tremendous need for the Solar Suitcase in emergency response.

The IBD team with potential emergency response partners after the qualification meeting.

The IBD team with potential emergency response partners after the qualification meeting.

The Philippines was an ideal country to pilot entry of the technology into the emergency disaster sector. WE CARE partnered with Stiftung Solarenergie Foundation Philippines (StS), a social enterprise that works to provide solar energy in rural areas who do not have access to clean, reliable and sustainable energy.

The key question became how emergency responders could gain access to these Solar Suitcases. While there was a tremendous need for the Solar Suitcase, the equipment is cost-prohibitive for many smaller emergency response organizations. WCS and StS did not want to solely rely on grant after grant from foundations and donors. Our job was to develop a sustainable funding model and operational framework that would allow emergency responders to access the kits.

WECARE Solar and StS training emergency responders on power management with the solar suitcase.

WECARE Solar and StS training emergency responders on power management with the solar suitcase.

Our hypothesis that there was a strong market for these Solar Suitcases among emergency responders, and that they would be willing to pay to gain access to these Solar Suitcases during times of emergency. We developed a model similar to Zip Car: Solar Suitcases would be held in warehouses and emergency responder organizations would pay an annual fee that would allow them to get the Solar Suitcases whenever an emergency struck. They would pay a daily “lease” fee whenever the suitcase was in use.

We quickly realized that this was an innovative model. Through interviews with international organizations such as the United Nations, we recognized that most emergency response relied on major funders and donations that flowed in. The chaotic “all hands on deck” environment after a disaster did not lend itself to a structure in which equipment was returned. A leasing model would be a very new model in emergency response that StS would be pioneering.

We were honored to meet dozens of emergency responders who have dedicated their lives to helping communities in distress. Some came from the private sector, others from volunteer-based organizations, and some from government. These men and women spoke passionately about providing crucial help to devastated communities after disasters, time and time again.

As we introduced the Solar Suitcase to these responders, their eyes lit up. They spoke about how the Solar Suitcase could help them be more equipped during emergency response and how it could ensure life-saving disaster relief could reach remote and isolated areas. They talked about the potential to provide crucial light for their emergency operations and charge up their devices— from radios to cell phones to wireless modems—all critical tools in emergency response.

Taken in Coron, Palawan province, a young boy steers his boat away from the docking area. Our team was struck by the resilience and passion for life shared with us by the people of the Philippines.

Taken in Coron, Palawan province, a young boy steers his boat away from the docking area. Our team was struck by the resilience and passion for life shared with us by the people of the Philippines.

Our time on the ground showed us the resiliency of the Filipino people. We are excited to see this model come to life and to see the impact of the Solar Suitcase in emergency response. We hope it will empower first responders and help revolutionize access to power for disaster relief.