The IBD Evening Weekend MBA (EWMBA) Teams are on their way to their in-country destinations where they will spend the next two weeks working with their IBD clients before presenting their final recommendations on July 14th. Despite only having a short 6 weeks to prepare, IBD teams are ready to start their time with their clients, face-to-face. Teams are traveling to Harare, Phnom Penh, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo. Are they ready? Faculty Mentor and Instructor, Frank Schultz shares that his students “can’t wait! They have been preparing with such intensity for their in-country time. They have formed very good relationships with their clients via skype, google hangouts, etc, but are anxious to work directly with their clients.”
While the teams have been digging into the scope of the project and learning about their client’s industries, they have also been focusing on team dynamics. ACT Team Lead, Praveen Settipalli is impressed with all that his team has accomplished in a short 6 weeks. “Our team has quickly bonded and formed a trust that has helped us to divide and conquer our workload and be able to deliver what we promised to our client.”
In addition to great team dynamics, the Team Leads must put all of team members’ skills to work. This may be one of the hardest parts of the role, but when it is done right, it is one of the most rewarding. Sushant Barave, the Team Lead for Samai Distillery, has found this part of the journey “personally satisfying”. He has been working with a “great bunch of Hassies” who “in several aspects, are at a higher level of expertise in specific subject matters, than me”. Sushant has looked to his peers to provide a “high level of expertise in specific industries and functions” and he feels that his peers “strengths have created a tremendous learning opportunity for all of us, (that) hopefully set (them) up for delivering a quality product to their client.”
It should be no surprise that the time in-country makes the whole process more productive and manageable. It is difficult trying to communicate via video platforms across time zones, language differences, and cultural nuances. Teams and clients are excited to break down those barriers and dig into their projects face-to-face.
Team Lead, Kalyan Pentapalli, and his team are ready to get to Sao Paulo to work with their client Aramis Menswear. With no retail experience on the team, they have had to get up to speed quickly. This is exactly the experience that they hoped to get by signing up for IBD. “In the past month, I have learned so much about consulting and retail, more than I have learned in the two and a half years of being in the MBA program,” Kalyan shared.
Sushant couldn’t agree more with his classmate, Kalyan. “I am super excited about getting to Cambodia. I feel it is all coming together. Over the last 6 weeks, we have already been able to apply several concepts we grasped as part of our coursework at Haas. Part of our project focuses on operations, and I can see our (Berkeley-Haas) Operations Professor talking about inventory management concepts that we are trying to apply. We are also be looking at the quality of financial statements as well as pricing and expansion which bring together the knowledge we have gained at Haas. One of the main reasons I wanted to be a part of IBD was to see how we can apply what we learned in the classroom to the real world. This is where the rubber meets the road. In a couple of days we start to find out what works and what doesn’t in a practical setting. This is the most exciting part. In some ways, most of our work in Berkeley has been on paper and now it’s time to test it. We are going to do that over the next two weeks.“
This summer, two teams are working with repeat clients, ACT and Samai Distillery, and having the past IBD exposure has helped with efficiently this year. Samai’s Co-Founder, Daniel Pacheco learned a lot from the “previous year where communication was not great before the team arrived. It was hard for us to understand capabilities and expectations and also because things change so fast being a startup. But with this team, we discussed these points from the very beginning and were able to have a more effective approach.” These insights benefited this year’s Samai team and they were able to define a clear scope and identifying which deliverables would be the most useful.
Two weeks can go by very quickly and with so much to accomplish, clients and students are anxious to hit the ground running. Kalyan’s team has already presented their full day agenda and wish list for customer and stakeholder interviews to Aramis. Fabio Davidovici, Aramis’s Strategic Planning Director, is anxious for the team to arrive so they can “have great discussions and clever insights”. Samai’s co-founder’s goals are to get them more familiar with the business, then they will spend time gathering as much data as needed to finalize their deliverables. “We hope these deliverables will not just be a one-off report, but tools that can be used by us to work more efficiently moving forward…it was also very valuable for us to be able to pick the teams brains about areas that might be outside the agreed scope,” shares Daniel Pacheco. ACT’s Team will stay in their client’s home for the two weeks that they are in Harare. Praveen says they are excited to experience the intensity and productiveness of a work and living situation. He also mentioned that his client has a pool and so that makes the six-day work week more appealing.
On the eve of their departure, we are excited to get all of our Berkeley-Haas students safely to their destinations and started on their team and personal IBD journeys. We are confident in their abilities to provide their clients with valuable insights and recommendations. As one of our 2017 Full-Time MBA Team Lead’s shared after returning from her in-country experience, “IBD really is all it’s cracked up to be.” We expect the same reaction from our Evening Weekend MBA teams.