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.

Tackling the Youth Skills Gap in Uganda: An Update from Makerere University

Written By: Team Makerere, Hans Klinger, Elizabeth Foster, Matthew Hamilton, Jeannie Valkevich, and Carolyn Chuong

Our sweet ride while in Kampala that we affectionately call the “Mute-mobile” (our IBD team is creating the strategic plan for the Mutebile Center at Makerere University)

Our sweet ride while in Kampala that we affectionately call the “Mute-mobile” (our IBD team is creating the strategic plan for the Mutebile Center at Makerere University)

We arrived in Uganda around midnight, which meant we needed to wait an extra day to see the bright blue sky, rich red clay, and lush green foliage of East Africa. However, what we didn’t have to wait for were the bright smiles of the welcoming Ugandan people. Charles, one of our clients at Makerere University, was awaiting our arrival with a Berkeley baseball hat, personalized sign, decaled car, and a grin ear to ear. This would become standard during our first week in-country, when we would meet Makerere students, university professors, the Governor of the central Bank of Uganda, the Prime Minister, and many others.

Our team is working specifically with the Makerere University Private Sector Forum (PSF), which was established 11 years ago as a public-private partnership in the country’s largest and most prestigious university. The Forum’s mission is to bridge academia and the private sector to foster socioeconomic development throughout the country. It’s now launching a new center, for which our IBD team is creating the strategic plan, that will address the youth skills gap in Uganda.

Jeannie Valkevich demonstrating how to create a journey map

Jeannie Valkevich demonstrating how to create a journey map

Before arriving, and continuing into our first-week in-country, we’ve conducted over 50 interviews across what our client calls the ‘trinity’: Academia, the Public Sector, and the Private Sector. Part of the process was understanding the student perspective and, in particular, their pain points as they enter the workforce. To that end, we carried out a design thinking workshop for 23 students, led by our team’s former rockstar teacher (and timekeeper connoisseur) Jeannie. After a silly icebreaker that involved some pretty embarrassing dance moves on our end, we asked students to draw out their “journey maps.” Students mapped out the high points when they felt encouraged and confident about the career development process, as well as low points when they felt confused or discouraged. Given that the students were overflowing with ideas Jeannie had her work cut out facilitating the group discussion.

Matt Hamilton showing off his flawless dance moves during the icebreaker

Matt Hamilton showing off his flawless dance moves during the icebreaker

The workshop really started to get rolling after the break. Four groups of students, each paired with one IBD team member, began to ideate on potential programming for the new Center. After diverging, we encouraged students to converge around an agreed upon set of programs. The groups came up with a number of creative ideas–everything from a student-run farm, to a marketplace to share student ideas with the private sector, to a cross-faculty idea sharing platform. The groups then presented their ideas and recommendations (Shark Tank style) to PSF leadership. And they weren’t shy about asking questions or challenging each others’ proposed programs. As we closed out the session, we had to cut off half-a-dozen raised hands and ask them to keep the conversation going after the workshop. It was pretty inspiring to see how much energy the students had at the end of the three hours. One of the PSF staff members Patrick remarked afterward, “Our students often feel like their voices don’t matter–they were so happy to have their perspective considered.”

Hans Klinger working with the students as they begin to converge on a program idea for the center

Hans Klinger working with the students as they begin to converge on a program idea for the center

After wrapping up the design workshop, we headed over to the Parliament of Uganda to meet with the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, who just happens to be a Cal Alum. Dr. Rugunda has been a staunch supporter of this new center at Makerere University from the start. Before getting down to business, he was eager to hear which states in the U.S. we hailed from. He was back on campus just a few years ago for a class reunion, which I’m sure made some of his classmates feel unaccomplished. Apparently, Berkeley hasn’t changed much since 1978. He also mentioned there was an East Africa Berkeley reunion in Kampala just a few months ago–pretty cool knowing there’s a Cal Bears community in this part of the world. Before heading out, we gave Dr. Rugunda a Cal pennant as a gift, which we’re sure certain he’ll hang behind his desk, right next to the flag of Uganda.

Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

More to come from Kampala soon!

2017 Full-Time IBD Clients

If you have been following our IBD newsletter over the last few months, you may have noticed that we have shared a lot of information about the IBD course, the processes we go through to select IBD Team Leads, and how we assign Team Members to projects.  So far we have introduced you to our talented IBD Team Leads and two of our IBD Faculty Mentors.  We are very proud of the IBD course, including our hard-working MBA faculty and students and what they bring to the program, but we haven’t yet shared with you information about one of the most important aspects of the IBD program: our clients.  Without our valuable clients, the IBD course and the opportunities it affords to Berkeley-Haas MBA students wouldn’t exist.

The first IBD program took place in 1992 with 15 participating MBA students.  Since then IBD has worked with over 450 clients in 89 countries.  Clients are introduced to IBD through a myriad of channels.  IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube and Director of Business Development David Richardson spend countless hours talking with prospective IBD clients and traveling to far-flung destinations to pitch the IBD experience.  Berkeley-Haas and UC Berkeley alumni are also a huge part of the process of IBD project development.  They act as local ambassadors for our work, helping IBD staff develop and refine a variety of challenging consulting projects worldwide.

Over the many years of its existence, the IBD program has partnered with governments, NGOs, 
nonprofits, social enterprises, entrepreneurs, and companies of all sizes and industries.  This year, for example, the Spring 2017 IBD program includes eleven for-profit clients and five nonprofit clients in eleven different industries.  To conclude work on their respective IBD projects, our MBA students will end up traveling to Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America.

We are currently partnering with three returning clients from the Spring 2016 IBD program.  Nine of our Spring 2017 IBD projects boast a valuable Berkeley-Haas or UC Berkeley alumni connection; four of these have an alum currently working in the organization.  No matter how this year’s 16 remarkable client organizations came to be a part of the Spring 2017 IBD course, we are honored and grateful to work with all of them.