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.”

 

 

Kristi Raube, Former IBD Executive Director, Made An Impact At Berkeley Haas and Beyond

Kristi Raube speaking at the annual IBD Conference

Kristi Raube speaking at the annual IBD Conference

It has now been a month since former IBD Executive Director, Kristi Raube, left for her new position as the Peace Corps Country Director in Liberia, West Africa.  During her 19 years at UC Berkeley, Kristi took on a variety of roles at Berkeley Haas and across the UC campus.  She left behind a legacy of hard work, dedication, passionate enthusiasm, and the ability to manage efficiently the different priorities and moving parts of our institution.  Kristi accomplished all this while traveling the world, looking for ways that Berkeley Haas could make an impact globally.  In the wake of her departure, we in the IBD team want to offer a tribute to Kristi’s distinguished career by highlighting comments made recently by IBD clients, colleagues and students.  

Peace Corps - Liberia Facebook Page post about Kristi Raube

During her tenure as Executive Director, Kristi rebuilt IBD to become the cornerstone experiential learning program it is today.  She aligned the course to highlight real-world strategic problems and their solutions, providing MBAs with the opportunity to learn consulting tools and skill sets while working overseas.  “She added structure and accountability to the program, which benefited both the students and the clients,” said David Richardson, now the Interim Executive Director for IBD.  2017 IBD Team Lead Carolyn Chuong (MBA ‘18) spoke of Kristi as “a fantastic mentor throughout the engagement with Makerere University (a 2017 IBD Client).  One thing I really admire about Kristi is her ability to find the balance between providing guidance to students and being hands-off. She was clearly invested in helping our client succeed, but she also wanted our team to truly own the client relationship and project scope. As the Team Lead, I felt like I had her full trust and support.”

2017 Team YGA

2017 Team YGA

Kristi firmly believed that regardless of their career path, MBAs needed to experience working across different cultures–something that would prepare them better for developments in their personal and professional lives.  Former Berkeley Haas Dean and current Faculty Director for the Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI), Laura Tyson said of Kristi, “I am in awe of your energy and leadership on behalf of the Haas community.  Also awed by your intrepid travel–a true road warrior on behalf of IBSI and the IBD course that you nurtured over many years. You literally went to the ends of the earth to find challenging and transformative projects for several generations of Haas students. You have changed their lives forever in meaningful ways.”  2017 IBD student Mark Angel (MBA ‘18) is one of many who agreed with this sentiment in writing that Kristi “helped shaped one of the most formidable experiences I had at Haas.”

Kristi has provided mentorship and coaching to countless students through the years.  Sarah Evans (MBA ‘18), IBD Team

Dean Lyons and Kristi Raube at the IBD Conference

Dean Lyons and Kristi Raube at the IBD Conference

Lead for the Seva Foundation, was one of many students to benefit from Kristi’s mentorship.  She said that it “was absolutely instrumental to my positive IBD experience and frankly my positive experience at Haas. As a woman interested in global health, it was amazing to have a female mentor who has had such success in that particular field. Kristi was always happy to give me frank advice on everything from career choices to client management. I feel lucky to have worked with her. “

Kristi advocated for multiple ways that MBA students could experience international experiences at Berkeley Haas, expanding the scope of our school’s global reach.  Dean Rich Lyons praised Kristi for “carrying the global banner,” during a speech he gave recently in Kristi’s honor.  In talking about Kristi, he added, “your commitment to everything international is authentic and powerful.  We’ve learned from you and we’re going to continue to advance our international and global offerings.“

Kristi Raube and David Richardson in Bogota with Berkeley Haas Alumni

Kristi Raube and David Richardson in Bogota with Berkeley Haas Alumni

Kristi’s influence also went far beyond the walls of Berkeley Haas.  Heidi Chase, Director of Innovation & Sight for the Seva Foundation, has been a long time client of IBD.  Heidi said on behalf of Seva that, “Kristi has been an inspiration to many Seva staff and international partners dating back to the decade before her appointment with IBD.  Kristi’s excellence in strategic thinking, training, and building teams have benefited sight programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  The legacy of Kristi’s service with Seva will live on through sustainable eye care services for years to come.”

Laura Stachel, MD, Kristi’s former MPH student at UC Berkeley School of Public Health and now Co-Founder and Executive Director of the international nonprofit We Care Solar, would often turn to Kristi for mentorship.  Ultimately, she asked Kristi to join her organization’s board of directors.   Stachel said that in “addition to everything Kristi did here (at Haas), she has been an amazing board member for our nonprofit and brought so much of her passion and insight.  She also enabled us to connect with IBD projects for two years in Uganda and the Philippines.  These projects strengthened our organization tremendously.” 

Kristi visiting PHI clinic in Kampala for her own research, she was delighted to find a We Care Solar Solar Suitcases brightening up the delivery room!

Kristi visiting PHI clinic in Kampala for her own research, she was delighted to find a We Care Solar Solar Suitcases brightening up the delivery room!

Kristi meeting with YGA in Istanbul

Kristi meeting with YGA in Istanbul

The IBD program, together with Kristi’s partnership, has left lasting impressions on many of our clients.  In the spring 2017 IBD course, Young Guru Academy (YGA) collaborated carefully with Kristi to ensure that an IBD student team could work safely for three weeks in Istanbul and areas nearby in Turkey. YGA’s Director of International Affairs, Sezin Aydın, expressed gratitude to Kristi for “being wholeheartedly courageous and hopeful” throughout the long process of making this project in Turkey a reality.  “The value of having such a trusting relationship with your partner is priceless,” said Sezin of her experience of working with Kristi and the IBD program.   

Kristi Raube and Laura Tyson

Kristi Raube and Laura Tyson

Partnerships, leadership, mentorship, and friendship: all these are part of the legacy that Kristi leaves behind.  Since 2010, Berkeley Haas Instructor Frank Schultz has been a part of the IBD program as a Faculty Mentor.  Now, in the wake of Kristi’s departure, he has been tasked to take on the role of IBD Faculty Director.  When asked to share his feelings about her leaving, Frank wrote that ”Kristi was an inspiring colleague, mentor and friend to me during my entire career at Haas.  I feel honored that I will be taking on her role as Faculty Director of IBD.  I always tell my Leadership students that one of the biggest compliments you can pay to a leader is that you will not miss them when they are gone.  Outstanding leaders set their organizations up to succeed well after they are gone.  This is so true of Kristi – IBD is amazingly well positioned for the future.  I realize though I have been terribly wrong in my aseptic statement about not missing leaders when they are gone.  On a personal level, Kristi will be deeply missed by me and all of her colleagues here at Haas.”    

IBD Faculty Mentors

IBD Faculty Mentors

Team Makerere 2017

Team Makerere 2017

In summary, we learned through these interviews and conversations that IBD was just one of the many programs at Berkeley Haas that benefited from Kristi’s leadership and inspired work.  Because of Kristi and the outstanding legacy she left behind, IBD is now ready to launch another inspiring year of connecting MBA students with international consulting challenges.   And yes, Frank Schultz was right: we already miss Kristi here at Berkeley Haas.

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

 

IBD Suritex

Written by Gloria Gerngross,  Sophia Kaady, Deepak Nainani, Isei Nakae, and Lyndsey Wilson

The sun was setting on the rural landscape, the grassy highlands of rural Peru, as Gregor’s truck bounced over unpaved, rocky roads, all five of our team members squished into the backseat as he sped to the new textile workshop before night fell. We had spent the day in a bus from Lima, winding our way through the Cordillera mountain range for 8 hours and ascending 14,000 feet to Huancayo, where our client was waiting to introduce us to the women who worked in the textile workshop, and the alpaca breeders who lived in the highlands.Suritex-group

We arrived at the construction site with just 20 minutes to spare before the horizon was swallowed by the darkness. Gregor’s eyes lit up as he waved his hands, pointing at empty space above the large foundation as though showing his blueprint for the new plant. Where we saw exposed rebar and hand-laid concrete bricks, he saw a room for the women’s children to play, a resting area for alpaqueros that came to have their fibers weighed, graded, and dyed, and a weaving room four times the size of their current plant’s. We left inspired by Gregor’s vision for growing his small social enterprise and energized to use our business skills to enable this dream to become a reality.

Suritex 2 AlpacasThe Project

Our team was hired by NESsT, an Oakland-based impact investing firm, to help its portfolio company, Suritex, increase its revenues by expanding sales of alpaca-blend textiles into the U.S. market. Though Suritex prides itself on its high-quality products created through technically sophisticated dying, weaving, and fiber-blending methods, it is their impact on the rural Lima region that is truly incredible. Suritex pays above-market prices for alpaca fibers, ensuring continued livelihoods of agricultural communities. They hire and train single women to operate machinery and manufacture textiles, creating jobs in communities struggling to develop economically. Our team met several women who worked in their factory, and their young children played while they fed colorful yarn into the large looming machines.Suritex loom.jpg

Prior to arriving in Lima, our team focused on understanding the U.S. alpaca-based goods market, sales channels, and our client’s capabilities to create designs and products that U.S. customers would be excited to buy. However, the disparate nature of the imported alpaca-based goods (textiles, clothing, and yarn) market made it difficult to collect any quantitative data, so our team relied on information collected by visiting local stores, and interviewing sales partners and customers.

This preliminary research led us to conclude that our client needed a re-brand, targeted marketing towards high-income, socially conscious customer segments, and to emphasize their strong social and environmental impact to differentiate themselves among hundreds of textile importers. We were excited to meet the client, visit the processing facilities, and better understand how we could make Suritex stand out among competitive exporters of similar products.

Suritex - loom 2The Focus Changes

Once in-country, we learned more about Suritex’s technically sophisticated and uniquely socially-conscious supply chain. Our meetings with the textile mill workers and the alpaqueros confirmed the importance of scaling Suritex’s efforts, and inspired and energized us to develop a sales and marketing strategy so that U.S. customers understand the impact that their Suritex purchase will have on the community.Suritex working.jpg

It came as a surprise to our team to learn that our client had already hired a marketing consulting team, so we were no longer needed in the proposed re-brand!  While our team had initially focused on creating branding and marketing strategy that would enable Suritex to successfully enter the US market, we had to do a 180° pivot and reframe our project. When our focus had to change, we spent hours whiteboarding and reframing the problem, ultimately pivoting to more of a sales and product strategy. Our focus turned then on researching the logistics of how to actually sell products in the US: who to sell to, how to sell them, and which products to sell.

Suritex thread.jpgThe Final Presentation

Our final presentation provided Suritex with tactical recommendations on how to begin selling products in the US, and how to modify their current product offerings to ensure U.S. customer interest in their products. We provided a thorough go-to-market guidebook that included sales on online platforms (such as Etsy or Amazon), hiring a fulfillment center and sales reps to manage buyer relationships, and which certifications and trade shows to pursue to access the right B2B customers. Our client, a technical and operations-focused career manufacturer, was very happy with the detailed recommendations. Our team left energized by the important work of Suritex, driven by the knowledge that our recommendations would enable Suritex to reach its goal of building more manufacturing facilities closer to workers’ communities, hiring and educating more workers, and ultimately developing these rural economies to support the sustainability of this artisan trade.Suritex finished product

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

 

 

Freedom with Responsibility. Trust. Excellence. Commitment. Authenticity.

Clearsale-picture-1Written by Anna Braszkiewicz, Reginald Davis, Anik Mathur, Risa Shen and Nolan Chao

Freedom with Responsibility. Trust. Excellence. Commitment. Authenticity.

These were among the ten core values that our IBD client, a Sao Paulo based tech firm, harbored as a part of their organizational culture. In our first week in-country, we sat down with the client’s People Development Manager to learn more about these values and why they were so important to the organization. Our team was impressed by how much our client emphasized the principle of “professional-in-a-person”—the concept that a professional career is oftentimes a large part of a person, but that people tend to separate the two once they are in the office. As a result, our client’s organization also wanted to cultivate the “person” and ensure that employees could truly be themselves. There were many affinity groups across the organization—ranging from video games, music, crafts, dance, and writing—to breed this personal development.

Clearsale-2

Our client’s People Development Manager walks us through their organizational culture.

IBD is no different with respect to a “professional-in-a-person”. Throw five Haas MBAs together in a conjoined Sao Paulo studio apartment for three weeks in a country they’ve never been in, and add a management consulting project for an international client on top of it—the two worlds are bound to intersect! So today, we’ll tell you about a typical day of our life in Sao Paulo—as both a professional and a person.

Although June is actually winter time in Brazil, the weather is still quite pleasant. I’d usually start my day off with a short run through the city on Avenida Paulista — often described as the “5th Avenue” of Sao Paulo. It’s filled with stores, museums, and cafes, and is one of the most bustling streets in this massive, sprawling city. It was a fascinating way to see the street art and architecture that Sao Paulo is well known for. In the morning, the team would all cook a light breakfast together and then take a cab to the company office.

Clearsale-3

A mural depicting Avenida Paulista near our apartment; the building with red pillars is the Sao Paulo Museum of Art.

It was then down to business when we arrived at the office. Our project was scoped towards market entry selection and implementation. Our client had recently expanded to a new office abroad and was looking for further opportunities to harbor their international growth and capitalize off of their new location. Once we arrived on-site, our day would often start with an internal interview, ranging from Sales to Marketing to Product.

We would also talk with agencies helping to

Clearsale-4

An Avenida Paulista building decorated as a basketball hoop during the NBA Finals.

coordinate the Foreign Direct Investment activities for both Brazil and our target country markets. These officials were great resources in underlining the importance of differences in business culture, and providing information about location strategies, business regulations, and trade patterns. It was great to hear multiple perspectives about internationalization strategy to test our hypotheses en route to our final recommendation

One of the big cultural differences our Haas classmates had told us about for Brazil was that lunch is a big deal! Lunches often are over an hour long, and the city is full of lanchonettes (“snack bars”) and “pay-per-kilo” buffets to fulfill your culinary desires. Some days were more special than others; Wednesday, in particular, is known for serving feijoada—a hearty Brazilian stew made with black beans, beef, pork, and sausage and typically served with a huge plate of rice.

Clearsale-5

The Sales, Marketing, and Intelligence teams gave us a very friendly welcome during our first week in the office!

After that, we’d synthesize our insights from the morning and seek further market research on foreign markets and the industry statistics within those markets. A large focal point for us was combing through multiple research sources to derive the correct data insights. The client’s industry featured a host of white papers and information, but oftentimes had contradicting points—a large part of our role was to carefully verify the data. Finally, after hours of research, it was time to head home!

After riding home through the hectic Sao Paulo traffic—sometimes up to an hour long—we’d either make a group dinner in the apartment or go out and try a restaurant in Sao Paulo. Another common culinary delight in Brazil is a churrascaria, or steakhouse. It would typically be served rodizio style “all you can eat”. Talk about a filling meal!

Clearsale 6

…Complete with team member Reggie Davis being tossed up in the air!

After dinner—if the rodizio wasn’t enough to send us to a food coma—we’d relax back in our flat—catching up with friends from home, watching Netflix, playing cards, or relaxing on the rooftop pool of our apartment. Before we knew it, it was time to sleep and get ready for the next day’s journey. Bon noche! (Good night!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

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.

IBD Team Travels to Stockholm to Help Civil Rights Defenders to Implement a New Innovation Program

Written by Carol Macavilca Paredes, Elizabeth Miller, Ingrid Monroy, Beth Williams and Blakey Larsen

Our IBD Project took us to Stockholm to help our client, Civil Right Defenders (CRD), a nonprofit organization devoted to human rights founded in 1982, to implement a new Innovation Program that will foster the development and launch of innovations. We started with one simple question, how can we apply innovation to human rights? Easy to answer, right? To be honest, none of us knew the answer four months ago.

Work hard, travel hard was definitely the motto of our team. We worked 3 weeks in Sweden and visited 2 countries, Finland and Norway.

It was hard work, but we also had a lot of fun in beautiful Stockholm, a city with 14 islands and, in the summer, 18 hours of daylight.

Our first week in the CRD office was a whirlwind: We started by introducing our project to the entire CRD staff, who gave us a warm welcome. In the days that followed, we had a lovely meal at Communications Manager’s house with Swedish pizza…

…and participated in the Stockholm Internet Forum 2017, focused on the Internet Freedom for Global Development, in order to interview innovation experts for our project.

During our second week, the most memorable highlight was to be in the CRD office when it was revealed that the organization had won a court case in which they had been working for four years. Representing 11 of about 4,700 people included in the police registry of Roma population, CRD won the court case against the Swedish state in the Svea Court of Appeal. The state was found guilty of ethnic registration and discrimination and was ordered to pay 30,000 SEK in damages to each of the 11 Roma plaintiffs. We were moved by the words of Robert Hardh, Executive Director of CRD to all the staff the day they received the news, that these are the days they live for.

Also, we had an unexpected but happy news for us: two and a half days of holidays. We decided to visit the IBD Finland team in Helsinki. At the recommendation of our client, we went to Finland by boat. The ferry ride was 15 hours of fun!

We also went to Bergen, during that holiday. We took a full day tour to see some of Norway’s most beautiful fjord scenery. We experienced the scenic Bergen Railway, the breathtaking Flåm Railway, and the narrow and dramatic UNESCO-protected Nærøyfjord.

Our team was surprised to experience a uniquely Swedish challenge: doing laundry. In Stockholm apartments, washers and dryers must be booked weeks ahead of time in order to wash your clothes. With limited options, our team had to cancel plans one evening to get our laundry done. The team at CRD said we were real Swedes now!

One fun fact is that in Sweden, purchasing alcoholic beverages isn’t a simple matter. There are no privately owned liquor stores nor do grocery stores sell wine or any liquor. Sweden has a state-run chain of liquor stores called Systembolaget, the only retail stores allowed to sell alcohol. Problems arise due to their opening hours (especially for unaware visitors like us). The stores generally close at 6pm on weekdays, at 3pm on Saturdays and all Systembolaget are closed, without exceptions, on Sundays and holidays! So you need to keep this in mind and don’t wait (like us) until 2:50 pm on Saturday to run to the store.

Last week. We had our first fika in the office and our final presentation. Fika is a tradition in Sweden, is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it.

IBD Team Works with La Clinica Oftalmologica Divino Nino Jesus, a Non-Profit Eye Clinic

Written by Mark Angel, Robert Gutierrez, Megha Kansra, Tyler Saltiel and Sarah Evans

As soon as we landed, the humidity knocked us out. Walking off the airplane, we immediately felt our clothes stick to our bodies and walked through the still, thick air toward the open-air baggage claim. We had heard the Amazon was humid, but we were not expecting its immediacy. Despite the unprecedented heat and humidity, we couldn’t contain our excitement to begin the in-country portion of our project.

Our team is working with La Clinica Oftalmologica Divino Nino Jesus (DNJ), a non-profit eye clinic based in Lima, Peru, dedicated to eradicating curable blindness. We had just landed in Iquitos, the largest city in the world not connected by a road and the “gateway to the Amazon,” where DNJ had recently expanded. We were to spend the next three weeks working with DNJ’s team to provide strategic marketing recommendations: one week in Iquitos and two in Lima.

Alberto, the executive director of the clinic and our main client, picked us up the next morning in DNJ’s van to drive us to its clinic, 40 minutes outside of central Iquitos. After a brief pit stop to push the van out of wet sand, we arrived at the clinic.

We spent the morning with Diego, the Outreach Coordinator in Iquitos, touring the clinic and learning more about the operations of the Iquitos facility. We even got to see the inside of the operating room where DNJ ophthalmologists perform their life-changing surgeries.

Hot, sweaty, but extremely inspired by the facility, we returned to our hotel to prepare for a meeting with Alberto held in our conference room for the week – the outdoor hotel restaurant and bar. After a productive meeting with Alberto discussing the financial performance of DNJ, we returned to the clinic the next day. Diego and Alberto were eager to have us interview patients and family members accompanying them on their visits. We stationed ourselves in an unused triage room in the clinic, and two by two, patients and their companions sat down to chat with us (en español) about their experiences with the clinic. We were immediately struck by patients’ gratitude and openness. One older woman excitedly told us about her beloved garden, and how grateful she was for the free cataract surgery that would enable her to tend to her garden once again. She and her daughter talked about the excellent service they had received, noted some areas for improvement at the clinic, and finally – to our surprise – gave us an invitation to their home. Another older gentleman, stylishly dressed with a Canon camera slung around his neck, waxed poetic about how eager he was to photograph the people and traditions of the beautiful Loreto region again.

As we spent more days in Iquitos interviewing patients, we continued to hear similar stories. Patients described DNJ as a “gift” and “blessing,” praising the personal attention of the staff. In Iquitos, a city accustomed to seeing NGOs shuttle in and out on a temporary basis, DNJ’s gleaming new Iquitos facility and world class staff, seemingly here to stay and providing services for free, prompted awe and surprise. By the end of the week, we were all deeply moved by the immense difference DNJ was making, and we felt doubly determined to provide impactful recommendations.

After a final day in Iquitos – spent boating down the Amazon (the world’s widest river) and feeding piranhas, alligators, and adorable baby monkeys – we headed back to Lima. In Lima, we extensively interviewed DNJ staff members, collecting their stories, recommendations, and perspectives on patient experience and marketing. A highlight was getting the opportunity to scrub in and watch a live cataract surgery conducted by one of the top ophthalmologists in Latin America. The head nurse patiently explained each step of the process, from the medical checkups of patients just before surgery to the steady incisions and movements of the surgeon to the final, triumphant moment – a mere 10-20 minutes after the surgery began – when patients were helped up off their bed and walked out of the clinic. We were amazed that in under an hour, we had watched a man get back his sight…for free.

After a final push to crystallize our recommendations, we made a presentation to the DNJ board and senior management. We were touched that the board attentively and eagerly listened to our recommendations, and even brought us gifts – delicious alfajores! They were excited about the opportunities ahead and the path forward we charted for them.

Que Alegre! Updates from Guatemala City

Written by Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison

FTMBA students Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison traveled to Guatemala City during May 2017 to work with the fourth-largest, family-owned, home goods, hardware, toy, and baby retailer in Guate mala: Cemaco.

Guatemala City

Our team arrived in Guatemala City during an exciting time for retail. Last year, the retail industry grew 13%, with growth driven by middle/high-end of the market in Guatemala City. Our client Cemaco benefited from these demographic trends, increasing revenue despite growing competition, doubling the number of stores, and receiving recognition as one of Guatemala’s most recognized brands.

Cemaco came to IBD looking for big ideas to meet aggressive revenue and profitability goals.  Among the five pillars for growth highlighted in the 2020 vision, our team was tasked to develop strategy and implementation roadmap to become the dominant e-commerce retail player in Guatemala.

The Initial Research

E-commerce is nascent but growing in Guatemala City. In 2016, e-commerce grew by 20%, mainly used by the young, urban, upper class.  Cemaco launched their beta e-commerce site in April of this year, allowing us to work in parallel with the team and project.

Prior to arriving in Guatemala City, our team conducted secondary research on the industry, competition, company, and customers to make the most of our time in-country. We sent a survey to 600 active and 250 lapsed Cemaco customers and received 80% response rate. This amazing level of loyalty and commitment from the customer base was incredible – we were excited to meet the team and customers during the coming weeks!

Arrival in Guatemala City

Arriving on Saturday, May 13th, we were greeted by the Cemaco team for a tour of the city.  We stopped by a local market, picked up groceries, and of course visited a Cemaco store.

First Days at the Office

Our day of arrival presentation gave us helpful feedback to move forward with our proposal. Meeting with the team, we felt incredibly welcome. Not to mention, it was Peter’s birthday! The team took us out to lunch and we celebrated over cake!

Learning about the market

To learn about the market, we focused our time visiting Cemaco and competitor stores, going to the warehouse to see the e-commerce logistics firsthand (and ride a forklift together!), and conducting in person interviews at Cemaco stores. These experiences helped us understand

  • What obstacles/profitability challenges Cemaco will face: Labor is very cheap in Guatemala. From a logistics perspective, Cemaco has been very flexible and fast, figuring out how to package and deliver e-commerce orders in 1-2 days
  • How Cemaco sets itself apart from the competition: Cemaco is a customer first company that puts its stores at the center of its experience. Cemaco stores are welcoming, bright, and customers enjoy spending time browsing the wide variety of products
  • Why customers love Cemaco: As an established, family owned company with Guatemalan roots, customers are extremely loyal. They feel that they can find everything they need for their homes at Cemaco, and expect to find high-quality products.

Weekend trips 

As our classmates pointed out to us, our team didn’t just work…our client Cemaco planned amazing weekend trips for us. First, we went to Lake Atitlan, where we enjoyed an amazing view of the lake, mountains, and volcanoes went on a nature hike with swinging bridges and saw ancient Mayan ruins.

On our second weekend, we hiked the Pacaya volcano where we roasted marshmallows on top and visited the beautiful, historic Antigua.  Walking down the cobbled roads, we took in the architecture and culture of the city – from carrot ice cream to a speakeasy bar called “No Se,” we tried to find all the hidden gems that Antigua had to offer.

Final Presentation

Back at work, in our final presentation, we recommended that Cemaco prioritize its growing B2B business through an e-commerce platform, and developed a customer-first omnichannel experience plan for both existing and new customers. We were especially excited about our plan to partner with apartment buildings in the nearby Zone 4, known as the “Silicon Valley of Guatemala City,” where first time renters were moving out of their parents’ home before getting married. The team took us out to drinks to celebrate!

In Conclusion

Guatemala is an amazing country and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. We were so impressed by the culture that Cemaco has created and kept strong over the past 40 years, encouraging their employees to move across functions, pursue continuing education, push for corporate social responsibility, and experiment with new business strategies. We are excited to see what’s next for Cemaco!