Berkeley Haas IBD 2017 – Aramis Menswear, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Written by Diane Chiang, Barun Mazumdar, Abhishek Mishra, Kalyan Pentapalli and Priya Vijayakumar

Weekend before in-country: Foz de Iguaçu

Five happy and excited Cal bears arrived at the Iguaçu airport on late Friday evening after spending almost a day in air and in connecting airports. We checked in at the beautiful Belmond hotel (which overlooks a small portion of the falls) and had our introduction to authentic Brazilian cuisine and Caipirinhas. It was love at first sight! The Iguaçu falls were absolutely breathtaking – on Saturday, we took a short walk along the waterfall trail and a boat ride on the Iguaçu River before flying to Sao Paulo.

The beauty and grandeur of the waterfalls made this short detour to Iguaçu totally worthwhile.

We arrived at Sao Paulo (SP) on Saturday evening and to kick off our 2-week stay at SP, we went to the acclaimed chef Alex Atala’s restaurant – D.O.M for an amazing fine dining experience. We spent the rest of the weekend exploring Sao Paulo and fine-tuning our Day of Arrival presentation.

First Week at the client site in Sao Paulo

We had an early start on our first day at Aramis’ office – Fabio Davidovici and Luan Silva with whom we had been collaborating since the start of our project greeted us. We presented our “Day of Arrival” presentation to Richard Stad (CEO) and Fabio. It was a very interactive session peppered with questions and interesting discussions around retail trends, brands, and competition.

Because of the high level of engagement, our meeting that was initially scheduled for an hour ran for over two hours. Richard appreciated the groundwork we had done while at Berkeley, it was also a great opportunity for us to learn more about the company and its challenges directly from the CEO. At the end of the first day, Fabio gave us a tour of one of the stores to round out the day.

On Tuesday, we spent the entire day visiting Aramis’ stores at various malls in Sao Paulo. This was an amazing way for us to get to better understand their products, store layouts, and store employees. We interviewed many store managers and sales people to understand the challenges and processes within the stores. We also visited many of Aramis’ competitor’s stores. We shared our initial feedback, observations, and ideas with Fabio, many of them centered on visual merchandising in the store.

Throughout the course of the week, we met with directors and managers across different functions – Marketing, CRM, Inventory planning, Warehousing, E-Commerce, Store Supervisors, Retail, HR and Customer Service. We also got a chance to have lunch on one of the days with the Founder, Henri Stad. Although we experienced a language barrier, Fabio attended all the meetings with us and helped with translation and provided more context.

We also scheduled meetings with stakeholders outside Aramis. We had a very insightful discussion with Fabio Matsui from Cypress Capital (HAAS ‘03) where he walked us through the Brazilian apparel retail industry and the various participants.

We also met with Daniel Maladrin (HAAS ‘05) from 2BCapital/Bradesco – the PE firm that invested in Aramis few years ago. Daniel introduced us to Leonardo Santos from Semantix, which was another company that the PE firm had invested in. We invited Fabio to join us for our meeting with Leo, where he walked us through the omni-channel strategy he had implemented at an American retailer and the challenges he faced launching in Brazil. We identified many synergies between Aramis’ omni channel implementation and the current work that Semantix is doing, and the two companies plan to start some initial discussions to collaborate.

By the end of week one, we learnt a lot about the Brazilian people – their food, culture, and working styles.  Fabio spent a generous amount of time to ensure we were comfortable, got enough face time with Aramis employees and explored Sao Paulo the way locals do.

 

Splendid Salvador and Refreshing Recife

We took a late flight on Friday to Salvador to experience the northeastern part of Brazil. We spent Saturday at Salvador exploring the churches, beaches and the colorful Pelorinho neighborhood. The highlight of the day was the amazing Bahian cuisine we had at Pariso Tropical. This restaurant won our top vote among twenty other strong contenders for the best food of our entire trip! Later that night, we flew to Recife and spent our Sunday exploring Recife and nearby Olinda. We returned to Sao Paulo on Sunday night.

Monday started with a series of previously scheduled meetings.

Talia from Visual Merchandising was the first meeting; she travels around the country for store openings and renovations. She has been re-working the store layouts to make them look fresh and cater to younger demographic. The major challenge she faces is convincing the store managers that the new layouts will lead to increased sales. We then met with Felipe from Store Sales Management who manages all store managers across the country and was able to share how sales strategy has changed over the years and lately with the advent of new POS technology.

 

At the end of each day, we debriefed and communicated our findings till date and next steps with Fabio. We had dinner with Fabio and his wife Fernanda, who took us out to Don Veridiana, which many locals claim to have better pizza than in Italy.

On Tuesday, the team interviewed Mariana, Director of Product, the final scheduled interview and learnt more about how Aramis designs and sources its products. With interviews now over, we focused on consolidating our findings and clarifying any remaining questions we had. After a full day working session, the team agreed to expand the scope beyond assortment planning and omni-channel to include other functional areas and do a 360 analysis.

On Wednesday, the team marched towards the converge phase and began to build on the final business plan to the client. We separated our recommendations into multiple functions including: Inventory Planning (Assortment and Replenishment), Customer Relationship management (CRM), Customer Service, Data/IT Integration, Store Experience, Multi-channel, and Internal Communication. Throughout the day, we had multiple calls for clarifications, and by the end of the day, we had an initial draft that we shared with Fabio before we headed out for some excitements! In the evening, we went to watch football match between two bitter rivals: Palmeras and Colinhas, accompanied by Fabio and Luan.

Thursday being the final day, the team had an early start. We received feedback from Fabio on the initial draft, and decided to move forward with additional deep dive into assortment models. We had dinner at the CEO Richard’s house, along with his wife and son. We learned about Richard’s travel experiences, and discussed his vision about emerging technologies in retail. After dinner, the team headed back to the hotel for the final home stretch of our business plan and wrapped up around 4am.

Friday, the last day at Aramis, was quite a bittersweet experience. We started the day with our presentation with Richard (CEO), Fabio and other executives. Richard showed strong interest and agreed with most of our findings and recommendations. He showed special interests in the assortment models that we recommended and believed it could be quickly implemented. Richard appreciated the fact that we had dug deep into the entire organization, and that we understood the sentiment and culture of Aramis in such a short timeframe. Though rewarding and relieved, it was quite a bittersweet moment when we finally had to say good bye to everyone at Aramis.

Brazil Finale

For the final weekend in Brazil, we headed to Rio de Janeiro. Over the next two days, we experienced the landmarks, nightlife, shopping, and cuisine. The experience of the IBD program has been beyond our expectations and cannot be expressed in words. We appreciated the opportunity to work with Aramis while experiencing the incredible country of Brazil. The five of us also built such strong bonds during the trip that we know we can rely on each other.

Summer IBD Team Teaches 2 Week Entrepreneurial Course to Students in Harare, Zimbabwe

Written by Sampada Chavan, Kathryn Linarducci, Senthuran Raveendranathan, Yi Zhang, and Praveen Settipalli

The Berkeley Haas IBD team finally arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe on Sunday, July 2 after over 30 hours of travel time. After a quick shower break, we were taken to the ACT headquarters where we met the 24 brilliant students who we will be teaching over the next two weeks.

ACT is a non-profit entrepreneurship development program that aims to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Zimbabwe. It was launched in 2014 and has developed in collaboration with several prior Haas IBD teams. This year’s ACT classroom training has expanded to 3-weeks in length. In the 1st week, students learn the fundamentals of design thinking, identify opportunities in the market, and form teams to address the issues identified. In the 2nd week, students take a break from their own projects to participate in the inaugural corporate hackathon with ACT’s partner, Innscor, a parent company that owns well-known Zimbabwean consumer staples and durable products brands. Students will have the unique opportunity to present their innovative recommendations to Innscor executives. In the 3rd week, students will refocus on the own projects and learn core business skills such as marketing, leadership, strategy, and finance. They will make a final pitch of their project to the ACT Executive Team and local investors. Once students complete the training, they will be eligible for mentorship through ACT and potential seed funding for their own business ideas.

Back (L to R: IBD team -Praveen Settipalli, Sampada Chavan, Kate Linarducci, Yi Zhang, Sen Raveendranathan) Front ( L to R: ACT Program Coordinator Irene Chikumbo, ACT Founder Henri Lambert, LBS intern Zac Orlando)

In addition to the Berkeley IBD team, which consists of team lead Praveen Settipalli (EWMBA Class of 2016) and (EWMBA Class of 2018) Sampada Chavan, Sen Raveendranathan, Kate Linarducci, and Yi Zhang, this year’s ACT teaching team also includes London Business School MBA student Zac Orlando, and former Haas FTMBA IBD students Dan Fishman and Sebastian Amenabar, who are primarily responsible for teaching the third week of classes when the EWMBA IBD team heads back to California.

The IBD team prepared diligently for 7 weeks prior to arriving in Harare, refining the curriculum, creating lesson plans and teaching materials, building out the corporate hackathon, and recommending a strategy for ACT to expand.

On Day 1, we introduced the students to design thinking by redesigning a wallet with the customer in mind. First, students shared and explained the contents of their wallet. Next, each student team converged on a particular item of interest and dug deeper into why and how to design for that item. The teams created prototypes, gathered feedback from the end user and refined their product. The final product was far different than the wallet that they started with. One team found that many people carried receipts in their wallet in order to budget and reconcile their daily spending. Instead of creating a new wallet better suited for carrying receipts, their proposed solution to eliminate receipts with a budgeting tool instead.

We also challenged students to be creative with limited resources. With only $2 of seed capital and 2 hours, students were asked to go out in the field to create value. Judges awarded the ingenuity of the winning team, who spoke to customers at a high-end supermarket to identify an opportunity to charge for smart shopping services to busy shoppers. They did not even use the $2 they were given. Taph Machirori, 30, reflected, “the $2 challenge taught me not to limit myself. I don’t need to be confined with the resources I think I have. Think outside of the box.”

On Day 2, each student had one minute to present a need they see in the market today – these ranged from inefficiencies in the patient experience at hospitals and pharmacies to the lack of recycling in Zimbabwe. Students then voted on the presentation topics that interested them and teams were formed based on their voting preferences and leadership styles.

For the rest of the week, students learned design thinking through a combination of lectures and hands on experience working on their team project. The IBD team taught the students to diverge and converge as they framed and reframed the problem, tested their assumptions, brainstormed and narrowed down their ideas, and created their prototype.

Student teams went out into the field during each step of the process to observe and conduct interviews to validate their assumptions, redefine their “how might we” statement, present their proposal, and receive feedback on their prototype. The Haas IBD instructors shadowed and mentored student teams throughout the week.  Since the design thinking process is not a linear, often times teams were met with unexpected insights that led them to reconsider and pivot in a different direction.

Knowing when to pivot is an important lesson in design thinking and students experienced this first hand with the marshmallow exercise. Teams had 18 minutes to create the tallest free-standing structure possible using 1 meter of string, 1 meter of tape, 20 spaghettis, and 1 marshmallow. The marshmallow had to be at the top of the structure. The team that constructed the winning structure, at 20 inches, iterated several times with the placement of the marshmallow instead of waiting until the time was running out.

At the conclusion of the first week of classes, students expressed their excitement for what they had learned. Gilbert Kumusasa, 27, shared, “even at home, everyone has seen the change in the way I think about things. There’s no limit to anything we can do: be it at home, at work, at social settings. We can use this design thinking process to look at problems and come up with innovative solutions.”

After a long week of teaching and learning, the IBD/ACT team got a taste of Zimbabwean culture on our day off. We enjoyed a leisurely meal of sadza (Zimbabwean typical staple food made out of cornmeal) and stews, which are eaten with your hands. Lunch was so delicious and filling that we decided to walk it off at Domboshava, a granite hill just outside of Harare with ancient cave paintings and spectacular balance rocks.

 

The Adventure Begins, Team Ananda in Bangkok

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

Lunch with fellow classmate and IBDer, Harsh.

Lunch with fellow classmate and IBDer, Harsh.

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

Team Ananda in front of Marina Bay Sands

Team Ananda in front of Marina Bay Sands

The Adventure Begins

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

       Enjoying dinner with the Ong Family.

Enjoying dinner with the Ong Family.

Ananda Week 1

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

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

Angkor Waaaat

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

Team Ananda in action at Ankor Wat

Team Ananda in action at Ankor Wat

Week 2

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

The team contemplating purchasing some Thai property

The team contemplating purchasing some Thai property

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

All smiles after the final presentation.

All smiles after the final presentation

Week 3

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

Competing with Team Indonesia’s teddy bear mall picture

Competing with Team Indonesia’s teddy bear mall picture

Exploring the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya

Exploring the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya

IBD Hong Kong Blog

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

Day Zero

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

Day One

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

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

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

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

Day Two and Three

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

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

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

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

Day Five

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

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

Day 15

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

Day 16

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

Day 18

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

Leaving on a Jet Plane: Four Summer IBD Teams Depart for IBD In-Country Experiences

2017 Evening Weekend IBD Students

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.  

Cambodia’s first rum distillery. Founders Daniel and Antonio grew up in Venezuela, soaking in rum culture and drinking the best rums of the world

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.“

IBD Team & ACT 2015

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.

Team IBD Japan Takes on a Timely Issue: Media and the US Market

Tokyo, city of 20 million people

Written by Federico Alvarez Del Blanco, Diego Butrich, Kim Long, Angela Napit, and Kasey Koopmans

The US media is having a moment. According to Donald Trump’s twitter account, “the media is the enemy of the American people.” Counter to his bold-faced claim, a recent AEI report found that the majority of registered voters do *not* think the industry is their enemy. That being said, confidence in the news is eroding and has been for many years in the US.  While conducting our own interviews, we found again and again that people are worried about bias and hungry for news sources from outside the American echo chamber, especially after the most recent election.  

Media drama isn’t confined to the US. The industry at large is in the midst of an identity crisis. Today’s digital advancements mean that anyone can be a journalist and anyone can share information freely on the web. Free news sites and aggregators have made the new generation believe that news should be free and have made the future of paywalls and ad-based models far from certain.

Tokyo subway transit: In both cases, silence was king.

Tokyo subway transit: In both cases, silence was king.

Enter Nikkei Asian Review

Tokyo subway transit: In both cases, silence was king.

It is against this tumultuous backdrop that our team partnered with Nikkei Asian Review (NAR). NAR is a subsidiary of Nikkei, a company that has been around for nearly 150 years and circulates the most read widely business newspaper in Japan. In 2013, NAR was launched as Nikkei’s new English language product – a weekly magazine and online news source specializing in in-depth, Pan-Asian coverage of business and financial news. In order to bolster its international brand, Nikkei also made the bold move to purchase the Financial Times in 2015. All of these elements (Nikkei heritage, FT expertise moving in-house, increasing need trustworthy news) put NAR in a promising position. Our project was to help NAR tap into one of the most lucrative English-speaking markets and explore their potential in the US. How should NAR position itself in the US? Who is their target audience? And how will NAR connect with and market to that audience?

The team (with client lead, Asuka), the office, and the imperial palace (behind)

“Tell me about the last time you read the news”

Since our project was focused on strategy for the US market, the bulk of our field work was based out of our Berkeley home. The first mission was to capture as much information as we could about competitors and their marketing strategy in the US (screen shots on screenshots!). The second mission was to conduct in-depth interviews. Our 30+ completed interviews focused on 1) gathering expert opinions from journalism professors and professionals and 2) consumer news reading habits from target respondents.  Armed with a more refined understanding of the media industry, its challenges, as well as its readers and their evolving needs, we hopped on our 19-hour flight to Tokyo.

The team that dines together, thrives together: 1st lunch with NAR team in Tokyo

Konnichi wa, Tokyo!

A few days after our final exams, Team IBD landed in Japan. Our first observation: for a city of 20 million people, it is remarkably quiet, clean and orderly. Even the public transport smelt of perfume (BART isn’t hard to beat)!  In our Day of Arrival presentation, we shared our preliminary findings and laid out the work for the weeks ahead. What struck us most that first day, was how invested the entire company was in supporting us.

Team IBD Japan with a few visiting Haasies at the Shibuya “scramble”

Designing a strategy

Over the first week, NAR put their project commitment into action. Our calendars were filled with meetings, ranging from representatives from the editorial and marketing teams to the Financial Times. With each meeting, we zeroed in closer on where NAR stood and what they could leverage in approaching a new market.

Combining what we had learned in-country with our in market research, we presented a detailed overview of NAR’s competitors and how they stacked up against NAR along various dimensions at the end of the first week. During the second week, we focused our efforts on defining the target reader.  Based on our consumer interviews and the powers of post-it collaboration, our team refined 3 key personas we recommended NAR to target.  

Teammates Angel, Diego and Kim brainstorming tactics (note bag of Kitkats, a key ingredient to team success)

Grand finale

Coming into the final week, we finally brought all the pieces together and constructed our recommendations. Our final presentation took place on our final day in the office. It was widely attended by ~45 people, including the editor in chief and other senior leaders. We were thrilled to receive their earnest engagement in our final discussion. They promised that when we visit NAR in a year’s time, it will look like a whole new organization.

IBD Japan – Flash Mob (public stretching)

When we gathered for a team drink post-presentation, we all agreed: best IBD project ever (note: unadulterated bias). When not absorbed with the fascinating problem we were helping solve, Japan showed us a helluva good time. From wondrous meal after wondrous meal to kabuki theater to strikingly beautiful temples and shrines, Japan’s charms wouldn’t quit. We all spent the three weeks with anime-inspired stars in our eyes. Amidst all the adventures, the highlight for us all was the karaoke. We did it all for the karaoke.

Updates from IBD Turkey – Touring Turkey with YGA and The Turkish Delights

Written by Amol Borcar, Annie Porter, Chelsea Harris, Jeanne Godleski, and Mariana Martinez

The room was buzzing with three languages, and communication was a game of telephone. One of the Syrian primary students would excitedly share something in Arabic, at which point it was translated into Turkish by a Syrian university student, and then a staff member from Young Guru Academy (YGA) would share it in English with our Berkeley-Haas IBD team of five. Nuance was definitely lost through these piecemeal verbal communications, and we came from radically different backgrounds – lives interrupted by the Syrian Civil War, educations defined by a single test score, and former careers in consulting, software engineering, and clean energy. Yet there was one language in the room that we all understood perfectly – science.

YGA university student volunteers leading a science workshop with Syrian primary school students in Gaziantep. Annie concentrating hard on remembering how electrical circuits work!

Our team, fondly nicknamed “The Turkish Delights,” was at one of YGA’s science workshops with Syrian refugees in Gaziantep – a city in southeast Turkey, just 20 miles from the Syrian border. At first glance, this activity seemed somewhat removed from the formal scope of our project with YGA – developing the strategic business plan for the new Aziz Sancar Science Center, set to open in Istanbul in 2018. We were struggling to understand how participating in YGA’s science workshops in Gaziantep and Trabzon would inform our marketing and financial plans for the Science Center. Coming from high-pressure, deliverable-oriented careers prior to Haas, we all wondered if our time would be better spent at our computers, modeling projected visitor numbers and coming up with creative marketing tactics. The business plan was the whole reason we were here after all, right?

Mariana answering the hardest of science questions, like “Where is Mexico?”

Mariana answering the hardest of science questions, like “Where is Mexico?”

Now in our second week, we have realized the immense gift YGA gave us by immersing us in their culture, projects, and relationships for the first week. Coming into our in-country time with YGA, we knew it would be anything but your typical client-consultant relationship given our interactions from Berkeley, but this experience has exceeded all expectations.

On paper, YGA is a non-profit organization that cultivates “selfless leaders” who will create a brighter future for younger generations through innovative, community-based programs and technologies. These projects include Science and Innovation Workshops, My Dream Companion for the visually-impaired, and the Young Leaders Program for high school students.

When the students insisted on giving us a Turkish dance lesson at the end of one science workshop, we couldn’t say no!

When the students insisted on giving us a Turkish dance lesson at the end of one science workshop, we couldn’t say no!

However, the projects themselves are merely tools that YGA uses to instill confidence, humility, and optimism in Turkey’s young generations, with the hope that they will one day lead more socially-conscious organizations and companies. The process of implementing these projects – the planning, the evaluation, the personal growth – is the true goal and measure of success. For example, we ran three separate workshops – one for Syrian refugees, one for orphans, and one for underprivileged students – and although we couldn’t communicate perfectly in any of them, science gave us common ground to which to connect. After each workshop, we paused to reflect on how the students interacted with us and the material, and we all left having learned something about ourselves.

Amol mastering a self-driving car with Syrian students at a science workshop in Gaziantep.

Amol mastering a self-driving car with Syrian students at a science workshop in Gaziantep.

This has been a very new way of thinking and working for us, as we come from jobs where the destination – what you produce – is far more important than the journey. Only by experiencing YGA’s model firsthand could we internalize the notion that success can also be defined as a thoughtful, self-reflective process that leads to personal and collective growth.

Our client Duygu giving us the rundown of all the delicious homemade Turkish dishes!

Our client Duygu giving us the rundown of all the delicious homemade Turkish dishes!

YGA has made us feel like family, from inviting us to a homemade Turkish dinner at our client’s apartment to including us in their weekly executive leadership meetings.

The future location of the new Aziz Sancar Science Center at Istanbul Technical University’s (İTÜ) Maçka campus, which currently holds very outdated science and technology exhibits.

The future location of the new Aziz Sancar Science Center at Istanbul Technical University’s (İTÜ) Maçka campus, which currently holds very outdated science and technology exhibits.

We have now lived and breathed the YGA way and will deliver a business plan for the Science Center that integrates both the tangible programs and intangible values that define this incredible organization. Earlier this week, when we visited the building in Istanbul where the Aziz Sancar Science Center will open next year, the impact of our project felt more real than ever.

These two weeks have been a blur, and we don’t anticipate it slowing down for the remainder of our time. While we’ve had to squeeze time at our computers into odd hours given the packed, immersive days with YGA, we have still managed to find moments to explore Turkey’s rich cultural – and culinary – offerings! We spent a few hours touring Trabzon with a very jolly tour guide who shared all of the local jokes and stuffed ourselves with Gaziantep’s world famous katmer!

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We have also been befriending Istanbul’s well-cared-for stray cats and popping into the city’s gorgeous mosques at every chance.

The full depth of the IBD experience likely won’t hit home until we are on our return flights or starting our summer internships because it is so much to digest both personally and professionally. We all know, however, that YGA has forever changed how we define success.

Amol, Mariana, and Jeanne visiting Istanbul’s Süleymaniye Mosque.

Amol, Mariana, and Jeanne visiting Istanbul’s Süleymaniye Mosque.

Updates from the IBD – Team Tekes in Finland

Berkeley-Haas Full Time students Lauren Elstein, Javier Gunther, Natalie Osterweil, Mitch Plueger, and Matt Shelton are working on an IBD project with Tekes in Finland.

The team learns about Finnish culture through a “Who are the Finns” presentation

The team learns about Finnish culture through a “Who are the Finns” presentation

Who are the Finns?

Considering how familiar we generally are with European countries, upon our arrival we quickly realized that we knew very little about the most eastern of the Nordic countries. Relegated to the far North and in the cross section of east and west, Finland’s geography and history have formulated a unique culture that none of us had imagined.

About a week into our trip, our IBD group found ourselves sitting in a semi-circle of

The team stand atop one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki, with a beautiful view of the Baltic

The team stand atop one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki, with a beautiful view of the Baltic

reclining chairs in one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki. Because of a family-friend connection, and good ole fashioned Finnish hospitality, we had the privilege of hearing a “Who are the Finns?” presentation from a former Fulbright director, who shared his insights with each incoming Fulbright Scholar group. His perspective, information, and storytelling conveyed a culture of survival, simplicity, isolation, yet fortitude. Sharing the longest border with Russia, and having been previously conquered by the Swedes, all while living on the periphery of Europe in one of the coldest climates in the world has not been easy for the Finns. It has created a culture of steadfastness, intelligence, but humility. The buildings are not fancy. Wealth is not on display. The people are not overly friendly or boisterous. However, the Finns are kind, smart (free education!), and resourceful. They think long term, are loyal to each other and their resources and are quick to welcome a group of foreign students working in Helsinki for a few weeks.

The team stands with the founders of Paptic, a startup seeking to replace plastic bags with a more environmentally friendly one

The team stands with the founders of Paptic, a startup seeking to replace plastic bags with a more environmentally friendly one

So, what were we doing there?

What was quite fascinating to us was seeing how this background provided a whole new context for understanding our clients. Our primary client, Tekes, is a Finnish innovation funding agency—it grants money to, and invests in, startups and R&D to create innovative Finnish businesses and help them scale their innovations to the world stage. Tekes selected three startups in particular for us to work with during the semester—they each had different projects for us, but all were working on scaling their innovations beyond the Finnish borders. We quickly observed a very common scenario: a brilliant Finnish scientist discovers a new innovation. He or she patents it, earns a grant or initial investment for lab testing and maybe a pilot but then is a bit stuck. It’s hard to receive the next level of funding without proving the ability to scale. But how do you prove the ability to scale without the funding to do so? Furthermore, how does a very technical scientist or engineer convey the business case or importance of the product in a way where investors can see the potential and long-term strategy? This is even more challenging in a culture where it is not common to put yourself out there and explain why your solution is the best and deserving of a partnership, resource, or investment.

Visiting Metgen’s pilot plant, which is creating enzymes to save manufacturers on energy use and costs

Visiting Metgen’s pilot plant, which is creating enzymes to save manufacturers on energy use and costs

These are questions we sought to tackle with our clients: one which has figured out how to extract nanocellulose from agricultural side streams (which is a first!), one which uses wood-based fibers to create a replacement of plastic and cotton bags, but which is sturdier and more durable than regular paper bags, and one which tailors enzymes to reduce energy use and cost for major processing plants, such as paper mills. Sound complicated? We thought so, too. But after talking to many experts, doing immense amounts of research, and learning more about the companies themselves, we identified many synergies and trends between them. We focused on helping them find applications for their innovations, building a business model that invites investment and creates long term sustainability, and strategizing entrances into international markets.  Along the way, we also had the privilege of visiting some of the pilot plants, learning about the production process and what makes the innovation so revolutionary, and experiencing some of the prototypes and early products.

Witnessing how clothing fibers can be broken down, cleaned, and recycled for use in brand now clothing and textiles

Witnessing how clothing fibers can be broken
down, cleaned, and recycled for use in brand now clothing and textiles

Green Gold

While Tekes supports many aspects of innovation across industries, it heavily invests in arguably one of the most ‘Finnish’—the bioeconomy. In case that’s a new term (it was to us), bioeconomy means an economy that utilizes biological natural resources to create products, food, energy, and services. It generally focuses on the long-term viability of natural resources and biodiversity, reduces dependency on fossil fuels and synthetic materials, and promotes economic development and sustainable job creation. With 80% of its land is covered by forests, Finland has become a pioneer in the industry, which has created wealth and sustainable economic development for the prosperous country. This is largely attributed to their ability to maximize the

The team visits Aalto University’s Bioproducts Center, where graduate students create new innovative discoveries of tuning biomass into products and applications

The team visits Aalto University’s Bioproducts Center, where graduate students create new innovative discoveries of turning biomass into products and applications

utilization of their natural resources in sustainable, wise ways. For example, the average US paper mill self-produces only 56% of its energy, while the average Finnish mill is over 100%. They actually create more energy than they need, as a result of their focus on resource efficiency and innovation.

Javier inspects the biodegradable ‘biokini,’ made of nanocellulose

Javier inspects the biodegradable ‘biokini,’ made of nanocellulose

This mentality is what drives many of the entrepreneurs in Finland. In addition to our three startup clients, we also had the opportunity to visit and learn from an entrepreneur who takes used clothing, breaks it down, and then is able to make brand new material from it. We met another who figured out how to make cosmetic containers, which feel and function like plastic, but which are made 100% of wood-based material. These environmentally-focused innovators are using cutting edge technology to create large scale and sustainable change in the marketplace—and for these last few months, we had the privilege of being a part of it.

 

We had the opportunity to meet with the founder of Sulapac, a thriving new startup that makes cosmetic containers out of wood-based materials

We had the opportunity to meet with the founder of Sulapac, a thriving new startup that makes cosmetic containers out of wood-based materials

And in our spare time…

After a steep climb up, the team (with Javier’s wife, Carolina) were rewarded with a gorgeous view over Old Town Tallinn

After a steep climb up, the team (with Javier’s wife, Carolina) were rewarded with a gorgeous view over Old Town Tallinn

In case you’re concerned that we didn’t actually get to have a little fun, rest assured, we had plenty of play time. In our first weekend, we took a ferry over to Tallinn, Estonia, to visit the old and beautiful city for the weekend. From another fortuitous family-friend connection, we had the immense privilege of being taken to dinner by the Undersecretary to the Foreign Minister of Estonia, who also gave us all a history, geography, and cultural lesson on the Estonian people as well.

 

A memorable experience

When we arrived in Finland, most of us could not have told you the difference between it and its long, northern, Scandinavian neighbors. But we have learned to appreciate the understated and unassuming country—one that knows a thing or two about survival, protecting its people and its future, and perhaps most importantly, how to stay hot in those icy cold winters.

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IBD Team’s Unique Opportunity to work with Crane and Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing Company, ElectroMech

Written by: Jose Vitor Ribeiro Dos Santos, Johnny Gutierrez, Jason Palacios, Hejar Oncel, and Jeff Neblett

Background

Visit to Cranedge, ElectroMech’s servicing, and maintenance subsidiary

India is the world’s second most populous nation and arguably the world’s most exciting business environment. Despite all of us traveling extensively, no one on our IBD team had ever been to the country. We were thrilled to navigate a new business landscape as part of such a unique program, all while exploring a country that we had heard so much about. Yet we were faced with a daunting project scope from our client, ElectroMech, in an industry we knew very little about – crane and material handling equipment manufacturing. Our scope was to broadly explore disruptive technologies and business opportunities that would allow the company to grow revenue 25x from $40 million to $1 billion in the next 10 years (sounds easy, doesn’t it?!). Not to mention, we were handicapped as our team lead could not travel with us. Despite these factors, we knew the ElectroMech team was eager to have our input and help us in any way possible – with their support we were ready to help the company grow!

First Week

Our trip to Pune from Berkeley was over 24 hours and involved many adjustments (new culture, different food, and habits, crazy

Day 1 – Our team visiting the factory floor to understand the production process

drivers and a 12-hour time difference from California), all while preparing for our day-of-arrival presentation. One would think that the first-week in-country would be rough, right? Well, while it certainly had its challenges, the overall experience was nothing short of amazing. Pune is a rapidly expanding city located about three hours by car from Mumbai. We quickly found it to be filled with very friendly and helpful people, great food and an ambitious and ready-to-work client. The first interaction with the ElectroMech team was our day-of-arrival presentation, in which we were able to meet many other leaders of the company, showing them our goals and explaining how important our interactions with them would be in order to achieve a successful project. The presentation was followed by a tour of the factory floor – quite helpful in understanding ElectroMech’s processes and organization – and by the kick-off of our internal meetings with members of the organization.

“Crane Score” – the number of cranes ElectroMech has built at this plant.

ElectroMech organized many meetings with their division heads and team members so we could develop a full understanding of where the company currently stood as well as the company’s strategy. Every interview – we spoke with sales, design, engineering, finance, innovation and others – was very helpful for us, in the sense of corroborating and invalidating parts of the hypothesis we had developed, identifying new opportunities and generating new ideas for our final presentation. We also interviewed local and multinational clients and partners of the company to support this process.

 

Second Week

A lot of work, but a lot of fun – that’s the best definition of our second week in Pune. After a sightseeing weekend in Mumbai and a

Our team with ElectroMech’s Board and the Managing Director’s family after our final presentation

few more meetings with customers and partners on Monday, it was then time to focus on our main assignment in India: a two-hour presentation to ElectroMech’s Board of Directors on Friday. The expectations from the company were very high, and we felt that we had quite the responsibility considering all the attention and support that we had received. We needed to deliver a great presentation and point to innovative solutions and opportunities for ElectroMech.

Our final presentation to the board on Friday, May 26th

The team worked very well together and, even though we had a few long nights researching and tirelessly editing PowerPoint slides, we all were happy with the intensive learning and growth we were experiencing. It was great to use insights discovered during our interviews to better explore and assess the technologies and potential new business models we were proposing for ElectroMech. For example, by interacting with ElectroMech clients we identified key core competencies that allowed the company to stand out from the competition, as well as what new technological core competencies needed from ElectroMech in order to increase productivity and reliability. After several meetings discussing the presentation, working through nine different versions of the slides and practicing the full presentation a few times – it was time to show the result of our work to ElectroMech’s management and the Board.

The final result was great! Our recommendations brought to life several discussions among the board members – just as we hoped it would – and the overall reaction was very positive. The hard work was definitely worth it, and we could finally relax and prepare for a great weekend in New Delhi and Agra… after all, it was about time we visited the Taj Mahal!

Johnny, Jose and Jeff at the Taj Mahal during the second weekend of the trip

Closing

Overall, the ElectroMech IBD project was an amazing experience for us. Not only in understanding more about India – that it is indeed a vibrant country with huge potential for further growth and development – but also the opportunity to work with ElectroMech was unique. We are getting back to Berkeley more prepared for our next professional steps, and certainly with lots of amazing stories to tell!

Evening Weekend IBD Program Kicks Off

EWMBA IBD Students

While the Full-Time MBA (FTMBA) program is at the end of their engagement with IBD, 18 Evening and Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students kicked off their IBD experience on May 14th.  This is the 6th year that the course has been offered to EWMBA students and although the program is very similar to the FTMBA course, there is one significant difference: time.  The summer program has much less of it overall, as students only have seven weeks of instruction and two weeks in-country working with clients.  EWMBA Teams are also made up of 4-5 students and led by a Team Lead, who is a classmate but unlike the FTMBA Program, the EWMBA Team Leads don’t have the additional weeks to work with their client to build rapport and gather intel on their project before their Team Members join the project.  Instead, they have to jump right into the process and establish themselves as a lead of their project to their client and teammates.  When asked about his strategy for being a Team Lead at this point in the process, the Samai Distillery Team Lead, Sushant Barave said:

Team Aramis

“Although we are at a very early stage, I am realizing how amazingly competent our team is. In a way, this makes my job as a team lead quite easy! I hate to call it a ‘strategy’ because it really boils down to keeping things really simple at this stage – having open communication, a structured approach to understand and address client’s needs, and making sure that all of us are having fun in the process!”

This is a sentiment we hear often from Team Leads in both the FTMBA and EWMBA programs.  The Aramis Menswear Team Lead, Kalyan Pentapalli shared, “I have a very experienced team and sometimes it feels intimidating leading three third year students, but they have been gracious enough to let me set an example and lead.”

Lead, motivate, organize, delegate, and manage work streams is what our EWMBA Team Leads will do as they prepare to go in-country on July 1st.  It’s a quick turn-around and with full-time jobs and other obligations, it is a lot to manage.   “It has already been great working with the team, and we are getting familiar with each other’s working styles. Given our crazy schedules collectively as a group, we have also been open to calls ranging from 7 am to 11 pm – this goes to show the flexibility and commitment from the team members”, shares Barun Mazumdar, a member of the Aramis Team.

Many students come to Haas because of the opportunity IBD gives them.  The Team Lead for ACT,  Praveen Settipalli, was determined to take IBD before he graduated despite having a new baby and starting work at a startup.  He heard first-hand experiences about IBD from his classmates and he, like so many others, felt he could benefit from the opportunity to work on an international consulting project.  “As a product manager, IBD will help me renew my core-consulting skills of framing the problem, lead a diverse team to formulate the strategy and obtain resources for successful execution. Doing this in a different industry/culture with a team of amazing Haas MBAs will also teach me how to lead across diverse environments. Personally, the IBD structure would allow me to embrace uncertainty and openness and immerse myself in a new environment. I also hope to reflect on my current environment and leadership style while at the client location and come back not just with awesome solutions for the client but also unforgettable memories and experiences.”

Team Samai

Frank Schultz, the Instructor and Faculty Mentor for the EWMBA program is confident that his students will be able to balance all of their competing priorities to find personal and professional successes from their IBD experience.   “I have been teaching the EWMBA IBD program since inception and every year I appreciate how much my teams dedicate themselves to their client and projects to provide true ROI – despite their day jobs and their families.  I have no doubt that this year’s students will work very hard and like every year, they will enjoy getting a taste of consulting in a global setting.  They will undoubtedly come back from their two weeks in-country with new perspectives, tools, and confidence to try different approaches.”

Teams will travel all over the world this July.  Praveen’s team will work with a social enterprise that provides entrepreneurship training and mentorship to young Zimbabweans and Sushant is taking his team to Cambodia to work with a rum distillery start-up.  We have one team that will travel to Mexico to work with a consumer and corporate financial services company, and Kalyan’s team will work with a privately held 20-year old menswear retailer in Brazil.  We are confident that these EWMBA students will have unforgettable and invaluable experiences.

Team ACT