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.

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

Students Shine at 2016 IBD Conference

We officially wrapped up another amazing year of the Berkeley-Haas International Business Development (IBD) program with our final event, the 2016 IBD Conference on September 16th. The Conference started with an interactive poster session during which 22 IBD teams presented their projects, answered questions and showcased their unique experiences and wearables.  Some of the IBD students who went all out were Team Nando, who wore custom designed clothing produced by their client; Team Ashesi, who had matching pockets sewn onto their shirts; Team Inka Moss, who sported Peruvian sweaters and caps; and Team PAG, whose student team lead, Zarrah Birdie, donned a panda hoodie in honor of her team’s experience working in China. 

“All of the students were excited not only to share their adventures and the consulting work they did with their clients around the world, but also to see the huge variety of other projects and cultures that their classmates completed and experienced. Curiosity and enthusiasm were extremely high, and the noise level even higher.” Mark Coopersmith, IBD Faculty Mentor.

The energy was high for everyone at the Conference, including Haas’s CFO, Suresh Bhat, who came by the poster session to engage with IBD students and spend time learning about their projects.

“Attending the IBD conference is always a fabulous experience and seeing the enthusiasm from both FTMBA and EWMBA students as they present their findings, brings their project to life.  The students favorably commented on the experiential learning process. In addition, having to face and overcome language and cultural barriers is a mirror of what many of them will have to face as they take on new career opportunities post their MBA.” Suresh Bhat.

shot-of-the-group-in-the-great-hall

Following the poster session, students and guests were treated to a lunch program that consisted of a panel presentation of IBD student team leads, overall comments from Berkeley-Haas Dean Rich Lyons, TED Talk style presentations by six IBD teams, and an acceptance speech from the 2016 IBD Alumnus of the Year, Rajiv Ball.

Rajiv, a Partner at THNK, Berkeley-Haas lecturer and host of the Design Thinking Course held recently in Amsterdam over spring break, worked previously with IBD as a project sponsor.  In his acceptance video he talked about the amazing experience that IBD provides for students:  “The notion of broadening your international horizons… and the ability to really step outside the US, and explore how business gets done there, that is a true gift that the program brings its participants.”

While there are many highlights from the IBD Conference, it was ultimately about hearing from the students their impressions of their projects and their reflections on the IBD experience.  New to the IBD Conference this year was a panel discussion with IBD student team leads.  IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube interviewed five student team leads and asked them to share their insights on serving in a team lead capacity. One student team lead, Vanessa Pau, said, “It is a rare opportunity to lead a team of peers, many of whom are much smarter than I am, and to actually work with them, learn from them and motivate them throughout times in the project.”  

In addition to the panel discussion, six IBD teams were chosen by a combination of student and faculty voting to present their projects to the Conference audience.  Videos of the lucky winners and presenting teams can be seen here.

Many IBD teams shared how their journeys changed once they were in country, including shifts in their perspectives, relationships, and overall project recommendations.  The student team lead for Team groupelephant.com, Theo Grzegorczk, said of his team’s time in South Africa, “It gave us a real reason to care, and we made this transition by actually getting involved with their company…we learned by really getting into their business.  We went through this process of understanding how they work…and by living the way they do business…we came to understand a little bit more of their company and that is the first step in the design thinking process.”

Team Samai’s Bruno Vargas said, “We had all kinds of backgrounds, not just nationally, but professional backgrounds…We were hands on, we were rolling (up) our sleeves, working hand in hand with them…We were actually giving them to tools to manage their business and in the end, we built strong relationships.”

IBD Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier summed it up best when she shared the following comment: “The students were really energized and proud of their work and the relationships they built with their clients.  A few told me it was the best experience they had at Haas, and specifically the best team experience.  Exciting to see we are having such an impact!”

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