IBD Alumni Conversations: Katharine Hawthorne, MBA ‘20

Katharine Hawthorne and her 2019 IBD Team

Katharine Hawthorne and her 2019 IBD Team

Congratulations to one of our IBD alumni, Katharine Hawthorne (MBA ‘20).  In addition to her many career and life accomplishments, Katharine Hawthorne can add Berkeley Haas MBA graduate to her list.  IBD met up recently with Katharine to talk about her current role with Patamar Capital, a venture capital firm with an impact investing lens and geographic focus on South and Southeast Asia. Katharine explained that “patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow. It was traditionally used in the western coast of the Indian subcontinent as a cabotage vessel between Gujarat and Ceylon, usually for the transport of rice.  Historically Patamars were very important in trade as well as transmitting culture; and as Katharine shared, this is the ethos of the firm — connecting markets. 

"Patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow

“Patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow

Please enjoy our interview with Katharine below.

Katharine:  After completing my IBD project, I started an internship at Patamar Capital.  I spent half the summer in San Francisco and the other half in Jakarta. When I returned in the fall of 2019, I came back in a consulting capacity to support Shuyin Tang, a partner who is based in Vietnam.  Through years of investing in Southeast Asia, Shuyin found that the number of women-run businesses receiving venture capital funding was extremely low. It wasn’t because the pipeline for women entrepreneurs isn’t there. In fact, there are plenty of viable women-run businesses; but for many, venture capital is not the right form of investment and it is historically harder for them to access funding.  

IBD Interviewer: Why is that?

Katharine:  Shuyin found that women-owned businesses tend to be much more focused on building sustainable business models, where they’re funding growth through their own profits.  Essentially, they’re putting cash back into the business as opposed to giving up equity ownership, which is the venture capital model.

IBD Interviewer:  How is this fund different? 

Beacon Fund Team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Beacon Fund Team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Katharine:  This new fund, called the Beacon Fund, is focused on women-led and women-focused businesses in South and Southeast Asia and offers debt loans primarily for working capital or to purchase equipment.  This difference allows women businesses to grow in scale in a way that is most appropriate for their goals.  

IBD Interviewer: What has your role been?

Katharine: My role has been to help Shuyin get that new fund off the ground.  I have worked on everything from writing proposals, doing research on the market, building a fund model, figuring out how economically this is going to work, structuring the investment vehicle, etc.  It’s been a pretty great opportunity, as I’m really passionate about supporting women businesses particularly in developing countries. I think that access to capital can be a form  of self determination.

IBD Interviewer:  How are you managing working across international time zones?

Katharine: I had the opportunity over the winter break to go to Vietnam and worked very intensely with Shuyin. She has been to San Francisco a few times.  Otherwise, we coordinate through email, zoom, slack, etc. I think in some ways working for Patamar, the transition for me during shelter in place has been seamless because I have already been coordinating across time zones. 

Hanoi Museum of Women's Empowermen

Hanoi Museum of Women’s Empowermen

IBD Interviewer: How many businesses will benefit from the launch of this loan?

Katharine: The goal is to go live by the end of the year.  I think the idea is within the first year to issue loans to maybe around 10-15 businesses and then grow from there.

IBD Interviewer: Did IBD have any place in helping you in this role?

Katharine:   The work that I did for our 2019 IBD project was a market entry strategy for the startup FinTech branch of an organization.  They asked us to analyse the landscape and identify opportunities for partnership and/or investment.  The IBD experience was really invaluable to understanding what are all the pieces that go into starting something from scratch, from the legal structuring aspects, building the business model, branding and identity. We’ve had a lot of conversations about how we want to position ourselves so that these women-owned businesses know that we’re a great partner for them and we’re different from other funds in the marketplace. 

IBD Interviewer:  During this time of COVID-19, how is your organization affected?  Are you able to work cross-culturally and remotely at the same time?

Katharine: I think there will continue to be firms that want to invest cross-border but for a while may not  be able to travel.  I’m confident in Patamar’s ability to adapt because they already have investors embedded in six countries across South and Southeast Asia.

I also believe there’s incredible value in connecting with people cross-culturally, learning about their experiences and the challenges that they are facing on the ground. My IBD experience was probably pretty unique in that my client project was a true market entry because they did not have operations in-country.  We weren’t on site with the client.  This is similar to what I’m doing now with Patamar, trying to assess investment opportunities overseas.  I have had to schedule many in-depth interpersonal interactions mediated by technology.  During this time of restricted travel, IBD faculty, clients and students will need to try to network and work in more conversations with their clients and stakeholders in their project country, even if it’s over zoom.  From my perspective, there’s still value in connecting cross-culturally aided by technology.

IBD Interviewer: Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you want to share with our readers?

Katharine: I worry about our world right now. We are seeing this kind of turn away from globalization. It requires real bravery and commitment to continue to connect, reach out, be vulnerable and to see things from a different perspective. My career has been focused on connecting cross-culturally; it’s one of the things that motivates me and drives me.  We are living in challenging times and it will be interesting to see how this changes business.  

We wish Katharine and Patamar Capital all the best with the launch of the Beacon Fund.  We hope that women entrepreneurs in South and Southeast Asia benefit from this newly imagined means of supporting women-owned businesses.  


IBD Team Hilltribe Organics enjoys an evening of baking and bonding


Team Hilltribe - Thais Esteves, Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Santiago Correa Posada (Not in the order of the photo)

Team Hilltribe – Thais Esteves, Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Santiago Correa Posada (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

Hilltribe Organics (HTO) is an intriguing social enterprise focused on Thailand.  It was created as part of a YPO competition that aimed to foster an entrepreneurship mindset among young leaders and to define solutions to help marginalized farmers’ communities in Thailand.  Today HTO’s mission is to achieve long term sustainability for the rural farming families of the socially marginalized hill tribe communities of Northern Thailand. Since launching in 2014, HTO has become the #1 organic free range egg brand in Thailand based on the high quality of their eggs and sustainable production.

 Richard Blossom, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Thais Esteves, Santiago Correa Posada, Burton Mendonca, Ana Alanis

Richard Blossom, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Thais Esteves, Santiago Correa Posada, Burton Mendonca, Ana Alanis

The current spring semester IBD project team has been asked to develop a business strategy to allow HTO to expand beyond organic egg production into organic dessert production in Thailand and the surrounding region.  Last month the IBD team took advantage of a rare opportunity to meet their project client in person — well before the California shelter in place directive was announced. HTO Co-Founder and CEO Richard W. Blossom invited the IBD team to his home in the Bay Area soon after the entire student team was formed in late February.

Student Team Lead Thais Esteves and Team Members Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, and Santiago Correa Posada all joined Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain at Richard’s home to work on baking and sampling potential organic dessert items as part of the current IBD project.  As Judy Hopelain reported afterwards, “This kind of informal interaction usually doesn’t happen until teams are in-country. It was an amazing opportunity to get to know the client and their story behind the company in a relaxed setting at the beginning of the project.”

Ana and Santiago cooking

Ana and Santiago cooking

In addition to experimenting and baking desserts with HTO organic eggs, that night the IBD team was treated to an organic pasta dinner courtesy of Perfect Earth Foods, which uses raw materials from farmers in Thailand.  As HTO CEO Richard Blossom said after the event, “The best way to think about a food project is to cook and eat the product! Plus it’s a great way to get to know about the project and one another.”

Learning more from Richard about Perfect Earth Foods and HTO

Learning more from Richard about Perfect Earth Foods and HTO

The FTMBA IBD Team Member Big Reveal – What a Fun Day!

2020 IBD Students on the Big Reveal Day

2020 IBD Students on the Big Reveal Day

The Team Member “Big Reveal” event for spring semester FTMBA students is one of the most exciting and fun days in the IBD program. IBD team projects are kept secret until this class date of February 20th, when 64 new IBD Team Members find out about their assigned IBD projects, including which MBA classmates are on their IBD team and what country they will be going to for their eventual project field experience.

Team Dura-Line- Luisa Bisinoto, Eduardo Bustamante Aramburo, Joey Parker, Kate Smith, Sebastian Ambriz (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

What makes this day so fun is just how our incoming students learn the details of their IBD projects and teammates. Each of the 16 student Team Leads (previously assigned to their projects on January 23rd) creates a video presentation sharing details about their individual project, the project client, and the newly selected students on their team (the Team Members). The student videos are both entertaining and inspiring, usually drawing cheers and laughter from the crowd. Team Lead Luisa Gontijo Bisinot felt the Big Reveal was great: “It’s amazing to formally have the team onboard for the project, especially after having waited and prepared for this moment for a while. Additionally, learning that other people share my sense of humour and that they liked the Reveal video made the experience even better.”

Team Blinder – Victor Gorrachategui, Daniel Alston, Eduardo Guraieb, Donald Huang, Max Silva (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

How are IBD student teams created?

Student Team Leads know their individual IBD projects well prior to February 13th, when they undertake a complex draft process to select their four Team Members. The Team Member draft is based on multiple criteria, including requested skills and experience that match the needs of the project, and the desires of incoming students for a new global experience. As these MBA candidates know, the IBD program does not assign students to project countries where they are originally from or where they have worked for some time.

How do students feel about the IBD Team Member Big Reveal?

Team SAP Ariba- Josh Raines-Teague, Augustine Santillan, Brian Traganza, Chyi-Shin Shu and Tian Wang (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

An enormous amount of preparation and energy goes into the IBD Big Reveal — including students, faculty and staff. At the end of the day, what matters most is watching the Team Leads and Team Members react to their IBD project team coming together in person for the first time. Here below are a few of the student reactions recorded during the course of the day:

“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and thrilled to work with SAP Ariba in Germany — can’t wait to embark on this adventure with this amazing team!” Team Member Chyi-Shin Shu


“Cars, technology, Europe and amazing teammates — I could not have imagined a better pick for my IBD project.” Team Member Asif Mohammad


“It felt like I was in a draft with all my best friends and we were all 1st round picks!” Team Member Emanuel Ozuna Vargas


“The Big Reveal was an incredible experience and a highlight during my time at Haas. My team is excited about the client and project and can’t wait to start working!” Team Lead Devon Courtois

Team Ashesi University- Devan Courtois, Amy Sims, Matt Wald, Rohan D’Souza, Yuan Qu (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

How do IBD faculty feel about the Big Reveal?

This year’s Team Member Big Reveal was the first for new IBD Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth. When asked to share his takeaways from the day, Olaf said that the atmosphere was “downright electric. Everybody knew this was the moment they’d hear where in the world they were going to make a difference, make change, grow and help others grow over the next four months of their lives.”

Now that the FTMBA spring semester IBD project teams are officially assembled, it’s time for them to meet their clients as a team and get to work on the problems their clients have asked them to solve. IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier stands ready to help get the teams focused on their projects: “We’re so excited to launch this new set of IBD teams. We’ve got some fantastic high impact projects with clients who will use the team findings to drive strategic change in their organizations.”


Welcome to our 64 new student Team Members, and congratulations on joining the IBD program at Berkeley Haas! We look forward to hearing more about each of this semester’s 16 IBD projects in the months ahead.

Honoring Retired IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz 

Written by Danner Doud-Martin

Frank speaking to the 2020 IBD students on the Big Reveal

Frank speaking to the 2020 IBD students on the Big Reveal

Our beloved IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz has officially retired as of January 2020 from the IBD program, in addition to his other Berkeley Haas undergraduate and MBA teaching positions.  Frank came to the IBD program 14 years ago as a Faculty Mentor, and took over the role of Faculty Director two years ago after Kristi Raube retired. He has worked with countless IBD clients and students over the years, continuing the long tradition of IBD program excellence in and out of the classroom. Frank was the first Faculty Mentor to work with Evening and Weekend MBAs (EWMBAs) on a summer version of the IBD program when it began in May 2012.  Recent EWMBA graduate Nik Reddy ‘19 shared that “Frank was excellent at bridging the gap between what we learned in the classroom with what was needed in the ‘real world.’ His teaching approach encouraged his students to think with a client-centric mindset, and I think that’s what made IBD with Frank such an enriching experience for me.”

Frank traveled and taught throughout the world, bringing his global perspective to his work with the IBD program and other Berkeley Haas courses.  Arman Zand has a unique perspective on Frank’s tenure, as he was a former EWMBA student of Frank’s, an IBD project client in 2013 and 2014, and he now serves as Frank’s replacement as the IBD EWMBA Faculty Mentor.  Arman feels that “Frank’s career as a Haas professor may be best remembered by his classes in leadership or perhaps even his many trips around the world. But for certain students, like myself, Frank was not only a professor, but also a mentor, a coach, a business partner, and for many years, just someone I could have a beer with and share ideas.”  

Frank’s impact went beyond his students and the IBD program to benefit Berkeley Haas overall. Jay Stowsky, Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction at Berkeley Haas, said this of Frank: “Frank Schultz has been not only an award-winning teacher, but one of the most service-minded faculty members I’ve had the privilege to work with during my 17 years at Haas.  When he came to Haas nearly 15 years ago, Frank quickly made a strong impact on the School’s teaching mission as a thoughtful, highly skilled, and versatile teacher and as a dedicated and effective leader outside the classroom.” 

Faculty Mentors for IBD

2019 IBD Conference Faculty Mentors

Frank touched many lives at Berkeley Haas, including the IBD team past and present.  Former IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube said that “Frank was a stellar example of what it means to be a great colleague. He was thoughtful, supportive, collaborative, and easy to work with. He left an impression not only on his many, many students but also on his grateful colleagues. He can leave Berkeley Haas proud of the work he has done.”

We are all proud of the outstanding work Frank has done on behalf of the IBD program.  In a small gathering recently to celebrate his dedication to IBD, we had a moment to talk with Frank about his new life in retirement.  Please see the results of our interview with Frank below.


Danner Doud-Martin:  What have you been doing with your free time? 

Frank Schultz talking at the 2019 IBD Conference

Frank Schultz talking at the 2019 IBD Conference

Frank Schultz:  I have been watching Tesla stock go up and down.  I have been doing some traveling around California to destinations that I haven’t seen before, like Pismo Beach and Paso Robles.  We also went to the iconic Madonna Inn and stayed in the William Tell Room.  

 I spent some time in a very cool monarch butterfly grove.  It was also sad because the numbers of butterflies are plummeting.  Now that both my wife and I are retired, we are able to take dancing lessons five days a week.  We have been learning salsa, fox trot, rumba, bachata. I also have an upcoming trip to Hawaii.  

I have also been taking a class at Code Academy to learn building financial models and Java Script.  I am enjoying it as it is very logical and fits me well. I hope it will help me to make better investment decisions.

Danner Doud-Martin: Are you going to share this new financial model once you are done building it?

Frank Schultz:  Sure? There are no good tools available that successfully track individual financial decisions. Ha, I am thinking like Haas professor Terry Odean.  My father was a stock broker back in the day, so it’s always been part of my leadership and strategy style.  

Frank Schultz talking at the 2019 IBD Conference

Danner Doud-Martin:  What have you missed most about teaching since retirement?

Frank Schultz:  I miss the IBD staff. I miss the students, but I don’t miss the grading.  

Danner Doud-Martin:  Are you dabbling in any work or volunteer opportunities?

Frank Schultz:   Once a month I get the opportunity to engage with the Berkeley Executive Education program.  This allows me to stay active in teaching with more flexible scheduling, and the best part is that there is no grading requirement.  

IBD conference participants cheering for Frank

IBD conference participants cheering for Frank

Danner Doud-Martin:  What are you looking forward to doing in your retirement?

Frank Schultz:  A lot more of the above activities plus more reading and more traveling.  I have offered to help with BOOST, Haas Zero Waste efforts and IBD, but no calls yet. 

Danner Doud-Martin:  Wait a second.  We called! You are helping us with the first day of IBD class and the Big Reveal.

Frank Schultz:  That’s true.  I am returning to help with the team building exercise on February 20th.  That’s going to be a great day, seeing all the IBD Team Members finding out their projects.  I do love that day in the IBD program.  

Danner Doud-Martin:  How has retirement been for you and your wife Jennifer (also a former Berkeley Haas staff person)?

Frank Schultz:  It’s been really good.  We don’t have over packed schedules any more.  Having time in the schedule has been really good for stress. I recommend it for you all. 

Danner Doud-Martin:  Do you have any advice to give to IBD students?

IBD Faculty Mentors with former Dean Lyons

IBD Faculty Mentors with former Dean Lyons

Frank Schultz:  I always tell this story about how I tend towards being conservative when sharing my thoughts and ideas in groups of people.  I have wanted to make sure that I had all the right answers and I wouldn’t say anything unless I was sure it was correct. One time I was with former IBD Faculty Mentor Jo Mackness (now Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, Student Affairs at UC Berkeley), and I finally shared something and Jo responds, “that was epic.”  I waited 30 years to speak up and have this brilliant idea and finally when I just said something, I got “epic.” I tell students, don’t wait. Speak up, even if you don’t think it’s “brilliant.”

Danner Doud-Martin: Do you have any advice for all us IBD staff and faculty that you left behind?

Frank Schultz:  It is hard to fully appreciate the impact you are having on students in a course like IBD.  The feedback is all over the place and at times it is really tough. But you ARE having more of an impact on a student’s learning than you realize.  Remember that.

Now that we have launched the spring 2020 FTMBA IBD program, all of us in the IBD staff miss Frank.  We are excited for him as he embraces his newly retired life, and we hope he will return to say hello and show us some of his newly practiced dance moves.  Congratulations, Frank Schultz!

Say Hello to Nina Ho MBA ’21, Our Spring 2020 IBD GSI

Nina on the Big Reveal Day with a sign that says UgandaThe IBD program is thrilled to have second year Full Time MBA student Nina Ho contribute to the spring 2020 FTMBA IBD program as our Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). Previously, Nina was a student Team Lead for the Makerere University project during the spring 2019 IBD program.  This is the second year that a former IBD student Team Lead has held the GSI role: Libby Ananda MBA ‘20 was the first.  The GSI role was created to benefit both IBD faculty and students.  Recently we had the opportunity to talk with Nina about her IBD experience as a student in 2019, as well as her expectations as this year’s IBD program GSI, and we’d like to share her interview below.

Nina and her team on a safari

Nina and her IBD team traveling and enjoying a safari

 IBD Interviewer: Why did you want to be the IBD GSI?

Nina Ho:  IBD was a unique experience: when you are pushed outside of what’s familiar, you learn more about yourself and those around you.  Spending quality time with my amazing team, I learned tremendously from them, and we got so close. As a GSI, I wanted to pay it forward and facilitate an unforgettable experience for the next class.  I also wanted to continue working with Whitney Hischier, who served as my Faculty Mentor last year. I respect her as a professional mentor and believe there’s a lot to gain from another year of working with her.

IBD Interviewer:  Do you have any goals for your role as a GSI?

Nina Ho:  Students come to IBD with different starting points. Some have consulting or leadership experience; others don’t.  I see my role as helping to close that gap — get those students up to speed so they can accomplish their project goals.  I look forward to acting as an intermediary with the faculty and help to inform decisions that support the students’ learning.

IBD Interviewer:  You worked with IBD project client Makerere University in 2019. Were you proud of the work you did as an IBD Team?

Nina Ho:  Throughout the course of IBD we were able not only to diagnose the root cause of their challenge, but also to devise a realistic implementation plan for the solution we recommended.  I am proud of the breadth of work we completed and how we handled the client interaction to get to that point. 

Nina talking to her 2019 IBD client - Makerere University

Nina talking to her 2019 IBD client – Makerere University

IBD Interviewer:  Would you change anything about your IBD experience?

Nina Ho:  Though A LOT of things didn’t go as planned, I wouldn’t change anything.  Ironically, all the challenges we faced made us get closer as a team – we learned how to trust each other. 

IBD Interviewer:  Did the IBD experience help with your summer internship or after graduation career choices?

Nina Ho:  IBD gave me the confidence to lead a consulting project ahead of my internship.  Though I had a consulting background and understood how to do the work, I was looking for reps to lead a team in an ambiguous, non-straightforward setting. 

IBD Interviewer:  Are you focusing on anything over these next couple of months before you graduate?

Nina Ho: I am training for the AIDS Lifecycle charity ride from SF to LA and working on being a better skier — gotta work up to those black diamonds!  I am also looking forward to spending as much time with my classmates before graduating.

Nina standing on a rock

IBD Interviewer: What is your favorite thing about Haas?

Nina Ho:  Honestly, the community.  I am consistently moved by the generosity of my classmates, staff and faculty and how people show up for each other.  The spirit of Haas creates an inclusive space where I’ve been able to take more risks and find a place of belonging.  

IBD Interviewer:  You introduced us to your love of wearing headbands while traveling.  Do you still wear headbands?

Nina with a beautiful backdrop

Nina Ho:  Yes, and most recently in New Zealand — you really need that when you’re on a backpacking trip and can’t shower!

The IBD program staff and faculty are fortunate to have Nina as a member of our team, and we know she will contribute to the overall success of our students and the spring 2020 IBD program.  Thank you Nina!


The 2020 IBD Program Has Officially Kicked Off! 

Team Leads and Faculty Mentors

2020 Spring Team Leads and Faculty Mentors

One of the IBD staff’s favorite days of the entire program is the Team Lead Big Reveal event.  On January 23rd, the first day of spring semester FTMBA IBD class, the Team Leads entered the Berkeley Haas classroom not knowing anything about their projects.  Although they shared beforehand something of their preferences for project industry and destination, the assignment to their respective projects was in the hands of the IBD staff and Faculty Director Whitney Hischier.  It was during this Big Reveal class that student Team Leads finally learned what kind of project and industry they had been assigned to, where their project countries were located, and where they would spend their final three weeks of in-country project work in May/June.  It was a fun, exciting and revealing morning for all involved — IBD faculty, staff and students.

The spring 2020 IBD student Team Leads shared with us their impressions of the IBD Big Reveal event, what they are looking forward to in working with their new project clients, and how they intend to engage with the student Team Members who will be assigned later to their teams.  Please see their comments below. 

Adolfo Quesada Viciana

Adolfo Quesada Viciana

“I was really surprised about how excited and at the same time nervous we all were about the Big Reveal! I hadn’t felt that way probably since the Haas admissions call day! At the end, we are going to spend 3 months of remote work and 1 month on the ground for a specific client and in an exciting new region!“ Adolfo Quesada Viciana – Thailand project

Akshay Dalmia

Akshay Dalmia

“I was super stoked to hear about the destination and project. I have never worked in Brazil, and partnering with an innovative SaaS company to establish a corporate venture capital arm really excites me! I look forward to working with an incredible group of Haasies to learn, have fun and deliver meaningful value for the client!“  Akshay Dalmia – Brazil project


Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo

“After waiting patiently for several months for the Big Reveal, I was so thrilled when I found out my project would be based in Finland.  I’ve never been there yet, so I’m eager to meet my client and get the project started. I’m positive this will be a rewarding experience as I’ll get to learn from not only the project itself, but also from my team, mentor and client.  Plus, I’m excited about the beautiful scenery, plentiful saunas, and endless sunshine in Finland during the summer months!” Cassandra Salcedo – Finland project

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann

‘It was great getting together with all the other Team Leads and learning where everyone was going. I am very excited to get to know my client and better understand how we can help them!”  Charlie Davidmann – Thailand project


Devan Courtois

Devan Courtois

“I am so excited to work with a client who cares about two of my passions — education and healthcare — and to learn about the unique challenges that my client faces given their location and mission.”  Devan Courtois – Ghana project


Eduardo Consigliere

Eduardo Consigliere

“I’m really excited about my project! It involves re-thinking a region’s economic landscape and future potential. I’m excited to form a team of passionate individuals and get to work!”  Eduardo Consigliere – Japan project


Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham

“I am very excited to be working with my client as they continue to grow as a young organization. Their commitment to building a more sustainable world through entrepreneurship is inspiring and aligned with my personal and professional goals.”  Emily Lapham – Sweden project


Jorge Abreu

Jorge Abreu

“I’m anxious to get to know my client better! The first touch points will be fundamentally important to set the base for our work in the next couple of months. Mapping and closing potential cultural differences, and adding structure and a timeline to the project, will help both sides to control anxiety and work effectively on the subject-matter!”  Jorge Abreu – Finland project


Josh Raines-Teague

Josh Raines-Teague

“Not only am I thrilled that my team and I get to travel this spring to an amazing location, but we get to work with a wonderful and supportive client who’s inviting us to have a real and pivotal impact on driving his business forward.”   Josh Raines-Teague – Germany project

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds

“I’m really excited to get to work on my project. I secretly think I got the best project, but I’m biased. Can’t wait to get to work to help patients across the globe.”  Julie Reynolds – India project


Krutika Pursnani

Krutika Pursnani

“I am really looking forward to getting to know the client and the industry more — it is a challenging and fascinating space and in a stunning location! Also excited to have a team of what I am sure will be incredibly talented Haasies.”  Krutika Pursnani – Brazil project


Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto

“I feel very lucky to have been assigned to a great project in an incredible country I have always wanted to know. I’m sure this will be a wonderful experience and I’m excited to get to work!” Luisa Bisinoto – India project


Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert

“I’m really looking forward to the (Team Member) draft; I can’t wait to bring together an incredibly talented team to tackle (what I think) is an interesting and challenging project!”  Megan Reichert – China project


Oriana Chiu

Oriana Chiu

“I loved seeing the diversity of different projects, countries and industries — and also seeing the enthusiasm and focus from all the team leads as we plan how to tackle these exciting new projects!”  Oriana Chiu – China project


Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves

“I couldn’t be more excited about the location, theme and client. Can’t wait to start working with the rest of the team!”  Thais Esteves – Thailand project


Victor Gorrachategui

Victor Gorrachategui

“AMAZING. I would have never imagined that I would be doing a project in New Zealand. I am so lucky and so grateful for the chance that IBD is giving me. This is the best destination that I could have wished for and an extremely interesting and thrilling project. I cannot wait to build up the team and start together this fascinating journey!”  Victor Gorrachategui – New Zealand project

  • End of the Team Lead Quotes

Our IBD Faculty Mentors shared their thoughts about the Team Lead Big Reveal event as well!

“I am delighted to be back as mentor and support four teams helping clients in four countries (and three continents).” IBD Faculty Mentor Jon Metzler

“With so many great projects around the world, addressing issues ranging from B2B to B2C to Social Enterprise to infrastructure, it’s going to be a great semester for our IBD students!” IBD Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain

“It was the kind of kickoff that makes you realize how blessed and privileged one is as a faculty member to help hone some amazing young leaders from across the globe to solve big, interesting challenges for organizations in all corners of the world.”  IBD Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth

Olaf Groth meeting with his Team Leads

Olaf Groth meeting with his Team Leads

“The IBD Team Lead Big Reveal is intense and the culmination of many months of work.  David (IBD Executive Director David Richardson) traveled the globe to source great projects for our program; we interviewed MANY fantastic applicants to be Team Leads: and finally we matched the selected 16 with the best projects based on client needs, student background and interests.  It is so much fun to watch the Team Leads’ faces when they find out what they’ll be working on — a mix of excitement and perhaps a touch of anxiety for the journey ahead!” IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier


IBD Project Client Interview: Sandro Valeri, Director of Innovation Strategy at Embraer

Written by Danner Doud-Martin

Embraer in 2019 IBD Project with Embraer São José dos Campos Brazil

Photo from IBD Team as they worked in the office alongside the Embraer runway, sounds of test flights overhead brought a constant reminder of what we were here to achieve, an Embraer ready for the future

In the spring of 2019, the Berkeley Haas IBD program and a team of five of its MBA students worked with one of Brazil’s most well known companies, Embraer. The IBD project team consisted of Full Time MBA students Brian Bell, Swamit Mehta, Erlangga Renggana, Kylie Sale, and Quinn Sure. From January to early May 2019, the IBD student team worked on their project while here at Berkeley Haas, partnering with Embraer’s Innovation team, led by Sandro Valeri, Director of Innovation Strategy. In mid-May the IBD student team traveled to Embraer’s facilities in São José dos Campos and São Paulo, Brazil, to work for three weeks on-site with Sandro and his team. The IBD students had an incredible learning experience working on this project, and they felt it was a privilege and a pleasure to work with Embraer and the Innovation team. Writing in their in-country blog during the project, the student team said that their “IBD project came at a fascinating turning point in the company’s history. Embraer recently sold its commercial division to Boeing and is being split down the middle, renamed, and re-envisioned. As the new Embraer emerges with its remaining defense, executive jets, and services divisions, leadership determined that innovation is critical for the company’s future ability to grow, especially in the competitive and rapidly changing global aviation industry.” To read more of the IBD student team’s blog, click here.

Sandro Valeri, Embraer

Sandro Valeri, Embraer

Meet the Client: Sandro Valeri, Embraer

At the conclusion of the 2019 IBD program year, IBD had the opportunity to interview Sandro Valeri about the recent Embraer IBD project, including what it was like to collaborate with the IBD program and our Berkeley Haas MBA students. Please enjoy the interview with Sandro Valeri below.

IBD Interviewer: How do you view your relationship with Berkeley Haas, including your relationship with the Berkeley Innovation Forum (BIF)? Why did you engage with MBA students at Berkeley Haas?
Sandro Valeri: This is the first year that we engaged in this type of relationship with Berkeley Haas and the IBD program. You (the IBD team) understand our needs, our problems, and you understand that we are a corporation. You understand that we don’t speak English very well – and this is good! And what I’m looking for in this relationship with Haas? Im looking for a management practice, and business practice, that is on the edge of all the practice in the world. And that’s why we started this relationship with the Berkeley Innovation Forum (BIF) – that has been great so far. They’re really good with not only making us question our processes, but good results as well. And why MBA students? I like to work with MBA students in all the various universities in the US, and this year was the first experiment with Haas. I already had some work with Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. Especially the IBD team in Brazil, they were great! They were outstanding professionals. They had serious conversations about changing management services, and how we can advance different processes in big companies like us, and how we can be on the edge with our practices. You (the IBD team) refresh the way we think, so for us it is very important to have such students here, because for us, it refreshes our minds, and we trust once you come from the best universities.

Embraer’s Innovation Team and Haas IBD Team enjoying a Brazilian BBQ hosted by Sandro

Embraer’s Innovation Team and Haas IBD Team enjoying a Brazilian BBQ hosted by Sandro

IBD Interviewer: You’ve worked with all MBA students from these other universities, is there a difference that you can see in the Berkeley Haas student or do they all kind of blend together?
Sandro Valeri: No no, they’re different. Each university has a kind of… not talent, but a vocation. There are some things that are common. They are all hard workers, and they are all very smart. This is common. If I compare Berkeley to the others, I see you are more open to new ideas. You explore more, and I see that you explore more with a broader view. It seems like you provide them [the IBD students] the background, that they have a broad background so the discussion came with different perspectives and points of view, so this is much different than the others. The others, they are more straight.

The Haas IBD Team at Embraer’s facility in São José dos Campos

IBD Interviewer: How was it comparing MBA students with professional management consulting firms like McKinsey and Company?
Sandro Valeri: I don’t like big consulting firms because they have everything preset. They have that knowledge base and they try to say this is the way it works and you should do it like I say. And when I came to IBD, you adapt to the problem, and you understand the problem. They [the IBD student team] asked a lot of different questions and they presented a lot of different options. They didn’t have this rush to solve the problem. If this was on behavior, they behave like McKinsey, exactly like that. They did the hard work, they worked a lot, and all materials were very professional and very deep. Even the discussions they had in Brazil were great with the executives. We went to talk to two of my bosses and to the other VPs, and they had exactly the same kind of conversation. I can say even a little bit better because they were not trying to stay with one position. They tried to understand the problem. Very valuable for me.

IBD Interviewer: You mentioned that Embraer is taking some of the IBD student team’s recommendations and incorporating them in your strategy moving forward. Is that correct?
Sandro Valeri:
Yes, that is a correct statement.

IBD Interviewer: And what is on the horizon for this approach in regards to innovation for Embraer?
Sandro Valeri: The proposal they (the IBD student team) did was composed by two drivers. One, how we should set the portfolio and the criteria; and then the second one, how we should manage the portfolio. We used something like half of their proposals and it was great. Next year we are going to implement the portfolio management so we still have some cushion when we start the project from January on. So we defined the project and the criteria; we analyzed the project using the criteria and the idea now is to implement.

IBD Interviewer: Now that you have had this experience with the IBD student team, do you think others in your department would be convinced that student consultants are valuable?
Sandro Valeri: Yes, I think our department, Embraer X, loved the experience working with IBD. So they start explaining this to the Information Team, my colleagues, and special people in the Technology Development..they like it a lot.

IBD Interviewer: Is there anything else you want to share?
Sandro Valeri: Perhaps it is important to say that we are in a turnaround phase right now and we need new strategies and new ways of thinking to revamp ourselves. Due to this process, IBD was great to help us to get there.

This concludes our interview with Sandro Valeri, Director of Innovation Strategy at Embraer. The IBD program is grateful for the opportunity to work with Embraer and Sandro’s Innovation team, and we hope to continue our partnership in the future.

Congratulations to the Spring Semester 2020 IBD Project Team Leads!

This year we were once again fortunate to have a group of talented Berkeley Haas MBA students apply for the spring semester IBD student Team Lead position.  Each project Team Lead brings a unique perspective, set of skills, and experience to the role.  We would like to share something about each of them, including why they applied to be a Team Lead and what they hope to gain from the IBD experience.  Enjoy!

Adolfo at Dolomites skiing this past spring

Adolfo in the Dolomites skiing this past spring

Adolfo Quesada Viciana: 

Adolfo spent most of his career prior to coming to Berkeley Haas at Deloitte Consulting in Madrid, Spain. In addition to his extensive consulting background, Aldofo co-founded and managed a small event-planning business throughout high school and university.  Adolfo is passionate about skiing takes the time to pursue it several months every winter and spring.

“I hope to collaborate to create stronger bonds among the team while at the same time looking for the best outcome for our client, in a challenging environment in which we will be exposed to uncertainty and quick decision making. I also would love to get immersed in the culture of the country and region where we will be located, learning from our client, mentors and communities around us, taking advantage as a team of the unique opportunity that IBD will provide to us.” –  Adolfo Quesada Viciana

Akshay rafting

Akshay Dalmia

Akshay Dalmia:

Prior to coming to Berkeley Haas, Akshay was senior consultant and analyst at Ernst & Young and Orios Venture Partners in Mumbai, India. He has a passion for volunteering, youth education, and traveling — he has visited 45 countries.

“The IBD program is an incredible platform to partner with an international client to help solve real business issues they face. It helps us apply the concepts in class in a practical context and stay plugged into the global business environment while studying.” –Akshay Dalmia

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo: 

Cassandra has experience working across multiple industries including nonprofit, technology and financial services. Most recently she worked with Pro Mujer International, a social enterprise, empowering underserved women in Latin America. Cassandra also likes hiking and salsa dancing.

As an IBD Team Lead, I will continue to push myself and my teammates outside of our comfort zones in order to make our IBD adventure an unforgettable experience.  I am excited for this opportunity to bring together a diverse group of people, learn from each other’s perspectives, take personal and professional risks as a team and help each other grow in the process.  The journey is the reward!” – Cassandra Salcedo

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann: 

The majority of Charlie’s career has been with Morgan Stanley in London, and most recently as an associate in UK Mergers and Acquisitions.  Charlie is an international athlete and has represented Great Britain in competitive target shooting. 

“The IBD program was one of the reasons I applied to Haas, and building my leadership abilities is one of my main goals while here. I want to help my team have a material impact on a major project. I also want to experience leading a team outside of the western world!” Charlie Davidmann

Devan Courtois:

Devan Courtois

Devan Courtois

Post college, Devan worked for two years in Houston, Texas with Teach for America (TFA). After TFA, Devan moved on to Deloitte as a Strategy and Operations Business Analyst. Devan also spent time teaching English in Cusco, Peru.  She loves hiking, running and backpacking.

“One of my goals for coming to Haas was to improve my leadership skills and to learn best practices for effectively managing teams. Becoming an IBD Lead is one of the best opportunities Haas offers to refine these skills, and to use best practices learned in the classroom to lead a team of my peers and take on a manager-level role on a consulting engagement.” –Devan Courtois

Eddie Consigliere

Eddie Consigliere

Eduardo Consigliere:

Eddie most recent work was with Juntos Global, as a client Services Manager, supporting Latin America.  He also led several teams as a Senior Auditor at Ernst & Young.  Eddie enjoys cooking Peruvian food, indoor climbing and yoga.

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I believe the IBD program will be one of the most meaningful experiences of my time at Haas, and I wanted to have an active role in making it memorable for my classmates. Leading a team through a global consulting project is an incredible opportunity to further develop the skills I’ll need to be successful as I pursue a career in consulting after Haas. I believe that understanding how organizations operate abroad is important in order to foster greater empathy for clients and stakeholders in an increasingly global context.” – Eduardo Consigliere

Emily Lapham:

Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham:

Emily has background in global business operations and consulting for private and public sector entities. She sent time prior to Haas at the Cadmus Group in Washington, D.C. working as an Emergency Management Senior Analyst and at Northrop Grumman. Emily has completed four marathons and six half marathons. 

“As someone with an academic and professional background in international business, a desire to hone my consulting skill set, and an enthusiasm for travel, I felt that being a Team Lead would be a perfect position to combine my professional and personal interests. In my first job out of college, I worked with our company’s international offices on a day to day basis, often communicating with colleagues from 3-4 different time zones within a single day. I grew so much during this time, both as a professional and as a person, and I wanted to be a Team Lead to continue this learning trajectory.” Emily Lapham

Jorge Abreu cycling in Rio

Jorge Abreu cycling in Rio

Jorge Abreu:

Jorge has spent the majority of his career working for Roland Berger, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a Consultant.  Prior to Roland Berger, Jorge was an intern at Imerys in Paris, France and Hanoi, Vietnam.  In addition to Portuguese and English, Jorge speaks Spanish and French.

“I applied to be a Team Lead in IBD due to three main reasons: (i) to keep exploring and learning how different cultures influence businesses worldwide; (ii) to challenge myself as a leader, seizing this unique opportunity of leading a highly skilled team through a complex and ambiguous scenario; and (iii) to develop and sharpen hard and soft consulting skills such as project management, problem solving, client relationship, teamwork and communication.” – Jorge Abreu

Josh Raines-Teague:

Josh Raines-Teague in the mountains

Josh Raines-Teague in the mountains

Josh is in the concurrent MBA and Master of Public Health (MBA/MPH) program. Prior to Haas, Josh was a Senior Consultant at Deloitte working primarily with public sector health clients on a variety of projects aimed at improving our country’s ability to respond to emergencies. Josh is also a semi-professional musician with over ten years’ experience performing symphonic repertoire with orchestras and chamber ensembles. 

“I applied to be a Team Lead for IBD because I know that the best way to learn how to lead is by doing it. If I can develop my leadership skills while working on an impactful real-world issue and learning about another country and culture, then the proposition becomes impossible to pass up.” – Josh Raines-Teague

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds:

Julie is also in the MBA/MPH program.  Julie has a healthcare background, having spent the majority of her career with Foundation Medicine and Shire PLC.  Most recently, Julie was a manager on the corporate development and strategy team at Foundation Medicine, although she started her career as a public accountant at E&Y. Julie is a marathoner and is chasing a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I wanted a challenging real world leadership experience.  I managed teams earlier in my career but haven’t managed people directly for the last three years.  Coming out of business school, I want to be ready to lead teams and thought IBD would be a good way for me to exercise my management skills.  I also love to travel (and eat good food while traveling), so IBD seemed like a win-win opportunity, combining a professional experience with something I love to do in my spare time.“ – Julie Reynolds

Krutika Pursna dancing "Kathak"

Krutika Pursna dancing “Kathak”

Krutika Pursna:

Until coming to Haas, Krutika was the Outreach Director (and founder) for SheSays, a women’s empowerment organization in India. She is also a consultant at E&Y in advisory services.  Krutika is a dancer, practicing classical “Kathak” as part of B.A. degree from the Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya Mandaland, and a Belly Dance instructor.

“I applied to be IBD Team Lead because I hope to put together a team that not only comes from different backgrounds and is able to work well together and get along, but also one that is looking to learn and share expertise. In that way, as a lead my job would be to mainly facilitate these learnings and help those around me grow with the project.” -Krutika Pursna

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto:

Before coming to Haas, Luisa worked at Accenture Strategy in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, as manager and business consultant. Her expertise includes strategic and organizational planning, and developing/implementing cost optimization strategies. Luisa enjoys sports, especially volleyball.

“As I advance in my career, it becomes more clear to me that managing people (bosses, co-workers, clients…) and getting them to work productively as a team constitutes the most important part of any job, and I would much like to get better at it. I believe leadership is not innate, and to get good at it we need to practice, learn and improve every day – and this was the main reason why I applied to be a Team Lead.” – Luisa Bisinoto

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert:

The majority of Megan’s career has been as a business analyst and consultant at Deloitte Consulting focused on environmental sustainability and design innovation. Before coming to Haas, Megan spent four months working with a for profit organization called Accite Holdings in Botswana and South Africa, and in Winneba, Ghana with Challenging Heights, a non profit.

“I hope to gain greater leadership perspective by leading a team of talented peers to help balance all of their individual interests, skills, and objectives while also meeting the needs of our client. I also hope to form deep friendships as we throw ourselves into a new work environment and spend three weeks together in a foreign country.” – Megan Reichert

Oriana WWOOFing (voluntourism) in the southern Netherlands at a local organic vineyard!

Oriana WWOOFing (voluntourism) in the southern Netherlands at a local organic vineyard!

Oriana Chiu:

Oriana has worked with Deloitte Consulting as a consultant and business technology analyst for her entire career.  Oriana was the networking lead and nonprofit liaison for Women’s Bond Club, an organization for women in financial services. She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and Spanish.  

“I hope to experience how to successfully create a productive and fun team environment while in a different &/new cultural environment.” Oriana Chiu

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves:

Thais most recently worked at BCG–The Boston Consulting Group in São Paulo, Brazil, as a consultant.  She has worked with many industries during her time at BCG, including sustainability, food-systems, agriculture, education, and impact investing strategy.  Thais is passionate about social impact, and continues to work with a São Paulo global social impact organization called Inspiring Girls.

“For me, being a good leader is the most critical point to achieve success in any career path. I believe being an IBD team lead will enable me to continue developing my leadership skills; leveraging my past experiences as a consultant to lead a team of highly capable MBAs; understanding each team member’s motivations and how to work together to deliver impact for our client; and at the same time, ensuring a great experience for everyone in the team. I am really excited – it is gonna be a lot of learning, and a lot of fun! “ Thais Esteves

Victor as goalkeeper at semi-professional level for over 17 years

Victor as goalkeeper at semi-professional level for over 17 years

Victor Gorrachategui:

Victor most recently served as associate at A.T. Kearney in Madrid, Spain.  Throughout his career working as a strategy consultant, Victor has worked on a variety of industries including consumer goods, analytics, retail, and oil & gas. Victor has pursued Aerospace Engineering with great passion, including taking pilot lessons for light aircraft.  He is also an avid player of chess and soccer. 

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to create (as a Team Lead) and be a part of such a transformational personal and professional experience that IBD is. I hope not only to continue broadening my perspectives on how business is done in different parts of the world and learning from other cultures, but also to live this experience with a great group of Haassies that will hopefully become a close group of friends for the rest of my life!” Victor Gorrachategui

We look forward to working with all of these terrific student Team Leads in January when the spring semester IBD course begins.

IBD Alumni Interview: Beth Foster (‘18 MBA and IBD alum) loves working in East Africa

Written by Danner Doud-Martin

Beth with the city of Kampala

Beth with the city of Kampala

IBD caught up with ‘18 MBA Beth Foster who was visiting the bay area this August before returning to Kampala, Uganda, where she works as part of the investment arm of Engineers without Borders; Canada (EWB).  Beth sat down with us to talk about her experience prior to Haas, how IBD impacted her future career and her love for working with entrepreneurs in East Africa. 

Before coming to Haas, Beth was in the Peace Corps in Rwanda building a small business with a co-op of farmers. “I understood the potential of business to address societal challenges and be transformative in a way that other foreign aid projects couldn’t be.”  She knew she wanted to pursue international business development but didn’t have a business background or even know the terminology of the type of work she was interested in pursuing. Through conversations with people in the field she learned about social entrepreneurship and impact investing,  terms that are now part of her everyday vernacular.  

Beth's and her 2017 IBD Team with members of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum after our kickoff presentation

Beth’s and her 2017 IBD Team with members of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum after our kickoff presentation

Haas offers opportunities in these areas:

At Haas, Beth took advantage of all the different opportunities in the space, including relevant coursework such as IBD and opportunities outside the classroom, like the Haas Impact Investing Network (HIIN), Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) and internships.  As part of the 2017 IBD program, Beth worked with client Makerere University Private Sector Forum on a project in Kampala, Uganda. “It was great with IBD to get the chance to affirm that I wanted to return to East Africa. It was a really big decision, and not an easy one, but it felt right when I was there for IBD working with Makerere in Kampala.  It was the last piece of validation for making that move after Haas.” 

IBD 2017 Makerere team: Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

IBD 2017 Makerere team: Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

Beth’s IBD experience:

IBD’s policy is to provide students unique opportunities in international experiences and so even with her prior work in Rwanda, Beth shared that she thought it made sense she was assigned to work with the only project located on the content of Africa.   “I have a background in education and youth development and the IBD project was with the leading University in Kampala. We were specifically working with Makerere’s Private Sector Forum to develop a strategic plan. The Forum was trying to address two challenges. The first was youth unemployment in Uganda which is incredibly high. Secondly,  they wanted to address the issue of the university’s students graduating without jobs. Given that Uganda is a very entrepreneurial country, we saw the potential of many of these students becoming entrepreneurs and that informed the strategy we laid out.”

IBD leads to connections for future job:

During her three weeks in-country, working with Makerere, Beth learned about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Uganda, built connections with accelerators and investors and met with a lot of entrepreneurs.  “IBD was a great experience,” shares Beth. “It was good prep for my job interview with EWB as I had already made the connections. Meeting with the entrepreneurs there made me more excited than I had been in a very long time and hearing about their ideas gave me goosebumps.  When I came back (from IBD) I was on a mission to find a job in back in East Africa and am so grateful it worked out that way.”

How did you land on the field of Impact Investing?

When Beth was working in Rwanda, she realized that the most challenging part of making that business successful was the community politics and just knowing certain things about the consumer that aren’t obvious.  Beth came to the conclusion after much reflection that “I loved the idea of social entrepreneurship but if I am going to work in this region, I would rather have my whole focus and energy be towards focusing on supporting local entrepreneurs.  They have great ideas and know how to navigate the challenges of their space, but need the encouragement and resources.”

Beth admits that impact investing can mean a lot of different things so when she got to Haas she took two years of discovering where on the spectrum she wanted to be.  Through all her encounters with Haas opportunities, she solidified that she wanted to work in very early stage venture capital in East Africa and in impact-first investing.  She loves her job and the impact she has made with small business owners.

Do you have any advice for potential future students interested in IBD?

One of the unexpected surprises of IBD for Beth was getting more experience in the area of consulting.  “I don’t have a consulting background, but I had an amazing Team Lead who taught me so much. IBD was like a semester long intensive consulting class.  If you want to gain real world consulting skills, travel, and work on a meaningful project with impact, IBD is a good option,” shares Beth. Personally, she learned:

  • How to properly lead team meetings 
  • How to implement design thinking approaches
  • How to best interact with your client, including how to have tough conversations 
  • How to create timelines and deliverable that hold everyone accountable, including the client 

The 2019 IBD Team meets with Beth in Kampala:

This summer, IBD sent a third team of five MBA students to work with Makerere University.  Beth met up with the team and enjoyed seeing how excited they were about being in-country. “I just loved seeing how into the project the team was and the fact that I had that client previously meant that they wanted to know a lot of my thoughts.  It was a proud Haas moment.” 

Beth’s advice to the IBD Program Staff:

“I want to see more Africa based projects! My job is to research start-ups on the continent and there are just such amazing businesses out here.  Haasies can support these businesses and there is so much they can learn.”  

Perhaps IBD will have a future project with Beth and one of the many start-ups she is working with in Africa.  In the meantime, we congratulate Beth on her many successes and wish her the best moving forward.  

Refashioning a more sustainable future for apparel in India

Lauren Grimanis, Nish Samant, Felix Schadeck, Mark Sheiness, Molly Zeins

From our first steps off the plane in Bengaluru (Bangalore, for those outside of India), it was clear that fashion and color played an important role in Indian society: both in terms of individual self-expression as well as a market and income for a large swath of the population. Women in vibrant, traditional sarees ambled next others in more muted, contemporary getups while street bazaars of bargained handmade goods coexisted side-by-side with fixed price retail locations offering the latest mass-produced styles. We were here to help our client change this universe for the better and the sheer scope of our undertaking was finally sinking in.

Team ABFRL on our way to the client Day 1. The client provided private transportation to navigate Bangalore’s busy streets, which also meant we had no excuse to be late.

Our client, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd. (“ABFRL”) is a subsidiary of the gigantic conglomerate Aditya Birla Group (“ABG”) and one of India’s largest pure-play fashion companies. ABFRL had undertaken an ambitious sustainability campaign “Re-Earth: For Our Tomorrow” that kicked off a few years ago and was on-track to meet or exceed many of its goals by 2020. We were enlisted to help refocus the plan with a 2025 horizon and for the past 5 months had scoured the internet investigating the sustainability plans of apparel peers around the world before interviewing experts for their insights. Now it was time to roll up our sleeves in-country and explore the unique fashion landscape within India before landing on a set of recommendations for ABFRL to implement.

Pantaloons was one of ABFRL’s flagship brand umbrellas, with a deep penetration in Bangalore and presence across most of India so it wasn’t long on our first day in-country before we stumbled across one.

ABFRL put us up in a top-notch hotel near their office complex by the old airport that had been converted to an Indian Air Force training base. This was where they situated all of their external consultants and it was readily apparent from our first day in the office that despite our student status, the expectations set for us would be as lofty as any third-party agency brought in for a specific endeavor. Our task was ambitious and the demands high but there was an exhilarating drive at the chance to make a real impact given our client’s reach. As one interviewed employee aptly put: “removing even a single button from a garment could be a drastic improvement given our size.” This was the type of project many of us had left jobs to come to Berkeley to explore: to roadmap a way for business and society to harmoniously develop together into the future.

Based on the attendees at the kickoff ManCom meeting and our final presentation (above), it was apparent that sustainability is an increasing area of emphasis within ABFRL

Our first week kicked off with a early presentation to ABFRL’s “ManCom” (management committee) where we set out our desk research findings and structured our goals for the subsequent 3 weeks. Attendees included the Managing Director of the organization as well as brand heads and various CXOs of the Fashion & Retail subsidiary. Given the number of high-powered and the shrewd yet relentless line of questioning we faced, it was very apparent to us that sustainability was not simply lip service within ABFRL but that we also had our work cut out for us if we were going to make the business case for adopting our recommendations. 

Bhagya, our corporate liaison, was with us practically every step of the way and, as a native Bangalorean, an invaluable resource in navigating the unique metropolis of India’s “Silicon City.”

Early on Day One we met the most important person within ABFRL: Bhagya Lakshmi, a long-time member of the sustainability team and our liaison within the organization. Bhagya possessed an almost superhuman ability to get things done within ABFRL and quickly became one of our biggest champions in securing interviews and site visits over the duration of our trip. In all over the 3 weeks, we chatted with more than 3 dozen ABFRL employees and a handful of strategic partners. We visited 3 factories (which sported some of the best food the entire trip), a warehouse, a “model village”, and a half-dozen retail locations all in the name of better understanding our client’s operations and how they accomplish the herculean task of supplying garments to every corner of India.

Every location had amazing and authentic Indian cuisine that was a highlight of the tours. Each factory employed a few thousand workers so the meal logistics themselves were an incredible undertaking.

ABFRL’s is setup with at least 5 in-house brand umbrellas where they design, produce, and sell apparel items as well as a number of additional third-party brands where they are the exclusive retailer within the Indian market. An early takeaway from our peer research was to “Start where you have the most control” when it comes to sustainability so much of our time was spent focusing on the full-featured brands where they had the most power to implement our recommendations. India’s climate and generally hot weather year-round leads to only certain materials being viable and, indeed, over 70% of ABFRL’s lineup was from cotton so that became a big focus of our investigation and interviews. 

One of the most impactful visits was traveling to a “model village” and seeing the direct impact ABFRL was already having through its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives such as bringing a Water ATM to the town of Sollepuram.

Our final presentation constituted 10 recommendations they could implement between now and 2025 that encompassed the company’s own operations as well as upstream (vendors, materials) and downstream (retailers, customers). Any one of our recommendations could be an entire IBD project in its own right and given the large scope of our project, we struggled with the timeless challenge of depth vs. breadth. Nonetheless, the feedback was that our presentation was well-received with ABFRL commenting that 80% of our suggestions would be piloted by 2025. Because we knew the audience was limited for our concluding presentation, we designed our final deliverable to also function as a shareable roadmap to stand on its own without us. We had a fantastic time in India and have high hopes for ABFRL and its stakeholders going forward. The project gave us unprecedented insight into the Asian apparel industry and a lens into manufacturing we rarely see Stateside. IBD will certainly be one of the highlights we each take away from the Haas experience and a bond the 5 of us will always share. 

Despite the demanding work schedule, we still found plenty of time to goof off. We opted for a lot of nature and remote outdoor excursions to limit the number of stares we attracted with our antics.

While the demands of the project kept us mostly local to the hotel premises and the 3 restaurants/bars it sported, we did manage to escape to surrounding areas over the weekend. During our first weekend in the city, still fighting off the jetlag, we opted for a night hike in the majestic Naandi Hills and even the bus breakdown, 3-hour delay, and deceptively steep climb  couldn’t keep us from enjoying the great sights this former hillside sanctuary fortress offered. Our taste for the Indian outdoors were whet and for the next weekend we opted for a more immersive experience exploring the Kabini region in a jungle resort near the Nagarahole tiger reserve. We saw plenty of flora and fauna during our two morning safaris by boat and vehicle but sadly the majestic big cats eluded us until we can next come back. The great preservation  efforts by the Nagarahole rangers combined with our ABFRL work towards sustainability gave us real hope that the landscape and mindset within India is changing to a more eco- and socially-conscious future that would allow many generations to come to explore its rich geography and benefit from varied and historic produced goods.