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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We would also talk with agencies helping to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Que Alegre! Updates from Guatemala City

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

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

Guatemala City

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

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

The Initial Research

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

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

Arrival in Guatemala City

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

First Days at the Office

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

Learning about the market

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

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

Weekend trips 

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

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

Final Presentation

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

In Conclusion

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

Updates from IBD Shanghai – ARM Accelerator

Written by Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller

FTMBA students Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller traveled to Shanghai, China during summer 2017 to work with ARM Accelerator.

IBD team in the ARM Accelerator Shanghai office

The Internet of Things (IoT) involves embedding objects in our surroundings with sensors, which capture data and make decisions without the need for human intervention. IoT is poised to change the world, and our client, ARM, is playing a major role in the IoT revolution. ARM is a multinational semiconductor company that designs architecture for the chips that power our smartphones and tablets. Over the next 20 years, ARM expects to deliver 1 trillion chips for IoT devices.

Two years ago, ARM China launched the ARM Accelerator to support IoT startups. Our five-person IBD team traveled to Shanghai to work with ARM Accelerator, helping them develop a strategy to attract Silicon Valley startups, and crafting a plan to diversify their revenue sources.

Initial Research: Bringing Silicon Valley to China

IBD team members Jen, Harsh, and Chris presenting our recommendations to ARM leadership

Our initial challenge was to advise ARM Accelerator on a strategy for attracting U.S. startups. We hypothesized that U.S.-based startups would not want to travel to China for the program, and anticipated recommending a Silicon Valley office. To test our hypothesis, we spoke with founders from 12 different IoT startups in the U.C. Berkeley ecosystem.

We were surprised to learn that virtually all of the founders had either already spent time in China, or anticipated going in the near future. The primary reason for Chinese travel was to connect with manufacturers, but several startups were also interested in meeting Chinese investors and customers.

IBD students with ARM Accelerator leadership, including Allan Wu (center), President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘96

We also discovered that most startups learn about accelerators through their networks. The ARM brand is strong, but few startups had heard of ARM’s accelerator, underscoring the need for business development efforts and localized marketing content in Silicon Valley.

Evaluating the Accelerator Business Model

In the weeks leading up to our trip, we expanded our focus. At two years old, ARM Accelerator is still a startup, and they wanted insights into how other accelerators achieve financial sustainability. We analyzed successful accelerators from around the world, and compiled preliminary recommendations to test in-country.

IBD team member Jen Hoss at the TechCode Shanghai Accelerator, testing an Augmented Reality windshield

 

Day of Arrival

On May 12, we flew to Shanghai. None of us had ever visited mainland China, and we were eager to meet the ARM Accelerator team and learn more about the Chinese startup ecosystem.

ARM Accelerator founder Andy Chen and head engineer Shi Lei gave us a warm welcome, and briefed us on an itinerary packed with interviews. Over the following days, we met with ARM Accelerator graduates, venture capital investors, other accelerators, and the local government. We even attended a presentation in which ARM Accelerator companies pitched their autonomous vehicle technologies to representatives from BMW.

IBD team members from left to right, Jen Hoss, Justin Wedell, Amanda Eller, Chris Roberts, and Harsh Thusu, meeting with bike-sharing startup MoBike.

Interview Highlights: TechCode, Shanghai government, and MoBike

TechCode is an accelerator and incubator started in China, with locations all over the world. Daphne Han provided insights into the benefits of the accelerator for TechCode’s corporate sponsor. She also gave us a tour of their co-working office space, and IBD team member Jen got to test a TechCode company’s “Smart Windshield,” which uses Augmented Reality to provide real-time information to drivers.

Another highlight was our meeting with Zhang Lan from the Shanghai government’s Development and Reform Committee. Mr. Lan shared fascinating insights about the government’s role in supporting entrepreneurship, and the incentives available to ARM Accelerator companies.

Mr. Lan then brought us to the MoBike headquarters. MoBike is a bike sharing startup that has taken

IBD team at the MoBike Shanghai office, with Shanghai government official Mr. Zhang Lan and our ARM colleague Allan Zhong

China by storm, with support from the government. 25 years ago, Shanghai was full of bicycles, but their replacement with motorcycles and cars has exacerbated pollution. MoBike is reversing the trend, and we were impressed by the number of Chinese taking advantage of MoBike. MoBikes can be parked anywhere, and locked or unlocked with a smartphone app; each morning the bikes pile up in front of office buildings, and by evening rows of MoBikes surround the metro stations.

Our ARM Accelerator hosts took us for a traditional Chinese business dinner, which meant plenty of baiju, or Chinese spirits

Eating our way across China

The team made the most of our free time by trying every dumpling we could find. We learned about the art of handpulled noodles, sampled Uigher-style barbecue, and tasted Schizuan Province’s spicy mala peppercorns.  We even contemplated opening a Berkeley franchise of China’s popular Yang’s Dumplings chain.

Between meals, we climbed the Great Wall, explored Beijing’s Forbidden City, and hiked the mountains surrounding Hangzhou’s famous West Lake.

And throughout our trip, we were greeted by local Haasies. Alan Wu, President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘97 provided valuable feedback throughout our project and shared his visions for China’s technological future.

Making new friends over a Beijing-style hotpot dinner

And the Haas Shanghai Alumni group welcomed us with a happy hour, where we met two incoming classmates to the class of 2019.

After a successful three weeks in China, we are excited to continue following ARM Accelerator’s progress as they help build companies shaping the future of IoT.

Phnomenal Times

Written by Sushant Barave, William Conry, Daniel Conti and Joe Layton

For our IBD project, we’re working with Cambodia’s first and only rum distillery, Samai, based in Phnom Penh. Our team is partnering with Samai’s founders, Antonio and Daniel, on expansion strategy, new market pricing, operational improvement and accounting guidance.

Prior to arriving in Phnom Penh we had been corresponding with Samai to finalize the scope of the project and complete as much pre-work as possible. While our team was productive across those six weeks, it was remarkable how much more effective we became on location with the client. For instance, we had an idea of what the rum production process looked like, however being able to visualize the steps enhanced our understanding to the level required to make recommendations.  Additionally, speaking face to face with Daniel, Antonio and Champich, the master distiller, we were able to have more insightful conversations and gain a better feel for the business and its needs.

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Another byproduct of live meetings is shifting priorities. While the project work streams had been determined in advance of our arrival, it became clear our first-day additional challenges that require support will surface. Our team recognized the importance of prioritization as a guiding principle – we need to invest our time and resources into the projects that are most vital to Samai and also ensure our deliverables are actionable.

 

Cocktail Competition

Samai’s distillery is open to the public on Thursday nights, when it serves up Samai rum-based cocktails to a lively, mostly expat, clientele. During our required rum tasting our first day on the job I suggested –  somewhat jokingly –  that we have a competition on Thursday to determine which Haas team member can create the best cocktail. Antonio sounded intrigued and within a day we had teams decided, menus set, ingredients purchased and a professional flyer posted on social media. That escalated quickly!

Dan and I settled on a variation of a Dark and Stormy entitled Ann’s Arbor, an homage to our undergraduate institution. Leveraging Joe’s advanced rum knowledge, he and Sushant crafted a more complex, boozy concoction, a Queens Park Swizzle.

We met at the distillery early to pour practice drinks and tweak the recipes until we had it right. This was not just a fun experiment; patrons would be paying for these cocktails! Once we had the proportions, preparations, and presentations down, it was game time.

It could have been the Berkeley-Haas name on the flyer, perhaps it was the sophisticated drink selection or maybe it was our rugged good looks and charm behind the back bar, but the orders flowed in like Trump tweets after a New York Times bombshell report.

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

At a few points we couldn’t keep up with the demand – we were forced to act like seasoned bartenders who knew how to accommodate a packed bar.

For the competition piece, believe it or not, according to the official tally the contest ended in a tie! The Ann’s Arbor team will point out that our drink had a higher volume of orders, which should be the tie breaker. The Queen Park Swizzle duo will remind us that more orders led to more misinformed votes from those who only sampled one beverage.

Regardless of who deserves the crown, overall the cocktail competition was a win. We learned useful skills that aren’t often taught in the classroom, had fun, brought in incremental sales for Samai and met some interesting people.

After shaking and stirring as celebrity bartenders for the night, it was back to our real lives Excel modeling and PowerPoint-ing as consultants at the Samai office the next morning. It was fun while it lasted, but there’s still work to do!

Back to work

Back to work

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.

Dari Kita, Untuk Kita – From Us, For Us

Written by: Mackenzie Cooke, Anne Kimberley, Tyler Owens, Karin Schmidt and Nony Onyeador

A poem by esteemed poet, Annie Kimberley:

In the dark of night, we wake and depart,

For beating a long commute, we need this jump start;

The worst traffic in the world by far,

Hard to fathom the hours spent in a car.

At last we reach the end of the road,

Sleepy out of the van we all unload;

A punch of pizzazz wakes us with a start,

The crowd is dancing with all of their heart.

The Zumba class is full of women,

In neon outfits- what a vision!

Their dance moves put us to shame,

We couldn’t keep up with their game.

“Hi guys, tomorrow, we’ll be leaving from your hotel at 4:30 AM in order to get on the road to Bandung. Will you be awake?”

There’s seems to be little choice in the matter. Our team is scheduled to attend one of many community events that Diamond Fair puts on in the neighborhoods around their ten existing Diamond Fair stores. The stores are a part of a recent retail initiative launched by the manufacturer, Diamond Cold Storage’s distribution company, Sukanda Djaya. The stores, together called “Diamond Fair” work to complete a trilogy of vertical integration that few companies have the luxury of pulling off profitably. In order to make the morning event on time, we have to beat the infamous Jakarta traffic.

17:00, Thursday, May 18th

“Actually, we have to meet the rest of the team for breakfast at 4:30, so please be ready at 4:00 AM and we will drive over”.

No problem at all. Up to this point, we have only been on-site for four days and are acclimating slowly to the 14-hour time difference. Our gracious client has put us up at the Harris Hotel in Bekasi, a city about an hour outside of the industrial park that houses PT. Diamond Cold Storage. Bekasi is about an hour from the capital city, Jakarta.

Team Diamond Fair's Family Photo

Team Diamond Fair’s Family Photo

The Harris Hotel is attached to a mall, so we learn to entertain ourselves in the evenings at one of the nightly concerts or with strolls around the four-story building. A group of us take to trying new restaurants while the others spend an hour in the gym. By the end of our trip, we see the mall/hotel as home and commemorate our stay with a team photo shoot filled with silly, Awkward Family Photos at a professional portrait store in the basement.

4:15, Friday, May 17th

One of our client colleagues, Nurdin, picks us up from the hotel. We usually spend our car rides playing dice or Batachelli but none of us are in the mood at this hour.

4:35, Friday, May 17th

The client has picked up quickly on Mackenzie’s love of coffee and they decide to stop for breakfast at a 24-hour Starbucks to kick off our journey. The 12 of us pile into the quiet Starbucks for coffees, pastries, and yogurt. Looking outside, hundreds of cars, vans, and trucks are already backed up for miles on the highway bordering the Starbucks.

We are fascinated, but only slightly. Within the week that we’ve been there, we learn that at least half of the 12-person Diamond Fair team is traveling more than 2 hours each way to get to work. The new infrastructure projects commissioned by Indonesian President Jokowi exacerbate the traffic, but will hopefully provide respite via two elevated train lines within the next few years.

Diamond Fair's mobile truck

Diamond Fair’s mobile truck

5:00, Friday, May 17th

By 5:00 AM, we’re on the road again, heading to the “Paris of Indonesia” otherwise known as Bandung. The nickname is a reference to the fact that most “Made in Indonesia” tag items are manufactured there. As a result, the city is filled with outlets and factory stores for excess clothing from brands we know well.

7:00, Friday, May 17th

We park and walk into a concrete clearing behind office buildings to find the first event already underway. Diamond Fair is one of the sponsors for one of the city appreciation events. The event is a sports day and Diamond Fair’s mobile truck selling ice cream, juice, milk, and several other products already sits gleaming on the sideline. A large crowd forms around the truck and they sell more than 75 transactions within the hour.

Mackenzie holding a beautiful baby

Mackenzie holding a beautiful baby

A small group of men asks for pictures with us, and it sets off a flurry of photo shoots that culminate in a woman handing Mackenzie her new-born baby for a sweet shot.

9:00, Friday, May 17th

We make it to the town of Cimahi where the most profitable Diamond Fair store sits. We have planned a focus group discussion and begin preparing the office. From 10 AM to 12 PM, we see over 30 customers and non-customers asking a slew of questions about their shopping habits, experience with Diamond Fair, willingness to order online and more. The focus groups are especially eye-opening because we have so many preconceived notions about buying habits from the United States that are completely different in Indonesia. The average Indonesian grocery shopper is likely a matriarch and is completely driven by price promotions. They will travel well out of their way just to save a few cents and are especially agnostic to ordering online despite the time and cost of travel. We also meet several small business owners who make a good starting base for a potential subscription delivery service idea that we are considering. Both reference community and referrals as a major way that they learn about offers and new stores. Their answers validate many of Diamond Fair’s PR and promotion strategies.

Consumer Interviews

Consumer Interviews

13:00, Friday, May 17th

After FGDs, we grab lunch and try eating the traditional meals with our hands for the first time as Indonesians would. The team orders us a buffet of items, chicken, several styles of fish, sautéed vegetables, and a couple tofu and tempeh options for Annie, the vegetarian of our group. The food is delicious and we wrap it up with coconut waters straight from the fruit.

15:00, Friday, May 17th

After lunch, we head out to a “CompShop”, shorthand for a competitor shopping exercise, to observe what other grocery chains are doing. This includes how they display and promote items, what their loyalty programs entail and where Diamond products are positioned. It takes two hours to get to our first grocery story and we are astonished to find out later that it is only a couple of kilometers away.

19:00, Friday, May 17th

Two CompShops and several hours later we head to dinner at a fancy restaurant overlooking the water. Here we would have one of the very rare occasions on the trip, in the majority-Muslim country, to drink alcohol.

Around 10:30 PM after lots of laughs and a full stomach, we are happy to head back to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow is another early wake-up call.

6:00, Saturday, May 18th

We begin driving back to the Diamond Fair Cimahi store, this time for a community Zumba event.

7:00, Saturday, May 18th

As described in our poem, the Zumba event is filled with high energy and great music. Over 20 men and women of all ages hustle alongside an instructor cloaked in matching black and blue sweat suit emblazed with the word, “Zumba”. In fact, everyone is dressed for the occasion with a couple of women looking almost like superheroes with their neon outfits and matching headscarves. An exuberant woman dressed in a baby blue and pink sweat suit pumping effortlessly to the music in the front encourages the crowd with loud, passionate calls to move and get into the music. It is unclear whether she knows the instructor or is simply a good Samaritan, but she makes all of us smile with excitement.

Karin, Mackenzie, and Annie join in for the workout and Tyler charms with a couple of moves of his own.

Zumba

9:00, Saturday, May 18th

The final event of the weekend is a cooking demonstration led by PR Head, Indri. She shows the women how to make Eggs Bolognese with Diamond branded items and then lets them try it with some Diamond-owned Jungle Juice. The women enjoy the event and once again we are impressed with the reach and attendance of each event. After all, only one store has been open for more than seven months. The events show how dedicated Diamond Fair is to making their B2C strategy work and it helps drive us more to create the best recommendations for the Indonesian context. Plus, we have a lot of fun.

12:00, Saturday, May 18th

Cooking demonstration

Cooking demonstration

We pile into the car for the long journey back to Bekasi. It has been quite the weekend, but these two days make us feel more knowledgeable than ever about our client and their business. We’re happy to have been a part of it all.

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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