Written by: Jose Vitor Ribeiro Dos Santos, Johnny Gutierrez, Jason Palacios, Hejar Oncel, and Jeff Neblett
India is the world’s second most populous nation and arguably the world’s most exciting business environment. Despite all of us traveling extensively, no one on our IBD team had ever been to the country. We were thrilled to navigate a new business landscape as part of such a unique program, all while exploring a country that we had heard so much about. Yet we were faced with a daunting project scope from our client, ElectroMech, in an industry we knew very little about – crane and material handling equipment manufacturing. Our scope was to broadly explore disruptive technologies and business opportunities that would allow the company to grow revenue 25x from $40 million to $1 billion in the next 10 years (sounds easy, doesn’t it?!). Not to mention, we were handicapped as our team lead could not travel with us. Despite these factors, we knew the ElectroMech team was eager to have our input and help us in any way possible – with their support we were ready to help the company grow!
Our trip to Pune from Berkeley was over 24 hours and involved many adjustments (new culture, different food, and habits, crazy
drivers and a 12-hour time difference from California), all while preparing for our day-of-arrival presentation. One would think that the first-week in-country would be rough, right? Well, while it certainly had its challenges, the overall experience was nothing short of amazing. Pune is a rapidly expanding city located about three hours by car from Mumbai. We quickly found it to be filled with very friendly and helpful people, great food and an ambitious and ready-to-work client. The first interaction with the ElectroMech team was our day-of-arrival presentation, in which we were able to meet many other leaders of the company, showing them our goals and explaining how important our interactions with them would be in order to achieve a successful project. The presentation was followed by a tour of the factory floor – quite helpful in understanding ElectroMech’s processes and organization – and by the kick-off of our internal meetings with members of the organization.
ElectroMech organized many meetings with their division heads and team members so we could develop a full understanding of where the company currently stood as well as the company’s strategy. Every interview – we spoke with sales, design, engineering, finance, innovation and others – was very helpful for us, in the sense of corroborating and invalidating parts of the hypothesis we had developed, identifying new opportunities and generating new ideas for our final presentation. We also interviewed local and multinational clients and partners of the company to support this process.
A lot of work, but a lot of fun – that’s the best definition of our second week in Pune. After a sightseeing weekend in Mumbai and a
few more meetings with customers and partners on Monday, it was then time to focus on our main assignment in India: a two-hour presentation to ElectroMech’s Board of Directors on Friday. The expectations from the company were very high, and we felt that we had quite the responsibility considering all the attention and support that we had received. We needed to deliver a great presentation and point to innovative solutions and opportunities for ElectroMech.
The team worked very well together and, even though we had a few long nights researching and tirelessly editing PowerPoint slides, we all were happy with the intensive learning and growth we were experiencing. It was great to use insights discovered during our interviews to better explore and assess the technologies and potential new business models we were proposing for ElectroMech. For example, by interacting with ElectroMech clients we identified key core competencies that allowed the company to stand out from the competition, as well as what new technological core competencies needed from ElectroMech in order to increase productivity and reliability. After several meetings discussing the presentation, working through nine different versions of the slides and practicing the full presentation a few times – it was time to show the result of our work to ElectroMech’s management and the Board.
The final result was great! Our recommendations brought to life several discussions among the board members – just as we hoped it would – and the overall reaction was very positive. The hard work was definitely worth it, and we could finally relax and prepare for a great weekend in New Delhi and Agra… after all, it was about time we visited the Taj Mahal!
Overall, the ElectroMech IBD project was an amazing experience for us. Not only in understanding more about India – that it is indeed a vibrant country with huge potential for further growth and development – but also the opportunity to work with ElectroMech was unique. We are getting back to Berkeley more prepared for our next professional steps, and certainly with lots of amazing stories to tell!