2017 Full-Time IBD Clients

If you have been following our IBD newsletter over the last few months, you may have noticed that we have shared a lot of information about the IBD course, the processes we go through to select IBD Team Leads, and how we assign Team Members to projects.  So far we have introduced you to our talented IBD Team Leads and two of our IBD Faculty Mentors.  We are very proud of the IBD course, including our hard-working MBA faculty and students and what they bring to the program, but we haven’t yet shared with you information about one of the most important aspects of the IBD program: our clients.  Without our valuable clients, the IBD course and the opportunities it affords to Berkeley-Haas MBA students wouldn’t exist.

The first IBD program took place in 1992 with 15 participating MBA students.  Since then IBD has worked with over 450 clients in 89 countries.  Clients are introduced to IBD through a myriad of channels.  IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube and Director of Business Development David Richardson spend countless hours talking with prospective IBD clients and traveling to far-flung destinations to pitch the IBD experience.  Berkeley-Haas and UC Berkeley alumni are also a huge part of the process of IBD project development.  They act as local ambassadors for our work, helping IBD staff develop and refine a variety of challenging consulting projects worldwide.

Over the many years of its existence, the IBD program has partnered with governments, NGOs, 
nonprofits, social enterprises, entrepreneurs, and companies of all sizes and industries.  This year, for example, the Spring 2017 IBD program includes eleven for-profit clients and five nonprofit clients in eleven different industries.  To conclude work on their respective IBD projects, our MBA students will end up traveling to Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America.

We are currently partnering with three returning clients from the Spring 2016 IBD program.  Nine of our Spring 2017 IBD projects boast a valuable Berkeley-Haas or UC Berkeley alumni connection; four of these have an alum currently working in the organization.  No matter how this year’s 16 remarkable client organizations came to be a part of the Spring 2017 IBD course, we are honored and grateful to work with all of them.

Updates from IBD Mexico – Team salaUno

Spring 2014 IBD Team salaUno (Manuel Ariztia, James McAdams, Zoe Sifrim, Anna Stolyarova) is working with eye care provider salaUno in Mexico City, Mexico.

“Can’t we just cut it in half?”

We stared back at our client, not quite understanding. “Can’t we just cut the desk in half?” he asked again. We had spent the past two weeks deep in the weeds of salaUno optic shop’s financial data, inventory and pricing. We had visited competitor shops all over the city, providing recommendations on how to best present lens options, and how to refine the sales pitch. We had designed an entirely new layout for the shop, emphasizing comfort and transparency for the customers. But it all came down to one question: can we cut the desk we already have in half?

Let me back up. Driven by the mission to eliminate needless blindness in Mexico, salaUno provides high-quality cataract surgeries and other eye services at a very low cost. Inspired by Aravind Eye Center in India, salaUno makes use of high volumes, operational efficiencies and economies of scale to make its business work. Since it began operating in 2011, they have run a small optic shop, selling glasses to the patients who need them. Until now the optic shop has received little attention; however, due to salaUno’s plans for expansion, the shop has taken on increasing strategic importance. That’s where IBD comes in.

At first glance, we’re a great team to take on this project. We have experience in finance, operations, consulting and health care; we’re passionate about the work that salaUno does; and two of our team members speak Spanish. It seems like a great fit…until you factor in… The Gringo Loco. That’s our affectionate term for our team member whose working-knowledge of Spanish doesn’t go far beyond “Dónde está el baño?” and “Hola! Sí! Por Favor!” The Gringo Loco is also not too great with the metric system. And that’s where we got into trouble.

SalaUno is a real start-up. There’s an all-hands-on-deck feeling around here, and decisions are made fast. Whereas in our previous work, a change in price or a change in layout might take weeks to be approved, at salaUno a good idea is adopted immediately.  We proposed a new layout for the optic shop that would include a low desk for the sales attendant, so that customers could sit at the desk with her and discuss their options. We never imagined that the next day a carpenter would show up to cut their existing desk in half. Not wanting to waste the carpenter’s time, the Gringo Loco took out his measuring tape and recommended lopping off 20cm. Here’s the result:


salauno1The optic shop’s desk post “Gringo Loco” involvement

We have learned on this trip that we are not architects. Luckily, the solution is only temporary. In about a month, the optic shop will be completely redesigned. Our proposed new prices and sales guides will be adopted, so patients will be able to select the lenses that work for them quickly and with no anxiety. SalaUno will be able to track its optic shop’s profits and inventory far better than it has in the past, and the staff who work in the shop will have regular meetings to problem-solve in real time. It has been immensely gratifying to be able to make recommendations that will be implemented immediately, and we are confident that these changes will transform both the patient experience and the shop’s profitability. Though there have been hiccups along the way, we can’t wait to see what salaUno does next.

salauno2Hard at work in salaUno’s clinic, Zoe teaches the Gringo Loco how to count to ten in Spanish

salauno3Anya acquires first hand experience of salaUno’s eye care operation

salauno4Manuel captivates Zoe & James with his excel wizardry

salauno5Zoe is kept company by Nelson, the office mascot

salauno6The team takes over salaUno’s work space…Zoe deftly uses Nelson as a footrest

salauno7The team celebrates an end to a successful project with Javier (middle) and Carlos (far right), salaUno’s co-founders

salauno8Team salaUno gets out of the city and visitsTeotihuacan – the Pyramid of the Sun and Avenue of the Dead are in the background

salauno9Zoe, Anya, & James with picturesque Guanajuato in the background

Spring Break Treks: Camels, Monks, and Business Leaders

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Nearly 200 Berkeley MBA students criss-crossed the globe over spring break in the pursuit of camel riding, finding spirituality, meeting key business leaders, and building even stronger bonds with some of their new closest friends. Spring break trekkers traveled to Israel, Japan, Cuba, and Morocco and brought back with them a wealth of new experiences. Here are some of their stories:


The five tour leaders who guided 55 travelers through Israel wanted their guests — 47 of whom had never been there before — to experience of the “reality” of the country, based on personal experience and not on the perception of the small Jewish state they get from the news. Romi and Noa Elan, Adi Rubinovich, Yaron Leyvand, and Nadav Shem-Tov, all MBA 14 — believe they accomplished just that.

On several occasions, the leaders shared personal stories, such as how relatives died while fighting in the military, or introduced their relatives to their travel mates in person. In Tel Aviv, for example, some tour leader family members manned the stations of a scavenger hunt.

The tour group visited religious sites of both Christians and Jews, walked along the Syrian border, floated in the Dead Sea, and woke up early to climb Masada.

For Elan, who grew up in Israel, seeing the country through someone else’s eyes was illuminating. While climbing Masada, one guest commented, “This is the coolest thing ever.”

“Just hearing that about these things that I had taken for granted was amazing,” Elan says.

The tour group also visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, which Elan thought showed the students “the context for the state of Israel and why some policies may seem so strict.” The group also spoke with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, a former businessman who got his start by co-founding a high-tech antivirus software company. “He laid out governing in business terms,” Elan says, “and how he intends to solve the issues of Jerusalem.”


Fifty-six Haas students traveled to Japan during spring break and toured the cities of Hiroshima, Kyoto, Atami, and Tokyo.

Highlights included waking early to listen to the holy sutras, living as monks do at the Buddhist temple in Mount Koya, and dining on vegetarian delicacies.

Ryo Itoh, MBA 15, helped lead the tour, which he described as a mixture of “culture, fun, andbusiness.” The group also visited a Toyota plant and Softbank, one of the largest telecom companies, and the atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima.

While everyone was really “cooperative,” getting 50-plus people on a bullet train in a one-minute window was a logistical challenge, Itoh says. So were some food allergies, which the group remedied by writing up cards with food instructions in Japanese to bring to restaurants.

In Tokyo, some students enjoyed a one-night homestay in which they were picked up by a Japanese host family and enjoyed an evening with a local family.

The trip concluded with a final dinner of more than 70 people, including Haas alumni in Japan and recent admits for the class of 2016.


Eleven Haasies traveled to Cuba for the spring break, where they took in a lively salsa show in the colonial city of Trinidad, and half the group woke up early to trek to a secluded waterfall.

Brad Malt, Paul Cole, Matt Richards and Billy Blaustein, all MBA 15, even jumped off a 40-foot cliff into a swimming hole at the base of the waterfall. “It was really cool and definitely a highlight of the trip,” Malt says.

The students received one credit for an independent study called “Innovation in a Closed Economy,” looking at how the recent changes and loosening of restrictions are affecting Cubans. The MBA students had lunch with a Cuban veteran who worked closely with Che Guevara and Fidel Castro and shared his perspective on the embargo, recent changes, and how they are affecting Cubans.

The group also came to Cuba with two dozen baseballs and hats donated by the Cal baseball team to hand out to Cubans, who were grateful for the American gifts. On the students’ drive to the Bay of Pigs, Malt said they spotted a baseball field in town and pulled over for an impromptu pickup game. They didn’t have a bat, so a local Cuban lent them a partially broken wooden one. As they played, more and more townspeople came either to watch or to join the game.

“It was one of the more memorable experiences of my life,” Malt says.


The Morocco trip started off small, with five people asking to tag along as Moulay Driss Belkebir Mrani, MBA 15, planned a visit to his homeland. In the end, Mrani ended up leading 66 people through Essaouria, Marrakech, Ouarzazate and the desert of Zagora.

The group enjoyed sightseeing, shopping, and camel riding, but there was also a purposeful business angle weaved into the trip. Mrani took the group to meet the CEO of the OCP Group, otherwise known as Office Cherifien des Phosphates, the world’s largest phosphates exporters and Morocco’s largest corporation. . “We had lunch and discussed the future of the fertilizers industry and the impact on farming in the world,” Mrani says.

The group also visited a mining complex and the site of a new university and met with a woman’s cooperative, where they learned about oil production.

One of the most memorable parts of the trek was the road trip to the desert in Zagora. There, under the stars, the group listened to tribal songs, lit a huge camp fire, and smoked in the “hookah corner.”

For Mrani, one of the greatest aspects of the trek was showing his country to his peers and re-discovering it himself.

“When you spend a week day and night with people, you get to know them better,” he said. “And to be in the desert in the middle of nowhere, in tents with food and music … Well, it was surreal and pretty amazing.”

Billion-Dollar Startups, Splunk Founder Michael Baum, and One-Minute Pitches at Annual Haas Celebration

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What’s one secret to launching a billion-dollar startup? Continually innovating your business model, not just your product or service, says Michael Baum, founder and former CEO of Splunk, which creates software that helps companies glean insights from machine data and was one of the most successful IPOs of 2012.

Baum was the featured speaker at the 12th annual Haas Celebration at Gap Inc. headquarters in San Francisco on March 18. Nearly 400 alumni, students, and friends of Haas attended the event, which this year highlighted the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship. The evening also included a one-minute pitch competition for teams of alumni and students.

In a conversation with Lester Center Executive Director Andre Marquis, MBA 96, Baum spoke about how he built Splunk and the changing landscape of entrepreneurship education. Baum’s 25-year entrepreneurial career has included six startups and five acquisitions that have created more than 3,000 jobs, more than 150 millionaires, and more than $10 billion in shareholder value.

One way Splunk innovated its business model in the early days, when it was competing with companies like IBM, was to buy Google AdWords on troubleshooting topics users might have with a competitor’s software. For anyone seeking help with a problem, Splunk repeatedly appeared as the solution.

Baum also stressed that success is about execution, not ideas. That’s why Splunk cofounders weren’t concerned with competitors seeing the product roadmap they posted online for two years to crowdsource feedback from potential customers. They knew they could deliver the software faster and better than anyone else.

Baum’s current startup is FOUNDER.org, which works with colleges, universities (including Cal), and research institutes to help students become successful entrepreneurs. Its initiatives provide students funding, education, and mentoring to prepare them for long-term success. Baum’s goal for FOUNDER.org is longevity (he’s aiming for a hundred years), so he made it a nonprofit. He says it may be one of the first nonprofit venture capital projects.

The evening also included a one-minute pitch competition among Haas and Cal student and alumni representatives from 10 startups. Audience members could learn about each startup during the cocktail hour and voted via text message. Teams pitching their ideas represented Brandizi, Twindom, Eko Devices, Magoosh, Modify Industries, OCHO Candy, PlushCare, POWr, Xcell Biosciences, and YadaZing.

The winner of Cal swag and bragging rights was Eko Devices (coincidentally affiliated with FOUNDER.org), which helps clinicians amplify, digitize, and analyze patient heart sounds through a smart device that attaches to a stethoscope. Traditional stethoscopes can’t diagnose most heart conditions but an Eko Device can. “We want to put a cardiologist in every doctor’s pocket,” said Eko cofounder and CEO Connor Landgraf, BS 13 (Bioengineering), during his pitch.

Guests at the event also enjoyed access to the renowned modern art of Gap founders Doris Fisher and her late husband, Don Fisher, BS 51, whose collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Cy Twombly, Sol LeWitt, and many others.

Our best wishes to Haas alumni and friends in the northeast

Dear Haas Alums,


We have been following Hurricane Sandy from Berkeley and wanted to let you know that our thoughts are with you and your family.

We hope that your homes and businesses were not affected too badly by the floods and winds in the region.

When time permits, we will be grateful to know how you are and if there is any support your Haas Alumni Relations Office can provide.   You may reach us at alumni@haas.berkeley.edu

In the meantime, you are in our thoughts, hopes, and prayers.

Dean Rich Lyons

Haas Leaders Share Insights at Davos

Haas Professor Laura Tyson at Davos.

Haas faculty and alumni were among the leaders at the annual World Economic forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland last week.

While attending the conference, Haas Professor and former Dean Laura Tyson participated in a videotaped Financial Times debate on how to fix the global economy.

Adjunct Professor Henry Chesbrough, PhD 97, faculty director of the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, participated in a conversation with alumnus Soumitra Dutta, MS 87 (Engineer.), MS 89 (Bus.), PhD 90, (Comp. Sci./Engineering), incoming dean at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Chesbrough also participated in three panel discussions: “Overcoming Organizational Boundaries,” “When Consumers Become Innovators,” and “The Davos Debrief: Sustainability and Resource Models.”

Other members of the Haas community at Davos included Libby Leffler, BS 06, business lead to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Karesha McGee, BCEMBA 13, an executive communications manager for Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers.

“This was my third trip to the World Economic Forum, and as with each one before, it was an eye-opening experience!” McGee wrote in an email. “From conversations about the European debt crisis and the forthcoming elections in India, to discussions about the role of networking technology and social media in transforming education, business and government, each day at Davos provided new learning experiences and further chances to apply what I’m learning in school.”

Leffler interviewed Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington about the European economic crisis and Norway Princess Mette-Marit about youth issues, including unemployment and involvement in Davos and more broadly today’s global challenges.