Young Guru Academy (YGA) Partners with IBD for a Brighter Future

“IBD was the best experience I had at Haas.”  One of the reasons we repeatedly hear this sentiment from our Berkeley-Haas alumni is because of the client/student project dynamic.  The IBD experience goes beyond the classroom and intersects with real life.  For 24 years IBD clients have looked to the MBA’s in our IBD program to solve concrete challenges for their organizations.  They have invested their time, resources and trust in our IBD consulting teams.

One of our exceptional spring 2017 IBD client organizations is known as Young Guru Academy or YGA.  YGA is a non-profit organization founded in Turkey in 2000 with the mission of cultivating selfless leaders to realize the dream of a brighter future for younger generations.  YGA students volunteer over 3,000 hours of their time working in teams on social innovation projects.  The organization focuses on three fields of innovation – science, orphans, and the visually impaired – and develops innovations that impact the lives of many in these areas.

We asked Sezin Aydin, YGA’s Director of International Affairs, to answer some questions about YGA and the IBD experience to date.

IBD: What made you decide to participate in the IBD program?

YGA:  Over the years, we have experienced that the essence of a fruitful partnership is one of shared values and meaning. Once we saw that (Berkeley-Haas and YGA) both value field study and we both find the development of a student imagining a better world to be meaningful, our passion in participating in the IBD program grew.

 

IBD:  What do you hope to accomplish from your IBD experience?

YGA:  The field we chose to collaborate with IBD Students is YGA’s project on the advancement of science among youth.  The IBD team is specifically working on developing sustainable marketing and financial strategy for all three parts of the science project- the launch of a Science Museum to inspire youth and adults with attractive, inspiring and thought-provoking content, production of a Live Science Show, which will be broadcasted on CNNTurk; and the distribution of Science Kits which has been designed by YGA graduates and funded through crowdsourcing.

What strongly unites the IBD team and YGA in this project is the shared dream of children becoming more curious and enthusiastic about science. YGA brings years of experience of working with students from age 10 to 22, visually impaired students, orphans and recently, refugees, as well as knowledge of local opportunities, obstacles, and challenges. The IBD students, on the other hand, bring a global perspective as each team member comes from a different background and knowledge of best management practices.

IBD: How has the IBD experience been to date?

YGA Visits Berkeley-Haas

YGA: It has already been an amazing experience. Even before YGA was selected to participate in IBD program, we always felt we are on the same team. We are aware of the approach most international universities adopt for programs in Turkey nowadays. There are not enough words to explain our gratitude to Prof. Kristiana Raube for the support she has provided to YGA. We very much appreciate her confidence in us, and we will strive to make this meaningful collaboration work in the best way possible.

IBD: Have you enjoyed working with your Team Lead, Faculty Mentor, and newly formed Team Members?

YGA:   Prof. Kristi said in our last meeting, “We feel like we are old friends now.”  This is exactly how we feel about each other.  Team Lead Chelsea Harris and Prof. Kristiana Raube devote many hours each week and have brought valuable resources to the YGA Science Project.  Our team members, Amol Borcar, Mariana Martinez-Alarcon, Annie Porter and Jeanne Godleski, have impressive backgrounds from diverse fields.  Their combined strength is a valuable resource for this project.

Berkeley’s culture is very close to YGA’s culture.  We believe in the essence of Berkeley Culture’s 4 pillars, just, we have them in different words. We believe in questioning the status quo: we say “Positive Challenge” to do things in a better way.  We believe in confidence without attitude: we say “Selfless Confidence.”  We believe in the unlimited potential we possess: we say “Best Today, Better Tomorrow.”  And we always believe in students: we say “Our main project is people project.”

IBD: Are you excited for any part of the process that is coming in the future?

YGA:  Next week, our team will present a benchmark analysis of world-class science museums, their key performance indicators (KPIs) and examples of some of the best practices. The most exciting part will be their final presentation which they will be delivering to a very high executive level audience- the advisory board of the Science Museum. As challenging as it may be, we have no doubt it will also be a broad experience for them.

IBD: What are you most excited to share with your team when they arrive in Istanbul?

YGA: Most importantly, we would like to share the YGA culture. We already consider them YGA students, like ourselves. We would like to share our challenges and what we have learned from them.  A special trip to Trabzon-Tonya, a north city by the Black Sea, is planned which includes science workshops with primary school students.  

There will be two notable events which will take place during our teams’ in-country visit: Great Place to Work Awards Ceremonyin which YGA will be awarded a Great Place to Work in Turkey for the second time; and the YGA Annual Advisory Board Dinner in which YGA will announce its new entrepreneurship model.  

Finally, İstanbul is one of the most glamourous cities in the world.  We will enjoy the most beautiful views of this city throughout the program. Of course, Turkish cuisine is an inseparable part of the program, so we advise our team to start exercising in advance to make room for delicious food!
The IBD Team leaves for Istanbul on May 13th to experience all that YGA has planned for them during their three weeks in-country.  We look forward to hearing from the IBD Team about their experience.  Please check back over the summer as we will feature blogs written by our student teams.  We leave you with the last thought from Chelsea Harris, the IBD Team Lead, about how she feels about the partnership with YGA.

Whitney Hischier, Member of the “A Team” IBD Faculty Mentors

Whiney in Busan, Korea

IBD Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier spent most of her career in change management and system implementation consulting, primarily on international assignments.  She is a Berkeley-Haas MBA alumna, but not an IBD alumna.  While an MBA candidate, Whitney was denied admission into the IBD program while because “she already had too much international experience.”

Thankfully, this rejection early in her career didn’t dissuade Whitney from joining the IBD Team in 2009 as a Faculty Mentor so that she could combine three of her passions:  international work, consulting, and experiential learning.  As an IBD Faculty Mentor, Whitney’s role is to coach student teams throughout the IBD course (she is currently mentoring four IBD teams during the spring 2017 IBD program), but Whitney goes beyond guiding her students to figure out a direct solution to their clients’ business challenges.  

“The IBD experience for students is really powerful”, reports Whitney.  “For some, it creates a lifelong love of

Whitney in Jeddah

international travel and work; for others, they realize it’s the last thing they ever want to do.  Either way, this ‘try before you buy’ experience is fantastic to help our students better determine what they want to do when they graduate.”

Ideally, Whitney wants her students to come back from their IBD projects overseas and say “that changed my life” and “I love international work” — but she would settle for good client management and awareness of the wider world.  “Given the current nationalistic political climate in the US and creeping xenophobia, I think IBD is more important than ever to encourage our students to be global citizens”, says Whitney.

As for teaching students to learn or hone their consulting skills, Whitney believes that the role of IBD student consultants is to help their clients gather and structure information to make better management decisions.  Whitney emphasizes that consulting is about the ability to build relationships by listening, asking good questions, and establishing trust.  It goes beyond the skill of researching online.  “Our projects may have a scope around strategy or technology but bottom line, this is all about relationships and people.”  

Whitney and American Univ. Mongolia

Whitney practices what she preaches and her student Team Leads can’t say enough good things about her.  “Whitney is so cool, and so real.  She is unpretentious, approachable and yet gets right down to business to accomplish what is needed”, said Nikkei’s Team Lead, Kasey Koopmans.  “In one particular high stressful moment, Whitney defused our nerves and brought everyone back to earth so we could feel good about our part in the situation.”

For Whitney being a good Faculty Mentor is leveraging her networks “to help students connect with experts and customers who can help with their research.”  Whitney’s network is far and wide, said the Nikkei Team Lead. “Whitney was able to set up many expert interviews for our project. She also offered to connect me with contacts she might have that would help me in my internship hunt.”

Even with this kind of support, Whitney doesn’t micromanage her teams but encourages “students to take risks and learn enough about a subject to be dangerous.”  Her students agree that she does an excellent job of walking the fine line of being there to help when she is needed and remaining hands off.   “She allows us to be creative and to manage the relationship with the client”, according to one of her students. “ I have been able to be the lead on the project and actually do the real-world consulting work.”

Above all, Whitney is fun, says Team Lead Elspeth Ong.  She invited all of her IBD Teams to come over to her house for a team bonding event where they jumped on her trampoline, rode a zipline, and climbed up into a tree house.  As one of our outstanding IBD Faculty Mentors, Whitney Hischier clearly personifies the Berkeley-Haas defining principles of “Confidence Without Attitude” and “Beyond Yourself.”  Thank you, Whitney!

IBD Teams United – The 2017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal”

017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal” Day

Finally, the wait is over!

The Spring 2017 IBD program Team Leads, faculty, and staff don’t have to stay quiet any longer.  The IBD “Big Reveal” event took place on March 2nd when each Team Lead welcomed their respective Team Members with a short two-minute video on their client, their industry, and their overview on what the team has been tasked to solve.  Team Leads also included information about their project destination and what they might experience while living and working for three weeks in-country.  Finally, Team Leads presented their four new Team Members with a small gift that represented something about their project country or client.

Said one Team Member of the experience, “The IBD reveal day was a lot of fun. (Team) Leads did a great job staying silent until the day of so it remained a mystery, which I loved. The videos were hilarious and all of the gifts were so thoughtful.”

Team Tekes has hugs all around

Clapping, hugs and handshakes were exchanged after each IBD team was revealed.  

Another incoming IBD Team Member commented that “I loved seeing all of the fun videos and learning about all of the projects!  The local country specific gifts for team members made the reveal especially tailored and fun.  I was so excited to find out that I’d be spending my summer in Thailand, with a great group of people, working in a new industry.  It is sure to be a fun experience and I look forward to being challenged personally and professionally along the way.”

Team ARM meeting for the first time

Once the IBD project “Big Reveal” was concluded, it was time to get the newly formed groups working on a team building exercise called the Viking Attack – a longstanding IBD tradition.   Building successful team dynamics is one of the main goals of the IBD course; IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube often describes IBD as “teamwork on steroids.”  Although there are many courses at Berkeley-Haas in which MBA students work in teams, there isn’t one quite like IBD in which students end up spending three weeks together outside the US working on a consulting engagement.  As Kristi Raube put it, “we really emphasize teamwork, as students will need to rely on each other in-country.  International work is all about being flexible and being able to handle unpredictable and difficult situations.”  

YGA Team Lead giving her new Team Members yummy baklava

Over the next seven weeks leading up to the departure to their respective project countries, IBD teams will work to gather more insights from their clients, conduct extensive research, and tackle the problems they have been tasked to solve.  At the same time, Kristi Raube and the IBD Faculty Mentors will work with the students on IBD course goals like developing consulting skills and techniques, communication and storytelling skills, and understanding cultural dynamics.   As Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain observed at this point in the course, “My teams are excited, revved up, and they know what they are doing.”  

Team G-Hub

Tune in next month when we check back with the IBD teams on their progress, and we learn how ready they are to head out on their international adventures.  

To see all the photos from the Spring 2017 IBD Program “Big Reveal”, click here.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByYfWhxK5s7RUzJQX1BULU11VFk

Team ElectroMech

 

2017 IBD Draft; Team Leads Select Their Four Team Members

A sea of resumes covered the IBD classroom tables on February 16th as Full-Time MBA Team Leads and their Faculty Mentors from four categories of IBD projects (Wild Card, Technology, Social Impact, and Retail and Consumer) met to identify and draft four additional Team Members for each IBD team.  The Team Leads were looking for the perfect balance of talent and experience to round out their individual IBD teams.

Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier and Team Leads Elspeth Ong and Kasey Koopmans

Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier and Team Leads Elspeth Ong and Kasey Koopmans

As the IBD Team Member draft proceeded, there was no drama or contention, and everyone came out of the process not only as friends but team allies.  While Team Leads looked out for their own team’s interest, they also kept in mind what worked best for their fellow Team Lead’s teams.

“It’s all about balance,” said one Team Lead when asked about her strategy.  “The goal is making the best team for all of us.”   

It was a very collaborative process across all four project categories.  In addition to keeping an eye on their own team’s needs, individual IBD Team Leads looked out for the interests of the incoming Team Members.  There was a considerable amount of internal group discussion to make sure that each Team Member was assigned to his or her best project based on previously expressed project preferences.  Personal insights and class awareness also played a role in team selection: in many cases the Team Leads said to each other that a certain potential Team Member “would be perfect” for another Team Lead – sharing their knowledge of that individual’s strengths as a project candidate and how that person could positively affect the project team.

The Retail and Consumer Goods IBD group working on their selection of Team Members

The Retail and Consumer Goods IBD group working on their selection of Team Members

In the end, all of the Team Leads appeared pleased with the selection of their respective Team Members.  Overheard was this comment about the overall draft process: “I love my team.  That was way better than I thought it would be.  Our group was extremely supportive and made sure we all got the skills we needed to be successful.”

Team Leads Nolan Chao, Harsh Thusu and Raphy Chines

Team Leads Nolan Chao, Harsh Thusu and Raphy Chines

Next on the agenda for the Team Leads is making a short video that will introduce the newest Team Members to their respective projects.  These individual video presentations will be shared on March 2nd at the “Big Reveal” IBD class,  during which incoming Team Members will learn about their IBD project, as well as their Team Lead, Faculty Mentor, client, and project destination.  Here in the IBD program, we can’t wait for March 2nd.  Stay tuned for more!

 

 

Presenting the IBD 2017 Spring MBA Team Leads!

For the second straight year, the IBD program has selected student Team Leads to spearhead work with their MBA peers on an international consulting project.  In addition to providing leadership throughout the project, IBD Team Leads are responsible for fostering a cohesive and strong working  team dynamic.  We are very excited to welcome these talented individuals to the IBD program and we want to introduce them to you!

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Blakey Larsen

 

Blakey Larsen: Blakey has 8 years of consulting experience.  Before coming to Haas, she worked at Accenture, Genesis10, and spent 4 years in Apia, Samoa working as a consultant for the US Peace Corps.  Blakey has a passion for social impact and technology.

“I’m excited to lead a team in a cross-cultural consulting experience to prepare us for working in the global business world.”

 

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Carolyn Chuong

Carolyn Chuong:  Carolyn is passionate about education equality and has spent the majority of her career working to improve education for children, locally and globally.  She spent a year in Venezuela as a Fulbright Fellow teaching 100 university students and 5 years working in the education consulting industry.

“I continue to be impressed by my peers who are witty, passionate, and smart as a whip. That’s why I’m thrilled to lead a group of Haasies to collectively support a global client grappling with a strategy or management challenge.”

Chelsea Harris

Chelsea Harris

Chelsea Harris:  Chelsea is a MBA-MPH student and has passion for global health and social impact.  She worked at the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Port-au-Prince, Haiti before coming to Haas.

“I worked as an international consultant prior to Haas but was often on teams with people who came from very similar backgrounds. I’m so excited about the synergies, sparks, and unexpected ideas that arise when you put five incredibly diverse Haas students together in a room. In five, ten, fifteen years, we’ll all be in influential roles in a wide range of industries, companies, and organizations. My hope is that the IBD experience lays the groundwork for us to leverage these positions to collaborate around shared goals well beyond graduation. “

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Elspeth Ong

Elspeth Ong: Elspeth’s background is in supply chain consulting– she worked for GEP Worldwide before joining us at Haas.  She is passionate about innovative transportation solutions and is the CITRIS Foundry MBA Fellow for her work on an autonomous vehicle mapping startup.  She is currently completing her pilot’s license.

“While I have spent the last eight years in the US, I hope to one day make a meaningful impact in the business environment of my home country, Singapore. I’m excited for the chance to apply my consulting experience to a project with international impact. Most importantly, I’m looking forward to tackling the unique challenges of our client while soaking in the local sights with my fellow Haasies!”

hejar

Hejar Oncel

Hejar Oncel:  Hejar has a PH.D in Mechanical Engineering and is fluent in French, Italian, Turkish, and Kurdish. Hejar spent 5 years in Norway working at National Oilwell Varco before coming to Haas.  He is also the founding board member of the Kurdish American Foundation of Houston which is dedicated to serving refugees.

“In the developing world, I was amazed how dynamic the youth was, how they perceived the world in a more entrepreneurial and global way compared to older generation. This observation gave me hope that we are progressing globally in the right direction. I am hoping to work with such creative minds to bring positive changes via IBD.”

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Harsh Thusu

Harsh Thusu:  Harsh worked as a financial services consultant at Finmechanics Pte Ltd before coming to Haas. He also is the organizing member of a nonprofit in India that helps arrange relief drives for those who have been displaced in the Kashmiri Pandit community.

“I am excited about this experiential leadership opportunity to make an impact with a real world organization and hone my leadership skills.”

 

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Juan Norero

Juan Norero: Prior to coming to Haas, Juan worked at Vinson Consulting in Santiago and was the first president and founder of the LATAM Airlines Group Toastmaster Club.  He also studied Industrial Engineering and Management in a dual program in Italy and Chile.

“What excites me about being an IBD Team Lead is the impact we can generate for our client while having fun as a team.”

 

 

kasey-koopmans

Kasey Koopmans

Kasey Koopmans: Kasey likes to climb mountains and run long distances all over the world.  The highest mountain she has climbed is Mt. Lobouche East (Nepal) at 20,075 feet and the longest she has run is 62.14 miles when she raced in The North Face 100 (Thailand).  She speaks Spanish, Burmese and Nepali Bhassa because of her time working in Myanmar and Nepal.

“Cultural immersion is a wringer of an experience, and I can’t wait to forge through it with fellow Haasies by my side. I’m also thrilled to be a team lead and have the opportunity to combine mentorship and intentionality with real world application and unpredictability. I came to Haas to develop my own unique expression of the Berkeley Leader, and I expect IBD to be formative along that journey. “

 

Lauren Elstein

Lauren Elstein

Lauren Elstein: Lauren spent four year at OPORTUN, a for-profit financial inclusion social enterprise that lends to the underbanked Hispanic community.  She also currently sits on two boards, Reality San Francisco Church and HOPE International Regional Board.

“What excites me most about IBD is the opportunity to partner with people from other countries and cultures, learn from them, and leverage our MBA skills and experience to have a lasting impact on their organizations.”

 

 

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Lyndsey Wilson

Lyndsey Wilson: Lyndsey worked at the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation in Seattle before coming to Haas.  She has also worked and lived in many different countries including Argentina, Mexico, and Kenya.  Lyndsey is professionally fluent in Spanish and in her free time she enjoys cycling.

“I am most excited about leading an IBD team because this project combines my experience working across cultures to strengthen grantees and partners’ capacities delivering high-impact results with my interest in building strong businesses in under-resourced settings. I am energized by the opportunity to lead a work stream in a dynamic context, learning from our client and partnering with them to develop a context-specific solution for a challenging project. The potential for high impact in this space is incredible, and I am excited to apply what I’ve learned at Haas and further refine my capacity to work across diverse industries and regions.”

Mary Harty

Mary Harty

Mary Harty: Mary is from Ireland but spent the last 4 years in London working at Whitbread Plc in financial services.  Whitbread is a multinational hotel and retail company headquartered in the U.K.  She also spent a year in France working at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts.

“I’m excited to start putting into practice all this core knowledge, and get to know my fellow Haasies better in an international context!”

 

 

 

nolan-chao

Nolan Chao

Nolan Chao: Nolan came to Haas after working at JPMorgan Chase in their Global Auction Service department and with FedBid, Inc., a multi-billion-dollar online marketplace where suppliers can bid for large contract in the form of an auction. If you need a good DJ, Nolan is the person to call, as he has spun tunes for more than 30 events and is an avid hip hop dancer.

 “I’m really excited to start putting together everything we’ve been learning in the MBA classroom into practice for a tangible project with real impact. I’m also excited to feel “uncomfortable” again. There’s a degree of ambiguity that comes with working in a new culture and a new environment–something that no matter what, you just can’t really predict or “prepare” for. But that’s exactly what makes it so fun–immersing ourselves into new experiences and coming out as a better leader because of that.”

Nony Onyeador

Nony Onyeador

Nony Onyeador: Nony is interested in screenwriting, digital entrepreneurship and multi-media. She recently finished an internship with Macro Ventures in Los Angeles where she assessed scripts for possible TV, film or digital projects.  She also worked at Accenture as a consultant.

“I’m excited for IBD because it challenges me, as a lead, to connect the dots between my team’s experiences, the client’s experiences, and the new cultural context. I have never been to my project country or worked in the industry specifically, but I have been in neighboring countries and worked in industries that have several similar attributes for clients that were working toward similar goals. Learning to be comfortable in a new setting while also identifying the value that I bring to the table will be tremendously useful as I look to become a savvier business leader.”

Peter Wasserman

Peter Wasserman

Peter Wasserman: Peter is a MBA-MPH student and joined Haas after working with Accenture for 4 years where he worked in China, Scotland and Europe.  He speaks Mandarin and Spanish and is an enthusiastic participant in language partner programs.

“Through IBD I get to lead a group of diverse and intelligent Haas students to solve a challenging problem for a real client in an international environment. What could be more interesting than that?”

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Raphy Chines

Raphy Chines: Raphy worked for L.E.K. Consulting since 2012 and provided pro-bono consulting services to small businesses in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.  Raphy has lived in Madrid, Tel Aviv and Argentina and speaks Spanish.   To relax, Raphy backpacks, runs, hikes, meditates, and practices yoga.

“I’m most excited to take on a difficult business problem while stepping outside of my comfort zone and getting to know a new culture. Additionally, the unique opportunity to lead a team of my peers will help me improve my leadership skills in ways that would be difficult to accomplish outside of this context.”

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans: Before coming to Berkeley-Haas, Sarah was with Vera Solutions, a consulting and technology solutions company that focuses on social change, to get her MBA.  She has lived in South Africa, India, Tanzania and Botswana and speaks French and Swahili.  Sarah is a MBA-MPH student and is committed to global health care.

“What drew me to Haas was the rich diversity of perspectives among the student body. Now that I’m at Haas, and leading an IBD team, I can’t wait to leverage those diverse perspectives to solve real companies’ largest international development challenges”.

IBD 2016 Crowns Conference Winners!  Team Apsara Takes Home Best Presentation.

Every year at the Berkeley-Haas IBD Conference, the IBD faculty announces student team winners in a variety of categories to celebrate another successful year of IBD spring and summer courses.  This year’s IBD team winners were:

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After reviewing six IBD team presentations delivered during the Conference, the award of Best IBD Presentation was unanimously awarded to Team Apsara.  Team Apsara traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, to develop and teach a two-week entrepreneurship program named ACT (Apsara Capital Trust).  The ACT program was directed to young Zimbabweans who are passionate about social change in a country that faces challenging economic and political conditions.  This was the fourth IBD team to work with Apsara, and the team’s main project objective was to develop curriculum for an online and in-person course for ACT’s Intensive Entrepreneurship Program.   During two weeks of teaching, Team Apsara worked with 21 students daily on design thinking, prototyping, brainstorming, constructing empathy maps, and developing interviewing skills.  At the end of their in-country experience, the IBD team delivered more than course materials. They also recommended how to create an ACT Ecosystem whereby students could share and help each other with entrepreneurial ideas.  In addition, the IBD team suggested possible revenue streams to help ACT become more sustainable.  IBD team member Julian Garzon shared this conclusion from his project experience: “We were impressed to find great people with great ideas everywhere, but the resources are not for them all the time.  It makes us think how privileged we are, and how we should be committed to give back and contribute to the community because these great people should have a shot to flourish with their business ideas. Finally, we can’t underestimate the power of bringing people together who are motivated and driven to work hard and achieve their dreams”.

To read Team Apsara’s blog click here.

Students Shine at 2016 IBD Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Updates from IBD Beijing

 

EWMBA students Tiffany Barbour, Ketaki Gangal, Benjamin Kim, and Jaimin Patel are currently in Beijing, China, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project with CreditEase. EWMBA student Leanne Chu is managing the offshore project operations in Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA.

Our Project

Our mission was to help CreditEase understand the Wealth Management (WM) industry in the U.S., and develop an implementable strategic framework recommendation for offshore investment by CreditEase target customers using U.S.-based investment vehicles. After six weeks of intense research and interviews with industry experts in the U.S., we were ecstatic to finally be in Beijing!

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A Day In The Life…

We started each morning with a call to sync up the Beijing and US teams, discuss the learning and findings from the previous day, as well as plan our next steps. Work life in the Beijing office was very similar to the U.S., except the workday typically started around 9:30a. Once the office doors opened, though, it was off to the races with product team meetings and client conference calls scheduled throughout the day and usually in different buildings across the city. No need to go to the gym… these walks definitely kept us fit.

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Team interviews with various product team leads and current WM customers.

Meeting with the product teams and current customers for an hour at a time was so illuminating. Every conversation seemed to double our learning, which helped us generate new insights and even better ideas for the market entry strategy.

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Team photo in our cubicles.

Between meetings, we would spend time at our cubicles debriefing the previous meeting, formulating new ideas, and connecting with our nearby neighbors from the Corporate Strategy team.

The Country and Culture

Even though the project kept us continually busy, we managed to find time to take in the sights, learn the history of China, and of course enjoy the delicious cuisine.

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Jaimin and Ben at the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.

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Team photo in front of entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Delicious lunch spread in a local restaurant.

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We also took some time to enjoy a traditional tea ceremony…

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… and then learned how silk is made.

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Team photo with our hosts: Bing, Kelly, and Meichen.

Our overall goal was to wow the client, and we did just that! The senior management in attendance for the final presentation were highly engaged, asked lots of questions, were genuinely impressed by our ideas. If you had asked any of us about Wealth Management, Fintech, or CreditEase two months ago, there would have been a number of blank stares. Now, we feel like experts in training and are eagerly awaiting the day when we can invest with CreditEase in the U.S.!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Welcome to Dakar. Nestled in the Cap-Vert peninsula, Dakar is the westernmost point of the African continent.

picture1          A beautiful beach in Ile de Goree, off the coast of Dakar

A city of contrasts where gleaming Range Rovers and broken Renault cabs jostle for space on the same lane, towering beachside mansions overlook decrepit shanties. And bold new-age enterprises, dysfunctional government and age-old agriculture makeup the Senegalese economy.

The first thing that strikes you in Dakar is the construction. There is an undercurrent of urgency in a city bursting at its seams as people from all over Africa, and around the world flood to it, seeking opportunities in a resurgent Africa. We visited and met scrappy entrepreneurs in a number of incubators in Dakar – working on bringing technology to transform deep social causes. 

picture2           Dakar is bustling with construction

Africa has leapfrogged the traditional banking system, with mobile banking. With over 100% mobile penetration, mobile payments and mobile money transfer are slowly replacing the cash based economy. Our host InTouch hopes to make this readily accessible to a wide swath of the population with a digital point-of-sale system as an aggregator of payments. From day one, we hit the ground running to figure out a strategy for expansion and growth for InTouch’s products.

picture3             Tigo is one of the top 3 mobile money operators. In the foreground is a                                                          rebooting Windows screen.

Our main focus was understanding the market landscape and the adoption of InTouch’s current product. We had already prepared a couple of solutions before landing in Senegal – so that we could quickly validate our hypothesis and present to InTouch.

picture4           Usability research at gas station where the product is deployed

 

picture6          Market validation with local retail stores

We visited CTIC (an incubator) and Jokkolabs (a co-working space) in Dakar. It was fascinating to meet and interact with the entrepreneurs from all over the world working on making a deep impact on some of the social challenges in Africa.

picture5                        Visiting incubators and co-working spaces in Dakar with Yann LeBeaux

Vincent, the Innovation director at UNICEF was looking to use data analytics to become a nimble and agile organization. Adam at Voto was working on technology that could be used to gather survey data from social workers in far-flung regions. Malick at Africa Mobile sought to build a service to reach uneducated massed via web and mobile communication tools. And Bagore & Edouard at La Laiterie du Berger are looking to create a distribution channel for milk produced in rural Senegal to meet the burgeoning demand in cities like Dakar. We also met a passionate Daouda Gassama at the AEME who is bringing in an age of energy efficiency to Senegal.

picture7          Met the passionate Daouda Gassama and his wall of energy efficient lights at the AEME

As a part of our secondary research, Mike also figured out that Senegalese eat 29 Kgs of fish every day. One of our goals was to consume 29 Kgs of fish in 2 weeks. Thus began a search of the local Ceebu Jen (thiéboudiène), Yassa Poisson, Grilled Thiof, Crevette et lotte, and all sorts of deliciousness. Incidentally, we also found that Ravi does not like to wait for his food – a point made amply clear while waiting repeatedly for the local made-to-order Thiof.

picture8      Food was always on our minds in Dakar

Yogesh earned the nickname of “Yekini” given his uncanny resemblance to the professional Senegalese wrestler Yekini. That and his love for fish heads and sparkling water.

picture9           Apparently Yogesh bears an uncanny resemblance to the wrestler Yekini

Our gracious hosts took us sight-seeing over the weekend to Sine Saloum islands in South Senegal. This was a weekend of touring the local villages, fishing in the delta, pickup soccer on salt flats, seeing our first ever sun halo and attending a local wrestling competition. Evenings were spent taking in the spectacular African sunsets and more eating.

picture10     Amazing Sine Saloum

 

picture11    Spectacular African sunsets

This was one of the best experiences we have had at Haas. Thanks InTouch team for hosting us.

picture12     We can fit in the back of a beat up Renault or a horse cart

An Invitation to Help Transform Agriculture in Ethiopia

Like all the other IBD stories, ours is a story of international travel. Of exploring a country for the first time. Yes, we tried new food and saw amazing new things (our oldest known human ancestor, 12th century churches carved into hillsides, and much more).

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We survived the government shutdown of the entire country’s internet. (Yes, really) We fit all of us PLUS our intrepid client/guide into his tiny car from the 80’s.

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Collectively, we even tried every single domestic beer brand (not as impressive as it sounds, considering there are only nine of them) and lots of Ethiopian buna coffee.

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But more interestingly, it’s also a story of agriculture in a country where over 80% of the population depends on the sector for their livelihoods. It’s a story of a country determined to achieve middle-income status in the next 10 years and of the proud and optimistic people across numerous sectors who are working to make this a reality.

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So it’s not really a story about us. It’s a story about an invitation. An offer to share a vision and contribute in some very small part to projects that could one day help an entire country produce key crops more efficiently and effectively. Reaching this goal will mean food security for 100 million people. Exports that provide income for public investment in roads, health systems, and schools. An opportunity for children to become educated and pursue jobs that will help their families have more than the generation that came before them.

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This is a story about Ethiopia. About the people who work here every single day with the hope that someday, together, they will reach these goals. So instead of talking any more about us, we’d like to share the story of just two of the many amazing people we’ve met over the last two weeks.

Taressa

Input Supply and Distribution Head at the local government level an hour outside of Addis Ababa

Taressa is young, a sharp dresser. He seems out of place in his surroundings – the local branch of the Ethiopian Agricultural Bureau. The office where we conduct our interview is cramped with three desks, one computer, several filing cabinets, and shoulder-high piles of what could be anything from reams of paper to leftover and forgotten agricultural inputs. By lining chairs up between the desks, we find room for everyone to sit.

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As Taressa tells us about his job, the most incredible thing is that he doesn’t seem at all frustrated by a system we view as infuriatingly outdated and redundant. Each day, Taressa spends up to eight hours on the phone collecting transaction data from 20+ primary cooperatives (agricultural distribution centers) under his office’s jurisdiction. When no one else is using one of the two working computers in the office (the one in front of us is off the “functional” list) he can update an excel sheet with his findings. If not, or if the electricity is out, he records information by hand and waits for an opportunity to update the excel sheet. Once updated, he prints it out and walks or catches a ride to the center of town to hand deliver the sheet to another office. When we ask about emailing it, he laughs. There is no internet in the office.

But he doesn’t seem upset. He smiles the entire time we’re talking and is optimistic that there are ways to improve the system. He takes us to see a primary cooperative and animatedly discusses different options for digitizing their inventory tracking system.

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Meeting Taressa gave us a newfound respect for the young people who dedicate their time and talent to improving the lives of smallholder farmers. And we left with the hope that our project can in some small way make his job slightly easier, and in turn help to improve others’ livelihoods.

Melaku Admassu

20 years working for DuPont Pioneer, the only private multinational company with current permission to sell seeds in Ethiopia

We met Melaku, the Country Manager for DuPont Pioneer  Ethiopia, at his administrative headquarters on Peacock road in Addis Ababa. We entered the building, which looked like a converted private residence, and were welcomed by an older man wearing a tweed suit and a warm smile.

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Melaku has worked for Pioneer in Ethiopia for twenty years and, though his humble demeanor won’t allow him to say it out loud, is largely responsible for the international company’s success in a country whose agricultural industry is almost entirely dominated by public sector enterprises.

At the end of our interview, during which Melaku showed extensive knowledge of both the agricultural sector in Ethiopia and innovative marketing and business practices, we asked him one final question and received an amazing answer –

Q: What is your background and why do you do this work?=

A: My background is in agronomy. When I was young, my father was a teacher but he also farmed the land. I still remember when one day a government extension agent came to our farm and he said “you should use this fertilizer” and my father, he said, “why do I need this? All I know is manure.” And the man said to my father, “Okay, don’t use it for your own sake. Use it because you are a teacher and you need to show everyone else that this works and will make their crops better.” And my father said “I’ll do this for the people.” I still remember that.

When I started this work as pioneer employee, I went to this smallholder  farmer and asked him. “Please try this improved seed.” He looked at me and said, “you know I have two wives and sixteen children to provide for. If I take your seed and it doesn’t work, you’ll be responsible for killing my family.” And I said, “Okay, I believe in this seed. I’ll take the responsibility.” He planted the hybrid corn seed I gave him as a sample (free of charge ) plus my advice on agronomy management and he harvested three fold of what he used to harvest from the same plot of land, secured food for the whole year, and started convincing his neighbors later the community.

Now, 20 year’s later, he is a big man. We promoted him from a Pioneer Extension Partner (model farmer) to a seed dealer and he has expanded from half a hectare of cultivated land to 16 hectares. His productivity has increased and his  income is also growing because he is implementing  best practices. Before, he had to decide which of his children could attend school, because he didn’t have enough money for uniforms and supplies for all of them. Now, four of them have graduated from university and the rest are all attending school. He has upgraded the grass roof of his house to corrugated iron, bought a television and radio, and now has a mobile phone to be able to keep better track of  agricultural market information. I was talking to him last month and he was going to another city for his son’s graduation. He was taking his younger wife with him I asked him, “oh, how long will your drive be?” and he replied, “We’re flying! I want my wife to experience riding in an airplane.”

Melaku smiles and says, “This is what our seed can do. It helps people. And when I see their success, it is my success. It’s like all their good fortune, it’s in here,” he touches his chest, “not just in their pockets.”

We feel similarly about our project and our time here. It’s a class, it’s an adventure, but it’s also a labor of hope. Hope that the project recommendations we make here will someday help the people we’ve met do their jobs more efficiently and, in turn, help farmers grow better crops for their children, their communities, and their country. If our project recommendations put more money in the pockets of the people who truly need it, their good fortune will be reward enough for our work. We are grateful to Haas for providing us with an amazing experience and an opportunity to go “beyond ourselves.”

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