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!”

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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.”

 

 

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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!”

 

 

 

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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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Team Lucep – Bangalore, India (IBD Summer 2016)

Background:
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in May, the IBD class of Summer 2016 walked into a Berkeley Haas classroom in eager anticipation for what was to come.  It was then that we would learn where our IBD adventure would take us, and which of our classmates would be coming along for the ride.  We were thrilled to meet each other for the first time and discover that we would be heading to Bangalore – the “Silicon Valley” of India.  Although we started out as a team of acquaintances at the time, the 8 week IBD experience would transform us into a tight-knit family.

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We hit the ground running by setting up our first client call within days after the first class.  We were assigned to work with Lucep, a startup that built a tool for lead management and sales acceleration.  This tool appears as a widget on the customer’s website and is similar to a “Contact Us” box that requires fields of information to be filled out (name, company, phone number, etc.).  The information that’s submitted is sent to a salesperson’s mobile phone in which the salesperson is then able to connect with a customer in 60 seconds or less.  The idea behind this is that businesses (especially startups and small/medium businesses) need to engage with prospective leads as soon as possible to prevent businesses from losing leads to their competitors.

Lucep then shared with us their challenge.  How do they go to market in the U.S.? How do they go to market in India? Can a single strategy be applied in both countries?  Or would each country require its own unique game plan?

The research:

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Since we all hailed from different backgrounds, we knew that gaining an understanding of the product offering would require a considerable amount of research.  We decided to focus on 3 main pillars:

  • First, we looked to industry news, articles and blogs to learn as much as we could about sales acceleration and lead management. This meant keeping up with the latest industry news and articles on sites such as TechCrunch and following relatedt tech blogs.
  • We then analyzed the competition by downloading whitepapers, watching informational videos, and even contacting competitors directly to get a more in-depth understanding of their products and how Lucep might differentiate itself.
  • Most of our research insights were derived from interviews. We reached out via our personal and Haas networks to learn about which SaaS products were currently being used by companies in the high technology indstury.  Also, we ascertained whether these companies placed an emphasis on fast response to prospective leads (Lucep’s core value proposition) and companies’ feedback on Lucept’s product.

We spent the first 6 weeks of IBD (up until we left for Bangalore) vetting out the U.S. market only.  The focus switched over to the Indian market once we arrived in Bangalore.

Day of Arrival
The day had come and we finally arrived in Bangalore after enduring a 20+ hour travel time from San Francisco to Bangalore.  Our client graciously sent a car to pick us up af the airport.  As we traveled from the airport to the office, one visibly difference between the US and India became apparent.  Bangalore traffic is unlike we had ever seen.  There is endless honking coming from a mix of rickshaws, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bikes that weave in and out of each other and avoid cows and other animals idling in the middle of the streets.  Yet, there seemed to be a hidden sense of order underneath the seemingly chaotic traffic since no accidents or road rage were observed and locals seemed to have mastered the art of the “near miss” when driving through a tangled web of people, animals, and cars.

After 2 weeks, we learned that the keys to successful driving in Bangalore require 3 things – a good horn, good brakes, and good luck.

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Interviews:
Similar to our approach in the U.S., much of our research in India was based on interviews that were mostly set up by the client.  We had the opportunity to speak to a wide range of professionals including those working in sales, marketing, and even CEOs and founders of established Indian tech companies.  This was an incredible and eye opening experience and really brought to life some of the cultural differences between the U.S. and Indian markets.
One of these differences is the idea of “jugaad.” This word, originating from Hindi, refers to intelligent hacking to find a low cost solution.  We learned that SaaS has not been a successful model because of this juggad.  Rather than purchase a SaaS solution, many companies choose to “jugaad” a solution by creating their own in-house customer relationship management (CRM) systems, adopting the use of spreadsheets for complicated tasks, or installing pirated software.  We found that this greatly differed from the Silicon Valley startup scene where SaaS products such as Marketo, Hubspot, and Salesforce were fully adopted and paid for by organizations ranging from a handful to thousands of employees.

 

TechInAsia:
To supplement our research, Charlies Salazar was sent on Berkeley Haas Team’s behalf to attend the TechInAsia conference, a gathering designed to connect Asia’s tech ecosystem.  Conference attendees included a multitude of reps from startups across Asia, guest speakers, and investor panels.  The conference culminated in a pitch competition in which one lucky startup received financial backing to pursue their idea.

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Reflection:
Looking back on the experience, it was nothing short of incredible.  We were extremely lucky to have been assgined to such a amazing client and wondrous country.  Lucep were incredible hosts and we were able to learn a great deal about the Indian technology and startup scene from them.  We thank the IBD program and Berkeley Haas for giving us this precious opportunity that definitely a trip of a lifetime.

For a more visual look into our trip, please check out our video blog:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-01RrWtqGmE

Getting started

To get a sense of the evolution of our project, one could start with the name of our team. Initially, we – Theo, Vaisakh, Josh, Asli, and myself (Cameron) – were assigned to groupelephant.com, a South African for-profit company with a  “three-zone” business model consisting of a for-profit software business as well as non-profit and impact investing activities around wildlife conservation and poverty alleviation. The client was frustrated that all of the good work it had done for conserving elephants and rhinos had gone nearly unmentioned in the press, and hired us to turn that around.

After a semester in Berkeley figuring out how to market this unique business model to a corporate audience in the U.S., we decided to refocus our efforts on just the non-profit entity of groupelephant.com, ERP – short for Elephants, Rhinos, and People. We were fortunate to work with Quintin Smith, a Haas alum himself, who embodied the passion and entrepreneurial spirit we came to recognize in all of ERP and groupelephant.com.

On The road!

The highlight of our three-week trip was without a doubt heading down two days after we arrived to a wildlife reserve in the Eastern Cape. The reserve had recently suffered a tragic rhino poaching, and we were there to discuss steps the reserve could take to protect the rest of its herd. These conversations dovetailed nicely with one of our final deliverables, developing an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for a technology-driven rhino security solution.

Every good Indiegogo campaign has a short video to go along with it. So we had to take to the streets – er, the dusty trails – of the reserve to start shooting some film.

To get the best lighting, we woke up at the crack of dawn for some sunrise safaris…

Our director and team lead, Theo, with his cinematographer Rob (of ERP)

Our director and team lead, Theo, with his cinematographer Rob (of ERP)

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…and went back for round two as the sun set:

 

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With this trip, we really took mixing business and pleasure to new heights – we struggled to think of another time when we’d be holding team meetings around a campfire, or conducting research from the back of a safari truck.

Enjoying my fifteen minutes (seconds?) of fame as a stand-in for our interviewees.

Enjoying my fifteen minutes (seconds?) of fame as a stand-in for our interviewees.

Our crew hard at work

Our crew hard at work

As much as we loved our time on the reserve, eventually, we had to pack our bags and say goodbye.

Me, Josh, and Vaisakh on a final ride with our German-Spanish-French tour guide Pablo

Me, Josh, and Vaisakh on a final ride with our German-Spanish-French tour guide Pablo

A weekend retreat

Fortunately for us, the Quintinator was not about to let us go back to Pretoria quite yet. Instead, he and the rest of the crew took us up to Modumela, a ranch several hours north of the city.

After several days of filming and focusing exclusively on our Indiegogo campaign, we needed to step back for a moment to think through our project’s broader objectives.

Hard at work, clearly

Hard at work, clearly

But it was the weekend, and we made sure to relax:

Learning new hobbies

Learning new hobbies

Grilling full chickens!

Grilling full chickens!

Closing down the campfire at 2? 3am?

Closing down the campfire at 2? 3am?

The real work begins

When we got back to Pretoria, we buckled down in the office and got back to work. We had a gargantuan task ahead of us: taking a semester’s worth of research, conversations, and observations and coming up with a succinct yet comprehensive branding for this burgeoning non-profit. Very quickly, we realized that this work was more than just a marketing exercise; it was getting to the heart of ERP’s strategic first, figuring out how to communicate it second.

Like any good first-year Haas students, we got our PFPS on:

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The Windy City

Despite being in crunch time, we managed to find time to get away, just the five of us – the dream team. We spent the weekend in beautiful Cape Town, taking a much needed break from everything branding, marketing, and frameworks.

Asli making some new friends

Asli making some new friends

 

Blown away by Table Mountain!

Blown away by Table Mountain!

Elephants, rhinos…and sea lions?

Elephants, rhinos…and sea lions?

Wrapping up

In the end, we delivered a comprehensive branding and marketing action plan for our client. This final report provided some realistic, actionable recommendations for coordinating ERP’s communication from the inside out.

It wasn’t always the easiest process – we took the liberty of proposing some bold new ideas, and the clients didn’t always pick up what we were putting down, sending us back to the drawing board. This entire experience was undoubtedly a valuable learning process. If anything, we learned that, for all of the immense value of the Haas core curriculum, what works in a business setting isn’t always the most feasible for a young non-profit. We didn’t realize it at the time, but our challenge was adapting what we had learned in Marketing (and in Strategy, Leading People, Leadership Communications…) and adapting it for an untraditional setting. Three weeks and many Post-Its later, we can confidently say that we “cracked the code” on non-profit marketing.

All done!

All done!

As for me, I learned that, when you have the right crew by your side, getting around the South African bush on crutches isn’t so hard. I wasn’t sure what three weeks abroad while unable to walk properly would be like, but with help and support from my awesome team, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. It was, as Josh would say, truly something special.

The Big Five

The Big Five

Volcanoes, Desert, Snow, Graffiti, Barbeques, and Darth Vader – IBD Chile 2016

FTMBA students Claire Levy, Arun Kanuri, Vlada Alexandrov, Thato Keineetse, and Justin Savino-Sullins spent the past three weeks in Santiago, Chile working on an International Business Development (IBD) project.

Pre-Work Trips

Chile is one of the most geographically diverse countries in the world, but because it is so long, it takes a lot of time to travel to many of the most famous sites. Eager to see the country, we left Berkeley as soon as we could after finals in order to have time to explore before beginning work. A few of us flew up to San Pedro de Atacama, an amazing destination in the desert. We toured around geysers, hiked up sand dunes, swam in salt lagoons, and basked in hot springs. Atacama is the driest desert in the world (although nowhere near the warmest, which we discovered too late!) and sits on a major tectonic fault line, which accounts for some spectacular geological phenomena. We collectively took hundreds of photos of the surrounding volcanoes and spectacular sunsets.

A couple of team members drove up into the mountains around Santiago and took in the beautiful scenery of snowcapped mountains and Maípo, an active volcano. Battling jet lag and high altitude, they hiked to a waterfall and took photos of the rainbow it created.

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Working at Mediastream

We are here in Chile to work with Mediastream, a local startup that provides media streaming platforms to media companies and other firms. Through our research and conversations with our clients, we have become experts on tech terms like CDN, SVOD, OVP vs. OTT, transcoding, encoding, packaging on the fly, adaptive streaming technology, server-side ad stitching, and more. Our hosts put us up in the CEO’s office so that we could use the glass walls as whiteboards for our many charts, lists, and frameworks. It has been great to have our own space in which to discuss ideas and make decisions as a group, and there is a large Darth Vader model presiding over us to make sure we stay on task. We’ve also enjoyed the occasional visit from the CEO’s one-year-old son Max, whose smile is impossible to resist.Media_6

During our second week, our hosts threw us a barbecue lunch on the deck, featuring typical Chilean empanadas and completos, which are basically hot dogs overloaded with toppings, including guacamole. It was a great opportunity for us to chat with some of the other employees and ask some of our questions about the company culture and history. Everyone was very kind and welcoming, and we capped it off by all taking a selfie with Luis, the CEO and founder of Mediastream.

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Living in Providencia

Our office and hotel are both located in the district of Providencia in central Santiago. It’s a very well-to-do neighborhood, with beautiful tree-lined streets, fancy homes, and great dog watching opportunities. It’s been relatively easy to adjust to the culture and lifestyle here because it’s not terribly different from the States: 10 hour working days, running in the park, and takeout sushi for dinner. There are some funny smaller differences, however, like the fact that every sushi roll but one on most menus has cream cheese in it. The Chileans love their queso crema! The biggest adjustment apart from the language barrier is probably the change in seasons. It’s been stranger than expected to experience autumn for the second time in seven months, and the chill in the air and falling leaves connote Thanksgiving while our friends back home are posting photos from Memorial Day pool parties!

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Our neighborhood is in many ways non-representative of the typical way of life in Chile, so we were happy to discover a totally different world across the city and enjoyed a traditional dinner at a local restaurant on our way out of town for the weekend. As you can see in the photo, the crowds at the bus station were pretty intense!

Trip to Valparaíso

We spent our second weekend in Chile in the port city of Valparaíso, a city now known to tourists for its incredible display of colorful graffiti and excellent nightlife. We made sure to experience both, and enjoyed walking tours of the city and a night of dancing with a view of the bay.

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While we were visiting, the president of Chile was in town for an annual address, and there were protests, and even a fire. We were perfectly safe, but warnings of strikes and protests have become fairly routine during this trip, as you can see from our email history.

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One of our favorite elements of the city was the stray dog population. The city is full of beautiful, clean, well-fed dogs that roam the streets and often walked along quietly to protect us. It’s traditional to offer the dogs a snack once they’ve safely delivered you home. We were also befriended by a cat, and a sweet puppy followed us into our hotel one night when we were back in Santiago.

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Cultural Immersion

With the help of some of our Chilean Haasie friends and our Mediastream clients, we hit the town and made sure to immerse ourselves in the culture. Between language exchange meetups, balcony barbeques (three!), improve comedy, nights out dancing, museum visits, and pub crawls, we did our best to get to know the country and make some new friends. For our final presentation, we even gave ourselves new professional titles to represent our roles in the group. It was a great experience! Thanks to Mediastream and everyone who helped make it possible!

 

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We found a street dedicated to Dean Lyons!