IBD Alumni Conversations: Katharine Hawthorne, MBA ‘20

Katharine Hawthorne and her 2019 IBD Team

Katharine Hawthorne and her 2019 IBD Team

Congratulations to one of our IBD alumni, Katharine Hawthorne (MBA ‘20).  In addition to her many career and life accomplishments, Katharine Hawthorne can add Berkeley Haas MBA graduate to her list.  IBD met up recently with Katharine to talk about her current role with Patamar Capital, a venture capital firm with an impact investing lens and geographic focus on South and Southeast Asia. Katharine explained that “patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow. It was traditionally used in the western coast of the Indian subcontinent as a cabotage vessel between Gujarat and Ceylon, usually for the transport of rice.  Historically Patamars were very important in trade as well as transmitting culture; and as Katharine shared, this is the ethos of the firm — connecting markets. 

"Patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow

“Patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow

Please enjoy our interview with Katharine below.

Katharine:  After completing my IBD project, I started an internship at Patamar Capital.  I spent half the summer in San Francisco and the other half in Jakarta. When I returned in the fall of 2019, I came back in a consulting capacity to support Shuyin Tang, a partner who is based in Vietnam.  Through years of investing in Southeast Asia, Shuyin found that the number of women-run businesses receiving venture capital funding was extremely low. It wasn’t because the pipeline for women entrepreneurs isn’t there. In fact, there are plenty of viable women-run businesses; but for many, venture capital is not the right form of investment and it is historically harder for them to access funding.  

IBD Interviewer: Why is that?

Katharine:  Shuyin found that women-owned businesses tend to be much more focused on building sustainable business models, where they’re funding growth through their own profits.  Essentially, they’re putting cash back into the business as opposed to giving up equity ownership, which is the venture capital model.

IBD Interviewer:  How is this fund different? 

Beacon Fund Team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Beacon Fund Team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Katharine:  This new fund, called the Beacon Fund, is focused on women-led and women-focused businesses in South and Southeast Asia and offers debt loans primarily for working capital or to purchase equipment.  This difference allows women businesses to grow in scale in a way that is most appropriate for their goals.  

IBD Interviewer: What has your role been?

Katharine: My role has been to help Shuyin get that new fund off the ground.  I have worked on everything from writing proposals, doing research on the market, building a fund model, figuring out how economically this is going to work, structuring the investment vehicle, etc.  It’s been a pretty great opportunity, as I’m really passionate about supporting women businesses particularly in developing countries. I think that access to capital can be a form  of self determination.

IBD Interviewer:  How are you managing working across international time zones?

Katharine: I had the opportunity over the winter break to go to Vietnam and worked very intensely with Shuyin. She has been to San Francisco a few times.  Otherwise, we coordinate through email, zoom, slack, etc. I think in some ways working for Patamar, the transition for me during shelter in place has been seamless because I have already been coordinating across time zones. 

Hanoi Museum of Women's Empowermen

Hanoi Museum of Women’s Empowermen

IBD Interviewer: How many businesses will benefit from the launch of this loan?

Katharine: The goal is to go live by the end of the year.  I think the idea is within the first year to issue loans to maybe around 10-15 businesses and then grow from there.

IBD Interviewer: Did IBD have any place in helping you in this role?

Katharine:   The work that I did for our 2019 IBD project was a market entry strategy for the startup FinTech branch of an organization.  They asked us to analyse the landscape and identify opportunities for partnership and/or investment.  The IBD experience was really invaluable to understanding what are all the pieces that go into starting something from scratch, from the legal structuring aspects, building the business model, branding and identity. We’ve had a lot of conversations about how we want to position ourselves so that these women-owned businesses know that we’re a great partner for them and we’re different from other funds in the marketplace. 

IBD Interviewer:  During this time of COVID-19, how is your organization affected?  Are you able to work cross-culturally and remotely at the same time?

Katharine: I think there will continue to be firms that want to invest cross-border but for a while may not  be able to travel.  I’m confident in Patamar’s ability to adapt because they already have investors embedded in six countries across South and Southeast Asia.

I also believe there’s incredible value in connecting with people cross-culturally, learning about their experiences and the challenges that they are facing on the ground. My IBD experience was probably pretty unique in that my client project was a true market entry because they did not have operations in-country.  We weren’t on site with the client.  This is similar to what I’m doing now with Patamar, trying to assess investment opportunities overseas.  I have had to schedule many in-depth interpersonal interactions mediated by technology.  During this time of restricted travel, IBD faculty, clients and students will need to try to network and work in more conversations with their clients and stakeholders in their project country, even if it’s over zoom.  From my perspective, there’s still value in connecting cross-culturally aided by technology.

IBD Interviewer: Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you want to share with our readers?

Katharine: I worry about our world right now. We are seeing this kind of turn away from globalization. It requires real bravery and commitment to continue to connect, reach out, be vulnerable and to see things from a different perspective. My career has been focused on connecting cross-culturally; it’s one of the things that motivates me and drives me.  We are living in challenging times and it will be interesting to see how this changes business.  

We wish Katharine and Patamar Capital all the best with the launch of the Beacon Fund.  We hope that women entrepreneurs in South and Southeast Asia benefit from this newly imagined means of supporting women-owned businesses.  

 

Spring 2020 IBD Teams Deliver!

Video

Team Maston Oy presenting their final presentation to their client

IBD Team Maston Oy presenting their final presentation to their client

As we complete this year’s demanding spring semester IBD course — unexpectedly impacted by the sudden COVID-19 pandemic — we want to highlight the outstanding work accomplished by our 80 Full Time MBA students.  Among these, 16 IBD student Team Leads in particular deserve special mention.  They willingly took on expected Team Lead responsibilities, including managing their MBA peers and project clients in the midst of a global health crisis and unforeseen shifts in project scope.  None of these IBD students were able to travel overseas to complete the complex project work they had begun in January with their clients and MBA teammates.  Despite that, they recently completed the remote delivery of final project recommendations that made a real and valuable impact on their clients’ organizations.

We would like to share below some of the comments we received from our spring semester 2020 IBD clients, following the successful delivery of final project recommendations by their student teams.  Also included below are a few impressions we recorded from this year’s IBD Faculty Mentors and Team Leads.

2020 IBD Clients:

“The benchmarking, revenue modeling and pricing structure proposal we received were excellent, and have left us with valuable tools and reference materials that we’ll use across the lifetime of the business.”  Ross McConnell​,​ Blinder Limited

 

“We sincerely appreciate the hard work, dedication and extensive collaboration of the IBD team. Despite the global widespread of the Coronavirus and consequent cancellation of the India trip, the IBD team still came out with a substantive report. We are extremely grateful for their valuable contribution.”  Gaurav Mohan, Dura-Line India

 

“The group work was very much visible and each member gave their best while preparing the implementation plan. The team efforts are commendable and contributed greatly to the final deliverable while ensuring the larger good for the hospital.”  Kuldeep Singh, Seva Foundation

 

“These months working with the IBD team were of great value to us, both for the process of building the project and for the legacy it leaves.”  Guilherme Quandt, Softplan

 

“I’m so impressed that our IBD team is managing to keep their motivation and work ethic despite the challenging pandemic environment, along with being even able to conduct the necessary research. Our team produced valuable strategic guidance for us.”  Auli Parviainen, Maston Oy

Faculty Mentors:

“The team did a lot of heavy lifting in the final weeks of the project, and it all came together well with a solid recommendation to proceed with Hilltribe Organic organic desserts. The  team’s creativity and success interviewing potential channel partners and Thai consumers was particularly impressive, and their survey results indicating how to position, price and roll out the offering will be invaluable as the client moves forward.”  Judy Hopelain, Faculty Mentor, Team Hilltribe Organics

 

“It’s been lots of hard work, and they went the extra mile more than once, but this is the kind of presentation and effort that will get you remembered (and promoted)!” Olaf Groth, Faculty Mentor,  Team SAP Ariba

Team Leads:

“I am proud of the deliverables we presented to our client. In fact, they invited a few high-ranking executives to the presentation, so they must have felt confident about our project and final recommendations.”  Eddie Consigliere, Team Lead, Team MEC

 

“I really appreciated the team’s integrity and their ability to put the team first and put the work first, and to want to produce something that we were proud to put our name on.”  Josh Raines, Team Lead, Team SAP Ariba  

 

“We had a valuable and fun experience learning how to work within an immersive cross-cultural business environment through the IBD program. We enjoyed getting to know our client and about the China-US investment environment; it was a really great opportunity for us to complete a full end-to-end international strategy engagement.”  Oriana Chu, Team Lead, Team ToJoy

Enjoy this video of IBD Team Lead Emily Lapham sharing her thoughts on the team’s final deliverable to project client Entrepreneurs Without Borders.

Congratulations to all of our spring semester 2020 IBD student teams in accomplishing so much for so many clients in such a difficult environment.  Well done!

IBD teams hear from their peers on how to manage through uncertain times

Our lives changed drastically in the month of March when California residents and students were told to shelter in place due to the increasing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.  All UC Berkeley and Haas classes – including the IBD program – transitioned to remote only, and IBD project travel scheduled for May was put on hold.

In spite of these disruptive changes, our spring semester FTMBA IBD project teams continued to work diligently and remotely on consulting projects with international clients.  The current group of IBD students is now preparing to offer their project solutions to clients at the end of the semester in early May.  In talking with these outstanding IBD students, we increasingly came to appreciate the life experiences they brought to their project teams – and how helpful these can be in a time of crisis.  Recently we invited a few current and former IBD students to share their experiences of leading through difficult times.  As IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier put it, “There are so many students in this class who have impressive backgrounds and have spent their careers working in uncertainty. We can really learn a lot from each other.”

2019 Team Lead Jenny Nixon with her SAP Ariba Team

2019 Team Lead Jenny Nixon with her SAP Ariba Team

Jenny Nixon, ‘20 MBA candidate and 2019 IBD Team Lead

Jenny Nixon, a second year FTMBA student and a 2019 IBD Team Lead, spoke to the IBD class about her experience of leading through adversity.  Before coming to Berkeley Haas, Jenny was a combat medic and a US Army Officer and Commander in charge of leading Blackhawk Helicopter missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Jenny shared with the current IBD Team Leads this advice from her background of leading military teams:

  • Know your people.  Know their situation and how decisions impact them and what is on their mind.
  • Believe in and convey the importance in what they are doing.
  • Be more flexible.  Be able to talk one on one with your team members and pivot if they need a different experience.

She also had words of wisdom on what NOT to do as a leader:

  • Don’t be invulnerable and act like you are unaffected.
  • Don’t pretend that everything is ok when it’s not; face the problem directly.
  • Be open to hearing concerns and letting people vent, but don’t let it become an echo chamber for negativity.

In assessing the project experience in front of each IBD student, Jenny emphasized that “more than ever, it is important to focus on the task at hand as this is an opportunity to help an organization right now, during a very difficult time globally, in a real way.”  

2020 Team China – Megan Reichert, Geoffrey Easterling, Harshita Mira Venkatesh, Jordan Woodall, María del Mar Londoño Jaramillo (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

Geoff Easterling, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Member

Geoff Easterling, a current IBD Team Member, talked to the IBD class about a particularly tough time he experienced in leading his team as a Fire Direction Officer in Afghanistan in 2014-2015.  After thinking that they had reached the end of their overseas deployment, Geoff and a small group of soldiers were directed to remain in Afghanistan for an additional three months.  Geoff managed to help his team get over this sudden and disappointing change far from home.  He and his group found renewed relevance in their work as a unit, forming a bond that Geoff cherishes to this day.

Josh Raines-Teague

2020 Team Lead, Josh Raines-Teague

Josh Raines, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Lead

Josh Raines, a current IBD Team Lead, spent time as a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP.  He worked with many organizations involved in global health issues, including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention during the Ebola and Zika crises.  Josh mentioned to the IBD class that in times of uncertainty, he recommends reverting to established frameworks and systems:

“If paired with what you know to be true (the facts), these systems allow you to not only to feel in control but to actually be in control. It’s these times of uncertainty where integrity and commitment to the team despite obstacles really comes to the fore and makes all the difference. Ultimately, this will prove to be an incredible and valuable learning experience.” 

Emily Lapham, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Lead

Emily Lapham

2020 Team Lead, Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham is a current IBD Team Lead.  Prior to coming to Berkeley Haas, she worked as an Emergency Management Senior Analyst for the Cadmus Group – a consulting firm focused on homeland security and environmental issues.  Emily talked to the IBD class about the constant “exercising” her Cadmus Group team would do in order to prepare for times when everyday assumptions were no longer possible:

“I would advise Team Leads to think through different paths towards the same objective. This requires clarifying what the high-level objective truly is for the client. And then, instead of dwelling on the fact that we are seemingly falling on a “Plan B” (or C or D or E…), reframe it as another path to support a larger objective. For example, is it to explore a potential new business line or is it to assess diversification of revenue, and exploring a new business line was a means of doing that? If it is the latter, in a time of uncertainty or crisis, focusing on the larger objective (in this case, diversifying revenue) provides space for creativity.”

Emily admits that she is an eternal optimist, and she firmly believes that it is during times like these that there are opportunities to do a lot of good.  She wants her peers to remember that if they can “think through how our clients can best serve their customers at this moment,” it will “help make them stronger in serving non-traditional or new groups of clients going forward.”

IBD Faculty Mentors

In addition to our IBD students, the IBD Faculty Mentors also spoke up during the recent conversation about how to manage through adversity.  They emphasized that this current experience will be rich with learning opportunities for MBAs.  “Step up now,” said Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth, “and rest assured that employers will want to hear about how you handled yourself and your team during these tough times. Resilience leadership is a highly prized skill.”  Olaf concluded by telling the class: “There are good horizons beyond every crisis. Let’s all saddle up!”

 

 

 

The FTMBA IBD Team Member Big Reveal – What a Fun Day!

2020 IBD Students on the Big Reveal Day

2020 IBD Students on the Big Reveal Day

The Team Member “Big Reveal” event for spring semester FTMBA students is one of the most exciting and fun days in the IBD program. IBD team projects are kept secret until this class date of February 20th, when 64 new IBD Team Members find out about their assigned IBD projects, including which MBA classmates are on their IBD team and what country they will be going to for their eventual project field experience.

Team Dura-Line- Luisa Bisinoto, Eduardo Bustamante Aramburo, Joey Parker, Kate Smith, Sebastian Ambriz (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

What makes this day so fun is just how our incoming students learn the details of their IBD projects and teammates. Each of the 16 student Team Leads (previously assigned to their projects on January 23rd) creates a video presentation sharing details about their individual project, the project client, and the newly selected students on their team (the Team Members). The student videos are both entertaining and inspiring, usually drawing cheers and laughter from the crowd. Team Lead Luisa Gontijo Bisinot felt the Big Reveal was great: “It’s amazing to formally have the team onboard for the project, especially after having waited and prepared for this moment for a while. Additionally, learning that other people share my sense of humour and that they liked the Reveal video made the experience even better.”

Team Blinder – Victor Gorrachategui, Daniel Alston, Eduardo Guraieb, Donald Huang, Max Silva (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

How are IBD student teams created?

Student Team Leads know their individual IBD projects well prior to February 13th, when they undertake a complex draft process to select their four Team Members. The Team Member draft is based on multiple criteria, including requested skills and experience that match the needs of the project, and the desires of incoming students for a new global experience. As these MBA candidates know, the IBD program does not assign students to project countries where they are originally from or where they have worked for some time.

How do students feel about the IBD Team Member Big Reveal?

Team SAP Ariba- Josh Raines-Teague, Augustine Santillan, Brian Traganza, Chyi-Shin Shu and Tian Wang (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

An enormous amount of preparation and energy goes into the IBD Big Reveal — including students, faculty and staff. At the end of the day, what matters most is watching the Team Leads and Team Members react to their IBD project team coming together in person for the first time. Here below are a few of the student reactions recorded during the course of the day:

“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and thrilled to work with SAP Ariba in Germany — can’t wait to embark on this adventure with this amazing team!” Team Member Chyi-Shin Shu

 

“Cars, technology, Europe and amazing teammates — I could not have imagined a better pick for my IBD project.” Team Member Asif Mohammad

 

“It felt like I was in a draft with all my best friends and we were all 1st round picks!” Team Member Emanuel Ozuna Vargas

 

“The Big Reveal was an incredible experience and a highlight during my time at Haas. My team is excited about the client and project and can’t wait to start working!” Team Lead Devon Courtois

Team Ashesi University- Devan Courtois, Amy Sims, Matt Wald, Rohan D’Souza, Yuan Qu (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

How do IBD faculty feel about the Big Reveal?

This year’s Team Member Big Reveal was the first for new IBD Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth. When asked to share his takeaways from the day, Olaf said that the atmosphere was “downright electric. Everybody knew this was the moment they’d hear where in the world they were going to make a difference, make change, grow and help others grow over the next four months of their lives.”

Now that the FTMBA spring semester IBD project teams are officially assembled, it’s time for them to meet their clients as a team and get to work on the problems their clients have asked them to solve. IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier stands ready to help get the teams focused on their projects: “We’re so excited to launch this new set of IBD teams. We’ve got some fantastic high impact projects with clients who will use the team findings to drive strategic change in their organizations.”

Conclusion

Welcome to our 64 new student Team Members, and congratulations on joining the IBD program at Berkeley Haas! We look forward to hearing more about each of this semester’s 16 IBD projects in the months ahead.

Say Hello to Nina Ho MBA ’21, Our Spring 2020 IBD GSI

Nina on the Big Reveal Day with a sign that says UgandaThe IBD program is thrilled to have second year Full Time MBA student Nina Ho contribute to the spring 2020 FTMBA IBD program as our Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). Previously, Nina was a student Team Lead for the Makerere University project during the spring 2019 IBD program.  This is the second year that a former IBD student Team Lead has held the GSI role: Libby Ananda MBA ‘20 was the first.  The GSI role was created to benefit both IBD faculty and students.  Recently we had the opportunity to talk with Nina about her IBD experience as a student in 2019, as well as her expectations as this year’s IBD program GSI, and we’d like to share her interview below.

Nina and her team on a safari

Nina and her IBD team traveling and enjoying a safari

 IBD Interviewer: Why did you want to be the IBD GSI?

Nina Ho:  IBD was a unique experience: when you are pushed outside of what’s familiar, you learn more about yourself and those around you.  Spending quality time with my amazing team, I learned tremendously from them, and we got so close. As a GSI, I wanted to pay it forward and facilitate an unforgettable experience for the next class.  I also wanted to continue working with Whitney Hischier, who served as my Faculty Mentor last year. I respect her as a professional mentor and believe there’s a lot to gain from another year of working with her.

IBD Interviewer:  Do you have any goals for your role as a GSI?

Nina Ho:  Students come to IBD with different starting points. Some have consulting or leadership experience; others don’t.  I see my role as helping to close that gap — get those students up to speed so they can accomplish their project goals.  I look forward to acting as an intermediary with the faculty and help to inform decisions that support the students’ learning.

IBD Interviewer:  You worked with IBD project client Makerere University in 2019. Were you proud of the work you did as an IBD Team?

Nina Ho:  Throughout the course of IBD we were able not only to diagnose the root cause of their challenge, but also to devise a realistic implementation plan for the solution we recommended.  I am proud of the breadth of work we completed and how we handled the client interaction to get to that point. 

Nina talking to her 2019 IBD client - Makerere University

Nina talking to her 2019 IBD client – Makerere University

IBD Interviewer:  Would you change anything about your IBD experience?

Nina Ho:  Though A LOT of things didn’t go as planned, I wouldn’t change anything.  Ironically, all the challenges we faced made us get closer as a team – we learned how to trust each other. 

IBD Interviewer:  Did the IBD experience help with your summer internship or after graduation career choices?

Nina Ho:  IBD gave me the confidence to lead a consulting project ahead of my internship.  Though I had a consulting background and understood how to do the work, I was looking for reps to lead a team in an ambiguous, non-straightforward setting. 

IBD Interviewer:  Are you focusing on anything over these next couple of months before you graduate?

Nina Ho: I am training for the AIDS Lifecycle charity ride from SF to LA and working on being a better skier — gotta work up to those black diamonds!  I am also looking forward to spending as much time with my classmates before graduating.

Nina standing on a rock

IBD Interviewer: What is your favorite thing about Haas?

Nina Ho:  Honestly, the community.  I am consistently moved by the generosity of my classmates, staff and faculty and how people show up for each other.  The spirit of Haas creates an inclusive space where I’ve been able to take more risks and find a place of belonging.  

IBD Interviewer:  You introduced us to your love of wearing headbands while traveling.  Do you still wear headbands?

Nina with a beautiful backdrop

Nina Ho:  Yes, and most recently in New Zealand — you really need that when you’re on a backpacking trip and can’t shower!

The IBD program staff and faculty are fortunate to have Nina as a member of our team, and we know she will contribute to the overall success of our students and the spring 2020 IBD program.  Thank you Nina!

 

The 2020 IBD Program Has Officially Kicked Off! 

Team Leads and Faculty Mentors

2020 Spring Team Leads and Faculty Mentors

One of the IBD staff’s favorite days of the entire program is the Team Lead Big Reveal event.  On January 23rd, the first day of spring semester FTMBA IBD class, the Team Leads entered the Berkeley Haas classroom not knowing anything about their projects.  Although they shared beforehand something of their preferences for project industry and destination, the assignment to their respective projects was in the hands of the IBD staff and Faculty Director Whitney Hischier.  It was during this Big Reveal class that student Team Leads finally learned what kind of project and industry they had been assigned to, where their project countries were located, and where they would spend their final three weeks of in-country project work in May/June.  It was a fun, exciting and revealing morning for all involved — IBD faculty, staff and students.

The spring 2020 IBD student Team Leads shared with us their impressions of the IBD Big Reveal event, what they are looking forward to in working with their new project clients, and how they intend to engage with the student Team Members who will be assigned later to their teams.  Please see their comments below. 

Adolfo Quesada Viciana

Adolfo Quesada Viciana

“I was really surprised about how excited and at the same time nervous we all were about the Big Reveal! I hadn’t felt that way probably since the Haas admissions call day! At the end, we are going to spend 3 months of remote work and 1 month on the ground for a specific client and in an exciting new region!“ Adolfo Quesada Viciana – Thailand project

Akshay Dalmia

Akshay Dalmia

“I was super stoked to hear about the destination and project. I have never worked in Brazil, and partnering with an innovative SaaS company to establish a corporate venture capital arm really excites me! I look forward to working with an incredible group of Haasies to learn, have fun and deliver meaningful value for the client!“  Akshay Dalmia – Brazil project

 

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo

“After waiting patiently for several months for the Big Reveal, I was so thrilled when I found out my project would be based in Finland.  I’ve never been there yet, so I’m eager to meet my client and get the project started. I’m positive this will be a rewarding experience as I’ll get to learn from not only the project itself, but also from my team, mentor and client.  Plus, I’m excited about the beautiful scenery, plentiful saunas, and endless sunshine in Finland during the summer months!” Cassandra Salcedo – Finland project

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann

‘It was great getting together with all the other Team Leads and learning where everyone was going. I am very excited to get to know my client and better understand how we can help them!”  Charlie Davidmann – Thailand project

 

Devan Courtois

Devan Courtois

“I am so excited to work with a client who cares about two of my passions — education and healthcare — and to learn about the unique challenges that my client faces given their location and mission.”  Devan Courtois – Ghana project

 

Eduardo Consigliere

Eduardo Consigliere

“I’m really excited about my project! It involves re-thinking a region’s economic landscape and future potential. I’m excited to form a team of passionate individuals and get to work!”  Eduardo Consigliere – Japan project

 

Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham

“I am very excited to be working with my client as they continue to grow as a young organization. Their commitment to building a more sustainable world through entrepreneurship is inspiring and aligned with my personal and professional goals.”  Emily Lapham – Sweden project

 

Jorge Abreu

Jorge Abreu

“I’m anxious to get to know my client better! The first touch points will be fundamentally important to set the base for our work in the next couple of months. Mapping and closing potential cultural differences, and adding structure and a timeline to the project, will help both sides to control anxiety and work effectively on the subject-matter!”  Jorge Abreu – Finland project

 

Josh Raines-Teague

Josh Raines-Teague

“Not only am I thrilled that my team and I get to travel this spring to an amazing location, but we get to work with a wonderful and supportive client who’s inviting us to have a real and pivotal impact on driving his business forward.”   Josh Raines-Teague – Germany project

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds

“I’m really excited to get to work on my project. I secretly think I got the best project, but I’m biased. Can’t wait to get to work to help patients across the globe.”  Julie Reynolds – India project

 

Krutika Pursnani

Krutika Pursnani

“I am really looking forward to getting to know the client and the industry more — it is a challenging and fascinating space and in a stunning location! Also excited to have a team of what I am sure will be incredibly talented Haasies.”  Krutika Pursnani – Brazil project

 

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto

“I feel very lucky to have been assigned to a great project in an incredible country I have always wanted to know. I’m sure this will be a wonderful experience and I’m excited to get to work!” Luisa Bisinoto – India project

 

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert

“I’m really looking forward to the (Team Member) draft; I can’t wait to bring together an incredibly talented team to tackle (what I think) is an interesting and challenging project!”  Megan Reichert – China project

 

Oriana Chiu

Oriana Chiu

“I loved seeing the diversity of different projects, countries and industries — and also seeing the enthusiasm and focus from all the team leads as we plan how to tackle these exciting new projects!”  Oriana Chiu – China project

 

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves

“I couldn’t be more excited about the location, theme and client. Can’t wait to start working with the rest of the team!”  Thais Esteves – Thailand project

 

Victor Gorrachategui

Victor Gorrachategui

“AMAZING. I would have never imagined that I would be doing a project in New Zealand. I am so lucky and so grateful for the chance that IBD is giving me. This is the best destination that I could have wished for and an extremely interesting and thrilling project. I cannot wait to build up the team and start together this fascinating journey!”  Victor Gorrachategui – New Zealand project

  • End of the Team Lead Quotes

Our IBD Faculty Mentors shared their thoughts about the Team Lead Big Reveal event as well!

“I am delighted to be back as mentor and support four teams helping clients in four countries (and three continents).” IBD Faculty Mentor Jon Metzler

“With so many great projects around the world, addressing issues ranging from B2B to B2C to Social Enterprise to infrastructure, it’s going to be a great semester for our IBD students!” IBD Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain

“It was the kind of kickoff that makes you realize how blessed and privileged one is as a faculty member to help hone some amazing young leaders from across the globe to solve big, interesting challenges for organizations in all corners of the world.”  IBD Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth

Olaf Groth meeting with his Team Leads

Olaf Groth meeting with his Team Leads

“The IBD Team Lead Big Reveal is intense and the culmination of many months of work.  David (IBD Executive Director David Richardson) traveled the globe to source great projects for our program; we interviewed MANY fantastic applicants to be Team Leads: and finally we matched the selected 16 with the best projects based on client needs, student background and interests.  It is so much fun to watch the Team Leads’ faces when they find out what they’ll be working on — a mix of excitement and perhaps a touch of anxiety for the journey ahead!” IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier

 

Congratulations to the Spring Semester 2020 IBD Project Team Leads!

This year we were once again fortunate to have a group of talented Berkeley Haas MBA students apply for the spring semester IBD student Team Lead position.  Each project Team Lead brings a unique perspective, set of skills, and experience to the role.  We would like to share something about each of them, including why they applied to be a Team Lead and what they hope to gain from the IBD experience.  Enjoy!

Adolfo at Dolomites skiing this past spring

Adolfo in the Dolomites skiing this past spring

Adolfo Quesada Viciana: 

Adolfo spent most of his career prior to coming to Berkeley Haas at Deloitte Consulting in Madrid, Spain. In addition to his extensive consulting background, Aldofo co-founded and managed a small event-planning business throughout high school and university.  Adolfo is passionate about skiing takes the time to pursue it several months every winter and spring.

“I hope to collaborate to create stronger bonds among the team while at the same time looking for the best outcome for our client, in a challenging environment in which we will be exposed to uncertainty and quick decision making. I also would love to get immersed in the culture of the country and region where we will be located, learning from our client, mentors and communities around us, taking advantage as a team of the unique opportunity that IBD will provide to us.” –  Adolfo Quesada Viciana

Akshay rafting

Akshay Dalmia

Akshay Dalmia:

Prior to coming to Berkeley Haas, Akshay was senior consultant and analyst at Ernst & Young and Orios Venture Partners in Mumbai, India. He has a passion for volunteering, youth education, and traveling — he has visited 45 countries.

“The IBD program is an incredible platform to partner with an international client to help solve real business issues they face. It helps us apply the concepts in class in a practical context and stay plugged into the global business environment while studying.” –Akshay Dalmia

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo: 

Cassandra has experience working across multiple industries including nonprofit, technology and financial services. Most recently she worked with Pro Mujer International, a social enterprise, empowering underserved women in Latin America. Cassandra also likes hiking and salsa dancing.

As an IBD Team Lead, I will continue to push myself and my teammates outside of our comfort zones in order to make our IBD adventure an unforgettable experience.  I am excited for this opportunity to bring together a diverse group of people, learn from each other’s perspectives, take personal and professional risks as a team and help each other grow in the process.  The journey is the reward!” – Cassandra Salcedo

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann: 

The majority of Charlie’s career has been with Morgan Stanley in London, and most recently as an associate in UK Mergers and Acquisitions.  Charlie is an international athlete and has represented Great Britain in competitive target shooting. 

“The IBD program was one of the reasons I applied to Haas, and building my leadership abilities is one of my main goals while here. I want to help my team have a material impact on a major project. I also want to experience leading a team outside of the western world!” Charlie Davidmann

Devan Courtois:

Devan Courtois

Devan Courtois

Post college, Devan worked for two years in Houston, Texas with Teach for America (TFA). After TFA, Devan moved on to Deloitte as a Strategy and Operations Business Analyst. Devan also spent time teaching English in Cusco, Peru.  She loves hiking, running and backpacking.

“One of my goals for coming to Haas was to improve my leadership skills and to learn best practices for effectively managing teams. Becoming an IBD Lead is one of the best opportunities Haas offers to refine these skills, and to use best practices learned in the classroom to lead a team of my peers and take on a manager-level role on a consulting engagement.” –Devan Courtois

Eddie Consigliere

Eddie Consigliere

Eduardo Consigliere:

Eddie most recent work was with Juntos Global, as a client Services Manager, supporting Latin America.  He also led several teams as a Senior Auditor at Ernst & Young.  Eddie enjoys cooking Peruvian food, indoor climbing and yoga.

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I believe the IBD program will be one of the most meaningful experiences of my time at Haas, and I wanted to have an active role in making it memorable for my classmates. Leading a team through a global consulting project is an incredible opportunity to further develop the skills I’ll need to be successful as I pursue a career in consulting after Haas. I believe that understanding how organizations operate abroad is important in order to foster greater empathy for clients and stakeholders in an increasingly global context.” – Eduardo Consigliere

Emily Lapham:

Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham:

Emily has background in global business operations and consulting for private and public sector entities. She sent time prior to Haas at the Cadmus Group in Washington, D.C. working as an Emergency Management Senior Analyst and at Northrop Grumman. Emily has completed four marathons and six half marathons. 

“As someone with an academic and professional background in international business, a desire to hone my consulting skill set, and an enthusiasm for travel, I felt that being a Team Lead would be a perfect position to combine my professional and personal interests. In my first job out of college, I worked with our company’s international offices on a day to day basis, often communicating with colleagues from 3-4 different time zones within a single day. I grew so much during this time, both as a professional and as a person, and I wanted to be a Team Lead to continue this learning trajectory.” Emily Lapham

Jorge Abreu cycling in Rio

Jorge Abreu cycling in Rio

Jorge Abreu:

Jorge has spent the majority of his career working for Roland Berger, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a Consultant.  Prior to Roland Berger, Jorge was an intern at Imerys in Paris, France and Hanoi, Vietnam.  In addition to Portuguese and English, Jorge speaks Spanish and French.

“I applied to be a Team Lead in IBD due to three main reasons: (i) to keep exploring and learning how different cultures influence businesses worldwide; (ii) to challenge myself as a leader, seizing this unique opportunity of leading a highly skilled team through a complex and ambiguous scenario; and (iii) to develop and sharpen hard and soft consulting skills such as project management, problem solving, client relationship, teamwork and communication.” – Jorge Abreu

Josh Raines-Teague:

Josh Raines-Teague in the mountains

Josh Raines-Teague in the mountains

Josh is in the concurrent MBA and Master of Public Health (MBA/MPH) program. Prior to Haas, Josh was a Senior Consultant at Deloitte working primarily with public sector health clients on a variety of projects aimed at improving our country’s ability to respond to emergencies. Josh is also a semi-professional musician with over ten years’ experience performing symphonic repertoire with orchestras and chamber ensembles. 

“I applied to be a Team Lead for IBD because I know that the best way to learn how to lead is by doing it. If I can develop my leadership skills while working on an impactful real-world issue and learning about another country and culture, then the proposition becomes impossible to pass up.” – Josh Raines-Teague

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds:

Julie is also in the MBA/MPH program.  Julie has a healthcare background, having spent the majority of her career with Foundation Medicine and Shire PLC.  Most recently, Julie was a manager on the corporate development and strategy team at Foundation Medicine, although she started her career as a public accountant at E&Y. Julie is a marathoner and is chasing a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I wanted a challenging real world leadership experience.  I managed teams earlier in my career but haven’t managed people directly for the last three years.  Coming out of business school, I want to be ready to lead teams and thought IBD would be a good way for me to exercise my management skills.  I also love to travel (and eat good food while traveling), so IBD seemed like a win-win opportunity, combining a professional experience with something I love to do in my spare time.“ – Julie Reynolds

Krutika Pursna dancing "Kathak"

Krutika Pursna dancing “Kathak”

Krutika Pursna:

Until coming to Haas, Krutika was the Outreach Director (and founder) for SheSays, a women’s empowerment organization in India. She is also a consultant at E&Y in advisory services.  Krutika is a dancer, practicing classical “Kathak” as part of B.A. degree from the Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya Mandaland, and a Belly Dance instructor.

“I applied to be IBD Team Lead because I hope to put together a team that not only comes from different backgrounds and is able to work well together and get along, but also one that is looking to learn and share expertise. In that way, as a lead my job would be to mainly facilitate these learnings and help those around me grow with the project.” -Krutika Pursna

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto:

Before coming to Haas, Luisa worked at Accenture Strategy in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, as manager and business consultant. Her expertise includes strategic and organizational planning, and developing/implementing cost optimization strategies. Luisa enjoys sports, especially volleyball.

“As I advance in my career, it becomes more clear to me that managing people (bosses, co-workers, clients…) and getting them to work productively as a team constitutes the most important part of any job, and I would much like to get better at it. I believe leadership is not innate, and to get good at it we need to practice, learn and improve every day – and this was the main reason why I applied to be a Team Lead.” – Luisa Bisinoto

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert:

The majority of Megan’s career has been as a business analyst and consultant at Deloitte Consulting focused on environmental sustainability and design innovation. Before coming to Haas, Megan spent four months working with a for profit organization called Accite Holdings in Botswana and South Africa, and in Winneba, Ghana with Challenging Heights, a non profit.

“I hope to gain greater leadership perspective by leading a team of talented peers to help balance all of their individual interests, skills, and objectives while also meeting the needs of our client. I also hope to form deep friendships as we throw ourselves into a new work environment and spend three weeks together in a foreign country.” – Megan Reichert

Oriana WWOOFing (voluntourism) in the southern Netherlands at a local organic vineyard!

Oriana WWOOFing (voluntourism) in the southern Netherlands at a local organic vineyard!

Oriana Chiu:

Oriana has worked with Deloitte Consulting as a consultant and business technology analyst for her entire career.  Oriana was the networking lead and nonprofit liaison for Women’s Bond Club, an organization for women in financial services. She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and Spanish.  

“I hope to experience how to successfully create a productive and fun team environment while in a different &/new cultural environment.” Oriana Chiu

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves:

Thais most recently worked at BCG–The Boston Consulting Group in São Paulo, Brazil, as a consultant.  She has worked with many industries during her time at BCG, including sustainability, food-systems, agriculture, education, and impact investing strategy.  Thais is passionate about social impact, and continues to work with a São Paulo global social impact organization called Inspiring Girls.

“For me, being a good leader is the most critical point to achieve success in any career path. I believe being an IBD team lead will enable me to continue developing my leadership skills; leveraging my past experiences as a consultant to lead a team of highly capable MBAs; understanding each team member’s motivations and how to work together to deliver impact for our client; and at the same time, ensuring a great experience for everyone in the team. I am really excited – it is gonna be a lot of learning, and a lot of fun! “ Thais Esteves

Victor as goalkeeper at semi-professional level for over 17 years

Victor as goalkeeper at semi-professional level for over 17 years

Victor Gorrachategui:

Victor most recently served as associate at A.T. Kearney in Madrid, Spain.  Throughout his career working as a strategy consultant, Victor has worked on a variety of industries including consumer goods, analytics, retail, and oil & gas. Victor has pursued Aerospace Engineering with great passion, including taking pilot lessons for light aircraft.  He is also an avid player of chess and soccer. 

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to create (as a Team Lead) and be a part of such a transformational personal and professional experience that IBD is. I hope not only to continue broadening my perspectives on how business is done in different parts of the world and learning from other cultures, but also to live this experience with a great group of Haassies that will hopefully become a close group of friends for the rest of my life!” Victor Gorrachategui

We look forward to working with all of these terrific student Team Leads in January when the spring semester IBD course begins.

Refashioning a more sustainable future for apparel in India

Lauren Grimanis, Nish Samant, Felix Schadeck, Mark Sheiness, Molly Zeins

From our first steps off the plane in Bengaluru (Bangalore, for those outside of India), it was clear that fashion and color played an important role in Indian society: both in terms of individual self-expression as well as a market and income for a large swath of the population. Women in vibrant, traditional sarees ambled next others in more muted, contemporary getups while street bazaars of bargained handmade goods coexisted side-by-side with fixed price retail locations offering the latest mass-produced styles. We were here to help our client change this universe for the better and the sheer scope of our undertaking was finally sinking in.

Team ABFRL on our way to the client Day 1. The client provided private transportation to navigate Bangalore’s busy streets, which also meant we had no excuse to be late.

Our client, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd. (“ABFRL”) is a subsidiary of the gigantic conglomerate Aditya Birla Group (“ABG”) and one of India’s largest pure-play fashion companies. ABFRL had undertaken an ambitious sustainability campaign “Re-Earth: For Our Tomorrow” that kicked off a few years ago and was on-track to meet or exceed many of its goals by 2020. We were enlisted to help refocus the plan with a 2025 horizon and for the past 5 months had scoured the internet investigating the sustainability plans of apparel peers around the world before interviewing experts for their insights. Now it was time to roll up our sleeves in-country and explore the unique fashion landscape within India before landing on a set of recommendations for ABFRL to implement.

Pantaloons was one of ABFRL’s flagship brand umbrellas, with a deep penetration in Bangalore and presence across most of India so it wasn’t long on our first day in-country before we stumbled across one.

ABFRL put us up in a top-notch hotel near their office complex by the old airport that had been converted to an Indian Air Force training base. This was where they situated all of their external consultants and it was readily apparent from our first day in the office that despite our student status, the expectations set for us would be as lofty as any third-party agency brought in for a specific endeavor. Our task was ambitious and the demands high but there was an exhilarating drive at the chance to make a real impact given our client’s reach. As one interviewed employee aptly put: “removing even a single button from a garment could be a drastic improvement given our size.” This was the type of project many of us had left jobs to come to Berkeley to explore: to roadmap a way for business and society to harmoniously develop together into the future.

Based on the attendees at the kickoff ManCom meeting and our final presentation (above), it was apparent that sustainability is an increasing area of emphasis within ABFRL

Our first week kicked off with a early presentation to ABFRL’s “ManCom” (management committee) where we set out our desk research findings and structured our goals for the subsequent 3 weeks. Attendees included the Managing Director of the organization as well as brand heads and various CXOs of the Fashion & Retail subsidiary. Given the number of high-powered and the shrewd yet relentless line of questioning we faced, it was very apparent to us that sustainability was not simply lip service within ABFRL but that we also had our work cut out for us if we were going to make the business case for adopting our recommendations. 

Bhagya, our corporate liaison, was with us practically every step of the way and, as a native Bangalorean, an invaluable resource in navigating the unique metropolis of India’s “Silicon City.”

Early on Day One we met the most important person within ABFRL: Bhagya Lakshmi, a long-time member of the sustainability team and our liaison within the organization. Bhagya possessed an almost superhuman ability to get things done within ABFRL and quickly became one of our biggest champions in securing interviews and site visits over the duration of our trip. In all over the 3 weeks, we chatted with more than 3 dozen ABFRL employees and a handful of strategic partners. We visited 3 factories (which sported some of the best food the entire trip), a warehouse, a “model village”, and a half-dozen retail locations all in the name of better understanding our client’s operations and how they accomplish the herculean task of supplying garments to every corner of India.

Every location had amazing and authentic Indian cuisine that was a highlight of the tours. Each factory employed a few thousand workers so the meal logistics themselves were an incredible undertaking.

ABFRL’s is setup with at least 5 in-house brand umbrellas where they design, produce, and sell apparel items as well as a number of additional third-party brands where they are the exclusive retailer within the Indian market. An early takeaway from our peer research was to “Start where you have the most control” when it comes to sustainability so much of our time was spent focusing on the full-featured brands where they had the most power to implement our recommendations. India’s climate and generally hot weather year-round leads to only certain materials being viable and, indeed, over 70% of ABFRL’s lineup was from cotton so that became a big focus of our investigation and interviews. 

One of the most impactful visits was traveling to a “model village” and seeing the direct impact ABFRL was already having through its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives such as bringing a Water ATM to the town of Sollepuram.

Our final presentation constituted 10 recommendations they could implement between now and 2025 that encompassed the company’s own operations as well as upstream (vendors, materials) and downstream (retailers, customers). Any one of our recommendations could be an entire IBD project in its own right and given the large scope of our project, we struggled with the timeless challenge of depth vs. breadth. Nonetheless, the feedback was that our presentation was well-received with ABFRL commenting that 80% of our suggestions would be piloted by 2025. Because we knew the audience was limited for our concluding presentation, we designed our final deliverable to also function as a shareable roadmap to stand on its own without us. We had a fantastic time in India and have high hopes for ABFRL and its stakeholders going forward. The project gave us unprecedented insight into the Asian apparel industry and a lens into manufacturing we rarely see Stateside. IBD will certainly be one of the highlights we each take away from the Haas experience and a bond the 5 of us will always share. 

Despite the demanding work schedule, we still found plenty of time to goof off. We opted for a lot of nature and remote outdoor excursions to limit the number of stares we attracted with our antics.

While the demands of the project kept us mostly local to the hotel premises and the 3 restaurants/bars it sported, we did manage to escape to surrounding areas over the weekend. During our first weekend in the city, still fighting off the jetlag, we opted for a night hike in the majestic Naandi Hills and even the bus breakdown, 3-hour delay, and deceptively steep climb  couldn’t keep us from enjoying the great sights this former hillside sanctuary fortress offered. Our taste for the Indian outdoors were whet and for the next weekend we opted for a more immersive experience exploring the Kabini region in a jungle resort near the Nagarahole tiger reserve. We saw plenty of flora and fauna during our two morning safaris by boat and vehicle but sadly the majestic big cats eluded us until we can next come back. The great preservation  efforts by the Nagarahole rangers combined with our ABFRL work towards sustainability gave us real hope that the landscape and mindset within India is changing to a more eco- and socially-conscious future that would allow many generations to come to explore its rich geography and benefit from varied and historic produced goods. 

Ananda Development Public Company Limited

Written by: Fay Yu, Paolo Casumbal, James Greff, Torie Dalton and Tyson Johnson

Week 0 – SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing + Chiang Mai

A few of our team members arrived a week ahead of time to attend the SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing Conference in Bangkok. Our client, Ananda Development, helped with this year’s conference focused around exponential technologies in the manufacturing space. We are grateful to have been invited as volunteers, giving us the opportunity to be in close proximity with all of the interesting speakers including Mark Post (co-founder, MosaMeat), Andres De Leon (COO, Hyperloop), and Samantha Radocchia (co-founder, Chronicled). Over the course of two days, we were able to learn about emerging technologies, new research, and startup ideas in a variety of industries. 

In preparation for the upcoming IBD start, we spent the weekend relaxing in Chiang Mai. We visited the Elephant Nature Park and spent most of our first day there. This park rescues elephants that have been forced into circuses, have been forced to work for logging companies, or have been injured. During this weekend, we also got our first exposure to the role religion plays in Thailand. Chiang Mai is home to many beautiful temples and we pushed through the triple digit temperatures to visit many of them. Thailand is a largely Buddhist country, and our weekend coincided with Vesak – a national holiday celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. We were unaware that this would mean that establishments were banned from selling alcohol and many social establishments were closed. We made the best of it and left with fond memories of this ancient city.  

Week 1 – A Warm Ananda Welcome + Krabi

This was our first week at the Ananda office. The team met Lloyd, our main contact for our project, and the wonderful team he leads. We learned a lot about Thai business culture and also got a better understanding of what the company is working on and how they are aiming to grow in the future. The office itself reminded us of the startup and tech offices found throughout the Bay Area. One day was spent touring the different properties that Ananda owns or developed. As one of the top condo builders in Thailand, we were able to learn about Ananda’s various luxury townhomes and condo complexes, and our day navigating Bangkok exposed us to the headaches of its traffic. 

On Friday afternoon, we left for Krabi where our island hopping tour gave us the opportunity to explore beaches, go on hikes, and see some monkeys. We visited the famed Railay Beach, which is only accessible by boat. There we took on a steep hike and were rewarded with a beautiful view overlooking the beach. Our remaining time was spent out in the warm waters of Southern Thailand. 

Week 2 – Exploring Bangkok + Siem Reap

Back in Bangkok, we continued to work on our IBD project. The team settled into a routine of game-planning at the start of the day, working either as a group or independently in the various cool workspaces around the open office, eating the Ananda-provided lunch, and heading out around 5 PM, often after a friendly debrief with Lloyd. In the evenings, we explored all of the great sights and food that Bangkok has to offer – from the street-food in Chinatown to gourmet burgers in Thong Lor – and of course, its’ famous nightlife. We were also able to visit the Grand Palace and watch a cabaret show – that is until the power went out throughout the entire neighborhood.

Over the weekend, we met with the Cambodia team in Siem Reap. The main attraction in Siem Reap is the ancient temple called Angkor Wat. We visited Angkor Wat at 5 AM in the morning in order to watch the sunrise. Despite not seeing the sunrise due to cloud cover, we took advantage of the minimal crowd and stayed around that morning to walk around the grounds. It’s an incredible complex and it still serves as a Buddhist religious site. Throughout the weekend we visited other incredible sites of the ancient city of Angkor, including Ta Prohm, famous for the huge trees woven throughout its ruins.

Week 3 – Thailand From a Different Perspective 

The last Monday was a holiday celebrating the newly coronated Queen’s birthday. One of Lloyd’s team members, Pang, was so kind as to take us under her wing for the day. We started off by visiting her uncle’s home in the suburbs of Bangkok and got to see his impressive prayer room. We learned that many Thai homes have a prayer room where there are both Buddhist and Hindu relics. Afterwards, we ate lunch at a restaurant outside of the city frequented by Thais and then went to Phutta Monthon where we fed fish with local park goers. We finished the day at Pang’s house where her helpers prepared fresh coconut and other local fruits for us to enjoy. 

After seeing so much of Bangkok from a tourist’s point of view, it was refreshing to spend a day with a local. Thank you, Pang and Kong! Our team had an incredible time in Bangkok, where we were warmly received by the Ananda team (thank you Darrell, Shawn, Frankie, and Sam!). We’d be remiss not to once more give a huge shout out to Lloyd, who was an incredible, attentive, and kind host! 

Team HaAshesi – Educating Ethical, Entrepreneurial Leaders in Africa

Written by: Joseph Bird, Carolyn Henderson, Nicole Quinty, Jessica Slocovich and Nicholas Meyer

Our client, Ashesi University, was founded by Haas alumnus Patrick Awuah in 2002 with the grand mission of educating a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa (Patrick, coincidentally, was Haas’s Class of 2019 MBA commencement speaker). The school has a longstanding relationship with Haas and has partnered with IBD to host 12 (!) IBD teams to date.

Prior to arriving on campus, our group dove deep into the current educational landscape across Africa, distributed and analyzed results from an international student survey, spoke with a number of university admissions teams, worked with Haas African Business Club points of contact, and even enjoyed early exposure to potential customers by spending time with current students at Haas in early March.

Before getting to work, our team was thrilled to start our time in Ghana with four safaris at Mole National Park.

We then embarked upon the drive from the country’s capital, Accra, to our client in the remote town of Berekuso, situated high on a hill with stunning views of the surrounding Accra metropolitan area and the Gulf of Guinea.

Given that most students had already departed campus for internships or summer vacation, our team largely had campus to ourselves. We were treated to a tour of the school’s beautiful facilities and were afforded access to any room on campus to ensure that we had ample space to work during our time with the project. Accommodations were in on-campus faculty housing, three-bedroom homes with shared living rooms and kitchens that also served as great spaces to meet and work.

One of our first large objectives during our time in-country was to conduct focus groups with current international students. Ashesi’s staff was instrumental in helping us coordinate a group of 30 students to speak with, and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon learning more about what drew them to the school and developing hypotheses on what the institution could do to attract additional international fee-paying students.

Our group resolved early in the project that a sustainable solution for our client would be one that they were heavily invested in and that they would be inspired to carry forward our recommendations regardless of our geographic proximity or duration of time removed from the project. We wanted Ashesi to be invested in the ideation process early and coordinated a three-hour design thinking workshop with key staff members. Hearing directly from those stakeholders, brainstorming, and collaborating on potential solutions to achieve the client’s lofty goal was extraordinarily productive, and the enthusiasm and energy from the afternoon was palpable. 

Ashesi’s staff were eager for us to continue to explore Ghana, and were kind enough to build an itinerary for us to visit Cape Coast during our first weekend between work. Crocodiles, castles, and rainforests filled our days, and we were very appreciative of the cultural experiences we enjoyed together.

 At this point, our group had enough information to begin synthesizing final deliverables for the client, but not without the buy-in of our final stakeholders. We facilitated a brief check-in to lay out our proposals and rationale to ensure that we were meeting expectations and any substantial questions or reservations from the client were being proactively addressed.

We were also thrilled to be on campus for Ashesi’s graduation. It was a remarkably fulfilling and inspiring experience knowing that our work today would influence the lives of those walking across the stage a few years from now.

Our last few days in-country were spent refining our deliverables with a handful of key stakeholders, continuing to extract insights, and synthesizing our final recommendations. The final presentation on Thursday, June 6th was well-attended, as members from our stakeholders’ entire teams were eager to hear what we had learned and understand first-hand our proposals for their day-to-day responsibilities going forward.

Upon the conclusion of our final presentation, our team took time to reflect on the project and pulled together a few closing observations. While timelines, deliverables, and audiences shifted a number of times, our group did a wonderful job of staying grounded and focusing on the importance of our work to the client. Each and every one of us was heavily invested in the school’s mission and the overarching goal of our project, which kept day-to-day challenges and project scope fluctuations in perspective and kept us motivated to deliver our best. We were also mutually appreciative of the comportment of our teammates and the easygoing nature by which we all approached our work and collaborative efforts. This, in tandem with the unwavering support of our client, created a memorable work experience and end-state deliverables that we are all very proud of. Next steps: planning a team reunion in Ghana a few years from now!