PSI Team in Nairobi, Kenya

PSI in front of hospitalWritten by Sara Farsio, Kamellia Saroop, Jennifer Richard, Nick Greczyna, Deitrich Davidheiser

May 29th, 2018

Writing to you from my Westlands Apartment in Nairobi, Kenya. We just completed our final presentation with our client yesterday! Let me share a little about our time in country.

PSI IBD team visiting a national distributor, MEDS, and learning about how they control the quality of drugs

PSI IBD team visiting a national distributor, MEDS, and learning about how they control the quality of drugs

Our IBD team arrived in Nairobi 3 weeks ago to meet our client, Population Services International, face to face for the first time. Population Services International (PSI) is a U.S. based NGO that is working to make it easier for people in the developing world, work to lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire. PSI does this by carrying out Social Franchise Networks. While the organization works globally, our team has been partnering with the Franchise Networks in East Africa (over 500 clinics in the network!), looking to bring solutions to not only those in Kenya, but also Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somaliand.

In-Country – Week 1

It was great to get our feet on the ground when we arrived. We had meetings set up for us all week! I’ll share some highlights from our experience.

  • Visiting the Tunza Franchise Network clinics in Kenya. We went to 6 clinics and met with the owners and staff. Everyone was incredible friendly and willing to answer our questions even though they had a lot on their plates serving patients.
  • We met with the CEO of a new Group Purchasing Organization, MedSource. Incredible to hear about the platform they just launched to help clinics like the ones in the Tunza network.
  • Spending the day with the PS Kenya team was great. They drove us to the various clinics and shared their insights about working with clinics. We had a pit spot for lunch which was a perfect setting to get to know them better. We ate freshly fried Tilapia caught in Lake Victoria – delicious and so much bigger than what we see in the States.
Diani-Beach,-Kenya

Diani-Beach,-Kenya

We finished Week 1 with a weekend trip to Diani Beach! One of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Water was clear and sand was as white as it gets! Such a rewarding getaway for our team. We had a fun bonding experience going scuba diving along a coral reef! Deitrich was certified but for the rest of us, it was our first time. We saw starfish, sea turtles, eel, shrimp, and so much more.

Scuba-time

Scuba-time

In-Country – Week 2

Crunch time! Week 1 was a whole week of new information for us all to intake. This week we spent incorporating new insights into our strategy, then refining and validating our deliverables. This meant a lot of heads down time on our computers. Luckily, our apartments and the client office are really close by, so we had a good setup for getting a lot of work done. Each morning, our apartment complex offers us free breakfast. Kenyan tea is always a treat – comes with hot milk and is delicious– an influence from when the British colonialized Kenya.

Masai Mara

Masai Mara

Thursday of this week we did a practice dry run through of our final presentation to one person at PSI. This was a great chance to get feedback and prepare for next week.

A male lion!

A male lion!

We finished off Week 2 with a long awaited Safari! 6 hour drive from Nairobi and we were close to the Tanzanian border, in the middle of the Masai Mara. We did two game drives and saw tons of animals: lions, cheetah, leopard, wildebeest, gazelle, impalas, elephants, giraffes…the list goes on! Had a great time here and also got to meet the Masai villagers – and incredible and humbling experience.

PSI IBD Team with Carlos, our Safari Tour Guide.

PSI IBD Team with Carlos, our Safari Tour Guide.

In-Country – Week 3

Our last week! It felt so good to have worked so hard on the deck, practiced the presentation using our Lead Comm skills and presented to over 20 people from PSI. It was great to hear their feedback and excitement about our strategies. They appreciated how realistic our ideas were and it felt great to deliver! Enjoyed the rest of this week by finalizing our deliverables and enjoying Nairobi!

Team PSI enjoying dinner

Team PSI enjoying dinner

Haas IBD Blog – Citibanamex

Written by Michelle Boyd, Kira Mikityanskaya​, ​Jack Anderson, Danielle Pinder​ & Neeraj Goyal

The view from our apartment at dawn

The view from our apartment at dawn

As the second Haas IBD team to work with Citibanamex, we knew we up for an interesting experience!  Citibanamex is one of the oldest and largest banks in Mexico, and it has a culture of being traditional.

So how does a massive and traditional bank attract the young and emerging affluent, and adapt to an increasingly digital world? 

That is the question we were trying to help solve, and here is a day in the life:

 6:00 am – 9:00 am

We were fortunate enough to be staying in an Airbnb on the 18th floor of a beautiful apartment complex.  The views from our apartment were incredible, and we were rewarded with amazing sunrises and sunsets – but more importantly we were able to get a sense of how large Mexico City is.  There are over 21 million people living in the greater metro area, which contributes to some of the worst traffic any of us had ever seen.

Although our apartment was less than a mile away from Citibanamex headquarters, our daily commute regularly took over 30 minutes, as we wound our way down the hill and through incredibly dense traffic.

Team picture on the way to the office

Team picture on the way to the office

Our commute!

Our commute!

9:00 am – 1:00 pm

When traffic was light we made it into the office by 9:00am.  The office doors were also a source of daily comedy – we are still not sure what their purpose is.

On one of our first mornings in Mexico we hosted an Ideation Workshop.  We had 17 Citibanamex employees from across the organization come together to help us develop new ideas.  Although this workshop was very generative (over 90 ideas!), it got off to a bumpy start.  Just as we kicked off the workshop with a presentation about our research, we were told we needed to evacuate; a 4.7 magnitude earthquake had just hit a town nearby.

Waiting to be allowed back inside after the earthquake evacuation.

Waiting to be allowed back inside after the earthquake evacuation.

After about 20 minutes of waiting outside, we went back upstairs to finish our

Michelle and Kira going through the office doors

Michelle and Kira going through the office doors

presentation. We then divided into groups and tried to embody different customer personas.  Our goal was to brainstorm the tasks, influences, pain points and feelings that these customers would experience while working with Citibanamex.  These factors were then assembled into a customer journey, which was used as a platform to brainstorm potential solutions.

 

1:00 pm  – 2:30pm

The Ideation Workshop in action

The Ideation Workshop in action

Lunch is Mexico is a production.  Working lunches are not the norm, and employees regularly take an hour and a half to relax and chat with friends.  We tried everything from going to restaurants nearby, ordering from Rappi (the Amazon of Latin America), braving the crowds at the wallet-friendly Citibanamex cafeteria (3 dollars for a three-course meal!), and even the street taco’s.

Michelle and Neeraj digging into the street food!

Michelle and Neeraj digging into the street food!

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

 Afternoons were filled with team-work sessions, meetings with various stakeholders, and the occasional coffee break.

During this time we saw some challenges related to innovating across such a large organization.  We met with amazing, intelligent and driven people, who were questioning the status quo and tackling big challenges – but were struggling to implement their initiatives, or multiple similar projects were being undertaken in different departments.  For most of our team (who came from small organizations pre-Haas), this was an interesting education in large corporate culture and organizational structure.

Jack taking us through a Hypothesis Tree

Jack taking us through a Hypothesis Tree

4:00 pm – 4:15 pm

Coffee was an important ingredient for our team, and we definitely took advantage of the Starbucks in our building.  For those of us who did not know Spanish before Mexico, ordering coffee was about as far as we got. It was appreciated.

Neeraj with a correctly spelled name and a heart for his improving Spanish

Neeraj with a correctly spelled name and a heart for his improving Spanish

4:15 pm. – 6:00pm

After coffee it was back to work, although on a few days we were lucky enough to get out of the office to learn more about Citibanamex first-hand.  We visited two branches, one traditional branch and one digital branch, as well as a contact center.  These visits gave us greater insight into both the benefits and pain points of being a priority customer.

Team picture in the contact center

Team picture in the contact center

After 6:00 pm  

When we were not indulging in the amazing restaurant scene that Mexico City offers, dinners consisted of Rappi, Uber Eats, and a few homecooked meals.

IBD is pitched as an intense team experience – after spending all day together, we were still each other’s company for dinner.  Our team made the most of this experience, and we turned dinners into friendly ‘interrogations’.  We threw out the etiquette rule of no religion or politics at the table and asked each other about childhoods, families, career goals, weird habits, and everything in between!

Although we never fulfilled Jack’s goal of watching Ten Things I Hate About You (his favorite rom-com), we all became closer friends from this experience, and we had a lot of fun hanging out and exploring what Mexico City has to offer.

Here are a few more highlights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the Summer 2018 International Business Development EWMBAs

EWMBA 2018

EWMBA 2018

The Big Reveal and Kickoff for the summer 2018 IBD program took place on May 13th in the Innovation Lab at Berkeley Haas.  Fifteen enthusiastic Evening and Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students participated, learning for the first time information about their respective IBD clients and projects.  This particular IBD class consists of three teams of five MBA Students each, all of whom will work on their IBD projects for the next five weeks at Berkeley Haas. In July they will travel to Mexico City, Shanghai and Belize City in order to live and work in-country on their respective projects for two weeks.  

Frank Schultz, IBD Faculty Director, and Mentor, says he “enjoys working with the EWMBA students because they bring a vast array of work experiences to their projects.  This can lead to very creative and transformative solutions for our clients. Plus, they are pretty cool!”

Let’s introduce our newest IBD class!  Please enjoy reading something about each EWMBA IBD student and his/her thoughts about participating in the IBD program.  

Team Mexico City:

Sounak Basu Point Reyes coast on Coastal Trail

Sounak Basu Point Reyes coast on Coastal Trail

Sounak Basu has 12 plus years of work experience in the IT Industry, specifically in U.S. Health Insurance and U.S. Postal Domains.  He has led cross-cultural teams in India, China, and the U.S.

“I believe that the opportunity offered to me by the IBD Program – to be able to expose myself to a new country, a new culture, a new business environment/challenge – will help me grow as a person both personally and professionally. I am a “student always” believer and the IBD program offers an amazing opportunity of learning that I can’t wait to experience.”  – Sounak Basu

 

Mike Chi

Mike Chi

Mike Chi is a Senior Staff Power Management IC (PMIC) Systems Engineer at Qualcomm Inc. and has a Master of Engineering Degree from University of California, San Diego in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  

“I am excited about Mexico city! Living in San Diego and bordering Mexico, I am familiar with some aspects of Mexico, but from what I heard Mexico City will be different. I am very excited about the project, which is a combination of digital marketing, data analytics and behavioral economics. These are not the topics that I focused my studies on, but I think i can apply my strong analytical skills and problem solving ability here very well.” ~ Mike Chi

Shaun Hundle and a bust of a statue

Shaun Hundle

Shaun Hundle works as a project manager for Business Sweden, the Swedish Trade and Invest Council located in San Francisco. He enjoys biking and trying new restaurants.

“I wanted to take part in IBD since my international experience is limited to Scandinavia and Northern Europe, and I wanted to broaden my global professional experience. There is a certain risk in signing up for the course and not knowing the market and client you’ll be working with beforehand, but I liked that adventure aspect. It’s a pretty unique experience and it’s unlikely I’ll have this type of opportunity again in my career.” ~ Shaun Hundle

Charles Shi

Charles Shi

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a Doctor of Philosophy, Materials Science and Engineering degree, Charles Shi started his career at Applied Materials, Inc.  Charles has published six peer-reviewed papers that were cited 1000+ times.

“Each year I travel over 200,000 miles between U.S. and Asia for work. U.S. and Asia have become a comfort zone in my professional and personal experiences. This time with IBD, I’m going to Mexico for the first time of my life. The project there will give me a rare opportunity to explore a different part of world and put my business skills to the test. Even before the trip starts, I knew I will learn a ton there!” ~ Charles Shi

Sayan Mitra

Sayan Mitra

Sayan Mitra has worked for Genentech as Oncology Pricing, Contracting, and Distribution Strategy Manager since 2014.  In this role, Sayan led strategy development for Genentech’s largest product franchise, worth $4.5B.  He also enjoys fostering kittens.

“I am very excited about working with my client.  It sounds like a very meaty project that will have a lot of impact on the client. I’ve never been to Mexico but I’m excited to taste what an authentic taco tastes like.”  ~ Sayan Mitra

 

Team Belize

Hima Erukulla

Hima Erukulla

The majority of Hima Erukulla’s career has been with Intel as a Product Development and Analog Design Engineer. Hima is also passionate about protecting our planet and volunteered in “Climate Change Lobby” to advocate for Carbon Tax and Dividend Bill”.

“Having trained and worked as an Engineer all my professional life, I saw IBD as an opportunity to apply the business knowledge I gained in Marketing, Accounting, Finance and Strategy to solve a problem in the real world. I was particularly interested in working on a social project as I strongly believe that businesses add value not only to the shareholders but also to the society and planet. “ ~ Hima Erukulla

Andrew Lee in front of a train depot

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee has a Master of Biotechnology from Northwestern University and has an extensive background in business, science, and engineering.  When he is not working for Intuitive Surgical as a Senior Validation Engineer, Andrew enjoys playing basketball and baseball.

“I hope to learn effective problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills to deliver meaningful benefits to clients and their business while broadening my general understanding of the consulting profession, particularly in the areas of strategy and operations.  Also, as someone who deeply appreciates building connections with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds, I find the program very appealing.” ~ Andrew Lee

Jerry Philip

Jerry Philip

Jerry Philip is the Co-Founder of MarHub Berkeley, a crowdsourced information platform and a chatbot that empowers decision-making by enabling refugees with reliable, relevant, and actionable information.    His day job is at Cisco as a Technical Evangelist – SP Video Marketing and Engineer.

“Having lived in 3 countries thus far I am eager to learn the differences in doing business in a new part of the world and how I can adapt to them.  I was also hoping to be able to use some of the brainpower available at Haas, with some classmates who I have worked with previously to come up with creative solutions, bringing together everything we’ve learnt thus far and sort of serve as a capstone for my HAAS MBA.” ~ Jerry Phillip

Srinivas Rajamani in Costa Rica

Srinivas Rajamani in Costa Rica

Srinivas Rajamani also works at Intel. He is as a Competitive Strategy Manager for the Autonomous Driving (AD) and Infotainment products segments.  When he is not busy establishing Intel as a market leader in this arena, he enjoys SCUBA diving and coaching youth soccer teams.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better project and a better team. My expectation for IBD was to do a pro-bono consulting project that had the potential to have a high level of impact on the client. I am lucky to be part of a team that will be helping Glover Reef Research Station in Belize figure out a sustainable business model. This project is exciting on several different fronts: a) We are helping the client explore potential new revenue streams and a path to profitability b) we will out on the world’s second largest reef! c) couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend 3 weeks in a different country”  ~ Srinivas Rajamani

Nik Reddy works at Google as a Senior Business Strategist and a Member of Trust & Safety’s Chief of Staff Global Strategy team.  Prior to Google, he was a management consultant for Accenture. Nik has also earned a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.  

“I was hoping that I would get a nonprofit client in Latin America and, fortunately, I got put on the team that’s working with the WCS chapter in Belize. My preferred mode of learning is “by doing”, and my project will allow me to do just that, as we’ve been tasked with defining a sustainable business model for WCS Belize. I have never visited Belize and the fact that we get to spend time on-site at a remote reef research station (Glover’s Reef) is something that should be a truly memorable experience. My team and I are definitely planning on taking a few snorkeling and dive tours on our off days!” ~ Nik Reddy

Team China

Nausher Cholavaram in Singapore

Nausher Cholavaram in Singapore

Nausher Cholavaram’s career has been in E-commerce and FinTech. He has worked at eBay, a startup that was acquired by Walmart Labs and at PayPal where he is currently Senior Manager for Customer Experiences. He has helped entrepreneurs in Indonesia, India and the Bay Area better manage their businesses.

“As a child of parents with a cross-border relationship and having lived across the world, I wanted to add another culture and geography to my wandering work and travel experience. I’m super-excited, I feel like I have the best IBD project. Working on FinTech, something I am really enthusiastic about and in China which as a market has truly taken off. This will be fun to say the least.” ~ Nausher Cholavaram

Rohan Balwani

Rohan Balwani

The majority of Rohan Balwani’s professional experience has been with Oracle as a Product Manager and Design Engineer.  He is also the Product Management Mentee and Meetup Co-Organizer “For Lean Product and Lean UX Meetup Silicon Valley.”

“The IBD program gives me a platform to further expand my horizons by working on a problem in a different cultural context. It will also give me exposure to the consulting domain and help me consider consulting as a potential career path. The program will also equip me with the ability and frameworks to think through difficult problems and arrive at impactful solutions.” ~ Rohan Balwani

Tanya Gupta in Iceland

Tanya Gupta in Iceland

Tanya Gupta also works at Google and has since 2008.  In her current role, she is a Product Manager for Google Assistant. In addition to a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University​, she also has a Minor in Chemistry.

“IBD is a great opportunity to interact with other cultures in a professional setting. In an increasingly global world, it is valuable to get this exposure.” ~ Tanya Gupta

Pradeep Khanal in Mexico

Pradeep Khanal in Mexico

Pradeep Khanal’s also works at Intel as a Technical Lead and Senior Design Engineer.  He is the Co-Founder and Trustee of the Mahim Ojha Memorial Community Library library in a remote village of Nuwakot in Nepal and the Founder of the Nepal Public Service Fellowship and Co-founded PREM – “Peer Assisted Educational Enrichment and Mutual Mentoring.”

“I knew all along that I wanted to do an international project while at Haas. IBD provides a perfect opportunity to work on a real problem with a group of uniquely talented and fun classmates while allowing to travel to a place possibly not exposed to before. IBD is an opportunity where I feel I can utilize business skills gained so far at Haas. And, I am hopeful IBD experience will be helpful in my future international business aspirations.” ~ Pradeep Khanal

Edi Lim and Berkeley Haas Team Building

Edi Lim and Berkeley Haas Team Building

Edi Lim is a Senior Project Manager at Amazon where he is responsible for bringing new ideas and building software products that optimize Amazon’s fulfillment center networks.  Edi enjoys learning how the world works.

“Chinese FinTech company looking to expand into the U.S. is the perfect combination of destination, industry, client, and project. Super excited and energized. I started researching the company the same day the project was revealed – searched English and Chinese websites, watched Professor La Blanc’s Fintech talk on YouTube, and read World Economic Forum reports.” ~ Edi Lim

In summary, please welcome our summer 2018 IBD Evening and Weekend MBAs.  They are a unique and experienced group, and we are excited to see how the next six weeks unfold.  We can’t wait to see what these newest IBD students and their teams can accomplish for their international clients.  Stay tuned for more news from IBD!

Team Seedlink- Lives and Learns in Shanghai with Dynamic Clients and Colleagues

Written by Paola Blanco, Nanor Asadorian, Ralph Boyajian, Conor Farese, and Dean Guo

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

Only a week in, and the hustle and bustle of Shanghai is slowly seeping into our lives. We wake up at 8am every morning, and our team breaks into a myriad of mobility tools to get to work. Conor and Paola on the MoBikes – a local bikeshare service. Dean, Ralph, and Nanor grab a Didi – the local equivalent to Uber. We head into the coworking space where our company, Seedlink, is based. Grab coffees, crack open our computers, and turn on the VPNs (even in China, we are never far from gmail). And we get to work. 

Seedlink, our client, is a Human Resources Tech company based here in Shanghai, with offices in Amsterdam as well. They build an artificial intelligence tool that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the science of human behavior. In a nutshell, they can use their tool to predict how well incoming job candidates will perform when compared to the talent a company already has in their organization. They have a strong foothold in China and Europe, and are working with IBD to establish their approach to the U.S. market. We have our hands full, to say the least. Our seven weeks in the U.S. prior to travel was jam-packed with interviews and insights, while our time here in China has been primarily about turning those insights into clear suggestions and tactics that the Seedlink team can use immediately.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Professionally, this has been a tremendous opportunity for all of us. In our push to build a business strategy, we’ve incorporated bit and pieces from almost every class from our core this year. Marketing lessons have influenced how we think about Seedlink’s value proposition and branding. Strategy frameworks have encouraged us to consider the incumbent response to Seedlink’s entrance. From Problem-Finding Problem-Solving, our Haas design course, we borrowed the Business Model Canvas and the insight session tactics. And of course, we lean on our diverse backgrounds to bring it all together: between the five of us, we cover Operations, Finance, Consulting, Tech and Design. Almost perfectly, our project with Seedlink has called on us to weave the lessons from these courses and experiences together into a carefully crafted plan for our client.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

But so much of this experience has also existed beyond the workplace. Our first week here was a huge learning opportunity for all of us. We struggled through the four tones of Mandarin, thankful to our teammate Dean who patiently instructs us (still) each time we stumble. We’ve tried countless food options: Dumpling (x3), Hunan, Yunnan, Hot Pot (x2), Xinjiang, Japanese, Korean… the list goes on and our bellies are full. 

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

The weekends have included a trip to Guilin to see the fabled mountains and Hangzhou for the storied West Lake.

Even today, we’re just back from a weekend on the beautiful Jeju island, one of Korea’s most famous spots. We stuffed ourselves full of Korean BBQ, took a trip through a 7km underground lava tube, climbed the side of the volcano, and hit the town at night to see K-Pop in action.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

Shanghai, in other words, has served us well: we are working in an urban hotspot, and are eager to take advantage of the proximity to beautiful places and of the melting pot of ideas, cuisines, and cultures that happens here.

It should go without saying that this upcoming last week will pass by all-too-quickly. We much more learning in store, and are preparing our final pitch to our client encapsulating the output of 10 weeks of research and energy. And beyond that, we are focused on spending time with each other, and with the other IBD teams in our Shang-Haas family. We know this time is precious, and that this rare moment in our lives – when we can live and learn abroad with dynamic clients and colleagues – will come to an end before we know it.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

IBD Team YGA Travels to Istanbul to Work with Young Guru Academy (YGA) for a Second Year

Written by Team YGA: Joanne Lee, Clara Jiang, Enrique San Martin Petit and Daniel Mombiedro

After a successful inaugural engagement between Young Guru Academy (YGA) and IBD in 2017, the two partnered again this year to send a team of four MBA students to Istanbul, Turkey. The IBD team was tasked with assessing the potential of virtual reality tours to develop a go-to-market strategy and revenue model. Piri – one of YGA’s most promising startups – wants to expand beyond its current travel app which offers only GPS-based tracking audio tours. The value that the Berkeley Haas IBD team would be able to deliver was unique – situated in the hotbed of innovation with VR companies like Oculus, YGA understood this advantage. I had the privilege of being a member of this IBD team and embarked on my first international work experience.

A day in the life:

My alarm goes off at 7:30AM. I quickly get ready and head over to the dining hall for breakfast. Dining hall? Yes, that’s right – my team members and I are staying at Özyeğin university where one of YGA’s offices are located. I assemble on my tray a typical Turkish breakfast – eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, and simit, a circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds. I pour myself a cup of hot tea and join my team members in the discussion of today’s agenda.

An elaborate traditional Turksih breakfast spread at a café

An elaborate traditional Turkish breakfast spread at a café

Today’s agenda: a Piri tour of Karakoy, a brief 30-minute meeting with the CEO of Turkcell (the largest tech company in Turkey), self-study time for our team to get some work done, and wrap-up with a dinner party hosted by Sezin, a YGA colleague. I am excited to do a little sight-seeing of Istanbul which qualifies as product testing – perks of working with a travel tech startup.

We arrive at the starting point of the Karakoy tour, a beautiful mosque with two minaret towers, and are promptly greeted by Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders. We all plug in our earphones and begin following the instructions from the audio tour. The experience is seamless – as I stare up the intricate details on the dome ceiling, I hear about the rich story behind the mosque. The tour concludes with us reaching the harbor with a spectacular view of the glistening Bosphorus river. After snapping some photos, we stop in a café. Over baklava, we provide feedback to Çağlar on our experience with the tour. Eventually, it is time for us to meet with Kaan Terzioğlu, Turkcell’s CEO – we don’t want to be late and Istanbul’s traffic is unpredictable.

IBD Team on the Karakoy Harbor with Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders

IBD Team on the Karakoy Harbor with Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders

Again with an unobstructed view of the Bosphorus River, I am sitting next to Kaan in a large conference room. My team members and I are presenting our research on the VR industry and getting a rare look at how the CEO of a major tech company conducts himself. Kaan is engaged, nodding, and occasionally interjecting with an insightful comment. After the meeting, we collect our notes and head back to the YGA office.

We settle into an empty conference room and get to work. Daniel Mombiedro, our team lead, starts going through our slide deck and proposing changes to be made. We all offer our thoughts on how to best reflect the new information from today. We are a collaborative team – discovering, discussing, and delivering together. After several hours of tweaking models in Excel and putting together slides, we’ve made good progress. A YGA colleague swings by to offer us a ride to Sezin’s dinner party. We pack up and prepare to sit through more traffic.

Upon arrival at Sezin’s apartment, I kiss cheeks one-by-one with everyone there. As an Asian-American raised in New York, cheek kissing is uncommon. Through these warm embraces, I feel a strong sense of the close-knit family that YGA has formed. Sezin has prepared a bountiful feast with a variety of meze (similar to tapas). With full plates, we sit around the living room and chat with YGA members to learn about what drew them to YGA. I am particularly inspired by Küşat’s story – Küşat, who is visually impaired, is working on the world’s most advanced smart-cane, WeWalk, that detects obstacles above the waist and integrates third-party apps through voice-activation to lessen the everyday challenges of the blind. At the end of the night, my team packs into a van to return to our dormitories – it’s been a long but eventful day and I’m excited about what tomorrow holds.

Dean Rich Lyons, Forever an International Ambassador

Dean Lyons at IBD class

Dean Lyons at IBD class

Dean Rich Lyons is in the last months of his tenure at Berkeley Haas, and last week we were honored to have him address the Full-Time MBA IBD class for the last time. He has been an enthusiastic supporter of international course offerings at Berkeley Haas, as well as an active ambassador for the IBD program. 

Dean Lyons had this to share with IBD:  “I was hired here on the faculty in 1993, in a very different slot. I don’t think it had ever happened before and I don’t think it’s happened since.  They allocated an ”international” slot and my field is international finance and business. So when I got here, it is safe to say that the only course that we would refer to as experiential learning, today, was IBD.  It was an important part of the global footprint of the business school even way back then…It is really the kernel of a starting point to our whole experiential learning curriculum.”

Dean Lyons expressed that his own international experiences were transformative, and formed the basis for why he pursued a Ph.D. in international economics.  He commended our IBD students for their hard work to date and deemed them “worthy ambassadors” of the Berkeley Haas brand. With an eye to the future, Dean Lyons asked current IBD students to think about their work with IBD clients as a path to more opportunities for the next generation of IBD students.  He told us that “when you say Berkeley in Sao Paulo or Shanghai, or wherever you are going, it just has incredible resonance and you’re part of that resonance.” He encouraged our IBD students to revel in the 150 years of Berkeley tradition, and to “keep the global star rising” at Berkeley Haas.

In conclusion, he reminded us all to “do good work.”  

Dean Lyons and IBD Faculty Mentors

Dean Lyons and IBD Faculty Mentors

Dean Lyons has been doing exceptional work for years on behalf of many departments at Berkeley Haas and UC Berkeley.  The faculty, staff, alumni, and students at IBD are grateful to him for keeping the IBD program top of mind when he travels internationally.  Dean Lyons has always been considered an extension of our own team, as well as our best advocate at home and abroad. As a small token of our appreciation, the IBD team presented Dean Lyons with an award that fits the profile of the IBD program as well as the Dean’s love of all things international: a commemorative globe.  We hope that after Dean Lyons returns from his much-deserved sabbatical, he will continue to be an advocate for the IBD program and other course opportunities that offer MBAs transformative international experiences.

Global Lives Project – Building Understanding and Empathy Across Cultures

Example of a Globe Smart Country Comparison

Example of a Globe Smart Country Comparison

On the first day of the spring 2018 IBD class, Faculty Director Frank Schultz told 80 IBD students that they were going to learn a number of skills, including how to solve strategic problems in a business setting across cultures.  Not surprisingly, this is one of the main reasons that Berkeley Haas MBAs want to be a part of the IBD program. While it is common for many of our MBAs to be have lived and traveled extensively outside the US, not all of them have worked internationally.  IBD provides a great opportunity to work on this lifelong skill set.

What are the ways that IBD Faculty Mentors prepare students for challenging international work experiences?  For years, IBD students have had access to the online tool, GlobeSmart, an online platform that offers extensive information on how individuals in different countries conduct themselves in a professional setting.  In addition to being a resource for cross-cultural understanding, it is also a tool used by our IBD students to understand how they conduct themselves overall in business. After completing a diagnostic survey, each IBD team is asked to compare and discuss their differences and similarities on how they prefer to work.  The IBD students are also asked to compare their individual and team results to the specific project country in which they will work for the remainder of their IBD project.

In our most recent IBD class, our newest Faculty Mentor, David Evan Harris, expanded on the GlobeSmart cross-cultural

David at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive exhibit of the Global Lives Project (2017)

David at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive exhibit of the Global Lives Project (2017)

assignment and asked students to visit one of the Global Lives Project exhibits on UC Berkeley campus.  Global Lives Project is a nonprofit that David started after he graduated from UC Berkeley in 2003.  

When asked why he tasked IBD Teams with going to on-campus exhibit, David said,  

“I think the Global Lives Project and GlobeSmart are complimentary.  I hoped by experiencing Global Lives, students would have the chance to really think about people around the world, and especially in the countries that they will be traveling to; just as people and not as customers, clients or a target audience.  I wanted them to really think about these individuals, as people who have complex lives and go home to a family each day. I want them to really empathize and think about how people’s lives around the world are different and similar to our own.  GlobeSmart is very much looking at a macro level, looking at statistics and trying to use numbers to break down billions of people into certain types.  Global Lives Project is the exact opposite of that.  It’s about looking at people as individuals that are really unique and that we have to take the time to study and observe carefully.  There are no single answers about what you can learn from a Global Lives Project visit. The student responses were extremely thoughtful and I was really happy about that.”

What were the reactions from IBD students after viewing the Global Lives Project exhibits and getting a look into the lives of 20 people from around the globe?  Here are some of their representative comments:

'19 MBA Gagan Dhaliwal in front of the Global Lives Project

’19 MBA Gagan Dhaliwal in front of the Global Lives Project

“As the son of immigrants, I cannot help but reflect upon the immigrant experience—the challenges and virtues of cross-cultural experiences. Some of the most transformational growth I’ve experienced has come when I was in another country; when I was immersed in a language and culture so foreign to me I did not even know how to call for a taxi. This exhibit reminds me to always seek new experiences—and pay homage to those that have done the same before me.  – Gagan Dhaliwal, MBA Candidate 2019

“I liked this installation a lot. Very cool project. It’s nice that the footage was not overly edited or stylized—clearly an effort to provide as clear and unbiased a depiction of what each of these individuals’ daily lives are like. Kind of like a “presented without comment” type of approach, which I appreciated. Of course, the earnings-per-day figures listed in each description were startling, especially those in South Korea and Canada, which are largely developed nations. What went through my mind was a reaffirmation of just how privileged I am, something I don’t even need to leave the country (let alone our campus) to feel. My privilege abounds.”  Daniel Clayton, MBA Candidate 2019

“Watching the Global Lives Project made me feel closer to these people who live so far away. I was able to see how we are similar and what it might be like for me to live in their situation. I love that this project will serve as a time capsule on daily life around the world for future generations to appreciate as well.” – Rachel Green, MBA Candidate 2019 

MBA '19 Jack Anderson in front of the Global Lives Project

MBA ’19 Jack Anderson in front of the Global Lives Project

“Ivan Montaño from Colombia helped remind me that all kinds of work and lives look different but can have meaning. He showed that the mentality of the person can weigh more than any other part and embodied my understanding of traditional Colombian culture.”  – Tam Pace-Emerson, MBA Candidate 2019

“As I observed the exhibit, the thought that most resonated with me was how big the world is outside my little bubble of existence, but how infrequently I truly think about and empathize with people outside of this narrow view (despite my best efforts). It was a good reminder to build awareness, be curious, and keep perspective – something that can be hard at a top MBA Program.”  – Jack Anderson, MBA Candidate 2019

'19 MBA Rachel Green in front of Global Lives Project Video Exhibit

’19 MBA Rachel Green in front of Global Lives Project Video Exhibit

“Going to the exhibit made me think about how personal and complicated each person’s life is. It made me want to hear more from these individuals to learn why they were doing what they were doing or going where they were going.” – Breona Jenkins, MBA Candidate 2019

“The Global Lives Project was really eye-opening to see the different ways that people across the world lived. While some things were incredibly different (people motor-biking long distances to work, etc.), we found that we could relate to every exhibit in small ways. One thing our group noticed was that for most people, there was way less dependence on phones or electronic devices. More people seemed to be “in the moment” than we see in our daily lives at Berkeley.” – Natalie Bauman, MBA Candidate 2019

Team Thailand: MBA students, Stan Cataldo, Elaine Leong, Ryan Dingler, Igor Borges, Mila Pires

Team Thailand: MBA students, Stan Cataldo, Elaine Leong, Ryan Dingler, Igor Borges, Mila Pires

“I enjoyed my visit to the Global Lives Project and seeing all the ways that people live out their lives. It is amazing how different our lives are in what we eat and how we structure our days, and yet the overarching structures of work, family, and friends is always prevalent.” – Ryan Dingler, MBA Candidate 2019

“I went to the CITRIS Tech Museum and immediately thought about how the people that we are going to be marketing to for our public health client have daily lives that are so completely different from our own. As my team jumps into thinking about potential tactics for our marketing plan, I’m hoping we can step back and view interviewing patients as a really critical process to our project.”  – Rachel Lee, MBA Candidate 2019

'19 MBA Rachel Lee in front of the Global Lives Project Video Exhibit

’19 MBA Rachel Lee in front of the Global Lives Project Video Exhibit

Cross-cultural tools like GlobeSmart and Global Lives Project are important starting points to open up cultural awareness and empathy among students and viewer.  Rachel’s comment above sums up some of the most important priorities for being successful at working across cultures: Talk to people; interview them; spend time listening and learning how they feel and think.  This is critical to the success of the project, and at its essence, it is what makes the IBD experience so rewarding.

The Global Lives Project exhibit runs through the end of May at the CITRIS Tech Museum in Sutardja Dai Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus.

The Spring IBD Program is Off and Running….

A lot has happened this past month in the life of the 2018 Spring FTMBA IBD program. On February 1st, we held the first day of Spring IBD class, revealing the names of IBD clients, their projects and country destinations to an excited group of 16 IBD Student Team Leads. The Team Leads then introduced themselves online to their project clients for the first time. Following that, IBD Team Leads and Faculty Mentors collaborated and successfully executed an IBD Team Member draft —  selecting up to four MBA Team Members for each project team.

Team Lead Reveal on Feb 1st

Team Lead Reveal on Feb 1st

This spring we are partnering with 16 client organizations in 12 different countries, spread across four continents.  Six clients from last year’s spring and summer programs, as well as three organizations from past IBD project years, have returned to work with our IBD FTMBAs on a project this spring. Our 16 Team Leads have certainly hit the ground running with their IBD projects, and they are looking forward to the first day of the full IBD class (March 15th), when incoming IBD Team Members officially join their project teams. 

We asked each of our Team Leads and Faculty Mentors to describe their impressions of their IBD projects, the “Big Reveal” of projects to the students, and what excites them about this stage of the IBD program.  Here is what they had to share:

“I am excited about the European expansion plans of Piri. It is such an ambitious and interesting project, that if it is successful it will have a big impact within YGA. So far it has been a great experience getting to know the team and the unique culture of YGA.” Team Lead Daniel Mombiedro

Catherine, Jocelyn, Daniel and Sara

“My Team Leads are in the throes of work planning and are really getting their arms around the client issues and available information. It’s so great to see them taking charge of the client relationship, and bouncing hypotheses off their client teams. I can tell their clients are excited about it, too. Keep up the good work, everyone!” Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain

“’I’m incredibly excited about both the scope of my project as well as returning to explore Latin America after many years away! Although the amount of work in front of us is daunting, my (TBD) team is amazing and I’m highly confident in our ability to deliver a great set of insights for our client.” Team Lead Colin Dunn

“I only wish I could go on these​ trips with all the students as our clients are doing incredibly important and impactful work in fascinating places.” Faculty Mentor David Evan Harris

Jorge Tellez

Jorge Tellez

“I can’t wait for the Big Reveal tomorrow. I have seen so many IBD students walking around, and I just want to shout with excitement about where they will be going and what cool project they will be on. I’m looking forward to meeting members of my team (some for the first time!) and getting them excited about our work together!” Team Lead

Catherine Soler

“I could not be more excited to be working for Ford in Shanghai this semester. Having accepted an offer to work as a consultant this summer, I’m anxious to begin developing my consulting toolkit during IBD and deliver a great project to our client.  It’s going to be an amazing experience and I’m excited to onboard my team and get things going!” Team Lead James Westhafer

Tech Team Drafting Team Members

Tech Team Drafting Team Members

“I’m very excited about my project, and I’m thrilled to be leading the first IBD team to work with Majid Al Futtaim

James Westhafer

Holding. I am confident that this project will be the beginning of a long and meaningful relationship between Majid Al Futtaim and Berkeley Haas.” Team Lead Jorge Tellez

“Being a Team Lead is a big responsibility, but I’m comfortable with the great support we have from our Faculty Mentors and the executive coaching program.” Team Lead Melea Atkins

Team Lead Reveal

Team Lead Reveal

“Our Team Leads are fantastic: full of enthusiasm and undaunted by somewhat ambiguous and ambitious client project scopes!” Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier

 

“I’m excited for the opportunity to develop my team leadership style with a group of all-star MBAs. I also can’t wait to develop a team experience that supports all of our professional and personal development.” Team Lead Michelle Boyd

“I’m really looking forward to the Big Reveal and introducing my team to the Seva Foundation project. My team has a strong and diverse set of healthcare experiences, and I can’t wait to see how we can tackle our project together.” Team Lead Jocelyn Brown

Natalie Bauman

Natalie Bauman

“I originally wanted to a be a Team Lead to push myself outside of my comfort zone and gain experience leading peers. Choosing the team and realizing how impressive and awesome my teammates are has made me even more excited/nervous about the opportunity to be a Team Lead!” Team Lead Natalie Bauman

“I’m excited about the project and client! Working with a repeat client sets a high bar, but also makes it a little easier since the client knows what to expect from a project like IBD. This was one of the top projects last year, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to work with this client.” Team Lead Stan Cataldo

“I continue to be impressed by the talent pool at Berkeley Haas.  It really was an embarrassment of riches that we could draw upon for our IBD teams.” Faculty Mentor Frank Schultz

The IBD program is indeed very fortunate to have these talented MBA Team Leads working with our international clients.  We are looking forward to expanding the energy and talent of this group with an additional 64 MBAs, when we welcome them into the IBD fold on March 1st for the “Big Reveal.”

 

 

Meet the 2018 International Business Development Full-Time MBA Team Leads

Every year we in the IBD program become more impressed with the quality of applicants for the IBD Team Lead position.  This year was no exception, and we are proud to announce the 16 Full-Time MBA Student Team Leads for the 2018 IBD program.  Below you will find a little bit about each of their backgrounds, as well as what excites them about the IBD program and their new Team Lead role.

2018 IBD Team Leads in Alphabetical Order by Last Name:  

Libby Andrada in Sicily

Libby Andrada in Sicily

Elizabeth (Libby) Andrada:  Libby’s last position before coming to Berkeley Haas was Director of Strategic Communications and Healthcare and Life Sciences at FTI Consulting, a global advisory firm, located in New York.  She keeps her ties to New York as she is currently a writing buddy at the High School of Economics and Finance.

“I’m most excited about the opportunity to work with Haas classmates to make a real impact at an organization. I’m looking forward to building something tangible with our team and also to learning about what it’s like to work in an international context with teammates from all different backgrounds and with different experiences and passions.” – Libby

Melea Atkins:

Although Melea’s most recent role was as a consultant at MedStar Health Institute for Innovation, she spent the majority of her career in politics.  She served as a Legislative Aide for the Office of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Regional Field Director for Warren for U.S. Senate.  Malea is a Forté Foundation Fellow and loves swimming.

“I can’t wait to identify and start working with my team! Leading a group of diverse, multi-talented, Haas MBAs to complete a meaningful project is exactly the type of leadership learning experience I was hoping to get as a student at Haas.” – Melea

Mölln, Germany. The statue is of Till Eulenspeigel, a local trickster known for exposing people's vices. His toe and thumb are good luck!

Mölln, Germany. The statue is of Till Eulenspeigel, a local trickster known for exposing people’s vices. His toe and thumb are good luck!

Emily Atwood:  Before attending Haas, Emily spent her career in Buenos Aires, working as a consultant at EY.  In her first year at EY, she started weekly English- only lunches to help Argentine teammates practice language conversation skills.  

“I’m most looking forward to being at the client as a team — getting to put in practice everything we’re learning at Haas and will have worked towards together.” – Emily

Natalie Bauman:  Natalie hiking

Before coming to Berkeley Haas, Natalie started working at AlphaSights as an intern while she attended Colgate University, ending her long tenor there as a Manager of the Consulting Practice.  AlphaSights is a global knowledge search firm that connects institutional investors with industry experts.  Natalie was also the President of the Women’s Initiative Network at AlphaSights, which looked at diversity within the organization.

“I’m most excited about getting to work and bond with my team! I love how IBD gives us the opportunity to step outside of our comfort zones together.” – Natalie

Paola travelingPaola Blanco:  Trained as an industrial engineer at the University of Puerto Rico, Paola’s career at Abbott Diabetes Care and Abbott Laboratories focused on medical devices and manufacturing.  Paula was also the Team Lead for Abbott’s UPRM recruitment, ensuring that Hispanic talent was part of the pipeline to participate in internship and leadership programs.

“What excites me the most about IBD is the combination of creating great relationships with my team, having a meaningful impact on our client’s organization and having fun! As an IBD lead, I’m hoping to contribute to the success of our team and project, by keeping a positive working environment, leveraging each team member strengths, and listening to feedback.” – Paola

Michelle BoydMichelle Boyd: Michelle’s most recent job was as a consultant with The Bridgespan Group, a social sector strategy consulting and research firm.  She also worked as a consultant with Kiva and worked in India. An avid backpacker, Michelle has completed multiple 200+ mile backpacking trips, including the 210-mile John Muir Trail.

“I am most excited about working with an awesome group of Haasies in another country, and having a blast!” – Michelle

Jocelyn Brown:  Jocelyn’s career focus has been global health.  She has worked for two organizations: 3rd Stone Design, which is a medical device design company that focuses on development; and Rice 360 Institute for Global Health.  In 2014 Jocelyn was named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in the Science and Healthcare category.

“In the IBD experience, I’m most excited about the opportunity to lead and work with a small team of amazing Haasies, to place ourselves in our clients’ shoes for a brief period and help solve a challenge they face, and to have a lot of fun working in an international setting!” – Jocelyn

Stan Cataldo:  Stan’s career has been in wealth and asset management.  He has worked for Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, and RBC Capital Markets in Venezuela, Colombia, New York, and Miami.   Stan has dual Italian-Venezuelan citizenship and was a violinist in the Arcos Juveniles de Caracas and Florida Youth Orchestras.

“ Whatever I decide to do after Haas will focus on bridging global barriers and bringing the world closer together; being an IBD Team Lead will allow me to hone the leadership skills needed to get there!” – Stan

Colin driving a boat Colin Dunn: Colin has worked in the retail management space since graduation from Notre Dame.  He has been a buyer, merchant, and divisional merchandise manager for Guess?, Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch. Colin was selected as one of 13 “young company leaders” and invited to complete the Guess Leadership Program.  He is also an accomplished swimmer.

“I applied to be a team lead to get challenging, real-world consulting experience while leading some of the smartest people I know—my fellow Haasies!” – Colin

Sara Sara Farsio:  Sara is a MBA/MPH student with a background in biotech.  She has worked at Genentech, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and most recently at Theranos Inc. as a Global Supply Manager.  Sara enjoys Vinyasa yoga and completed the 2016 San Francisco Half Marathon.

“I’m thrilled to take on this experience alongside four of my Haasome classmates! I’m looking forward to putting our newly developed business skills to practice as we collaborate with our client to help them better realize their mission. Making an impact while creating unforgettable memories is what the MBA experience is all about!” – Sara

Francesca with her niece

Francesca with her niece

Francesca LeBaron: Francesca’s consulting career has led her to work in Turkey, India, and Africa.  Most recently she worked at Accenture Strategy.  Francesca has also volunteered all over the world, including in Greece, Tanzania, and Botswana.

“I am most excited about experiencing a different culture and business environment with my Haas team. Working in another country together is not only an incredible learning experience, but it is also an invaluable bonding experience.”  – Francesca

Daniel with - KangarooDaniel Mombiedro:  Daniel’s background is in private equity as an investment manager, and in corporate finance consulting.  He has worked in London and Madrid.  Daniel is passionate about soccer.  He is the Founder of Independiente Football Club in Madrid, and was a member of the college soccer team at European Business School of London.

“IBD is a great opportunity to learn about global challenges and work together with local communities on real projects. I am excited to travel abroad, share the experience with my classmates, immerse ourselves into a new culture and contribute a positive impact.”

Michael in Kazakhstan

Michael in Kazakhstan

Michael Sahm: Michael’s background has been in consulting.  He worked at Deloitte Consulting and Triage Consulting Group; most recently he worked as a director of managed care operations at Tenet Healthcare.  Michael has also been a Big brother for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, as well as an assistant varsity basketball coach.

“I am most excited to learn how to work across borders and cultures! I can’t wait to team up with my awesome classmates and deliver an excellent project for our client.” – Michael

Catherine Solar by boatsCatherine Soler: Catherine’s passion is social impact and her career has been focused on organizations working towards these same goals. Before coming to Berkeley Haas, Catherine worked in New York as a freelance social impact consultant for global NGOs and social enterprises.  She is a One World Ambassador and a Board member for Education Africa, a South African NGO.

“The year before Haas, I embarked on what I love to call “purposeful travel.” It was about having those awe-inspiring, perspective-shifting moments while discovering a new place, but also engaging with a community and with people in a way that creates shared value. When I look forward to IBD, I am humbled to be leading my peers and new client on a journey of exploration and contribution. To be able to help create purposeful and meaningful experiences for others will be both challenging and deeply rewarding!” – Catherine

Jorge Climbing Mount Rainier

Jorge Climbing Mount Rainier

Jorge Tellez:  Jorge is a US Naval Officer and recently held a position in Washington, DC at the Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals Washington.  He has served on two aircraft carriers, including the USS MOMSEN and USS CURTIS WILBUR. Jorge is an avid runner and has completed the Kyoto, Seattle, and Marine Corps marathons.

“My classmates are some of the most interesting and impressive people I’ve ever met, so I’m most excited about being able to tackle a real-world problem with them. It’s an honor to lead a team of Haasies, and I hope we make a significant impact for our global client.” – Jorge

James Westhafer pictureJames Westhafer: James has a background in business strategy and management, focusing on start-up companies — especially in the energy industry.  His last position was with 24M Technologies, a lithium battery start-up.  James is also a pledging member of Toastmasters International and loves baking bread.

“When I was going through the application process for business school and talking to current students and alums, every single Haasie mentioned their IBD experience and how unbelievably memorable it was.  It is so uniquely Haas and something I knew coming to Berkeley that I was not going to miss.  The opportunity to consult on a real problem, outside my comfort zone of the United States and on a team with my fellow Haas classmates will be an experience that stays with me for years to come.  I can’t wait to get started! “ – James

We know our IBD Team leads are anxious to learn about their IBD clients, their projects, and where they are going to spend their project time in-country.  Stay tuned as we look forward to sharing more of these details in our February newsletter.  For now, we in the IBD program feel confident that these 16 phenomenal MBAs will wow us next semester in their new Team Lead roles.

IBD Suritex

Written by Gloria Gerngross,  Sophia Kaady, Deepak Nainani, Isei Nakae, and Lyndsey Wilson

The sun was setting on the rural landscape, the grassy highlands of rural Peru, as Gregor’s truck bounced over unpaved, rocky roads, all five of our team members squished into the backseat as he sped to the new textile workshop before night fell. We had spent the day in a bus from Lima, winding our way through the Cordillera mountain range for 8 hours and ascending 14,000 feet to Huancayo, where our client was waiting to introduce us to the women who worked in the textile workshop, and the alpaca breeders who lived in the highlands.Suritex-group

We arrived at the construction site with just 20 minutes to spare before the horizon was swallowed by the darkness. Gregor’s eyes lit up as he waved his hands, pointing at empty space above the large foundation as though showing his blueprint for the new plant. Where we saw exposed rebar and hand-laid concrete bricks, he saw a room for the women’s children to play, a resting area for alpaqueros that came to have their fibers weighed, graded, and dyed, and a weaving room four times the size of their current plant’s. We left inspired by Gregor’s vision for growing his small social enterprise and energized to use our business skills to enable this dream to become a reality.

Suritex 2 AlpacasThe Project

Our team was hired by NESsT, an Oakland-based impact investing firm, to help its portfolio company, Suritex, increase its revenues by expanding sales of alpaca-blend textiles into the U.S. market. Though Suritex prides itself on its high-quality products created through technically sophisticated dying, weaving, and fiber-blending methods, it is their impact on the rural Lima region that is truly incredible. Suritex pays above-market prices for alpaca fibers, ensuring continued livelihoods of agricultural communities. They hire and train single women to operate machinery and manufacture textiles, creating jobs in communities struggling to develop economically. Our team met several women who worked in their factory, and their young children played while they fed colorful yarn into the large looming machines.Suritex loom.jpg

Prior to arriving in Lima, our team focused on understanding the U.S. alpaca-based goods market, sales channels, and our client’s capabilities to create designs and products that U.S. customers would be excited to buy. However, the disparate nature of the imported alpaca-based goods (textiles, clothing, and yarn) market made it difficult to collect any quantitative data, so our team relied on information collected by visiting local stores, and interviewing sales partners and customers.

This preliminary research led us to conclude that our client needed a re-brand, targeted marketing towards high-income, socially conscious customer segments, and to emphasize their strong social and environmental impact to differentiate themselves among hundreds of textile importers. We were excited to meet the client, visit the processing facilities, and better understand how we could make Suritex stand out among competitive exporters of similar products.

Suritex - loom 2The Focus Changes

Once in-country, we learned more about Suritex’s technically sophisticated and uniquely socially-conscious supply chain. Our meetings with the textile mill workers and the alpaqueros confirmed the importance of scaling Suritex’s efforts, and inspired and energized us to develop a sales and marketing strategy so that U.S. customers understand the impact that their Suritex purchase will have on the community.Suritex working.jpg

It came as a surprise to our team to learn that our client had already hired a marketing consulting team, so we were no longer needed in the proposed re-brand!  While our team had initially focused on creating branding and marketing strategy that would enable Suritex to successfully enter the US market, we had to do a 180° pivot and reframe our project. When our focus had to change, we spent hours whiteboarding and reframing the problem, ultimately pivoting to more of a sales and product strategy. Our focus turned then on researching the logistics of how to actually sell products in the US: who to sell to, how to sell them, and which products to sell.

Suritex thread.jpgThe Final Presentation

Our final presentation provided Suritex with tactical recommendations on how to begin selling products in the US, and how to modify their current product offerings to ensure U.S. customer interest in their products. We provided a thorough go-to-market guidebook that included sales on online platforms (such as Etsy or Amazon), hiring a fulfillment center and sales reps to manage buyer relationships, and which certifications and trade shows to pursue to access the right B2B customers. Our client, a technical and operations-focused career manufacturer, was very happy with the detailed recommendations. Our team left energized by the important work of Suritex, driven by the knowledge that our recommendations would enable Suritex to reach its goal of building more manufacturing facilities closer to workers’ communities, hiring and educating more workers, and ultimately developing these rural economies to support the sustainability of this artisan trade.Suritex finished product