IBD Blog “Dois dias no Brasil”

By Varstation Team Member, Dakota Campbell, MBA Candidate 2020

São Paulo Skyline

São Paulo Skyline

As a relatively inexperienced international traveler, I did not know what to expect when signing up for IBD other than that I’d stretch myself personally. As I was assigned to team Varstation in São Paulo, Brazil, I was excited to visit a country to which I had never been, but that my Brazilian classmates spoke highly of. After spending 3 weeks in country working with my Haas classmates and the Varstation team, I can certainly confirm that it was a transformative experience. Week days working in the office with the Varstation team and weekends exploring Brazil with my classmates both contributed immensely to the experience in unique ways. Profiling a “typical” week day and our shared weekend in Rio will paint the most complete picture of the Brazilian IBD experience.

Example of student deliverableWeek Day

The work days typically began with 6:15am alarm to rattle us out of our comfortable hotel beds. I’d fumble around the room for clothes and brush my teeth before heading upstairs to the hotel gym for a team workout! Depending on the adventures of the night before, team participation varied but was a great way to start each day. Afterwards, we’d all run downstairs to shower and hustle out the door for Starbucks on the way in to the office – a 20-minute cab ride from our hotel. Side note: we appeared the most American at Starbucks via our iced coffee or café filtrado orders as all the locals drink espresso-based drinks!

IBD/Varstation final presentation

IBD/Varstation final presentation

Our client, Varstation, is a genetic analysis software company that is in the process of spinning out of the prestigious Albert Einstein hospital in Brazil. Our office was located within an incubator that serves as a satellite office for the various companies the hospital is incubating in the Vila Mariana neighborhood. The Varstation team was gracious enough to carve out a conference room for us to set up shop for three weeks to finish all the deliverables we had been working towards over the semester.

IBD Touring Albert Einstein Hospital’s Sequencing Lab

IBD Touring Albert Einstein Hospital’s Sequencing Lab

You can’t have IBD without the work, so what did we actually work on? Our three main deliverables for the project were a spinoff playbook, market prioritization, and competitive audit. The spinoff playbook delivered best practices, case studies, and a synthesis of critical success factors across financing, governance, leadership structure, and business strategy. Market prioritization distilled down many factors including total healthcare spend, genetic analysis competition, market growth, etc. across ~26 different global markets to determine where Varstation could best expand in the near to mid term beyond Brazil. The competitive audit profiled four key competitors in the genomic space to provide Varstation with a competitive intelligence report. This report enables Varstation to more effectively compete by seeing services that are offered by everyone, what they do better or worse than others in the industry, how their value proposition stacks up, etc. Since the Varstation team is primarily comprised of computer engineers / coders working towards building their software, these higher-level business strategy documents were far beyond the scope of their daily activities and created value by more concretely guiding their business at it continues to take shape.

Our IBD team was usually in the office from ~9am to 630pm working towards these deliverables. We’d grab lunch at any one of several local eateries for lunch with many Varstation team members. This break for lunch is an integral part of Brazilian culture, as they can often take upwards of 90 minutes – a stark contrast to eating lunch at my desk as I was used to in the states. Our favorite destination was the “boteco”, a Brazilian staple that is a mix of a local café, corner store, and diner. Lunches were heavier than I was accustomed to, ranging from chicken parmigiana to a huge “corner” omelet, all served with rice, beans, and French fries.

After staving off the food-induced afternoon sleepiness, we’d finish our work for the day and depart the office back to our hotel. We stayed in the Itaim Bibi neighborhood which was a wealthier suburb, containing many stores for shopping and restaurants. We’d typically take 45 minutes upon returning to the hotel for personal tasks – tough to keep your life in order while out of the country for a month! Most nights the team would then all go to one of many local restaurants for dinner, spanning styles from Japanese, Brazilian, Mexican, American, etc. After dinner, we’d typically return to the hotel around 930pm. I’d put on the Warriors or Bruins games on the TV in the room and enjoy watching with the excitable Portuguese commentary, before going to bed around midnight to start the following day all over again!

Weekend in Rio

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Jainero

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Jainero

Our team had two weekends in Brazil where we could really cut it loose and see more of what the country had to offer. Since there were 4 separate IBD teams stationed in Brazil, we took the opportunity to plan a weekend in Rio together. Despite it being early winter in Brazil, Rio was still warm enough where we could take advantage of the nightlife, beach, and general outdoor ethos of the city. Teams from São Paulo, Florianopolis, and San Jose all assembled into two shared rental houses for a weekend full of shenanigans.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Jainero

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Jainero

On Friday night we all grabbed quick dinners, and then headed for the street fair located in the center of the city. Here, numerous food vendors, drink carts, musicians, etc. lined the central park of the city near a major nightlife district. The streets were filled with locals and tourists celebrating, popping into the local bars and eateries before spilling back out into the central street party. Samba music mixed with contemporary American music to create a truly unique cultural immersion.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Jainero

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Jainero

On Saturday we all rebounded from the late night Friday by heading straight to the iconic beaches of Rio. Despite it being early winter, the midday temperatures were over 70F and the water was delightful to swim in. Most of us relaxed on the beach for the day, strolling down to check out the coast line, and getting drinks from beachside vendors. When late afternoon arrived, some of us decided to hop in cabs and head to Sugar Loaf Mountain, a high mountain at the edge of Rio that has a system of cable cars to take you up top for a breathtaking vista. It was a truly expansive view of the entire city. The only issue was that we were still damp from swimming and it was unsurprisingly window at the top of the peak, which you can see from some crazy hair in the second picture below! We grabbed a glass a wine from a vendor at one of these peaks and listened to a live band before departing for a pre-planned, all group dinner.

iew from the top of SugarLoaf; Multi-team photo

Multi-team photo

View from the top of SugarLoaf;

View from the top of SugarLoaf;

As a sendoff for the broader Brazil IBD teams, we planned a nice dinner Saturday night before everyone departed at varying times on Sunday. We went to the local restaurant Bazaar, where most people indulged in seafood paired with Argentinian wines. We even squeezed all of us into one photo!

Wrap up

Overall, the IBD experience pushed me outside my comfort zone, both personally and professionally. I had never worked internationally before, and all my international clients had previously come from Europe. Getting used to the more laid-back Brazilian culture away from the comforts of home tested me over the 3+ weeks I was out of country. Personally, it brought me close with my IBD team members Stephen Collins, Erika Renson, Michael de Lyon, and Moto Takai. Whenever you’re out of your element, as we were in Brazil, the uncomfortable external environment really draws you close to those most similar to you. From that standpoint, I really appreciated IBD in that it brought me closer to my teammates. We now share a truly unique experience between us, and I hope that propagates in our relationships beyond our time at Haas. As for our client team at Varstation, they were truly gracious hosts and a fun-loving bunch, and I hope to track Varstation’s progress and keep in touch with them moving forward.

Full Brazil IBD team photo in Rio

Full Brazil IBD team photo in Rio

University Students from Ashesi Venture Accelerator in Ghana visit Berkeley Haas

Ashesi Students, Prof. Adomdza, and IBD Team Ashesi at Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley

Ashesi Students, Prof. Adomdza, and IBD Team Ashesi at Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley

Ashesi University comes to the Bay Area:

Berkeley Haas and the IBD program hosted a group of 12 undergraduate students from Ashesi University on Thursday, March 7, 2019.  Ashesi Faculty Advisor to the Ashesi Venture Accelerator, Associate Professor Gordon Adomdza, brought this group of inspiring students from Ghana to the Bay Area for a Silicon Valley study tour.   Professor Adomdza also said that part of the reason for the Bay Area trip was to connect with Ashesi founder (and Haas alum) Patrick Awuah’s Berkeley Haas roots.  

Patrick Awuah and Berkeley Haas:

Patrick Awuah receiving the award at UC Berkeley's Commencement 2015, Dr. Awuah thanked the Haas community for its contributions to Ashesi's development.

Patrick_Awuah receiving the award at UC Berkeley’s Commencement 2015, Dr. Awuah thanked the Haas community for its contributions to Ashesi’s development.

Patrick Awuah graduated from Berkeley Haas in ‘99, and as an MBA student in the IBD program, he developed the idea for Ashesi University.  Mr. Auwah  launched Ashesi University in 2002 as the first Ivy League-style school in his native country of Ghana.  Ashesi’s mission is to educate ethical entrepreneurial leaders who transform Africa.  Mr. Auwah and Ashesi University have won numerous awards throughout the years and have been recognized for their impact on leadership, education, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Africa.  After meeting these exceptional students, one can see clearly why Ashesi and Mr. Auwah have been honored for their work.

Ashesi and the IBD Program:

Ashesi IBD Evening and Weekend MBA Team and Patrick Awuah 2014

Ashesi IBD Evening and Weekend MBA Team and Patrick Awuah 2014

IBD has had the privilege of partnering with Ashesi on numerous IBD projects, including most recently projects with an Evening & Weekend MBA Team in 2014 and a Full-time MBA Team in 2016.  This spring semester, IBD is fortunate to work again with Ashesi again on another IBD project. The 2019 IBD Team Ashesi, comprised of five MBA students (Team Lead Joe Bird, and Team Members Carolyn Henderson, Nicole Quinty, Jessica Slocovich and Nicholas Meyer), will travel to Ghana in May to work in-country for three weeks.  It is a rare opportunity for an IBD Student Team to meet its project client in Berkeley before the in-country IBD experience, so we were thrilled with the opportunity of welcoming Ashesi Venture Accelerator students to Berkeley Haas on March 7.  In addition to hosting a walking tour of UC Berkeley campus, IBD staff and the Ashesi IBD Student Team put together a program of speakers to talk about entrepreneurship and the MBA program at Berkeley Haas.  IBD Team Member Carolyn Henderson was able to spend time with the students from Ashesi and shared the following.

IBD Team Ashesi and students from Ashesi University

IBD Team Ashesi and students from Ashesi University

“It was so fun meeting and talking with the undergraduate students from Ashesi. We were impressed to hear that many of them have already started companies, and in fact, one student has started two companies! Discussing entrepreneurship, the value of education and their visions for the future made our IBD project feel very real and made us even more excited to work with Ashesi this summer.”

Berkeley Haas and Ashesi values:

Professor Gordon Adomdza and his students with photo of Patrick Awuah on the walls of Haas

Professor Gordon Adomdza and his students with photo of Patrick Awuah on the walls of Haas

Upon their return to Ghana, Ashesi Associate Professor Adomdza shared that after meeting with different companies, universities and groups of people in Silicon Valley,  his students “talked about how special it was that Haas was the only place with an Ashesi story embedded in the presentation and a poster of Patrick on the wall.”  The connection between Ashesi and Berkeley Haas is very special, and was reflected in this additional comment from Carolyn Henderson:

Students from Ashesi University at the UC Berkeley Campanile

Students from Ashesi University at the UC Berkeley Campanile

“The values of Ashesi University are very much in alignment with Berkeley Haas’ Defining Leadership Principles, and it was fun to see that even though [Ashesi Founder and Berkeley Haas alumnus] Patrick Awuah was here before Haas formally adopted these principles, there is a recognizable similarity between the two places. This made for an easy connection with the students, and we can’t wait to experience this again when we go to Ghana and spend time at Ashesi. “

What’s Next For IBD Team Ashesi:

IBD students Joe, Nicolas, Nicole, Jessica and Carolyn will continue to work here at Berkeley Haas for the remainder of the spring semester before they depart for Berekuso, Ghana to work on-site at Ashesi University.  The IBD program is excited for this year’s student team to experience all that Patrick Awuah and Ashesi University have to offer.

IBD Team Ashesi - Carolyn Henderson, Nicole Quinty, Nicholas Meyer, Jessica Slocovich and Joe Bird

IBD Team Ashesi – Carolyn Henderson, Nicole Quinty, Nicholas Meyer, Jessica Slocovich and Joe Bird

IBD Helps EWMBA Student Pivot to New Role: Interview with Shaun Hundle, ‘19

Shaun Hundle, Haas MBA '19

Shaun Hundle, Haas ’19

Evening & Weekend MBA (EWMBA) student Shaun Hundle, ‘19, is graduating in May.  Shortly after that he will start a new role as the Manager in Consulting & Analytics division at Visa.  Shaun was a 2018 Summer IBD student who spent two months working on a project with a financial services company located in Mexico City.  We interviewed Shaun about his IBD experience and how it helped him pivot to his new career position.

IBD:  What is your current position now?  

Shaun: I am a Project Manager at the Swedish Trade and Invest Council, a go-to-market consultancy affiliated with the government of Sweden to assist Swedish companies to expand globally. As Team Lead of our Healthcare and Life Science practice, I’ve spent most of my time with small to mid-size Swedish companies looking to enter and grow in the U.S.

IBD:  Tell us a little about your new upcoming role at Visa as a Manager in Consulting & Analytics division?

Shaun and his team in Mexico during 2018 IBD Summer program

Shaun and his team in Mexico during 2018 IBD Summer program

Shaun: I will take on a Manager role on the Consulting & Analytics team. I will still be client facing (although focusing on only one or two clients at the same time, unlike at my current company) and leading the internal delivery. At Visa I will be working more with quantitative data than the qualitative consulting I’ve focused on to date, so I see this as an excellent opportunity to gain a new skill set and transition to the fin-tech industry with a globally recognized company.

IBD:  You worked for a large financial company in Mexico City last summer for the 2018 IBD program. Did this experience offer you new skills or insights that helped identify this new opportunity for a career shift?

Absolutely! The work we did was very similar to the type of work I will be doing with Visa’s clients, including data analysis. Having this type of hands on consulting experience gave me very relevant experience to talk about in my interviews with Visa, as well as strong knowledge in the retail banking and payments industry ecosystem.

IBD: What did you take away from the IBD experience that you plan to apply to this new role?

Shaun:  I learned quite a bit about how to leverage influence in a larger organization, as well as understanding how to manage various stakeholders from different divisions who we were responsible for delivering to. My big take-a-way was that it’s important to listen and build trust with various stakeholders before doing the more complicated work of presenting and recommending solutions that some stakeholders may not like.

Shaun Hundle and Team- 2018 IBD summer final presentation for client

Shaun Hundle and Team- 2018 IBD summer final presentation for client

IBD:  Do you have advice for other MBA students who are thinking of a career change? How can they utilize the IBD experience to test this hypothesis?

Shaun: IBD gave me the opportunity to have an “internship-like” summer project that became invaluable to speak about in my interviews and conversations when I was recruiting in the Fall, so I think this is a great opportunity for Evening & Weekend MBA students especially. It definitely allowed me to pivot towards tech, fintech, and consulting roles a bit easier than previously, since I had direct experience I could point to. Although I had previous consulting experience, I didn’t have much experience working in fintech, retail banking, or payments, but the exposure to the industry I received through IBD was great in helping me decide where I wanted to focus for Fall recruiting. There is a high level of diversity in the types of IBD clients and industries which makes it a bit of an adventure, but there is a lot one can gain out of the experience, especially if you are still a career or industry explorer.

End of Interview:

We in the IBD program love hearing from our IBD students about their experience working on international consulting projects, and we especially love it when the experience contributes to making valuable career choices.  Shaun’s experience is not unlike many MBA students who participate in the IBD program. If you are a Berkeley Haas MBA student, and would like more information about IBD, click here or contact the IBD program office.

The IBD Big Reveal for Team Members

Elinor Chang finding out she is working with Seva Foundation

Elinor Chang finding out she is working with Seva Foundation

IBD Team Members Find Out Their IBD Projects:

A significant day in the IBD spring program took place on February 14, 2019: “The Big Reveal”.  This is the day during which all IBD students (Team Leads and Team Members) come together for the first time in their IBD class.  It is also the day during which the Team Members learn for the first time the nature of their IBD projects, their clients, their teammates, and where they will travel in May for their in-country experience.

Team Dura-Line gives hugs

Team Dura-Line hugs

Video Reveal:

In continuation of a recently established IBD tradition, our sixteen student Team Leads created short videos to show during the IBD Big Reveal, introducing their respective IBD projects to the newly announced Team Members on their team. IBD Executive Director David Richardson had this to say about the event: “Each video was thoughtfully crafted, and it was so much fun to see the newly identified Team Members jumping up to greet their new Team Lead and other Team Members. There were hugs, high fives and the occasional handshakes, as some Team Members and Leads were meeting each other for the first time.” 

Team Makerere's Pat and Nick give high fives

Team Makerere’s Pat and Nick give high fives

What’s Next?

Now that the IBD student teams have come together for the first time, there is a lot of work to be done.  IBD teams will immediately arrange to meet with their global clients via video conference, beginning the process of learning about the organization and the project problem they are being asked to solve.  A great deal of teamwork, team building, and analysis of different countries and industries still needs to be done before each IBD student team can travel to their respective project destinations.

IBD 2019 MBA Students

IBD 2019 MBA Students

Clients and Destinations:

Every year, IBD is fortunate to work with phenomenal international project clients, and this year is no exception.  This year’s client organizations are diverse in size and industry, and represent a mix of for-profit, non-profit, education, and social enterprises.  Each IBD project is important to each client, and is fully expected to add a great deal of value to the organization. In fact, in one of the introduction videos to her new Team Members, the IBD Team Lead tells her new team that the work they will do for their client is “intended to scale globally and will affect every company in the corporate world.”  What an amazing opportunity this is for our MBA students!

Out of the sixteen project clients working with IBD this year, eight are returning from past IBD projects — including five who have had projects during each of the last three years.  This coming May, 80 IBD students will travel to 15 different countries during their three weeks of in-country project experience.

Hugs all around

Hugs all around

The entire IBD team at Berkeley Haas, including faculty and staff, is excited to be a part of our students’ unique and challenging project experience. We look forward to sharing more with our readers during the next three months, leading up to the IBD students’  and especially time in-country. Stay tuned; there is a lot of fun ahead! To check out more photos from the IBD Big Reveal class, click here.

 

Continued Reflections on Our Plastic Use

*POST 2: Written by Catherine Soler, Leslie Brian, Kelly Lamble, Scott Peacock and Sipian Wang

Beautiful water and skyline with boatsThis is a second post about our project in the Bay Islands. After spending three weeks answering the question, ““How might we provide clean drinking water to the communities of the Bay Islands without a plastic footprint?”, we are now examining the question,

“How has this project changed the way we look at our own plastic footprint?”

See reflections from our team members below.

Scott’s Reflections: Developing Gratitude and Empathy

There was a perception on the islands that the pollution is caused by a “live for today” mentality. But, it’s not about enjoying the day; it’s about surviving the day. How can someone worry about the future consequences of plastic waste when they are worried about food, water, and safety today? I have the means and time to plan for the future, but still, many things that I use for convenience, saving money, or fun have negative externalities. This experience has reinforced my appreciation for the benefits I have and has made me reconsider the conveniences I take at the expense of others.

Beautiful water and sky with branch

Kelly’s Reflections: Called to Action

As we slowly moved down Pumpkin Beach on Utila, methodically picking up pieces of plastic, my heart sank. A staggering number of microplastics dotted the white sand with blues and reds and greens. Even the most painstaking cleanup could never get all of those little pieces off the sand and into a trash bag.

Witnessing the effects of plastic pollution firsthand made me think about my voice as a consumer. What excuses do I tell myself for why I’m not able to make a bigger impact? Is there really not enough space in my kitchen to have trash, recycling, and compost bins? Is there really no way to avoid buying new consumables, like big coffee tins from Trader Joe’s or shampoo from Walgreens, instead of refilling them? Those small pieces of plastic littering that beach was the motivation I needed: I bought two new trash bins yesterday, and a bar of soap that came without packaging. These may be small steps, but if enough consumers start voicing their desire for less plastic and greater sustainability, companies will have no choice but to listen.

banner saying "El Plastico recicla, la naturaliza, no!"

Catherine’s Reflections: Demystifying Plastic Perceptions

When we interviewed local people about their clean drinking water sources and plastic pollution, there was a pervasive sentiment that because we were from the US, we knew how to do things the right way. There was blind faith that, in America, we are free of single use plastic water bottles and all of our waste is composted or neatly packaged and disposed in environmentally friendly ways. Meanwhile, those same people were promoting sustainable straw use and drinking from 5 gallon jugs of water in their homes to reduce single use bottle waste – practices that are far and few between in the US. More so, by interacting with the communities on the Islands, I recognized many of my own behaviors that actually encourage plastic pollution and was inspired by their actions to change.

In a place like the US, we have the luxury of resources, education and expertise to make substantial plastic reduction and be a true ecological leader to others in the world. I hope that we act on that opportunity quickly and live up to the expectations that the rest of the world has for us. After this project, I hope to work to help local people feel empowered to design their own solutions to sustainability and have the confidence to share their practices with others. I am committed to learning more about how to reduce my own plastic footprint and find ways to inspire others around me to do the same.

plastic coke bottle on the beachClick here to read Post 1 from Team TBP

To view additional photos from Team TBP, click here

Using Human-Centered Design to Improve Patients’ Lives

By Melea Atkins, Kathryn Balestreri, Bree Jenkins, Ben Lauing, and Hannah Levinson

There were bright pink and orange and blue post-its everywhere. It looked just like the Innovation Lab at Haas had looked weeks before as we ran through an exercise during our Problem-Finding, Problem-Solving class. But we were 6,500 miles away from Haas, many of the post-its were written in Portuguese, and the stakes were high.

The São Paulo IBD team was facilitating a three-hour rapid ideation workshop at the major pharmaceutical company Novartis, leading a group of 16 senior-level employees through the human-centered design cycle to generate ideas about why patients don’t adhere to their medication. Our fear that directions would be lost in translation given the language barrier was immediately assuaged as people openly shared personal journeys with chronic illness and others wrote down observations. One woman shared her personal experience being treated by a physician for a chronic illness. He chose not to pursue aggressive treatment because he didn’t want to impose physical pain on his patient. She was left feeling out of control over her own life, and her emotional and physical suffering only increased over time. This led to an insight around shared decision-making and that a personal physician relationship is foundational to patient engagement and medication adherence.

Sticky notes

After the workshop, we received such a thoughtful WhatsApp message (the primary mode of communication – even for Novartis professionals!): This was so great, I’ve worked here for so long but I forgot that I’ve been the patient too.

Leading this workshop was a transformational Haas experience. When facilitating, we were pushed to command a room of people who were senior to us, whose primary language was different from ours, and who had no prior exposure to design thinking tools. The workshop also strengthened the bond of our IBD team, as we all worked together to ensure the success of the experience. Our team was especially fortunate to have Kathryn Balestreri, who brought design thinking expertise from her work as an innovation consultant and through Haas at Work. 

The Novartis Brazil team collaborates in small groups

The Novartis Brazil team collaborates in small groups

This human-centered design approach landed well with the Novartis team, and we realized how well it lent itself to the overarching goal of our project: helping patients better adhere to heart failure medication. Through our research and 71 interviews with subject matter experts, physicians, startups, and heart failure patients over the course of our project, it was abundantly clear that we wouldn’t be able to identify the root cause of non-adherence to heart failure medication without truly understanding why patients behave the way they do. Thus, when it came to generating solutions for Novartis, we generated six key insights about how we might positively impact patient behavior and improve adherence, used these insights to power ideas, and ultimately converged on one idea to create a prototype and action plan for Brazil. We called the prototype “Rede Integrade de Acolhimento” (RIA), which means “smile” in Portuguese. This is a title that a Novartis employee generated during the final prototyping stage of the ideation workshop.

In our final client call, the project manager requested materials about leading human-centered design workshops, because she wanted to replicate the workshop for Novartis teams in other Latin American countries. Hearing not only that Novartis was interested in our ideas, but also that they wanted to use some of the tools that we’d brought felt like a true success.

Bree Jenkins leads our team through our own ideation workshop

Bree Jenkins leads our team through our own ideation workshop

IBD Team Makerere, Changing the Trajectory of Uganda’s Tourism Sector

Team Makerere together in front of a lakeWritten by Elizabeth Andrada, Luca Cosentino, ​Tamara Pace-Emerson, ​

Logan Gallogly, and ​Renee Medina

Changing the trajectory of Uganda’s tourism sector

Our IBD team worked with the government of Uganda and a team focused on enhancing public and private sector partnerships at Makerere University, Uganda’s largest university, to redefine the country’s tourism strategy. Many sectors have invested a lot of time and money to improve the country’s tourism sector, however, there were a few elements missing in both the strategies and execution that prevented Uganda’s tourism sector from thriving.

Making an impact with a dedicated audience

Our team had a once in a lifetime opportunity to present our final recommendations to the Prime Minister of Uganda, Governor of the Central Bank of Uganda and Minister of Tourism of Uganda, in addition to many other members of government and private sector leaders in the country. Our three weeks in country culminated in this exciting event, which was followed by a private dinner with the mentioned stakeholders (several of whom are UC Berkeley alums!) that evening. The dinner gave us an opportunity to discuss our final presentation in a less formal environment, share more details of our findings, and highlight the key resource requirements so Uganda can successfully implement our recommendations.

Our project approach

Before heading to Kampala (the country’s capital), our team conducted secondary research on the tourism industry in Uganda and studied tourism strategy for the neighboring East African countries such as Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. Based on the research, surveys and focus groups with classmates as well as our weekly client calls, our team developed a set of initial hypotheses related to improving the current state of tourism in Uganda.

IBD Team Makerere posingDespite our pre-work and research, we quickly discovered once we had arrived in-country that there was a lot to learn with many more nuances and local considerations to keep in mind when thinking about our final recommendations. We spent the first week conducting interviews with more than 15 stakeholders across the tourism sector, which changed our perceptions of the primary challenges facing the Uganda tourism sector. We spent the second week traveling around the country as tourists ourselves in order to understand first-hand the differentiators and challenges to a thriving tourism sector in the country.

Where we visited

Our team used Kampala, Uganda’s largest city, as our home base, but because many of the country’s key tourist sites are outside of the city, we also wanted to spend time visiting these destinations. This primary research would help inform our final recommendations related to a tourist’s experience in the country. Our team had the opportunity to visit:

  • Jinga, the source of the Nile River (where the Nile meets Lake Victoria) and to do a sunset kayaking trip on the Nile;
  • Entebbe and the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre where we got to pet cheetahs and feed lions and baby elephants;
  • Murchison Falls National Park, where we participated in a traditional safari game drive and saw giraffes, hippos, elephants, lions, bison, buffalo, birds and countless other animals as well as hike to the top of the two waterfalls in the park;
  • Lake Bunyoni, the second deepest lake in the world and the deepest lake in Africa, where we stayed at an eco-lodge and had the opportunity to boat, swim and hike; and
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we participated in a second game drive and enjoyed views of the Rwenzori mountain range while having an authentic ‘Rolex’ breakfast.

IBD Team Makerere in front of body of waterOur final recommendations and project culmination

The team developed four final recommendations for our client, focusing on marketing as well as the tourist and business experience. As mentioned, we had the unique opportunity to present our findings and final recommendations to the Prime Minister as well as other government and private sector stakeholders.

Our IBD experience was a highlight of our time thus far at Haas and is one that we will never forget. Our team created a meaningful bond as we sought to provide an actionable roadmap for the country’s leaders to make it a top tourist destination. We feel so honored to have had the opportunity to make an impact and to change the trajectory of the tourism industry in Uganda. We look forward to visiting Uganda again to see the progress that has been made in implementing our recommendations.