Refashioning a more sustainable future for apparel in India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ananda Development Public Company Limited

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

Week 0 – SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing + Chiang Mai

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

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

Week 1 – A Warm Ananda Welcome + Krabi

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

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

Week 2 – Exploring Bangkok + Siem Reap

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

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

Week 3 – Thailand From a Different Perspective 

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

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

Team HaAshesi – Educating Ethical, Entrepreneurial Leaders in Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Navigating Uncertainty in Brazil

By Soobia Haider, Katharine Hawthorne, Paula Moren, Arthur Tong, & Sam Smith

It was 7am when we arrived at Congonhas airport in São Paulo.  We were supposed to catch a flight to Rio de Janeiro to interview a venture capital firm about their outlook on the Brazilian economy.  As we stood in line waiting to board, we nervously checked our watches as the clock ticked past our scheduled boarding time. An announcement came over the loudspeaker in Portuguese – we missed most of it but understood the most important word: “cancelado” – our flight was cancelled.  Over the next few hours, we learned that all Avianca flights had been grounded as a result of a worker strike in response to the bankrupt airline’s delay in processing payroll.

After the announcement, the passengers swiftly exited the terminal and lined up near the Avianca desk.  A few harried employees handled rebookings and refunds. All interactions had to take place in person, and it took over two hours waiting in line to simply refund a ticket.  The Brazilians waiting in line seemed resigned to the situation, and there were no angry outbursts or twitter rants, which might have ensued had the same situation unfolded in the U.S.  Unfazed at the disruption, the Brazilians chatted, scrolled the internet, and messaged friends and family.

While the strike and cancelled flight were an inconvenience, we learned more about the Brazilian attitude towards uncertainty that day than anything else.  In an environment where you can’t rely on systems like transportation, banking, or communications to always work when you need them, you anticipate how things might go wrong, and you adjust your life accordingly.  This equanimity in the face of uncertainty is not complacency, and, in fact, we found that consumers had plenty of stories and complaints to share.

Consumer pain points

The Avianca strike gave us insight into the Brazilian consumer experience.  Our IBD project focused on financial services, which has many similarities to the airline industry – it is highly regulated, concentrated among a few strong players, and there are significant customer pain points.  

During our time in-country we assessed the overall financial services market with a focus on consumer research to better understand how Brazilians interact with the banking system as well as their motivations for saving and investing.  We heard many stories of frustration around the lack of responsiveness of big banks, the high fees, and outdated branch service models. For instance, if you forget your password and get locked out of your bank’s app on your phone, you have to go in-person to the branch where you opened your account in order to regain access.

The rise of fintech

Consumer dissatisfaction with the big banks has led to the proliferation of fintechs.  Brazil has one of the most developed and fastest growing start-up ecosystems in the world, with 380 fintechs, growing at a rate of 48% in 2018.  As part of our IBD project, we met with a number of start-ups to understand their business models and how they are attempting to compete with incumbent banks.  Many are offering new products and services previously unavailable in the Brazilian retail market, for instance in insurance and consumer lending.

Despite the energy around fintechs, Brazilian consumers seem reluctant to completely cut ties with the banking establishment.  Of the consumers we interviewed, 100% bank with at least one of the major banks. We hypothesized that consumers view fintechs as risky and thus seek the safety of a traditional bank, despite their frustrations with the poor service and limited products offered.

Testing our own resiliency

As the team prepared to depart Brazil, we had an opportunity to test our ability to manage uncertainty.  As we sat on our plane for the return flight to the U.S., waiting to push back from the gate, we felt a jostle.  We listened to another announcement in Portuguese and heard that fateful word again: “cancelado.” A maintenance truck had collided with the plane and the aircraft needed to be inspected for safety before flying again.  We deplaned, shaking our heads, and passed through Brazilian immigration, re-entering the country and adding a second stamp to our passports. This time we knew the drill – we exited the terminal, lined up at the ticket counter, and prepared to wait. 


Team Dura-Line

Sharon Lau is a full-time MBA student working on an International Business Development project spanning across Gurgaon, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Singapore. She and her teammates, Roland Ekop, Alberto Francisco Granados, Daisy Huang, and Maryam Rezapoor, worked with Dura-Line to assess market entry strategies for the data infrastructure industry in Southeast Asia.

On the day of the Big Reveal, as if it wasn’t exciting enough just to find out who our client and teammates were, we also learned that our project would be based out of India, with “possible travel to Vietnam and/or Indonesia.” After working with our client to better understand our project, it turned out to be all of the above, and more.

Asia is a unique landscape with diversity in all its forms across so many countries, cultures, climates, and economies. In order to better understand how successful market entries and business development worked in Asia, we first studied two countries in which they had done exceptionally well: the US, which we learned more about during our semester, and India, which we explored during our first week of IBD. After India, we would split up for on the ground research in two target markets for our client: Indonesia and Vietnam. After our in-country assessments, we would return to India to work through our findings with the client before flying to Singapore to present to their global C-suite at their off-site management retreat. With a lot of miles ahead of us, we packed up and got ready for a very eventual 3 weeks.

Week 1 in Gurgaon: Understanding a Success Story

We landed in Delhi in one of the hottest months of the year and were immediately fascinated by all the differences and familiarities in our new environment. One of our team members remarked how the way locals crossed highways and traffic patterns reminded him exactly of home. Another team member was so excited by the incredible variety of new foods and spices that she went on a food tour and sampled as many new things as she could. 

After meeting with Dura-Line’s Asia management based out of Gurgaon as well as some of their largest infrastructure and telco partners in India, we were armed with insights and more questions for our interviewees on the ground in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Team Dura-Line ready for our Day of Arrival Presentation at Le Meridien Gurgaon: Roland Ekop, Daisy Huang, Maryam Rezapoor, Sharon Lau, Alberto Francisco Granados (left to right)



Team members Roland, Maryam, and Daisy at Dura-Line’s Gurgaon office with a display and samples of their products

Team member Alberto with chipmunks from the gardens at Agra Fort

Team lead Roland appreciating the history and intridcate script carved into the tower at Qutub Minar

Team members Maryam and Daisy at the Taj Mahal

Week 2 in Jakarta and Hanoi: Exploring New Markets

After we bid India goodbye for the first time, we split up into our Indonesia and Vietnam teams. In our second week, we interviewed stakeholders and players in our clients’ ecosystems, learning about the intricacies of the industries in each country that couldn’t be found with online research. This proved to be especially interesting, as both countries have a highly relational business environment in which the best way to learn more is to actually speak with people face to face.

Although we had our schedules packed with meeting industry experts and navigating around our new countries, we were especially thrilled to be able to meet Haas alum Matthew Sinder MBA 99, who had a wealth of experience in the region as well as fond memories of campus.

Our Indonesia team catching up at drinks with Haas alum Matthew Sinder MBA 99 (from left to right: Roland, Daisy, Matthew, Alberto)

Team member Daisy Huang on a scenic weekend trip to Bali

Week 3 in Singapore: Sharing Our Learnings

After a quick trip back to India to realign with the Asia management team on our findings and recommendations, we were off to Singapore to present to our client’s C-suite on the famous bayfront. Our presentation was the centerpiece of a 3-hour workshop, and it was such a rewarding experience to have all of our in-depth research lay the groundwork for an important strategic discussion for truly aspirational leaders.

We wrapped up the project with hours of lively dinner and drinks with the Dura-Line executive team, during which we were inspired to see how CEO Peter Hajdu, Haas MBA ‘05, was boldly and unapologetically leading the company in line with our Haas values. As we packed our bags for what seemed like the millionth time in 3 weeks, we knew we had flown an exceptional number of miles to live out a quintessentially unique Haas experience.

Our IBD team and the Dura-Line C-suite team celebrating a successful wrap to our semester-long project with the Singapore Maria Bay Sands in the background. The Dura-Line team is led by Peter Hajdu, Haas MBA ’05 (back row, far right)

A #HaasFlyBD Update from Team Embraer

Brian Bell, Swamit Mehta, Erlangga Renggana, Kylie Sale, and Quinn Sure are full-time Haas students working on an IBD project with Embraer, the third largest aerospace manufacturer, in São Paolo, Brazil.

Fallin’ for Iguaçu – The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

We finished our finals, passed in our papers, and hopped on a plane to Foz do Iguaçu, the jumping off point for Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall chain in the world which straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina. Here, our team (along with a couple other IBD Brazil teams) experienced our first taste of Brazil; the friendliest of people, delicious barbeque, and the beautiful scenery of the rainforest. Brazil is vibrantly green; even in its more urban areas the flora and fauna of the rainforest is pervasive, giving the cities and countryside alike a unique sense of vitality. In the national park, we stared in awe at the thunderous falls and the multitude of rainbows shimmering in every direction. We even got up close and personal to the falls by taking a boat ride to the base of Iguazu and getting drenched in the deluge. For our first dinner, we sought out a churrascaria – where everything is grilled to perfection from cuts of beef we never knew existed, to cheese, and pineapple. What a welcome to Brazil!

Taking in Iguazu Falls from the Brazil side

Reaching New Heights – Embraer’s Innovation Team

Embraer is one of Brazil’s prized companies – a national success story and a well-recognized global aerospace manufacturer. Our IBD project comes at a fascinating turning point in the company’s history. Embraer recently sold its commercial division to Boeing and is being split down the middle, renamed, and re-envisioned. As the new Embraer emerges with its remaining defense, executive jets, and services divisions, leadership determined that innovation is critical for the company’s future ability to grow, especially in the competitive and rapidly changing global aviation industry. 

Through the course of the project we’ve met with senior level VPs, Directors, and Project Managers to learn about innovation across the company and how different leaders believe the company should grow in the future. In our time here, we discovered that employees are enthusiastic about Embraer, passionate about their projects, and generous with their time – often our meetings and interviews run several hours long!

The Haas IBD Team at Embraer’s facility in São José dos Campos


We are working closely with Embraer’s innovation team – a motivated group of intrapreneurs with a mission to bring Embraer into the future through radical innovation and culture change. The team exemplifies Brazil’s warm and friendly culture. On our first day in the Embraer global headquarters, Guilherme, Portfolio Manager with the Innovation Strategy Team, introduced us to strong Brazilian coffee and chocolate-filled cappuccinos. We’ve enjoyed happy hours and dinners getting to know the rest of the Embraer innovation team including Izabela, Leticia, and Thiago. Our project sponsor, Sandro, Director of Innovation Strategy at Embraer, welcomed us to his home for a true Brazilian barbecue experience. 

Embraer’s Innovation Team and Haas IBD Team enjoying a BBQ








Embraer IBD team and Innovation Strategy Team following close of the 5 day Kaizen workshop

Keeping it Rio

While our three weeks in Brazil were largely spent in our clients offices, we also took advantage of our proximity to visit Rio, one of Brazil’s most well loved cities. Known for its beaches, favelas, and caipirinhas, Rio de Janeiro a city that moves at its own beat. Along with visiting Copacabana, we enjoyed the Rio Sunday farmers market, visited Christ the Redeemer, and hiked Sugarloaf.

We enjoyed two days swimming and snacking across Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro




Eating our way through the colorful fruits, pastels, and juices of the São Paulo Municipal Market

Pretty Fly – A Visit to the Airplane Factory 

Touring Embraer’s airplane manufacturing facility in São Jose dos Campos was a highlight of our experience with Embraer. Expansive factory buildings, several football fields in length and filled with dozens of line workers, held awe-inspiring assembly lines of commercial planes (capacity of up to 155 people) and executive jets, with wings being attached, engines installed, and designs painted reflecting top airline companies from around the world. The individual plane components are made on site, manufactured in massive metal machines, and later assembled into recognizable parts like wings, fuselages, and tails through both automated and manual processes. The coordination and organization required to turn tens of thousands of parts into an airplane is mind-boggling, and Embraer is one of the best in the world. They can turn out 20+ executive jets per month from a single product line!

Our work with the Embraer team is bringing our strategy, operations, design thinking, and other Haas coursework to life in the real world. Each day has been an incredible learning experience, and it’s our privilege and pleasure to be working with our client team at Embraer.

As we worked in our office alongside the Embraer runway, sounds of test flights overhead brought a constant reminder of what we were here to achieve, an Embraer ready for the future



Written by: Kyle Rolnick, Maddy Han, Joyce Yao, Annie Powers and Miguel Moreno Rodriguez

Discovering a unique culture

As the Berkeley IBD team walked into Giosg’s office in a quiet, corporate area of Helsinki, we realized that the nice shoes we brought from the U.S. weren’t necessary. We stared at many shoes strewn about in the entryway, took our own off, felt the soft rug beneath our feet, and took a few steps into the office. The truly vibrant work environment Giosg – a fast-growing tech company that focuses on helping businesses interact in more meaningful ways with their customers – has created was almost immediately apparent.  

Jussi, the company’s COO and our main contact throughout the project, met us shortly after we entered. It was very refreshing – and a bit surreal – to see him in person after talking with him so many time via video chat, and he was every bit as kind and welcoming in person as he’d been during the semester in Berkeley. The first order of business was a tour, which gave us a glimpse at not only employees in beanbag chairs working hard, but also colorful carpet, a poster showing Giosg’s values, and even a pinball machine. This is a quintessential tech workplace. 

Getting down to business

That first day, we started our rounds of getting a better look at Giosg in person, and throughout the first week, we were introduced to people in sales, marketing, finance, and product to better understand the different perspectives that could help our project, which focuses on helping Giosg think about a new market entry. 

The week also included an introduction to Finnish culture, of course. The Berkeley team was able to eat some traditional Finnish food, explore Helsinki’s chic city center, and even take a dip in the Baltic Sea (~50°F!) after heating up in a sauna at Löyly, a place that combines traditional saunas, drinks, and food all in one beautiful structure. 

The highlight of the first week, though, was the Summer Party. An event Giosg has held since its early days, the Summer Party is one of two main parties for the company each year. Although the weather wasn’t perfect, heading to Suomenlinna and partying in an 18th-century fort was something to be remembered. The party was also a great chance to meet even more employees at the company and see the optimism and can-do spirit that pervades the company. “If we have a problem, I know we can solve it,” one employee told us. 

An engaging presentation

Week two started off strong with a presentation to Giosg’s board, which was onsite at Giosg for two days of workshops and vision-setting. Our team outlined our work to date, key findings, and our direction for our remaining time in Finland. The board members asked some great, thought-provoking questions. After discussing the presentation and questions with Jussi, we refined our direction and put our nose to the grindstone to further synthesize our findings and do additional secondary research to support a strong recommendation.

On Thursday, our team got a nice break due to a Finnish holiday and explored nearby Tallinn, home of the most digitally connected government in the world. It was a beautiful day and walking the streets of the Old Town and the hip Depoo area was refreshing after a few days of rain back in Helsinki. The highlight of the week came on Friday morning, though, as we were able to join Giosg’s team for their weekly floorball game – and our very own Joyce Yao netted two goals! 


A very special last week

Our last week in Finland was a whirlwind! We worked hard during the days and nights, but also soaked up every last bit of fun we could as the temperature heated up in Helsinki. On Monday night, Jussi led the team on an orienteering adventure. In orienteering, people race each other by navigating through the woods or other terrain with only a map and compass. This is a very popular activity in Finland and we could see why – it was a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature while putting your attention and mind to work navigating. 

On Tuesday night, we got a glimpse of the beautiful Finnish countryside on the way up to Jussi’s summer cottage. Before we ate a traditional meal of smoked salmon and reindeer with lingonberry and mashed potatoes, Jussi, Ville (Giosg’s CEO), and the team enjoyed a more traditional sauna experience, including a nice dip in the lake after heating up.

Wednesday and Thursday were big days; we presented a total of 5 hours across three sessions to summarize our findings and recommendations for Giosg’s management team and employees. The presentations elicited some very good questions and it was exciting to hear feedback and questions from everyone after so many months of hard work. After wrapping up the final day, we got to enjoy one last outing in Helsinki, as three of Giosg’s employees invited us to join them in a sailing competition followed by a night out on the town. 

Wrapping up

So much work went into this project. Through the many hours of interviews, late nights reading research, design thinking sessions to synthesize findings, and more, we kept our focus on our big goal: providing as much value to Giosg as we could as they tackle new projects and growth opportunities. And we felt that responsibility deeply, as we connected with Giosg’s management and employees in a way that few of us expected possible when we heard we’d be heading to Finland last January and February. 

The IBD project exceeded our expectations on many fronts and in ways that would take many more pages to describe. As we sought to provide as much value as possible to Giosg, so too we have all come out of this with a lot of value: much more knowledge, new friends, and a great experience to look back on during our second year at Berkeley and beyond. 


Written by: Nick Matcheck, Danielle Mayorga, Amit Shintre, Stacey King and Arpana Dhir

Iluméxico is a social enterprise that specializes in solar home systems for rural Mexicans living outside the electrical grid. The systems are small in scale. The typical unit is a 325-Watt panel able to power several light bulbs and a few small appliances. Iluméxico’s customers are at the lower end of Mexican the income range with $100 US being a typical monthly intake. 

The company began as an NGO but converted to a social enterprise to become sustainable. Recently, growth has accelerated with a big government contract to supply panels to thousands of households. Seeing their solar business accelerate, they asked themselves the natural question: what’s next?

Our IBD project began with a simple scope: how and where could Iluméxico expand its products and services to 1) increase the quality of life of its customers and 2) ensure its business sustainability so it could continue to serve current and future customers. 

We got to work in Berkeley. Our team had diverse backgrounds and skill sets: consulting, government, education, finance, startups, engineering, and supply chain, among others. Several of our team spoke Spanish, which would come in handy during research. 

Our first task was to conduct general industry and company research, which was difficult from afar. Fortunately, many of our Haasie classmates had worked for other energy access companies (including our client) and, of course, were happy to “coffee chat” with us. We spoke with several Berkeley professors with expertise in energy access and social impact metrics who provided a wealth of resources and insight. We conducted interviews with a visiting scholar conducting solar power appliance research in rural India during a Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC) workshop. And since this is the Bay Area, we talked to head the of social impact and energy access at Facebook.

Simultaneously, a huge task was to clarify our scope with the client since it was fairly broad. After a few meetings, we were able to focus on general areas of products and services that the client might be interested in instead of specific products and services. Fortunately, our client had been conducting studies and had generated specific verticals that they knew had the potential to be important areas of focus. Our task would then be to help them prioritize their initial search so they could create prototypes and pilots in the future.

Clarified scope in hand, we then turned towards creating a framework for our future analysis. With some guidance from our faculty mentor and the consulting and excel modeling skill sets on our team, we created an initial “tool” which would rate various criteria under the general categories of customer demands and company capabilities. We called this “version 1.0” of our framework. We verified we were on the right track with our client and, before we knew it, it was time to go to Mexico. 

Our time in Mexico City was an intense but enjoyable experience. Iluméxico’s entire team was great to work with. They were generous with managerial time, including their CFO and head of commercialization. They also gave us a tour of their assembly plant where we learned about their supply, assembly, and distribution systems. Iluméxico prides itself on distribution to the “last inch,” which often means the truck with batteries and panels has to stop and someone has to hike the gear up into the mountains another few hours. We heard a somber story of a donkey giving its life to get gear to customers. 

We also conducted interviews in Spanish with their field managers. They stressed that the core of the company was its close relationship with and deep understanding of its customers. 

After the first week, armed with research and insights, we started iterating our analytical tool. We found gaps and fixed them. We incorporated company feedback. We added a market section and updated our visualization to include this third dimension. Each team member pulled on their unique experience and skill set. We engaged in a lot of debate and iterated through “version 5.0” after several managerial and C-suite validation workshops. After our final presentation, our client’s CEO was pleased and said they would use the tool going forward to test different products and services. 

Overall, our lessons are many. Diverse teams are better at solving problems. Project scope needs to be clarified early. Non-linear projects are difficult, but with research, effort, and iteration, you can get a great result. 

The perfect non sequitur coda to this blog: our client took us to us to lucha libre

Berkeley Haas 2019 MBA Commencement, Patrick Awuah, MBA ’99

Patrick Awuah speaking at Berkeley Haas Commencement

For the MBA class of 2019, Friday, May 24th, was an exciting day of celebration as Evening & Weekend and Full-Time MBAs crossed the stage at the Greek Theatre to accept their hard earned MBA diplomas.  It was also a special day for the IBD program as former IBD student Patrick Awuah delivered the commencement address. In his remarks, Patrick spoke of his time at Berkeley Haas spent working on his business plan for Ashesi University, along with five other MBA students.  He told the audience that “Ashesi started here, and I recognize the fact that there are not many places where this could have happened. We all had hope that it was going to be a remarkable institution, but it has exceeded even our loftiest dreams.”

Team Ashesi after presentation in Uganda

Team Ashesi at a presentation in Ghana

The IBD program is pleased to acknowledge Patrick’s leadership and the growth of Ashesi University, as many of our IBD teams have benefited from the continued development of this remarkable African institution.  IBD students have worked on 13 separate consulting projects with Ashesi University since the year 2000, including a team of five MBA students who are currently in Ghana for three weeks. Check back with us as the latest IBD Ashesi team writes a blog that shares their unique experience of working with the faculty, staff and students of Ashesi University.

David Richardson and Patrick Awuah

David Richardson and Patrick Awuah

To see the Berkeley Haas 2019 MBA commencement and view the video of Patrick Awuah’s address, click here.  To read the address only, click here.


Meet the 2019 IBD Team Leads!

By Danner Doud-Martin

The fall semester is in full swing at Berkeley Haas — and so is IBD as we prepare for the approaching new year and the 2019 Full-Time MBA IBD program that launches in January.  IBD Executive Director David Richardson has been traveling the world, talking to potential IBD clients about projects.  IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz and Associate Director Danner Doud-Martin recently spent a week interviewing IBD student Team Lead applicants.  

Beginning with a list of 60 Team Lead applicants, we ended up interviewing 28 MBA candidates, then selecting a final list of 16 Team Leads.  We are very excited about this new group of diverse and remarkable students and what they bring to the IBD program. They all have incredible stories that influenced their interest in being part of IBD.  

Per our tradition of wanting to give the IBD community a chance to know them, we asked the newly selected Team Leads to share something about themselves and why they applied to be a Team Lead.  Below you will find their answers, as well as a little bit about the amazing careers they have experienced before coming to Berkeley Haas. Enjoy!

2019 IBD Team Leads:


Adriana Bonifaz

Adriana Bonifaz

Adriana Bonifaz, MBA Candidate ’20

Adriana has spent the majority of her career in Lima, Peru working for the Banco de Credito del Peru as a Program Manager in the Innovation Center.   When she isn’t working or leading events fostering camaraderie among her colleagues, you might find her singing.

“I think being in IBD will give me more than one good lesson that I will take forever.  I believe that having the opportunity to work with people from a different culture, with different ways of looking at the world, and also with a diverse team of students, is going to help me open my mind to new ideas. In a global world it is really important to be open and to understand there are many different faces to the same coin. One must have the willingness and mindset to embrace them all and take the best of each version, so we all become better. Finally, and also very important, I want to build long-lasting relationship with my teammates and clients.” – Adriana

Alix Slosberg in front of the Taj Mahal

Alix Slosberg in front of the Taj Mahal

Alix Slosberg, MBA/MPH Candidate ‘20

Prior to Haas, Alix worked for Social Finance Inc., a nonprofit impact investing firm specializing in pay for success projects. Prior to working for Social Finance, Alix spent a year working for the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Swaziland.  In her free time, Alix has taught herself how to play the guitar.

“The opportunity to be an IBD Team Lead is a significant reason I came to Haas. I am really excited to apply the management concepts we’ve been learning in class to a real-world client project, and to have the experience of leading an international engagement from beginning to end – starting with team selection and concluding with an in-country presentation with company leadership.” – Alix


Brian Bell

Brian Bell

Brian Bell, MBA Candidate ’20

After spending four years working at the Acara Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, Brian lived and worked in South and Central America as the Director of Programs at Agora Partnerships.  Agora is an entrepreneurship organization serving growing ventures in Latin America.  Brian also enjoys running marathons and cycling.

“From leadership experience to emerging market travel, from collaborative teamwork to new shared experiences, the opportunity for IBD lead was a reason I came to Haas and I’m excited to take on the challenge! For me IBD is a real opportunity to work closely with passionate Haasies and a committed management team, while having a big impact on a real world growth challenge.” – Brian


Fay Yu

Fay Yu

Fay Yu, MBA Candidate ’20

Throughout her career Fay has worked on multiple projects as a consultant with Deloitte including a two year stint in San José, Costa Rica.  She also coordinated logistics for Deloitte’s international pro bono consulting trip to Darién, Panamá, where she and her colleagues delivered sustainable technology based solutions at 5 local organizations.  

“When I think about the IBD experience, I am most excited about the opportunity to learn about the unique business problems faced by our client and deep-dive into the culture that influences them this coming summer!” – Fay


Felix Schadeck

Felix Schadeck

Felix Schadeck, MBA Candidate ’20

When Felix is not working for INNPACT, an Impact Investing-focused Consulting firm located in Luxembourg City, he serves as the Founder and President of MPG Responsibility Now, a non-profit that builds and operates schools for refugee children from Myanmar.  

I am most excited about the opportunity of being placed in a business and cultural environment that will be new to our whole team. I’ve always found that tackling a steep learning curve with like-minded people makes for exceptional bonding opportunities and has the potential to create friendships that last a lifetime.” – Felix


Jennifer Nixon in Peru

Jennifer Nixon in Peru

Jennifer Nixon, MBA Candidate ’20

Before joining her peers at Haas, Jennifer was a Deputy Chief Operations Officer in the U.S. Army.  Jennifer has received numerous awards for her service, including the Bronze Star Medal, a wartime award given for exceptionally commendable service affecting a large scale of responsibility.  She is also a dedicated Godmother.

“I am excited to jump into the unknown. A team I’ve never worked with, an industry I’ve never experienced, and a culture and country I’ve likely never been to! The whole point of business school for me is to pivot into the corporate world – one that is altogether unfamiliar to me – prepared to be an effective leader. Being an IBD Team Lead will allow me to do exactly that. Doing this job in the safety of the school environment will help to build my confidence in the skills I bring to the table and allow me to see how those skills work in a corporate environment.” – Jennifer


Joseph Bird, MBA Candidate ’20

Joseph Bird running a marathon

Joseph Bird running a marathon

Most of Joseph career has been in India working for various NGO’s, social enterprises and most recently as the CEO of Reality Tours & Travel, in Mumbai, India. When he has free time, Joseph is climbing mountains, cycling across countries and running half, full and ultra marathons to raise funds for various causes.

“I’m really excited to take of the role of IBD team lead as it represents a great opportunity to take my experience leading teams across the social impact spear in India and apply those skills to new cultures and industries. To me, IBD represents a unique opportunity to take what I’m learning here in the classroom and apply it to create positive change with our program partners.” – Joseph Bird


Joshua Summer, MBA Candidate ’20

Josh joins Haas as U.S. Army Veteran, where he was Captain and served all over the world, specifically in Afghanistan and South Korea.  Like Jennifer, he has received many honors and awards for his service. Josh is also a Service to School ambassador and mentors veterans applying to graduate programs.  Josh speaks conversational German.

Joshua Summer

Joshua Summer

“I applied to be a Team Lead to challenge myself in a global setting. Knowing that business is increasingly global, I was excited at the opportunity to step outside of the classroom and gain first-hand experience working with international clients. Also, as a veteran, I have a lot of experience with formal leadership.  With IBD, I am excited to practice more informal leadership with classmates from diverse backgrounds. Finally, IBD will provide an invaluable opportunity for me to learn about and practice consulting, managing clients, and working remotely. I am excited to not just develop personally but to make Haas proud by leading a team to solve an important business problem for an organization in need.” – Josh

Julian Florez, MBA Candidate ’20

Julian has spent his career working as a consultant for StratCo Consultores S.A. located in Bogata, Colombia.  StratCo is a spinoff of McKinsey by two partners who started McKinsey’s Colombian operation.  Julian focus is in the financial sector. As a student at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá,  Julian went abroad as an exchange student in both Portugal and France.

Julian Florez in Chicago

Julian Florez in Chicago

“Being part of IBD was one of my goals while being at Haas. I wanted to be exposed to work with people from different backgrounds, build a relationship with an international client and get to know a different culture in a work environment. This is why I did not doubt when I had the opportunity to apply to be a Team Lead. I am sure we are going to build a close-knit working environment and that we are going to learn from each other past experiences, which will help us do a great job for our client!” – Julian


Katharine Hawthorne

Katharine Hawthorne

Katharine Hawthorne, MBA Candidate ’20

Until last December 2017, Katharine was a professional dancer and founder of Katharine Hawthorne Dance.  Concurrently, she worked at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, as a senior contract manager.  Jennifer speaks conversational Mandarin and French.

“I value creativity and collaboration, and working in a global business context requires these skills in spades.  As an IBD team lead, I am excited to facilitate a group of my peers, question my own cultural assumptions, and make a meaningful contribution to an organization.” – Katharine


Kyle Rolnick

Kyle Rolnick

Kyle Rolnick, MBA Candidate ’20

Prior to attending Haas and working for Epic Systems, a medical records software company, Kyle lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  For three years he taught ESL and created English language courses for students preparing them for a public service exam. He left Rio a Brazilian music lover and karaoke enthusiast.  

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I’m excited about the IBD program and wanted to lead a team of very talented students to make a positive impact on an international organization. I love hands-on learning and see this opportunity as a great way to help leverage everyone’s existing skills while building on them by tackling unique problems in unique cross-cultural settings. I have high expectations for our experience and want everyone to walk away from it not only proud of the work we did, but also proud of their personal growth through it.” – Kyle

Nicholas Matcheck

Nicholas Matcheck


Nicholas Matcheck, MBA Candidate ’20

After departing the Navy in 2016, Nick went on a language learning sabbatical in Latin America and Spain.  He then became an Economic Development Specialist/NGO Advisor in the Peace Corps in Capiibary, Paraguay.  Before coming to Haas, Nick earned his Certificate in Project Management from University of California, Los Angeles.

“I love working with great people on important projects and I know IBD at Haas will be that kind of experience. Working overseas will be even more exciting. I can’t wait to find out my project and team and get started!” – Nick


Nina Ho

Nina Ho

Nina Ho, MBA Candidate ’20

Nina spent the last year before coming to Haas as a senior consultant at Clerestory Consulting, a boutique consulting firm specializing in change management, technology adoption, and process improvement. Nina has numerous certifications; including Project Management Professional (PMP), Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and HCI Talent Acquisition Specialist.

“There are two things I am hoping to get out IBD.  First, I want to make a lasting impact; as a lead, I see my role as a facilitator, ensuring that both my team can thrive and our client feels supported.  Secondly, I am excited to travel and experience a new culture. Much of my personal learning has come from spending time with people who have lived very differently than I have.” – Nina


Perrie Briskin – MBA/MPH Candidate ’20

Perrie Briskin

Perrie Briskin

Prior to Haas, Perrie worked for Population Services International (PSI) in Washington and Yangon, Myanmar.  Her super fun job was as an Associate Producer working in New York with clients like The Notorious B.I.G. Estate, Wiffle Ball, and Kobayashi, ESPN, Kellogg’s, and the Billie Jean King’s Foundation.

Working internationally prior to Haas was one of the most formative experiences of my life. I applied to be an IBD Team Lead for the opportunity to guide my peers in an experience that I hope will be just as meaningful.” – Perrie


Roland Ekop

Roland Ekop

Roland Ekop, MBA Candidate ’20

Roland has spent the majority of his career as Management Consulting Senior Analyst for Accenture in Nigeria.  Roland is a dedicated volunteer and has offered his services pro bono for nonprofit organizations through the Accenture Corporate Citizenship Volunteer program and to the Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG) Nigeria.  

Beyond my interests in consulting projects, I applied for a Team Lead role because I wanted to work at the heart of a project – at the intersection of the interests of the client, the project and team members. In addition, leading a team of MBA classmates, providing and receiving feedback, and working towards a common project goal is certainly the prototypical experiential learning opportunity.” – Roland


Stephen Collins, MBA Candidate ’20

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen career has been at Prophet, a management consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. As a senior associate, Stephen worked on multiple consulting projects both in Atlanta and around the globe.  He also volunteered his time and expertise for the non-profit arm of Prophet and led the Atlanta office team in organizing service days and pro bono projects.  

I can’t wait to get to know my client and immerse myself fully in their industry, customer base, and challenges. Working with a new team, in a new industry, in a new geography is always a thrill and I can’t wait to see what IBD has in store for me!” – Stephen


Our newest Team Leads will start their IBD journey in January 2019, on the first day of spring semester at the “Big Reveal” IBD class.  Until then, they will have to wait patiently until they find out more about their IBD project, their project client, and where they will travel for their in-country project destinations.  Stay tuned for more on the IBD student Team Leads and their projects.