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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IBD Blog Post – Citibanamex

Written by Shaun Hundle, MBA ’19

Upon arriving in Mexico City, we knew we had big shoes to fill and a reputation to uphold as the third Haas team that has worked with Citibanamex. We were tasked with determining how we could make the online user experience easier for Citibanamex’s potential credit card customers. It sounded like a simple task on first read but we would quickly realize that the project had many stakeholders and puzzle pieces.

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Mexico City itself is a sprawling metropolis with long traffic delays, particularly during rush hour in the rainy summer season. Luckily, we stayed at a hotel relatively close to Citibanamex’s HQ, and those of us who were brave enough to cross the busy roads on foot even walked to the office every day.

Working hours in Mexico City are quite long. Employees are usually at their office from 9AM to 7PM, but that includes a longer lunch break that can be up to two hours. We were fortunate enough to have our client join us for a couple lunches, so we got a good sense for what the typical elaborate Mexican working lunch is like.

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During our first week at our client site, we were surprised by how complex the HQ operations were, being spread across three different buildings and multiple cross functional teams working on the same assignments and issues. Although intimidating at first, we quickly realized that everyone who had a stake in the project was very interested in speaking with us and saw the problem in their own unique perspective. This made our job as neutral fact finders even more interesting and layered.

We also developed a great relationship with our client sponsor. We were able to check in with him frequently enough in order to manage expectations and get his early buy-in on the project direction and, eventually, conclusions. This allowed for a great final report, where we were able to provide some great insights to all the project stakeholders without any major surprises. Long hours of client interviews, data analysis, research paper reviews, internal brainstorming and slide writing paid off with a successful client presentation.

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When we reached Mexico, we had known each other for about a month while we worked at Haas to prepare for the project at Citibanamex. The familiarity grew into friendship during the two weeks spent in Mexico City. We learned about each other’s quirks, understood everyone’s preferences and limitations, we even had our own inside jokes. Most importantly, we learned to contribute to the team goal by bringing our individual unique strengths. At first, we diverged – each of us focusing on the problem from different angles – and then we converged – combining all the findings into a cohesive and constructive recommendation for the client.

During our time off, we were able to eat tacos al pastor from many different taquerias, as well as eat at some of finest restaurants in the world, like Pujol. Getting to visit the Pyramids at Teotihuacan and ride our bikes alongside a main boulevard in Mexico City were also some great highlights from our time in Mexico City. All of us agreed that Mexico City feels like a hidden gem – so close to us in the U.S. with lots to offer and see, and yet it feels like you’re worlds away from home when you’re actually there. We’re all eager to visit again!

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One Day in Piri – YGA

Written by Clara Jiang, MBA ’19

Our IBD team project is to help Piri, a mobile audio tour company in Turkey, to explore virtual reality tour. I’m lucky to be in a diversified team and get the chance to explore the highly promising VR technology and experience the unique culture and life in Turkey and in Piri.

A day usually starts in the campus of Ozyegin University, where we have been living over the past 3 weeks. A packed schedule is waiting for us today, we are about to attend the Piri executive meeting in the morning, prepare our presentation for Piri team, meet with Mr. Faruk Eczacibasi, one of Piri’s early investors in the afternoon, and discuss feedback from Piri team about our presentation.

Piri executive meeting

The executive meeting is set at 8:30am in Piri’s Magnet office in the European side. To avoid morning traffic, we gathered at the uber pick-up spot and headed to the European side at 6:30am. Though we have been taking the same route almost every day over the past three weeks, I’m never tired of the gorgeous morning view of Istanbul with a perfect balance of historical heritage and modern skyscrapers. After roughly a hour of drive, we arrived at the breakfast place recommended by Sezin nearby Piri’s office. Nothing can start a day better than a refreshing Turkish breakfast with freshly fried eggs and juicy cheese with honey.

Arriving at Magnet office, most of the Piri team are already there. The executive meeting start at 8:30am punctually. When talking about executive meeting, first things come into mind are usually numbers, deadlines, targets etc. However, Piri’s executive meeting is absolutely different. As a start-up under YGA group, Piri shares the high-trust and people-oriented culture of YGA and carries the mission of developing selfless leaders. The executive meeting is more about sharing the personal feeling and growth with the team to cultivate and reinforce the high-trust culture. Today’s meeting started with reflection on Ephesus tour over the weekend where Piri team, especially Cemre, did an amazing job in helping us exploring historical heritage of Ephesus while experiencing Piri application. Only by immersing ourselves in the ruins could we appreciate the value-add by providing reconstruction of the historical site through VR tour. It is also inspiring to hear from Cemre about her experience to overcome the challenges and pressures to lead such a smooth and perfect trip.

ClaraPiri1

Self-study time

After the executive meeting, it’s self-study time for us to work on Piri VR project. After months of research, exploration, discussion, argument and cooperation, we are finally at a point to put together everything and get ready for the showtime tomorrow, the final presentation to Piri’s board of investors and executive team. Our main target today is to have a final check on the content and run through the presentation with Tulin and Sezin for their feedback before the presentation tomorrow.

Meeting with Mr. Farek

Time flies and it was already 2:30pm before we realized and we head off to Farek’s office. Before heading into the office, we gathered at the coffee shop with three highly talented YGA high school students to share our research on Mr. Farek’s thoughts and questions prepared. We have been familiar with YGA’s approach of “Be prepared, be present and be peaceful”. Before all important meetings, we’ll start with a preparation session of around 1 hour to discuss about key questions we would bring up during the meeting. After each meeting, the team will also have an immediate debriefing session to share take-away from the meeting and provide appreciation or constructive feedback to each other. As CEO of the largest Turkish industrial group, Mr. Farek is a very insightful leader in the transformation of technology. We were inspired by his thoughts on applying VR for exotic travel destinations. His support and openness to disruptive innovation resonate with one defining principle of Berkeley-‘Challenging the status quo’.

ClaraPiri2

After debriefing about the meeting, it was already 7pm and we started dinner meeting with Tulin and Sezin about the final presentation tomorrow. We were impressed by the detailed and in-depth feedback they provided to make the content better align with YGA’s culture and more customized for the investment board by adding more about our personal journey and reflection. The meeting last till 9pm which help us to avoid the evening traffic back to the dorm. Everyone was excited about meeting the investment jury and delivering the final presentation tomorrow.

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A Day in the Life of an RDoer- Team Resultados Digitais

From Emily Atwood, Thomas de Lyon, Connie Leung, Zack Looman, and Billy Phillips, working with Resultados Digitais – Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.

For our IBD project we traveled to Florianópolis, an island in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, to work with the digital marketing startup Resultados Digitais (“RD”) on their education business unit, RD University. Floripa is nicknamed “Silicon Island” and so a natural partner for us as Bay Area MBAs. RD is a fast-paced work environment full of young people and we quickly felt at home.

RDO1

Our routine:

Our days always start with breakfast at our hotel, a spread of cakes, pastries, fruits, juices and coffee. We live in a convention center hotel in the neighborhood of Itacorubi, about a 5-minute drive from the RD office, which is next to a mall. We are Uber’s best customers, using them to get everywhere on the island. Our first weekend we went to Rio, so we were very glad that last weekend we got to stay and explore Floripa in the light of day. Although Brazil has undergone a gas shortage due to a trucker’s protest, we have had no trouble with transportation thanks to ride sharing apps.

At the office we’re on the 5th floor in the New Leads on the Block conference room. All the rooms have digital marketing and music-related pun names – my favorites are Frank SaaSnatra and Ricky Marketing. The office is constantly expanding (they are literally adding floors as I write), and there’s lots of room for breakout meetings or to get a change of scenery. We have freedom to meet wherever we’d like, or to take calls on zoom, which we do for people in São Paulo or elsewhere.

Hands down our favorite thing about the office – beyond the RDoers, of course – is cake day, which happens every Thursday at 3pm. Yes, we have an alarm set so we don’t miss it. Nothing beats going to the kitchen and getting six different kinds of cake.

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The work day:

Our first week was all about getting as much information as possible, it was like a firehose. Our project is the benchmarking phase of a larger project that RD is working on, so they are very interested in making sure we get as many perspectives as possible. We’ve interviewed dozens of RDoers, marketing agency partners, and end customers. We’re learning a lot about tech startups, education, and Brazil, and even found ourselves talking about internal and external fit and realize that Ned really did get through to us in our Strategy class.

We feel especially challenged that our final presentation will be to the entire company of RDoers—we want to be sure that our work is clear and that everyone understands how it might impact them. This democratic approach is the norm; the executive team often involves the entire company with what is happening. We have daily check-ins with Caique and Paty, our main contacts, and a midway-point check-in with Eric, the CEO, and want to make sure the whole company is on board with what we are working on.

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The food:

Food has been very important to us. If we don’t have much time for lunch, we go next door to the mall food court, which we estimate to be upwards of 80% RDoers at lunch time. Otherwise, we go to a churrasqueira (Brazilian barbeque place) nearby, or for sushi.

Floripa is known for its seafood, so after work we try to get out to try different restaurants on the island for some bolinho de bacalão (codfish fritters) or pastel de camarão (shrimp pastry). We challenge Billy to eat steak at least once a day, and he largely succeeds. The restaurants are great, but our favorite meal has been a feijoada (traditional black bean and pork stew) at our RDoer friend Michelly’s house, complete with the whole RDU team.

We will miss the RDoers:

Far and away the best part of our time at RD have been the RDoers, who have been open, professional and kind. We have learned a lot from them and will miss them back in Berkeley!

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IBD Team 51job

Written by Andrew Efstathiou, Johna Seo, Vir Choksi and Liz Jung

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Early in the morning, rising to my feet, I open my bedroom curtains to the cacophony of the city and the bustling freeway outside of our window, cutting through Shanghai like a knife through tofu. Today is another day where we need to suit up and head to a large, multinational firm to interview them on their international recruitment strategy. Our client, 51job, is one of the largest recruitment firms in the Middle Kingdom and has come a long way since its inception at the turn of the century. With over 5,500 employees and offices throughout first, second, and third-tier cities in China, 51job is leading the way in helping China’s youth obtain work. With an economy growing at a rapid clip, more and more students that study overseas are looking to return home to start a life and a career. Our assignment at this crucial inflection point for overseas returnees, or “sea turtles” as they are known in the local parlance, is to help our client figure out how to best serve these students.

Office visit to Bloomberg

The office visit to Bloomberg

Today we head downtown to speak with a recruiter at Bloomberg, a large, global financial services firm. The room where we are conducting our interview is filled with Bloomberg terminals and overlooks the Bund, which contains a large radio tower that rests amongst scores of recently constructed skyscrapers, emphasizing the breakneck pace of development that the People’s Republic is experiencing. Our research with various companies, students, and university employees has surprised all of us in realizing the gaping disconnect between demand for jobs from Chinese students abroad and companies with active foreign recruitment channels. After our interview, we head back to the office to assemble notes, debrief, and synthesize our findings.

Bullet train to Hangzhou

Bullet train to Hangzhou

For lunch, we embark on a walk to the local mall that houses an array of local and international food options. Yesterday we sampled a dim sum offering with buckwheat noodles and delicate cuts of chicken. Today we need to eat in a hurry to head back to the office for more research, so we grab a quick bite at Joe’s Pizza, a classic New York pizza establishment that sits aside the local mall. In the afternoon, we must call around ten students and alumni from universities in five different countries. Our room is populated with phones, coffee cups, and computers; after a few hours, we close out our marathon session of phone calls. In addition to research pertinent to our assignment, throughout the process, we have also learned a lot about Chinese traditions, customers, and business practices. During the previous weekend we took a bullet train to Hangzhou, a beautiful old city west of Shanghai that contains a lake surrounded by trees. Escaping the city has allowed us to imbibe the authentic culture and lifestyle of a different part of China. From our first night meeting with our main client contact to our daily interactions with the co-inhabitants of our building, the experience has helped us to step back and become lost in a truly transformational experience that cannot be replicated in any classroom.

Morning of the final presentation

Morning of the final presentation

Around 6pm we depart our client’s office to grab a taste of a different Chinese cuisine, this night being a vegetarian Taiwanese option near the ornate Jing’an Temple. The nebulous cloud of lights, smells, and chatter envelops us as we navigate our way to the restaurant. The food is covered in a generous helping of spices, pepper, and oil. With our food, we must order cold drinks or else we will receive a tepid cup of tea. We reach into our pockets for renminbi, the Chinese currency, to pay, as very few establishments accept credit cards. China has leapfrogged the US in digital payments, and most Shanghai denizens solely pay for everyday objects with WeChat, an extremely popular, all-in-one mobile application created by Tencent. The last stop of the night is a nearby bar popular with locals to wind down from the day and bond as a team. As we step out into the cooling evening air, we see a blue tint emanating from the overpass that greets us every morning as we rise, coming full circle as we rest to meet another day.

 

Haas IBD Blog – Citibanamex

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

The view from our apartment at dawn

The view from our apartment at dawn

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

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

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

 6:00 am – 9:00 am

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

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

Team picture on the way to the office

Team picture on the way to the office

Our commute!

Our commute!

9:00 am – 1:00 pm

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

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

Waiting to be allowed back inside after the earthquake evacuation.

Waiting to be allowed back inside after the earthquake evacuation.

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

Michelle and Kira going through the office doors

Michelle and Kira going through the office doors

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

 

1:00 pm  – 2:30pm

The Ideation Workshop in action

The Ideation Workshop in action

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

Michelle and Neeraj digging into the street food!

Michelle and Neeraj digging into the street food!

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

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

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

Jack taking us through a Hypothesis Tree

Jack taking us through a Hypothesis Tree

4:00 pm – 4:15 pm

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

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

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

4:15 pm. – 6:00pm

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

Team picture in the contact center

Team picture in the contact center

After 6:00 pm  

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

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

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

Here are a few more highlights!