All Around the World; IBD Teams In-Country

Written by:  Danner Doud-Martin, Assistant Director, Operations for the IBD Program

When I introduced myself to the Full-Time MBAs on their first day of class for the Spring IBD program, I told them I wanted to either be the sixth member of their team or be stowed in their suitcases.  There wasn’t a team I didn’t want to join as all 16 were going to work with great clients, on impactful projects, and in amazing destinations.  Now that our IBD students are scattered all over the world and sending photos and updates from their first weeks in-country, I am of course envious, but also proud to be a part of a program like IBD.  I am living vicariously through our Haas students as they have experiences that perhaps will change their lives, or at least make these next three weeks incredibly exciting.   

Team YGA having breakfast on Bosphorus river

Team YGA having breakfast on Bosphorus river

Teams tell us that they have been welcomed by their clients and the other members of the organizations with warmth, appreciation, and support.  They have enjoyed delicious local cuisine, been invited to people’s homes and seen the local sites.  They have toured crane factories, hospitals, warehouses, and flower markets.  Teams have scrubbed up and witnessed eye surgeries in Peru, been included in their client’s internal pitch meetings in Shanghai, and invited to lunch by the Prime Minister of Uganda.  They have been featured on local Turkish television and have conducted 3-hour design workshops for university students in Uganda.   

Team Seva before going into to witness a surgery in Peru

Team Seva before going into to witness a surgery in Peru

Importantly, they have learned more about their client’s needs: “One interesting thing that we have realised in our first 2 days is how much more we know of the business and the internal politics behind our client by just being here; which is something not very clear when you are sitting that far away,” shared one Team Lead.  There is an opportunity now to “fill in our gaps in knowledge through the interviews, market visits, and retail store visits we have scheduled over the next several weeks. We look forward to the rest of the trip!” shared the Agripacific Team.  IBD Teams also feel more connection to the client’s objective and how important the project outcome is to their client.   “It is most exciting to be on the ground here and feel the immensity and importance of the work that our client does,”  shared Blakey Larson, IBD Team Lead for Civil Right Defenders.  IBD teams also see where and how they can add value.  Team Lead, Harsh Thusu said of his project, “we are most excited about helping the accelerator in this interesting journey as they are at a crucial stage of their operations and our recommendations could bring great value to them to tap into the US market with a sustainable business model.”

Team ElectroMech Team ElectroMech with crane

Team ElectroMech

On their first day in-country, IBD Teams gave a day-of-arrival presentation, updating their clients on their findings to date and outlining their 3-week work plan leading up to their final presentations.  Teams felt good about their presentations and expressed how “engaged their clients were.”  They appreciated the collaboration, feedback, and lively discussions.  Carolyn Chuong, Team Lead for Team Makerere said that their clients were “very enthusiastic and also helped us refine our Theory of Change for the Center and think through private sector needs.”

Client’s have already shared accolades about their Haas IBD team members.  Khamisi Masanje, from Makerere University, said:

“This team is exceptional. They are very innovative, articulate, friendly and professional. The team has the right blend of skills because everyone is so good at what he or she does while at the same time, everyone is working as a team. The testimony from our Makerere students, who attended today’s design workshop led by the IBD Team, were so amusing.  I like the natural blend they are having with our students, staff and the general population of Makerere.  We shall surely miss our Haas students when they leave”.

YGA’s Sezin AYDIN said of Team Lead Chelsea Harris’s performance at their press conference, “Chelsea has done a great job, you

Team Ananda

can see how clearly she conveyed her messages, in a calm yet positively energizing way.  We are very happy that we had a chance to offer this kind of experience to our team and very glad that we represented YGA & Berkeley and the mission we serve together in science center project the most beautiful way possible”.

My favorite compliment was from Makerere’s Charles Baguma who said, “I think we got a high-flying team from Berkeley”.  In my opinion, Mr. Baguma’s comment resonates with me because Team Makerere and all of the other 15 Full-Time IBD teams are exceptional.  Based on their photos and comments, all the teams feel they are flying high right now.  Is it because of the incredible opportunity to work internationally on a consulting project? Is it because of the impact that our students are making on the company and the region or the bonds that are being formed between team members as they share this incredible journey? Is it the beautiful places they are visiting and the culture that they are experiencing? It is all of the above and more!  

You can enjoy their adventures by friending us on Facebook at bit.ly/facebookibd.  Each week we will post a blog written by each IBD team highlighting their experiences, and our first one written by Team Makerere can be found here.   You can also subscribe to our blog by going to bit.ly/ibdblog.

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IBD Teams United – The 2017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal”

017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal” Day

Finally, the wait is over!

The Spring 2017 IBD program Team Leads, faculty, and staff don’t have to stay quiet any longer.  The IBD “Big Reveal” event took place on March 2nd when each Team Lead welcomed their respective Team Members with a short two-minute video on their client, their industry, and their overview on what the team has been tasked to solve.  Team Leads also included information about their project destination and what they might experience while living and working for three weeks in-country.  Finally, Team Leads presented their four new Team Members with a small gift that represented something about their project country or client.

Said one Team Member of the experience, “The IBD reveal day was a lot of fun. (Team) Leads did a great job staying silent until the day of so it remained a mystery, which I loved. The videos were hilarious and all of the gifts were so thoughtful.”

Team Tekes has hugs all around

Clapping, hugs and handshakes were exchanged after each IBD team was revealed.  

Another incoming IBD Team Member commented that “I loved seeing all of the fun videos and learning about all of the projects!  The local country specific gifts for team members made the reveal especially tailored and fun.  I was so excited to find out that I’d be spending my summer in Thailand, with a great group of people, working in a new industry.  It is sure to be a fun experience and I look forward to being challenged personally and professionally along the way.”

Team ARM meeting for the first time

Once the IBD project “Big Reveal” was concluded, it was time to get the newly formed groups working on a team building exercise called the Viking Attack – a longstanding IBD tradition.   Building successful team dynamics is one of the main goals of the IBD course; IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube often describes IBD as “teamwork on steroids.”  Although there are many courses at Berkeley-Haas in which MBA students work in teams, there isn’t one quite like IBD in which students end up spending three weeks together outside the US working on a consulting engagement.  As Kristi Raube put it, “we really emphasize teamwork, as students will need to rely on each other in-country.  International work is all about being flexible and being able to handle unpredictable and difficult situations.”  

YGA Team Lead giving her new Team Members yummy baklava

Over the next seven weeks leading up to the departure to their respective project countries, IBD teams will work to gather more insights from their clients, conduct extensive research, and tackle the problems they have been tasked to solve.  At the same time, Kristi Raube and the IBD Faculty Mentors will work with the students on IBD course goals like developing consulting skills and techniques, communication and storytelling skills, and understanding cultural dynamics.   As Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain observed at this point in the course, “My teams are excited, revved up, and they know what they are doing.”  

Team G-Hub

Tune in next month when we check back with the IBD teams on their progress, and we learn how ready they are to head out on their international adventures.  

To see all the photos from the Spring 2017 IBD Program “Big Reveal”, click here.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByYfWhxK5s7RUzJQX1BULU11VFk

Team ElectroMech

 

Updates from IBD Beijing

 

EWMBA students Tiffany Barbour, Ketaki Gangal, Benjamin Kim, and Jaimin Patel are currently in Beijing, China, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project with CreditEase. EWMBA student Leanne Chu is managing the offshore project operations in Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA.

Our Project

Our mission was to help CreditEase understand the Wealth Management (WM) industry in the U.S., and develop an implementable strategic framework recommendation for offshore investment by CreditEase target customers using U.S.-based investment vehicles. After six weeks of intense research and interviews with industry experts in the U.S., we were ecstatic to finally be in Beijing!

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A Day In The Life…

We started each morning with a call to sync up the Beijing and US teams, discuss the learning and findings from the previous day, as well as plan our next steps. Work life in the Beijing office was very similar to the U.S., except the workday typically started around 9:30a. Once the office doors opened, though, it was off to the races with product team meetings and client conference calls scheduled throughout the day and usually in different buildings across the city. No need to go to the gym… these walks definitely kept us fit.

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Team interviews with various product team leads and current WM customers.

Meeting with the product teams and current customers for an hour at a time was so illuminating. Every conversation seemed to double our learning, which helped us generate new insights and even better ideas for the market entry strategy.

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Team photo in our cubicles.

Between meetings, we would spend time at our cubicles debriefing the previous meeting, formulating new ideas, and connecting with our nearby neighbors from the Corporate Strategy team.

The Country and Culture

Even though the project kept us continually busy, we managed to find time to take in the sights, learn the history of China, and of course enjoy the delicious cuisine.

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Jaimin and Ben at the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.

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Team photo in front of entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Delicious lunch spread in a local restaurant.

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We also took some time to enjoy a traditional tea ceremony…

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… and then learned how silk is made.

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Team photo with our hosts: Bing, Kelly, and Meichen.

Our overall goal was to wow the client, and we did just that! The senior management in attendance for the final presentation were highly engaged, asked lots of questions, were genuinely impressed by our ideas. If you had asked any of us about Wealth Management, Fintech, or CreditEase two months ago, there would have been a number of blank stares. Now, we feel like experts in training and are eagerly awaiting the day when we can invest with CreditEase in the U.S.!

Updates from IBD Cambodia – Team Samai

FTMBA students Jenelle Harris, Bruno Vargas, Neha Kumar, Charlie Reisenberg and Marcelo Kabbach spent their Summer IBD project working with Samai Rum Distillery in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Cambodia’s First Rum Distillery

Our team of five was assigned to consult for Samai Rum Distillery, located in Phnom Penh. Founded by Daniel Pacheco and Antonio Lopez de Haro in 2014, Samai is Cambodia’s first and only distillery. Samai relies solely on products grown in Cambodia, including sugar cane molasses from the Cambodia countryside. As a growing enterprise, Samai looked to us to help strengthen their internal operations (finance, accounting, and inventory management) as well as refine their marketing and expansion plans to ensure steady sustainable growth.

A Day in the Life of the Cambodia IBD Team

Thursday, May 19, 2016

After spending the week getting caught up to speed on the inner workings of Phnom Penh’s food and beverage scene, our team was eager to get our hands dirty in a liquor masterclass, taught by Master Mixologist, Paul Mathews. For two hours we learned about the flavorful blends of various grades of gins and tricks for how best to combine them with complementing tonics and garnishes, such as cinnamon, cucumber, and lime. In attendance were many Phnom Penh restaurant owners, bartenders and other local expat movers and shakers including a mezcalier – one of only thirty in the world.

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Team Samai at the gin masterclass hosted by Samai’s primary international distributor, La Familia, at their retail store, La Casita.

Following the gin masterclass, the crew headed back to Samai to experience their first Samai Rum night. Every week the Samai Distillery opens its doors to the public so that new and devoted Samai customers can enjoy hand-crafted cocktail beverages prepared by Samai’s internal team of bartenders. The most popular cocktail on the menu is the infamous 21 Points, cheekily named by co-owner Antonio. (A while back local bartenders were challenged to create Samai cocktails to be ranked out of 20 points. This drink scored 21.) 21 Points features the Samai Dark Rum, cola, lime, bitters, and fresh sugarcane. We can attest that it is as delicious as it sounds! We spent our evening interviewing customers, bartenders, expats and locals to gain deeper insight into their perspective of Samai and the overall beverage scene in SE Asia. These insights were an invaluable contribution to our formulation of marketing and expansion strategies.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

The next morning we met with the founders to present our initial findings. Given that Samai is a growing start up, our scope had fluctuated quite a bit over the past few weeks as we learned more about their business needs. In week 1 the team presented a new inventory tracking tool, content and reformatting recommendations for their in-progress website, an updated financial model, an expansion forecasting tool and initial research into new bars that Samai should consider supplying to in the coming fiscal years. All of these tools will enable Samai to approach growing (particularly internationally) very strategically and thoughtfully, taking into consideration the relevant financial, sales and production constraints. They will also be able rely on a strong marketing framework so that their story is communicated to the world in a consistent and meaningful way. Needless to say, it was a productive first week!

After meeting with the founders for two hours and getting their feedback on our submissions and next steps, we prepared for a weekend trip to Singapore. Given that Singapore is on top of the list for Samai’s expansion, we decided as a team to travel there to visit our target bar/restaurant list in person to provide them with more pointed expansion recommendations. We focused our itinerary on the Singaporean venues featured on the infamous World’s 50 Best Bars.

Update from IBD Team Seva

Seva-HV Desai IBD Team – Clare Schroder, Laura Stewart, Lizzie Faust, Rene Castro, Santiago Marchiori.

Altruism. It is the defining characteristic of those we have met here in India working for the HV Desai Eye Hospital (HVD). Two months ago the Seva-HVD Haas IBD team came together in pursuit of financial sustainability for the non-profit eye hospital. HVD aims to prevent needless blindness regardless of one’s ability to pay, and they do so through subsidizing those unable to pay with the profits from those able to pay, as well as donations. In India, this model is not unique to HVD, yet it is far less common in our own countries of Argentina, Chile, and the U.S. HVD’s tireless dedication to this work is evident in the significant time they have spent supporting our work here in India. Their goodness comes through in their hospitality, ensuring our own comfort and enjoyment of the city. A hospital board member even welcomed us to his chocolate factory on Sunday, where we indulged in chocolate, organic foods, ice cream, a hike, a temple visit, and a local village wedding.

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The groom, a family member, and the bride

At the wedding, we quickly came to realize this was the marriage between poorer members of society, the people HVD seeks to help. And while we were unprepared for the wedding and had nothing to offer, the bride’s family gifted each of us with a coconut.

Overwhelming altruism isn’t the only new experience we’ve had in India. We’ve tried unfamiliar foods (our stomachs regretting only a small percentage), learned burping in public is socially acceptable, and seen eyeballs in the eye bank.

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Col. Deshpande showing us a cornea in the eye bank

We have also experienced the famous (or infamous?) Indian head shake/nod/wiggle. We had heard from our pre-departure cultural interviews that the quirky motion indicates agreement, meaning yes or please continue, so during our day of arrival presentation we felt prepared when the head shakes began.

We quickly took a nose-dive though, as the head shake changed to an inexplicably clear “no” head motion. How did we get the number of people blind in India wrong? Was our average cost of surgery that off? As each of us presented, we panicked in the same way, over explaining the more vigorously they shook their heads “no.” Our cultural interviews hadn’t prepared us for this – thanks Arun.

We progressed into our first week still uncertain about the head shaking, but happy to be in country, seeing the hospital we had heard so much about. We worked alongside doctors to brainstorm patient experience improvements, visited competing hospitals, and conducted over 20 patient interviews.

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 Laura, Clare, and Santi doing some PFPS-style brainstorming with 7 residents

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Santi interviewing a patient

During those interviews, we began with, “How was your experience at HV Desai?” Head shake.

“Your experience has been ‘yes’? Could you elaborate on that?” It was after this interview, a few days in, that we mustered the courage to ask why people so often vehemently disagreed with us with their head shake while affirming yes verbally. We learned any head motion is a sign of agreement and we felt much better about our first week.

The patients have confirmed that HV Desai has incredible eyecare quality, value for money, the most advanced technology, and the most experienced doctors. We rarely heard about their altruism or their charity playing an important role in the eyecare provider selection process for the paying patients, the patients we need to attract more of to achieve financial sustainability. This finding is one we’ve seen not only in patient interviews, but also through industry research. Moreover, patient surveys and Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) data analysis have revealed the importance of amenities and eye lens differences. Again, not charity.

Here we are, five business students in India telling a nonprofit hospital to change their branding for the paying segment from a focus on charity to a focus on quality and affordability.

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Santi, Lizzie, Clare, Rene, and Laura being tourists, led by Outreach Coordinator Pravine

Unlike the staff and management, the altruism is not our target segment’s main motivator for eyecare. Our job now is to convince leadership that in addition to a shift in branding, building upon and reinforcing the most important needs of the paying patient – specific amenities, price transparency, shorter wait times, eyecare excellence – will create financial sustainability. Growing profits is not just for corporations, but also for a nonprofit hospital that can now provide even more free surgeries to those unable to pay.

 

Exploring Automotive Markets in India

FTMBA students Thomas Jacobson, Irene Liang, Justin Simpson, Elmer Villanueva, and Marshall Witkowski are currently in Bangalore, India, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project.

I looked left, saw open road, and took a bold first step across the street. A horn sounded and three motorbikes whizzed by, just several feet in front of me. Having forgotten again that traffic comes from the right, I stepped back to the curb defeated. Elmer, as usual, had fearlessly crossed ahead. With a new break in traffic, I darted into the road. I’d nearly made it to the median when I had to dodge one last tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) that appeared out of nowhere!

Safely on the median now, I contemplated the next half of my journey. I waited patiently for several minutes. Discouraged by the never-ending traffic, I decided to try crossing like the locals: walk slowly and deliberately one step at a time and just pray that the traffic doesn’t hit me. After a terrifying 30 seconds and amidst a cacophony of car horns and my own adrenaline-filled heart beating out of my chest, I finally reached the far side and raised my fist in triumph at my successful road crossing! I turned around to celebrate with my teammates, only to sadden at the sight of them still on the other side. They hadn’t made the journey with me. I had to wait several more minutes as they crossed one-by-one, each person utilizing a different strategy to get across.

India Mysore Thomas & Marshall Cross Street

Our Project

Having now been in country for ten days, our IBD group has been hard at work on our client project. From the moment we touched down, our client has been extremely hospitable. They’ve provided us all the resources we need to succeed and we’ve truly enjoyed the experience. All of the top executives have made themselves available to us and everyone we’ve met is eager to meet us and help in any way.

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Last week, we also travelled to Mysore to tour the manufacturing facilities of our client. We spent several days learning about their processes and how their products are currently made. They held nothing back, showing us everything from start to finish. We gained great insights from the trip and it really helped to solidify our understanding of their capabilities and shape our thinking for our own product recommendation.

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This past Monday, we were able to visit the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development India office. It’s a large complex of about 4,500 employees and they shared with us all about their engineering work. When Mercedes-Benz first brought their cars to the Indian market, they uncovered some interesting insights about the local market. Their car horns are typically designed for 10,000 uses, which should last the life of the car. But here in India, horns are used much more often and customers were complaining that their horns were dying within just several months! Mercedes-Benz had to install a new car horn designed for one million uses.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit a prominent local startup that’s developing its own electric scooter. This visit was made possible through one of our Haas classmates, proving already how valuable our new networks can be! We were excited to learn about their growing business and they were excited to hear about life in Silicon Valley.

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We’re looking forward to the final week of our stay and the culmination of our project. Our final recommendation will be delivered to the client before we leave, and we sincerely hope that they will find it useful.

The Country and Culture

We’ve gotten a thorough taste of Bangalore during our time here. The food, mostly vegetarian, has been delicious. My personal favorite dish has been the breakfast dosa, which is similar to a pancake and is served folded over a mix of spiced vegetables. Others in the group have really taken to puri (pictured below), which is a deep-fried bread that rises and fills with air before being served.

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Last week, while in Mysore, we took a short break from work to visit the Mysore Palace. It’s a former residence of the royal family and a beautiful complex only about a century old.

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After our hard first week of work, we spent the weekend near to the village of Masinagudi, deep within the jungles of Bandipur National Park, also known as the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. The weekend was largely used to relax and rejuvenate, and we took the opportunity to go on a jungle safari. We saw many deer and monkeys, a variety of birds, wild boars, a couple wild elephants, one mongoose, and the prized sightings of a couple large bison and two wild leopards! I loved how freely the animals were able to roam and, in fact, a couple wild elephants went on a nighttime adventure while we were there and caused quite some damage in a nearby village.

After all of our travel in the first week, we plan to stay in Bangalore for the second (upcoming) weekend and explore the city more. We’re having a great trip and really enjoying our IBD experience!

Updates from IBD Philippines – Team We Care Solar

IBD Spring 2015 team We Care Solar (Sherry Chen, Sarah Tomec, My-Thuan Tran, Dorothy Yang) traveled to the Philippines for their IBD project.

It wasn’t until our team landed in the Philippines that we grasped the extent of the country’s devastating natural disasters. We arrived just a year and a half after Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones ever recorded. It killed more than 6,000 people and ravaged thousands of communities.

Much of the country had recovered. But among emergency response organizations, there was a sense of urgency. How could they better prepare for the next inevitable disaster? In the Philippines, it is not a question of if the next disaster will strike, but when. The Philippines is the second most disaster-prone country in the world, and Filipinos endure frequent typhoons, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

Ruins from the 2013 major earthquake in the Bohol Province.

Ruins from the 2013 major earthquake in the Bohol Province.

One of the biggest challenges in Haiyan relief efforts was access to reliable power. The typhoon severed electricity lines, and some areas did not have consistent access to power for months. Without power, emergency responders struggled to reach more isolated and remote areas with critical help. Search and rescue responders were unable to charge their communications devices to call for additional resources. Without a consistent light source, medical personnel had difficulty providing life-saving procedures at night for victims and women delivering babies.

That is where our IBD team came in. We worked on developing a market entry strategy for Solar Suitcases to be used in emergency disaster response in the Philippines. These Solar Suitcases use solar power to charge lights and other crucial devices. Developed by Berkeley-based WE CARE Solar, the suitcases are primarily used to light maternity clinics in rural areas. But following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, WE CARE saw a tremendous need for the Solar Suitcase in emergency response.

The IBD team with potential emergency response partners after the qualification meeting.

The IBD team with potential emergency response partners after the qualification meeting.

The Philippines was an ideal country to pilot entry of the technology into the emergency disaster sector. WE CARE partnered with Stiftung Solarenergie Foundation Philippines (StS), a social enterprise that works to provide solar energy in rural areas who do not have access to clean, reliable and sustainable energy.

The key question became how emergency responders could gain access to these Solar Suitcases. While there was a tremendous need for the Solar Suitcase, the equipment is cost-prohibitive for many smaller emergency response organizations. WCS and StS did not want to solely rely on grant after grant from foundations and donors. Our job was to develop a sustainable funding model and operational framework that would allow emergency responders to access the kits.

WECARE Solar and StS training emergency responders on power management with the solar suitcase.

WECARE Solar and StS training emergency responders on power management with the solar suitcase.

Our hypothesis that there was a strong market for these Solar Suitcases among emergency responders, and that they would be willing to pay to gain access to these Solar Suitcases during times of emergency. We developed a model similar to Zip Car: Solar Suitcases would be held in warehouses and emergency responder organizations would pay an annual fee that would allow them to get the Solar Suitcases whenever an emergency struck. They would pay a daily “lease” fee whenever the suitcase was in use.

We quickly realized that this was an innovative model. Through interviews with international organizations such as the United Nations, we recognized that most emergency response relied on major funders and donations that flowed in. The chaotic “all hands on deck” environment after a disaster did not lend itself to a structure in which equipment was returned. A leasing model would be a very new model in emergency response that StS would be pioneering.

We were honored to meet dozens of emergency responders who have dedicated their lives to helping communities in distress. Some came from the private sector, others from volunteer-based organizations, and some from government. These men and women spoke passionately about providing crucial help to devastated communities after disasters, time and time again.

As we introduced the Solar Suitcase to these responders, their eyes lit up. They spoke about how the Solar Suitcase could help them be more equipped during emergency response and how it could ensure life-saving disaster relief could reach remote and isolated areas. They talked about the potential to provide crucial light for their emergency operations and charge up their devices— from radios to cell phones to wireless modems—all critical tools in emergency response.

Taken in Coron, Palawan province, a young boy steers his boat away from the docking area. Our team was struck by the resilience and passion for life shared with us by the people of the Philippines.

Taken in Coron, Palawan province, a young boy steers his boat away from the docking area. Our team was struck by the resilience and passion for life shared with us by the people of the Philippines.

Our time on the ground showed us the resiliency of the Filipino people. We are excited to see this model come to life and to see the impact of the Solar Suitcase in emergency response. We hope it will empower first responders and help revolutionize access to power for disaster relief.

The Great Global MBA Experiment: A Defining Moment in My MBA Journey

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Michael Nurick, MBA 14, was among these 60 MBA students from around the world selected to attend the First Annual MBA World Summit in Hong Kong.

By Guest Blogger Michael Nurick, MBA 14

Michael Nurick

Michael Nurick, MBA 14, presents his talk, “What Rockstars Can Teach Us About Leadership.”

What would happen if you brought the best MBA students from around the world together in one place to exchange ideas and forge lasting relationships? That was the question Thomas Fuchs, Yannick Reiss, and the rest of the team at Frankfurt-based networking company Quarterly Crossing (QX) sought to answer with the First Annual MBA World Summit in Hong Kong.

QX designed a rigorous application process consisting of essays, resume reviews, and invitation-only interviews. Out of more than 2,000 applications, QX selected 60 MBA students from around the globe to attend the summit fully sponsored by the summit’s corporate partners: Henkel, BASF, among others. Three months after beginning the process myself, I learned that I was one of those lucky 60 and would be the sole representative from Haas. I was thrilled, but with no precedence for such an event, I had no idea what to expect!

The summit began with a welcome reception at the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon, which boasts stunning views of the striking Hong Kong skyline.  I was nothing short of impressed by the other MBA students in attendance. Everyone had his or her unique stories to tell and ambitious goals to achieve.   But reminiscent of the Haas culture, everyone exhibited a sense of humility and honor to have been lucky enough to be a part of this event. The excitement in the air was palpable, and we couldn’t wait for the official events to begin.

The first full day of the summit was dedicated to the goal of sharing ideas. Eighteen of the 60 student attendees were invited to host Summit Leadership Sessions, hour-long seminars on a topic of the student’s choosing. The goal of my session, titled “What Rockstars Can Teach Us About Leadership,” was to convey key leadership lessons I had learned during my years as a performing musician, using vivid storytelling to translate those lessons to a management context.

One such story touched on a topic that Haas’ own Lecturer Cort Worthington has designed classes around: authenticity. As a musician, maintaining authenticity is a constant struggle between staying true to your artistic expression and tailoring your music for market success. I’ve witnessed this struggle firsthand during my seven years as the guitarist of Nine Leaves, an innovative band of hip-hop artists. Despite a loyal fan base and strong reviews, we were often told that our music wasn’t mainstream enough, but we weren’t willing to change. Our music was best when it came from our hearts, and our fans could tell the difference.

I also shared stories about famous artists such as ?uestlove and Sara Bareilles who struggled with maintaining authenticity but came to the same conclusion: Authenticity enabled them to best connect with their audience. In a management context, that same connection can both motivate and inspire a team.

The second day of the summit was dedicated to forging relationships, while enjoying all Hong Kong had to offer. Through excursions to the big Buddha, a junk boat cruise around Hong Kong harbor, and a long night out in Hong Kong’s famous Lan Kwai Fong, the 60 of us grew closer together through a shared and remarkable experience.

Before I knew it, the experience was over, but I was left with incredible memories and a renewed vigor to continue pursuing my ultimate goal of using my skills developed at Haas to support the careers of fellow musicians through innovative music businesses. More than that, I can now say that I have a friend in every major city across the globe thanks to my MBA counterparts. As MBA World Summit alumni, we’ll have the opportunity to reunite every year when QX admits a new batch of top global MBA talent into the network. And I plan to be there, promoting Haas and supporting the future success of this great global MBA experiment.