Updates from IBD South Africa – Team EPI-USE

BEPA Redefines Corporate Travel Management

Albrecht Wiedersberg, Benya Phetkaeo, Emily Roesing and Paul Hogan are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Sydney, Australia and Pretoria, South Africa. Their team, BEPA, have been visiting London, Sydney, and Pretoria over the last three weeks working on innovative ways to redefine corporate travel management for EPI-USE, a global IT consulting firm.

EPI-USE, a leading IT service provider in the SAP HR space, asked our team to investigate ways to reduce travel expense and to develop a potential business model for the group. Throughout the spring semester, our team had analyzed travel data, interviewed with consultants and travelers from different verticals, and tested potential solutions for EPI-USE.

Led by Haas alumnus and EPI-USE executive Quintin Smith, our team set a game plan and aligned it with key stakeholders; among them was Jonathan Tager, CEO of EPI-USE. Only a few days after the end of spring semester, our team started a great journey visiting EPI-USE’s core regions to get a better picture of the travel situation and to come up with a high impact recommendation.

Our team spent the first week in Sydney and London where we met with local travel managers, consultants, and members of EPI-USE’s leadership team. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful and great to work with. In our first week, Susan from the London office and Yaron from the Australian office made it very easy for us to get started! After an intense week of analysis and a short sightseeing weekend we packed our bags and first results to transfer to South Africa where the very exciting final phase of our project was to take place.

epi-use1Paul Hogan at Bondi Beach

epi-use2Sydney skyline

epi-use3Working lunch with Yaron

The next morning, we were all excited to meet Quintin who introduced us to the EPI-USE team and made it really easy for us to start work. Over the following days we further investigated travel in the local office while summarizing our results and working on the final project deliverables. We designed and ran a survey within EPI-USE to find out how consultants value comfort and time in business travel, and validated the survey results with a representative survey among Australian, UK, and US business travelers. Based on the survey results we developed a financial model and estimated the potential impact of an incentivization model for EPI-USE.

epi-use4Our team at work

However, our time in South Africa was about a lot more than models and slides only; during the first days in the country, Quintin introduced us to the team with a big dinner at a great restaurant. It only got better from there: Quintin invited our team to spend the weekend at a South African game farm where we had a truly outstanding time. Not only was the place one of the nicest lodges we had ever seen, Quintin and the game farm staff made it very special for us. We were invited to morning and sunset tours where we saw lots of animals, great scenery, and the beautiful night sky. It was also action-packed: The team learned to set up a proper (and amazingly big) fireplace, to shoot a rifle, and to read tracks and signs of the African bush. Finally, in a traditional bosberaad Quintin and our team decided the strategy for our last week of project work.

epi-use5The awesome lodge where we spent almost three days

epi-use6The team getting ready for a bush ride

epi-use8Quintin and team BEPA at sunset 

epi-use9Right before sunset – It took 5 minutes and the sun was gone!

epi-use10Before the BBQ comes a serious fireplace workout

epi-use12Delicious IBD project

epi-use13The team happy after a big meal

As if that were not enough, on the way back from this fantastic weekend Quintin announced the next adventure: Our team would go to another game farm the day before our final presentation. Equipped with this extra portion of motivation and due to the great support of Quintin, the EPI-USE leadership team, and everyone in the EPI-USE offices we had a polished final presentation document in place only a few days later.

The day before our presentation, we got up very early. Everyone was excited about what was going to happen since Quintin had not reveal what exactly our team was going to do this day. The day did not disappoint our expectations: We went to a farm that was focused on veterinary work with rhinos and witnessed how a professor examined three rhinos. This required the rhinos to be darted, a process where the rhino has to be anesthetized for a short period of time to carry out the examination work. This was a big spectacle as a helicopter had to spot the rhino before it was darted and we could witness the veterinarian’s work first hand. It was very impressive to see the rhinos close-up. They are outstandingly huge and powerful animals!

epi-use14A helicopter is used to locate and dart the rhinos

epi-use15The rhino after being darted – Everyone takes care that it does not fall down uncontrolled

epi-use16The rhino is sleeping while the veterinarian examines it

epi-use17A break at “4U2P”

On our last day, we gave a very successful final presentation to a large EPI-USE audience including the group CEO and all key stakeholders. When it was time to say goodbye a couple of hours later and over a glass of champagne we felt very happy and proud of the result we had delivered. However, even more important was the feeling of gratefulness for our very special memories. Or, to say it in Quintin’s words, our team felt our IBD experience with EPI-USE and particularly with Quintin was truly “a treat”!

Signing off from Sydney

Team Iconic was in Sydney, Australia working with THE ICONIC to analyze their online retail profitability by category, drawing on market research and categorical analysis to recommend best practices for category strategy.

After three weeks at THE ICONIC (among fashionistas and hardcore ex-consultants-turned-CEOs) we can honestly say we made a difference in helping the company’s profitability! In the meantime, we played as hard as we worked, as Haassies do.

THE ICONIC team after our final presentation—they loved it!

THE ICONIC team after our final presentation—they loved it!


Exploring Queensland’s wild life


Whitsunday Island’s Whitehaven Beach


Hamilton Island (no cars, only buggies!)


Alex and Albert’s Great Barrier Reef adventure

Meeting up with Haassies JT Klepp (class of '98) and Team Hong Kong (Steve & Richard) on Alexey's 30th birthday.

Meeting up with Haassies JT Klepp (class of ’98) and Team Hong Kong (Steve & Richard) on Alexey’s 30th birthday.


Some of the best food in the world (and most expensive!) Exotic? Yep!

Thanks for an unforgettable, irreplaceable experience, Haas. We learned a ton from each other, about the retail industry, financial models, market sizing, consumer insights and—especially?—client services. Our team will be bonded for life!

The heart of Sydney’s fashion district

Sunrise over the Sydney Opera House and famous Harbour Bridge

Team Iconic is in Sydney, Australia working with THE ICONIC, Australia’s newest and largest online fashion retailer, on consumer perceptions and best practices around add-on businesses and clearance strategy.

One of the most interesting aspects of Haas is our international contingent of classmates. So the arrival of an Indonesian, a Russian and a Bay Area native in Sydney, Australia, to take on key business challenges for a German Haas alum CEO couldn’t have been a better example of our international breadth.

We arrived on a 14.5 hour flight to spend a day getting familiar with Oz’s famous creatures. Who knew it was illegal to hug a koala?!


Then it was time to get to work. THE ICONIC’S office is in the cultural center of Sydney; Surry Hills, a bustling, razor-sharp fashion district and the pulse of the city. Since their founding in 2011, THE ICONIC’s office has grown in population but the raw vibe of a startup remains. There’s no glittering sign on the door—this is what you see when you step off the elevator:

Iconic Photos.005
IMG_1195Exposed cement floors, lofty ceilings, and power cords are the backdrop for computer monitors splashed with the colors of next season’s hottest. Acres of sequins, leather leggings and fur-edged coats stretch wall to wall. The brain trust of the company is its space, which is completely open and flat—the CEO sits one monitor away from the denim buyer. Upon arrival, we were presented with a seat in the middle of the action, a real privilege. (You can see us on the far right, above)

Iconic Photos.004It’s a little tough to get any work done with the nonstop parade of keenly stylish (and truly beautiful) coworkers yelling out orders and Bon Jovi lyrics. But as we brainstorm with the Analytics and Business Intelligence teams and imagine ways to better understand THE ICONIC customers, we can’t help but feel like a part of something big. And as the CEO remarked over lunch yesterday (2008 Haas alum Andreas Otto) it’s our shared Haas perspective that adds value, far beyond our international diversity.

Team Sydney

Team Sydney: Albert Lucius, Alexey Igoshin, Ellen Vanderwilt

It’s going to be an incredible three weeks! And maybe if we pay close attention, we’ll come out the other side with some fashion sense in addition to a rewarding consulting experience!image