Leaving on a Jet Plane: Four Summer IBD Teams Depart for IBD In-Country Experiences

2017 Evening Weekend IBD Students

The IBD Evening Weekend MBA (EWMBA) Teams are on their way to their in-country destinations where they will spend the next two weeks working with their IBD clients before presenting their final recommendations on July 14th.  Despite only having a short 6 weeks to prepare, IBD teams are ready to start their time with their clients, face-to-face.  Teams are traveling to Harare, Phnom Penh, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo.  Are they ready?  Faculty Mentor and Instructor, Frank Schultz shares that his students “can’t wait!  They have been preparing with such intensity for their in-country time.  They have formed very good relationships with their clients via skype, google hangouts, etc, but are anxious to work directly with their clients.”

While the teams have been digging into the scope of the project and learning about their client’s industries, they have also been focusing on team dynamics.  ACT Team Lead, Praveen Settipalli is impressed with all that his team has accomplished in a short 6 weeks.  “Our team has quickly bonded and formed a trust that has helped us to divide and conquer our workload and be able to deliver what we promised to our client.”  

In addition to great team dynamics, the Team Leads must put all of team members’ skills to work.   This may be one of the hardest parts of the role, but when it is done right, it is one of the most rewarding.  Sushant Barave, the Team Lead for Samai Distillery, has found this part of the journey “personally satisfying”.   He has been working with a “great bunch of Hassies” who “in several aspects, are at a higher level of expertise in specific subject matters, than me”.  Sushant has looked to his peers to provide a “high level of expertise in specific industries and functions” and he feels that his peers “strengths have created a tremendous learning opportunity for all of us, (that) hopefully set (them) up for delivering a quality product to their client.”  

It should be no surprise that the time in-country makes the whole process more productive and manageable.  It is difficult trying to communicate via video platforms across time zones,  language differences, and cultural nuances.  Teams and clients are excited to break down those barriers and dig into their projects face-to-face.   

Team Lead, Kalyan Pentapalli, and his team are ready to get to Sao Paulo to work with their client Aramis Menswear.   With no retail experience on the team, they have had to get up to speed quickly. This is exactly the experience that they hoped to get by signing up for IBD.  “In the past month, I have learned so much about consulting and retail, more than I have learned in the two and a half years of being in the MBA program,”  Kalyan shared.  

Cambodia’s first rum distillery. Founders Daniel and Antonio grew up in Venezuela, soaking in rum culture and drinking the best rums of the world

Sushant couldn’t agree more with his classmate, Kalyan.  “I am super excited about getting to Cambodia. I feel it is all coming together.  Over the last 6 weeks, we have already been able to apply several concepts we grasped as part of our coursework at Haas. Part of our project focuses on operations, and I can see our (Berkeley-Haas) Operations Professor talking about inventory management concepts that we are trying to apply.  We are also be looking at the quality of financial statements as well as pricing and expansion which bring together the knowledge we have gained at Haas. One of the main reasons I wanted to be a part of IBD was to see how we can apply what we learned in the classroom to the real world.  This is where the rubber meets the road. In a couple of days we start to find out what works and what doesn’t in a practical setting. This is the most exciting part. In some ways, most of our work in Berkeley has been on paper and now it’s time to test it.  We are going to do that over the next two weeks.“

IBD Team & ACT 2015

This summer, two teams are working with repeat clients, ACT and Samai Distillery, and having the past IBD exposure has helped with efficiently this year.  Samai’s Co-Founder, Daniel Pacheco learned a lot from the “previous year where communication was not great before the team arrived.   It was hard for us to understand capabilities and expectations and also because things change so fast being a startup.  But with this team, we discussed these points from the very beginning and were able to have a more effective approach.”  These insights benefited this year’s Samai team and they were able to define a clear scope and identifying which deliverables would be the most useful.

Two weeks can go by very quickly and with so much to accomplish, clients and students are anxious to hit the ground running. Kalyan’s team has already presented their full day agenda and wish list for customer and stakeholder interviews to Aramis.  Fabio Davidovici, Aramis’s Strategic Planning Director, is anxious for the team to arrive so they can “have great discussions and clever insights”.  Samai’s co-founder’s goals are to get them more familiar with the business, then they will spend time gathering as much data as needed to finalize their deliverables.  “We hope these deliverables will not just be a one-off report, but tools that can be used by us to work more efficiently moving forward…it was also very valuable for us to be able to pick the teams brains about areas that might be outside the agreed scope,” shares Daniel Pacheco.  ACT’s Team will stay in their client’s home for the two weeks that they are in Harare.  Praveen says they are excited to experience the intensity and productiveness of a work and living situation.   He also mentioned that his client has a pool and so that makes the six-day work week more appealing.   

On the eve of their departure, we are excited to get all of our Berkeley-Haas students safely to their destinations and started on their team and personal IBD journeys.  We are confident in their abilities to provide their clients with valuable insights and recommendations.  As one of our 2017 Full-Time MBA Team Lead’s shared after returning from her in-country experience, “IBD really is all it’s cracked up to be.”  We expect the same reaction from our Evening Weekend MBA teams.

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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Evening Weekend IBD Program Kicks Off

EWMBA IBD Students

While the Full-Time MBA (FTMBA) program is at the end of their engagement with IBD, 18 Evening and Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students kicked off their IBD experience on May 14th.  This is the 6th year that the course has been offered to EWMBA students and although the program is very similar to the FTMBA course, there is one significant difference: time.  The summer program has much less of it overall, as students only have seven weeks of instruction and two weeks in-country working with clients.  EWMBA Teams are also made up of 4-5 students and led by a Team Lead, who is a classmate but unlike the FTMBA Program, the EWMBA Team Leads don’t have the additional weeks to work with their client to build rapport and gather intel on their project before their Team Members join the project.  Instead, they have to jump right into the process and establish themselves as a lead of their project to their client and teammates.  When asked about his strategy for being a Team Lead at this point in the process, the Samai Distillery Team Lead, Sushant Barave said:

Team Aramis

“Although we are at a very early stage, I am realizing how amazingly competent our team is. In a way, this makes my job as a team lead quite easy! I hate to call it a ‘strategy’ because it really boils down to keeping things really simple at this stage – having open communication, a structured approach to understand and address client’s needs, and making sure that all of us are having fun in the process!”

This is a sentiment we hear often from Team Leads in both the FTMBA and EWMBA programs.  The Aramis Menswear Team Lead, Kalyan Pentapalli shared, “I have a very experienced team and sometimes it feels intimidating leading three third year students, but they have been gracious enough to let me set an example and lead.”

Lead, motivate, organize, delegate, and manage work streams is what our EWMBA Team Leads will do as they prepare to go in-country on July 1st.  It’s a quick turn-around and with full-time jobs and other obligations, it is a lot to manage.   “It has already been great working with the team, and we are getting familiar with each other’s working styles. Given our crazy schedules collectively as a group, we have also been open to calls ranging from 7 am to 11 pm – this goes to show the flexibility and commitment from the team members”, shares Barun Mazumdar, a member of the Aramis Team.

Many students come to Haas because of the opportunity IBD gives them.  The Team Lead for ACT,  Praveen Settipalli, was determined to take IBD before he graduated despite having a new baby and starting work at a startup.  He heard first-hand experiences about IBD from his classmates and he, like so many others, felt he could benefit from the opportunity to work on an international consulting project.  “As a product manager, IBD will help me renew my core-consulting skills of framing the problem, lead a diverse team to formulate the strategy and obtain resources for successful execution. Doing this in a different industry/culture with a team of amazing Haas MBAs will also teach me how to lead across diverse environments. Personally, the IBD structure would allow me to embrace uncertainty and openness and immerse myself in a new environment. I also hope to reflect on my current environment and leadership style while at the client location and come back not just with awesome solutions for the client but also unforgettable memories and experiences.”

Team Samai

Frank Schultz, the Instructor and Faculty Mentor for the EWMBA program is confident that his students will be able to balance all of their competing priorities to find personal and professional successes from their IBD experience.   “I have been teaching the EWMBA IBD program since inception and every year I appreciate how much my teams dedicate themselves to their client and projects to provide true ROI – despite their day jobs and their families.  I have no doubt that this year’s students will work very hard and like every year, they will enjoy getting a taste of consulting in a global setting.  They will undoubtedly come back from their two weeks in-country with new perspectives, tools, and confidence to try different approaches.”

Teams will travel all over the world this July.  Praveen’s team will work with a social enterprise that provides entrepreneurship training and mentorship to young Zimbabweans and Sushant is taking his team to Cambodia to work with a rum distillery start-up.  We have one team that will travel to Mexico to work with a consumer and corporate financial services company, and Kalyan’s team will work with a privately held 20-year old menswear retailer in Brazil.  We are confident that these EWMBA students will have unforgettable and invaluable experiences.

Team ACT

Update 2 from IBD Team Fielo

FTMBA students Dan Cho, Cynthia Song, Peter Stilwell, Rob Uvanovic and Qing Ye spent 3 weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires working with Fielo, a B2B loyalty incentivization platform. Here, they give an insight into life outside the office.

Our IBD project has taken us to three amazing countries in three weeks. It’s been hard work but we’ve also had an opportunity to live as South Americans do, embracing their passion for both football and fitness.

The Big Game
The Build-Up
We’re going to the Boca game!” Rob announced, brandishing five tickets and smiling like Charlie when he won the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The group emitted a collective shudder. Boca Juniors…one of the biggest football clubs in Argentina with the most passionate supporters in the country, and possibly the world. Such passion often spilled over into violence with almost 90 deaths at football matches in the previous 10 years.Picture1

And we were going. Our motley crew of two Americans, to whom passion in sport was getting upset because the hotdog at the baseball didn’t have enough mustard and two Chinese whose only previous experience of live sport was watching their grandparents play Mahjong.

As we approached tPicture2he magnificent Bombonera stadium, we could feel tangible tension in the air. This despite the fact that there were no opposing fans since a nationwide ban several years earlier! We walked through approximately 12 lines of police, spread out every 100m or so on the approach to the stadium. Each time we were searched thoroughly, with seemingly something confiscated at every step. By the end, they had even taken away Dan’s pink highlighter. Fortunately, this turned out to be the most traumatic event of the evening.

The Main Event
The game itself was a low quality 0-0 draw but despite this the crowd made an almighty noise and never stopped drumming and singing. We briefly pondered how a drum was allowed into the stadium and not a pink highlighter but couldn’t work it out. Just as impressive were the flags, banners and ribbons which brightened up the stadium, creating a visual cacophony of yellow and blue.

Photo credit: Qing Ye

Photo credit: Qing Ye

The Aftermath
As we made our way out of the stadium into the Buenos Aires night, we reflected on a quite remarkable evening. The Boca supporters had been truly magnificent and we had witnessed nothing but passionate support for their team. The team agreed that it had been a successful evening and returned home reinvigorated for the next day of work, stopping off at the dry cleaner to drop off Dan’s soiled underwear.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 1.57.21 PM

From the moment we landed in Rio, we’ve been in awe of the natural beauty that surrounded us. We would often gaze around in wonder, mesmerized by the synergy of mountains, water, and city. Our team lead, Cynthia, inappropriately noted that in addition to the beautiful landscape, the people were rather attractive as well. Peter wisely offered his opinion, suggesting that this was possibly due to the fact that there was at least one gym or fitness studio per block and an exercise station every few hundred feet along the beach.

Following up on his observation, we attempted to do as the Brazilians do and get our fitness on. Look at Cynthia.

Interesting attempt. Man in green shorts is not impressed.

Interesting attempt. Man in green shorts is not impressed.

Rob did well. Form is on point. Why was his shirt still on? Brazilians were also confused.


Here is Peter and Dan at a gym. The trainer winked and flirted his way to Peter’s million dollar frown.


QING!!…wrong outfit for pushups. No ponytail. Shoeless. Laughing. Sigh


Peter and Dan went on a morning jog along Ipanema beach. Wowza. Would ya look at that!


We celebrated with a coconut.
Drink the coconut Peter.


Good. Fabulous technique Peter.


Time for the team to put all that exercise to good use and jump…!


ROB!! >=( We’ll miss you Rio ❤




Updates from IBD Brazil – Team Bematech

Berkeley-Haas Part-Time MBA students Janice Chien, Dan Krebs, Reid Yokoyama, and Roma Zhu worked with the Brazilian point of sale company Bematech.

Olá from Curitiba, Brasil!

Bematech isn’t a company you may be familiar with in the US, but thanks to Team Bematech, the company will hopefully make some waves in the competitive point-of-sale market in the United States.

A Rollercoaster of Emotions

Bematech is a publicly traded point of sale company in Brazil (BEMA3:BZ) which has dominated the Brazilian market due to the sale of monitors, cash registers, and printers for Brazilian businesses. Most importantly, Bematech produces fiscal printers, which are required by businesses to track the government tax of each sale.

Through acquisition, Bematech entered the US market and sells kitchen display systems and all-in-one point-of-sale hardware. The point-of-sale industry, thanks to companies like Square, Clover, Revel, and hundreds more, is undergoing a rapid transformation, and Bematech wanted us to identify key trends and strategies to grow their presence in the US market.

Unfortunately, no one on the team had any familiarity with point-of-sale hardware! Our pre-country work included rapid learning, interviews with distributors and merchants, and of course, PFPS tactics:

Employing PFPS tactics!

Employing PFPS tactics!

At our darkest moments, we felt the request was impossible and as part time students, the demands of work and family life meant it was difficult to put in the time that the project required. But, we were able to hone in on several key strategies to pursue in country and arrived in Curitiba with several to present to Bematech.

Building Trust…

Meeting the leadership team in Brazil was eye-opening. We were briefed on Brazilian culture, but experiencing it in person was incredible: everyone was extremely friendly, gave us their favorite recommendations for our weekend trip to Rio de Janeiro, and wanted us to get the most out of our trip.

Haas gear travels well and makes a great client gift!

Haas gear travels well and makes a great client gift!

…and finding a purpose

Although our goal was to help with a US growth strategy, Bematech took us to their factory where they make their fiscal printer. Given the government move to online tax tracking, the fiscal printer’s lifespan is limited. There, we were warmly greeted on the factory floor and watched workers assemble printers and repair broken ones (Operations 101, anyone?)

We were warmly welcomed at the Bematech factory

We were warmly welcomed at the Bematech factory

A view of the factory floor

A view of the factory floor

It was here that we realized that our class project, presentations, and final grade had a higher purpose. We had a chance to help Bematech transform beyond their traditional business model. Doing so would ensure the workers in this factory would continue to have jobs in the future. Our team was even more motivated to work on our final presentation.

We also got to test a new product that will hit the market later this year:

Janice may or may not have purchased 25 cervejas :)

Janice may or may not have purchased 25 cervejas 🙂

Have Cal gear, will travel

Locals gave us enough recommendations to spend a whole month in Rio, but we had to settle for a weekend getaway between our in-country weeks. Suffice it to say: the weather was beautiful, we played volleyball with locals, and churrascarias and caipirinhas did not disappoint.

Visiting Cristo De Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro

Visiting Cristo De Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro

Wearing Cal gear also allowed us to meet a few students traveling in country on an exchange program!

Opportunities like these are once in a lifetime and having read several of the Haas in the World blog posts, it’s incredible what Haas students have accomplished all over the world. Hopefully we did our part to represent Haas and make a difference for our client and their customers.

Obrigado – thank you!

Updates from IBD Brazil – Team Sony PlayStation

Consoles, Caipirinhas and Coxinhas: Our Journey through Brazil

Steve Boogar, Andrew Hill, Amanda Ogus, Caitlyn Toombs

Greetings from Sao Paulo, Brazil! We have had an action-packed three weeks here working hard and playing hard for Sony PlayStation Brazil’s office. For our project, we were tasked with understanding gamer motivators and the gaming market in Brazil (vagueness of description based on our comprehensive NDA we signed prior to arrival :-).

First day at the new Sony PlayStation-Brazil offices (with a not-quite-to-scale map of South America/Brazil behind us. L to R: Caitlyn Toombs, Amanda Ogus, Andrew Hill, Steve Boogar

First day at the new Sony PlayStation-Brazil offices (with a not-quite-to-scale map of South America/Brazil behind us). L to R: Caitlyn Toombs, Amanda Ogus, Andrew Hill, Steve Boogar

Working Hard

In our first two weeks, we went to the streets (literally) to try to understand in person what we had been researching for the last 5 months. From taxes to currency issues, Brazil’s market has different problems to tackle for all economic goods. Add to that a relatively recent formal Brazil PlayStation presence (2-3 years) with a savvy Brazilian consumer used to asking many questions and researching many price points. As a result, between physical market and custom differences, it was important for us to see the stores ourselves and talk with as many people as possible.

We started with a whirlwind tour of their Retail channels. PlayStation games and consoles are sold in many different types of stores – big to small, electronics to general, malls to street kiosks – and each targets a slightly different consumer. PlayStation takes pride in making the buying experience easy and interactive, with clear descriptions of games and in-store staff properly versed on the eccentricities of all game features and sales data.

The team analyzing the PlayStation shelf with one of the Sony promoters

The team analyzing the PlayStation shelf with one of the Sony promoters

Besides just observations, we conducted many interviews with all levels of stakeholders. We chatted with store managers, Sony promoters and customers to gauge what the shopping experience really felt like and where the pain points lay. With the help of our trusty translator/guru/promoter guides Henrique and Eduardo, we got a rich understanding of the market and heard many salient insights (many of which complemented and reinforced others).

In addition to in-store visits and meetings, we also held a night of focus groups and gamer observations to dive deeper into our target market. It was fascinating to hear from Brazilian gamers and see their passion for PlayStation in person.

Focus Group of PlayStation gamers

Focus Group of PlayStation gamers

Gamer Observations with live PlayStation

Gamer Observations with live PlayStation

PlayStation loves Brazil and Brazil loves PlayStation! (L to R: Leo Zuppiroli - our fearless in-country leader; Amanda Ogus; Heber - fanatic PlayStation gamer; Andrew Hill)

PlayStation loves Brazil and Brazil loves PlayStation! (L to R: Leo Zuppiroli – our fearless in-country leader; Amanda Ogus; Heber – fanatic PlayStation gamer; Andrew Hill)

Of course, no Haas project would be complete without a PFPS post-it map, and we did plenty pulling together our final deliverable!

Clustering and name for our final report

Clustering and name for our final report

 Playing Hard

As the team lucky enough to work with PlayStation, we found that play was very important in all elements of our work. Sony Brazil’s team does a great job of mirroring the passion for the company and the product. Everyone in the office was ready to answer any and all questions we had on the interface, favorite games and other technicalities of gaming that some of our team had little to no experience in (cough Amanda and Caitlyn). Therefore, a big part of getting up to speed for us was testing out the games!

Drew, Caitlyn, and Amanda working hard to get up to speed on their product offering

Drew, Caitlyn, and Amanda working hard to get up to speed on their product offering

Of course, being in Brazil, our play was not only limited to our product. Our amazing host, Leo, gave us on a whirlwind tour of the best culture Sao Paulo had to offer! We had our fill of caipirinhas (delicious fruit cocktails usually made with cachaça, a local liquor – the team’s favorite flavor was passion fruit!), coxinhas (fried deliciousness shaped in triangles stuffed with cheese and chicken, usually) and lots of choppe (draft beer).

Leo and the team enjoying caipirinhas and coxinhas at Veloso Bar, one of our favorite places in Sao Paulo

Leo and the team enjoying caipirinhas and coxinhas at Veloso Bar, one of our favorite places in Sao Paulo

We also took time to explore the city by walking to parks, visiting museums and shopping for Havainas, Brazil’s popular sandal maker!

A view from a run through scenic Ibirapuera Park - a hidden oasis in the big city

A view from a run through scenic Ibirapuera Park – a hidden oasis in the big city

We also explored outside of Sao Paulo for a weekend in Rio! Rio was just as great as everyone described – beachy, bustling and colorful. From site-seeing at the Corcovado to enjoying feijoada with some locals (thanks to a fellow business school classmate, Grace, for the intro!), relaxing at the beach to running up the Escaderia Selaron stairs in a brief rain shower, Rio did not disappoint on our last weekend in Brazil.

The amazing Corcovado in person - apparently we weren't the only people interested!

The amazing Corcovado in person – apparently we weren’t the only people interested!

Escadario Selaron stairs – just as beautiful and colorful in person, even on a rainy day

Escadario Selaron stairs – just as beautiful and colorful in person, even on a rainy day

Our combined Haas IBD teams together in Rio!

Our combined Haas IBD teams together in Rio!

Overall, our team had a very enriching and enjoyable three weeks in Brazil, and we thank the IBD staff and our friends at Sony for all they did to make this happen!



Updates from IBD Brazil – Team Geave

“Stunning” Brazil: Update from Team Geave in São Paulo

Alexis Kastrenakes, Jake Qian, Marisa Johnson, and Seungjun Lee


Brazil: the land of samba, churrascarias, and as this Haas IBD team was about to become intimately aware of…the booming aquaculture industry. Despite the country’s expansive coastline and river system, Brazil’s aquaculture sector is still relatively nascent, but growth is expected to exceed the global average for the next five years. Much of the country’s production is tilapia and we were about to get front row seats to see how the sausage (tilapia, that is) gets made.

This is winter?

This is winter?

Our client, Geave, is a São Paulo-based manufacturer of technology equipment solutions for the meat processing industry, and Geave’s leading solution is an electronic stunner for poultry processing. (Don’t worry: their equipment doesn’t actually kill the animal. It actually promotes humane practices as it renders the animal unconscious before the moment of slaughter.) Geave identified a unique opportunity to leverage their food processing technology into the fast-growing aquaculture industry in an effort to diversify their product and customer portfolio. Our project centered on helping the management team understand the aquaculture industry in other markets (Chile, Costa Rica, Norway, and USA), conducting customer, competitor, and partner interviews, and ultimately using these insights to form a recommendation for how Geave should enter the aquaculture market in Brazil. The entire time, and particularly once we conducted customer visits, a huge question loomed in the back of our minds: is the electronic fish stunner, the original focus of our project, really the right solution?

The team traversed Sao Paulo State visiting partners and potential customers

The team traversed Sao Paulo State visiting partners and potential customers

A lighter moment as Team Geave prepares to enter our first fish slaughterhouse

A lighter moment as Team Geave prepares to enter our first first slaughterhouse

We’ve spent the majority of our time working with Geave’s three partners: Luiz “The Comedian”, Giancarlo “The Mad Scientist”, and Jimmy “The Gangster.” They don’t necessarily identify with these characters we’ve bestowed on them, but they are truly, wholly, 100% accurate. Luiz is the quintessential salesperson of the group and leads Geave’s client management initiatives. Giancarlo is the innovator and inventor who has a penchant for engineering and vintage calculators – he even owns a functioning computer from 1968. Jimmy joined the team earlier in 2015 with an engineering background and experience working for SABESP, the water and sewage provider, for nearly two decades. (Check out the picture below and you’ll understand his moniker.) We worked closely with the management team to understand Geave’s strengths, legacy, and vision for future growth.

Jimmy "The Gangster" stops the van so he can test out his new knife on some unsuspecting sugar cane

Jimmy “The Gangster” stops the van so he can test out his new knife on some unsuspecting sugar cane

Our Geave clients: Jimmy, Luiz, and Giancarlo. We found a California taqueria!

Our Geave clients: Jimmy, Luiz, and Giancarlo. We found a California taqueria!

Week 1:

After a nine hour overnight bus (which was surprisingly quite pleasant), we found ourselves in Santa Fé do Sol, the heart of Brazil’s burgeoning tilapia industry at the westernmost point of São Paulo State. We visited fish farms, fish genetics establishments, feed plants, and facilities that processed over 15 tons of live tilapia per day. During our three-day visit, we had the opportunity to gather vast data about customer pain points, farming and slaughter processes, and vendor relationships. We also went on a lot of boat rides around the fish cages, observing feeding, vaccination, grading, and harvesting processes. Some of us were disappointed that there were no anaconda sightings. Others were okay with it.

Alexis observes fish eggs hatching in a genetics nursery

Alexis observes fish eggs hatching in a genetics nursery

The team visits a fish farm in Santa Fe do Sul

The team visits a fish farm in Santa Fe do Sul

Collecting juvenile fish to put in the river cages is a time-intensive process

Collecting juvenile fish to put in the river cages is a time-intensive process

Bringing a new meaning to "farm to table": we observed the fish from hatchey to slaughterhouse at Zippy Alimentos, then ate them in fried form later  that evening

Bringing a new meaning to “farm to table”: we observed the fish from hatchery to slaughterhouse at Zippy Alimentos, then ate them in fried form later that evening

Week 2:

After documenting, discussing, and analyzing some of our Week 1 observations, we spent two days in Pirassununga and Franca, where we visited a larger aquaculture company and met with one of Geave’s software partners. During the partner meeting, we conducted a design thinking session to brainstorm the types of hardware/software products to bring to market. Should they target the handful of larger players that are vertically integrated to cover the entire value chain, or focus on the more numerous but lower-budget small-to-medium players?  Should they create technology solutions for fish processing, or design for the fragmented and less sophisticated fish farming industry? What customer pain points should the hardware/software solution address? What would customers be willing or able to pay? Our half-day session generated insights that allowed us to draft a target product portfolio addressing the burgeoning fish farming industry.


Conducting a design thinking session with Geave’s software partner



Celebratory photo op with our clients and their partners

Celebratory photo op with our clients and their partners

Another day, another fish farm. The view ain't bad...

Another day, another fish farm. The view ain’t bad…

Week 3:

In our last week, we synthesized all of the data points we had gathered and worked to build a business plan for Geave. We brought together all of our stateside background research, customer interviews and observations, and output from our design thinking sessions. Using our toolkit of strategy frameworks, we developed a concrete recommendation on who (small to medium fish farmers), what (solutions to reduce Feed costs and automate the Feeding process — leaving the stunner for later) and where (start with the Santa Fé do Sul area) Geave should focus their market entry. After a successful presentation to our client, Luiz even countered with a response presentation, animating how we destroyed his dreams of producing fish stunning equipment in the short-term, but that our recommendations would allow Geave to pursue an alternative, more strategic direction.


Our trip wasn’t all fried fish skins, rubber boots, and long hours at the office. We managed to sneak away to Rio de Janeiro for a weekend with Team Sony to get a taste of the Brazilian beach lifestyle. We ate feijoada, visited Christ the Redeemer, pretended to be locals on Ipanema Beach, and sampled all of the caipirinhas and blended juice.

Teams Geave and Sony enjoy the sunset at Ipanema Beach

Teams Geave and Sony enjoy the sunset at Ipanema Beach

After three weeks in Brazil, we feel we have seen a side of this country we would have never imagined if we simply visited as tourists. Geave and the people of Brazil made us feel so welcome and we feel so lucky to have had this experience. Thankfully our Brazilian visas are valid for the next ten years, so we will definitely be back. Rio Olympics 2016?

Praying for a swift return to Brazil

Praying for a swift return to Brazil

Updates from EWMBA IBD – Team KIDU in Brazil

Renata Bell, Milan Lee, Roger Pai, and Paul Roberts are part-time Berkeley-Haas MBA students who had the opportunity to advise KIDU, a Brazilian Education Technology startup in Sao Paulo, on potential go-to-market strategies. Combining their diverse professional experiences, the four MBA team members proposed a solid recommendation for KIDU, through insights generated from seven weeks of interview, research, and design thinking.

Despite lost luggage and sleep deprivation, our first day in Brazil was amazing. We went straight to the market to sample the food and coffee, and were immediately welcomed by the warm Brazilian helpfulness. Before the trip, we had been warned of robbery, violence, and kidnappings in the surrounding São Paulo area, but that was not our reality. Although our hotel and KIDU office were in a nice neighborhood, we never had any trouble venturing out of the neighborhood.


Our first meeting with KIDU over delicious Brazilian style pizza

We were greeted by our hosts on the first evening. They were incredibly nice people and took every opportunity to share their favorite places to go and best places to eat with us. Brazilians love their food, and Paulistanos (San Paulo residents) regularly flock to their favorite restaurants. On the subsequent work days, we had the opportunity to meet the rest of the KIDU staff and interviewed them regarding their teaching experiences in Brazil. The KIDU staff had an infectious enthusiasm for life and teaching that we’ve never seen before.


Meeting with other KIDU staff and teachers

During our first week, our hosts arranged a series of K-12 school visits and cultural activities for us. One of the most impactful experiences was when we visited Jardim Angela, located near São Paulo.  During the 90’s, this area was considered one of the most dangerous places in the world by the United Nations.  The area is much safer now and currently has 400,000 residents. We met up with our NGO contact at A Banca who generously showed us around the favela. Our impromptu interviews with a group elementary school aged students, who were playing soccer barefoot, allowed us to realize how the underprivileged kids share the same curiosity as kids coming from better socio-economic background.


Kids at Jardim Angela sharing their stories with a KIDU staff; the favela is in the background 


The Haas team with NGO A Banca


Another cultural visit: Haas team at one of the Sao Paulo stadiums

In the weekend between our two-week project engagement, we were fortunate to visit Rio de Janeiro for sightseeing. Coincidentally our trip aligned with the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany that was being played in Rio. The whole scene was chaotically filled with Argentinean fans chanting the rivalry song, Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”.  We almost lost one of our team members to a group of Argentinians; as we were leaving the restaurant after a dinner, Roger was hoisted above the Argentinian fans to be transported to the next bar for party. Despite the craziness, the fans released Roger, and we were able to proceed with the rest of the itinerary to visit Lapa (the nightlife district), Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana beach.


View from Sugar Loaf Mountain at sunset

The second week was intensive as the Haas team worked in “Brazilian hours” to converge all insights and finalize project recommendation. Brazilians generally work long hours and dinner often takes place around 9pm. The Brazilian stereotype for their love of beef is no exaggeration, but they also have excellent seafood, cheese, finger food, and juices. It is typical to have coffee after lunch and sometimes after dinner; however coffee is usually in the form of an espresso shot rather than the large cup of coffee that Americans are used to.  We enjoyed fresh squeezed juices every opportunity we got—our very favorite was the superfood Acai.


Delicious meal of Bahia (South of Brazil) cuisine


Haas team working on a late night to prepare for final presentation

On a final closing note: The four Haas team members were from different cohorts, classes, and backgrounds that interacted mainly only over the phone prior to this trip. Being thrown together day-and-night for two weeks is a crash course in learning how to compromise and work effectively together. We each quickly learned to be patient with each other’s eccentricities but also discovered new things about each other that brought us closer together. We ended this trip genuinely caring for each other not only as classmates, but close friends who experienced a unique experience together.


Updates from IBD Brazil – Surfing the Waves and the Web

Spring 2014 IBD teammates Catherine Andresen, Carlo Cubeddu, Dan Goldman, and Juhie Tamboli are examining internet use in Brazil.

Our team got lucky. We got to spend three weeks traveling around Brazil studying the industry and the culture. We spent the first week getting to know the sprawling city of São Paulo, the second gazing at dramatic scenery in Rio de Janeiro, and the third walking on the beaches in Fortaleza in the Northeast region of Brazil.

Our time in São Paulo was marked by protests, steaks, and caipirinhas. Leading up to the World Cup (starting a mere week after our departure) we’ve witnessed a palpable frustration among Brazilians. Everyone we spoke with had something to say about corruption in government and lack of preparation for the World Cup.

brazil1Mercado Municipal, São Paulo

Getting around the city proved time consuming while we attempted to dodge protests and manage traffic given a bus driver strike. We decided the best way to deal with traffic stress was dining at a churrascaria, Brazilian steakhouse, with a caipirinha in hand and a couple of local beers. We were told to drink in the culture, right?

brazil2Varanda Steakhouse, Sao Paulo

Immediately upon arriving in Rio, we fell in love: the dramatic hills, white sandy beaches, and beautiful people are even more stunning in person. While in Rio, we visited a favela (Brazilian shanty) called Rocinha. No guidebook told us to seek out Rochina, but our experience there was unparalleled. We met with a man who grew up in the favela that was now giving back to his community by delivering high quality internet through fiber optic cables. He told us how he taught himself the technology, began providing internet stolen from a large telecom company, then grew large enough to obtain a license to provide internet legally. His vision is to provide high quality internet to all of Rocinha then expand to other favelas in Rio.

brazil3NetRocinha ISP, Favela Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro

Another highlight of our project had a very different backdrop. We shared a bottle of wine at the home of one our idols – the man who literally wrote the book “The Internet in Brazil”. We chatted about what we’ve learned and our investigation hypothesis while gazing out his window overlooking the Copacabana Beach. Between meeting industry experts like the two mentioned, we were able to see the city from above at Pão de Açúcar and at the foot of the Corcovado.

brazil4Pão de Açúcar, Rio de Janeiro

brazil5Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

From Rio, we headed North to a coastal city called Fortaleza. We spent our first day 4-wheeling over sand-dunes and drinking from coconuts with our toes in the warm Atlantic waters.

brazil6Morro Branco Beach, Fortaleza

One of the most rewarding aspects of our project entailed interviewing average Brazilians about their internet experience. During one such interview our new friend and interviewee Wellington, gave us a tour of his town. He brought us to the municipal library and church in the middle of town and introduced us to community volunteers preparing a feast for the whole town for a festival that evening. We sadly had to decline the invitation to attend, yet not before taking pictures with about half of the locals.

brazil7Municipal Library, Itaitinga, Fortaleza

brazil8Sant’Antonio Church, Itaitinga, Fortaleza

Our trip in country gave us a much richer understanding of a topic we’d researched from Berkeley for months. Learning from industry experts and talking to a wide mix of Brazilian internet users gave our project a depth well beyond the data. Our eagerness to truly understand the telecommunications market grew with each passing day, bringing a new meaning to our work.


Updates from IBD Brazil – The “Brazil Brothers” in Curitiba

Somit Guha, Sandeep Pahuja, Suneal Rao, and Jesse Silberberg are full-time MBA students working on a Spring 2014 International Business Development project in Brazil.

Team name:  Brazil Brothers


 “It’s a family company.” That was how various advisors had described our IBD client to us, but we did not really understand what it meant until walking into the company’s suburban headquarters, our home for the next three weeks. If there is one thing that stands out from our experience in Brazil, it is that we were treated members of the company family. It began with our main client counterpart dedicating her entire Sunday to pick us up at the airport and show us around town, extended through open and honest conversations with senior management about the organization’s strengths and opportunities for improvement, and culminated with an unforgettable dinner with the CEO at the Italian restaurant where he is a regular and treated like family by the chef/owner. (And did we mention the personalized futbol jerseys the client gave us on our last day?) We may have provided our client with deep insights into product opportunities in foreign markets (the focus of our work), but learned just as much from them about how to integrate foreigners into a new company and new culture.

Our time in Brazil began with a mini reunion, with teammates arriving separately in Curitiba, a town about one hour south of Sao Paulo by flight. After a few weeks apart, we got to work immediately prepare for our Day 1 presentation with our client sponsors and the CEO of the company. It was a late night, but we walked into the office excited to share what we had learned over four months of work in the US.

nutrimental2The Brazilian Brothers working late to get ready for day 1

Our client wanted to learn how it might enter the US market, and understand the implications of doing so would for the company. Having focused most of our energy in the US on market attractiveness, we shifted gears upon arriving in country to better understand the company’s capabilities. We were provided with access to individuals across all functions of the organization and their honesty about the company helped us form an objective opinion about the company’s capabilities, which management found extremely helpful.  We even got to tour their factory to see how they produced their products.

nutrimental3Getting ready to tour the plant!

In addition to getting to know the company, we visited stores to understand how the CPG and retail industries are different in the US and Brazil. We were struck by the how different the aisles were, particularly the limited variety of brands in Brazil compared to the US. This fieldwork gave us a view into how the company operates in its own backyard, which was crucial to understanding how it might be able to compete in a new market.

After two weeks in country, we shared our findings with the founder (and current owner) of the company, the CEO, and our primary project sponsors. Our presentation focused on sharing our findings from the US market and discussing our observations of the organization’s operations in Brazil. In what turned into more of a conversation than a presentation, we helped the company better understand a potential US entry in the context of other priorities, and were perhaps most happy with the resulting honest dialogue amongst the management team.


Beyond the analysis we conducted, the owner asked each of us how much we personally believed in the idea of a US entry, and listened intently as we each shared our individual positions on whether we would take the venture to the US.  He also asked us to present our findings again to his daughter, which again brought us into the extended company family. Overall, the experience taught us a ton about how to run a company at the highest levels.

We also got to know our clients outside of the office. Our main client drove us between the suburb’s five lunch spots, where we quickly became regulars and learned the joy of the two-hour Brazilian lunch. At the end of the project, the CEO took us out for dinner at a phenomenal Italian restaurant as a thank you for our work. It was Italian dining at its finest, where the chef brings incredible food to your table and insults you as a demonstration of how much he cares about you. When a board member of the company asked for a macchiato instead of the standard espresso (requiring the simple addition of a dollop of milk), the chef responded that he could make a macchiato, but had neither the time or desire to do so. He wisely ordered the espresso instead.


The cultural experience:

Two of our team members arrived four days early to experience Sao Paulo before starting our project in Curitiba. Staying in one of the more vibrant parts of the city, Vila Madalena, they experienced Sampa’s vibrant night life, cultural attractions, and expansive mass transit system. While they managed to not to make it to an of the city’s famous Churrhascaria’s, they did get a taste for Brazilian hospitality from the locals, which was only surpassed by the actions of the client.

Once in Curitiba, we learned what it means to be in a World Cup host city weeks before the games begin. Incomplete construction on the roads caused a tremendous amount of traffic, internet wires cut by accident left us sans wifi in the hotel at certain points, and our daily walk took us over ever-changing plots of dirt and grass that used to be sidewalks (and hopefully will be again soon). In spite of this, we were able to get everywhere we needed to go and in the end got a great feel for the region.

Local highlights included a night at a Brazilian club soccer match with our main client and her husband (pictured)! Curitiba was able to grab one point in the standings by tying the score with a second half score (or an equalizer as our English teammate might say).

nutrimental6We clearly understand futbol and are not watching the game awkwardly

The Oscar Niemeyer Museum, named for the world-renowned architect and the individual responsible for designing Brasilia, the Brazilian capital, provided both brilliant artchitecture and “unique” portraits (see below).



We also went to the Botanical gardens and experienced their brilliant night life, meeting many interesting “Curitibanos” (Curitiba residents) along the way.

nutrimental9Curitiba Botanical Gardens

On our second weekend in Brazil, we went to Foz de Iguaçu to see one of the most beautiful sights in the world. We visited the waterfalls on both sides of the Brazilian-Argentinian border.

nutrimental10Falls from the Brazilian side

nutrimental11Falls from the Argentina side

nutrimental12The Brothers before a quick dip in the falls!

We also met a gentleman who claimed to be a comedian on a Brazilian TV show that was expanding beyond Brazil into five countries abroad. You can judge if he is who he says he is:



All in all we had a great time in Brazil, both professional and personally. We head back to the US and United Kingdom for summer internships knowing that we were able to contribute to our IBD organization as well as grow personally. We hope that the class of 2016 will be lucky enough to have opportunity to work with our organization again next year for IBD, and join our extended Brazilian family.