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 China – Team CreditEase

Berkeley-Haas Evening & Weekend MBA students Jason Eaves, William Huang, Arthur Ng, and Harish Srinivasan participated in a summer IBD project in Beijing, China with CreditEase’s P2P Online Lending platform Yirendai.

First week in country

The team received a warm welcome from the clients during our first day visit at the Yirendai office. We presented the day of arrival presenation to the Yirendai CFO (Dennis Cong, Berkeley-Haas EWMBA Alumnus) and the senior management team. Our client had also arranged meetings for us with other CreditEase departments on Tuesday, which included Wealth Management, Personal Loans and Risk Management. To fully understand the internet finance industry in China, we performed personal interviews with our clients, industry experts and end-users. Our team members were able to obtain several good insights which helped us identify opportunites for Yirendai to further improve their marketing, operations, product development and business development functions.

First day of arrival lunch with clients at the Yirendai office (Chaoyang District, Beijing)

First day of arrival lunch with clients at the Yirendai office (Chaoyang District, Beijing)

LendIt Group Dinner with CEO of CreditEase Mr. Ning Tang (Restaurant 1949, Beijing)

LendIt Group Dinner with CEO of CreditEase Mr. Ning Tang (Restaurant 1949, Beijing)

Mobile Finance and Online P2P Lending in China

We were very fortunate to be physically in Beijing to attend the 2015 China Mobile Finance Conference/LendIt China with our clients during the first week of our in-country work. With a growing mobile user base, China has elevated the use of mobile services and online P2P platforms to include services such as mobile payments, Internet finance, transportation, home renovation, and lodging.

The LendIt conference featured several guest speakers and panelists including executives from leading Chinese mobile and P2P lending companies, representatives from P2P regulatory associations, and executives from U.S. P2P lending companies/ including Ron Suber from Prosper and Jeremy Todd from Orchard Capital. All speakers offered their key insights on the growing Chinese P2P market and the steps that need to be taken in order to continue the momentum. After the conference day, our client invited us to an intimate dinner with their leadership team and the US executives where we had the opportunity to network and learn more about global P2P trends directly from the top experts in the field.

2015 Mobile Finance International Summit/LendIt China (National Conventional Center, Beijing)

2015 Mobile Finance International Summit/LendIt China (National Conventional Center, Beijing)

Taste of China

With such a large population and so much cultural diversity, Beijing had not only the traditional northern cuisines, but also a good variety of regional foods from all over China.

Peking Duck- the signature dish of Beijing

Peking Duck- the signature dish of Beijing

We are very fortunate to have worked with Kelly Zheng (Corporate Strategist for CreditEase), who kindly took us to several specialty restaurants for dinner, even after a long day of work. The cultural experience of Chinese dining certainly surprised us and some of the foods were also quite challenging to eat.

Team dinners with our client (Kelly Zheng) at traditional Beijing style restaurants

Team dinners with our client (Kelly Zheng) at traditional Beijing style restaurants

Culture, History, and Art of China

As China has emerged to become a major economic power – with annual double digit growth rates – it is easy to overlook its heritage in light of the modernization happening throughout the country. While there are countless office buildings and skyscrapers under construction in the city center, China’s rich culture has remained at the foundation of its rapid forward progress. While in-country we took some time to visit historical sites and experience the performing arts.

Chinese “Face Change” performance originated from the Szechuan province

Chinese “Face Change” performance originated from the Szechuan province

The Great Wall of China, just outside of Beijing

The Great Wall of China, just outside of Beijing

Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty Emperor located in Beijing

Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty Emperor located in Beijing

Final Thoughts

Despite only two weeks of in-country work, our team was deeply immersed in the local business culture, food, and way of life. We observed that Chinese financial technology firms can have ambitious goals while having fun at the same time. During the process of coming up with recommendations, we leveraged the strengths of each team member and used the frameworks we learned at Haas. In our final presentation, we introduced our Berkeley-Haas innovation process to Yirendai’s executive management team and got positive feedback on our strategic recommendations related to brand awareness, net promoter score, partnerships, innovation process, and data strategy.

Berkeley-Haas IBD China Team presented CAL gear to the Yirendai management team

Berkeley-Haas IBD China Team presented CAL gear to the Yirendai management team

Updates from IBD China – Team Thermo Fisher

IBD Team Thermo Fisher (Ramya Babu, Lisa Becker, Scott Crider, George James) worked with the China division of Thermo Fisher, an American multinational company, on a growth strategy project for its environment / water analysis segment.

Moving Fast

Shanghai is not what we expected it to be. Even George, who had already lived in this city before was surprised by how modern and western Shanghai has become. We stayed in Pudong, aka “Pu-Jersey”, a 45-minute subway ride from the famous skyline of Shanghai. With nearly 25 million in habitants, Shanghai is currently the largest city by population in the world.

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

The most awe-inspiring thing to behold is the speed at which China is developing. Mega structures that did not exist a few years ago now tower over older buildings. The pace of growth and notion of limitless possibilities in China, and especially in Shanghai, is quite remarkable.

Food to Die For

Upon arrival, we acquainted ourselves with the area around the hotel, home to many expats. The local businesses cater to this population and thus there are many non-Chinese restaurants, with prices not much different from those of the Bay Area.

We sampled many traditional Chinese meals with our Thermo Fisher hosts, including lunches at the company’s business park cafeteria and dinners at Shanghainese restaurants.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

One of our favorite meals was la mian, huge bowls of noodle soup for around 12 RMB (or $2 USD). Other favorites included xiao long bao (soup dumplings), Da Dong’s Peking Duck (Beijing’s most famous dish) and, of course, the local pijiu, Tsingtao.

La mian

La mian

Xiao long bao

Xiao long bao

The People

We encountered a variety of people in the new, cosmopolitan city of Shanghai: cab drivers from the provinces, coworkers from Beijing, and foreigners from every corner of the globe. As different as they are, these people all share something in common – the pursuit of opportunity. From the rich to the poor, Shanghai represents the growth of China and the opportunity that a booming economy can create.

The people we met were very open to meeting foreigners, especially those who are interested in Chinese culture. George fit in well with the locals and made friends with the Chinese who appreciated his interest in Chinese language, arts and history.

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Culture and Business

Interacting with businesses in China was quite eye opening. There were several conflicting characteristics that we observed. The most prominent are embracing proven ideas, struggling to adopt new ideas, and moving fast. As we spoke with our client and their customers, one idea was repeated throughout: the use of best in class practices combed from all over the world are representative of “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”. The sheer thirst for knowledge that has been proven was astounding to observe.

In direct contrast to the assimilation of proven ideas is the struggle to adopt cutting edge ones. We used design-thinking processes that we had previously learned in the Problem Finding, Problem Solving class. Our client struggled to understand the value of diverging from common practices to flush out insights. This was especially interesting given that the client is a large multinational corporation based in the United States.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

We are truly grateful for the hospitality shown by the city of Shanghai, a constantly evolving city that everyone should visit at least once in his or her lifetime.

Updates from IBD China – Team YY

IBD Team YY Spring 2015 (Ariana Alisjahbana, Claire Bianchi, Patrick Scandling) worked with YY Inc.–a Chinese social media company in Guangzhou, China.

There is a Chinese saying that goes, “People in Guangzhou eat everything with legs–except for the table.”

We were pretty excited about China’s “foodie city” when we heard we’d be going to Guangzhou. We did not go home disappointed.

The three of us spent three weeks there for our IBD project with YY Inc. YY is a live streaming social media company with applications in entertainment, online gaming, and education. China’s technology industry is growing at lightning speed and YY is one of the main players. YY is listed on NASDAQ with a $3.5 billion market capitalization and has approximately 400 million users.

YY China 1

A sampling of the food we ate in Guangzhou

YY China 2

The IBD Team with YY Inc. Left-right: Patrick Scandling, Simon Wang (YY), Claire Bianchi, Jonah Busch (guest), Ariana Alisjahbana, Alvin Sun (YY)

Our first day in the YY office, we experienced the classic cross-cultural miscommunication experience. We had been working with the YY team for a few months with a certain expectation of what the client wanted. When we met on the first day, it turned out the client expected something completely different! Rather than an international expansion strategy, the client wanted an overview of technology trends in Silicon Valley.

Luckily we were able to pivot quickly to follow the client’s request. We learned that meeting face-to-face–especially if there are language barriers–is key to this type of work.

YY China 3

Team YY hard at work in the office

The YY office gives a glimpse into life at a Chinese tech company

The internet technology industry is relatively new in China–YY is one of the companies that capitalized on the country’s growth. YY started as a live chat platform for online gamers. Now it has expanded to entertainment, online dating, and education. YY is perhaps best known for being the leader in monetizing virtual goods. The majority of YY’s revenue comes from selling virtual items such as roses, chocolates, gifts, and cars.

The YY office sits in contrast with the others in the Tianhe Creative Industry Park. You cannot miss it–there are two Teslas parked in front of the building every day and occasionally two Porsches.

YY China 4

Two Teslas parked in front of the YY office

Inside, YY has an open office floor plan. Perhaps the most unique aspect of their office culture is that everyone takes a 30 minute to an hour nap after lunchtime! One of us practiced this habit throughout our time at YY.

YY China 5

A typical day in YY’s office after lunchtime

Guangzhou is one of China’s five largest cities and the culinary capital of Southern China

Most Chinese technology companies are in Beijing, but YY is one of the few headquartered in Guangzhou. It is the largest city in Southern China with over 14 million people. For Americans, Guangzhou is most famous for being the place where railway workers came from back in the 19th century.

Unfortunately, we arrived in late May when temperatures hover around 28-35ºC (82-95ºF). Humidity levels were between 90-100%. Guangzhou has the famous Chinese big city smog since it is the capital of China’s manufacturing province. The city itself is impressively clean with efficient metro and bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. Taxis were also plentiful and cheap.

YY China 6

The Guangzhou skyline taken on a typical day

Traveling around China allowed us to see different sides of the country

We travelled to different parts of China on the weekends. Patrick and Claire went to Shanghai and Beijing with the IBD Shanghai team. Ariana went to Chengdu in Sichuan Province to see the pandas.

YY China 7

In Sichuan Province, Pandas can’t stand the heat and need air conditioning

YY China 8

Qingsheng Mountain in Sichuan Province filled with 2,000 year old temples

Every city was different from Guangzhou and had its own charm. Shanghai was perhaps the most westernized of the Chinese cities. Beijing was the leader in history and culture. Chengdu had the best nature and a laid-back lifestyle.

We enjoyed our IBD experience and look forward to seeing how the Chinese technology industry develops in the coming years.

YY China 9

Team YY and Team Thermofisher (Shanghai) on top of the Great Wall

Updates from EWMBA IBD – Team SVB in China

Angela Cheng, David Lu, Andy Tang and Orian Williams are Part-Time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Shanghai, China with Silicon Valley Bank.

Enabling Entrepreneurship in China

Did you know that Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) helped Mark Zuckerberg with banking when he was just a little-known hoodie-wearing startup entrepreneur? SVB has been helping entrepreneurs succeed by providing unique financial products and services in the US. Our team is here to help them succeed in China.

Angela Cheng, David Lu, Andy Tang, and Orian Williams are EWMBA students working on an International Business Development (IBD) project in Shanghai, China. The scope of the project is to study credit quality in China for Silicon Valley Bank, specializing in banking with startups.

On our last day in the iLab at Berkeley before departing for the in-country engagement, we went through a brainstorming exercise with Frank Schultz, our IBD faculty mentor. We were glad that he was still smiling after all the hard work we put him through.


IBD-SVB Team + Frank

Week 1

The temperature in Shanghai was noticeably cooler than normal. This was a pleasant surprise and we took it as a good sign for our two weeks stay in Shanghai.

Our team of four arrived at Shanghai on three different flights. Contrary to the typical hours-long flight delays at the Shanghai Pudong Airport, our flights were all surprisingly on time. The first thing that struck us was the heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Oftentimes, two moving parties were just centimeters apart while moving in different directions at high speeds. Just when it seemed like a collision was unavoidable, miraculously both parties maneuvered out of each other’s way. It was like two partners on a dance floor moving around swiftly without stepping on each other’s toes. This city seemed to thrive in harmony, without needing any verbal communication.

We met our sponsor, Arman Zand, from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) for dinner the night before we officially began our work in the SVB office in Shanghai, China. In the Chinese culture, business and social gatherings are often conducted around good food. This occasion was no exception to that. Over several dishes of the local gourmet, we shared bits and pieces of our personal stories.

After dinner, our team kicked off our first official in-country working session in the hotel lobby to prepare for a meeting with the CEO the next day.

svb2First In-country Work Session

On our first in-country day at work, we put our knowledge of the Chinese culture and language to work immediately. We met our first interviewee, a startup incubator, at a building that provided office space and support to about 20 startups. Unlike the typical cubicle setup, each “office” was a 2’x4’ desk space which barely provided enough room for a computer, a cup, and a few miniature personal items.

svb3Startup Incubator in China

It almost caught us off-guard that our first meeting was conducted exclusively in Mandarin. It sure put some of our team members’ Mandarin to practice. A full hour of interviewing in Mandarin along with the writing of some names and terms in Chinese made our first in-country interview a very productive one.  As we found out later, the interviewers spoke more freely and provided more information if the meeting was conducted in Mandarin.

svb4Starbucks at Client’s Office

Did you know that a cup of Starbucks coffee is more expensive in Shanghai than in San Francisco? Our team discovered this because 3 of the 5 meetings on day one were at Starbucks. We were beginning to wonder if Starbucks was also where startups pitched to VCs, but that was not the focus of this project.

On day two of the in-country portion of our IBD engagement, our client helped arrange meetings with several well-known venture capital firms to better understand investor behavior in China. We tooled around the city in a gently used mini-van with our team of four plus our handler provided by the firm, and our driver. The weather was a lot warmer than in the Bay Area so thankfully we left our woolen clothing at home. We had one more meeting to go before having dinner with our sponsors’ team at a local Shanghainese restaurant.

Our itinerary had been non-stop since our arrival, but the team was eager to perform well.  The experience was amazing, but this first week had certainly tested our stamina.  This was one of the few IBD projects
with a public company this summer and so we all considered ourselves quite fortunate to have such a practical consulting experience.

svb5Local Breakfast

We decided to go native and got breakfast from a local vendor outside our hotel. Nothing too adventurous, just some steamed pork buns, although one of us did ask for a spicy one.   We also found a dry cleaning place that would wash dress shirts for one-tenth of the price that the hotel was charging. Did we mention that we love China?

We had a few more external meetings left over from earlier in the week and then some internal meetings to help us collect our thoughts. Performing internal and external interviews for the client gave our team twice the consulting experience.

svb6PFPS Exercise

To draw insights and align our observations from our interviews and observations from the last three days, we applied what we had learned from Problem Finding and Problem Solving (PFPS) class.

Our client invited us to their World Cup themed team-building event.  We were told that fun team building activities are not common in Chinese company offices and definitely were new concepts to SVB local employees. SVB tried to build a more collegiate and social culture in its office, and we saw that everyone was able to build off the energy and make the rest of the day more productive.

svb7World Cup Fun

At night, we met up with one of the EWMBA Seminars in International Business (SIB) classmates and we hung out at Nanjing Road.  Nanjing road was an interesting blend of old and new Shanghai.  Most of the original architecture and building fronts were kept but large billboards had been raised over them.  We also took the subway for the very first time.

svb8Nanjing Road

Over the weekend the team took the opportunity to recover from the late nights during the workweek. On Saturday we visited the Tianzi Fang district and the Yu Garden. The highlight of the day was our dinner at Lubolang, one of the best restaurants in Shanghai. We saw a photo of Hilary Clinton who had previously dined there. Their Xiao Long Bao (soup filled dumpling) was excellent.

svb9Best Dinner

On Sunday the team traveled to the outskirts of Shanghai for the local alumni chapter event held at the Sofitel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental.  We met Ann Hsu, the Shanghai alumni chapter coordinator, and her husband Tom, who used to work in M&A. Tom said he knew Professor Goodson – small world.

We enjoyed an all you can eat brunch buffet with mimosas. Some of the team members even took a dip in the pool afterwards. It was a nice opportunity to get some fresh air in the countryside, but we wanted to get back and work on some additional analysis for the project.

svb10Sofitel Alumni Event

Week 2

During Week 2, the Seminars in International Business (SIB) class visited the SVB office. The CEO gave a presentation about doing business in China and how SVB positioned itself as the model for innovation banking in China.  We even let them hang out in our cell.

svb11IBD Met SIB at SVB

Week 2 was an intense workweek as the team prepared the final report and presentation to the CEO. On Thursday and Friday, we made our final presentations to the CEO and SVB credit team.  We knew our work had paid off when the client told us that they finally have some tools to play with in China.  We celebrated our success at our client sponsor’s house over drinks and barbecue.  Thanks to Haas and Silicon Valley Bank, another great IBD project!

 

Updates from IBD China – Entering the Largest and Fastest Growing Market in the World

Spring 2014 IBD Student Joseph Kim shares his IBD team’s experiences in Shanghai China.

Our team is working in Shanghai, China for a large lab equipment distributor to improve the partnership and product selection process.  We had the chance to interview current customers from top research universities and leading multi-national companies while in Shanghai.  Although the project was challenging at first, as none of the team members had scientific backgrounds, the team pooled its collective experiences together and delivered clear process recommendations that will be implemented both internally and externally.

When we found out that we would be working for a lab equipment distributor, we looked at each other in bewilderment; first, we weren’t entirely sure what the company did, and secondly, we weren’t sure why they had selected a group of MBA’s all with finance backgrounds instead of a group of scientists in white lab coats.  Upon doing some company and industry research, we quickly learned that the company was a mature, industry leader in a growing Chinese market but that the U.S. parent company wanted to continue to grow its already large footprint.  It became clear that given our backgrounds we could help analyze the market opportunities and introduce processes that would increase success in product launches and finding new relationships.

 

tf1Rickety, pedal-powered wagons share the road with luxury vehicles on newly paved roads

Although the team was prepared to conduct a lot of analysis and have customer interaction once in Shanghai, we underestimated the large culture shock, especially for the members of the team who hadn’t worked overseas before.  Shanghai and its 24+ million citizens kept us on our toes and there wasn’t a dull moment that passed by.  Whether it was being hoodwinked in expensive cab rides or trying to find a restaurant that met all four team members’ dietary needs, we quickly realized that working in a developing country would be challenging even if our surroundings appeared to be developed.  Luckily for us, there were two other Haas IBD teams to share travel and experiences together.

tf2Even the chefs wanted to join the three Shanghai IBD teams at the world renowned restaurant, DTF – Din Tai Fung

Even with the language barrier, our best insights about the business came from interviewing customers.  We learned how culture can affect so many aspects of a business.  For example, one customer pointed out that Chinese workers prefer opening windows instead of turning on the A/C like her French counterparts.  Albeit a subtle difference, the smog and dust accumulation from opening a window affected lab results given the sensitivity of experiments, leading to opportunities for our client to introduce more durable machines.

tf3Overcoming language barriers and Questioning the Status Quo by feeling the sign loudly

Overall, IBD was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We had the chance to put our MBA core learning to work from start to finish and had a blast while delivering recommendations that we know will make a difference.

tf4PFPS invades Shanghai

Updates from IBD China – Team YY

Spring 2014 IBD Team YY (Brandon Cato, Justin Harnoss, Peter Garai, Simon Yoo) worked with Chinese social media company YY in Guangzhou, China.

Our team spent three weeks in China working with social media company YY.com, identifying growth opportunities for the firm. We had a fantastic experience, coming away deeply impressed by the people we worked with, the Chinese internet industry and the country’s culture.

yy1The Team at the YY office (L-R: Peter Garai, Justin Harnoss, Simon Yoo, Brandon Cato)

YY is a Chinese internet company listed on NASDAQ with a market cap over $3.5 billion. They provide a live p2p streaming product and have been wildly successful in attracting amateur performers and their fans to their platform but also have services in a number of other verticals, including dating and education. While we already knew some of the impressive numbers associated with our client and the Chinese internet industry during the semester, our in-country experience really opened our eyes on how advanced their products and services are. We were blown away from the smart people we worked with, the state-of-the-art technology and the advanced monetization models we saw at YY.

One particular business practice we thought everyone should immediately adopt is quite simple though: after lunch, employees are permitted to take a nap until 2pm! Some of them have serious gear with them: foldable beds, eye covers, noise-cancelling headphones help turn the otherwise buzzing office into a silent snooze fest in the early afternoons.

yy2Nap time at YY!

yy3The team hard at work with the YY Bear

After three weeks of work, we capped off the project by presenting our recommendations to the management of YY. While we don’t know yet whether any of them will come to fruition, we definitely gained a lot by learning about how the hottest industry works in the largest economy of the world!

yy4Dinner after our final presentation

Guangzhou may not be on everyone’s radar as a top tourist destination, but the third largest city in China with a population of 11 million is growing at a blazing pace. The downtown area is already full with impressive skyscrapers, lit up in bright colors at night, and everywhere we went we could see at least 3-4 new ones being built. The growth was also represented by the Aston Martin, McLaren, Lamborghini dealerships located within a few blocks from our hotel, and their products on the road.

yy5We couldn’t find the color in the catalogue

The huge size and growth are accompanied with crazy traffic, as 5-6 lane roads slice through the city everywhere, and the local driving style left us with a couple of scares each time we were cabbing around the city. We quickly learned that pedestrians here are at the bottom of the food chain and one should carefully look in all directions even on a pedestrian crossing with a green light in a one way-street!

Weather-wise the time of our visit was less than ideal, the rainy season greeted us with showers, high humidity and temperatures around 90 degrees almost 24/7. Luckily, air conditioning was available everywhere, but the weather certainly did not encourage long walks outdoors.

yy6Dragon’s Boat Festival treats being prepared

yy7Guangzhou’s impressive skyline at night

The city has less expats than the others we’ve visited (Hong Kong and Shanghai) and thus is a bit tougher to get around for foreigners, but we didn’t have major problems. The language barrier was the greatest hurdle, but colleagues at our client and the hotel staff were always very helpful, and our sign language skills have definitely improved during the three weeks, while thankfully almost every restaurant had picture menus. Speaking of food: exploring the Cantonese cuisine was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. On occasions we had dinner with our clients who recommended us the best dishes, otherwise we just leaned on our awesome picture analysis skills to figure out what we are ordering (and what we definitely do not want to order).

During the weekends we visited Hong Kong – which is only a 2 hour train ride away – and Shanghai, were we met with Team Galderma. Both cities were phenomenal and we really enjoyed exploring the different faces of China. Unsurprisingly Hong Kong was the most “international” of the three, Shanghai showed its heritage as China’s most cosmopolitan city while Guangzhou made the impression of a city that at its current pace of development may very well present a picture much more similar to the other two in five years. We’ll have to check it out again!

yy8IBD Teams Galderma and YY join forces in Shanghai

IBD Updates from China – Team SAP Business One: Parts I, II & III

Team SAP Business One aka “Shanghai Knights” Andrew Hinton, Oseyi Ikuenobe, Ryo Itoh and Yavuz Alkan– worked with SAP in Shanghai to help with the launch of a new software product in China and the United States. They were located at SAP Labs (the innovation and development organization of SAP) in Shanghai’s Technology Park at Pudong.

Part I – “Change is Gonna Come”

Prior to arriving in Shanghai we had several iterations with the client on the scope of our project. We oscillated between a validation of the launch strategy for China, and evaluation of possible launches in English speaking countries (including the US). We arrived in China with a clear scope in mind and armed with our “arrival presentation” we went to our kickoff meeting.  We hadn’t gotten through half of our slides before our project sponsor Robert Chu (EMBA ’06) stopped us to tell us something that would change the course of the next 3 weeks.

sapchina1“Shanghai Knights” @ SAP Office

He had decided that he was now a lot more interested in deciding between two courses of action for the product. SAP was trying to figure out if they should continue developing the product till it was complete or roll it out in a beta form and iterate based on customer feedback.  He also wanted to understand how this decision affected a launch in the US.

This was a shocking development, but we were prepared for a change and were delighted that we would be focused on something that would be meaningful to Rob. But there was more! Rob also mentioned that he would be leaving a few days later for 2 week business trip to the US – ironically spending a few days in the Bay Area. But wait, there’s more! Since the product was still in development, and there was a major release that week so most of the people we needed to talk to, would be too busy to talk to us until the following week.

So our first week was off to a rocky start but we were up to the challenge! To help deal with the pressure we spent most of our time outside the office exploring the sights of Shanghai and going on culinary adventures all over the city.

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sapchina3Hai Di Lao HotPot in Pudong

sapchina4Tai Di Fung with the two other Shanghai based IBD Teams

sapchina5The Bund (with a new friend we made)

sapchina6Nan Jing Road

 

Part II – Settling in

The bombshells dropped on us in the first 2 days seemed like an insurmountable number of hurdles, but all put together they actually gave us a chance for success. We were happy to have most of the first week to ourselves to do research related to our new scope – as most of the pre-work we had done was China specific. So we set about our task of researching and creating analytical models and lining up interviews.

We were surprised by how much we relied on what we had learned from our core courses as we began to piece together our analysis.  We used marketing frameworks from marketing and strategic brand management, entry decision strategies and game theory from our strategic management course, and problem framing techniques from PFPS.

2sapchina11Shanghai Knights @ Work

We had decided to reframe the questions we were asked by thinking about the real issue SAP was facing, ensuring that our work would be truly useful for SAP. True validation of our approach came at the end of the second week when after a presenting an update to Rob.

To celebrate our progress/success and to continue the tradition of exploring Shanghai through our stomachs we had some more great food and even managed to arrange a birthday cake for Ryo – thanks to expert usage of Google Translate (it pays to have the MBAA VP of Technology on your team) and smiles.

2sapchina2Ryo’s birthday at Di Shui Dong

We ended the week with an amazing trip to Beijing with members of one of the other IBD teams in Shanghai. We visited the Great Wall, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square the Forbidden City. We also got to enjoy a great dinner at a famous roast duck restaurant. Our trip to Beijing also gave us the opportunity to experience China’s famous sleeper trains and the high-speed train back to Shanghai.

2sapchina3Sleeper Train

2sapchina4The Great Wall

2sapchina5Summer Palace

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2sapchina8Tiananmen Square

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2sapchina10Forbidden City

 

Part III – The Home Stretch

By week 3, we had interviewed a Senior Director in SAP’s main office (with a spectacular panoramic view of Shanghai) on Nan Jing West road, the owner of the product we were working on, members of the customer engagement team as well as a product evangelist. We were struck by how passionate they all were about this new product and the fact that it was the first major SAP product to be conceived and built entirely in China.

3sapchina1The Jing ’An temple is across the street from SAP’s Nan Jing West Road Office

The highlight of our project was meeting with one of SAP’s customers in Shanghai. We got to spend several hours with them learning about their business and how SAP’s solutions could help them grow their business. It was amazing to see the impact that technology could make on small businesses.

3sapchina2Visit to Ryss – an SAP customer

The meeting was particularly memorable because they treated us to a feast for lunch after our interview was over. It was probably the best meal we had in our entire three weeks in China. Our lack of Mandarin or Shanghainese language skills were alleviated by two great SAP employees Bo and Yolanda who were great translators and guides throughout the customer visit.

Our time at SAP was rewarding as we feel we added value to a very important strategic area for SAP. We got to experience life as SAP Shanghai employees – complete with eating lunch in the cafeteria (and the local Family Mart), interacting with great people like Rambo who helped us with the temperamental AC in our team room (it was quite warm in Shanghai during the day).

3sapchina3Final Day at SAP (with Emily Tai)

We did our final presentation via conference call with Rob (who was in the US almost the entire time we were in Shanghai) and it was high fives all around when he ended the meeting by telling us we had done a great job and he was happy with what we had done – joking that he wishes he could email our professors to give us an A! We promptly shared our faculty mentor’s email address with him!

Thanks to SAP, IBD, and Shanghai for a great experience! Special thanks to Emily Tai who in spite of her busy schedule was our contact throughout the project and a great host!

3sapchina4Final Dinner on our last night in Shanghai

3sapchina5Goodbye Shanghai we’ll miss you!

Updates from IBD China — Team Galderma

Spring 2014 IBD Team Galderma (Abbey Breshears, Serena Cheung, Chris Eckersley, and Marlon Quintero) is in Shanghai working with the cosmetics company Galderma.

The lucky four on Team Galderma can say that their IBD project is the definition of a “winning strategy”: interesting problem to solve, engaged and supportive client, great office and hotel locations in Shanghai and the added bonus of a Mandarin-speaking teammate to ensure the most authentic experience possible in China.

The Galderma team has been tasked with developing an innovative “win strategy” for the Chinese market entry of two lines of skin care products. Given how much China has been changing in recent years, our client, a Frenchman from Galderma headquarters in Switzerland, wanted us to learn as much as possible about the Chinese CPG and cosmetic marketplaces.

On our second day “in the office,” three Galderma team members escorted us on a full day market tour of five retail stores around Shanghai, which also offered the fab foursome a great walking tour of downtown. We took a few moments to reflect on our strategic progress on Nanjing Road.

galderma1The “Team Who Thinks Together Stays Together” on Nanjing Road

From cosmetic giant Watsons to a drugstore to super suspicious employees at Sephora (“NO PHOTO NO PHOTO!”—counterfeit products are a huge problem in China) to the eerily Walmart-like Lotus Hypermarket, the team learned much about consumer shopping habits in China.

galderma2Lotus Hypermarket

galderma3Helpful drugstore floor product guide

On our second day, we received a tour of a public hospital led by a former dermatologist who now works for Galderma. A visit from Vladimir Putin had shut down most of the city, leaving the hospital with only about a third of its typical patient volume. Even so, the hospital was incredibly crowded, filled with lines and patients milling about (apparently) aimlessly. Dermatologists in public hospitals typically see about 100 patients per day. Conditions in the patient rooms were cramped and dirty, with four to five beds per room and no differentiation between diseases: people with contagious ailments were bedded down next to other patients, virtually ensuring the spread of disease. For even more fun, each specialty has a government-mandated limit on patient stays. For mobile patients, that could mean checking out and checking back into the hospital, a lengthy and pointless exercise; for non-mobile patients on respirators or other life-saving devices, that could mean major fines for the hospital and doctors on staff. Additionally, Chinese families mourning the deaths of patients have been murdering doctors in recent months.

In short, we were not surprised our Galderma contact decided to leave the field.

The private dermatological hospital we visited the next day was a different world, more reminiscent of a Western high-end spa retreat than a hospital. Private hospitals are restricted to the super rich in China and the posh atmosphere proves the point.

galderma4Private hospital lobby and floor guide

Chris even got the chance to have a full skin assessment done on his face. Turns out that Chris’ 24 year-old skin is much more sun damaged and wrinkly than your typical rich Chinese woman’s. Good thing we learned about some great products to help solve his problems.

galderma5Chris enjoying a high-class assessment

Supplementary meetings with our client’s Marketing, eCommerce, Key Accounts and Finance teams as well as outside meetings with their digital agency, a brand manager from Unilever, a market research consultant and a principal from Bain all helped set us up for project success.

Outside of the office, our team has the pleasure of staying in a ritzy area of downtown Shanghai where stores like Cartier and Burberry and cars like Maseratis and Aston Martins are frequently spotted. Our hotel’s eerily deserted 41st floor shows off a pretty fabulous view and our central location.

galderma6The view from the top of the hotel

Because no trip to China is complete without a visit to the Great Wall, the team took a high speed train to Beijing the first weekend of the trip. Waiting in line for train tickets, Abbey got to experience one of the great joys of Chinese-American relations: the differences in perceptions of personal space.

galderma8There was literally no one behind this woman in line

While in Beijing, the team packed in as many historic sites as possible, largely thanks to Serena’s knowledge of the must-see local attractions. The team kicked off the trip with a rainy visit to Tianamen Square—and apparently were the only tourists who didn’t think that full-length clothing, coats and umbrellas were really necessary in the 75-degree weather.

galderma9The Galderma team proving that California hasn’t made us soft

After deciding against checking out the display of Mao’s embalmed body (true story—Serena has already seen it), we headed into the Forbidden City, where a helpful English-speaking automatic guide told us all about the few rulers and many concubines who had lived in the massive space.

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Male lion guarding one of the buildings and the Hill of Accumulated Beauty 

The afternoon was spent touring the Temple of Heaven, where the team enjoyed some peaceful walkways and hobbit doors that allowed the team to diverge and innovate their picture taking technique.

galderma18The team showing that our skills are not just strategy-related

The next day, the team traversed the Great Wall, successfully attaining the mythical jumping picture after many attempts with confused Chinese and foreign tourists. After walking up a nearly infinite number of stairs to get to the top of the Wall, Team Galderma was only too pleased to take a luge ride back down.

galderma12Great times at the Great Wall

While the team has been very focused on delivering strategic recommendations for the skin care marketplace, we’ve also realized an as-yet untapped, billion dollar business idea: spelling- and grammar-checking for Chinese signs and menus.

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Some of our favorite sign and menu fails

In short, the team has been having a fabulous time, learning a ton and will hopefully provide an excellent (and excellently researched) final project to our Galderma client.