IBD 2016 Crowns Conference Winners!  Team Apsara Takes Home Best Presentation.

Every year at the Berkeley-Haas IBD Conference, the IBD faculty announces student team winners in a variety of categories to celebrate another successful year of IBD spring and summer courses.  This year’s IBD team winners were:

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After reviewing six IBD team presentations delivered during the Conference, the award of Best IBD Presentation was unanimously awarded to Team Apsara.  Team Apsara traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, to develop and teach a two-week entrepreneurship program named ACT (Apsara Capital Trust).  The ACT program was directed to young Zimbabweans who are passionate about social change in a country that faces challenging economic and political conditions.  This was the fourth IBD team to work with Apsara, and the team’s main project objective was to develop curriculum for an online and in-person course for ACT’s Intensive Entrepreneurship Program.   During two weeks of teaching, Team Apsara worked with 21 students daily on design thinking, prototyping, brainstorming, constructing empathy maps, and developing interviewing skills.  At the end of their in-country experience, the IBD team delivered more than course materials. They also recommended how to create an ACT Ecosystem whereby students could share and help each other with entrepreneurial ideas.  In addition, the IBD team suggested possible revenue streams to help ACT become more sustainable.  IBD team member Julian Garzon shared this conclusion from his project experience: “We were impressed to find great people with great ideas everywhere, but the resources are not for them all the time.  It makes us think how privileged we are, and how we should be committed to give back and contribute to the community because these great people should have a shot to flourish with their business ideas. Finally, we can’t underestimate the power of bringing people together who are motivated and driven to work hard and achieve their dreams”.

To read Team Apsara’s blog click here.

Students Shine at 2016 IBD Conference

We officially wrapped up another amazing year of the Berkeley-Haas International Business Development (IBD) program with our final event, the 2016 IBD Conference on September 16th. The Conference started with an interactive poster session during which 22 IBD teams presented their projects, answered questions and showcased their unique experiences and wearables.  Some of the IBD students who went all out were Team Nando, who wore custom designed clothing produced by their client; Team Ashesi, who had matching pockets sewn onto their shirts; Team Inka Moss, who sported Peruvian sweaters and caps; and Team PAG, whose student team lead, Zarrah Birdie, donned a panda hoodie in honor of her team’s experience working in China. 

“All of the students were excited not only to share their adventures and the consulting work they did with their clients around the world, but also to see the huge variety of other projects and cultures that their classmates completed and experienced. Curiosity and enthusiasm were extremely high, and the noise level even higher.” Mark Coopersmith, IBD Faculty Mentor.

The energy was high for everyone at the Conference, including Haas’s CFO, Suresh Bhat, who came by the poster session to engage with IBD students and spend time learning about their projects.

“Attending the IBD conference is always a fabulous experience and seeing the enthusiasm from both FTMBA and EWMBA students as they present their findings, brings their project to life.  The students favorably commented on the experiential learning process. In addition, having to face and overcome language and cultural barriers is a mirror of what many of them will have to face as they take on new career opportunities post their MBA.” Suresh Bhat.


Following the poster session, students and guests were treated to a lunch program that consisted of a panel presentation of IBD student team leads, overall comments from Berkeley-Haas Dean Rich Lyons, TED Talk style presentations by six IBD teams, and an acceptance speech from the 2016 IBD Alumnus of the Year, Rajiv Ball.

Rajiv, a Partner at THNK, Berkeley-Haas lecturer and host of the Design Thinking Course held recently in Amsterdam over spring break, worked previously with IBD as a project sponsor.  In his acceptance video he talked about the amazing experience that IBD provides for students:  “The notion of broadening your international horizons… and the ability to really step outside the US, and explore how business gets done there, that is a true gift that the program brings its participants.”

While there are many highlights from the IBD Conference, it was ultimately about hearing from the students their impressions of their projects and their reflections on the IBD experience.  New to the IBD Conference this year was a panel discussion with IBD student team leads.  IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube interviewed five student team leads and asked them to share their insights on serving in a team lead capacity. One student team lead, Vanessa Pau, said, “It is a rare opportunity to lead a team of peers, many of whom are much smarter than I am, and to actually work with them, learn from them and motivate them throughout times in the project.”  

In addition to the panel discussion, six IBD teams were chosen by a combination of student and faculty voting to present their projects to the Conference audience.  Videos of the lucky winners and presenting teams can be seen here.

Many IBD teams shared how their journeys changed once they were in country, including shifts in their perspectives, relationships, and overall project recommendations.  The student team lead for Team groupelephant.com, Theo Grzegorczk, said of his team’s time in South Africa, “It gave us a real reason to care, and we made this transition by actually getting involved with their company…we learned by really getting into their business.  We went through this process of understanding how they work…and by living the way they do business…we came to understand a little bit more of their company and that is the first step in the design thinking process.”

Team Samai’s Bruno Vargas said, “We had all kinds of backgrounds, not just nationally, but professional backgrounds…We were hands on, we were rolling (up) our sleeves, working hand in hand with them…We were actually giving them to tools to manage their business and in the end, we built strong relationships.”

IBD Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier summed it up best when she shared the following comment: “The students were really energized and proud of their work and the relationships they built with their clients.  A few told me it was the best experience they had at Haas, and specifically the best team experience.  Exciting to see we are having such an impact!”

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Disrupting the Education Technology Industry in Brazil

Team Starline is in Belo Horizonte, Brazil looking to help our client, Starline Tecnologia, an education tech start-up, evaluate the opportunities in the Brazilian Education B2C market and define an appropriate business model for entry.

As our project is winding down and we work on our final deliverables we have had a chance to reflect on our wonderful experience in Brazil thus far. We spent the first weekend in Rio, where we visited with Team Funio, enjoyed the picturesque scenery and lively nightlife, and made sure that before we left we became experts in Samba.

View from Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf), Rio de Janeiro


Team Starline enjoying Pão de Açúcar, Rio de Janeiro


Enjoying Samba at Carioca de Gema in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro


Our second weekend we stayed in Belo Horizonte; the holiday weekend promised a fun-filled two days. We took in an outdoor music festival, experienced the Mercado Central where we not only purchased souvenirs like Cachaça and Havaiana flip-flops, but also enjoyed sipping beers squeezed between locals that heckled every time someone wearing an opposing team’s soccer jersey walked by. We also had a chance to visit Ouro Preto, the picturesque former capital of Brazil from when the Portuguese reigned, that is surrounded by gold mines.

Sipping beers in the crowded bar at Mercado Central, Belo HorizonteImage

 Amy and Stephanie with our Host/Company Liaison, Marcelo, Ouro Preto


Our project has come together very well in the last two weeks. While we had completed a lot of market research at home in Berkeley, we were lacking in ethnographic data and really wanted to get a deep and thorough understanding of what the day-to-day teaching life was like for both private and public secondary school teachers, our potential consumer targets. Thus, our first week consisted of visits to public and private schools.

Our first school visit was to Milton Campos, a public high school. In many ways it reminded us more of a prison—metal gates and high walls that are covered in graffiti surround the school.

Entrance to Milton Campos


We were greeted by the Assistant Principal who gave us a tour of the school, which consisted mainly of dark halls and classrooms filled with nothing but old desks and a chalkboard.  

Typical classroom at Milton CamposImage

Vivek shows some Haas love


The library had one computer, which was close to 10 years old and looked as though it had not been turn on or used in years

Ancient computer in the library at Milton Campos


The public school kids were required to wear t-shirts as uniforms and go to school in shifts. At this school the 11th and 12th graders attend school in the mornings from 8-12 and the 10th graders came in the afternoons from 1-5. Others who work during the day attend evening classes from 6-10. We observed a chemistry class where on that day the kids were lucky enough to have a lab that they get access to only once a month. The students were very excited to show us the experiment they were conducting and shouted out the few English words that they knew.

We were told that many of the kids drop out by 10th grade and of the ones who graduate only a few will go on to private universities. The public high school students do not even attempt to apply to public universities, which are considered the elite colleges in Brazil, because they are too hard to get into and the students have not had the resources available to them to compete with private high school students. The irony is that one has attend a private high school, which is very expensive and elite in its own right, in order to be accepted into the free public universities.

Students from the chemistry class we observed


The public school teachers that we spoke to were tired. They spoke to us about teaching more than 1500 students at any given time, and explained that they typically worked at two or three different schools per day in order to make enough money to live on. The school provides them with no resources and often times they have to pay out-of-pocket to provide paper or other materials for their students to use. They show up to work and struggle to connect with their students, frustrated by a lack of pay and the lofty expectations of the school administration. They all spoke of not having the time to track student progress or come up with new lesson plans.

 The next day we visited a private school, Isabela Hendrix, which houses not only grades K-12 but a university as well. Many of the students spend their entire educational upbringing at this school. One girl we met has attended the school since kindergarten and is finishing up her law degree this year. We were given a tour of the facilities by the program director, which included well-lit, clean classrooms with modern computers, projectors and white boards. The school had numerous science labs, kitchens to teach the younger kids how to cook, computer labs containing more than 30 modern computers and university caliber auditoriums. The contrast to the public school is like night and day. 

A computer lab at Isabela Hendrix




We sat in on an English class with graduating seniors. The teacher was excited to have us there and asked that we each sit with small groups of 6-7 students. We proceeded to tell them about ourselves, our project, and discussed what the students like to do on a daily basis. Some of the kids spoke very well, while others were just beginning to learn the basics of English—however, it was clear that these students have been given opportunities and a foundation for success.

 Amy telling the students about Taiwan


Our new friends 


Teachers at this school were much more optimistic. They all emphasized their love of teaching and were clearly much less stressed out. They don’t have to worry about resources for the students as the school covers their expenses– it also does not hurt that they are paid 3-4 times more than public school teachers. They work at only one school and are in charge of somewhere close to 100 students at a given time as opposed to the 1500 students that public school teachers are responsible for. The overall environment leads to both happier students and more satisfied teachers.

With our ethnographic research done, it is now up to Team Starline to come up with a suitable product for the potential B2C market. We will continue to contemplate our recommendations over Caipirinhas, Brazil’s national cocktail. Saúde!