IBD Team Belize aka Team Unbelizable – Week 2

Written by Hima Erukulla,  Andrew Lee, Jerry Philip, Srinivas Rajamani and Nik Reddy

Week 2

Backdrop of beautiful water sceneryIt had been nearly 2 months, 4 grueling Saturdays, 1 week in-country experience since the “Big Reveal” of our IBD project in May, but the energy and excitement of the team was still intact. It was due in no small to our project which was to develop a sustainable business model for WCS GLovers Reef Research Station Belize. That the entire project was set against the backdrop of a tropical island was icing on the cake.

Diving on the Weekend

Travel to island named Marisol

Travel to island named Marisol

As Friday dawned, island fever crept on us and we decided to give ourselves a break. Starting Friday afternoon we spent our time at the nearby island named Marisol. We made a lot of connections on this trip, but one of the most impressionable people that we met was our transporter – Seth.

While the PADI certified folks snorkeled in the gorgeous lagoon, two of us were sweating towards getting our PADI certification as we had a special event planned for Sunday. On Sunday morning, five of us along with a couple of dive instructors dove in the Glover’s Reef Atoll to unfurl the CAL flag at a depth of 100 feet underwater!

Team dove in the Glover’s Reef Atoll to unfurl the CAL flag at a depth of 100 feet underwater!

Team dove in the Glover’s Reef Atoll to unfurl the CAL flag at a depth of 100 feet underwater!

Back at Glover’s in the afternoon it hit us that it was our last day there. We spent the rest of the evening exchanging goodbyes, clicking pictures, swapping stories and went to bed reminiscing on all the good times.

 

Journey to Belize City

We were up early Monday morning as the boat was slated to leave at 6:30 AM with 9:00AM ETA in Belize City. Since the UCF students were traveling back with us it was slightly cramped but as the boat gently swayed we were too immersed in the vast ocean to be bothered with anything. Half an hour our ride, as we ventured deep into the ocean, one of the boat engines died with a with loud pop. Immediately, the boat started rocking violently with angry waves lashing at it. The boat captain cautiously maneuvered close to an island to send a signal to a rescue boat which was summoned to rescue us in the middle of the ocean. It was a long and choppy boat ride and, at one point, the fear was palpable in everyone’s face when the boat’s only working engine groaned, threatening to give up. Fortunately, we were safely transferred to the rescue boat before the engine could give out. We reached Belize City nearly two hours late, tired and extremely glad, given how precariously close the boat came to capsizing.

Final Presentation and Wrap up

We spent the rest of the week in WCS office working feverishly on the final report and presentation. Fortunately the World Cup semis coincided with two conveniently long lunch breaks.

Watching World Cup Semi Champs

Watching World Cup Semi Champs

Friday morning we presented our findings spanning our experience at the research station, journey, recommendations, and implementation playbook. As the presentation progressed it appeared as if WCS was connecting with the various sections, pausing to clarify, corroborating their earlier findings and having internal discussions as well.  At close, our audience seemed satisfied with the work and were eager to present our recommendations to the headquarters in New York. They then took us for an fantastic lunch at a popular restaurant that we were meaning to go to and gifted us Glover’s Station merchandise for our efforts.

After providing a final rundown of our analysis and models developed, we left the WCS office one last time after much hand shaking and mutual appreciation for getting to work on such a wonderful project together. We ended the evening celebrating the successful completion of our assignment in Belize City. 

Celebration lunch

Celebration lunch

Forever grateful to IBD and Haas for an amazing project. This assignment has been a rewarding opportunity to learn and an ideal setting to form lasting bonds!

 

 

GRRS Promo Video

https://berkeley.box.com/s/kzgo6ybzz75jkhw136ywkck1e54thzni

IBD Team Belize aka Team Unbelizable – Week 1

Written by Hima Erukulla,  Andrew Lee, Jerry Philip, Srinivas Rajamani and Nik Reddy

Sea Turtle at Belize Barrier Reef

Sea Turtle at Belize Barrier Reef

IBD Team Belize aka Team Unbelizable – Week 1

From the time we learned about our IBD summer project in May, we knew we were up for an amazing experience. Our assignment was to develop a sustainable business model for WCS Glover’s Reef Research Station in Belize. We spent most of June developing work streams to explore the business problem. Through extensive customer interviews, routine client interactions and pouring over their financial data we came up with the hypothesis that student groups are the most attractive customer segment and Glover’s should focus on scaling this customer segment to become sustainable. The next step was in- country experience to answer the questions – “how to scale” and “is the solution feasible”. It was now time to travel to the clients office in Belize.

Belize Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

June 25th – July 1st

Lobster for lunchOur first stop upon arrival in Belize was San Pedro. San Pedro is a popular tourist destination about 2 hour boat ride away from Belize City. It’s most prized possession is the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef on the planet.

Three of us (Andrew, Jerry and Srinivas) arrived earlier on 06/27. We were either already PADI certified or got certified on short notice to be ready for some of the best dives in the world – Half Moon Caye, Great Blue Hole, the Aquarium as well as other local dives. We captured extensive footage of green turtle, reef shark, rays, variety of fish, corals reefs and an interesting tug of war with a nurse shark.

The remaining two of us arrived on June 30th and the team was back together. The team was also fortunate to be in-country during the famous, annual Lobster Festival. We made friends with a local bartender, Dion Samuels, who acted as our unofficial tour guide for the weekend. With his guidance, we were able to explore the local cuisine and popular bars for a couple of days before bidding a fond farewell to San Pedro on July 1st, Sunday.

July 2nd

Monday morning we met the client at their office in Belize City and gave a presentation to update them on the work done so far. The presentation was well received, and the client appreciated our efforts and were looking forward to hearing our solutions.

After a quick lunch, it was time to visit the station itself. Glover’s Reef Research Station is located on the Middle Caye island of the Glovers Atoll, about a 3-hour boat ride from Belize City. We reached the island late afternoon, and after a quick orientation and a sumptuous dinner we called it a night after what was a very long, day.

July 3rd – July 8th

Life on Tropical Paradise: A typical day started at 8:00AM after breakfast which was served from 7-8am.

Morning: (8:00AM – 12PM)

Dining overlooking the oceanMornings were our high productivity time and we reserved it for brainstorming. We would meet in the library, which was a long room with a narrow center table, a few chairs, white board and two wall fans. It was far cry from the conference rooms we were accustomed to at Haas.

We would then discuss our potential solutions with the operations manager, Kenneth, to check for its feasibility in implementation. We would also walk around the island to interview the staff to learn about the facilities and its operations. Our goal was to evaluate if the station had capacity to handle an increase in customer volume.

Afternoon (12:00PM -5:00PM)

Lunch was served in a cozy dining area adjoining the kitchen. They were both located on the second floor overlooking the ocean. Pristine beach views made for a luxurious dining experience to an otherwise modest and rustic dining area.

Afternoons, we worked in the wet lab and focused on execution work. We would usually break into solo or smaller groups to work on feasibility/ROI analysis and other research and documentation tasks. Our favorite hangout spot by far, for work or pleasure, was the Wet Lab. The Wet Lab at Glover’s is a large square open air area, filled with benches, tables, chairs and HAMMOCKS. There was also a 360 degree view of the island – an ideal setting to temper the tediousness in execution tasks.

Evening (5:00PM -10:00PM)After Volleyball

Volleyball Time. We played volleyball with the staff every day. Initially it was Haas vs. GRRS/Belize Coast Guard but soon we mixed up the teams. These volleyball matches got quite intense, but they were a lot of fun. There was also a match between the UCF students and Haas & GRRS. Naturally, Haas dominated UCF, even winning the first game with a 21-0 sweep.

Volleyball was followed by dinner. Similar to lunch, the dinner menu was elaborate and included salad, a couple of main dishes, a side dish, dessert and fruit drinks. To say that every meal at Glover’s was exceptionally delicious is a gross understatement. All thanks to Rushell – chatty, patient and a brilliant chef. We would then retreat to the hammocks in the Wet Lab and relax in the fierce but warm tropical breeze for some reading, reflection, banter and bonding. Of course, we also hydrated with some fresh coconut water. Despite spending an entire day together on a remote island, we still looked forward to this time to get know each other more, form stronger bonds and become better friends.

Playing VolleyballAs blissful as this life sounds, it was not without its challenges. Andrew, Jerry, Nik and Srini were crammed into a tiny room and had to deal with a particularly stubborn gecko every night. Nik invariably made the gecko’s daily musings the topic of every breakfast meal. Sand flies did have a feast on some more than others. A/C was a luxury we could only dream about and internet was at best intermittent and non-existent at worst. Despite these challenges, time spent on this tropical paradise was productive, relaxing, fun. The team was able to make beautiful memories to last us a lifetime.

Stay tuned for part two which covers deep sea diving on the weekend, an “adventurous” boat ride back, and wrapping up in the main office in Belize City.

Hydrating with Coconut Water

 

 

Check out next weeks Haas In the World Blog for the second student blog from Team Belize which will include a video.

Welcome to the Summer 2018 International Business Development EWMBAs

EWMBA 2018

EWMBA 2018

The Big Reveal and Kickoff for the summer 2018 IBD program took place on May 13th in the Innovation Lab at Berkeley Haas.  Fifteen enthusiastic Evening and Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students participated, learning for the first time information about their respective IBD clients and projects.  This particular IBD class consists of three teams of five MBA Students each, all of whom will work on their IBD projects for the next five weeks at Berkeley Haas. In July they will travel to Mexico City, Shanghai and Belize City in order to live and work in-country on their respective projects for two weeks.  

Frank Schultz, IBD Faculty Director, and Mentor, says he “enjoys working with the EWMBA students because they bring a vast array of work experiences to their projects.  This can lead to very creative and transformative solutions for our clients. Plus, they are pretty cool!”

Let’s introduce our newest IBD class!  Please enjoy reading something about each EWMBA IBD student and his/her thoughts about participating in the IBD program.  

Team Mexico City:

Sounak Basu Point Reyes coast on Coastal Trail

Sounak Basu Point Reyes coast on Coastal Trail

Sounak Basu has 12 plus years of work experience in the IT Industry, specifically in U.S. Health Insurance and U.S. Postal Domains.  He has led cross-cultural teams in India, China, and the U.S.

“I believe that the opportunity offered to me by the IBD Program – to be able to expose myself to a new country, a new culture, a new business environment/challenge – will help me grow as a person both personally and professionally. I am a “student always” believer and the IBD program offers an amazing opportunity of learning that I can’t wait to experience.”  – Sounak Basu

 

Mike Chi

Mike Chi

Mike Chi is a Senior Staff Power Management IC (PMIC) Systems Engineer at Qualcomm Inc. and has a Master of Engineering Degree from University of California, San Diego in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  

“I am excited about Mexico city! Living in San Diego and bordering Mexico, I am familiar with some aspects of Mexico, but from what I heard Mexico City will be different. I am very excited about the project, which is a combination of digital marketing, data analytics and behavioral economics. These are not the topics that I focused my studies on, but I think i can apply my strong analytical skills and problem solving ability here very well.” ~ Mike Chi

Shaun Hundle and a bust of a statue

Shaun Hundle

Shaun Hundle works as a project manager for Business Sweden, the Swedish Trade and Invest Council located in San Francisco. He enjoys biking and trying new restaurants.

“I wanted to take part in IBD since my international experience is limited to Scandinavia and Northern Europe, and I wanted to broaden my global professional experience. There is a certain risk in signing up for the course and not knowing the market and client you’ll be working with beforehand, but I liked that adventure aspect. It’s a pretty unique experience and it’s unlikely I’ll have this type of opportunity again in my career.” ~ Shaun Hundle

Charles Shi

Charles Shi

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a Doctor of Philosophy, Materials Science and Engineering degree, Charles Shi started his career at Applied Materials, Inc.  Charles has published six peer-reviewed papers that were cited 1000+ times.

“Each year I travel over 200,000 miles between U.S. and Asia for work. U.S. and Asia have become a comfort zone in my professional and personal experiences. This time with IBD, I’m going to Mexico for the first time of my life. The project there will give me a rare opportunity to explore a different part of world and put my business skills to the test. Even before the trip starts, I knew I will learn a ton there!” ~ Charles Shi

Sayan Mitra

Sayan Mitra

Sayan Mitra has worked for Genentech as Oncology Pricing, Contracting, and Distribution Strategy Manager since 2014.  In this role, Sayan led strategy development for Genentech’s largest product franchise, worth $4.5B.  He also enjoys fostering kittens.

“I am very excited about working with my client.  It sounds like a very meaty project that will have a lot of impact on the client. I’ve never been to Mexico but I’m excited to taste what an authentic taco tastes like.”  ~ Sayan Mitra

 

Team Belize

Hima Erukulla

Hima Erukulla

The majority of Hima Erukulla’s career has been with Intel as a Product Development and Analog Design Engineer. Hima is also passionate about protecting our planet and volunteered in “Climate Change Lobby” to advocate for Carbon Tax and Dividend Bill”.

“Having trained and worked as an Engineer all my professional life, I saw IBD as an opportunity to apply the business knowledge I gained in Marketing, Accounting, Finance and Strategy to solve a problem in the real world. I was particularly interested in working on a social project as I strongly believe that businesses add value not only to the shareholders but also to the society and planet. “ ~ Hima Erukulla

Andrew Lee in front of a train depot

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee has a Master of Biotechnology from Northwestern University and has an extensive background in business, science, and engineering.  When he is not working for Intuitive Surgical as a Senior Validation Engineer, Andrew enjoys playing basketball and baseball.

“I hope to learn effective problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills to deliver meaningful benefits to clients and their business while broadening my general understanding of the consulting profession, particularly in the areas of strategy and operations.  Also, as someone who deeply appreciates building connections with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds, I find the program very appealing.” ~ Andrew Lee

Jerry Philip

Jerry Philip

Jerry Philip is the Co-Founder of MarHub Berkeley, a crowdsourced information platform and a chatbot that empowers decision-making by enabling refugees with reliable, relevant, and actionable information.    His day job is at Cisco as a Technical Evangelist – SP Video Marketing and Engineer.

“Having lived in 3 countries thus far I am eager to learn the differences in doing business in a new part of the world and how I can adapt to them.  I was also hoping to be able to use some of the brainpower available at Haas, with some classmates who I have worked with previously to come up with creative solutions, bringing together everything we’ve learnt thus far and sort of serve as a capstone for my HAAS MBA.” ~ Jerry Phillip

Srinivas Rajamani in Costa Rica

Srinivas Rajamani in Costa Rica

Srinivas Rajamani also works at Intel. He is as a Competitive Strategy Manager for the Autonomous Driving (AD) and Infotainment products segments.  When he is not busy establishing Intel as a market leader in this arena, he enjoys SCUBA diving and coaching youth soccer teams.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better project and a better team. My expectation for IBD was to do a pro-bono consulting project that had the potential to have a high level of impact on the client. I am lucky to be part of a team that will be helping Glover Reef Research Station in Belize figure out a sustainable business model. This project is exciting on several different fronts: a) We are helping the client explore potential new revenue streams and a path to profitability b) we will out on the world’s second largest reef! c) couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend 3 weeks in a different country”  ~ Srinivas Rajamani

Nik Reddy works at Google as a Senior Business Strategist and a Member of Trust & Safety’s Chief of Staff Global Strategy team.  Prior to Google, he was a management consultant for Accenture. Nik has also earned a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.  

“I was hoping that I would get a nonprofit client in Latin America and, fortunately, I got put on the team that’s working with the WCS chapter in Belize. My preferred mode of learning is “by doing”, and my project will allow me to do just that, as we’ve been tasked with defining a sustainable business model for WCS Belize. I have never visited Belize and the fact that we get to spend time on-site at a remote reef research station (Glover’s Reef) is something that should be a truly memorable experience. My team and I are definitely planning on taking a few snorkeling and dive tours on our off days!” ~ Nik Reddy

Team China

Nausher Cholavaram in Singapore

Nausher Cholavaram in Singapore

Nausher Cholavaram’s career has been in E-commerce and FinTech. He has worked at eBay, a startup that was acquired by Walmart Labs and at PayPal where he is currently Senior Manager for Customer Experiences. He has helped entrepreneurs in Indonesia, India and the Bay Area better manage their businesses.

“As a child of parents with a cross-border relationship and having lived across the world, I wanted to add another culture and geography to my wandering work and travel experience. I’m super-excited, I feel like I have the best IBD project. Working on FinTech, something I am really enthusiastic about and in China which as a market has truly taken off. This will be fun to say the least.” ~ Nausher Cholavaram

Rohan Balwani

Rohan Balwani

The majority of Rohan Balwani’s professional experience has been with Oracle as a Product Manager and Design Engineer.  He is also the Product Management Mentee and Meetup Co-Organizer “For Lean Product and Lean UX Meetup Silicon Valley.”

“The IBD program gives me a platform to further expand my horizons by working on a problem in a different cultural context. It will also give me exposure to the consulting domain and help me consider consulting as a potential career path. The program will also equip me with the ability and frameworks to think through difficult problems and arrive at impactful solutions.” ~ Rohan Balwani

Tanya Gupta in Iceland

Tanya Gupta in Iceland

Tanya Gupta also works at Google and has since 2008.  In her current role, she is a Product Manager for Google Assistant. In addition to a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University​, she also has a Minor in Chemistry.

“IBD is a great opportunity to interact with other cultures in a professional setting. In an increasingly global world, it is valuable to get this exposure.” ~ Tanya Gupta

Pradeep Khanal in Mexico

Pradeep Khanal in Mexico

Pradeep Khanal’s also works at Intel as a Technical Lead and Senior Design Engineer.  He is the Co-Founder and Trustee of the Mahim Ojha Memorial Community Library library in a remote village of Nuwakot in Nepal and the Founder of the Nepal Public Service Fellowship and Co-founded PREM – “Peer Assisted Educational Enrichment and Mutual Mentoring.”

“I knew all along that I wanted to do an international project while at Haas. IBD provides a perfect opportunity to work on a real problem with a group of uniquely talented and fun classmates while allowing to travel to a place possibly not exposed to before. IBD is an opportunity where I feel I can utilize business skills gained so far at Haas. And, I am hopeful IBD experience will be helpful in my future international business aspirations.” ~ Pradeep Khanal

Edi Lim and Berkeley Haas Team Building

Edi Lim and Berkeley Haas Team Building

Edi Lim is a Senior Project Manager at Amazon where he is responsible for bringing new ideas and building software products that optimize Amazon’s fulfillment center networks.  Edi enjoys learning how the world works.

“Chinese FinTech company looking to expand into the U.S. is the perfect combination of destination, industry, client, and project. Super excited and energized. I started researching the company the same day the project was revealed – searched English and Chinese websites, watched Professor La Blanc’s Fintech talk on YouTube, and read World Economic Forum reports.” ~ Edi Lim

In summary, please welcome our summer 2018 IBD Evening and Weekend MBAs.  They are a unique and experienced group, and we are excited to see how the next six weeks unfold.  We can’t wait to see what these newest IBD students and their teams can accomplish for their international clients.  Stay tuned for more news from IBD!

IBD Welcomes New Faculty Mentor David Evan Harris to the Spring 2018 IBD Program

David at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive exhibit of the Global Lives Project (2017)

David at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive exhibit of the Global Lives Project (2017)

This year we are thrilled to welcome David Evan Harris as the newest member of our Spring IBD Program Faculty Mentor team.  We are excited to see David join the IBD family, where he can share his international work experience and passion for social impact.  His extensive background and skills will have a positive effect on both our IBD students and our project clients.

David’s interest in international work started when he was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, and it has continued to drive his career ever since.  Two years after graduating from Cal, while living in Brazil, David founded a nonprofit called the Global Lives Project—a video library of life experience around the world, produced by thousands of collaborating filmmakers, photographers, and translators.  The Global Lives Project was designed to spark conversations about race, religion, diversity, gender, and class. In a recent article written by UC Berkeley’s Kathleen MacLay, David shared that “Global Lives challenges audiences to reflect deeply about their place in the world and the moral and ethical responsibilities that come with that.”  (To read more from MacLay’s article, click here).  David’s work with Global Lives Project called on him to make presentations to audiences at the Smithsonian, Harvard, and United Nations University, among other institutions.  He has been supported in his work by groups including the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, the Goldman Fund and more.

David also serves as Research Director at the Institute for the Future (IFTF), where he leads research on the future of philanthropy, media, governance and social movements.  Building on this research, he has served as an advisor and consultant to dozens of foundations, government agencies, and corporations.  His writings have been published by the BBC, The Guardian, Focus on the Global South, Hivos, Alternet and Grist, and his work has been translated into dozens of languages.

David hard at work at the Institute for the Future with his coworker Sara Skvirsky and IFTF Fellows Lance Coleman and Milicent Johnson (2016)

David hard at work at the Institute for the Future with his coworker Sara Skvirsky and IFTF Fellows Lance Coleman and Milicent Johnson (2016)

In 2015, David returned to UC Berkeley and added Chancellor’s Public Scholar and Berkeley Haas Lecturer to his long list of professional roles.  We recently interviewed David to ask more about his background and what he hopes to bring to the IBD program.  

Question: What brought you to Haas?

David Evan Harris: “Whitney Hischier (current Berkeley Haas Lecturer, IBD Faculty Mentor and Faculty Director at Berkeley Executive Education) brought a couple of groups of international executive education students to IFTF in Palo Alto.  After two of those sessions, Whitney and I had a conversation about teaching a class at Haas in scenario planning and that was my first course at Haas; Scenario Planning and the Futures Thinking.  I still teach that course -which is an Evening Weekend course for MBAs.  I also teach two classes in the undergrad program; Social Movements and Social Media and Civic Technology.  Civic Technology is a freshman and sophomore seminar so I get to work with the freshest minds on campus.  I am excited to add IBD as my fourth class.”

Question:  Tell us about your career and how it relates to your business experience?

David Evan Harris: “I started a nonprofit organization which is the Global Lives Project.  It is a unique nonprofit in that, it has no employees but thousands of volunteers all over the world.  Those volunteers have produced over 500 hours of footage of 20 different people from 17 countries for 24 hours straight.  It is on exhibit right now at various Museums around Berkeley (click here for the schedule) and will be on display at Chou Hall in the spring.  The project has a big part of my life for 14 years which makes me a strange kind of entrepreneur, a nonprofit founder and a founder of a network organization.  I have also been very lucky to work with IFTF and had the opportunity to work with a lot of very large institutions, helping them do strategic planning and think about how they can be responsible players in shaping the long-term future of the world.”

Question:  How are you feeling about being a part of the IBD Program?

David with his advisor, Professor Sedi Hirano, just after completing the defense of his master's thesis at the University of São Paulo. (2008)

David with his advisor, Professor Sedi Hirano, just after completing the defense of his master’s thesis at the University of São Paulo. (2008)

David Evan Harris: I am really excited about joining the IBD program as I have been hearing great things about it from people at Haas for years now. I am also excited to be working with this team, especially with Whitney, as she was one of the first contacts I had here at Haas.  I am also very excited about the way that IBD fits into the work I have been doing with public sector and nonprofit organizations. After I graduated from Berkeley as an undergrad, where I studied Political Economy of Development and Environment, which was the focus of my major in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, I lived in Brazil for three years.  I studied sociology at the University of São Paulo.  As an undergrad, I also studied abroad on the International Honors Program in five different countries; Tanzania, India, the Philippines, Mexico and the U.K.  I have also been very lucky through my work with the Global Lives Project and IFTF to travel to and do work in dozens of countries all over the world.  The idea of being part of this international program within Haas is really thrilling for me, especially because study abroad and international work has had such an immense influence on making me the person I am today.”

Question: Are there any specific learnings or skill sets that you bring to the program that you want MBA to take full advantage of?

David Evan Harris: “Yes, absolutely, as a student from an American university, it is very important when you work internationally that you bring a lot of humility to that work.  It is essential that you acknowledge that even though your clients are hiring you because they see you as bringing cutting-edge knowledge and experience to the work, you really need to listen very carefully and do everything you possibly can to understand the culture where you are working.  You must also understand that, as a visitor, you can’t truly understand the culture where you are working, and you must be there as a supporter and not an authoritarian consultant who acts like they know everything. That is one thing I want to bring to the program.  I also have a lot of experience working with NGOs, nonprofit organizations and with public-sector groups in other parts of the world. I am excited to work with students who are interested in working with those types of organizations. I hope to develop their skills in offering business expertise, which is very, very, much needed in those sectors, and in a way that is aligned with the public-minded missions of people and institutions doing that work.”

Question: How do you find time for everything you do?

David Evan Harris: “Over the years I have managed to juggle a lot of different relationships with different institutions.  I have different techniques but the key thing is to be part of great institutions that have really valued the work that I do and made it possible to be involved with them in ways that fit into my jigsaw puzzle of a schedule.”  

Question: Do you have time to do anything that is not work-related?  

David Evan Harris: “Most of the time when I have free time, I tend to spend it with my twin seventeen-month-old children. They are a joy and educational opportunity for me.  That takes up most of my non- working time and I also enjoy getting some sleep when I can. I also try to make time to do the other things.  I love to hike and sometimes I take my kids along in our off-road stroller. You might also hear me zipping up to campus on my electric bicycle, which is a form of transportation and also a form of recreation and exercise.”

Question: Where is your favorite place to visit in the world?

David Evan Harris: “I have a long-standing special relationship with Brazil. It is such a big country that every time I go there, I see new and learn new things.  After living there for three years, Brazil became a part of me and part of my identity.  Whenever I have a chance or the option of where I want to go, I go back to Brazil.”

Question: Is there a place you would like to visit in the world that you haven’t been to yet?

David Evan Harris: “I have been trying to get to Cuba.  I am fascinated by Cuba, Cuban culture, economy, politics and I am very interested in going at some point.”   

Question:  Do you have a defining principle that you are working on right now and plan to apply to your role at IBD?

David Evan Harris:  “Beyond Yourself” is definitely my favorite defining principle. In my teaching work at Berkeley Haas, I constantly strive to surface the ways in which movements for social change are so deeply enmeshed in economic relationships and business challenges. Non-profit organizations that have sprung up parallel to grassroots movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter are critically important to understand as management challenges. Fundraising is almost always a struggle for these organizations, as are management and measurement of outcomes. The specifics of these challenges are often distinct from those faced by for-profit companies and merit systematic study, analysis and engagement from faculty and students at Haas. In my work this semester with IBD, coaching teams working with non-profit and for-benefit corporations, I intend to bring the “Beyond Yourself” ethos together with rigorous applied scholarship and consulting. I hope that this experience will fit into a lifelong engagement on the part of my students with the businesses—both non-profit, for-profit, and the many shades of gray emerging in-between—that are guided not by the pursuit of self-enrichment of their own leaders, but on the world beyond.”

This concludes our interview with our newest IBD Faculty Mentor, David Evan Harris.  Thank you, David, for going “Beyond Yourself” in all the work you do at the IFTF, at the Global Lives Project, and at Berkeley Haas.  We look forward to the impact you will make on the Spring 2018 IBD program over the course of the next few months.

Phnomenal Times

Written by Sushant Barave, William Conry, Daniel Conti and Joe Layton

For our IBD project, we’re working with Cambodia’s first and only rum distillery, Samai, based in Phnom Penh. Our team is partnering with Samai’s founders, Antonio and Daniel, on expansion strategy, new market pricing, operational improvement and accounting guidance.

Prior to arriving in Phnom Penh we had been corresponding with Samai to finalize the scope of the project and complete as much pre-work as possible. While our team was productive across those six weeks, it was remarkable how much more effective we became on location with the client. For instance, we had an idea of what the rum production process looked like, however being able to visualize the steps enhanced our understanding to the level required to make recommendations.  Additionally, speaking face to face with Daniel, Antonio and Champich, the master distiller, we were able to have more insightful conversations and gain a better feel for the business and its needs.

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Another byproduct of live meetings is shifting priorities. While the project work streams had been determined in advance of our arrival, it became clear our first-day additional challenges that require support will surface. Our team recognized the importance of prioritization as a guiding principle – we need to invest our time and resources into the projects that are most vital to Samai and also ensure our deliverables are actionable.

 

Cocktail Competition

Samai’s distillery is open to the public on Thursday nights, when it serves up Samai rum-based cocktails to a lively, mostly expat, clientele. During our required rum tasting our first day on the job I suggested –  somewhat jokingly –  that we have a competition on Thursday to determine which Haas team member can create the best cocktail. Antonio sounded intrigued and within a day we had teams decided, menus set, ingredients purchased and a professional flyer posted on social media. That escalated quickly!

Dan and I settled on a variation of a Dark and Stormy entitled Ann’s Arbor, an homage to our undergraduate institution. Leveraging Joe’s advanced rum knowledge, he and Sushant crafted a more complex, boozy concoction, a Queens Park Swizzle.

We met at the distillery early to pour practice drinks and tweak the recipes until we had it right. This was not just a fun experiment; patrons would be paying for these cocktails! Once we had the proportions, preparations, and presentations down, it was game time.

It could have been the Berkeley-Haas name on the flyer, perhaps it was the sophisticated drink selection or maybe it was our rugged good looks and charm behind the back bar, but the orders flowed in like Trump tweets after a New York Times bombshell report.

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

At a few points we couldn’t keep up with the demand – we were forced to act like seasoned bartenders who knew how to accommodate a packed bar.

For the competition piece, believe it or not, according to the official tally the contest ended in a tie! The Ann’s Arbor team will point out that our drink had a higher volume of orders, which should be the tie breaker. The Queen Park Swizzle duo will remind us that more orders led to more misinformed votes from those who only sampled one beverage.

Regardless of who deserves the crown, overall the cocktail competition was a win. We learned useful skills that aren’t often taught in the classroom, had fun, brought in incremental sales for Samai and met some interesting people.

After shaking and stirring as celebrity bartenders for the night, it was back to our real lives Excel modeling and PowerPoint-ing as consultants at the Samai office the next morning. It was fun while it lasted, but there’s still work to do!

Back to work

Back to work

Berkeley Haas IBD 2017 – Aramis Menswear, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Written by Diane Chiang, Barun Mazumdar, Abhishek Mishra, Kalyan Pentapalli and Priya Vijayakumar

Weekend before in-country: Foz de Iguaçu

Five happy and excited Cal bears arrived at the Iguaçu airport on late Friday evening after spending almost a day in air and in connecting airports. We checked in at the beautiful Belmond hotel (which overlooks a small portion of the falls) and had our introduction to authentic Brazilian cuisine and Caipirinhas. It was love at first sight! The Iguaçu falls were absolutely breathtaking – on Saturday, we took a short walk along the waterfall trail and a boat ride on the Iguaçu River before flying to Sao Paulo.

The beauty and grandeur of the waterfalls made this short detour to Iguaçu totally worthwhile.

We arrived at Sao Paulo (SP) on Saturday evening and to kick off our 2-week stay at SP, we went to the acclaimed chef Alex Atala’s restaurant – D.O.M for an amazing fine dining experience. We spent the rest of the weekend exploring Sao Paulo and fine-tuning our Day of Arrival presentation.

First Week at the client site in Sao Paulo

We had an early start on our first day at Aramis’ office – Fabio Davidovici and Luan Silva with whom we had been collaborating since the start of our project greeted us. We presented our “Day of Arrival” presentation to Richard Stad (CEO) and Fabio. It was a very interactive session peppered with questions and interesting discussions around retail trends, brands, and competition.

Because of the high level of engagement, our meeting that was initially scheduled for an hour ran for over two hours. Richard appreciated the groundwork we had done while at Berkeley, it was also a great opportunity for us to learn more about the company and its challenges directly from the CEO. At the end of the first day, Fabio gave us a tour of one of the stores to round out the day.

On Tuesday, we spent the entire day visiting Aramis’ stores at various malls in Sao Paulo. This was an amazing way for us to get to better understand their products, store layouts, and store employees. We interviewed many store managers and sales people to understand the challenges and processes within the stores. We also visited many of Aramis’ competitor’s stores. We shared our initial feedback, observations, and ideas with Fabio, many of them centered on visual merchandising in the store.

Throughout the course of the week, we met with directors and managers across different functions – Marketing, CRM, Inventory planning, Warehousing, E-Commerce, Store Supervisors, Retail, HR and Customer Service. We also got a chance to have lunch on one of the days with the Founder, Henri Stad. Although we experienced a language barrier, Fabio attended all the meetings with us and helped with translation and provided more context.

We also scheduled meetings with stakeholders outside Aramis. We had a very insightful discussion with Fabio Matsui from Cypress Capital (HAAS ‘03) where he walked us through the Brazilian apparel retail industry and the various participants.

We also met with Daniel Maladrin (HAAS ‘05) from 2BCapital/Bradesco – the PE firm that invested in Aramis few years ago. Daniel introduced us to Leonardo Santos from Semantix, which was another company that the PE firm had invested in. We invited Fabio to join us for our meeting with Leo, where he walked us through the omni-channel strategy he had implemented at an American retailer and the challenges he faced launching in Brazil. We identified many synergies between Aramis’ omni channel implementation and the current work that Semantix is doing, and the two companies plan to start some initial discussions to collaborate.

By the end of week one, we learnt a lot about the Brazilian people – their food, culture, and working styles.  Fabio spent a generous amount of time to ensure we were comfortable, got enough face time with Aramis employees and explored Sao Paulo the way locals do.

 

Splendid Salvador and Refreshing Recife

We took a late flight on Friday to Salvador to experience the northeastern part of Brazil. We spent Saturday at Salvador exploring the churches, beaches and the colorful Pelorinho neighborhood. The highlight of the day was the amazing Bahian cuisine we had at Pariso Tropical. This restaurant won our top vote among twenty other strong contenders for the best food of our entire trip! Later that night, we flew to Recife and spent our Sunday exploring Recife and nearby Olinda. We returned to Sao Paulo on Sunday night.

Monday started with a series of previously scheduled meetings.

Talia from Visual Merchandising was the first meeting; she travels around the country for store openings and renovations. She has been re-working the store layouts to make them look fresh and cater to younger demographic. The major challenge she faces is convincing the store managers that the new layouts will lead to increased sales. We then met with Felipe from Store Sales Management who manages all store managers across the country and was able to share how sales strategy has changed over the years and lately with the advent of new POS technology.

 

At the end of each day, we debriefed and communicated our findings till date and next steps with Fabio. We had dinner with Fabio and his wife Fernanda, who took us out to Don Veridiana, which many locals claim to have better pizza than in Italy.

On Tuesday, the team interviewed Mariana, Director of Product, the final scheduled interview and learnt more about how Aramis designs and sources its products. With interviews now over, we focused on consolidating our findings and clarifying any remaining questions we had. After a full day working session, the team agreed to expand the scope beyond assortment planning and omni-channel to include other functional areas and do a 360 analysis.

On Wednesday, the team marched towards the converge phase and began to build on the final business plan to the client. We separated our recommendations into multiple functions including: Inventory Planning (Assortment and Replenishment), Customer Relationship management (CRM), Customer Service, Data/IT Integration, Store Experience, Multi-channel, and Internal Communication. Throughout the day, we had multiple calls for clarifications, and by the end of the day, we had an initial draft that we shared with Fabio before we headed out for some excitements! In the evening, we went to watch football match between two bitter rivals: Palmeras and Colinhas, accompanied by Fabio and Luan.

Thursday being the final day, the team had an early start. We received feedback from Fabio on the initial draft, and decided to move forward with additional deep dive into assortment models. We had dinner at the CEO Richard’s house, along with his wife and son. We learned about Richard’s travel experiences, and discussed his vision about emerging technologies in retail. After dinner, the team headed back to the hotel for the final home stretch of our business plan and wrapped up around 4am.

Friday, the last day at Aramis, was quite a bittersweet experience. We started the day with our presentation with Richard (CEO), Fabio and other executives. Richard showed strong interest and agreed with most of our findings and recommendations. He showed special interests in the assortment models that we recommended and believed it could be quickly implemented. Richard appreciated the fact that we had dug deep into the entire organization, and that we understood the sentiment and culture of Aramis in such a short timeframe. Though rewarding and relieved, it was quite a bittersweet moment when we finally had to say good bye to everyone at Aramis.

Brazil Finale

For the final weekend in Brazil, we headed to Rio de Janeiro. Over the next two days, we experienced the landmarks, nightlife, shopping, and cuisine. The experience of the IBD program has been beyond our expectations and cannot be expressed in words. We appreciated the opportunity to work with Aramis while experiencing the incredible country of Brazil. The five of us also built such strong bonds during the trip that we know we can rely on each other.

Wrapping Up Our Citibanamex Experience

Written by Kim Eun, Pamela Ju, Deepak Kurien and Austin Lu

It’s been an exciting two weeks for the Haas IBD Citibanamex team!  We came, we met, we ate, we worked, and we conquered – in that order.

Meeting Citibanamex

Our main client contact, Alex West, had done an incredible job setting us up with teams all around the bank.  We had meetings with the CIO, the new head of UX, directors in the eCommerce group, and a lot of exposure to their relatively new Innovation and Digital teams. We visited their call center, the digital factory, a new smart branch, and this afternoon we will be ending our experience at the still-in-the-works Innovation Lab.

Citibanamex has been investing a lot in innovation and digitizing their experience, and they’ve seeded these teams with existing bank experts as well as recruiting from the likes of Wal-Mart and IBM.  We had a lot of opportunities to talk to them in 4-on-1s, and everyone was incredibly generous with their time and resources.  They were excited about our project and wanted to help in any way they could.

The Project

Our project: propose a new insurance product for Seguros Citibanamex, with a focus on how to execute it through digital channels.  We’ve spent these past few weeks ideating around this – specifically a product that would be appealing to women.  At the end of the day, we would go back to the hotel room and brainstorm and argue about what features would be the most important (see picture below).  We were lucky enough to have a team dynamic where we could argue with each other but never take it personally.

More than once, we came up with the only partially joking conclusion that, “Insurance is a perfect product.”  As the Deputy CEO of Seguros Citibanamex reminded us, “Insurance is a wonderfully complex product that also does a world of social good.”  We ultimately came up with a product that we very proud of: Sueños Seguros Citibanamex.  It is an investment-insurance product that helps women realize their dreams.

The Final Presentation

We presented it yesterday morning, and Alex and Gaby Galindo (Citibanamex’s head of innovation) did us the great honor of setting us up in Citibanamex’s beautiful palace downtown.  We started at 8 am in a comedor, where we were served breakfast and Gaby welcomed everyone to the morning’s events.  In addition to us, Gaby and Alex, we had 13 additional guests from the insurance team, ranging from product managers to the Deputy CEO of Seguros Citibanamex.  We could tell that we were helping to bring these two organizations together and were both honored and nervous at the responsibility.

Fortunately, the presentation went really well.  Right after we pitched the product, people began asking us questions.  At first, we were worried that it meant our product was going to be received poorly – but it soon became clear that they were all excited by our proposed innovations and wanted to work through exactly what that would look like.

At the end of the presentation, the leader of the Insurance team thanked all of us for our work and told us that every part of our product seemed feasible – except for potentially the technical components (such as our proposed insurance simulator or process flows through their insurance app.)

We were so pleased with how our presentation went – and pleasantly surprised to hear that they would continue to iterate on our work and that one day we may see a version of our product on the Seguros Citibanamex website.

The Last Days

The rest of the day was a dream: an archivist led us on a tour of the Citibanamex palace downtown, we went out to lunch with the insurance team for traditional Mexican food and were very sad to leave them at the end.  Finally, one of the team members led us on a tour of the Zocolo.  We had been there just the week before, but this experience really showed us what a difference having a local with us makes.  He made us go in buildings that we had just walked by before, and we were stunned by how incredibly beautiful these buildings were.  There was the gold-plated Post Office, with a stunning staircase in the middle that made us all gasp out loud when we saw it.

As our experience is coming near the end, we’re both excited to be going home and sad about leaving all the people we’ve met in our two weeks here.  There is the lady at the front desk who provides us all of our security badges every morning.  She asks about what we have done, and Austin entertains her with stories about eating chapulines (grasshoppers), meeting his new favorite luchador, Fuego, and driving on the streets of Mexico City.  There is Thelma, the incredibly kind administrative aid that brings us water and books our meetings, finds us rooms, and helps us when we don’t know how to handle a situation.  When we walk around the office now, we see people that we know and we stop and chat – it’s hard to imagine that we only showed up two weeks ago.

We’ve seen and accomplished a lot in the last two weeks and we couldn’t have had a better experience.

 

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.

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

Updates from IBD Beijing

 

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

Our Project

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

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A Day In The Life…

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

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

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

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Team photo in our cubicles.

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

The Country and Culture

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

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

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Team photo in front of entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Delicious lunch spread in a local restaurant.

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

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… and then learned how silk is made.

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

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