Whitney Hischier, Member of the “A Team” IBD Faculty Mentors

Whiney in Busan, Korea

IBD Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier spent most of her career in change management and system implementation consulting, primarily on international assignments.  She is a Berkeley-Haas MBA alumna, but not an IBD alumna.  While an MBA candidate, Whitney was denied admission into the IBD program while because “she already had too much international experience.”

Thankfully, this rejection early in her career didn’t dissuade Whitney from joining the IBD Team in 2009 as a Faculty Mentor so that she could combine three of her passions:  international work, consulting, and experiential learning.  As an IBD Faculty Mentor, Whitney’s role is to coach student teams throughout the IBD course (she is currently mentoring four IBD teams during the spring 2017 IBD program), but Whitney goes beyond guiding her students to figure out a direct solution to their clients’ business challenges.  

“The IBD experience for students is really powerful”, reports Whitney.  “For some, it creates a lifelong love of

Whitney in Jeddah

international travel and work; for others, they realize it’s the last thing they ever want to do.  Either way, this ‘try before you buy’ experience is fantastic to help our students better determine what they want to do when they graduate.”

Ideally, Whitney wants her students to come back from their IBD projects overseas and say “that changed my life” and “I love international work” — but she would settle for good client management and awareness of the wider world.  “Given the current nationalistic political climate in the US and creeping xenophobia, I think IBD is more important than ever to encourage our students to be global citizens”, says Whitney.

As for teaching students to learn or hone their consulting skills, Whitney believes that the role of IBD student consultants is to help their clients gather and structure information to make better management decisions.  Whitney emphasizes that consulting is about the ability to build relationships by listening, asking good questions, and establishing trust.  It goes beyond the skill of researching online.  “Our projects may have a scope around strategy or technology but bottom line, this is all about relationships and people.”  

Whitney and American Univ. Mongolia

Whitney practices what she preaches and her student Team Leads can’t say enough good things about her.  “Whitney is so cool, and so real.  She is unpretentious, approachable and yet gets right down to business to accomplish what is needed”, said Nikkei’s Team Lead, Kasey Koopmans.  “In one particular high stressful moment, Whitney defused our nerves and brought everyone back to earth so we could feel good about our part in the situation.”

For Whitney being a good Faculty Mentor is leveraging her networks “to help students connect with experts and customers who can help with their research.”  Whitney’s network is far and wide, said the Nikkei Team Lead. “Whitney was able to set up many expert interviews for our project. She also offered to connect me with contacts she might have that would help me in my internship hunt.”

Even with this kind of support, Whitney doesn’t micromanage her teams but encourages “students to take risks and learn enough about a subject to be dangerous.”  Her students agree that she does an excellent job of walking the fine line of being there to help when she is needed and remaining hands off.   “She allows us to be creative and to manage the relationship with the client”, according to one of her students. “ I have been able to be the lead on the project and actually do the real-world consulting work.”

Above all, Whitney is fun, says Team Lead Elspeth Ong.  She invited all of her IBD Teams to come over to her house for a team bonding event where they jumped on her trampoline, rode a zipline, and climbed up into a tree house.  As one of our outstanding IBD Faculty Mentors, Whitney Hischier clearly personifies the Berkeley-Haas defining principles of “Confidence Without Attitude” and “Beyond Yourself.”  Thank you, Whitney!

Frank Schultz, IBD Faculty Mentor and Instructor

frank-schultz-compressedThe Haas “Student Always” principle resonates strongly with Faculty Mentor and Instructor, Frank Schultz. “Each time I teach it’s a learning opportunity for me” shares Frank.  “I get to learn about new, exciting places, companies, technologies, and I get the opportunity to work with new students.  Every team, every project is so different.”    

This is Frank’s 7th year of being a Faculty Mentor for the Full-Time MBA IBD program and he has been the Evening-Weekend MBA IBD instructor since its inception in 2012.  As an IBD instructor, Frank loves that he gets to keep one foot in academia and one foot in the business world.  “With IBD I get to apply the theories I am teaching in class to the real world and see what is changing in the business world on a global level.”  

Frank wants his students to adopt this same methodology of applying the skills they are learning in the classroom to real-world situations. “This is where the rubber meets the road”, says Frank, “These are real organizations with real situations that need to be solved. This is valuable work and I want my students to see the value they are giving to their clients and getting from the class.”

To get the full experience, Frank stresses to his students that before they try and “solve” anything, they need to first build a relationship with their client.  He realizes this can be tough, but by slowing down and asking more questions, students can really get at the true root of the problem. “I want my students to walk away from this saying it is the best experience that they had as an MBA.”

Frank has been teaching at Berkeley-Haas since 2005 when he left Michigan State University and followed his wife, former Haas COO, Jennifer Chizuk, to Berkeley.  He has taught Executive Leadership, Competitive Strategy, and International Seminars in Brazil and China in addition to spring and summer IBD. His teaching has consistently placed him in Haas Club Six for outstanding teaching.  Frank says the role of IBD Faculty Mentor is very different.  He regularly works on balancing the different roles he has to play as a mentor, supporter, instructor, and grader.  

Frank coaching Technology Team Leads, Raphy Chines and Harsh Thusu.

Frank coaching Team Leads, Raphy Chines and Harsh Thusu.

Frank admits, “I am always trying to figure out the nature of the relationship.  Sometimes I need to be more hands off and other times I need to offer more support to my students.  I want them to learn for themselves but I also have to be task driven.  Each team dynamic is different and each person reacts to my approach differently.  Relative to teaching my other classes, I have to feel comfortable with having less control over the process. There is no determined journey and as we teach our IBD students’ to be flexible, I, too, have to be flexible with the uncertainty.”  He also jokes that a good Faculty Mentor has to be available to be on calls at all hours, especially very early and very late.  

Frank and Jennifer in Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

Frank and Jennifer in Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

One of the perks of teaching international courses is traveling abroad. Frank’s favorite city is Rio de Janeiro because he loves the beautiful scenery, happy people, caipirinhas (Brazil’s national cocktail made from lime, sugar, and cachaça, a spirit distilled from sugarcane juice), and picanha, a popular Brazilian cut of beef.  When asked if he had any travel advice, Frank laughed and said, “Travel business class.”  

Meet Judy Hopelain, our Newest Faculty Mentor!

Judy Hopelain

Judy Hopelain

As the IBD team works to solidify IBD projects around the world, we are proud to have our amazing group of Faculty Mentors ready to start working with our students and clients in January.  We recently added our fourth mentor to the team, Ms. Judy Hopelain.  Judy has been a member of the Haas Marketing Group’s professional faculty since Spring 2011. She started out teaching UGBA162, Brand Management & Strategy in the Undergraduate program and has since added Principles of Marketing, UGBA106, and the Marketing Module of Principles of Business, UGBA10.  Judy is also an undergraduate faculty mentor.

In addition to teaching, Judy is an experienced management consultant and continues to serve clients across industries. She started her consulting career at The Boston Consulting Group, where she worked across the global economy. Her experience there included extensive work for the World Bank in Mexico’s textiles and apparel supply chain to prepare domestic manufacturers for the elimination of trade barriers. Judy spent 7 years at BCG, another 7 in Accenture’s Strategy Practice, and 5 years at Prophet Brand Strategy. She has also held leadership roles in specialty retail at Patagonia and Illuminations, and now serves clients at her own consulting firm, Pure Gravy LLC, and through her partnership with Brand Amplitude LLC.

We wanted you to get to know Judy a little better and so we asked her thoughts on being a part of the IBD team, what she wants to get out of this experience and how she feels she can best benefit the MBAs in the course.  Here are her answers:

Question:  Why become an IBD Faculty Mentor? 

I jumped at the chance to join the IBD faculty and participate in the MBA program by sharing my experience and passion for business and brand strategy with our students who are our next generation of leaders. IBD’s global client base and issue set are also a big part of the program’s appeal for me, both intellectually and in terms of opportunity for impact.

Question:  What do you hope to get out of the experience of mentoring 20 MBA students? As an UG faculty mentor do you foresee it will be a different experience? 

I thoroughly enjoy mentoring and learning from the undergraduate students I teach and advise. And I expect to enjoy doing the same with the MBA students. I suspect the experience will be quite different largely because MBA students are at point in their lives and their careers where the stakes are higher and the issues are more urgent. I expect their questions and concerns will be both broader and deeper than undergraduate students

Question: What do you hope to provide/teach/instill in the 2017 IBD MBAs?

I hope to provide relevant experience and actionable advice to the teams I mentor, and to help them see and capitalize on the tremendous opportunities for creativity that consulting affords. Decisions about where to focus, what to analyze, how to illustrate and present the findings and recommendations, how to structure a meeting or brainstorming session – whatever the task, there is opportunity for creativity.

Question: What do you want them to get out of this experience?

I want students to develop core consulting skills*, gain perspective and experience on doing business across cultures and geographies, and better understand their own professional strengths and interests
(*e.g., problem framing, problem solving, team dynamics and leadership, client relationship management, project management, business writing and presentation)

Question: What qualities make a good faculty mentor? 

A good mentor needs to be accessible and provide help that’s actually helpful. Active listening skills, critical thinking and relevant experience are among the keys to effective mentoring.

Question: What does success look like for this role?

To me, success in this role hinges on the quality of the:

  • Individual participant’s experience
  • Team experience
  • Team output/recommendations
  • Client experience

Question: Is there anything that is new for you?  Do you foresee any challenges? 

Working with MBA students is not exactly new for me – in my consulting career, I have worked with lots of summer associates and recent business school graduates (and recruited them, as well). But that was a while ago, and the economy has changed a lot since then, putting new pressures on MBA students. So, that’s what’s probably new and potentially most challenging.

Question: You have your own consulting business and worked in the industry for a large part of your career, do you have a strategy for introducing MBA’s to the consulting industry?

I don’t have a specific strategy, though I do have a point of view on what’s important: developing core consulting skills will serve students well regardless of the career path they choose.

Question: Where is your favorite place in the world?

I love travel, and while I’m always up for going someplace new, Mexico is one of my favorite places in the world – I love the people, the food, the language, the culture and more.

Question: Where would you like to go that you haven’t been yet?

There are so many places I’d like to go to! I’ve been to East Africa, and would like to know others parts of Africa. I’ve been to Brazil and would like to know more of South America.

Question: What are your dogs’ names?

doggies-incar

Rosey and Barney

We have 2 dogs that we rescued as pups – Rosey is an 11 year old Rottweiler-basset love child and Barney is a 2 year old boxer-Dalmatian sweetheart. They are the best!

Question: Is there a book that MBAs should absolutely read?

I’m reading (and enjoying) BCG’s Your Strategy Needs a Strategy now. It is based on the insight that companies operating in diverse environments should develop their strategies in markedly different ways, but often don’t. It introduces a new framework for thinking about business strategy, the strategy palette and proposes five distinct approaches to strategy, helping leaders to match their approach to their business environment and execute effectively.

As you can see, Judy is going to be a wonderful addition to our already amazing team of Faculty Mentors.