The “Best” IBD Conference!

Haas IBD Conference group photo

The latest annual IBD Conference was held in Chou Hall at Berkeley Haas on September 13, 2019.  In his concluding remarks, IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz proclaimed that this year’s Conference was the “best IBD Conference ever.”  Frank has been an IBD faculty mentor since 2012, so after experiencing years of IBD Conferences, he knows what it took to make the 2019 IBD Conference stand out:  “After listening to our students’ feedback, we wanted to try a new format for the Conference. I think it really worked; and students, staff, guests and faculty had the opportunity to reflect, reconnect and learn from each other.”

Audience clappingChange of Conference Event Format:

In place of the poster sessions of past IBD Conferences, this year student teams were asked to bring photos, props, souvenirs and local dress to celebrate their IBD experience and their project countries.  All totaled, in 2019 there were 80 Full Time MBA (FTMBA) IBD students and nine Evening & Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students, representing 18 separate IBD teams. Guests, staff, faculty and students mingled among the IBD team tables, as each IBD student team shared stories and anecdotes from their time spent living in-country and working with IBD project clients.  IBD Aditya Team Member Lauren Grimanis thought the “mix and mingle” part of this year’s Conference was “a great way for all of us to come back together after spending the summer apart to hear more about our IBD in-country experiences.“

Wildlife Conservations Society (WCS) Belize presenting their learnings at their table

Some of the IBD student teams displayed their client’s projects openly at their tables.  Team Samai showcased client-made rum from Cambodia. Team We Care Solar, which worked in Kampala, Uganda, displayed a bright yellow solar powered suitcase. This student team explained that these suitcases provided efficient solar energy systems to health facilities in areas without reliable electricity.

We Care Solar Team

We Care Solar Team

Berkeley Haas staff member David Moren, Associate Director for Haas Alumni Relations & Development, was one of the Conference guests who spent time talking to different IBD student teams during the mix and mingle portion of the event.  After speaking with EWMBA student and We Care Solar Team Member Steven Wang, David was impressed by the work the student team performed together with their client: “Talking to Steven and hearing about their project was incredibly inspiring.  Just five minutes with him gave me a great sense of the impact he and his team made in Uganda.“

Team Aditya presenting their research at their table to members of Team Dura-Line and SAP Ariba

Every IBD Team Presented this Year:

Team Seva giving their presentation of their project at the conference

The Conference event program also changed to include a two minute presentation by each IBD student team.  IBD students were asked to share their own “lessons learned” from their time spent in-country working with their project clients.  The presentations varied in content and message, but the new format was appreciated by IBD students. MBA ‘20 Lauren Grimanis was one of the many students who enjoyed the new format feature of peer presentations:  “The highlight was each team’s two minute presentations, which included project and experience takeaways and funny team dynamics.”  

Team Samai giving their presentation at the conference

IBD Student Contests:

One aspect of the Conference that remained the same this year was handing out awards for the best IBD in-country photo (Aesthetic and Team versions) and the best IBD in-country blogs.  Each year as part of their course deliverables, IBD student teams write blogs about their time spent working in-country. IBD staff post the blogs on a weekly basis on the Haas in the World site.  This year’s IBD student team blog winners were:

Team We Care Solar receiving their award for winning best blog entry 2019

Each year the IBD program also recognizes and awards winners for the best IBD team photos taken during the project in-country period.  The winning photos are displayed at Berkeley Haas in the IBD hallway near Faculty Building Office 445. The best photo winners for 2019 are:   

  • Team Dura-Line – Best Aesthetic Photo 
  • Team Ananda – Best Team Photo

Team Ananda posing on stage after winning best team photo 2019

Finally, this year’s Conference concluded with thank you messages to the many people who make the IBD program happen, including our amazing IBD Faculty Mentors Judy Hopelain, Whitney Hischier, Jon Metzler, Arman Zand, and retiring Faculty Director Frank Schultz.  The IBD program can’t thank Frank enough for all the time, expertise, passion and dedication he has given willingly to IBD during the last seven years. All of us will miss him!


Faculty members receiving gratitude on stage after conference. Please look for an article on Frank Schultz’s retirement in future IBD newsletters and blogs. Frank Schultz Ending Speech

Find more photos from the day and the conference here!

Haas IBD Blog – Citibanamex

Written by Michelle Boyd, Kira Mikityanskaya​, ​Jack Anderson, Danielle Pinder​ & Neeraj Goyal

The view from our apartment at dawn

The view from our apartment at dawn

As the second Haas IBD team to work with Citibanamex, we knew we up for an interesting experience!  Citibanamex is one of the oldest and largest banks in Mexico, and it has a culture of being traditional.

So how does a massive and traditional bank attract the young and emerging affluent, and adapt to an increasingly digital world? 

That is the question we were trying to help solve, and here is a day in the life:

 6:00 am – 9:00 am

We were fortunate enough to be staying in an Airbnb on the 18th floor of a beautiful apartment complex.  The views from our apartment were incredible, and we were rewarded with amazing sunrises and sunsets – but more importantly we were able to get a sense of how large Mexico City is.  There are over 21 million people living in the greater metro area, which contributes to some of the worst traffic any of us had ever seen.

Although our apartment was less than a mile away from Citibanamex headquarters, our daily commute regularly took over 30 minutes, as we wound our way down the hill and through incredibly dense traffic.

Team picture on the way to the office

Team picture on the way to the office

Our commute!

Our commute!

9:00 am – 1:00 pm

When traffic was light we made it into the office by 9:00am.  The office doors were also a source of daily comedy – we are still not sure what their purpose is.

On one of our first mornings in Mexico we hosted an Ideation Workshop.  We had 17 Citibanamex employees from across the organization come together to help us develop new ideas.  Although this workshop was very generative (over 90 ideas!), it got off to a bumpy start.  Just as we kicked off the workshop with a presentation about our research, we were told we needed to evacuate; a 4.7 magnitude earthquake had just hit a town nearby.

Waiting to be allowed back inside after the earthquake evacuation.

Waiting to be allowed back inside after the earthquake evacuation.

After about 20 minutes of waiting outside, we went back upstairs to finish our

Michelle and Kira going through the office doors

Michelle and Kira going through the office doors

presentation. We then divided into groups and tried to embody different customer personas.  Our goal was to brainstorm the tasks, influences, pain points and feelings that these customers would experience while working with Citibanamex.  These factors were then assembled into a customer journey, which was used as a platform to brainstorm potential solutions.

 

1:00 pm  – 2:30pm

The Ideation Workshop in action

The Ideation Workshop in action

Lunch is Mexico is a production.  Working lunches are not the norm, and employees regularly take an hour and a half to relax and chat with friends.  We tried everything from going to restaurants nearby, ordering from Rappi (the Amazon of Latin America), braving the crowds at the wallet-friendly Citibanamex cafeteria (3 dollars for a three-course meal!), and even the street taco’s.

Michelle and Neeraj digging into the street food!

Michelle and Neeraj digging into the street food!

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

 Afternoons were filled with team-work sessions, meetings with various stakeholders, and the occasional coffee break.

During this time we saw some challenges related to innovating across such a large organization.  We met with amazing, intelligent and driven people, who were questioning the status quo and tackling big challenges – but were struggling to implement their initiatives, or multiple similar projects were being undertaken in different departments.  For most of our team (who came from small organizations pre-Haas), this was an interesting education in large corporate culture and organizational structure.

Jack taking us through a Hypothesis Tree

Jack taking us through a Hypothesis Tree

4:00 pm – 4:15 pm

Coffee was an important ingredient for our team, and we definitely took advantage of the Starbucks in our building.  For those of us who did not know Spanish before Mexico, ordering coffee was about as far as we got. It was appreciated.

Neeraj with a correctly spelled name and a heart for his improving Spanish

Neeraj with a correctly spelled name and a heart for his improving Spanish

4:15 pm. – 6:00pm

After coffee it was back to work, although on a few days we were lucky enough to get out of the office to learn more about Citibanamex first-hand.  We visited two branches, one traditional branch and one digital branch, as well as a contact center.  These visits gave us greater insight into both the benefits and pain points of being a priority customer.

Team picture in the contact center

Team picture in the contact center

After 6:00 pm  

When we were not indulging in the amazing restaurant scene that Mexico City offers, dinners consisted of Rappi, Uber Eats, and a few homecooked meals.

IBD is pitched as an intense team experience – after spending all day together, we were still each other’s company for dinner.  Our team made the most of this experience, and we turned dinners into friendly ‘interrogations’.  We threw out the etiquette rule of no religion or politics at the table and asked each other about childhoods, families, career goals, weird habits, and everything in between!

Although we never fulfilled Jack’s goal of watching Ten Things I Hate About You (his favorite rom-com), we all became closer friends from this experience, and we had a lot of fun hanging out and exploring what Mexico City has to offer.

Here are a few more highlights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IBD Team YGA Travels to Istanbul to Work with Young Guru Academy (YGA) for a Second Year

Written by Team YGA: Joanne Lee, Clara Jiang, Enrique San Martin Petit and Daniel Mombiedro

After a successful inaugural engagement between Young Guru Academy (YGA) and IBD in 2017, the two partnered again this year to send a team of four MBA students to Istanbul, Turkey. The IBD team was tasked with assessing the potential of virtual reality tours to develop a go-to-market strategy and revenue model. Piri – one of YGA’s most promising startups – wants to expand beyond its current travel app which offers only GPS-based tracking audio tours. The value that the Berkeley Haas IBD team would be able to deliver was unique – situated in the hotbed of innovation with VR companies like Oculus, YGA understood this advantage. I had the privilege of being a member of this IBD team and embarked on my first international work experience.

A day in the life:

My alarm goes off at 7:30AM. I quickly get ready and head over to the dining hall for breakfast. Dining hall? Yes, that’s right – my team members and I are staying at Özyeğin university where one of YGA’s offices are located. I assemble on my tray a typical Turkish breakfast – eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, and simit, a circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds. I pour myself a cup of hot tea and join my team members in the discussion of today’s agenda.

An elaborate traditional Turksih breakfast spread at a café

An elaborate traditional Turkish breakfast spread at a café

Today’s agenda: a Piri tour of Karakoy, a brief 30-minute meeting with the CEO of Turkcell (the largest tech company in Turkey), self-study time for our team to get some work done, and wrap-up with a dinner party hosted by Sezin, a YGA colleague. I am excited to do a little sight-seeing of Istanbul which qualifies as product testing – perks of working with a travel tech startup.

We arrive at the starting point of the Karakoy tour, a beautiful mosque with two minaret towers, and are promptly greeted by Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders. We all plug in our earphones and begin following the instructions from the audio tour. The experience is seamless – as I stare up the intricate details on the dome ceiling, I hear about the rich story behind the mosque. The tour concludes with us reaching the harbor with a spectacular view of the glistening Bosphorus river. After snapping some photos, we stop in a café. Over baklava, we provide feedback to Çağlar on our experience with the tour. Eventually, it is time for us to meet with Kaan Terzioğlu, Turkcell’s CEO – we don’t want to be late and Istanbul’s traffic is unpredictable.

IBD Team on the Karakoy Harbor with Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders

IBD Team on the Karakoy Harbor with Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders

Again with an unobstructed view of the Bosphorus River, I am sitting next to Kaan in a large conference room. My team members and I are presenting our research on the VR industry and getting a rare look at how the CEO of a major tech company conducts himself. Kaan is engaged, nodding, and occasionally interjecting with an insightful comment. After the meeting, we collect our notes and head back to the YGA office.

We settle into an empty conference room and get to work. Daniel Mombiedro, our team lead, starts going through our slide deck and proposing changes to be made. We all offer our thoughts on how to best reflect the new information from today. We are a collaborative team – discovering, discussing, and delivering together. After several hours of tweaking models in Excel and putting together slides, we’ve made good progress. A YGA colleague swings by to offer us a ride to Sezin’s dinner party. We pack up and prepare to sit through more traffic.

Upon arrival at Sezin’s apartment, I kiss cheeks one-by-one with everyone there. As an Asian-American raised in New York, cheek kissing is uncommon. Through these warm embraces, I feel a strong sense of the close-knit family that YGA has formed. Sezin has prepared a bountiful feast with a variety of meze (similar to tapas). With full plates, we sit around the living room and chat with YGA members to learn about what drew them to YGA. I am particularly inspired by Küşat’s story – Küşat, who is visually impaired, is working on the world’s most advanced smart-cane, WeWalk, that detects obstacles above the waist and integrates third-party apps through voice-activation to lessen the everyday challenges of the blind. At the end of the night, my team packs into a van to return to our dormitories – it’s been a long but eventful day and I’m excited about what tomorrow holds.