Discovering electronic identity in Hong Kong – defining a global strategy

Team 2 checking in from Hong Kong, where we just finished up our project for an international security and systems integration company.  We used many of the tools from our strategy class to provide the company with recommendations on how they should attack the electronic identification market and to assess their internal and external fit.

Arriving very excited for our three weeks of work, we were in for a couple surprises on our first day.  After walking a few blocks from the MTR station in what may have been the most humid weather I’ve experienced, we arrived early at our office only to find that the facial recognition system was down.  We mingled with a handful of company employees in the lobby, which felt more like a sauna, until someone with a key finally arrived.  Soaked in sweat wasn’t how I imagined starting the first day.

When lunchtime rolled around, the company invited us to join them for dim sum.  Chicken feet weren’t something I had planned on eating in my life, but when in Rome… This video more or less sums up our cultural experience at lunch – check it out! – though our food was delicious!

Our final surprise of the day came when we learned part of the team may be going to a biometrics conference in Sydney – question was, who would go?  We ended the day by dodging a massive thunderstorm at The Pawn with the other IBD team working in Hong Kong for some cold beers.


(view of Kowloon from our hotel)

Our accommodations were a little bit further away from Central Hong Kong, but the compromise was size and quality.  Real estate is very expensive in Hong Kong, and as we saw from the other group’s rooms (maybe 6’x6′ with a bathroom and shower included), it’s very tough to find space.  Here’s a quick peak at our place:


(we shared a couple of 2-bedroom suites for our stay – we were quite comfortable)

As I eluded to earlier, this was an adventure that included many surprises, one of which was the weather.  Our first taste of Hong Kong was particularly rainy – thanks monsoon season!  After peering out our office windows at the dark and ominous skies, we heard that many people in Hong Kong hope for “black rain” – an advisory from the weather service to stay home and off the roads, which happens every few years and people run to the shopping malls and movie theaters.  Nobody goes to work.  You can guess what happened next.


(weather advisory warning >70mm of rain per hour – advised to take shelter)

Another theme for our trip is FOOD – and a lot of it.  We’re pretty sure as a group that we tacked on something like 30 pounds while we’ve been here.  Our experiences have varied from traditional Cantonese all the way back to the unforgettable taste of a bacon cheeseburger.  You’ll see below just a selection of the impressive feats Team 2 was able to accomplish.


(Michael enjoying not one, but two dinners – he’s a growing boy)


(Richard discovering the difference between a 1/2 lb burger and 1/2 kilo burger in Sydney – and why i love the metric system)


(demonstrating western culture – Richard inexplicably clears his plate)


(incredible sushi spread at dragon-i, where we met up again with our classmates and our Berkeley alumni project sponsors.  sadly i was only able to capture one of the seven courses of our dinner)

We want to say a special thank you to our friends in Hong Kong – for all the lunches, dinners and guidance you gave us while we were here, and for your patience and willingness to help as we navigated the uncertain waters of the identity document market.  There were many twists and turns along the way, and we asked a lot a questions.  I hope we were able to provide you with some answers that will be valuable to you in the future.

We learned how difficult it is trying to converge on a single strategic direction when faced with so many options.  We dipped into our post-it note collection and wore out a few dry-erase markers before arriving at our conclusions, and now come back to Berkeley looking forward to the next time Ned asks us to disagree with him. We’ve master the fit, in and out!


(happy birthday Alex!  we popped in on another Haas IBD team in Sydney to celebrate)

As we reflect on our time here in Hong Kong, we can definitely say it’s been quite a ride.  We’ve demonstrated what fun you can have when you send a group of Haasies out into the world – and that no matter where you go, you don’t have to go too far to find another.  You’ll never meet a more welcoming group of people – regardless of graduation date.

We leave you with views of Hong Kong from Victoria’s Peak, as the city transforms from day to night. We will miss it!




Sincerely, Team 2

Brainstorming with the Client

Team TEC is in Hong Kong.

We are five days into our IBD in-country experience. We are standing in front of 18 employees from top management to client service associates all suited up who are not completely sure who we are and what is this “workshop” they flew in for.

The CFO begins with opening remarks: “This is, without a doubt, the most important initiative the company is taking on this year!”. This makes me and my team members excited and reminds us about the project we have been brought here to execute – develop a strategic plan for a multi-million dollar serviced office business.

In the next four hours we deliver a Haas PFPS (Problem Finding Problem Solving)-style workshop encouraging divergent thinking and idea generation. We start by sharing sharing our key insights from the research we have conducted thus far – quotes from interviews, industry statistics and customer journey maps. Next we split into two teams and tackle the big strategic questions at hand. We do this by using Haas’s favorite accessory- sticky notes! The small squares are posted all over the room and people come up with smart, creative and sometimes silly ideas. We encourage them to group the ideas into larger initiatives and identify the necessary resources, potential barriers, and key objective of each group. 


When the workshop ends and we exchange business-cards with the participants and head back to our office with flip-charts sheets covered with ideas. Staring at the sea of colored sticky-notes we are able to extract the 4 BIG IDEAS to develop in detail for our final deliverable – an implementation plan for improving a highly profitable yet under performing line of their business. 

Satisfied from the progress, we call it a day and head out the a Haas Alumni Happy Hour in the city center.


Matt Roehl, Noa Elan, Uirauna Caetano, Caroline Bas

MBA Candidates, Class of 2014

Updates from IBD: Jakarta and Hong Kong

We had heard before leaving the US that Jakarta is known throughout Asia as the “big durian”. After some online searching, we found out that a durian is a fruit with a smell that evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described as almonds, rotten onions, turpentine and gym socks. With a nickname that ferocious, we didn’t know what to expect. Our flight touched down on Tuesday and our senses were immediately assaulted with the sights, smells and sounds that only belong to the developing world. We had just taken our first bite of the big stinky porcupine fruit.

That night we had dinner with our client, Arjowiggins Security. The Managing Director of Asia and his Sales Manager laid out our in country plan at a high level. They also told us that a reporter who was investigating the same topic as us, Indonesian subsidized fuel misuse, had recently been killed and that we shouldn’t press contacts too hard.

We also found out that there was an unexpected two day holiday that week. Hello four day weekend. The only obvious choice was to jump on the first flight Friday morning to Penang, Malaysia.

The state of Penang has the third largest economy in Malaysia. It was once part of the mighty British Empire. Today, people visit for four reasons: the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, the beaches and resorts on the north side of the island, to wander the narrow streets of the old town and to eat the BEST street meat in the world. We were able to take in everything that Penang had to offer.

We returned to Jakarta excited to dig deeper into our project. Our client arranged for us to meet oil industry contacts and government officials who could help us. As our lunch meeting commenced at a swanky Jakarta eatery we launched into a string of questions. The people sitting on the other side of the table looked uncomfortable. Finally, one said “no questions today”. The meeting was simply meant to build relationships. This was our first lesson about doing business in Indonesia: you must establish personal relationships before conducting business.

The next day we met the special advisor to the head of BPH Migas, the downstream oil regulator. Mr. Baddaruddin and Mr. Luluk were both very helpful in answering our questions. However, neither spoke English. This was our second lesson about business in Indonesia: always have good translators by your side.

The rest of the week we diligently poured over hundreds of pages of documents to prepare our client deliverable. During breaks, we made sure to take the opportunity to try traditional Indonesian delicacies such as oxtail boledo and kopi luwak, coffee that is made from the excrement of Asian palm civets.

Having accomplished a tremendous amount of work during the week, we took the opportunity to make a short yet eventful weekend trip to Bali, where we took in the beaches, clubs, shopping and even a traditional dance performance before heading back to Jakarta.

We wrapped up our time in Jakarta by sampling some of its nightlife before we headed to Hong Kong to present to our client. Back in Hong Kong we fully absorbed ourselves in our work and gave a successful presentation to our client on our last full day in country.

Team AWS had a great time in SE Asia and we’re all looking forward to our next trip to the region!

Meeting with Top Gov’t Officials – Jakarta

Team AWS Discovers Where Giant Spiders Come From – Penang


Breakfast in Penang

Drinking kopi luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world – Jakarta

Team AWS’ Final Night in Hong Kong