An Interview with IBD’s Program Coordinator, Dara McKenzie

Dara McKenzie, IBD Program Coordinator, has been an integral part of the IBD Team for over four years. Dara is responsible for coordinating all international travel and accommodations for over 100 MBA candidates.  She also supports the IBD Team, managing client contracts, and accounting for both clients and students.    Executive Director Kristi Raube reports that Dara’s “upbeat, can-do attitude makes (her) a great member of the IBD team.”  We wanted to share a little more about Dara with the IBD community.  Please enjoy the following interview with Dara

Dara visits the Louvre Museum in Paris, Summer of 2017

Dara visits the Louvre Museum in Paris, Summer of 2017

Question:  Where are you from and how did you end up in the Bay Area?

Dara: I am from Boston, born and raised. Four years ago, I decided to move to California on a whim. I had visited only once before, but I knew I wanted a change — so I packed my bags and bought a one-way ticket.

Question: Tell us about your career here at Berkeley-Haas. Why did you want to work here? What do you do here at Berkeley-Haas?

Dara: I first saw a posting for this position while I was working in Engineering as an admission specialist. I was immediately intrigued at the international component of the job, so I jumped at the chance to apply. Luckily, I got the job, and it’s been one of the best choices I’ve made. I’m the program coordinator, and I work with students, clients and staff on everything ranging from travel and contracting to accounting and much, much more.

Question: What is your favorite part of IBD?

Dara: My favorite part of IBD is interacting with students and hearing about their in-country experiences. I also love the Big Reveal—it’s the first class of the semester when they learn who’ll be on their team, what project they’ll be working on, and what country they’ll be working in for three weeks at the end of the project.

Dara in the Louvre Museum, Summer 2017

Dara in the Louvre Museum, Summer 2017

Question: What is the hardest part of your job?

Dara: The hardest part of my job is contracting. I have no legal background, and often times I’m the intermediary between two different organizations and their legal teams trying to come to an agreement on a contract. Although it’s a long and tedious process, I have to admit I’ve learned a lot from the contracting experience.

Question: If you could pick one Berkeley-Haas principal that is your favorite right now, which one and why?

Dara: My favorite Berkeley-Haas principle is Student Always — I strongly believe there’s always something new to be learned, and I’m grateful to be in an environment that not only encourages this but gives me the opportunity to pursue this principle every day.

Question: You travel a ton, tell me about your favorite place. Where would you like to go next?

Dara: This is a very hard question, because I’ve visited so many wonderful places. If I have to choose just one place, I would have to say Jamaica. My family is from Jamaica, and I’ve been visiting there since before I could walk. I’ve been to Jamaica a number of times, and it’s always been a blast, from the culture and people to the weather and nightlife — it’s never a dull moment. Jamaica is very laid back and everyone is always happy. My second choice would have to be Paris.

I have yet to visit Asia, and I’m hoping my next trip will be to Hong Kong or somewhere in Southeast Asia — maybe to Singapore or Indonesia.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Question: What is one thing on your bucket list that you have crossed off and one that you still have to accomplish?

Dara: One thing I have crossed off my bucket list is snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.

That was an incredible experience and one that I’ll never forget. One item on my bucket list I have yet to cross off is to visit all 7 Wonders of the World. Although there are many different versions of this list, I can say that so far I’ve visited two of them (the Colosseum in Rome and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia)

Dunns River Fall, Jamaica

 

 

IBD’s David Richardson Travels to India and Singapore to Meet with Friends of the IBD Program

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

During the month of October, IBD Director of Business Development David Richardson traveled to India and Singapore to meet with Berkeley-Haas alumni and friends of the IBD program.

David’s travels included a few days in Bangalore, where he met with local alumni gathered together by Aditya Gokarn of Triton Valves Ltd.  He also visited with managers from Lucep, Housejoy, and Hotelogix.

After Bangalore, David flew to Pune, where he met with the management team of ElectroMech Material Handling Systems, and visited their factory floor.  He also paid a visit to Divgi TorqTransfer Systems and Lend-A-Hand India (a local NGO).

Meeting with Freedom English Academy class in New Delhi

Next up was New Delhi, where David met with USAID at the U.S. Embassy, toured a Freedom English Academy classroom, and co-hosted a Berkeley-Haas alumni event along with Abhishek Khemka of Nandini Impex.  The next day included a visit to World Health Partners.

After New Delhi, David traveled to Singapore, where he met with the startups Banff Cyber Technologies and Lucep.  He also met with the Counsellor, Innovation and Trade Affairs, for the Embassy of Finland in Singapore.  

Check out some of David’s India and Singapore trip photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4VfjW9

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

 

Team Flowers: A Flower Market Tour of China

Written by Leah Finn, Mary Harty, Anne Kramer, Laura Smith, and George Panagiotakapoulos

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

Agripacific Holdings is a holding company that owns a number of cut flower farms and distribution centers across Asia, including its two main growing sites, Kunming Hasfarm in Yunnan, China, and Dalat Hasfarm in Dalat, Vietnam. For our IBD project, our team (a.k.a, Team Flowers) partnered with Kunming Hasfarm (KMH) to develop a marketing strategy for selling cut flower crops throughout China – at the moment, most of KMH’s flowers are exported to Japan, while the domestic market is primarily served through a small scale of imports from Dalat Hasfarms. As Chinese incomes rise, a growing middle class is spending more money on luxury home products like flowers, creating a promising market. KMH tasked our team with helping them strategically scale their domestic sales of cut flowers by considering the optimal target customers and sales channels.

For our in-country visit, KMH planned an itinerary that would give us a thorough look at the flower industry in China by visiting six cities – Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong – to tour flower markets, interview wholesaler customers, and even visit the farms of several of their competitors. Luckily for us, this meant we got to experience a diverse range of Chinese cultures, food, and sights as we learned about some of the nuances of each local market.

We began the trip in Kunming, a small (by China standards) city of 6 million in the western Yunnan province. We spent two days touring KMH’s greenhouses and learning about the processes of growing carnations, green wicky (a fuzzy green flower described to us as “soft, like a panda’s face), and hydrangeas. We also visited the Dounnan Flower Market, one of the largest flower wholesaler markets in China. The coolest part about this was the flower auction: an enormous warehouse full of lower-quality flowers (mostly roses) and a huge room to the side where wholesalers gathered to bid on them, Dutch auction style while smoking heavily and doing business on cell phones. It was quite a sight!

Flower auction in Kunming

In Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, and Guangzhou, we visited KMH’s largest wholesaler customers and the Shanghai-based distribution center for the import business. Through our many interviews, we learned that KMH has a strong reputation as a high-quality grower; most of their wholesaler customers would buy more flowers from them if not restricted by supply. Since the China-based farm already had plans to expand growing, we saw an opportunity to organize their Shanghai- and Beijing-based sales teams to begin selling domestic product in those regions, rather than solely managing the import business.

Another powerful opportunity we recognized for KMH is the meteoric rise of e-commerce that has taken place in the past few years, impacting all industries. In many ways, China has surpassed the US in its use of technology in commerce: for example, rather than credit cards, nearly everyone pays for things by scanning a QR code on the item with an app on their phone called WeChat. In the flower industry, many startups have innovated by offering weekly flower delivery services through a subscription model, and several wholesalers have shifted all of their operations online. We had the chance to interview several contacts from these companies to learn about their innovative models. A key question we investigated for KMH was how they could incorporate technology into their business model, and how far down the value chain they should reach to implement it – that is, whether to switch from B2B (selling to wholesalers) to B2C.

Team looking over Beijing with 2 of KMH’s staff acting as our tour guides

The trip concluded with a trip to Hong Kong, where we delivered our final presentation at Hasfarm’s office there. In addition to recommendations about reorganizing their sales force and adopting a technology platform to track customer data, we discussed the trend we observed of new flower companies, particularly in the eCommerce model, shortening the value chain (typically grower to wholesaler to retailer to customer) to increase margins and lower prices beyond the offerings of their more traditional competitors. We encouraged KMH to pay attention to competitors adopting this model as the market grows.

Overall, we were incredibly impressed by the hospitality provided to us by our clients and associates in the industry. After nearly every interview or market visit, we were taken to an elaborate meal, treated to a tea ceremony, or toured around sights like Tianenmen Square by members of the KMH staff or their wholesaler clients. We feel lucky that this experience introduced us to the warmth, beauty, and diversity of China.

IBD Team Works with La Clinica Oftalmologica Divino Nino Jesus, a Non-Profit Eye Clinic

Written by Mark Angel, Robert Gutierrez, Megha Kansra, Tyler Saltiel and Sarah Evans

As soon as we landed, the humidity knocked us out. Walking off the airplane, we immediately felt our clothes stick to our bodies and walked through the still, thick air toward the open-air baggage claim. We had heard the Amazon was humid, but we were not expecting its immediacy. Despite the unprecedented heat and humidity, we couldn’t contain our excitement to begin the in-country portion of our project.

Our team is working with La Clinica Oftalmologica Divino Nino Jesus (DNJ), a non-profit eye clinic based in Lima, Peru, dedicated to eradicating curable blindness. We had just landed in Iquitos, the largest city in the world not connected by a road and the “gateway to the Amazon,” where DNJ had recently expanded. We were to spend the next three weeks working with DNJ’s team to provide strategic marketing recommendations: one week in Iquitos and two in Lima.

Alberto, the executive director of the clinic and our main client, picked us up the next morning in DNJ’s van to drive us to its clinic, 40 minutes outside of central Iquitos. After a brief pit stop to push the van out of wet sand, we arrived at the clinic.

We spent the morning with Diego, the Outreach Coordinator in Iquitos, touring the clinic and learning more about the operations of the Iquitos facility. We even got to see the inside of the operating room where DNJ ophthalmologists perform their life-changing surgeries.

Hot, sweaty, but extremely inspired by the facility, we returned to our hotel to prepare for a meeting with Alberto held in our conference room for the week – the outdoor hotel restaurant and bar. After a productive meeting with Alberto discussing the financial performance of DNJ, we returned to the clinic the next day. Diego and Alberto were eager to have us interview patients and family members accompanying them on their visits. We stationed ourselves in an unused triage room in the clinic, and two by two, patients and their companions sat down to chat with us (en español) about their experiences with the clinic. We were immediately struck by patients’ gratitude and openness. One older woman excitedly told us about her beloved garden, and how grateful she was for the free cataract surgery that would enable her to tend to her garden once again. She and her daughter talked about the excellent service they had received, noted some areas for improvement at the clinic, and finally – to our surprise – gave us an invitation to their home. Another older gentleman, stylishly dressed with a Canon camera slung around his neck, waxed poetic about how eager he was to photograph the people and traditions of the beautiful Loreto region again.

As we spent more days in Iquitos interviewing patients, we continued to hear similar stories. Patients described DNJ as a “gift” and “blessing,” praising the personal attention of the staff. In Iquitos, a city accustomed to seeing NGOs shuttle in and out on a temporary basis, DNJ’s gleaming new Iquitos facility and world class staff, seemingly here to stay and providing services for free, prompted awe and surprise. By the end of the week, we were all deeply moved by the immense difference DNJ was making, and we felt doubly determined to provide impactful recommendations.

After a final day in Iquitos – spent boating down the Amazon (the world’s widest river) and feeding piranhas, alligators, and adorable baby monkeys – we headed back to Lima. In Lima, we extensively interviewed DNJ staff members, collecting their stories, recommendations, and perspectives on patient experience and marketing. A highlight was getting the opportunity to scrub in and watch a live cataract surgery conducted by one of the top ophthalmologists in Latin America. The head nurse patiently explained each step of the process, from the medical checkups of patients just before surgery to the steady incisions and movements of the surgeon to the final, triumphant moment – a mere 10-20 minutes after the surgery began – when patients were helped up off their bed and walked out of the clinic. We were amazed that in under an hour, we had watched a man get back his sight…for free.

After a final push to crystallize our recommendations, we made a presentation to the DNJ board and senior management. We were touched that the board attentively and eagerly listened to our recommendations, and even brought us gifts – delicious alfajores! They were excited about the opportunities ahead and the path forward we charted for them.

Que Alegre! Updates from Guatemala City

Written by Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison

FTMBA students Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison traveled to Guatemala City during May 2017 to work with the fourth-largest, family-owned, home goods, hardware, toy, and baby retailer in Guate mala: Cemaco.

Guatemala City

Our team arrived in Guatemala City during an exciting time for retail. Last year, the retail industry grew 13%, with growth driven by middle/high-end of the market in Guatemala City. Our client Cemaco benefited from these demographic trends, increasing revenue despite growing competition, doubling the number of stores, and receiving recognition as one of Guatemala’s most recognized brands.

Cemaco came to IBD looking for big ideas to meet aggressive revenue and profitability goals.  Among the five pillars for growth highlighted in the 2020 vision, our team was tasked to develop strategy and implementation roadmap to become the dominant e-commerce retail player in Guatemala.

The Initial Research

E-commerce is nascent but growing in Guatemala City. In 2016, e-commerce grew by 20%, mainly used by the young, urban, upper class.  Cemaco launched their beta e-commerce site in April of this year, allowing us to work in parallel with the team and project.

Prior to arriving in Guatemala City, our team conducted secondary research on the industry, competition, company, and customers to make the most of our time in-country. We sent a survey to 600 active and 250 lapsed Cemaco customers and received 80% response rate. This amazing level of loyalty and commitment from the customer base was incredible – we were excited to meet the team and customers during the coming weeks!

Arrival in Guatemala City

Arriving on Saturday, May 13th, we were greeted by the Cemaco team for a tour of the city.  We stopped by a local market, picked up groceries, and of course visited a Cemaco store.

First Days at the Office

Our day of arrival presentation gave us helpful feedback to move forward with our proposal. Meeting with the team, we felt incredibly welcome. Not to mention, it was Peter’s birthday! The team took us out to lunch and we celebrated over cake!

Learning about the market

To learn about the market, we focused our time visiting Cemaco and competitor stores, going to the warehouse to see the e-commerce logistics firsthand (and ride a forklift together!), and conducting in person interviews at Cemaco stores. These experiences helped us understand

  • What obstacles/profitability challenges Cemaco will face: Labor is very cheap in Guatemala. From a logistics perspective, Cemaco has been very flexible and fast, figuring out how to package and deliver e-commerce orders in 1-2 days
  • How Cemaco sets itself apart from the competition: Cemaco is a customer first company that puts its stores at the center of its experience. Cemaco stores are welcoming, bright, and customers enjoy spending time browsing the wide variety of products
  • Why customers love Cemaco: As an established, family owned company with Guatemalan roots, customers are extremely loyal. They feel that they can find everything they need for their homes at Cemaco, and expect to find high-quality products.

Weekend trips 

As our classmates pointed out to us, our team didn’t just work…our client Cemaco planned amazing weekend trips for us. First, we went to Lake Atitlan, where we enjoyed an amazing view of the lake, mountains, and volcanoes went on a nature hike with swinging bridges and saw ancient Mayan ruins.

On our second weekend, we hiked the Pacaya volcano where we roasted marshmallows on top and visited the beautiful, historic Antigua.  Walking down the cobbled roads, we took in the architecture and culture of the city – from carrot ice cream to a speakeasy bar called “No Se,” we tried to find all the hidden gems that Antigua had to offer.

Final Presentation

Back at work, in our final presentation, we recommended that Cemaco prioritize its growing B2B business through an e-commerce platform, and developed a customer-first omnichannel experience plan for both existing and new customers. We were especially excited about our plan to partner with apartment buildings in the nearby Zone 4, known as the “Silicon Valley of Guatemala City,” where first time renters were moving out of their parents’ home before getting married. The team took us out to drinks to celebrate!

In Conclusion

Guatemala is an amazing country and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. We were so impressed by the culture that Cemaco has created and kept strong over the past 40 years, encouraging their employees to move across functions, pursue continuing education, push for corporate social responsibility, and experiment with new business strategies. We are excited to see what’s next for Cemaco!

Updates from IBD Shanghai – ARM Accelerator

Written by Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller

FTMBA students Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller traveled to Shanghai, China during summer 2017 to work with ARM Accelerator.

IBD team in the ARM Accelerator Shanghai office

The Internet of Things (IoT) involves embedding objects in our surroundings with sensors, which capture data and make decisions without the need for human intervention. IoT is poised to change the world, and our client, ARM, is playing a major role in the IoT revolution. ARM is a multinational semiconductor company that designs architecture for the chips that power our smartphones and tablets. Over the next 20 years, ARM expects to deliver 1 trillion chips for IoT devices.

Two years ago, ARM China launched the ARM Accelerator to support IoT startups. Our five-person IBD team traveled to Shanghai to work with ARM Accelerator, helping them develop a strategy to attract Silicon Valley startups, and crafting a plan to diversify their revenue sources.

Initial Research: Bringing Silicon Valley to China

IBD team members Jen, Harsh, and Chris presenting our recommendations to ARM leadership

Our initial challenge was to advise ARM Accelerator on a strategy for attracting U.S. startups. We hypothesized that U.S.-based startups would not want to travel to China for the program, and anticipated recommending a Silicon Valley office. To test our hypothesis, we spoke with founders from 12 different IoT startups in the U.C. Berkeley ecosystem.

We were surprised to learn that virtually all of the founders had either already spent time in China, or anticipated going in the near future. The primary reason for Chinese travel was to connect with manufacturers, but several startups were also interested in meeting Chinese investors and customers.

IBD students with ARM Accelerator leadership, including Allan Wu (center), President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘96

We also discovered that most startups learn about accelerators through their networks. The ARM brand is strong, but few startups had heard of ARM’s accelerator, underscoring the need for business development efforts and localized marketing content in Silicon Valley.

Evaluating the Accelerator Business Model

In the weeks leading up to our trip, we expanded our focus. At two years old, ARM Accelerator is still a startup, and they wanted insights into how other accelerators achieve financial sustainability. We analyzed successful accelerators from around the world, and compiled preliminary recommendations to test in-country.

IBD team member Jen Hoss at the TechCode Shanghai Accelerator, testing an Augmented Reality windshield

 

Day of Arrival

On May 12, we flew to Shanghai. None of us had ever visited mainland China, and we were eager to meet the ARM Accelerator team and learn more about the Chinese startup ecosystem.

ARM Accelerator founder Andy Chen and head engineer Shi Lei gave us a warm welcome, and briefed us on an itinerary packed with interviews. Over the following days, we met with ARM Accelerator graduates, venture capital investors, other accelerators, and the local government. We even attended a presentation in which ARM Accelerator companies pitched their autonomous vehicle technologies to representatives from BMW.

IBD team members from left to right, Jen Hoss, Justin Wedell, Amanda Eller, Chris Roberts, and Harsh Thusu, meeting with bike-sharing startup MoBike.

Interview Highlights: TechCode, Shanghai government, and MoBike

TechCode is an accelerator and incubator started in China, with locations all over the world. Daphne Han provided insights into the benefits of the accelerator for TechCode’s corporate sponsor. She also gave us a tour of their co-working office space, and IBD team member Jen got to test a TechCode company’s “Smart Windshield,” which uses Augmented Reality to provide real-time information to drivers.

Another highlight was our meeting with Zhang Lan from the Shanghai government’s Development and Reform Committee. Mr. Lan shared fascinating insights about the government’s role in supporting entrepreneurship, and the incentives available to ARM Accelerator companies.

Mr. Lan then brought us to the MoBike headquarters. MoBike is a bike sharing startup that has taken

IBD team at the MoBike Shanghai office, with Shanghai government official Mr. Zhang Lan and our ARM colleague Allan Zhong

China by storm, with support from the government. 25 years ago, Shanghai was full of bicycles, but their replacement with motorcycles and cars has exacerbated pollution. MoBike is reversing the trend, and we were impressed by the number of Chinese taking advantage of MoBike. MoBikes can be parked anywhere, and locked or unlocked with a smartphone app; each morning the bikes pile up in front of office buildings, and by evening rows of MoBikes surround the metro stations.

Our ARM Accelerator hosts took us for a traditional Chinese business dinner, which meant plenty of baiju, or Chinese spirits

Eating our way across China

The team made the most of our free time by trying every dumpling we could find. We learned about the art of handpulled noodles, sampled Uigher-style barbecue, and tasted Schizuan Province’s spicy mala peppercorns.  We even contemplated opening a Berkeley franchise of China’s popular Yang’s Dumplings chain.

Between meals, we climbed the Great Wall, explored Beijing’s Forbidden City, and hiked the mountains surrounding Hangzhou’s famous West Lake.

And throughout our trip, we were greeted by local Haasies. Alan Wu, President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘97 provided valuable feedback throughout our project and shared his visions for China’s technological future.

Making new friends over a Beijing-style hotpot dinner

And the Haas Shanghai Alumni group welcomed us with a happy hour, where we met two incoming classmates to the class of 2019.

After a successful three weeks in China, we are excited to continue following ARM Accelerator’s progress as they help build companies shaping the future of IoT.

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

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.

 

The Adventure Begins, Team Ananda in Bangkok

Written by Kevin Cottle, Gian Gentille, Jordan Taylor, Mike Solarz and Elspeth Ong

Lunch with fellow classmate and IBDer, Harsh.

Lunch with fellow classmate and IBDer, Harsh.

After a whirlwind week of finishing finals, packing up our apartments and saying goodbyes to our friends in Berkeley, our team of five – Elspeth, Mike, Kevin, Gianfranco, and Taylor – headed to Southeast Asia to complete our consulting project for Ananda, a premier real estate developer in Thailand.  Ananda, founded by a Haas alum, is one of the largest condominium developers in Bangkok.  We were tasked with conducting a competitor analysis and developing a growth strategy plan to help Ananda achieve its aggressive growth targets. 

Team Ananda in front of Marina Bay Sands

Team Ananda in front of Marina Bay Sands

The Adventure Begins

The team decided to take a detour en route to Bangkok and spent the weekend before our official start date in Singapore, our team lead Elspeth’s home country.  Harsh, another classmate and IBD team lead, was also in town and the two of them were incredibly gracious hosts, showing us all of their favorite Singapore hotspots.  We explored Orchard Rd, Clarke Quay, Gardens by the Bay, and the beautiful Marina Bay Sands hotel, where we took breathtaking photos of the city.  We enjoyed an incredible dinner with Elspeth’s family and a great day at Sentosa, definite highlights of the weekend.  The weekend was the perfect start to our Southeast Asian adventure and was a nice mini vacation prior to arriving in Bangkok and hitting the ground running with our client.

       Enjoying dinner with the Ong Family.

Enjoying dinner with the Ong Family.

Ananda Week 1

Our client met us in the lobby of our hotel Monday morning to bring us to the office, which was conveniently located next door; the proximity proved to be a huge blessing as we came to know the huge challenge that is Bangkok traffic.  We spent the first week introducing ourselves to key stakeholders within the company and conducting interviews to validate the work we had done in Berkeley.  We spoke to employees who had worked at other real estate development companies and pulled on the expertise of strategic business development VPs.  We made use of consumer surveys and other market intelligence research the company had conducted and incorporated all of this new information into our analysis.

By the end of the first week, we had validated our competitive analysis processes and reworked some of our strategies based on client feedback.  We had spent most of our time with our main point of contact, Khun Lloyd, who was incredibly generous with his time and went out of his way to ensure we had a proper introduction to Bangkok.  He kept us busy with lunches and dinners throughout the week, and it quickly became evident how important relationship building is to doing business in Thailand.  We had also discovered the magic of Thai massages and began planning our spa visits for the remaining time in country!

Angkor Waaaat

After our first week of work, we headed out to Siem Reap, Cambodia!  Our trip to the airport was our first real taste of Bangkok traffic and we ended up using multiple modes of transportation, running through the streets and the airport, and convincing an airport employee to help us cut the immigration line in order to make our flight.  The crazy travel experience was well worth it and we very much enjoyed our time exploring various temples in Siem Reap and hanging out at our fancy Airbnb, equipped with a pool in the living room.  We had a relaxing day on Sunday at Phnom Kulen where we swam and played in waterfalls all day.

Team Ananda in action at Ankor Wat

Team Ananda in action at Ankor Wat

Week 2

Week two began with a day of site visits to both Ananda and competitor properties.  We were impressed by our client’s showrooms and model units, which clearly stood out from their competitors.  The attention to detail and beautiful interior design made us all want to invest in Thai property!

The team contemplating purchasing some Thai property

The team contemplating purchasing some Thai property

The rest of the week was spent conducting final research and putting the finishing touches on our final presentation deck, which we presented Friday of Week 2 to the CEO and our main points of contact, Dr. John and K. Lloyd.  The presentation went well and we had a great discussion about our recommended strategies, learning that many of the workstreams we suggested were already under consideration. Additionally, we discovered our client’s passion for technology.  The team is quite visionary and frequents tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv to scope innovations that could be used to improve their properties and/or work processes.

All smiles after the final presentation.

All smiles after the final presentation

Week 3

Having completed our presentation and main assignment at the end of week two, we spent week three networking and exploring Bangkok.  Our client put a strong emphasis on us using our time in country to understand Thai culture and life in Bangkok and encouraged us to use week three to gain this knowledge.  We met with another Berkeley alum, K. Paul Ark, who heads up the VC arm of SCB, one of Thailand’s major banks.  We connected with a Haas 2015 alum who started his own VC fund and learned more about his post-Haas experience and the work he does in bridging Thailand and San Francisco.  We are grateful to have had this free time to further explore Bangkok and to gain a deeper understanding of business in Thailand.  We feel spoiled to have been connected with so many interesting people and feel lucky to have spent these three weeks at Ananda.  We look forward to staying in touch with our new contacts and will see many of our Ananda contacts in August when they visit the Bay Area!

Competing with Team Indonesia’s teddy bear mall picture

Competing with Team Indonesia’s teddy bear mall picture

Exploring the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya

Exploring the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya

Team IBD Japan Takes on a Timely Issue: Media and the US Market

Tokyo, city of 20 million people

Written by Federico Alvarez Del Blanco, Diego Butrich, Kim Long, Angela Napit, and Kasey Koopmans

The US media is having a moment. According to Donald Trump’s twitter account, “the media is the enemy of the American people.” Counter to his bold-faced claim, a recent AEI report found that the majority of registered voters do *not* think the industry is their enemy. That being said, confidence in the news is eroding and has been for many years in the US.  While conducting our own interviews, we found again and again that people are worried about bias and hungry for news sources from outside the American echo chamber, especially after the most recent election.  

Media drama isn’t confined to the US. The industry at large is in the midst of an identity crisis. Today’s digital advancements mean that anyone can be a journalist and anyone can share information freely on the web. Free news sites and aggregators have made the new generation believe that news should be free and have made the future of paywalls and ad-based models far from certain.

Tokyo subway transit: In both cases, silence was king.

Tokyo subway transit: In both cases, silence was king.

Enter Nikkei Asian Review

Tokyo subway transit: In both cases, silence was king.

It is against this tumultuous backdrop that our team partnered with Nikkei Asian Review (NAR). NAR is a subsidiary of Nikkei, a company that has been around for nearly 150 years and circulates the most read widely business newspaper in Japan. In 2013, NAR was launched as Nikkei’s new English language product – a weekly magazine and online news source specializing in in-depth, Pan-Asian coverage of business and financial news. In order to bolster its international brand, Nikkei also made the bold move to purchase the Financial Times in 2015. All of these elements (Nikkei heritage, FT expertise moving in-house, increasing need trustworthy news) put NAR in a promising position. Our project was to help NAR tap into one of the most lucrative English-speaking markets and explore their potential in the US. How should NAR position itself in the US? Who is their target audience? And how will NAR connect with and market to that audience?

The team (with client lead, Asuka), the office, and the imperial palace (behind)

“Tell me about the last time you read the news”

Since our project was focused on strategy for the US market, the bulk of our field work was based out of our Berkeley home. The first mission was to capture as much information as we could about competitors and their marketing strategy in the US (screen shots on screenshots!). The second mission was to conduct in-depth interviews. Our 30+ completed interviews focused on 1) gathering expert opinions from journalism professors and professionals and 2) consumer news reading habits from target respondents.  Armed with a more refined understanding of the media industry, its challenges, as well as its readers and their evolving needs, we hopped on our 19-hour flight to Tokyo.

The team that dines together, thrives together: 1st lunch with NAR team in Tokyo

Konnichi wa, Tokyo!

A few days after our final exams, Team IBD landed in Japan. Our first observation: for a city of 20 million people, it is remarkably quiet, clean and orderly. Even the public transport smelt of perfume (BART isn’t hard to beat)!  In our Day of Arrival presentation, we shared our preliminary findings and laid out the work for the weeks ahead. What struck us most that first day, was how invested the entire company was in supporting us.

Team IBD Japan with a few visiting Haasies at the Shibuya “scramble”

Designing a strategy

Over the first week, NAR put their project commitment into action. Our calendars were filled with meetings, ranging from representatives from the editorial and marketing teams to the Financial Times. With each meeting, we zeroed in closer on where NAR stood and what they could leverage in approaching a new market.

Combining what we had learned in-country with our in market research, we presented a detailed overview of NAR’s competitors and how they stacked up against NAR along various dimensions at the end of the first week. During the second week, we focused our efforts on defining the target reader.  Based on our consumer interviews and the powers of post-it collaboration, our team refined 3 key personas we recommended NAR to target.  

Teammates Angel, Diego and Kim brainstorming tactics (note bag of Kitkats, a key ingredient to team success)

Grand finale

Coming into the final week, we finally brought all the pieces together and constructed our recommendations. Our final presentation took place on our final day in the office. It was widely attended by ~45 people, including the editor in chief and other senior leaders. We were thrilled to receive their earnest engagement in our final discussion. They promised that when we visit NAR in a year’s time, it will look like a whole new organization.

IBD Japan – Flash Mob (public stretching)

When we gathered for a team drink post-presentation, we all agreed: best IBD project ever (note: unadulterated bias). When not absorbed with the fascinating problem we were helping solve, Japan showed us a helluva good time. From wondrous meal after wondrous meal to kabuki theater to strikingly beautiful temples and shrines, Japan’s charms wouldn’t quit. We all spent the three weeks with anime-inspired stars in our eyes. Amidst all the adventures, the highlight for us all was the karaoke. We did it all for the karaoke.