Jon Metzler Joins the IBD Faculty Mentor Team

Jon Metzler speaking on panelIBD is excited to welcome our newest Faculty Mentor to the Spring IBD program, Jon Metzler.  Jon is a Lecturer at Berkeley Haas, where he teaches competitive advantage in technology, telecom and media markets (Strategy for the IT Firm), and international business.  He teaches MBA and undergraduate students at Berkeley Haas, and has led EWMBA students on Seminar in International Business (SIB) class trips to Japan. Jon is also associated faculty for the UC Berkeley for Center for Japanese Studies, and a faculty mentor at Berkeley SkyDeck, our local accelerator for Berkeley-affiliated startups.

When Jon is not teaching, mentoring or leading SIB class trips to Japan, he is managing the consulting firm that he founded in 2007, Blue Field Strategies.  Blue Field Strategies helps clients accelerate service innovation through market research and entry support, investment sourcing and due diligence, and market and policy advocacy.  Jon has supported new business launches in online media, print, edtech, wireless infrastructure, geolocation, events and services.

Jon is also an alumnus of Berkeley Haas, where he earned his MBA/MA-Asian Studies. He co-founded the Berkeley Asia Business Conference, now called the Bridge Conference.  

Jon can now add IBD Faculty Mentor to his extensive resume, and we are thrilled to have him on our team.  Recently we tracked down Jon to ask him some questions about himself and his career. Please check out his answers below.  

IBD:  What excites you most about being an IBD Faculty Mentor, and what would you like to get out of the experience?

Jon Metzler: “ What I enjoy most about teaching is working with students and getting to know them — how they think, what they aspire to, and then working with them to help them grow.  I also come from a client services (consulting) background and derive satisfaction from helping clients, so IBD is very aligned with both of these!”

IBD:  What skills or qualities do you hope to bring to your new role and/or offer to our IBD MBA students?

Jon and David Richardson, IBD Executive Director eating soft cream

Jon and David Richardson, IBD Executive Director eating soft cream

Jon Metzler:  “I have launch experience in print, wireless broadband, events, edtech, wireless infrastructure and innovation spaces, and have experience helping clients assess new opportunities and figure out how to go to market, or, as incumbents, how to harness a growing market.  In general, I enjoy helping new enterprises get off the ground and hope to bring this to the IBD program.”

IBD:  What brought you to Berkeley Haas, and how has your experience been teaching these last 4+ years?

Jon Metzler: First, some context.  When I was a student at Haas (MBA/MA-Asian Studies), I really enjoyed the balance of tenured and professional faculty, and with regards to the professional faculty, I always enjoyed the pragmatism of classes led by practitioners.  

Fast forward to 2014.  There were two paths that led me to teaching at Haas. First, I felt like I had value to provide to students after years working at startups and in services, particularly in the fields of tech and telecom. This is what eventually led to teaching Strategy for the Information Technology Firm. Secondly,  my Master’s thesis advisor (Steve Vogel in PoliSci) suggested that I teach on Japan. This is what led to leading SIBs on Japan in the EWMBA program, and a business in Japan class in the UGBA program.”

Jon Metzler- moderating panelIBD:  Tell us about being the Founder & President of Blue Field Strategies, and how this work relates to what you can offer to IBD students or clients?

Jon Metzler:  “I will answer this question as:  I feel that teaching and consulting feed each other — consulting allows me to deep dive into current industry issues, and teaching helps me digest and synthesize that into more broadly applicable lessons and material.“

IBD:  What do you like to do when you aren’t teaching, mentoring or working at Blue Field?

Jon Metzler: I am board chairman of a non-profit in San Francisco – the Japan Society of Northern California. It’s a 113-year-old non-profit, and I take that heritage and history seriously. It’s been fun working with the board and staff making sure a venerable institution is addressing market needs today.

I also have two children, one in sixth-grade and one in third-grade. Both are far smarter than I am. This keeps me on my toes!  And also helps me keep perspective on what’s important.

Lastly, I play – albeit not well – soccer as often as my schedule and body permit.”

The IBD team feels very fortunate to have Jon as a Faculty Mentor, and we look forward to his contributions to the upcoming 2019 IBD Spring program.  

Continued Reflections on Our Plastic Use

*POST 2: Written by Catherine Soler, Leslie Brian, Kelly Lamble, Scott Peacock and Sipian Wang

Beautiful water and skyline with boatsThis is a second post about our project in the Bay Islands. After spending three weeks answering the question, ““How might we provide clean drinking water to the communities of the Bay Islands without a plastic footprint?”, we are now examining the question,

“How has this project changed the way we look at our own plastic footprint?”

See reflections from our team members below.

Scott’s Reflections: Developing Gratitude and Empathy

There was a perception on the islands that the pollution is caused by a “live for today” mentality. But, it’s not about enjoying the day; it’s about surviving the day. How can someone worry about the future consequences of plastic waste when they are worried about food, water, and safety today? I have the means and time to plan for the future, but still, many things that I use for convenience, saving money, or fun have negative externalities. This experience has reinforced my appreciation for the benefits I have and has made me reconsider the conveniences I take at the expense of others.

Beautiful water and sky with branch

Kelly’s Reflections: Called to Action

As we slowly moved down Pumpkin Beach on Utila, methodically picking up pieces of plastic, my heart sank. A staggering number of microplastics dotted the white sand with blues and reds and greens. Even the most painstaking cleanup could never get all of those little pieces off the sand and into a trash bag.

Witnessing the effects of plastic pollution firsthand made me think about my voice as a consumer. What excuses do I tell myself for why I’m not able to make a bigger impact? Is there really not enough space in my kitchen to have trash, recycling, and compost bins? Is there really no way to avoid buying new consumables, like big coffee tins from Trader Joe’s or shampoo from Walgreens, instead of refilling them? Those small pieces of plastic littering that beach was the motivation I needed: I bought two new trash bins yesterday, and a bar of soap that came without packaging. These may be small steps, but if enough consumers start voicing their desire for less plastic and greater sustainability, companies will have no choice but to listen.

banner saying "El Plastico recicla, la naturaliza, no!"

Catherine’s Reflections: Demystifying Plastic Perceptions

When we interviewed local people about their clean drinking water sources and plastic pollution, there was a pervasive sentiment that because we were from the US, we knew how to do things the right way. There was blind faith that, in America, we are free of single use plastic water bottles and all of our waste is composted or neatly packaged and disposed in environmentally friendly ways. Meanwhile, those same people were promoting sustainable straw use and drinking from 5 gallon jugs of water in their homes to reduce single use bottle waste – practices that are far and few between in the US. More so, by interacting with the communities on the Islands, I recognized many of my own behaviors that actually encourage plastic pollution and was inspired by their actions to change.

In a place like the US, we have the luxury of resources, education and expertise to make substantial plastic reduction and be a true ecological leader to others in the world. I hope that we act on that opportunity quickly and live up to the expectations that the rest of the world has for us. After this project, I hope to work to help local people feel empowered to design their own solutions to sustainability and have the confidence to share their practices with others. I am committed to learning more about how to reduce my own plastic footprint and find ways to inspire others around me to do the same.

plastic coke bottle on the beachClick here to read Post 1 from Team TBP

To view additional photos from Team TBP, click here

Maximum Satisfaction: The IBD Max Warehouse Experience

Written by Natalie Bauman, Vicky Ngo-Lam, Jeremy Scheier, Elana Congress, and Alex Austin

Team Max WarehouseMay 31, 2018

“Before you come, there are two very important words which you must know: guacamole y frijoles,” asserts Juan Carlos on our first weekly team call. Juan Carlos is the project lead at Max Warehouse and serves as our cheerleader and guide throughout. He is really invested in our Spanish language education. “Next week, you will learn some new words,” he assures us. Can you guess the word we learned the next week? Cerveza–por supuesto! We learned vocabulary beyond just guacamole, beer, and beans, though. We pick up “Guatamaleños” (Guatemalan slang words)  and use them incorrectly and excessively.  Our favorite is “va” (“let’s go, sure, got it!”). We figure that between us, we have 2.5 people proficient in Spanish (and also 2.5 MBAs). Our motley collection of Spanish knowledge and ability to support one another in communication attempts represents well our team dynamics.

Introducing: IBD Team “MaxWareHaas.”Team with Duracel Bunny

We are the MaxWareHaas IBD team: Natalie, Jeremy, Elana, Alex, and Vicky.  Our project is with Max Warehouse, a subsidiary of Grupo Cemaco, the fourth largest retailer in the country. Max Warehouse started in 2012 as an online wholesaler for Ace hardware products and then launched its own website, MaxWarehouse.com, in January 2017 as a way to increase profits, build brand equity, and ensure a sustainable business. Our task is to create short-term recommendations, tactics, and a 3-year roadmap for MaxWarehouse.com’s growth. As the project progressed additional questions emerged, which kept us busy and provided a perfect opportunity to leverage our MBA skills to help this enthusiastic company. Our work at Max Warehouse
While at Berkeley this spring, we completed a design thinking-style story-board about Max Warehouse as a client and their current story. It really helped us get a grasp on how we fit in and how we can help them. What we came away with is that Max Warehouse is a feisty, entrepreneurial company pushing for growth. They are in a bit of an identity crisis though,
unsure of their value proposition or ideal customer. They are tenacious and eager to succeed in the U.S. market as an ecommerce player, despite the fact that they’re Guatemala-based and competing with Amazon.

IBD presentation Our final recommendation included 5-10 short and medium term recommendations. When we came in the next day, they were already in the process of implementing the recommendations. They had started interviewing for search optimization personnel, cutting products that weigh > 50 lbs from their SKUs, figuring out how to eliminate products without complete content listings, and implementing project management and communication software to increase cross-functional knowledge sharing across the team. This just shows the client’s drive to improve, and is what has made this project so rewarding and fun.

Touring Guatemala in Style

One of the highest ROI moments of the trip occurred when Alex and Natalie Team site seeingattended Grupo Cemaco’s annual internal football tournament. 26 teams competed, consisting of Grupo Cemaco employees from the stores, warehouses, and corporate teams. The Zona 5 office team, where we work, made the championship game for the first time ever. Alex and Natalie attended the game to cheer on the team and show our support. Afterwards, they chatted with Don Mario, the patriarch of the family that founded and leads the Grupo Cemaco enterprise. They mention that the upcoming weekend agenda was a trip to Tikal to see the ancient Mayan ruins. Don Mario asked about flights, arrangement, and hotels. Alex and Natalie sheepishly admitted that nothing has yet been booked. Two hours later, we had an entire weekend itinerary: flights, a stay at a beautiful eco lodge in El Remate (near Tikal) and a luxury hotel in Antigua, a top-notch tour guide, and complete transportation. The generosity and care is unfathomable to us. We cannot even begin to express our gratitude. This is just another example of the hospitality which is woven into the fabric of the Guatemalan

Sunset in Antigua IBD

Sunset in Antigua IBD

culture.

Farewell to Guate.

As we prepare to depart from this beautiful country, return to Berkeley, and start our internships, we are grateful for our amazing experience here. In addition to the work we accomplished for the company, everything that we learned about ecommerce in the home goods segment, and how a startup nested within a corporation can find success, we have learned about this hidden gem of a place and met some of the kindest people in the world.Team in Antigua

Haas Goes to China; Experiences a Fusion of Culture and Technology

Written by Nausher Cholavaram, Rohan Balwani, Tanya Gupta, Pradeep Khanal, and Edi Lim

Team Yirendai after Final Presentation

Team Yirendai after Final Presentation

We just returned from China after completing a two-week stint with Yirendai, a FinTech company based in Beijing. Our time was filled with experiences that enriched us professionally, personally, and culturally. We learned about the booming economy in China and the uncertainty that comes with it. We also talked to company leads and learned how they think about company strategy. The two weeks were also great exposure to Chinese culture both at and outside of work. We tried different types of Chinese food, watched traditional Chinese opera, and participated in some heavy bargaining when shopping.

Client and project overview

Yirendai, our client, is a leading FinTech company in China. It is a dominant player in the Chinese peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry and has recently expanded into the Online Wealth Management space. Having made a huge impact in China, Yirendai is now setting their sights on the US!  Yirendai enlisted our help to explore options for their expansion into the US market.

This ask posed a very interesting challenge for us. On one hand, China is far ahead in the world of FinTech with their ubiquitous use of technology for making payments and conducting business via mobile phones. For example, we saw panhandlers and street musicians display QR codes for WePay to facilitate donations, and we ate at a food court where no cash or credit cards were accepted. On the other hand, we learned that Chinese investors don’t possess the same level of sophisticated planning and diversification that investors in other markets do. When we synthesized all of our learnings and presented our final presentation to Yirendai, they had very incisive questions and couldn’t help themselves but become excited by the ideas we presented.

Project Details

Team Yirendai in IBD Class at Haas

Team Yirendai in IBD Class at Haas

We started the research for our project while in the US. We spent 3 weeks researching P2P Lending and Wealth Management industries in general and our client’s business in particular. We read hundreds of documents about both industries, downloaded P2P lending apps to learn their features and user experience, conducted surveys, and interviewed contacts about their investing behaviors. We had insightful exchanges with our clients where we validated our understanding from field studies with their expert knowledge. The work was intense but totally worth it.

As we arrived in China, we prepared our recommendation. We surveyed the problem-solving toolkit – financial modeling, SWOT, business model canvas, and go-to-market strategy framework – we learned at Haas and implemented them to build our recommendation. We had several discussions about customer segmentation, product differentiation, and customer acquisition strategy with our client’s CFO, Head of Online Wealth Management, Director of Investor Relations, and Head of Product Management. Their invaluable input helped mold our recommendation.

Cultural Immersion

Though China has been lauded for its recent economic advancement, it has a long history of rich culture and tradition. Besides our client, Yirendai, our team was very excited about the Great Wall. We went to the Jinshanling section, which was very scenic and less crowded. Walking 6 hours on the Great Wall didn’t feel enough. We were astonished by its grandeur and humbled by its expanse. Our day at the Great Wall was definitely one of the finest experiences of our stay in China.

Team Yirendai at the Great Wall of China

Team Yirendai at the Great Wall of China

Beijing is full of other historical and cultural sites as well. We visited the Forbidden City, a historical palace museum in Beijing. We toured the Tiananmen Square and other important sites in Beijing including the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the Lama Temple. We went to the popular Antique market and also playfully immersed ourselves in a  bit of haggling at Beijing’s popular Pearl and Silk markets.

It was a little disheartening to see sun only twice due to poor air quality during our 2-week stay in Beijing, but we remain hopeful the measures being implemented currently will continue to make improvements.

Following our final presentation, our client treated us to a traditional Beijing style dinner along with Beijing Opera – quite a fitting end to our 2 weeks stay in Beijing.

Team Yirendai at the Beijing Opera

Team Yirendai at the Beijing Opera

The China trip was incredible and the IBD experience, priceless. It was like opening the wardrobe and venturing into a new world, both professionally and culturally, with talented fellow Haasies! Our relationship with the client did not end with the conclusion of the project. We are still in touch through WeChat and plan to meet our client on their next visit to the US for a roadshow in the second half of 2018.

 

Using Human-Centered Design to Improve Patients’ Lives

By Melea Atkins, Kathryn Balestreri, Bree Jenkins, Ben Lauing, and Hannah Levinson

There were bright pink and orange and blue post-its everywhere. It looked just like the Innovation Lab at Haas had looked weeks before as we ran through an exercise during our Problem-Finding, Problem-Solving class. But we were 6,500 miles away from Haas, many of the post-its were written in Portuguese, and the stakes were high.

The São Paulo IBD team was facilitating a three-hour rapid ideation workshop at the major pharmaceutical company Novartis, leading a group of 16 senior-level employees through the human-centered design cycle to generate ideas about why patients don’t adhere to their medication. Our fear that directions would be lost in translation given the language barrier was immediately assuaged as people openly shared personal journeys with chronic illness and others wrote down observations. One woman shared her personal experience being treated by a physician for a chronic illness. He chose not to pursue aggressive treatment because he didn’t want to impose physical pain on his patient. She was left feeling out of control over her own life, and her emotional and physical suffering only increased over time. This led to an insight around shared decision-making and that a personal physician relationship is foundational to patient engagement and medication adherence.

Sticky notes

After the workshop, we received such a thoughtful WhatsApp message (the primary mode of communication – even for Novartis professionals!): This was so great, I’ve worked here for so long but I forgot that I’ve been the patient too.

Leading this workshop was a transformational Haas experience. When facilitating, we were pushed to command a room of people who were senior to us, whose primary language was different from ours, and who had no prior exposure to design thinking tools. The workshop also strengthened the bond of our IBD team, as we all worked together to ensure the success of the experience. Our team was especially fortunate to have Kathryn Balestreri, who brought design thinking expertise from her work as an innovation consultant and through Haas at Work. 

The Novartis Brazil team collaborates in small groups

The Novartis Brazil team collaborates in small groups

This human-centered design approach landed well with the Novartis team, and we realized how well it lent itself to the overarching goal of our project: helping patients better adhere to heart failure medication. Through our research and 71 interviews with subject matter experts, physicians, startups, and heart failure patients over the course of our project, it was abundantly clear that we wouldn’t be able to identify the root cause of non-adherence to heart failure medication without truly understanding why patients behave the way they do. Thus, when it came to generating solutions for Novartis, we generated six key insights about how we might positively impact patient behavior and improve adherence, used these insights to power ideas, and ultimately converged on one idea to create a prototype and action plan for Brazil. We called the prototype “Rede Integrade de Acolhimento” (RIA), which means “smile” in Portuguese. This is a title that a Novartis employee generated during the final prototyping stage of the ideation workshop.

In our final client call, the project manager requested materials about leading human-centered design workshops, because she wanted to replicate the workshop for Novartis teams in other Latin American countries. Hearing not only that Novartis was interested in our ideas, but also that they wanted to use some of the tools that we’d brought felt like a true success.

Bree Jenkins leads our team through our own ideation workshop

Bree Jenkins leads our team through our own ideation workshop

IBD Team Makerere, Changing the Trajectory of Uganda’s Tourism Sector

Team Makerere together in front of a lakeWritten by Elizabeth Andrada, Luca Cosentino, ​Tamara Pace-Emerson, ​

Logan Gallogly, and ​Renee Medina

Changing the trajectory of Uganda’s tourism sector

Our IBD team worked with the government of Uganda and a team focused on enhancing public and private sector partnerships at Makerere University, Uganda’s largest university, to redefine the country’s tourism strategy. Many sectors have invested a lot of time and money to improve the country’s tourism sector, however, there were a few elements missing in both the strategies and execution that prevented Uganda’s tourism sector from thriving.

Making an impact with a dedicated audience

Our team had a once in a lifetime opportunity to present our final recommendations to the Prime Minister of Uganda, Governor of the Central Bank of Uganda and Minister of Tourism of Uganda, in addition to many other members of government and private sector leaders in the country. Our three weeks in country culminated in this exciting event, which was followed by a private dinner with the mentioned stakeholders (several of whom are UC Berkeley alums!) that evening. The dinner gave us an opportunity to discuss our final presentation in a less formal environment, share more details of our findings, and highlight the key resource requirements so Uganda can successfully implement our recommendations.

Our project approach

Before heading to Kampala (the country’s capital), our team conducted secondary research on the tourism industry in Uganda and studied tourism strategy for the neighboring East African countries such as Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. Based on the research, surveys and focus groups with classmates as well as our weekly client calls, our team developed a set of initial hypotheses related to improving the current state of tourism in Uganda.

IBD Team Makerere posingDespite our pre-work and research, we quickly discovered once we had arrived in-country that there was a lot to learn with many more nuances and local considerations to keep in mind when thinking about our final recommendations. We spent the first week conducting interviews with more than 15 stakeholders across the tourism sector, which changed our perceptions of the primary challenges facing the Uganda tourism sector. We spent the second week traveling around the country as tourists ourselves in order to understand first-hand the differentiators and challenges to a thriving tourism sector in the country.

Where we visited

Our team used Kampala, Uganda’s largest city, as our home base, but because many of the country’s key tourist sites are outside of the city, we also wanted to spend time visiting these destinations. This primary research would help inform our final recommendations related to a tourist’s experience in the country. Our team had the opportunity to visit:

  • Jinga, the source of the Nile River (where the Nile meets Lake Victoria) and to do a sunset kayaking trip on the Nile;
  • Entebbe and the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre where we got to pet cheetahs and feed lions and baby elephants;
  • Murchison Falls National Park, where we participated in a traditional safari game drive and saw giraffes, hippos, elephants, lions, bison, buffalo, birds and countless other animals as well as hike to the top of the two waterfalls in the park;
  • Lake Bunyoni, the second deepest lake in the world and the deepest lake in Africa, where we stayed at an eco-lodge and had the opportunity to boat, swim and hike; and
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we participated in a second game drive and enjoyed views of the Rwenzori mountain range while having an authentic ‘Rolex’ breakfast.

IBD Team Makerere in front of body of waterOur final recommendations and project culmination

The team developed four final recommendations for our client, focusing on marketing as well as the tourist and business experience. As mentioned, we had the unique opportunity to present our findings and final recommendations to the Prime Minister as well as other government and private sector stakeholders.

Our IBD experience was a highlight of our time thus far at Haas and is one that we will never forget. Our team created a meaningful bond as we sought to provide an actionable roadmap for the country’s leaders to make it a top tourist destination. We feel so honored to have had the opportunity to make an impact and to change the trajectory of the tourism industry in Uganda. We look forward to visiting Uganda again to see the progress that has been made in implementing our recommendations.

IBD BLOG – TEAM MAJID AL FUTTAIM

Written by: Jorge Tellez, Ryan King, Jennifer Rokosa, Daniel Clayton and Kelly Gillfillan

Entry 1: May 17, 2018

The five of us (Jenny, Daniel, Kelly, Ryan, and Jorge) touched down in Dubai five days ago and were greeted by 105-degree heat and a 4-day long sandstorm. Dubai has a giant desert in its backyard, and if the wind is blowing strong enough in the right direction, the entire city gets hit with a wall of sand. From the street, a sandstorm just looks like a foggy day (not quite San Francisco level fogginess, but close), but if you run your fingers across any outdoor surface, you can immediately see the layer of sand blanketing everything.

The jetlag is finally starting to wear off for most of us. Dubai is 11 hours ahead of Berkeley, meaning we’ve been hitting the coffee pretty hard. However, starting today, we’ll be drinking those coffees in a large closet at Majid Al Futtaim’s (our host company) headquarters. Let me explain…

Team Majid Al Futtaim at the Cultural Center

Team Majid Al Futtaim

Today is the first day of Ramadan in the UAE, meaning most Muslims are fasting for the whole month. Between the hours of 4am and 7pm, it’s is not permitted (whether Muslim or not) to eat or drink in public, including in the office. So while we’re on-site, we’ve been instructed to keep any eating or drinking restricted to a small pantry area on the fourth floor—don’t worry, they have an espresso machine in there.

We head to the UAE cultural center later today where we’ll learn a little bit more about the history of the country, the traditional dress, food and customs. This weekend, we’re heading out to the desert on a guided tour, and then to Abu Dhabi to check out the sights there. Pictures to follow!

 

Entry 2: May 24, 2018

Somewhere between hanging out with two dozen penguins at the foot of an indoor ski slope and watching tourists scuba dive with sharks inside a three story aquarium, you realize the words “shopping mall” in Dubai mean something very different than they do back in the states.

Penguins

Penguins

For us, five millennial Americans dropped into the Middle East for the first time, the word “mall” evokes imagery of angsty loitering teens, sticky movie theater floors, and CDs with the parental advisory warning peeled halfway off (I don’t know about you, but that’s the only way my parents would let me listen to Eminem). Conversely, malls in Dubai have less to do with shopping and more to do with mind-blowing art installations, architecture, five-star restaurants and hotels, movie theaters where you’re served three-course meals, and did I mention, PENGUINS!

This is all to say that while malls in the US have been dead for nearly two decades (thanks, Bezos), they’re thriving here in Dubai. Why? A couple reasons:

  1. E-commerce hasn’t had nearly the same impact here as it has had in the states. Online sales penetration stands at just 2% of total retail sales in the Middle East and Africa, compared to over 10% worldwide.
  2. It hot. Really, really hot. Six months out of the year its too hot to go outside, so heavily airconditioned malls are absolutely the place to be.
  3. The folks at Majid Al Futtaim (our host company) and Emaar (their primary regional competitor) realized a long time ago that experiences would be the way forward for brick and mortar retail. Hence why malls here are built around incredible, experiential attractions.

That last point, which doesn’t really sink in until you’re watching a fountain show at the base of the tallest building in the world, left the five of us asking “How are we going to add value here when this company is so far ahead of mall operators in the US?”

Sitting in Silicon Valley, its sometimes easy to think the US is at the forefront of virtually every industry, but our ignorance was made abundantly clear with just one lap around the Mall of the Emirates. Our recommendation to Majid Al Futtaim was not going to be as simple as relaying what mall operators in the US are doing. Instead, we’d have to figure out how a company that is performing quite well can continue to innovate in the retail space, and how they can even better prepare to defend against e-commerce, which we’d be naïve to think Dubai is immune from.

More next time from Team Majid Al Futtaim!

Entry 3: May 31, 2018

We presented our final project today! The last week and a half was filled with almost a complete overhaul of our presentation, as we homed in on some key recommendations for the company and what we envision the mall of the future will look like. If you had asked me a month ago, my vision of the mall of the future would have been precisely the malls we saw on this trip, but there are some really interesting regional dynamics that lead us to believe a lot may change behind the scenes for malls in the Middle East.

A good example is everything happening in Saudi Arabia today, where the crown prince is loosening up a lot of restrictions, allowing women to drive for the first time and allowing movie theaters to reopen after a more than 30-year ban. Majid Al Futtaim, who manages Vox Cinemas, has plans to open 300+ screens in Saudi Arabia in the next year.

From the dozens of conversations we had with Majid Al Futtaim employees over the last three weeks (including the CEO), it seems absolutely key for malls to position themselves as “experience centers” going forward, as opposed to shopping-only centers. This means more movie theaters, gourmet restaurants, and leisure activities—like an indoor ski resort, for example, or a giant aquarium full of sharks! (Those last two already exist.)

We also believe that the relationship between mall operator and tenant (retail stores) will change in the coming years. We’ve seen a ton of direct-to-consumer brands realize that their e-commerce presence isn’t quite enough, and that they actually need a brick and mortar presence to round out an “omnichannel” offering (e.g. Warby Parker, Everlane, Casper, and dozens more). We think this will be one of the primary retail models going forward, meaning that there will be a host of online-only retailers looking to move into the brick and mortar space through pop-up shops and showroom-style stores.

Mall operators can take advantage of this trend by pioneering what we’re calling a “store-as-a-service” model, whereby the mall operator provides everything required to build and run a store, making it very easy for brands that do not have a physical retail presence to create one quickly. This would also have the benefit of attracting fresh, new retailers to the UAE by offering a de-risked and less capital-intensive entry to the country.

We’ve also been really impressed with Majid Al Futtaim’s commitment to sustainability. Most of their buildings and hotels are LEED gold or platinum certified, which is no small feat. Further, they have a goal to be “net positive” in carbon and water by 2040. Jenny absolutely nailed her piece of the presentation, which focused on how the company can make progress towards achieving that goal by partnering with clean building technologies (at Berkeley, for instance) and helping them through the commercialization phase, which is often known as the “valley of death” for cleantech given the number of companies that fail at that stage.

Team MAJ enjoying dinner after their presentation

Team MAJ enjoying dinner after their presentation

Our presentation was very well received, and we’re thrilled to hear they’re interested in many of our suggestions. We look forward to being in touch with the team in the future and we’re incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work with them all.

We went out on the town to celebrate the end of our project and this journey last night. We shared highlights over pizza and drinks and then packed up for the 15 hour flight I’m currently on now. I think we’re all excited to get back stateside and start our internships, but sad at the same time that this amazing journey has come to an end.

That’s it from us (Jenny, Dan, Kelly, Ryan and Jorge)! Thanks for reading!

PSI Team in Nairobi, Kenya

PSI in front of hospitalWritten by Sara Farsio, Kamellia Saroop, Jennifer Richard, Nick Greczyna, Deitrich Davidheiser

May 29th, 2018

Writing to you from my Westlands Apartment in Nairobi, Kenya. We just completed our final presentation with our client yesterday! Let me share a little about our time in country.

PSI IBD team visiting a national distributor, MEDS, and learning about how they control the quality of drugs

PSI IBD team visiting a national distributor, MEDS, and learning about how they control the quality of drugs

Our IBD team arrived in Nairobi 3 weeks ago to meet our client, Population Services International, face to face for the first time. Population Services International (PSI) is a U.S. based NGO that is working to make it easier for people in the developing world, work to lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire. PSI does this by carrying out Social Franchise Networks. While the organization works globally, our team has been partnering with the Franchise Networks in East Africa (over 500 clinics in the network!), looking to bring solutions to not only those in Kenya, but also Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somaliand.

In-Country – Week 1

It was great to get our feet on the ground when we arrived. We had meetings set up for us all week! I’ll share some highlights from our experience.

  • Visiting the Tunza Franchise Network clinics in Kenya. We went to 6 clinics and met with the owners and staff. Everyone was incredible friendly and willing to answer our questions even though they had a lot on their plates serving patients.
  • We met with the CEO of a new Group Purchasing Organization, MedSource. Incredible to hear about the platform they just launched to help clinics like the ones in the Tunza network.
  • Spending the day with the PS Kenya team was great. They drove us to the various clinics and shared their insights about working with clinics. We had a pit spot for lunch which was a perfect setting to get to know them better. We ate freshly fried Tilapia caught in Lake Victoria – delicious and so much bigger than what we see in the States.
Diani-Beach,-Kenya

Diani-Beach,-Kenya

We finished Week 1 with a weekend trip to Diani Beach! One of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Water was clear and sand was as white as it gets! Such a rewarding getaway for our team. We had a fun bonding experience going scuba diving along a coral reef! Deitrich was certified but for the rest of us, it was our first time. We saw starfish, sea turtles, eel, shrimp, and so much more.

Scuba-time

Scuba-time

In-Country – Week 2

Crunch time! Week 1 was a whole week of new information for us all to intake. This week we spent incorporating new insights into our strategy, then refining and validating our deliverables. This meant a lot of heads down time on our computers. Luckily, our apartments and the client office are really close by, so we had a good setup for getting a lot of work done. Each morning, our apartment complex offers us free breakfast. Kenyan tea is always a treat – comes with hot milk and is delicious– an influence from when the British colonialized Kenya.

Masai Mara

Masai Mara

Thursday of this week we did a practice dry run through of our final presentation to one person at PSI. This was a great chance to get feedback and prepare for next week.

A male lion!

A male lion!

We finished off Week 2 with a long awaited Safari! 6 hour drive from Nairobi and we were close to the Tanzanian border, in the middle of the Masai Mara. We did two game drives and saw tons of animals: lions, cheetah, leopard, wildebeest, gazelle, impalas, elephants, giraffes…the list goes on! Had a great time here and also got to meet the Masai villagers – and incredible and humbling experience.

PSI IBD Team with Carlos, our Safari Tour Guide.

PSI IBD Team with Carlos, our Safari Tour Guide.

In-Country – Week 3

Our last week! It felt so good to have worked so hard on the deck, practiced the presentation using our Lead Comm skills and presented to over 20 people from PSI. It was great to hear their feedback and excitement about our strategies. They appreciated how realistic our ideas were and it felt great to deliver! Enjoyed the rest of this week by finalizing our deliverables and enjoying Nairobi!

Team PSI enjoying dinner

Team PSI enjoying dinner

Team Seedlink- Lives and Learns in Shanghai with Dynamic Clients and Colleagues

Written by Paola Blanco, Nanor Asadorian, Ralph Boyajian, Conor Farese, and Dean Guo

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

Only a week in, and the hustle and bustle of Shanghai is slowly seeping into our lives. We wake up at 8am every morning, and our team breaks into a myriad of mobility tools to get to work. Conor and Paola on the MoBikes – a local bikeshare service. Dean, Ralph, and Nanor grab a Didi – the local equivalent to Uber. We head into the coworking space where our company, Seedlink, is based. Grab coffees, crack open our computers, and turn on the VPNs (even in China, we are never far from gmail). And we get to work. 

Seedlink, our client, is a Human Resources Tech company based here in Shanghai, with offices in Amsterdam as well. They build an artificial intelligence tool that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the science of human behavior. In a nutshell, they can use their tool to predict how well incoming job candidates will perform when compared to the talent a company already has in their organization. They have a strong foothold in China and Europe, and are working with IBD to establish their approach to the U.S. market. We have our hands full, to say the least. Our seven weeks in the U.S. prior to travel was jam-packed with interviews and insights, while our time here in China has been primarily about turning those insights into clear suggestions and tactics that the Seedlink team can use immediately.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Professionally, this has been a tremendous opportunity for all of us. In our push to build a business strategy, we’ve incorporated bit and pieces from almost every class from our core this year. Marketing lessons have influenced how we think about Seedlink’s value proposition and branding. Strategy frameworks have encouraged us to consider the incumbent response to Seedlink’s entrance. From Problem-Finding Problem-Solving, our Haas design course, we borrowed the Business Model Canvas and the insight session tactics. And of course, we lean on our diverse backgrounds to bring it all together: between the five of us, we cover Operations, Finance, Consulting, Tech and Design. Almost perfectly, our project with Seedlink has called on us to weave the lessons from these courses and experiences together into a carefully crafted plan for our client.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

But so much of this experience has also existed beyond the workplace. Our first week here was a huge learning opportunity for all of us. We struggled through the four tones of Mandarin, thankful to our teammate Dean who patiently instructs us (still) each time we stumble. We’ve tried countless food options: Dumpling (x3), Hunan, Yunnan, Hot Pot (x2), Xinjiang, Japanese, Korean… the list goes on and our bellies are full. 

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

The weekends have included a trip to Guilin to see the fabled mountains and Hangzhou for the storied West Lake.

Even today, we’re just back from a weekend on the beautiful Jeju island, one of Korea’s most famous spots. We stuffed ourselves full of Korean BBQ, took a trip through a 7km underground lava tube, climbed the side of the volcano, and hit the town at night to see K-Pop in action.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

Shanghai, in other words, has served us well: we are working in an urban hotspot, and are eager to take advantage of the proximity to beautiful places and of the melting pot of ideas, cuisines, and cultures that happens here.

It should go without saying that this upcoming last week will pass by all-too-quickly. We much more learning in store, and are preparing our final pitch to our client encapsulating the output of 10 weeks of research and energy. And beyond that, we are focused on spending time with each other, and with the other IBD teams in our Shang-Haas family. We know this time is precious, and that this rare moment in our lives – when we can live and learn abroad with dynamic clients and colleagues – will come to an end before we know it.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

Dean Rich Lyons, Forever an International Ambassador

Dean Lyons at IBD class

Dean Lyons at IBD class

Dean Rich Lyons is in the last months of his tenure at Berkeley Haas, and last week we were honored to have him address the Full-Time MBA IBD class for the last time. He has been an enthusiastic supporter of international course offerings at Berkeley Haas, as well as an active ambassador for the IBD program. 

Dean Lyons had this to share with IBD:  “I was hired here on the faculty in 1993, in a very different slot. I don’t think it had ever happened before and I don’t think it’s happened since.  They allocated an ”international” slot and my field is international finance and business. So when I got here, it is safe to say that the only course that we would refer to as experiential learning, today, was IBD.  It was an important part of the global footprint of the business school even way back then…It is really the kernel of a starting point to our whole experiential learning curriculum.”

Dean Lyons expressed that his own international experiences were transformative, and formed the basis for why he pursued a Ph.D. in international economics.  He commended our IBD students for their hard work to date and deemed them “worthy ambassadors” of the Berkeley Haas brand. With an eye to the future, Dean Lyons asked current IBD students to think about their work with IBD clients as a path to more opportunities for the next generation of IBD students.  He told us that “when you say Berkeley in Sao Paulo or Shanghai, or wherever you are going, it just has incredible resonance and you’re part of that resonance.” He encouraged our IBD students to revel in the 150 years of Berkeley tradition, and to “keep the global star rising” at Berkeley Haas.

In conclusion, he reminded us all to “do good work.”  

Dean Lyons and IBD Faculty Mentors

Dean Lyons and IBD Faculty Mentors

Dean Lyons has been doing exceptional work for years on behalf of many departments at Berkeley Haas and UC Berkeley.  The faculty, staff, alumni, and students at IBD are grateful to him for keeping the IBD program top of mind when he travels internationally.  Dean Lyons has always been considered an extension of our own team, as well as our best advocate at home and abroad. As a small token of our appreciation, the IBD team presented Dean Lyons with an award that fits the profile of the IBD program as well as the Dean’s love of all things international: a commemorative globe.  We hope that after Dean Lyons returns from his much-deserved sabbatical, he will continue to be an advocate for the IBD program and other course opportunities that offer MBAs transformative international experiences.