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.

Updates from IBD Turkey – Touring Turkey with YGA and The Turkish Delights

Written by Amol Borcar, Annie Porter, Chelsea Harris, Jeanne Godleski, and Mariana Martinez

The room was buzzing with three languages, and communication was a game of telephone. One of the Syrian primary students would excitedly share something in Arabic, at which point it was translated into Turkish by a Syrian university student, and then a staff member from Young Guru Academy (YGA) would share it in English with our Berkeley-Haas IBD team of five. Nuance was definitely lost through these piecemeal verbal communications, and we came from radically different backgrounds – lives interrupted by the Syrian Civil War, educations defined by a single test score, and former careers in consulting, software engineering, and clean energy. Yet there was one language in the room that we all understood perfectly – science.

YGA university student volunteers leading a science workshop with Syrian primary school students in Gaziantep. Annie concentrating hard on remembering how electrical circuits work!

Our team, fondly nicknamed “The Turkish Delights,” was at one of YGA’s science workshops with Syrian refugees in Gaziantep – a city in southeast Turkey, just 20 miles from the Syrian border. At first glance, this activity seemed somewhat removed from the formal scope of our project with YGA – developing the strategic business plan for the new Aziz Sancar Science Center, set to open in Istanbul in 2018. We were struggling to understand how participating in YGA’s science workshops in Gaziantep and Trabzon would inform our marketing and financial plans for the Science Center. Coming from high-pressure, deliverable-oriented careers prior to Haas, we all wondered if our time would be better spent at our computers, modeling projected visitor numbers and coming up with creative marketing tactics. The business plan was the whole reason we were here after all, right?

Mariana answering the hardest of science questions, like “Where is Mexico?”

Mariana answering the hardest of science questions, like “Where is Mexico?”

Now in our second week, we have realized the immense gift YGA gave us by immersing us in their culture, projects, and relationships for the first week. Coming into our in-country time with YGA, we knew it would be anything but your typical client-consultant relationship given our interactions from Berkeley, but this experience has exceeded all expectations.

On paper, YGA is a non-profit organization that cultivates “selfless leaders” who will create a brighter future for younger generations through innovative, community-based programs and technologies. These projects include Science and Innovation Workshops, My Dream Companion for the visually-impaired, and the Young Leaders Program for high school students.

When the students insisted on giving us a Turkish dance lesson at the end of one science workshop, we couldn’t say no!

When the students insisted on giving us a Turkish dance lesson at the end of one science workshop, we couldn’t say no!

However, the projects themselves are merely tools that YGA uses to instill confidence, humility, and optimism in Turkey’s young generations, with the hope that they will one day lead more socially-conscious organizations and companies. The process of implementing these projects – the planning, the evaluation, the personal growth – is the true goal and measure of success. For example, we ran three separate workshops – one for Syrian refugees, one for orphans, and one for underprivileged students – and although we couldn’t communicate perfectly in any of them, science gave us common ground to which to connect. After each workshop, we paused to reflect on how the students interacted with us and the material, and we all left having learned something about ourselves.

Amol mastering a self-driving car with Syrian students at a science workshop in Gaziantep.

Amol mastering a self-driving car with Syrian students at a science workshop in Gaziantep.

This has been a very new way of thinking and working for us, as we come from jobs where the destination – what you produce – is far more important than the journey. Only by experiencing YGA’s model firsthand could we internalize the notion that success can also be defined as a thoughtful, self-reflective process that leads to personal and collective growth.

Our client Duygu giving us the rundown of all the delicious homemade Turkish dishes!

Our client Duygu giving us the rundown of all the delicious homemade Turkish dishes!

YGA has made us feel like family, from inviting us to a homemade Turkish dinner at our client’s apartment to including us in their weekly executive leadership meetings.

The future location of the new Aziz Sancar Science Center at Istanbul Technical University’s (İTÜ) Maçka campus, which currently holds very outdated science and technology exhibits.

The future location of the new Aziz Sancar Science Center at Istanbul Technical University’s (İTÜ) Maçka campus, which currently holds very outdated science and technology exhibits.

We have now lived and breathed the YGA way and will deliver a business plan for the Science Center that integrates both the tangible programs and intangible values that define this incredible organization. Earlier this week, when we visited the building in Istanbul where the Aziz Sancar Science Center will open next year, the impact of our project felt more real than ever.

These two weeks have been a blur, and we don’t anticipate it slowing down for the remainder of our time. While we’ve had to squeeze time at our computers into odd hours given the packed, immersive days with YGA, we have still managed to find moments to explore Turkey’s rich cultural – and culinary – offerings! We spent a few hours touring Trabzon with a very jolly tour guide who shared all of the local jokes and stuffed ourselves with Gaziantep’s world famous katmer!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have also been befriending Istanbul’s well-cared-for stray cats and popping into the city’s gorgeous mosques at every chance.

The full depth of the IBD experience likely won’t hit home until we are on our return flights or starting our summer internships because it is so much to digest both personally and professionally. We all know, however, that YGA has forever changed how we define success.

Amol, Mariana, and Jeanne visiting Istanbul’s Süleymaniye Mosque.

Amol, Mariana, and Jeanne visiting Istanbul’s Süleymaniye Mosque.

Updates from the IBD – Team Tekes in Finland

Berkeley-Haas Full Time students Lauren Elstein, Javier Gunther, Natalie Osterweil, Mitch Plueger, and Matt Shelton are working on an IBD project with Tekes in Finland.

The team learns about Finnish culture through a “Who are the Finns” presentation

The team learns about Finnish culture through a “Who are the Finns” presentation

Who are the Finns?

Considering how familiar we generally are with European countries, upon our arrival we quickly realized that we knew very little about the most eastern of the Nordic countries. Relegated to the far North and in the cross section of east and west, Finland’s geography and history have formulated a unique culture that none of us had imagined.

About a week into our trip, our IBD group found ourselves sitting in a semi-circle of

The team stand atop one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki, with a beautiful view of the Baltic

The team stand atop one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki, with a beautiful view of the Baltic

reclining chairs in one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki. Because of a family-friend connection, and good ole fashioned Finnish hospitality, we had the privilege of hearing a “Who are the Finns?” presentation from a former Fulbright director, who shared his insights with each incoming Fulbright Scholar group. His perspective, information, and storytelling conveyed a culture of survival, simplicity, isolation, yet fortitude. Sharing the longest border with Russia, and having been previously conquered by the Swedes, all while living on the periphery of Europe in one of the coldest climates in the world has not been easy for the Finns. It has created a culture of steadfastness, intelligence, but humility. The buildings are not fancy. Wealth is not on display. The people are not overly friendly or boisterous. However, the Finns are kind, smart (free education!), and resourceful. They think long term, are loyal to each other and their resources and are quick to welcome a group of foreign students working in Helsinki for a few weeks.

The team stands with the founders of Paptic, a startup seeking to replace plastic bags with a more environmentally friendly one

The team stands with the founders of Paptic, a startup seeking to replace plastic bags with a more environmentally friendly one

So, what were we doing there?

What was quite fascinating to us was seeing how this background provided a whole new context for understanding our clients. Our primary client, Tekes, is a Finnish innovation funding agency—it grants money to, and invests in, startups and R&D to create innovative Finnish businesses and help them scale their innovations to the world stage. Tekes selected three startups in particular for us to work with during the semester—they each had different projects for us, but all were working on scaling their innovations beyond the Finnish borders. We quickly observed a very common scenario: a brilliant Finnish scientist discovers a new innovation. He or she patents it, earns a grant or initial investment for lab testing and maybe a pilot but then is a bit stuck. It’s hard to receive the next level of funding without proving the ability to scale. But how do you prove the ability to scale without the funding to do so? Furthermore, how does a very technical scientist or engineer convey the business case or importance of the product in a way where investors can see the potential and long-term strategy? This is even more challenging in a culture where it is not common to put yourself out there and explain why your solution is the best and deserving of a partnership, resource, or investment.

Visiting Metgen’s pilot plant, which is creating enzymes to save manufacturers on energy use and costs

Visiting Metgen’s pilot plant, which is creating enzymes to save manufacturers on energy use and costs

These are questions we sought to tackle with our clients: one which has figured out how to extract nanocellulose from agricultural side streams (which is a first!), one which uses wood-based fibers to create a replacement of plastic and cotton bags, but which is sturdier and more durable than regular paper bags, and one which tailors enzymes to reduce energy use and cost for major processing plants, such as paper mills. Sound complicated? We thought so, too. But after talking to many experts, doing immense amounts of research, and learning more about the companies themselves, we identified many synergies and trends between them. We focused on helping them find applications for their innovations, building a business model that invites investment and creates long term sustainability, and strategizing entrances into international markets.  Along the way, we also had the privilege of visiting some of the pilot plants, learning about the production process and what makes the innovation so revolutionary, and experiencing some of the prototypes and early products.

Witnessing how clothing fibers can be broken down, cleaned, and recycled for use in brand now clothing and textiles

Witnessing how clothing fibers can be broken
down, cleaned, and recycled for use in brand now clothing and textiles

Green Gold

While Tekes supports many aspects of innovation across industries, it heavily invests in arguably one of the most ‘Finnish’—the bioeconomy. In case that’s a new term (it was to us), bioeconomy means an economy that utilizes biological natural resources to create products, food, energy, and services. It generally focuses on the long-term viability of natural resources and biodiversity, reduces dependency on fossil fuels and synthetic materials, and promotes economic development and sustainable job creation. With 80% of its land is covered by forests, Finland has become a pioneer in the industry, which has created wealth and sustainable economic development for the prosperous country. This is largely attributed to their ability to maximize the

The team visits Aalto University’s Bioproducts Center, where graduate students create new innovative discoveries of tuning biomass into products and applications

The team visits Aalto University’s Bioproducts Center, where graduate students create new innovative discoveries of turning biomass into products and applications

utilization of their natural resources in sustainable, wise ways. For example, the average US paper mill self-produces only 56% of its energy, while the average Finnish mill is over 100%. They actually create more energy than they need, as a result of their focus on resource efficiency and innovation.

Javier inspects the biodegradable ‘biokini,’ made of nanocellulose

Javier inspects the biodegradable ‘biokini,’ made of nanocellulose

This mentality is what drives many of the entrepreneurs in Finland. In addition to our three startup clients, we also had the opportunity to visit and learn from an entrepreneur who takes used clothing, breaks it down, and then is able to make brand new material from it. We met another who figured out how to make cosmetic containers, which feel and function like plastic, but which are made 100% of wood-based material. These environmentally-focused innovators are using cutting edge technology to create large scale and sustainable change in the marketplace—and for these last few months, we had the privilege of being a part of it.

 

We had the opportunity to meet with the founder of Sulapac, a thriving new startup that makes cosmetic containers out of wood-based materials

We had the opportunity to meet with the founder of Sulapac, a thriving new startup that makes cosmetic containers out of wood-based materials

And in our spare time…

After a steep climb up, the team (with Javier’s wife, Carolina) were rewarded with a gorgeous view over Old Town Tallinn

After a steep climb up, the team (with Javier’s wife, Carolina) were rewarded with a gorgeous view over Old Town Tallinn

In case you’re concerned that we didn’t actually get to have a little fun, rest assured, we had plenty of play time. In our first weekend, we took a ferry over to Tallinn, Estonia, to visit the old and beautiful city for the weekend. From another fortuitous family-friend connection, we had the immense privilege of being taken to dinner by the Undersecretary to the Foreign Minister of Estonia, who also gave us all a history, geography, and cultural lesson on the Estonian people as well.

 

A memorable experience

When we arrived in Finland, most of us could not have told you the difference between it and its long, northern, Scandinavian neighbors. But we have learned to appreciate the understated and unassuming country—one that knows a thing or two about survival, protecting its people and its future, and perhaps most importantly, how to stay hot in those icy cold winters.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All Around the World; IBD Teams In-Country

Written by:  Danner Doud-Martin, Assistant Director, Operations for the IBD Program

When I introduced myself to the Full-Time MBAs on their first day of class for the Spring IBD program, I told them I wanted to either be the sixth member of their team or be stowed in their suitcases.  There wasn’t a team I didn’t want to join as all 16 were going to work with great clients, on impactful projects, and in amazing destinations.  Now that our IBD students are scattered all over the world and sending photos and updates from their first weeks in-country, I am of course envious, but also proud to be a part of a program like IBD.  I am living vicariously through our Haas students as they have experiences that perhaps will change their lives, or at least make these next three weeks incredibly exciting.   

Team YGA having breakfast on Bosphorus river

Team YGA having breakfast on Bosphorus river

Teams tell us that they have been welcomed by their clients and the other members of the organizations with warmth, appreciation, and support.  They have enjoyed delicious local cuisine, been invited to people’s homes and seen the local sites.  They have toured crane factories, hospitals, warehouses, and flower markets.  Teams have scrubbed up and witnessed eye surgeries in Peru, been included in their client’s internal pitch meetings in Shanghai, and invited to lunch by the Prime Minister of Uganda.  They have been featured on local Turkish television and have conducted 3-hour design workshops for university students in Uganda.   

Team Seva before going into to witness a surgery in Peru

Team Seva before going into to witness a surgery in Peru

Importantly, they have learned more about their client’s needs: “One interesting thing that we have realised in our first 2 days is how much more we know of the business and the internal politics behind our client by just being here; which is something not very clear when you are sitting that far away,” shared one Team Lead.  There is an opportunity now to “fill in our gaps in knowledge through the interviews, market visits, and retail store visits we have scheduled over the next several weeks. We look forward to the rest of the trip!” shared the Agripacific Team.  IBD Teams also feel more connection to the client’s objective and how important the project outcome is to their client.   “It is most exciting to be on the ground here and feel the immensity and importance of the work that our client does,”  shared Blakey Larson, IBD Team Lead for Civil Right Defenders.  IBD teams also see where and how they can add value.  Team Lead, Harsh Thusu said of his project, “we are most excited about helping the accelerator in this interesting journey as they are at a crucial stage of their operations and our recommendations could bring great value to them to tap into the US market with a sustainable business model.”

Team ElectroMech Team ElectroMech with crane

Team ElectroMech

On their first day in-country, IBD Teams gave a day-of-arrival presentation, updating their clients on their findings to date and outlining their 3-week work plan leading up to their final presentations.  Teams felt good about their presentations and expressed how “engaged their clients were.”  They appreciated the collaboration, feedback, and lively discussions.  Carolyn Chuong, Team Lead for Team Makerere said that their clients were “very enthusiastic and also helped us refine our Theory of Change for the Center and think through private sector needs.”

Client’s have already shared accolades about their Haas IBD team members.  Khamisi Masanje, from Makerere University, said:

“This team is exceptional. They are very innovative, articulate, friendly and professional. The team has the right blend of skills because everyone is so good at what he or she does while at the same time, everyone is working as a team. The testimony from our Makerere students, who attended today’s design workshop led by the IBD Team, were so amusing.  I like the natural blend they are having with our students, staff and the general population of Makerere.  We shall surely miss our Haas students when they leave”.

YGA’s Sezin AYDIN said of Team Lead Chelsea Harris’s performance at their press conference, “Chelsea has done a great job, you

Team Ananda

can see how clearly she conveyed her messages, in a calm yet positively energizing way.  We are very happy that we had a chance to offer this kind of experience to our team and very glad that we represented YGA & Berkeley and the mission we serve together in science center project the most beautiful way possible”.

My favorite compliment was from Makerere’s Charles Baguma who said, “I think we got a high-flying team from Berkeley”.  In my opinion, Mr. Baguma’s comment resonates with me because Team Makerere and all of the other 15 Full-Time IBD teams are exceptional.  Based on their photos and comments, all the teams feel they are flying high right now.  Is it because of the incredible opportunity to work internationally on a consulting project? Is it because of the impact that our students are making on the company and the region or the bonds that are being formed between team members as they share this incredible journey? Is it the beautiful places they are visiting and the culture that they are experiencing? It is all of the above and more!  

You can enjoy their adventures by friending us on Facebook at bit.ly/facebookibd.  Each week we will post a blog written by each IBD team highlighting their experiences, and our first one written by Team Makerere can be found here.   You can also subscribe to our blog by going to bit.ly/ibdblog.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Evening Weekend IBD Program Kicks Off

EWMBA IBD Students

While the Full-Time MBA (FTMBA) program is at the end of their engagement with IBD, 18 Evening and Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students kicked off their IBD experience on May 14th.  This is the 6th year that the course has been offered to EWMBA students and although the program is very similar to the FTMBA course, there is one significant difference: time.  The summer program has much less of it overall, as students only have seven weeks of instruction and two weeks in-country working with clients.  EWMBA Teams are also made up of 4-5 students and led by a Team Lead, who is a classmate but unlike the FTMBA Program, the EWMBA Team Leads don’t have the additional weeks to work with their client to build rapport and gather intel on their project before their Team Members join the project.  Instead, they have to jump right into the process and establish themselves as a lead of their project to their client and teammates.  When asked about his strategy for being a Team Lead at this point in the process, the Samai Distillery Team Lead, Sushant Barave said:

Team Aramis

“Although we are at a very early stage, I am realizing how amazingly competent our team is. In a way, this makes my job as a team lead quite easy! I hate to call it a ‘strategy’ because it really boils down to keeping things really simple at this stage – having open communication, a structured approach to understand and address client’s needs, and making sure that all of us are having fun in the process!”

This is a sentiment we hear often from Team Leads in both the FTMBA and EWMBA programs.  The Aramis Menswear Team Lead, Kalyan Pentapalli shared, “I have a very experienced team and sometimes it feels intimidating leading three third year students, but they have been gracious enough to let me set an example and lead.”

Lead, motivate, organize, delegate, and manage work streams is what our EWMBA Team Leads will do as they prepare to go in-country on July 1st.  It’s a quick turn-around and with full-time jobs and other obligations, it is a lot to manage.   “It has already been great working with the team, and we are getting familiar with each other’s working styles. Given our crazy schedules collectively as a group, we have also been open to calls ranging from 7 am to 11 pm – this goes to show the flexibility and commitment from the team members”, shares Barun Mazumdar, a member of the Aramis Team.

Many students come to Haas because of the opportunity IBD gives them.  The Team Lead for ACT,  Praveen Settipalli, was determined to take IBD before he graduated despite having a new baby and starting work at a startup.  He heard first-hand experiences about IBD from his classmates and he, like so many others, felt he could benefit from the opportunity to work on an international consulting project.  “As a product manager, IBD will help me renew my core-consulting skills of framing the problem, lead a diverse team to formulate the strategy and obtain resources for successful execution. Doing this in a different industry/culture with a team of amazing Haas MBAs will also teach me how to lead across diverse environments. Personally, the IBD structure would allow me to embrace uncertainty and openness and immerse myself in a new environment. I also hope to reflect on my current environment and leadership style while at the client location and come back not just with awesome solutions for the client but also unforgettable memories and experiences.”

Team Samai

Frank Schultz, the Instructor and Faculty Mentor for the EWMBA program is confident that his students will be able to balance all of their competing priorities to find personal and professional successes from their IBD experience.   “I have been teaching the EWMBA IBD program since inception and every year I appreciate how much my teams dedicate themselves to their client and projects to provide true ROI – despite their day jobs and their families.  I have no doubt that this year’s students will work very hard and like every year, they will enjoy getting a taste of consulting in a global setting.  They will undoubtedly come back from their two weeks in-country with new perspectives, tools, and confidence to try different approaches.”

Teams will travel all over the world this July.  Praveen’s team will work with a social enterprise that provides entrepreneurship training and mentorship to young Zimbabweans and Sushant is taking his team to Cambodia to work with a rum distillery start-up.  We have one team that will travel to Mexico to work with a consumer and corporate financial services company, and Kalyan’s team will work with a privately held 20-year old menswear retailer in Brazil.  We are confident that these EWMBA students will have unforgettable and invaluable experiences.

Team ACT

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

Whiney in Busan, Korea

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

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

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

Whitney in Jeddah

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

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

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

Whitney and American Univ. Mongolia

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

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

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

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

Getting started

To get a sense of the evolution of our project, one could start with the name of our team. Initially, we – Theo, Vaisakh, Josh, Asli, and myself (Cameron) – were assigned to groupelephant.com, a South African for-profit company with a  “three-zone” business model consisting of a for-profit software business as well as non-profit and impact investing activities around wildlife conservation and poverty alleviation. The client was frustrated that all of the good work it had done for conserving elephants and rhinos had gone nearly unmentioned in the press, and hired us to turn that around.

After a semester in Berkeley figuring out how to market this unique business model to a corporate audience in the U.S., we decided to refocus our efforts on just the non-profit entity of groupelephant.com, ERP – short for Elephants, Rhinos, and People. We were fortunate to work with Quintin Smith, a Haas alum himself, who embodied the passion and entrepreneurial spirit we came to recognize in all of ERP and groupelephant.com.

On The road!

The highlight of our three-week trip was without a doubt heading down two days after we arrived to a wildlife reserve in the Eastern Cape. The reserve had recently suffered a tragic rhino poaching, and we were there to discuss steps the reserve could take to protect the rest of its herd. These conversations dovetailed nicely with one of our final deliverables, developing an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for a technology-driven rhino security solution.

Every good Indiegogo campaign has a short video to go along with it. So we had to take to the streets – er, the dusty trails – of the reserve to start shooting some film.

To get the best lighting, we woke up at the crack of dawn for some sunrise safaris…

Our director and team lead, Theo, with his cinematographer Rob (of ERP)

Our director and team lead, Theo, with his cinematographer Rob (of ERP)

picture2

…and went back for round two as the sun set:

 

picture3

picture4

With this trip, we really took mixing business and pleasure to new heights – we struggled to think of another time when we’d be holding team meetings around a campfire, or conducting research from the back of a safari truck.

Enjoying my fifteen minutes (seconds?) of fame as a stand-in for our interviewees.

Enjoying my fifteen minutes (seconds?) of fame as a stand-in for our interviewees.

Our crew hard at work

Our crew hard at work

As much as we loved our time on the reserve, eventually, we had to pack our bags and say goodbye.

Me, Josh, and Vaisakh on a final ride with our German-Spanish-French tour guide Pablo

Me, Josh, and Vaisakh on a final ride with our German-Spanish-French tour guide Pablo

A weekend retreat

Fortunately for us, the Quintinator was not about to let us go back to Pretoria quite yet. Instead, he and the rest of the crew took us up to Modumela, a ranch several hours north of the city.

After several days of filming and focusing exclusively on our Indiegogo campaign, we needed to step back for a moment to think through our project’s broader objectives.

Hard at work, clearly

Hard at work, clearly

But it was the weekend, and we made sure to relax:

Learning new hobbies

Learning new hobbies

Grilling full chickens!

Grilling full chickens!

Closing down the campfire at 2? 3am?

Closing down the campfire at 2? 3am?

The real work begins

When we got back to Pretoria, we buckled down in the office and got back to work. We had a gargantuan task ahead of us: taking a semester’s worth of research, conversations, and observations and coming up with a succinct yet comprehensive branding for this burgeoning non-profit. Very quickly, we realized that this work was more than just a marketing exercise; it was getting to the heart of ERP’s strategic first, figuring out how to communicate it second.

Like any good first-year Haas students, we got our PFPS on:

picture12

The Windy City

Despite being in crunch time, we managed to find time to get away, just the five of us – the dream team. We spent the weekend in beautiful Cape Town, taking a much needed break from everything branding, marketing, and frameworks.

Asli making some new friends

Asli making some new friends

 

Blown away by Table Mountain!

Blown away by Table Mountain!

Elephants, rhinos…and sea lions?

Elephants, rhinos…and sea lions?

Wrapping up

In the end, we delivered a comprehensive branding and marketing action plan for our client. This final report provided some realistic, actionable recommendations for coordinating ERP’s communication from the inside out.

It wasn’t always the easiest process – we took the liberty of proposing some bold new ideas, and the clients didn’t always pick up what we were putting down, sending us back to the drawing board. This entire experience was undoubtedly a valuable learning process. If anything, we learned that, for all of the immense value of the Haas core curriculum, what works in a business setting isn’t always the most feasible for a young non-profit. We didn’t realize it at the time, but our challenge was adapting what we had learned in Marketing (and in Strategy, Leading People, Leadership Communications…) and adapting it for an untraditional setting. Three weeks and many Post-Its later, we can confidently say that we “cracked the code” on non-profit marketing.

All done!

All done!

As for me, I learned that, when you have the right crew by your side, getting around the South African bush on crutches isn’t so hard. I wasn’t sure what three weeks abroad while unable to walk properly would be like, but with help and support from my awesome team, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. It was, as Josh would say, truly something special.

The Big Five

The Big Five

Updates from IBD – Team Singapore

Meet the Team:

-Niki Ariyasinghe an Aussie banker/consultant and bitcoin aficionado

-Moe Poonja a techie and DJ from Chicago

-Diego Vidaurre a Chilean banker and part-time magician

-Gavin Abreu a Mexican central banker and salsa dancer

We were all selected for this project given our prior banking experience.

ocbc1

The Country

When Singapore achieved its independence, in 1965, the country was battling unemployment and serious social and economic problems.  However openness to foreign investment and promoting the creation of new companies helped the country overcome its economic foes and become one of the world’s largest financial hubs.  The result?  Well today Singapore is the third richest country of the world in per capita terms and the World Bank has ranked them the easiest country of the world to do business.

ocbc2

The Project

Developing a strategy for a large financial institution in Singapore to better engage clients through digital tools allowing them to improve the customer experience. However the project had a catch to it. Instead of one client, we had two clients with two different perspectives and two distinct needs.

*Details of the client and project cannot be fully disclosed due to a signed NDA

The Process

We first started by reviewing the industry.  What are the industry standards and what are the innovations that are threatening to disrupt the industry?  To do this, we focused on the large financial institutions in North America and Europe and startups in Silicon Valley.  After we grew familiar with the industry, we talked to client-facing employees at financial institutions to gain a better understating of the costumers needs along with fintech companies with their latest disruptive innovations.  Armed with this knowledge we flew to Singapore, well equipped to offer emerging trends within the industry.  Once there, we interviewed numerous employees of the company and identified their pains and areas of opportunity.  We ideated (using post-its, of course), identified commonalities and ultimately looked to find efficiencies or enhance the customer or banker’s experience.

ocbc3

And came up with a list of recommendations that could help them alleviate their pains and embrace digital tools.

The Final Presentation

We set up a final document with these recommendations and only days before our final presentation we learned that instead of presenting to our sponsor (the Head of Products) we were actually going to present our findings to the CEO of one bank and COO of the other large institution.  We worked diligently to prepare the presentation and tailor it so it is relevant despite having two separate stakeholders with two different recommendations.

We had already taken Cort Worthington’s class so we welcomed the opportunity with confidence and rocked the presentation!

ocbc4

Updates from IBD China – Team Thermo Fisher

IBD Team Thermo Fisher (Ramya Babu, Lisa Becker, Scott Crider, George James) worked with the China division of Thermo Fisher, an American multinational company, on a growth strategy project for its environment / water analysis segment.

Moving Fast

Shanghai is not what we expected it to be. Even George, who had already lived in this city before was surprised by how modern and western Shanghai has become. We stayed in Pudong, aka “Pu-Jersey”, a 45-minute subway ride from the famous skyline of Shanghai. With nearly 25 million in habitants, Shanghai is currently the largest city by population in the world.

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

The most awe-inspiring thing to behold is the speed at which China is developing. Mega structures that did not exist a few years ago now tower over older buildings. The pace of growth and notion of limitless possibilities in China, and especially in Shanghai, is quite remarkable.

Food to Die For

Upon arrival, we acquainted ourselves with the area around the hotel, home to many expats. The local businesses cater to this population and thus there are many non-Chinese restaurants, with prices not much different from those of the Bay Area.

We sampled many traditional Chinese meals with our Thermo Fisher hosts, including lunches at the company’s business park cafeteria and dinners at Shanghainese restaurants.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

One of our favorite meals was la mian, huge bowls of noodle soup for around 12 RMB (or $2 USD). Other favorites included xiao long bao (soup dumplings), Da Dong’s Peking Duck (Beijing’s most famous dish) and, of course, the local pijiu, Tsingtao.

La mian

La mian

Xiao long bao

Xiao long bao

The People

We encountered a variety of people in the new, cosmopolitan city of Shanghai: cab drivers from the provinces, coworkers from Beijing, and foreigners from every corner of the globe. As different as they are, these people all share something in common – the pursuit of opportunity. From the rich to the poor, Shanghai represents the growth of China and the opportunity that a booming economy can create.

The people we met were very open to meeting foreigners, especially those who are interested in Chinese culture. George fit in well with the locals and made friends with the Chinese who appreciated his interest in Chinese language, arts and history.

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Culture and Business

Interacting with businesses in China was quite eye opening. There were several conflicting characteristics that we observed. The most prominent are embracing proven ideas, struggling to adopt new ideas, and moving fast. As we spoke with our client and their customers, one idea was repeated throughout: the use of best in class practices combed from all over the world are representative of “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”. The sheer thirst for knowledge that has been proven was astounding to observe.

In direct contrast to the assimilation of proven ideas is the struggle to adopt cutting edge ones. We used design-thinking processes that we had previously learned in the Problem Finding, Problem Solving class. Our client struggled to understand the value of diverging from common practices to flush out insights. This was especially interesting given that the client is a large multinational corporation based in the United States.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

We are truly grateful for the hospitality shown by the city of Shanghai, a constantly evolving city that everyone should visit at least once in his or her lifetime.