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.

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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

Tackling the Youth Skills Gap in Uganda: An Update from Makerere University

Written By: Team Makerere, Hans Klinger, Elizabeth Foster, Matthew Hamilton, Jeannie Valkevich, and Carolyn Chuong

Our sweet ride while in Kampala that we affectionately call the “Mute-mobile” (our IBD team is creating the strategic plan for the Mutebile Center at Makerere University)

Our sweet ride while in Kampala that we affectionately call the “Mute-mobile” (our IBD team is creating the strategic plan for the Mutebile Center at Makerere University)

We arrived in Uganda around midnight, which meant we needed to wait an extra day to see the bright blue sky, rich red clay, and lush green foliage of East Africa. However, what we didn’t have to wait for were the bright smiles of the welcoming Ugandan people. Charles, one of our clients at Makerere University, was awaiting our arrival with a Berkeley baseball hat, personalized sign, decaled car, and a grin ear to ear. This would become standard during our first week in-country, when we would meet Makerere students, university professors, the Governor of the central Bank of Uganda, the Prime Minister, and many others.

Our team is working specifically with the Makerere University Private Sector Forum (PSF), which was established 11 years ago as a public-private partnership in the country’s largest and most prestigious university. The Forum’s mission is to bridge academia and the private sector to foster socioeconomic development throughout the country. It’s now launching a new center, for which our IBD team is creating the strategic plan, that will address the youth skills gap in Uganda.

Jeannie Valkevich demonstrating how to create a journey map

Jeannie Valkevich demonstrating how to create a journey map

Before arriving, and continuing into our first-week in-country, we’ve conducted over 50 interviews across what our client calls the ‘trinity’: Academia, the Public Sector, and the Private Sector. Part of the process was understanding the student perspective and, in particular, their pain points as they enter the workforce. To that end, we carried out a design thinking workshop for 23 students, led by our team’s former rockstar teacher (and timekeeper connoisseur) Jeannie. After a silly icebreaker that involved some pretty embarrassing dance moves on our end, we asked students to draw out their “journey maps.” Students mapped out the high points when they felt encouraged and confident about the career development process, as well as low points when they felt confused or discouraged. Given that the students were overflowing with ideas Jeannie had her work cut out facilitating the group discussion.

Matt Hamilton showing off his flawless dance moves during the icebreaker

Matt Hamilton showing off his flawless dance moves during the icebreaker

The workshop really started to get rolling after the break. Four groups of students, each paired with one IBD team member, began to ideate on potential programming for the new Center. After diverging, we encouraged students to converge around an agreed upon set of programs. The groups came up with a number of creative ideas–everything from a student-run farm, to a marketplace to share student ideas with the private sector, to a cross-faculty idea sharing platform. The groups then presented their ideas and recommendations (Shark Tank style) to PSF leadership. And they weren’t shy about asking questions or challenging each others’ proposed programs. As we closed out the session, we had to cut off half-a-dozen raised hands and ask them to keep the conversation going after the workshop. It was pretty inspiring to see how much energy the students had at the end of the three hours. One of the PSF staff members Patrick remarked afterward, “Our students often feel like their voices don’t matter–they were so happy to have their perspective considered.”

Hans Klinger working with the students as they begin to converge on a program idea for the center

Hans Klinger working with the students as they begin to converge on a program idea for the center

After wrapping up the design workshop, we headed over to the Parliament of Uganda to meet with the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, who just happens to be a Cal Alum. Dr. Rugunda has been a staunch supporter of this new center at Makerere University from the start. Before getting down to business, he was eager to hear which states in the U.S. we hailed from. He was back on campus just a few years ago for a class reunion, which I’m sure made some of his classmates feel unaccomplished. Apparently, Berkeley hasn’t changed much since 1978. He also mentioned there was an East Africa Berkeley reunion in Kampala just a few months ago–pretty cool knowing there’s a Cal Bears community in this part of the world. Before heading out, we gave Dr. Rugunda a Cal pennant as a gift, which we’re sure certain he’ll hang behind his desk, right next to the flag of Uganda.

Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

More to come from Kampala soon!

Young Guru Academy (YGA) Partners with IBD for a Brighter Future

“IBD was the best experience I had at Haas.”  One of the reasons we repeatedly hear this sentiment from our Berkeley-Haas alumni is because of the client/student project dynamic.  The IBD experience goes beyond the classroom and intersects with real life.  For 24 years IBD clients have looked to the MBA’s in our IBD program to solve concrete challenges for their organizations.  They have invested their time, resources and trust in our IBD consulting teams.

One of our exceptional spring 2017 IBD client organizations is known as Young Guru Academy or YGA.  YGA is a non-profit organization founded in Turkey in 2000 with the mission of cultivating selfless leaders to realize the dream of a brighter future for younger generations.  YGA students volunteer over 3,000 hours of their time working in teams on social innovation projects.  The organization focuses on three fields of innovation – science, orphans, and the visually impaired – and develops innovations that impact the lives of many in these areas.

We asked Sezin Aydin, YGA’s Director of International Affairs, to answer some questions about YGA and the IBD experience to date.

IBD: What made you decide to participate in the IBD program?

YGA:  Over the years, we have experienced that the essence of a fruitful partnership is one of shared values and meaning. Once we saw that (Berkeley-Haas and YGA) both value field study and we both find the development of a student imagining a better world to be meaningful, our passion in participating in the IBD program grew.

 

IBD:  What do you hope to accomplish from your IBD experience?

YGA:  The field we chose to collaborate with IBD Students is YGA’s project on the advancement of science among youth.  The IBD team is specifically working on developing sustainable marketing and financial strategy for all three parts of the science project- the launch of a Science Museum to inspire youth and adults with attractive, inspiring and thought-provoking content, production of a Live Science Show, which will be broadcasted on CNNTurk; and the distribution of Science Kits which has been designed by YGA graduates and funded through crowdsourcing.

What strongly unites the IBD team and YGA in this project is the shared dream of children becoming more curious and enthusiastic about science. YGA brings years of experience of working with students from age 10 to 22, visually impaired students, orphans and recently, refugees, as well as knowledge of local opportunities, obstacles, and challenges. The IBD students, on the other hand, bring a global perspective as each team member comes from a different background and knowledge of best management practices.

IBD: How has the IBD experience been to date?

YGA Visits Berkeley-Haas

YGA: It has already been an amazing experience. Even before YGA was selected to participate in IBD program, we always felt we are on the same team. We are aware of the approach most international universities adopt for programs in Turkey nowadays. There are not enough words to explain our gratitude to Prof. Kristiana Raube for the support she has provided to YGA. We very much appreciate her confidence in us, and we will strive to make this meaningful collaboration work in the best way possible.

IBD: Have you enjoyed working with your Team Lead, Faculty Mentor, and newly formed Team Members?

YGA:   Prof. Kristi said in our last meeting, “We feel like we are old friends now.”  This is exactly how we feel about each other.  Team Lead Chelsea Harris and Prof. Kristiana Raube devote many hours each week and have brought valuable resources to the YGA Science Project.  Our team members, Amol Borcar, Mariana Martinez-Alarcon, Annie Porter and Jeanne Godleski, have impressive backgrounds from diverse fields.  Their combined strength is a valuable resource for this project.

Berkeley’s culture is very close to YGA’s culture.  We believe in the essence of Berkeley Culture’s 4 pillars, just, we have them in different words. We believe in questioning the status quo: we say “Positive Challenge” to do things in a better way.  We believe in confidence without attitude: we say “Selfless Confidence.”  We believe in the unlimited potential we possess: we say “Best Today, Better Tomorrow.”  And we always believe in students: we say “Our main project is people project.”

IBD: Are you excited for any part of the process that is coming in the future?

YGA:  Next week, our team will present a benchmark analysis of world-class science museums, their key performance indicators (KPIs) and examples of some of the best practices. The most exciting part will be their final presentation which they will be delivering to a very high executive level audience- the advisory board of the Science Museum. As challenging as it may be, we have no doubt it will also be a broad experience for them.

IBD: What are you most excited to share with your team when they arrive in Istanbul?

YGA: Most importantly, we would like to share the YGA culture. We already consider them YGA students, like ourselves. We would like to share our challenges and what we have learned from them.  A special trip to Trabzon-Tonya, a north city by the Black Sea, is planned which includes science workshops with primary school students.  

There will be two notable events which will take place during our teams’ in-country visit: Great Place to Work Awards Ceremonyin which YGA will be awarded a Great Place to Work in Turkey for the second time; and the YGA Annual Advisory Board Dinner in which YGA will announce its new entrepreneurship model.  

Finally, İstanbul is one of the most glamourous cities in the world.  We will enjoy the most beautiful views of this city throughout the program. Of course, Turkish cuisine is an inseparable part of the program, so we advise our team to start exercising in advance to make room for delicious food!
The IBD Team leaves for Istanbul on May 13th to experience all that YGA has planned for them during their three weeks in-country.  We look forward to hearing from the IBD Team about their experience.  Please check back over the summer as we will feature blogs written by our student teams.  We leave you with the last thought from Chelsea Harris, the IBD Team Lead, about how she feels about the partnership with YGA.

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!

Frank Schultz, IBD Faculty Mentor and Instructor

frank-schultz-compressedThe Haas “Student Always” principle resonates strongly with Faculty Mentor and Instructor, Frank Schultz. “Each time I teach it’s a learning opportunity for me” shares Frank.  “I get to learn about new, exciting places, companies, technologies, and I get the opportunity to work with new students.  Every team, every project is so different.”    

This is Frank’s 7th year of being a Faculty Mentor for the Full-Time MBA IBD program and he has been the Evening-Weekend MBA IBD instructor since its inception in 2012.  As an IBD instructor, Frank loves that he gets to keep one foot in academia and one foot in the business world.  “With IBD I get to apply the theories I am teaching in class to the real world and see what is changing in the business world on a global level.”  

Frank wants his students to adopt this same methodology of applying the skills they are learning in the classroom to real-world situations. “This is where the rubber meets the road”, says Frank, “These are real organizations with real situations that need to be solved. This is valuable work and I want my students to see the value they are giving to their clients and getting from the class.”

To get the full experience, Frank stresses to his students that before they try and “solve” anything, they need to first build a relationship with their client.  He realizes this can be tough, but by slowing down and asking more questions, students can really get at the true root of the problem. “I want my students to walk away from this saying it is the best experience that they had as an MBA.”

Frank has been teaching at Berkeley-Haas since 2005 when he left Michigan State University and followed his wife, former Haas COO, Jennifer Chizuk, to Berkeley.  He has taught Executive Leadership, Competitive Strategy, and International Seminars in Brazil and China in addition to spring and summer IBD. His teaching has consistently placed him in Haas Club Six for outstanding teaching.  Frank says the role of IBD Faculty Mentor is very different.  He regularly works on balancing the different roles he has to play as a mentor, supporter, instructor, and grader.  

Frank coaching Technology Team Leads, Raphy Chines and Harsh Thusu.

Frank coaching Team Leads, Raphy Chines and Harsh Thusu.

Frank admits, “I am always trying to figure out the nature of the relationship.  Sometimes I need to be more hands off and other times I need to offer more support to my students.  I want them to learn for themselves but I also have to be task driven.  Each team dynamic is different and each person reacts to my approach differently.  Relative to teaching my other classes, I have to feel comfortable with having less control over the process. There is no determined journey and as we teach our IBD students’ to be flexible, I, too, have to be flexible with the uncertainty.”  He also jokes that a good Faculty Mentor has to be available to be on calls at all hours, especially very early and very late.  

Frank and Jennifer in Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

Frank and Jennifer in Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

One of the perks of teaching international courses is traveling abroad. Frank’s favorite city is Rio de Janeiro because he loves the beautiful scenery, happy people, caipirinhas (Brazil’s national cocktail made from lime, sugar, and cachaça, a spirit distilled from sugarcane juice), and picanha, a popular Brazilian cut of beef.  When asked if he had any travel advice, Frank laughed and said, “Travel business class.”  

2017 IBD Draft; Team Leads Select Their Four Team Members

A sea of resumes covered the IBD classroom tables on February 16th as Full-Time MBA Team Leads and their Faculty Mentors from four categories of IBD projects (Wild Card, Technology, Social Impact, and Retail and Consumer) met to identify and draft four additional Team Members for each IBD team.  The Team Leads were looking for the perfect balance of talent and experience to round out their individual IBD teams.

Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier and Team Leads Elspeth Ong and Kasey Koopmans

Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier and Team Leads Elspeth Ong and Kasey Koopmans

As the IBD Team Member draft proceeded, there was no drama or contention, and everyone came out of the process not only as friends but team allies.  While Team Leads looked out for their own team’s interest, they also kept in mind what worked best for their fellow Team Lead’s teams.

“It’s all about balance,” said one Team Lead when asked about her strategy.  “The goal is making the best team for all of us.”   

It was a very collaborative process across all four project categories.  In addition to keeping an eye on their own team’s needs, individual IBD Team Leads looked out for the interests of the incoming Team Members.  There was a considerable amount of internal group discussion to make sure that each Team Member was assigned to his or her best project based on previously expressed project preferences.  Personal insights and class awareness also played a role in team selection: in many cases the Team Leads said to each other that a certain potential Team Member “would be perfect” for another Team Lead – sharing their knowledge of that individual’s strengths as a project candidate and how that person could positively affect the project team.

The Retail and Consumer Goods IBD group working on their selection of Team Members

The Retail and Consumer Goods IBD group working on their selection of Team Members

In the end, all of the Team Leads appeared pleased with the selection of their respective Team Members.  Overheard was this comment about the overall draft process: “I love my team.  That was way better than I thought it would be.  Our group was extremely supportive and made sure we all got the skills we needed to be successful.”

Team Leads Nolan Chao, Harsh Thusu and Raphy Chines

Team Leads Nolan Chao, Harsh Thusu and Raphy Chines

Next on the agenda for the Team Leads is making a short video that will introduce the newest Team Members to their respective projects.  These individual video presentations will be shared on March 2nd at the “Big Reveal” IBD class,  during which incoming Team Members will learn about their IBD project, as well as their Team Lead, Faculty Mentor, client, and project destination.  Here in the IBD program, we can’t wait for March 2nd.  Stay tuned for more!

 

 

Updates from IBD Beijing

 

EWMBA students Tiffany Barbour, Ketaki Gangal, Benjamin Kim, and Jaimin Patel are currently in Beijing, China, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project with CreditEase. EWMBA student Leanne Chu is managing the offshore project operations in Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA.

Our Project

Our mission was to help CreditEase understand the Wealth Management (WM) industry in the U.S., and develop an implementable strategic framework recommendation for offshore investment by CreditEase target customers using U.S.-based investment vehicles. After six weeks of intense research and interviews with industry experts in the U.S., we were ecstatic to finally be in Beijing!

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A Day In The Life…

We started each morning with a call to sync up the Beijing and US teams, discuss the learning and findings from the previous day, as well as plan our next steps. Work life in the Beijing office was very similar to the U.S., except the workday typically started around 9:30a. Once the office doors opened, though, it was off to the races with product team meetings and client conference calls scheduled throughout the day and usually in different buildings across the city. No need to go to the gym… these walks definitely kept us fit.

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Team interviews with various product team leads and current WM customers.

Meeting with the product teams and current customers for an hour at a time was so illuminating. Every conversation seemed to double our learning, which helped us generate new insights and even better ideas for the market entry strategy.

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Team photo in our cubicles.

Between meetings, we would spend time at our cubicles debriefing the previous meeting, formulating new ideas, and connecting with our nearby neighbors from the Corporate Strategy team.

The Country and Culture

Even though the project kept us continually busy, we managed to find time to take in the sights, learn the history of China, and of course enjoy the delicious cuisine.

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Jaimin and Ben at the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.

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Team photo in front of entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Delicious lunch spread in a local restaurant.

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We also took some time to enjoy a traditional tea ceremony…

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… and then learned how silk is made.

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Team photo with our hosts: Bing, Kelly, and Meichen.

Our overall goal was to wow the client, and we did just that! The senior management in attendance for the final presentation were highly engaged, asked lots of questions, were genuinely impressed by our ideas. If you had asked any of us about Wealth Management, Fintech, or CreditEase two months ago, there would have been a number of blank stares. Now, we feel like experts in training and are eagerly awaiting the day when we can invest with CreditEase in the U.S.!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Welcome to Dakar. Nestled in the Cap-Vert peninsula, Dakar is the westernmost point of the African continent.

picture1          A beautiful beach in Ile de Goree, off the coast of Dakar

A city of contrasts where gleaming Range Rovers and broken Renault cabs jostle for space on the same lane, towering beachside mansions overlook decrepit shanties. And bold new-age enterprises, dysfunctional government and age-old agriculture makeup the Senegalese economy.

The first thing that strikes you in Dakar is the construction. There is an undercurrent of urgency in a city bursting at its seams as people from all over Africa, and around the world flood to it, seeking opportunities in a resurgent Africa. We visited and met scrappy entrepreneurs in a number of incubators in Dakar – working on bringing technology to transform deep social causes. 

picture2           Dakar is bustling with construction

Africa has leapfrogged the traditional banking system, with mobile banking. With over 100% mobile penetration, mobile payments and mobile money transfer are slowly replacing the cash based economy. Our host InTouch hopes to make this readily accessible to a wide swath of the population with a digital point-of-sale system as an aggregator of payments. From day one, we hit the ground running to figure out a strategy for expansion and growth for InTouch’s products.

picture3             Tigo is one of the top 3 mobile money operators. In the foreground is a                                                          rebooting Windows screen.

Our main focus was understanding the market landscape and the adoption of InTouch’s current product. We had already prepared a couple of solutions before landing in Senegal – so that we could quickly validate our hypothesis and present to InTouch.

picture4           Usability research at gas station where the product is deployed

 

picture6          Market validation with local retail stores

We visited CTIC (an incubator) and Jokkolabs (a co-working space) in Dakar. It was fascinating to meet and interact with the entrepreneurs from all over the world working on making a deep impact on some of the social challenges in Africa.

picture5                        Visiting incubators and co-working spaces in Dakar with Yann LeBeaux

Vincent, the Innovation director at UNICEF was looking to use data analytics to become a nimble and agile organization. Adam at Voto was working on technology that could be used to gather survey data from social workers in far-flung regions. Malick at Africa Mobile sought to build a service to reach uneducated massed via web and mobile communication tools. And Bagore & Edouard at La Laiterie du Berger are looking to create a distribution channel for milk produced in rural Senegal to meet the burgeoning demand in cities like Dakar. We also met a passionate Daouda Gassama at the AEME who is bringing in an age of energy efficiency to Senegal.

picture7          Met the passionate Daouda Gassama and his wall of energy efficient lights at the AEME

As a part of our secondary research, Mike also figured out that Senegalese eat 29 Kgs of fish every day. One of our goals was to consume 29 Kgs of fish in 2 weeks. Thus began a search of the local Ceebu Jen (thiéboudiène), Yassa Poisson, Grilled Thiof, Crevette et lotte, and all sorts of deliciousness. Incidentally, we also found that Ravi does not like to wait for his food – a point made amply clear while waiting repeatedly for the local made-to-order Thiof.

picture8      Food was always on our minds in Dakar

Yogesh earned the nickname of “Yekini” given his uncanny resemblance to the professional Senegalese wrestler Yekini. That and his love for fish heads and sparkling water.

picture9           Apparently Yogesh bears an uncanny resemblance to the wrestler Yekini

Our gracious hosts took us sight-seeing over the weekend to Sine Saloum islands in South Senegal. This was a weekend of touring the local villages, fishing in the delta, pickup soccer on salt flats, seeing our first ever sun halo and attending a local wrestling competition. Evenings were spent taking in the spectacular African sunsets and more eating.

picture10     Amazing Sine Saloum

 

picture11    Spectacular African sunsets

This was one of the best experiences we have had at Haas. Thanks InTouch team for hosting us.

picture12     We can fit in the back of a beat up Renault or a horse cart

An Invitation to Help Transform Agriculture in Ethiopia

Like all the other IBD stories, ours is a story of international travel. Of exploring a country for the first time. Yes, we tried new food and saw amazing new things (our oldest known human ancestor, 12th century churches carved into hillsides, and much more).

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We survived the government shutdown of the entire country’s internet. (Yes, really) We fit all of us PLUS our intrepid client/guide into his tiny car from the 80’s.

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Collectively, we even tried every single domestic beer brand (not as impressive as it sounds, considering there are only nine of them) and lots of Ethiopian buna coffee.

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But more interestingly, it’s also a story of agriculture in a country where over 80% of the population depends on the sector for their livelihoods. It’s a story of a country determined to achieve middle-income status in the next 10 years and of the proud and optimistic people across numerous sectors who are working to make this a reality.

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So it’s not really a story about us. It’s a story about an invitation. An offer to share a vision and contribute in some very small part to projects that could one day help an entire country produce key crops more efficiently and effectively. Reaching this goal will mean food security for 100 million people. Exports that provide income for public investment in roads, health systems, and schools. An opportunity for children to become educated and pursue jobs that will help their families have more than the generation that came before them.

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This is a story about Ethiopia. About the people who work here every single day with the hope that someday, together, they will reach these goals. So instead of talking any more about us, we’d like to share the story of just two of the many amazing people we’ve met over the last two weeks.

Taressa

Input Supply and Distribution Head at the local government level an hour outside of Addis Ababa

Taressa is young, a sharp dresser. He seems out of place in his surroundings – the local branch of the Ethiopian Agricultural Bureau. The office where we conduct our interview is cramped with three desks, one computer, several filing cabinets, and shoulder-high piles of what could be anything from reams of paper to leftover and forgotten agricultural inputs. By lining chairs up between the desks, we find room for everyone to sit.

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As Taressa tells us about his job, the most incredible thing is that he doesn’t seem at all frustrated by a system we view as infuriatingly outdated and redundant. Each day, Taressa spends up to eight hours on the phone collecting transaction data from 20+ primary cooperatives (agricultural distribution centers) under his office’s jurisdiction. When no one else is using one of the two working computers in the office (the one in front of us is off the “functional” list) he can update an excel sheet with his findings. If not, or if the electricity is out, he records information by hand and waits for an opportunity to update the excel sheet. Once updated, he prints it out and walks or catches a ride to the center of town to hand deliver the sheet to another office. When we ask about emailing it, he laughs. There is no internet in the office.

But he doesn’t seem upset. He smiles the entire time we’re talking and is optimistic that there are ways to improve the system. He takes us to see a primary cooperative and animatedly discusses different options for digitizing their inventory tracking system.

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Meeting Taressa gave us a newfound respect for the young people who dedicate their time and talent to improving the lives of smallholder farmers. And we left with the hope that our project can in some small way make his job slightly easier, and in turn help to improve others’ livelihoods.

Melaku Admassu

20 years working for DuPont Pioneer, the only private multinational company with current permission to sell seeds in Ethiopia

We met Melaku, the Country Manager for DuPont Pioneer  Ethiopia, at his administrative headquarters on Peacock road in Addis Ababa. We entered the building, which looked like a converted private residence, and were welcomed by an older man wearing a tweed suit and a warm smile.

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Melaku has worked for Pioneer in Ethiopia for twenty years and, though his humble demeanor won’t allow him to say it out loud, is largely responsible for the international company’s success in a country whose agricultural industry is almost entirely dominated by public sector enterprises.

At the end of our interview, during which Melaku showed extensive knowledge of both the agricultural sector in Ethiopia and innovative marketing and business practices, we asked him one final question and received an amazing answer –

Q: What is your background and why do you do this work?=

A: My background is in agronomy. When I was young, my father was a teacher but he also farmed the land. I still remember when one day a government extension agent came to our farm and he said “you should use this fertilizer” and my father, he said, “why do I need this? All I know is manure.” And the man said to my father, “Okay, don’t use it for your own sake. Use it because you are a teacher and you need to show everyone else that this works and will make their crops better.” And my father said “I’ll do this for the people.” I still remember that.

When I started this work as pioneer employee, I went to this smallholder  farmer and asked him. “Please try this improved seed.” He looked at me and said, “you know I have two wives and sixteen children to provide for. If I take your seed and it doesn’t work, you’ll be responsible for killing my family.” And I said, “Okay, I believe in this seed. I’ll take the responsibility.” He planted the hybrid corn seed I gave him as a sample (free of charge ) plus my advice on agronomy management and he harvested three fold of what he used to harvest from the same plot of land, secured food for the whole year, and started convincing his neighbors later the community.

Now, 20 year’s later, he is a big man. We promoted him from a Pioneer Extension Partner (model farmer) to a seed dealer and he has expanded from half a hectare of cultivated land to 16 hectares. His productivity has increased and his  income is also growing because he is implementing  best practices. Before, he had to decide which of his children could attend school, because he didn’t have enough money for uniforms and supplies for all of them. Now, four of them have graduated from university and the rest are all attending school. He has upgraded the grass roof of his house to corrugated iron, bought a television and radio, and now has a mobile phone to be able to keep better track of  agricultural market information. I was talking to him last month and he was going to another city for his son’s graduation. He was taking his younger wife with him I asked him, “oh, how long will your drive be?” and he replied, “We’re flying! I want my wife to experience riding in an airplane.”

Melaku smiles and says, “This is what our seed can do. It helps people. And when I see their success, it is my success. It’s like all their good fortune, it’s in here,” he touches his chest, “not just in their pockets.”

We feel similarly about our project and our time here. It’s a class, it’s an adventure, but it’s also a labor of hope. Hope that the project recommendations we make here will someday help the people we’ve met do their jobs more efficiently and, in turn, help farmers grow better crops for their children, their communities, and their country. If our project recommendations put more money in the pockets of the people who truly need it, their good fortune will be reward enough for our work. We are grateful to Haas for providing us with an amazing experience and an opportunity to go “beyond ourselves.”

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