IBD Alumni Conversations: Katharine Hawthorne, MBA ‘20

Katharine Hawthorne and her 2019 IBD Team

Katharine Hawthorne and her 2019 IBD Team

Congratulations to one of our IBD alumni, Katharine Hawthorne (MBA ‘20).  In addition to her many career and life accomplishments, Katharine Hawthorne can add Berkeley Haas MBA graduate to her list.  IBD met up recently with Katharine to talk about her current role with Patamar Capital, a venture capital firm with an impact investing lens and geographic focus on South and Southeast Asia. Katharine explained that “patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow. It was traditionally used in the western coast of the Indian subcontinent as a cabotage vessel between Gujarat and Ceylon, usually for the transport of rice.  Historically Patamars were very important in trade as well as transmitting culture; and as Katharine shared, this is the ethos of the firm — connecting markets. 

"Patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow

“Patamar” is a type of Indian Dhow

Please enjoy our interview with Katharine below.

Katharine:  After completing my IBD project, I started an internship at Patamar Capital.  I spent half the summer in San Francisco and the other half in Jakarta. When I returned in the fall of 2019, I came back in a consulting capacity to support Shuyin Tang, a partner who is based in Vietnam.  Through years of investing in Southeast Asia, Shuyin found that the number of women-run businesses receiving venture capital funding was extremely low. It wasn’t because the pipeline for women entrepreneurs isn’t there. In fact, there are plenty of viable women-run businesses; but for many, venture capital is not the right form of investment and it is historically harder for them to access funding.  

IBD Interviewer: Why is that?

Katharine:  Shuyin found that women-owned businesses tend to be much more focused on building sustainable business models, where they’re funding growth through their own profits.  Essentially, they’re putting cash back into the business as opposed to giving up equity ownership, which is the venture capital model.

IBD Interviewer:  How is this fund different? 

Beacon Fund Team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Beacon Fund Team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Katharine:  This new fund, called the Beacon Fund, is focused on women-led and women-focused businesses in South and Southeast Asia and offers debt loans primarily for working capital or to purchase equipment.  This difference allows women businesses to grow in scale in a way that is most appropriate for their goals.  

IBD Interviewer: What has your role been?

Katharine: My role has been to help Shuyin get that new fund off the ground.  I have worked on everything from writing proposals, doing research on the market, building a fund model, figuring out how economically this is going to work, structuring the investment vehicle, etc.  It’s been a pretty great opportunity, as I’m really passionate about supporting women businesses particularly in developing countries. I think that access to capital can be a form  of self determination.

IBD Interviewer:  How are you managing working across international time zones?

Katharine: I had the opportunity over the winter break to go to Vietnam and worked very intensely with Shuyin. She has been to San Francisco a few times.  Otherwise, we coordinate through email, zoom, slack, etc. I think in some ways working for Patamar, the transition for me during shelter in place has been seamless because I have already been coordinating across time zones. 

Hanoi Museum of Women's Empowermen

Hanoi Museum of Women’s Empowermen

IBD Interviewer: How many businesses will benefit from the launch of this loan?

Katharine: The goal is to go live by the end of the year.  I think the idea is within the first year to issue loans to maybe around 10-15 businesses and then grow from there.

IBD Interviewer: Did IBD have any place in helping you in this role?

Katharine:   The work that I did for our 2019 IBD project was a market entry strategy for the startup FinTech branch of an organization.  They asked us to analyse the landscape and identify opportunities for partnership and/or investment.  The IBD experience was really invaluable to understanding what are all the pieces that go into starting something from scratch, from the legal structuring aspects, building the business model, branding and identity. We’ve had a lot of conversations about how we want to position ourselves so that these women-owned businesses know that we’re a great partner for them and we’re different from other funds in the marketplace. 

IBD Interviewer:  During this time of COVID-19, how is your organization affected?  Are you able to work cross-culturally and remotely at the same time?

Katharine: I think there will continue to be firms that want to invest cross-border but for a while may not  be able to travel.  I’m confident in Patamar’s ability to adapt because they already have investors embedded in six countries across South and Southeast Asia.

I also believe there’s incredible value in connecting with people cross-culturally, learning about their experiences and the challenges that they are facing on the ground. My IBD experience was probably pretty unique in that my client project was a true market entry because they did not have operations in-country.  We weren’t on site with the client.  This is similar to what I’m doing now with Patamar, trying to assess investment opportunities overseas.  I have had to schedule many in-depth interpersonal interactions mediated by technology.  During this time of restricted travel, IBD faculty, clients and students will need to try to network and work in more conversations with their clients and stakeholders in their project country, even if it’s over zoom.  From my perspective, there’s still value in connecting cross-culturally aided by technology.

IBD Interviewer: Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you want to share with our readers?

Katharine: I worry about our world right now. We are seeing this kind of turn away from globalization. It requires real bravery and commitment to continue to connect, reach out, be vulnerable and to see things from a different perspective. My career has been focused on connecting cross-culturally; it’s one of the things that motivates me and drives me.  We are living in challenging times and it will be interesting to see how this changes business.  

We wish Katharine and Patamar Capital all the best with the launch of the Beacon Fund.  We hope that women entrepreneurs in South and Southeast Asia benefit from this newly imagined means of supporting women-owned businesses.  


The FTMBA IBD Team Member Big Reveal – What a Fun Day!

2020 IBD Students on the Big Reveal Day

2020 IBD Students on the Big Reveal Day

The Team Member “Big Reveal” event for spring semester FTMBA students is one of the most exciting and fun days in the IBD program. IBD team projects are kept secret until this class date of February 20th, when 64 new IBD Team Members find out about their assigned IBD projects, including which MBA classmates are on their IBD team and what country they will be going to for their eventual project field experience.

Team Dura-Line- Luisa Bisinoto, Eduardo Bustamante Aramburo, Joey Parker, Kate Smith, Sebastian Ambriz (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

What makes this day so fun is just how our incoming students learn the details of their IBD projects and teammates. Each of the 16 student Team Leads (previously assigned to their projects on January 23rd) creates a video presentation sharing details about their individual project, the project client, and the newly selected students on their team (the Team Members). The student videos are both entertaining and inspiring, usually drawing cheers and laughter from the crowd. Team Lead Luisa Gontijo Bisinot felt the Big Reveal was great: “It’s amazing to formally have the team onboard for the project, especially after having waited and prepared for this moment for a while. Additionally, learning that other people share my sense of humour and that they liked the Reveal video made the experience even better.”

Team Blinder – Victor Gorrachategui, Daniel Alston, Eduardo Guraieb, Donald Huang, Max Silva (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

How are IBD student teams created?

Student Team Leads know their individual IBD projects well prior to February 13th, when they undertake a complex draft process to select their four Team Members. The Team Member draft is based on multiple criteria, including requested skills and experience that match the needs of the project, and the desires of incoming students for a new global experience. As these MBA candidates know, the IBD program does not assign students to project countries where they are originally from or where they have worked for some time.

How do students feel about the IBD Team Member Big Reveal?

Team SAP Ariba- Josh Raines-Teague, Augustine Santillan, Brian Traganza, Chyi-Shin Shu and Tian Wang (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

An enormous amount of preparation and energy goes into the IBD Big Reveal — including students, faculty and staff. At the end of the day, what matters most is watching the Team Leads and Team Members react to their IBD project team coming together in person for the first time. Here below are a few of the student reactions recorded during the course of the day:

“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and thrilled to work with SAP Ariba in Germany — can’t wait to embark on this adventure with this amazing team!” Team Member Chyi-Shin Shu


“Cars, technology, Europe and amazing teammates — I could not have imagined a better pick for my IBD project.” Team Member Asif Mohammad


“It felt like I was in a draft with all my best friends and we were all 1st round picks!” Team Member Emanuel Ozuna Vargas


“The Big Reveal was an incredible experience and a highlight during my time at Haas. My team is excited about the client and project and can’t wait to start working!” Team Lead Devon Courtois

Team Ashesi University- Devan Courtois, Amy Sims, Matt Wald, Rohan D’Souza, Yuan Qu (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

How do IBD faculty feel about the Big Reveal?

This year’s Team Member Big Reveal was the first for new IBD Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth. When asked to share his takeaways from the day, Olaf said that the atmosphere was “downright electric. Everybody knew this was the moment they’d hear where in the world they were going to make a difference, make change, grow and help others grow over the next four months of their lives.”

Now that the FTMBA spring semester IBD project teams are officially assembled, it’s time for them to meet their clients as a team and get to work on the problems their clients have asked them to solve. IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier stands ready to help get the teams focused on their projects: “We’re so excited to launch this new set of IBD teams. We’ve got some fantastic high impact projects with clients who will use the team findings to drive strategic change in their organizations.”


Welcome to our 64 new student Team Members, and congratulations on joining the IBD program at Berkeley Haas! We look forward to hearing more about each of this semester’s 16 IBD projects in the months ahead.

Honoring Retired IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz 

Written by Danner Doud-Martin

Frank speaking to the 2020 IBD students on the Big Reveal

Frank speaking to the 2020 IBD students on the Big Reveal

Our beloved IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz has officially retired as of January 2020 from the IBD program, in addition to his other Berkeley Haas undergraduate and MBA teaching positions.  Frank came to the IBD program 14 years ago as a Faculty Mentor, and took over the role of Faculty Director two years ago after Kristi Raube retired. He has worked with countless IBD clients and students over the years, continuing the long tradition of IBD program excellence in and out of the classroom. Frank was the first Faculty Mentor to work with Evening and Weekend MBAs (EWMBAs) on a summer version of the IBD program when it began in May 2012.  Recent EWMBA graduate Nik Reddy ‘19 shared that “Frank was excellent at bridging the gap between what we learned in the classroom with what was needed in the ‘real world.’ His teaching approach encouraged his students to think with a client-centric mindset, and I think that’s what made IBD with Frank such an enriching experience for me.”

Frank traveled and taught throughout the world, bringing his global perspective to his work with the IBD program and other Berkeley Haas courses.  Arman Zand has a unique perspective on Frank’s tenure, as he was a former EWMBA student of Frank’s, an IBD project client in 2013 and 2014, and he now serves as Frank’s replacement as the IBD EWMBA Faculty Mentor.  Arman feels that “Frank’s career as a Haas professor may be best remembered by his classes in leadership or perhaps even his many trips around the world. But for certain students, like myself, Frank was not only a professor, but also a mentor, a coach, a business partner, and for many years, just someone I could have a beer with and share ideas.”  

Frank’s impact went beyond his students and the IBD program to benefit Berkeley Haas overall. Jay Stowsky, Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction at Berkeley Haas, said this of Frank: “Frank Schultz has been not only an award-winning teacher, but one of the most service-minded faculty members I’ve had the privilege to work with during my 17 years at Haas.  When he came to Haas nearly 15 years ago, Frank quickly made a strong impact on the School’s teaching mission as a thoughtful, highly skilled, and versatile teacher and as a dedicated and effective leader outside the classroom.” 

Faculty Mentors for IBD

2019 IBD Conference Faculty Mentors

Frank touched many lives at Berkeley Haas, including the IBD team past and present.  Former IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube said that “Frank was a stellar example of what it means to be a great colleague. He was thoughtful, supportive, collaborative, and easy to work with. He left an impression not only on his many, many students but also on his grateful colleagues. He can leave Berkeley Haas proud of the work he has done.”

We are all proud of the outstanding work Frank has done on behalf of the IBD program.  In a small gathering recently to celebrate his dedication to IBD, we had a moment to talk with Frank about his new life in retirement.  Please see the results of our interview with Frank below.


Danner Doud-Martin:  What have you been doing with your free time? 

Frank Schultz talking at the 2019 IBD Conference

Frank Schultz talking at the 2019 IBD Conference

Frank Schultz:  I have been watching Tesla stock go up and down.  I have been doing some traveling around California to destinations that I haven’t seen before, like Pismo Beach and Paso Robles.  We also went to the iconic Madonna Inn and stayed in the William Tell Room.  

 I spent some time in a very cool monarch butterfly grove.  It was also sad because the numbers of butterflies are plummeting.  Now that both my wife and I are retired, we are able to take dancing lessons five days a week.  We have been learning salsa, fox trot, rumba, bachata. I also have an upcoming trip to Hawaii.  

I have also been taking a class at Code Academy to learn building financial models and Java Script.  I am enjoying it as it is very logical and fits me well. I hope it will help me to make better investment decisions.

Danner Doud-Martin: Are you going to share this new financial model once you are done building it?

Frank Schultz:  Sure? There are no good tools available that successfully track individual financial decisions. Ha, I am thinking like Haas professor Terry Odean.  My father was a stock broker back in the day, so it’s always been part of my leadership and strategy style.  

Frank Schultz talking at the 2019 IBD Conference

Danner Doud-Martin:  What have you missed most about teaching since retirement?

Frank Schultz:  I miss the IBD staff. I miss the students, but I don’t miss the grading.  

Danner Doud-Martin:  Are you dabbling in any work or volunteer opportunities?

Frank Schultz:   Once a month I get the opportunity to engage with the Berkeley Executive Education program.  This allows me to stay active in teaching with more flexible scheduling, and the best part is that there is no grading requirement.  

IBD conference participants cheering for Frank

IBD conference participants cheering for Frank

Danner Doud-Martin:  What are you looking forward to doing in your retirement?

Frank Schultz:  A lot more of the above activities plus more reading and more traveling.  I have offered to help with BOOST, Haas Zero Waste efforts and IBD, but no calls yet. 

Danner Doud-Martin:  Wait a second.  We called! You are helping us with the first day of IBD class and the Big Reveal.

Frank Schultz:  That’s true.  I am returning to help with the team building exercise on February 20th.  That’s going to be a great day, seeing all the IBD Team Members finding out their projects.  I do love that day in the IBD program.  

Danner Doud-Martin:  How has retirement been for you and your wife Jennifer (also a former Berkeley Haas staff person)?

Frank Schultz:  It’s been really good.  We don’t have over packed schedules any more.  Having time in the schedule has been really good for stress. I recommend it for you all. 

Danner Doud-Martin:  Do you have any advice to give to IBD students?

IBD Faculty Mentors with former Dean Lyons

IBD Faculty Mentors with former Dean Lyons

Frank Schultz:  I always tell this story about how I tend towards being conservative when sharing my thoughts and ideas in groups of people.  I have wanted to make sure that I had all the right answers and I wouldn’t say anything unless I was sure it was correct. One time I was with former IBD Faculty Mentor Jo Mackness (now Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, Student Affairs at UC Berkeley), and I finally shared something and Jo responds, “that was epic.”  I waited 30 years to speak up and have this brilliant idea and finally when I just said something, I got “epic.” I tell students, don’t wait. Speak up, even if you don’t think it’s “brilliant.”

Danner Doud-Martin: Do you have any advice for all us IBD staff and faculty that you left behind?

Frank Schultz:  It is hard to fully appreciate the impact you are having on students in a course like IBD.  The feedback is all over the place and at times it is really tough. But you ARE having more of an impact on a student’s learning than you realize.  Remember that.

Now that we have launched the spring 2020 FTMBA IBD program, all of us in the IBD staff miss Frank.  We are excited for him as he embraces his newly retired life, and we hope he will return to say hello and show us some of his newly practiced dance moves.  Congratulations, Frank Schultz!

Say Hello to Nina Ho MBA ’21, Our Spring 2020 IBD GSI

Nina on the Big Reveal Day with a sign that says UgandaThe IBD program is thrilled to have second year Full Time MBA student Nina Ho contribute to the spring 2020 FTMBA IBD program as our Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). Previously, Nina was a student Team Lead for the Makerere University project during the spring 2019 IBD program.  This is the second year that a former IBD student Team Lead has held the GSI role: Libby Ananda MBA ‘20 was the first.  The GSI role was created to benefit both IBD faculty and students.  Recently we had the opportunity to talk with Nina about her IBD experience as a student in 2019, as well as her expectations as this year’s IBD program GSI, and we’d like to share her interview below.

Nina and her team on a safari

Nina and her IBD team traveling and enjoying a safari

 IBD Interviewer: Why did you want to be the IBD GSI?

Nina Ho:  IBD was a unique experience: when you are pushed outside of what’s familiar, you learn more about yourself and those around you.  Spending quality time with my amazing team, I learned tremendously from them, and we got so close. As a GSI, I wanted to pay it forward and facilitate an unforgettable experience for the next class.  I also wanted to continue working with Whitney Hischier, who served as my Faculty Mentor last year. I respect her as a professional mentor and believe there’s a lot to gain from another year of working with her.

IBD Interviewer:  Do you have any goals for your role as a GSI?

Nina Ho:  Students come to IBD with different starting points. Some have consulting or leadership experience; others don’t.  I see my role as helping to close that gap — get those students up to speed so they can accomplish their project goals.  I look forward to acting as an intermediary with the faculty and help to inform decisions that support the students’ learning.

IBD Interviewer:  You worked with IBD project client Makerere University in 2019. Were you proud of the work you did as an IBD Team?

Nina Ho:  Throughout the course of IBD we were able not only to diagnose the root cause of their challenge, but also to devise a realistic implementation plan for the solution we recommended.  I am proud of the breadth of work we completed and how we handled the client interaction to get to that point. 

Nina talking to her 2019 IBD client - Makerere University

Nina talking to her 2019 IBD client – Makerere University

IBD Interviewer:  Would you change anything about your IBD experience?

Nina Ho:  Though A LOT of things didn’t go as planned, I wouldn’t change anything.  Ironically, all the challenges we faced made us get closer as a team – we learned how to trust each other. 

IBD Interviewer:  Did the IBD experience help with your summer internship or after graduation career choices?

Nina Ho:  IBD gave me the confidence to lead a consulting project ahead of my internship.  Though I had a consulting background and understood how to do the work, I was looking for reps to lead a team in an ambiguous, non-straightforward setting. 

IBD Interviewer:  Are you focusing on anything over these next couple of months before you graduate?

Nina Ho: I am training for the AIDS Lifecycle charity ride from SF to LA and working on being a better skier — gotta work up to those black diamonds!  I am also looking forward to spending as much time with my classmates before graduating.

Nina standing on a rock

IBD Interviewer: What is your favorite thing about Haas?

Nina Ho:  Honestly, the community.  I am consistently moved by the generosity of my classmates, staff and faculty and how people show up for each other.  The spirit of Haas creates an inclusive space where I’ve been able to take more risks and find a place of belonging.  

IBD Interviewer:  You introduced us to your love of wearing headbands while traveling.  Do you still wear headbands?

Nina with a beautiful backdrop

Nina Ho:  Yes, and most recently in New Zealand — you really need that when you’re on a backpacking trip and can’t shower!

The IBD program staff and faculty are fortunate to have Nina as a member of our team, and we know she will contribute to the overall success of our students and the spring 2020 IBD program.  Thank you Nina!


Ananda Development Public Company Limited

Written by: Fay Yu, Paolo Casumbal, James Greff, Torie Dalton and Tyson Johnson

Week 0 – SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing + Chiang Mai

A few of our team members arrived a week ahead of time to attend the SingularityU Exponential Manufacturing Conference in Bangkok. Our client, Ananda Development, helped with this year’s conference focused around exponential technologies in the manufacturing space. We are grateful to have been invited as volunteers, giving us the opportunity to be in close proximity with all of the interesting speakers including Mark Post (co-founder, MosaMeat), Andres De Leon (COO, Hyperloop), and Samantha Radocchia (co-founder, Chronicled). Over the course of two days, we were able to learn about emerging technologies, new research, and startup ideas in a variety of industries. 

In preparation for the upcoming IBD start, we spent the weekend relaxing in Chiang Mai. We visited the Elephant Nature Park and spent most of our first day there. This park rescues elephants that have been forced into circuses, have been forced to work for logging companies, or have been injured. During this weekend, we also got our first exposure to the role religion plays in Thailand. Chiang Mai is home to many beautiful temples and we pushed through the triple digit temperatures to visit many of them. Thailand is a largely Buddhist country, and our weekend coincided with Vesak – a national holiday celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. We were unaware that this would mean that establishments were banned from selling alcohol and many social establishments were closed. We made the best of it and left with fond memories of this ancient city.  

Week 1 – A Warm Ananda Welcome + Krabi

This was our first week at the Ananda office. The team met Lloyd, our main contact for our project, and the wonderful team he leads. We learned a lot about Thai business culture and also got a better understanding of what the company is working on and how they are aiming to grow in the future. The office itself reminded us of the startup and tech offices found throughout the Bay Area. One day was spent touring the different properties that Ananda owns or developed. As one of the top condo builders in Thailand, we were able to learn about Ananda’s various luxury townhomes and condo complexes, and our day navigating Bangkok exposed us to the headaches of its traffic. 

On Friday afternoon, we left for Krabi where our island hopping tour gave us the opportunity to explore beaches, go on hikes, and see some monkeys. We visited the famed Railay Beach, which is only accessible by boat. There we took on a steep hike and were rewarded with a beautiful view overlooking the beach. Our remaining time was spent out in the warm waters of Southern Thailand. 

Week 2 – Exploring Bangkok + Siem Reap

Back in Bangkok, we continued to work on our IBD project. The team settled into a routine of game-planning at the start of the day, working either as a group or independently in the various cool workspaces around the open office, eating the Ananda-provided lunch, and heading out around 5 PM, often after a friendly debrief with Lloyd. In the evenings, we explored all of the great sights and food that Bangkok has to offer – from the street-food in Chinatown to gourmet burgers in Thong Lor – and of course, its’ famous nightlife. We were also able to visit the Grand Palace and watch a cabaret show – that is until the power went out throughout the entire neighborhood.

Over the weekend, we met with the Cambodia team in Siem Reap. The main attraction in Siem Reap is the ancient temple called Angkor Wat. We visited Angkor Wat at 5 AM in the morning in order to watch the sunrise. Despite not seeing the sunrise due to cloud cover, we took advantage of the minimal crowd and stayed around that morning to walk around the grounds. It’s an incredible complex and it still serves as a Buddhist religious site. Throughout the weekend we visited other incredible sites of the ancient city of Angkor, including Ta Prohm, famous for the huge trees woven throughout its ruins.

Week 3 – Thailand From a Different Perspective 

The last Monday was a holiday celebrating the newly coronated Queen’s birthday. One of Lloyd’s team members, Pang, was so kind as to take us under her wing for the day. We started off by visiting her uncle’s home in the suburbs of Bangkok and got to see his impressive prayer room. We learned that many Thai homes have a prayer room where there are both Buddhist and Hindu relics. Afterwards, we ate lunch at a restaurant outside of the city frequented by Thais and then went to Phutta Monthon where we fed fish with local park goers. We finished the day at Pang’s house where her helpers prepared fresh coconut and other local fruits for us to enjoy. 

After seeing so much of Bangkok from a tourist’s point of view, it was refreshing to spend a day with a local. Thank you, Pang and Kong! Our team had an incredible time in Bangkok, where we were warmly received by the Ananda team (thank you Darrell, Shawn, Frankie, and Sam!). We’d be remiss not to once more give a huge shout out to Lloyd, who was an incredible, attentive, and kind host! 

Team HaAshesi – Educating Ethical, Entrepreneurial Leaders in Africa

Written by: Joseph Bird, Carolyn Henderson, Nicole Quinty, Jessica Slocovich and Nicholas Meyer

Our client, Ashesi University, was founded by Haas alumnus Patrick Awuah in 2002 with the grand mission of educating a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa (Patrick, coincidentally, was Haas’s Class of 2019 MBA commencement speaker). The school has a longstanding relationship with Haas and has partnered with IBD to host 12 (!) IBD teams to date.

Prior to arriving on campus, our group dove deep into the current educational landscape across Africa, distributed and analyzed results from an international student survey, spoke with a number of university admissions teams, worked with Haas African Business Club points of contact, and even enjoyed early exposure to potential customers by spending time with current students at Haas in early March.

Before getting to work, our team was thrilled to start our time in Ghana with four safaris at Mole National Park.

We then embarked upon the drive from the country’s capital, Accra, to our client in the remote town of Berekuso, situated high on a hill with stunning views of the surrounding Accra metropolitan area and the Gulf of Guinea.

Given that most students had already departed campus for internships or summer vacation, our team largely had campus to ourselves. We were treated to a tour of the school’s beautiful facilities and were afforded access to any room on campus to ensure that we had ample space to work during our time with the project. Accommodations were in on-campus faculty housing, three-bedroom homes with shared living rooms and kitchens that also served as great spaces to meet and work.

One of our first large objectives during our time in-country was to conduct focus groups with current international students. Ashesi’s staff was instrumental in helping us coordinate a group of 30 students to speak with, and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon learning more about what drew them to the school and developing hypotheses on what the institution could do to attract additional international fee-paying students.

Our group resolved early in the project that a sustainable solution for our client would be one that they were heavily invested in and that they would be inspired to carry forward our recommendations regardless of our geographic proximity or duration of time removed from the project. We wanted Ashesi to be invested in the ideation process early and coordinated a three-hour design thinking workshop with key staff members. Hearing directly from those stakeholders, brainstorming, and collaborating on potential solutions to achieve the client’s lofty goal was extraordinarily productive, and the enthusiasm and energy from the afternoon was palpable. 

Ashesi’s staff were eager for us to continue to explore Ghana, and were kind enough to build an itinerary for us to visit Cape Coast during our first weekend between work. Crocodiles, castles, and rainforests filled our days, and we were very appreciative of the cultural experiences we enjoyed together.

 At this point, our group had enough information to begin synthesizing final deliverables for the client, but not without the buy-in of our final stakeholders. We facilitated a brief check-in to lay out our proposals and rationale to ensure that we were meeting expectations and any substantial questions or reservations from the client were being proactively addressed.

We were also thrilled to be on campus for Ashesi’s graduation. It was a remarkably fulfilling and inspiring experience knowing that our work today would influence the lives of those walking across the stage a few years from now.

Our last few days in-country were spent refining our deliverables with a handful of key stakeholders, continuing to extract insights, and synthesizing our final recommendations. The final presentation on Thursday, June 6th was well-attended, as members from our stakeholders’ entire teams were eager to hear what we had learned and understand first-hand our proposals for their day-to-day responsibilities going forward.

Upon the conclusion of our final presentation, our team took time to reflect on the project and pulled together a few closing observations. While timelines, deliverables, and audiences shifted a number of times, our group did a wonderful job of staying grounded and focusing on the importance of our work to the client. Each and every one of us was heavily invested in the school’s mission and the overarching goal of our project, which kept day-to-day challenges and project scope fluctuations in perspective and kept us motivated to deliver our best. We were also mutually appreciative of the comportment of our teammates and the easygoing nature by which we all approached our work and collaborative efforts. This, in tandem with the unwavering support of our client, created a memorable work experience and end-state deliverables that we are all very proud of. Next steps: planning a team reunion in Ghana a few years from now!

The “Best” IBD Conference!

Haas IBD Conference group photo

The latest annual IBD Conference was held in Chou Hall at Berkeley Haas on September 13, 2019.  In his concluding remarks, IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz proclaimed that this year’s Conference was the “best IBD Conference ever.”  Frank has been an IBD faculty mentor since 2012, so after experiencing years of IBD Conferences, he knows what it took to make the 2019 IBD Conference stand out:  “After listening to our students’ feedback, we wanted to try a new format for the Conference. I think it really worked; and students, staff, guests and faculty had the opportunity to reflect, reconnect and learn from each other.”

Audience clappingChange of Conference Event Format:

In place of the poster sessions of past IBD Conferences, this year student teams were asked to bring photos, props, souvenirs and local dress to celebrate their IBD experience and their project countries.  All totaled, in 2019 there were 80 Full Time MBA (FTMBA) IBD students and nine Evening & Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students, representing 18 separate IBD teams. Guests, staff, faculty and students mingled among the IBD team tables, as each IBD student team shared stories and anecdotes from their time spent living in-country and working with IBD project clients.  IBD Aditya Team Member Lauren Grimanis thought the “mix and mingle” part of this year’s Conference was “a great way for all of us to come back together after spending the summer apart to hear more about our IBD in-country experiences.“

Wildlife Conservations Society (WCS) Belize presenting their learnings at their table

Some of the IBD student teams displayed their client’s projects openly at their tables.  Team Samai showcased client-made rum from Cambodia. Team We Care Solar, which worked in Kampala, Uganda, displayed a bright yellow solar powered suitcase. This student team explained that these suitcases provided efficient solar energy systems to health facilities in areas without reliable electricity.

We Care Solar Team

We Care Solar Team

Berkeley Haas staff member David Moren, Associate Director for Haas Alumni Relations & Development, was one of the Conference guests who spent time talking to different IBD student teams during the mix and mingle portion of the event.  After speaking with EWMBA student and We Care Solar Team Member Steven Wang, David was impressed by the work the student team performed together with their client: “Talking to Steven and hearing about their project was incredibly inspiring.  Just five minutes with him gave me a great sense of the impact he and his team made in Uganda.“

Team Aditya presenting their research at their table to members of Team Dura-Line and SAP Ariba

Every IBD Team Presented this Year:

Team Seva giving their presentation of their project at the conference

The Conference event program also changed to include a two minute presentation by each IBD student team.  IBD students were asked to share their own “lessons learned” from their time spent in-country working with their project clients.  The presentations varied in content and message, but the new format was appreciated by IBD students. MBA ‘20 Lauren Grimanis was one of the many students who enjoyed the new format feature of peer presentations:  “The highlight was each team’s two minute presentations, which included project and experience takeaways and funny team dynamics.”  

Team Samai giving their presentation at the conference

IBD Student Contests:

One aspect of the Conference that remained the same this year was handing out awards for the best IBD in-country photo (Aesthetic and Team versions) and the best IBD in-country blogs.  Each year as part of their course deliverables, IBD student teams write blogs about their time spent working in-country. IBD staff post the blogs on a weekly basis on the Haas in the World site.  This year’s IBD student team blog winners were:

Team We Care Solar receiving their award for winning best blog entry 2019

Each year the IBD program also recognizes and awards winners for the best IBD team photos taken during the project in-country period.  The winning photos are displayed at Berkeley Haas in the IBD hallway near Faculty Building Office 445. The best photo winners for 2019 are:   

  • Team Dura-Line – Best Aesthetic Photo 
  • Team Ananda – Best Team Photo

Team Ananda posing on stage after winning best team photo 2019

Finally, this year’s Conference concluded with thank you messages to the many people who make the IBD program happen, including our amazing IBD Faculty Mentors Judy Hopelain, Whitney Hischier, Jon Metzler, Arman Zand, and retiring Faculty Director Frank Schultz.  The IBD program can’t thank Frank enough for all the time, expertise, passion and dedication he has given willingly to IBD during the last seven years. All of us will miss him!

Faculty members receiving gratitude on stage after conference. Please look for an article on Frank Schultz’s retirement in future IBD newsletters and blogs. Frank Schultz Ending Speech

Find more photos from the day and the conference here!

Team Confidex

Written by: Adriana Bonifaz / Armand Amin / Haley Braun / Stephanie Rank / Katie Rentz

From the moment you step off the airplane onto the tarmac, clouds of breeze-borne cottonwood fluff give Finland in May a dreamlike aura. Whether standing on the shore of an impossibly glassy, tree-rimmed lake, or dodging extensive teams of construction workers taking advantage of snowless springtime streets in the city, the fuzzy white floating seeds fill the air. They cluster in still pockets of air on the tracks of Finland’s excellent train and tram systems before being blown aloft by a passing locomotive with all the whimsy of loose feathers in a pillow fight. When catching the train or tram, connecting with one of the country’s many bus routes to complete the final leg of your journey, or even hopping on a ferry for a reasonably-priced long-haul option, Finland’s transit system is likely to strike you as efficient, clean, and quiet. 

What perhaps may strike you as less certain, as it did our team, are the dishes you may receive when ordering at a restaurant! The complex Finnish language creates its own set of challenges for the visiting, curious restaurant-goer, but even when items are described in English to an English-speaker, often our team was surprised by the unexpected foods brought out: we once saw a half-vegetable, half-meatloaf patty advertised as steak, a fully-liquid soup with tiny specks of meat termed reindeer stew, and we quickly learned that “fried” often means “grilled”. 

Nonetheless, we quickly discovered a love of the popular mustards, the fresh and smoked salmon, and the many-flavored jams available at most local establishments and grocery stores. The Finns seem to put jam on almost anything—meats, bread, cheese, cake, and even eggs. 

While the food can be hit or miss, the Finnish language is inarguably a true challenge, equally as unfamiliar to our team’s native English and Spanish speakers. We occasionally made a game of guessing the proper translation of Finland’s notoriously long words (and were most often wrong). Not only is the Finnish language structure and etymology quite unintuitive, it’s also known for a tendency to join disparate words together, forming intimidatingly long single words. Usually, we found that when we saw a fourteen or seventeen-letter word, we immediately gave up on trying to pronounce anything beyond the first syllable. In light of this running joke among the team, I decided to look up the longest word in the Finnish language, and discovered that a 61-letter word holds the title! “Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas” means “airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student”. As you can see, their practice of word-combining would constitute a bit of a farce in other languages when it comes to the competition for the longest word, but such extremely long words are commonplace in Finland. 

What was reasonably predictable and consistent throughout our experiences both in business and casual settings, however, was the no-nonsense, straightforward nature of the Finnish people. This made for very good business relations with our IBD client, with whom we never had to worry about ulterior motives, unspoken sentiments, or hidden agendas. Although, on the flip side, it took some adjustment for me to stop myself from my American tendency of saying hello to strangers (I was not aware that this was “American” of me until traveling to Finland!) The Finns, while always helpful and kind if asked for help or directions, do not go out of their way to have conversations or interactions with strangers, 

preferring on the whole to keep very much to themselves in public.

Working with our client, Confidex, was an overall enjoyable and rewarding experience for our IBD team. Confidex employees at its Tampere, Finland headquarters were warm and welcoming, always going above-and-beyond to ensure we had everything we needed, from Post-It notes to fresh fruit, and an endless supply of the Finns’ workplace fuels of choice, coffee and tea. Our IBD team’s day-to-day life began with a twenty-minute bus ride from our characteristically Finnish simple, efficiently-furnished apartments, to the similarly unadorned, clean, Confidex office building. Their office is located in a somewhat remote office park area bordered by neighborhoods, a few other businesses, and of course, plenty of expansive grassy fields effusing and ensnaring clumps of drifting cottonwood fluff. The small office serves as home-base to about twenty employees, mostly local Finns. The rest of the company’s employees are dispersed among its global offices. 

Each day we continued our project research, interacted with and interviewed employees both local and remote, and hosted interactive brainstorming workshops to generate new ideas. We were surprised at how our project framework changed and adapted over time as we refined our strategic recommendations and priorities based on new learnings. We usually brought our lunch to the office, but sometimes took a fifteen-minute stroll to the only food bistro nearby, which ended up having a delicious buffet. Most days we worked until late afternoon or early evening and caught the bus back to our apartments before either enjoying a (very basic!) home-cooked dinner or eating out at a local restaurant. While our apartment certainly had all the amenities necessary to cook a decent meal, we found that planning to buy the supplies and having the time in the evening kept us from doing so most of the time.

One of the top highlights of the trip was the proximity and access to incredible weekend travel opportunities, which we will continue to take full advantage of, including Estonia, the arctic circle, Norway, Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Russia. Our trip to Estonia, by way of train and ferry, over our first weekend in country doubled as a wonderful team bonding experience. We stayed at a charming, beautifully-decorated Airbnb apartment in the heart of old town Tallinn, Estonia’s historic capital. Exploring the city with no solid plans meant a carefree afternoon of laughter and awe-inspiring sightseeing together, punctuated by tastings of Estonian beer and cocktails and what we agreed was the best food we’d had on the entire trip so far. Fresh seasonal fish topped off crisp-lettuce salads with a customizable motley of flavorful trimmings including olives, chewy cashews, mushrooms, herbed feta cheese, and pomegranate seeds. Starters were impressive unto themselves—tuna tartare beautifully adorned with crisp cucumber spirals, crunchy orange roe, crispy wonton strips, and sesame seeds, or savory noodle soup topped by a single sunny-side-up egg, perfectly browned on one side. When it came time to leave Estonia, I wished we could have many more days to explore the seemingly endless winding cobblestone streets and alleyways. 

We have two more weeks in Finland, and are looking forward to continuing to move our project forward, exploring new places, trying local foods and drink, and learning more about new cultures!

Team Dura-Line

Sharon Lau is a full-time MBA student working on an International Business Development project spanning across Gurgaon, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Singapore. She and her teammates, Roland Ekop, Alberto Francisco Granados, Daisy Huang, and Maryam Rezapoor, worked with Dura-Line to assess market entry strategies for the data infrastructure industry in Southeast Asia.

On the day of the Big Reveal, as if it wasn’t exciting enough just to find out who our client and teammates were, we also learned that our project would be based out of India, with “possible travel to Vietnam and/or Indonesia.” After working with our client to better understand our project, it turned out to be all of the above, and more.

Asia is a unique landscape with diversity in all its forms across so many countries, cultures, climates, and economies. In order to better understand how successful market entries and business development worked in Asia, we first studied two countries in which they had done exceptionally well: the US, which we learned more about during our semester, and India, which we explored during our first week of IBD. After India, we would split up for on the ground research in two target markets for our client: Indonesia and Vietnam. After our in-country assessments, we would return to India to work through our findings with the client before flying to Singapore to present to their global C-suite at their off-site management retreat. With a lot of miles ahead of us, we packed up and got ready for a very eventual 3 weeks.

Week 1 in Gurgaon: Understanding a Success Story

We landed in Delhi in one of the hottest months of the year and were immediately fascinated by all the differences and familiarities in our new environment. One of our team members remarked how the way locals crossed highways and traffic patterns reminded him exactly of home. Another team member was so excited by the incredible variety of new foods and spices that she went on a food tour and sampled as many new things as she could. 

After meeting with Dura-Line’s Asia management based out of Gurgaon as well as some of their largest infrastructure and telco partners in India, we were armed with insights and more questions for our interviewees on the ground in Indonesia and Vietnam.

Team Dura-Line ready for our Day of Arrival Presentation at Le Meridien Gurgaon: Roland Ekop, Daisy Huang, Maryam Rezapoor, Sharon Lau, Alberto Francisco Granados (left to right)



Team members Roland, Maryam, and Daisy at Dura-Line’s Gurgaon office with a display and samples of their products

Team member Alberto with chipmunks from the gardens at Agra Fort

Team lead Roland appreciating the history and intridcate script carved into the tower at Qutub Minar

Team members Maryam and Daisy at the Taj Mahal

Week 2 in Jakarta and Hanoi: Exploring New Markets

After we bid India goodbye for the first time, we split up into our Indonesia and Vietnam teams. In our second week, we interviewed stakeholders and players in our clients’ ecosystems, learning about the intricacies of the industries in each country that couldn’t be found with online research. This proved to be especially interesting, as both countries have a highly relational business environment in which the best way to learn more is to actually speak with people face to face.

Although we had our schedules packed with meeting industry experts and navigating around our new countries, we were especially thrilled to be able to meet Haas alum Matthew Sinder MBA 99, who had a wealth of experience in the region as well as fond memories of campus.

Our Indonesia team catching up at drinks with Haas alum Matthew Sinder MBA 99 (from left to right: Roland, Daisy, Matthew, Alberto)

Team member Daisy Huang on a scenic weekend trip to Bali

Week 3 in Singapore: Sharing Our Learnings

After a quick trip back to India to realign with the Asia management team on our findings and recommendations, we were off to Singapore to present to our client’s C-suite on the famous bayfront. Our presentation was the centerpiece of a 3-hour workshop, and it was such a rewarding experience to have all of our in-depth research lay the groundwork for an important strategic discussion for truly aspirational leaders.

We wrapped up the project with hours of lively dinner and drinks with the Dura-Line executive team, during which we were inspired to see how CEO Peter Hajdu, Haas MBA ‘05, was boldly and unapologetically leading the company in line with our Haas values. As we packed our bags for what seemed like the millionth time in 3 weeks, we knew we had flown an exceptional number of miles to live out a quintessentially unique Haas experience.

Our IBD team and the Dura-Line C-suite team celebrating a successful wrap to our semester-long project with the Singapore Maria Bay Sands in the background. The Dura-Line team is led by Peter Hajdu, Haas MBA ’05 (back row, far right)


Written by: Kyle Rolnick, Maddy Han, Joyce Yao, Annie Powers and Miguel Moreno Rodriguez

Discovering a unique culture

As the Berkeley IBD team walked into Giosg’s office in a quiet, corporate area of Helsinki, we realized that the nice shoes we brought from the U.S. weren’t necessary. We stared at many shoes strewn about in the entryway, took our own off, felt the soft rug beneath our feet, and took a few steps into the office. The truly vibrant work environment Giosg – a fast-growing tech company that focuses on helping businesses interact in more meaningful ways with their customers – has created was almost immediately apparent.  

Jussi, the company’s COO and our main contact throughout the project, met us shortly after we entered. It was very refreshing – and a bit surreal – to see him in person after talking with him so many time via video chat, and he was every bit as kind and welcoming in person as he’d been during the semester in Berkeley. The first order of business was a tour, which gave us a glimpse at not only employees in beanbag chairs working hard, but also colorful carpet, a poster showing Giosg’s values, and even a pinball machine. This is a quintessential tech workplace. 

Getting down to business

That first day, we started our rounds of getting a better look at Giosg in person, and throughout the first week, we were introduced to people in sales, marketing, finance, and product to better understand the different perspectives that could help our project, which focuses on helping Giosg think about a new market entry. 

The week also included an introduction to Finnish culture, of course. The Berkeley team was able to eat some traditional Finnish food, explore Helsinki’s chic city center, and even take a dip in the Baltic Sea (~50°F!) after heating up in a sauna at Löyly, a place that combines traditional saunas, drinks, and food all in one beautiful structure. 

The highlight of the first week, though, was the Summer Party. An event Giosg has held since its early days, the Summer Party is one of two main parties for the company each year. Although the weather wasn’t perfect, heading to Suomenlinna and partying in an 18th-century fort was something to be remembered. The party was also a great chance to meet even more employees at the company and see the optimism and can-do spirit that pervades the company. “If we have a problem, I know we can solve it,” one employee told us. 

An engaging presentation

Week two started off strong with a presentation to Giosg’s board, which was onsite at Giosg for two days of workshops and vision-setting. Our team outlined our work to date, key findings, and our direction for our remaining time in Finland. The board members asked some great, thought-provoking questions. After discussing the presentation and questions with Jussi, we refined our direction and put our nose to the grindstone to further synthesize our findings and do additional secondary research to support a strong recommendation.

On Thursday, our team got a nice break due to a Finnish holiday and explored nearby Tallinn, home of the most digitally connected government in the world. It was a beautiful day and walking the streets of the Old Town and the hip Depoo area was refreshing after a few days of rain back in Helsinki. The highlight of the week came on Friday morning, though, as we were able to join Giosg’s team for their weekly floorball game – and our very own Joyce Yao netted two goals! 


A very special last week

Our last week in Finland was a whirlwind! We worked hard during the days and nights, but also soaked up every last bit of fun we could as the temperature heated up in Helsinki. On Monday night, Jussi led the team on an orienteering adventure. In orienteering, people race each other by navigating through the woods or other terrain with only a map and compass. This is a very popular activity in Finland and we could see why – it was a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature while putting your attention and mind to work navigating. 

On Tuesday night, we got a glimpse of the beautiful Finnish countryside on the way up to Jussi’s summer cottage. Before we ate a traditional meal of smoked salmon and reindeer with lingonberry and mashed potatoes, Jussi, Ville (Giosg’s CEO), and the team enjoyed a more traditional sauna experience, including a nice dip in the lake after heating up.

Wednesday and Thursday were big days; we presented a total of 5 hours across three sessions to summarize our findings and recommendations for Giosg’s management team and employees. The presentations elicited some very good questions and it was exciting to hear feedback and questions from everyone after so many months of hard work. After wrapping up the final day, we got to enjoy one last outing in Helsinki, as three of Giosg’s employees invited us to join them in a sailing competition followed by a night out on the town. 

Wrapping up

So much work went into this project. Through the many hours of interviews, late nights reading research, design thinking sessions to synthesize findings, and more, we kept our focus on our big goal: providing as much value to Giosg as we could as they tackle new projects and growth opportunities. And we felt that responsibility deeply, as we connected with Giosg’s management and employees in a way that few of us expected possible when we heard we’d be heading to Finland last January and February. 

The IBD project exceeded our expectations on many fronts and in ways that would take many more pages to describe. As we sought to provide as much value as possible to Giosg, so too we have all come out of this with a lot of value: much more knowledge, new friends, and a great experience to look back on during our second year at Berkeley and beyond.