The Annual IBD Conference Awards

This is the sixth year that the IBD staff awarded IBD teams with the best photos and blogs.  The competition is always fierce as so many amazing moments are captured by our IBD students around the world.  Here are the 2018 winners.

Best IBD 2018 Photos

Best Aesthetic Photo -Winner:  TEAM YGA

YGA- Art (1)

FTMBA’s: Daniel Mombiedro​, ​Joanne​ ​Lee​, ​Clara​ ​Jiang​, and ​Enrique​ ​San Martin Petit

Best Team Photo – Winner:  TEAM FORD

Ford-Team (1)

FTMBA’s: James Westhafer, Sandra Tamer, Joesph Akoni, John Sheffield, Alyssa Warren

Best Aesthetic Photo – Honorable Mention: TEAM SEEDLINKSeedlink-Art (1)

FTMBA’s: Paola​ ​Blanco​, ​Nanor​ ​Asadorian​, ​Ralph​ ​Boyajian​,​​ ​Conor​ ​Farese​, and ​Dean​ ​Guo

Best Team Photo – Honorable Mention: TEAM PSI

PSI Team in Masai Mara on Safari (1)

FTMBA’s: Sara Farsio, Jennifer Richard, Deitrich Davidheiser, Nick Greczyna, and Kamellia Saroop

Best IBD 2018 Blog

With so many great blogs written by our students describing a day in the life of their IBD project, it was nearly impossible to pick the best one.  This year ended in a tie between Team Ford and Team Think Beyond Plastic (TBP). Team Ford did a wonderful job of describing their project and how they spent their time in China working through the question that Ford asked them to solve.  Team TBP’s blog was notable because every team member contributed to the blog, sharing their own personal reflections and learnings from their in-country project experience.

This year IBD created a new award category called “Beyond Yourself.”  We presented this award to Team WCS because they wrote not just one, but two blogs detailing their IBD in-country experience, and at the same time created a video of their team experience of diving over 100 feet off the coast of Belize.  All five IBD team members obtained diver certification for this experience, which they memorialized by videoing themselves unveiling the UC Berkeley Cal Flag underwater. See the IBD Team Belize video here.

Best Blog Winners - Team Ford and TBP

Best Blog Winners – Team Ford and TBP

Team Ford : James Westhafer, Sandra Tamer, Joesph Akoni, John Sheffield, Alyssa Warren

Blog: Ford Shanghai – 2018 IBD

Team Think Beyond Plastic: Catherine​ ​Soler​, ​Leslie​ ​Brian​, ​Kelly​ ​Lamble​, ​Scott​ ​Peacock​ and ​Sipian​ ​Wan

Blog: How Three Weeks in the Bay Islands Changed our Perspective on Plastic

Blog: Continued Reflections on Our Plastic Use

Team Wildlife CS: Hima​ Erukulla​​, ​Andrew​ Lee​, Jerry Philip​, Srinivas Rajamani, ​ ​​Nik​ Reddy​​

Team WCS - Winners of the "Beyond Yourself Award"

Team WCS – Winners of the “Beyond Yourself Award”

Beyond Yourself:

IBD Team Belize aka Team Unbelizable – Week 1

IBD Team Belize aka Team Unbelizable – Week 2

WCS Video 

Click here to see all the photos from the IBD Conference

A Week in the Life of an IBD Team – Team Ananda

Written by Igor Borges, Stan Cataldo, Ryan Dingler, Elaine Leong, and Mila Pires, of the Ananda Development team in Thailand.

It was May 13th at 6pm and our team had just arrived in Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok’s main airport. Ryan (one of our team members) hailed us a Grab, Thailand’s Uber, and we were on our way to the hotel. In the hot and humid Thai weather, we passed two of our clients real estate developments. During our research, we found Ananda Development (our client) had a strong real estate presence in Bangkok and were already finding that to be true!

Ananda1

The next day we met Lloyd, our main employee contact and the best host we could have asked for. He introduced us to his staff and gave us a tour of the office, which looked more like a high-tech company office in the Bay Area than a real estate company.

Ananda2

Ananda3

After showing our initial research and framework to Dr. John, Ananda’s Chief Development Officer, we rebuilt our deck to dive deeper into the solutions we identified as strongest in preparation for our field research the following day. To decompress, back at the hotel we began a tradition, which continued for the full three weeks, where we would all play foosball but only Elaine would win. Then we managed to get through the intense Bangkok traffic to Beer Belly, a restaurant recommended by an employee at Ananda, where played some pool, air hockey and ping pong along with eating fried pork skin and some (very) spicy food.

Ananda4

Tuesday during the day, Lloyd and his team setup tours of three of Ananda’s real estate developments, from pre-construction to fully sold-out and transferred properties, including an amazing 4D projection for the Ashton brand (Ananda’s most luxurious sub-brand). The three developments were all different Ananda sub-brands (these brands vary by target resident income and style) which gave us a good perspective of the various types of customers Ananda attracts.

Ananda5

In the afternoon, we went to dinner with Ananda and a USC-Marshall team that was also doing a project with Ananda. It was a great opportunity to mingle and try several typical Thai dishes that our Ananda team ordered for us. This was also the point where Ryan was introduced to mango sticky rice – a true love story in the making.

Ananda6

Wednesday we spent the day incorporating our initial feedback from Dr. John and additional information and insights we gathered during our field tours into our deck before our presentation to the CEO on Thursday. We also got to participate in a Singularity University event on the development of “fake meat” delivered by a professor from Japan.

Ananda7

Thursday, was our big day to present to Ananda’s CEO, Khun Chanond Ruangkritya. Khun Chanond is a young Berkeley alum that is at the forefront of rewriting how real estate is done in Bangkok. During the meeting, he gave us the go-ahead and said we were heading in the right direction and gave us a lesson on how to be a successful but humble leader – a true Haasie! To close the day, we were invited to the presentation of USC’s project and networked with professors and other USC teams that were also in Thailand.

On Friday we visited another Ananda building to learn about their Property Management division and how they manage existing developments. Also, Ananda had a TGIF event, where we were able to hear an amazing Adele performance by one of our close Ananda contacts, who used to be a professional singer before joining Ananda.

Ananda8

After the performance, we headed to our flights to Chiang Mai (a city in the north of Thailand) where we spent the weekend visiting temples, caring for our “own” elephants at a sanctuary and driving rented motorcycles.

It was an amazing pleasure and privilege to be in this project and we hope the next classes are as lucky as we were in getting such a heartwarming, exciting and eye-opening experience as ours. Lloyd and the team were wonderful hosts, every week they planned multiple events for us to network with CEOs, academics, and Berkeley alums.

Thank you Ananda for this unique experience and for the invaluable lessons!

Seva Team Blog – 2018 IBD

Written by Jocelyn Brown, Rachel Lee, Grant Hannigan, Josue Chavarin, and Gagan Dhaliwal

May 21, 2018

It’s 110 degrees outside. Every bump of the road jostles us back and forth as we sit on stretchers in the back of the hospital ambulance. Weaving down dirt roads that look way too narrow for our vehicle, let alone two lanes of traffic, the driver uses the siren to announce our arrival, to both wandering buffalo and massive trucks filled with just-cut sugarcane. Within minutes of leaving the hospital, we are passing small farming villages. Goats, stray dogs and buffalo rest in the shade of ramshackle structures, along with villagers who stare at us as we drive by. Little fans in the back of the ambulance blow hot air in our faces, making it feel like we’re in the middle of a hot, dry sauna.

After stopping to ask directions several times, we finally locate our first interviewee. Today, Gagan and I are interviewing patients who visited Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital in Mohammadi, India, and were told that they needed cataract surgery but haven’t come back yet to schedule it. We’re hoping to learn, through our teenage translators Srishti and Gracy, why they haven’t come back to the hospital. Every trip we take outside of the hospital walls has taught us an incredible amount about the surrounding communities and their day-to-day lives. We also usually come back exhausted and completely wiped from the Indian heat after only a few hours.

The first man we meet is prone on a cot underneath a straw hut and comes out to meet us. He’s shirtless, hunched from the waist around a wooden walking stick, and wearing thick, coke-bottle glasses. The first thing our translator tells us after introducing us is that he drinks alcohol. He doesn’t have any family members who can take him back to the hospital, and so he relies on others for transportation. Boiling in the sun, struggling to get any concrete details about why he might not want to come back to Shroff’s, we quickly decide to move on.

Our next interview is the opposite experience. We pull up to through the center of another village and step out of the ambulance. All of the houses around us seem to be made out of mud and straw. Several children seem to be the only ones who have any energy as they run around playing with each other and a stray dog. The community outreach coordinator for the hospital learns that our next patient is out working in the fields. While other members of the community go fetch him, chairs and water are suddenly precured from nowhere. We see very few women, just glimpses of their colorful garb from open doorways. As we wait for our interviewee, a small crowd of children and interested men starts to form. By the time our interviewee has arrived, a crowd has fully surrounded our little half-moon of chairs.

We’ve worked with our translators ahead of time so they know the types of questions we’re hoping to understand: how did you first hear about Shroff’s? What motivated you to seek care there? Did you understand what the doctor told you about cataract surgery? Why haven’t you returned to Shroff’s for surgery? We receive very brief answers in return: I was very satisfied with my experience. I wouldn’t change anything; the doctors and facilities are the best. Now surrounded with a full crowd of villagers, I wonder how much this man feels like sharing with these foreigners who have suddenly descended upon him and his home.

Conducting our interview with a local farmer

Conducting our interview with a local farmer

As our translators work to glean why this man hasn’t returned to the hospital for surgery (he doesn’t have the time), Gagan and I start to realize the enormity of our task. Our goal is to find untapped sources of new paying patient revenue, so that the hospital can work towards financial sustainability. But as our interviews in the community continue (we only make it through two more before we’re completely wiped by the heat), we realize we will not find the patients we’re looking for here.

We discover that the sugar cane farmers are paid 1-2 times a year for their crop and are making at most $5,000 a year. If these villagers are challenged with the basics of transportation and finding the time to make the trip to the hospital, none of our fancy, MBA pricing models are going to make any bit of difference in this community. Our impression that these patients would price shop for their surgery is immediately dispelled once we realize the simple, minimal lifestyle that describes 80% of this entire state of 200 million people. It’s only Monday of our second week and we certainly have our work cut out for us to identify sources of paying patients.

We gathered quite the crowd!

We gathered quite the crowd!

Continued Reflections on Our Plastic Use

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

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

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

See reflections from our team members below.

Scott’s Reflections: Developing Gratitude and Empathy

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

Beautiful water and sky with branch

Kelly’s Reflections: Called to Action

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

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

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

Catherine’s Reflections: Demystifying Plastic Perceptions

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

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

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

To view additional photos from Team TBP, click here

How Three Weeks in the Bay Islands Changed our Perspective on Plastic

Beautiful water and boatsPOST 1: Written by Catherine Soler, Leslie Brian, Kelly Lamble, Scott Peacock and Sipian Wang

How three weeks in the Bay Islands changed our perspective on plastic

Prior to this consulting project, none of our team members had even heard of the Bay Islands. Now, we will never forget them. The beautiful lush scenery, the warm people, the exquisite sunsets – our IBD adventure was chock full of moments to remember. And yet, the most frequent way we will remember our time on this project will be through the sight of plastic.

The objective of our consulting project was to help Think Beyond Plastic (“TBP”), a Carmel-based NGO focused on plastic reduction through creative enterprise models, bolster its Mesoamerican Reef Plastic Reduction Initiative through the identification of business ideas and partnership opportunities. We explored the question:   

“How might we provide clean drinking water to the communities of the Bay Islands without a plastic footprint?”

And now, we will share the answer to another question that came from this work:

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

Pile of plastic and trash

Leslie’s Reflections: The Shield of Waste Management System

Our team came to the Bay Islands with the hypothesis that tourists were the problem behind plastic pollution. We were right, just not in the way I had first imagined.  Waste management is a problem in most developing countries, and the Bay Islands are no exception. A 16-year-old boy described how the trash outside his home would smell and attract dogs. The government simply stopped collecting trash at the end of last year due to mismanaged funds. What would I do in the absence of reliable waste management? Most likely, I’d do what the islanders do: throw trash in an uninhabited, public space.

Yes, plastic pollution is a problem in the Bay Islands, but an average person there consumes far less than an average person in the United States. The local people reuse everything out of economic necessity — kids use plastic bottles as toys. On an island, everything you consume has a direct impact on your surroundings, while in the US, our waste management system shields us from the impacts of our consumerism. I am certainly guilty of the mentality that once the garbage man comes, my trash is out of sight, out of mind. Yet, I don’t really know what happens next. My trip to the Bay Islands has pushed me to lift the lid on waste management in the US and not to rely on recycling to undo the effects of unnecessary consumption.

Sipian’s Reflections: Every Effort Counts

Sipian’s Reflections

Sipian’s Reflections

I was standing on a white sand beach in Utila. On my right hand side is one of the most gorgeous scenes I’ve ever seen with crystal-clear blue water and the colorful coral reefs underneath. On my left hand side, pieces of plastic waste can be spotted all over. In fact, the picture above captures only part of the plastic we picked up during a 3-hour cleanup: toothbrushes, straws, toys, etc.

Beyond government and institutional efforts, I believe our day-to-day actions are the key to reducing plastic footprint. Every piece of plastic waste we produce doesn’t disappear when we throw it into the trash can; it can end up somewhere in the ocean. While there is no quick path to minimize our plastic footprint, every small effort counts. Ask for no straw in your next drink, resell children’s plastic toys online, and reuse your solo cup.

Look for our next post to continue our team’s reflections here

 

 

Maximum Satisfaction: The IBD Max Warehouse Experience

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

Team Max WarehouseMay 31, 2018

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

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

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

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

Touring Guatemala in Style

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

Sunset in Antigua IBD

Sunset in Antigua IBD

culture.

Farewell to Guate.

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

IBD Team Belize aka Team Unbelizable – Week 2

Written by Hima Erukulla,  Andrew Lee, Jerry Philip, Srinivas Rajamani and Nik Reddy

Week 2

Backdrop of beautiful water sceneryIt had been nearly 2 months, 4 grueling Saturdays, 1 week in-country experience since the “Big Reveal” of our IBD project in May, but the energy and excitement of the team was still intact. It was due in no small to our project which was to develop a sustainable business model for WCS GLovers Reef Research Station Belize. That the entire project was set against the backdrop of a tropical island was icing on the cake.

Diving on the Weekend

Travel to island named Marisol

Travel to island named Marisol

As Friday dawned, island fever crept on us and we decided to give ourselves a break. Starting Friday afternoon we spent our time at the nearby island named Marisol. We made a lot of connections on this trip, but one of the most impressionable people that we met was our transporter – Seth.

While the PADI certified folks snorkeled in the gorgeous lagoon, two of us were sweating towards getting our PADI certification as we had a special event planned for Sunday. On Sunday morning, five of us along with a couple of dive instructors dove in the Glover’s Reef Atoll to unfurl the CAL flag at a depth of 100 feet underwater!

Team dove in the Glover’s Reef Atoll to unfurl the CAL flag at a depth of 100 feet underwater!

Team dove in the Glover’s Reef Atoll to unfurl the CAL flag at a depth of 100 feet underwater!

Back at Glover’s in the afternoon it hit us that it was our last day there. We spent the rest of the evening exchanging goodbyes, clicking pictures, swapping stories and went to bed reminiscing on all the good times.

 

Journey to Belize City

We were up early Monday morning as the boat was slated to leave at 6:30 AM with 9:00AM ETA in Belize City. Since the UCF students were traveling back with us it was slightly cramped but as the boat gently swayed we were too immersed in the vast ocean to be bothered with anything. Half an hour our ride, as we ventured deep into the ocean, one of the boat engines died with a with loud pop. Immediately, the boat started rocking violently with angry waves lashing at it. The boat captain cautiously maneuvered close to an island to send a signal to a rescue boat which was summoned to rescue us in the middle of the ocean. It was a long and choppy boat ride and, at one point, the fear was palpable in everyone’s face when the boat’s only working engine groaned, threatening to give up. Fortunately, we were safely transferred to the rescue boat before the engine could give out. We reached Belize City nearly two hours late, tired and extremely glad, given how precariously close the boat came to capsizing.

Final Presentation and Wrap up

We spent the rest of the week in WCS office working feverishly on the final report and presentation. Fortunately the World Cup semis coincided with two conveniently long lunch breaks.

Watching World Cup Semi Champs

Watching World Cup Semi Champs

Friday morning we presented our findings spanning our experience at the research station, journey, recommendations, and implementation playbook. As the presentation progressed it appeared as if WCS was connecting with the various sections, pausing to clarify, corroborating their earlier findings and having internal discussions as well.  At close, our audience seemed satisfied with the work and were eager to present our recommendations to the headquarters in New York. They then took us for an fantastic lunch at a popular restaurant that we were meaning to go to and gifted us Glover’s Station merchandise for our efforts.

After providing a final rundown of our analysis and models developed, we left the WCS office one last time after much hand shaking and mutual appreciation for getting to work on such a wonderful project together. We ended the evening celebrating the successful completion of our assignment in Belize City. 

Celebration lunch

Celebration lunch

Forever grateful to IBD and Haas for an amazing project. This assignment has been a rewarding opportunity to learn and an ideal setting to form lasting bonds!

 

 

GRRS Promo Video

https://berkeley.box.com/s/kzgo6ybzz75jkhw136ywkck1e54thzni

IBD Team Belize aka Team Unbelizable – Week 1

Written by Hima Erukulla,  Andrew Lee, Jerry Philip, Srinivas Rajamani and Nik Reddy

Sea Turtle at Belize Barrier Reef

Sea Turtle at Belize Barrier Reef

IBD Team Belize aka Team Unbelizable – Week 1

From the time we learned about our IBD summer project in May, we knew we were up for an amazing experience. Our assignment was to develop a sustainable business model for WCS Glover’s Reef Research Station in Belize. We spent most of June developing work streams to explore the business problem. Through extensive customer interviews, routine client interactions and pouring over their financial data we came up with the hypothesis that student groups are the most attractive customer segment and Glover’s should focus on scaling this customer segment to become sustainable. The next step was in- country experience to answer the questions – “how to scale” and “is the solution feasible”. It was now time to travel to the clients office in Belize.

Belize Barrier Reef

Belize Barrier Reef

June 25th – July 1st

Lobster for lunchOur first stop upon arrival in Belize was San Pedro. San Pedro is a popular tourist destination about 2 hour boat ride away from Belize City. It’s most prized possession is the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef on the planet.

Three of us (Andrew, Jerry and Srinivas) arrived earlier on 06/27. We were either already PADI certified or got certified on short notice to be ready for some of the best dives in the world – Half Moon Caye, Great Blue Hole, the Aquarium as well as other local dives. We captured extensive footage of green turtle, reef shark, rays, variety of fish, corals reefs and an interesting tug of war with a nurse shark.

The remaining two of us arrived on June 30th and the team was back together. The team was also fortunate to be in-country during the famous, annual Lobster Festival. We made friends with a local bartender, Dion Samuels, who acted as our unofficial tour guide for the weekend. With his guidance, we were able to explore the local cuisine and popular bars for a couple of days before bidding a fond farewell to San Pedro on July 1st, Sunday.

July 2nd

Monday morning we met the client at their office in Belize City and gave a presentation to update them on the work done so far. The presentation was well received, and the client appreciated our efforts and were looking forward to hearing our solutions.

After a quick lunch, it was time to visit the station itself. Glover’s Reef Research Station is located on the Middle Caye island of the Glovers Atoll, about a 3-hour boat ride from Belize City. We reached the island late afternoon, and after a quick orientation and a sumptuous dinner we called it a night after what was a very long, day.

July 3rd – July 8th

Life on Tropical Paradise: A typical day started at 8:00AM after breakfast which was served from 7-8am.

Morning: (8:00AM – 12PM)

Dining overlooking the oceanMornings were our high productivity time and we reserved it for brainstorming. We would meet in the library, which was a long room with a narrow center table, a few chairs, white board and two wall fans. It was far cry from the conference rooms we were accustomed to at Haas.

We would then discuss our potential solutions with the operations manager, Kenneth, to check for its feasibility in implementation. We would also walk around the island to interview the staff to learn about the facilities and its operations. Our goal was to evaluate if the station had capacity to handle an increase in customer volume.

Afternoon (12:00PM -5:00PM)

Lunch was served in a cozy dining area adjoining the kitchen. They were both located on the second floor overlooking the ocean. Pristine beach views made for a luxurious dining experience to an otherwise modest and rustic dining area.

Afternoons, we worked in the wet lab and focused on execution work. We would usually break into solo or smaller groups to work on feasibility/ROI analysis and other research and documentation tasks. Our favorite hangout spot by far, for work or pleasure, was the Wet Lab. The Wet Lab at Glover’s is a large square open air area, filled with benches, tables, chairs and HAMMOCKS. There was also a 360 degree view of the island – an ideal setting to temper the tediousness in execution tasks.

Evening (5:00PM -10:00PM)After Volleyball

Volleyball Time. We played volleyball with the staff every day. Initially it was Haas vs. GRRS/Belize Coast Guard but soon we mixed up the teams. These volleyball matches got quite intense, but they were a lot of fun. There was also a match between the UCF students and Haas & GRRS. Naturally, Haas dominated UCF, even winning the first game with a 21-0 sweep.

Volleyball was followed by dinner. Similar to lunch, the dinner menu was elaborate and included salad, a couple of main dishes, a side dish, dessert and fruit drinks. To say that every meal at Glover’s was exceptionally delicious is a gross understatement. All thanks to Rushell – chatty, patient and a brilliant chef. We would then retreat to the hammocks in the Wet Lab and relax in the fierce but warm tropical breeze for some reading, reflection, banter and bonding. Of course, we also hydrated with some fresh coconut water. Despite spending an entire day together on a remote island, we still looked forward to this time to get know each other more, form stronger bonds and become better friends.

Playing VolleyballAs blissful as this life sounds, it was not without its challenges. Andrew, Jerry, Nik and Srini were crammed into a tiny room and had to deal with a particularly stubborn gecko every night. Nik invariably made the gecko’s daily musings the topic of every breakfast meal. Sand flies did have a feast on some more than others. A/C was a luxury we could only dream about and internet was at best intermittent and non-existent at worst. Despite these challenges, time spent on this tropical paradise was productive, relaxing, fun. The team was able to make beautiful memories to last us a lifetime.

Stay tuned for part two which covers deep sea diving on the weekend, an “adventurous” boat ride back, and wrapping up in the main office in Belize City.

Hydrating with Coconut Water

 

 

Check out next weeks Haas In the World Blog for the second student blog from Team Belize which will include a video.

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

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

Team Yirendai after Final Presentation

Team Yirendai after Final Presentation

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

Client and project overview

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

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

Project Details

Team Yirendai in IBD Class at Haas

Team Yirendai in IBD Class at Haas

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

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

Cultural Immersion

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

Team Yirendai at the Great Wall of China

Team Yirendai at the Great Wall of China

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

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

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

Team Yirendai at the Beijing Opera

Team Yirendai at the Beijing Opera

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

 

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

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

Logan Gallogly, and ​Renee Medina

Changing the trajectory of Uganda’s tourism sector

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

Making an impact with a dedicated audience

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

Our project approach

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

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

Where we visited

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

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

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

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

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