Spring 2020 IBD Teams Deliver!

Video

Team Maston Oy presenting their final presentation to their client

IBD Team Maston Oy presenting their final presentation to their client

As we complete this year’s demanding spring semester IBD course — unexpectedly impacted by the sudden COVID-19 pandemic — we want to highlight the outstanding work accomplished by our 80 Full Time MBA students.  Among these, 16 IBD student Team Leads in particular deserve special mention.  They willingly took on expected Team Lead responsibilities, including managing their MBA peers and project clients in the midst of a global health crisis and unforeseen shifts in project scope.  None of these IBD students were able to travel overseas to complete the complex project work they had begun in January with their clients and MBA teammates.  Despite that, they recently completed the remote delivery of final project recommendations that made a real and valuable impact on their clients’ organizations.

We would like to share below some of the comments we received from our spring semester 2020 IBD clients, following the successful delivery of final project recommendations by their student teams.  Also included below are a few impressions we recorded from this year’s IBD Faculty Mentors and Team Leads.

2020 IBD Clients:

“The benchmarking, revenue modeling and pricing structure proposal we received were excellent, and have left us with valuable tools and reference materials that we’ll use across the lifetime of the business.”  Ross McConnell​,​ Blinder Limited

 

“We sincerely appreciate the hard work, dedication and extensive collaboration of the IBD team. Despite the global widespread of the Coronavirus and consequent cancellation of the India trip, the IBD team still came out with a substantive report. We are extremely grateful for their valuable contribution.”  Gaurav Mohan, Dura-Line India

 

“The group work was very much visible and each member gave their best while preparing the implementation plan. The team efforts are commendable and contributed greatly to the final deliverable while ensuring the larger good for the hospital.”  Kuldeep Singh, Seva Foundation

 

“These months working with the IBD team were of great value to us, both for the process of building the project and for the legacy it leaves.”  Guilherme Quandt, Softplan

 

“I’m so impressed that our IBD team is managing to keep their motivation and work ethic despite the challenging pandemic environment, along with being even able to conduct the necessary research. Our team produced valuable strategic guidance for us.”  Auli Parviainen, Maston Oy

Faculty Mentors:

“The team did a lot of heavy lifting in the final weeks of the project, and it all came together well with a solid recommendation to proceed with Hilltribe Organic organic desserts. The  team’s creativity and success interviewing potential channel partners and Thai consumers was particularly impressive, and their survey results indicating how to position, price and roll out the offering will be invaluable as the client moves forward.”  Judy Hopelain, Faculty Mentor, Team Hilltribe Organics

 

“It’s been lots of hard work, and they went the extra mile more than once, but this is the kind of presentation and effort that will get you remembered (and promoted)!” Olaf Groth, Faculty Mentor,  Team SAP Ariba

Team Leads:

“I am proud of the deliverables we presented to our client. In fact, they invited a few high-ranking executives to the presentation, so they must have felt confident about our project and final recommendations.”  Eddie Consigliere, Team Lead, Team MEC

 

“I really appreciated the team’s integrity and their ability to put the team first and put the work first, and to want to produce something that we were proud to put our name on.”  Josh Raines, Team Lead, Team SAP Ariba  

 

“We had a valuable and fun experience learning how to work within an immersive cross-cultural business environment through the IBD program. We enjoyed getting to know our client and about the China-US investment environment; it was a really great opportunity for us to complete a full end-to-end international strategy engagement.”  Oriana Chu, Team Lead, Team ToJoy

Enjoy this video of IBD Team Lead Emily Lapham sharing her thoughts on the team’s final deliverable to project client Entrepreneurs Without Borders.

Congratulations to all of our spring semester 2020 IBD student teams in accomplishing so much for so many clients in such a difficult environment.  Well done!

IBD teams hear from their peers on how to manage through uncertain times

Our lives changed drastically in the month of March when California residents and students were told to shelter in place due to the increasing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.  All UC Berkeley and Haas classes – including the IBD program – transitioned to remote only, and IBD project travel scheduled for May was put on hold.

In spite of these disruptive changes, our spring semester FTMBA IBD project teams continued to work diligently and remotely on consulting projects with international clients.  The current group of IBD students is now preparing to offer their project solutions to clients at the end of the semester in early May.  In talking with these outstanding IBD students, we increasingly came to appreciate the life experiences they brought to their project teams – and how helpful these can be in a time of crisis.  Recently we invited a few current and former IBD students to share their experiences of leading through difficult times.  As IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier put it, “There are so many students in this class who have impressive backgrounds and have spent their careers working in uncertainty. We can really learn a lot from each other.”

2019 Team Lead Jenny Nixon with her SAP Ariba Team

2019 Team Lead Jenny Nixon with her SAP Ariba Team

Jenny Nixon, ‘20 MBA candidate and 2019 IBD Team Lead

Jenny Nixon, a second year FTMBA student and a 2019 IBD Team Lead, spoke to the IBD class about her experience of leading through adversity.  Before coming to Berkeley Haas, Jenny was a combat medic and a US Army Officer and Commander in charge of leading Blackhawk Helicopter missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Jenny shared with the current IBD Team Leads this advice from her background of leading military teams:

  • Know your people.  Know their situation and how decisions impact them and what is on their mind.
  • Believe in and convey the importance in what they are doing.
  • Be more flexible.  Be able to talk one on one with your team members and pivot if they need a different experience.

She also had words of wisdom on what NOT to do as a leader:

  • Don’t be invulnerable and act like you are unaffected.
  • Don’t pretend that everything is ok when it’s not; face the problem directly.
  • Be open to hearing concerns and letting people vent, but don’t let it become an echo chamber for negativity.

In assessing the project experience in front of each IBD student, Jenny emphasized that “more than ever, it is important to focus on the task at hand as this is an opportunity to help an organization right now, during a very difficult time globally, in a real way.”  

2020 Team China – Megan Reichert, Geoffrey Easterling, Harshita Mira Venkatesh, Jordan Woodall, María del Mar Londoño Jaramillo (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

Geoff Easterling, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Member

Geoff Easterling, a current IBD Team Member, talked to the IBD class about a particularly tough time he experienced in leading his team as a Fire Direction Officer in Afghanistan in 2014-2015.  After thinking that they had reached the end of their overseas deployment, Geoff and a small group of soldiers were directed to remain in Afghanistan for an additional three months.  Geoff managed to help his team get over this sudden and disappointing change far from home.  He and his group found renewed relevance in their work as a unit, forming a bond that Geoff cherishes to this day.

Josh Raines-Teague

2020 Team Lead, Josh Raines-Teague

Josh Raines, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Lead

Josh Raines, a current IBD Team Lead, spent time as a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP.  He worked with many organizations involved in global health issues, including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention during the Ebola and Zika crises.  Josh mentioned to the IBD class that in times of uncertainty, he recommends reverting to established frameworks and systems:

“If paired with what you know to be true (the facts), these systems allow you to not only to feel in control but to actually be in control. It’s these times of uncertainty where integrity and commitment to the team despite obstacles really comes to the fore and makes all the difference. Ultimately, this will prove to be an incredible and valuable learning experience.” 

Emily Lapham, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Lead

Emily Lapham

2020 Team Lead, Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham is a current IBD Team Lead.  Prior to coming to Berkeley Haas, she worked as an Emergency Management Senior Analyst for the Cadmus Group – a consulting firm focused on homeland security and environmental issues.  Emily talked to the IBD class about the constant “exercising” her Cadmus Group team would do in order to prepare for times when everyday assumptions were no longer possible:

“I would advise Team Leads to think through different paths towards the same objective. This requires clarifying what the high-level objective truly is for the client. And then, instead of dwelling on the fact that we are seemingly falling on a “Plan B” (or C or D or E…), reframe it as another path to support a larger objective. For example, is it to explore a potential new business line or is it to assess diversification of revenue, and exploring a new business line was a means of doing that? If it is the latter, in a time of uncertainty or crisis, focusing on the larger objective (in this case, diversifying revenue) provides space for creativity.”

Emily admits that she is an eternal optimist, and she firmly believes that it is during times like these that there are opportunities to do a lot of good.  She wants her peers to remember that if they can “think through how our clients can best serve their customers at this moment,” it will “help make them stronger in serving non-traditional or new groups of clients going forward.”

IBD Faculty Mentors

In addition to our IBD students, the IBD Faculty Mentors also spoke up during the recent conversation about how to manage through adversity.  They emphasized that this current experience will be rich with learning opportunities for MBAs.  “Step up now,” said Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth, “and rest assured that employers will want to hear about how you handled yourself and your team during these tough times. Resilience leadership is a highly prized skill.”  Olaf concluded by telling the class: “There are good horizons beyond every crisis. Let’s all saddle up!”

 

 

 

IBD Team Hilltribe Organics enjoys an evening of baking and bonding

 

Team Hilltribe - Thais Esteves, Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Santiago Correa Posada (Not in the order of the photo)

Team Hilltribe – Thais Esteves, Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Santiago Correa Posada (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

Hilltribe Organics (HTO) is an intriguing social enterprise focused on Thailand.  It was created as part of a YPO competition that aimed to foster an entrepreneurship mindset among young leaders and to define solutions to help marginalized farmers’ communities in Thailand.  Today HTO’s mission is to achieve long term sustainability for the rural farming families of the socially marginalized hill tribe communities of Northern Thailand. Since launching in 2014, HTO has become the #1 organic free range egg brand in Thailand based on the high quality of their eggs and sustainable production.

 Richard Blossom, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Thais Esteves, Santiago Correa Posada, Burton Mendonca, Ana Alanis

Richard Blossom, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Thais Esteves, Santiago Correa Posada, Burton Mendonca, Ana Alanis

The current spring semester IBD project team has been asked to develop a business strategy to allow HTO to expand beyond organic egg production into organic dessert production in Thailand and the surrounding region.  Last month the IBD team took advantage of a rare opportunity to meet their project client in person — well before the California shelter in place directive was announced. HTO Co-Founder and CEO Richard W. Blossom invited the IBD team to his home in the Bay Area soon after the entire student team was formed in late February.

Student Team Lead Thais Esteves and Team Members Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, and Santiago Correa Posada all joined Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain at Richard’s home to work on baking and sampling potential organic dessert items as part of the current IBD project.  As Judy Hopelain reported afterwards, “This kind of informal interaction usually doesn’t happen until teams are in-country. It was an amazing opportunity to get to know the client and their story behind the company in a relaxed setting at the beginning of the project.”

Ana and Santiago cooking

Ana and Santiago cooking

In addition to experimenting and baking desserts with HTO organic eggs, that night the IBD team was treated to an organic pasta dinner courtesy of Perfect Earth Foods, which uses raw materials from farmers in Thailand.  As HTO CEO Richard Blossom said after the event, “The best way to think about a food project is to cook and eat the product! Plus it’s a great way to get to know about the project and one another.”

Learning more from Richard about Perfect Earth Foods and HTO

Learning more from Richard about Perfect Earth Foods and HTO

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.”

Conclusion

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.

The 2020 IBD Program Has Officially Kicked Off! 

Team Leads and Faculty Mentors

2020 Spring Team Leads and Faculty Mentors

One of the IBD staff’s favorite days of the entire program is the Team Lead Big Reveal event.  On January 23rd, the first day of spring semester FTMBA IBD class, the Team Leads entered the Berkeley Haas classroom not knowing anything about their projects.  Although they shared beforehand something of their preferences for project industry and destination, the assignment to their respective projects was in the hands of the IBD staff and Faculty Director Whitney Hischier.  It was during this Big Reveal class that student Team Leads finally learned what kind of project and industry they had been assigned to, where their project countries were located, and where they would spend their final three weeks of in-country project work in May/June.  It was a fun, exciting and revealing morning for all involved — IBD faculty, staff and students.

The spring 2020 IBD student Team Leads shared with us their impressions of the IBD Big Reveal event, what they are looking forward to in working with their new project clients, and how they intend to engage with the student Team Members who will be assigned later to their teams.  Please see their comments below. 

Adolfo Quesada Viciana

Adolfo Quesada Viciana

“I was really surprised about how excited and at the same time nervous we all were about the Big Reveal! I hadn’t felt that way probably since the Haas admissions call day! At the end, we are going to spend 3 months of remote work and 1 month on the ground for a specific client and in an exciting new region!“ Adolfo Quesada Viciana – Thailand project

Akshay Dalmia

Akshay Dalmia

“I was super stoked to hear about the destination and project. I have never worked in Brazil, and partnering with an innovative SaaS company to establish a corporate venture capital arm really excites me! I look forward to working with an incredible group of Haasies to learn, have fun and deliver meaningful value for the client!“  Akshay Dalmia – Brazil project

 

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo

“After waiting patiently for several months for the Big Reveal, I was so thrilled when I found out my project would be based in Finland.  I’ve never been there yet, so I’m eager to meet my client and get the project started. I’m positive this will be a rewarding experience as I’ll get to learn from not only the project itself, but also from my team, mentor and client.  Plus, I’m excited about the beautiful scenery, plentiful saunas, and endless sunshine in Finland during the summer months!” Cassandra Salcedo – Finland project

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann

‘It was great getting together with all the other Team Leads and learning where everyone was going. I am very excited to get to know my client and better understand how we can help them!”  Charlie Davidmann – Thailand project

 

Devan Courtois

Devan Courtois

“I am so excited to work with a client who cares about two of my passions — education and healthcare — and to learn about the unique challenges that my client faces given their location and mission.”  Devan Courtois – Ghana project

 

Eduardo Consigliere

Eduardo Consigliere

“I’m really excited about my project! It involves re-thinking a region’s economic landscape and future potential. I’m excited to form a team of passionate individuals and get to work!”  Eduardo Consigliere – Japan project

 

Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham

“I am very excited to be working with my client as they continue to grow as a young organization. Their commitment to building a more sustainable world through entrepreneurship is inspiring and aligned with my personal and professional goals.”  Emily Lapham – Sweden project

 

Jorge Abreu

Jorge Abreu

“I’m anxious to get to know my client better! The first touch points will be fundamentally important to set the base for our work in the next couple of months. Mapping and closing potential cultural differences, and adding structure and a timeline to the project, will help both sides to control anxiety and work effectively on the subject-matter!”  Jorge Abreu – Finland project

 

Josh Raines-Teague

Josh Raines-Teague

“Not only am I thrilled that my team and I get to travel this spring to an amazing location, but we get to work with a wonderful and supportive client who’s inviting us to have a real and pivotal impact on driving his business forward.”   Josh Raines-Teague – Germany project

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds

“I’m really excited to get to work on my project. I secretly think I got the best project, but I’m biased. Can’t wait to get to work to help patients across the globe.”  Julie Reynolds – India project

 

Krutika Pursnani

Krutika Pursnani

“I am really looking forward to getting to know the client and the industry more — it is a challenging and fascinating space and in a stunning location! Also excited to have a team of what I am sure will be incredibly talented Haasies.”  Krutika Pursnani – Brazil project

 

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto

“I feel very lucky to have been assigned to a great project in an incredible country I have always wanted to know. I’m sure this will be a wonderful experience and I’m excited to get to work!” Luisa Bisinoto – India project

 

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert

“I’m really looking forward to the (Team Member) draft; I can’t wait to bring together an incredibly talented team to tackle (what I think) is an interesting and challenging project!”  Megan Reichert – China project

 

Oriana Chiu

Oriana Chiu

“I loved seeing the diversity of different projects, countries and industries — and also seeing the enthusiasm and focus from all the team leads as we plan how to tackle these exciting new projects!”  Oriana Chiu – China project

 

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves

“I couldn’t be more excited about the location, theme and client. Can’t wait to start working with the rest of the team!”  Thais Esteves – Thailand project

 

Victor Gorrachategui

Victor Gorrachategui

“AMAZING. I would have never imagined that I would be doing a project in New Zealand. I am so lucky and so grateful for the chance that IBD is giving me. This is the best destination that I could have wished for and an extremely interesting and thrilling project. I cannot wait to build up the team and start together this fascinating journey!”  Victor Gorrachategui – New Zealand project

  • End of the Team Lead Quotes

Our IBD Faculty Mentors shared their thoughts about the Team Lead Big Reveal event as well!

“I am delighted to be back as mentor and support four teams helping clients in four countries (and three continents).” IBD Faculty Mentor Jon Metzler

“With so many great projects around the world, addressing issues ranging from B2B to B2C to Social Enterprise to infrastructure, it’s going to be a great semester for our IBD students!” IBD Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain

“It was the kind of kickoff that makes you realize how blessed and privileged one is as a faculty member to help hone some amazing young leaders from across the globe to solve big, interesting challenges for organizations in all corners of the world.”  IBD Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth

Olaf Groth meeting with his Team Leads

Olaf Groth meeting with his Team Leads

“The IBD Team Lead Big Reveal is intense and the culmination of many months of work.  David (IBD Executive Director David Richardson) traveled the globe to source great projects for our program; we interviewed MANY fantastic applicants to be Team Leads: and finally we matched the selected 16 with the best projects based on client needs, student background and interests.  It is so much fun to watch the Team Leads’ faces when they find out what they’ll be working on — a mix of excitement and perhaps a touch of anxiety for the journey ahead!” IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier

 

IBD Project Client Interview: Sandro Valeri, Director of Innovation Strategy at Embraer

Written by Danner Doud-Martin

Embraer in 2019 IBD Project with Embraer São José dos Campos Brazil

Photo from IBD Team as they worked in the office alongside the Embraer runway, sounds of test flights overhead brought a constant reminder of what we were here to achieve, an Embraer ready for the future

In the spring of 2019, the Berkeley Haas IBD program and a team of five of its MBA students worked with one of Brazil’s most well known companies, Embraer. The IBD project team consisted of Full Time MBA students Brian Bell, Swamit Mehta, Erlangga Renggana, Kylie Sale, and Quinn Sure. From January to early May 2019, the IBD student team worked on their project while here at Berkeley Haas, partnering with Embraer’s Innovation team, led by Sandro Valeri, Director of Innovation Strategy. In mid-May the IBD student team traveled to Embraer’s facilities in São José dos Campos and São Paulo, Brazil, to work for three weeks on-site with Sandro and his team. The IBD students had an incredible learning experience working on this project, and they felt it was a privilege and a pleasure to work with Embraer and the Innovation team. Writing in their in-country blog during the project, the student team said that their “IBD project came at a fascinating turning point in the company’s history. Embraer recently sold its commercial division to Boeing and is being split down the middle, renamed, and re-envisioned. As the new Embraer emerges with its remaining defense, executive jets, and services divisions, leadership determined that innovation is critical for the company’s future ability to grow, especially in the competitive and rapidly changing global aviation industry.” To read more of the IBD student team’s blog, click here.

Sandro Valeri, Embraer

Sandro Valeri, Embraer

Meet the Client: Sandro Valeri, Embraer

At the conclusion of the 2019 IBD program year, IBD had the opportunity to interview Sandro Valeri about the recent Embraer IBD project, including what it was like to collaborate with the IBD program and our Berkeley Haas MBA students. Please enjoy the interview with Sandro Valeri below.

IBD Interviewer: How do you view your relationship with Berkeley Haas, including your relationship with the Berkeley Innovation Forum (BIF)? Why did you engage with MBA students at Berkeley Haas?
Sandro Valeri: This is the first year that we engaged in this type of relationship with Berkeley Haas and the IBD program. You (the IBD team) understand our needs, our problems, and you understand that we are a corporation. You understand that we don’t speak English very well – and this is good! And what I’m looking for in this relationship with Haas? Im looking for a management practice, and business practice, that is on the edge of all the practice in the world. And that’s why we started this relationship with the Berkeley Innovation Forum (BIF) – that has been great so far. They’re really good with not only making us question our processes, but good results as well. And why MBA students? I like to work with MBA students in all the various universities in the US, and this year was the first experiment with Haas. I already had some work with Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. Especially the IBD team in Brazil, they were great! They were outstanding professionals. They had serious conversations about changing management services, and how we can advance different processes in big companies like us, and how we can be on the edge with our practices. You (the IBD team) refresh the way we think, so for us it is very important to have such students here, because for us, it refreshes our minds, and we trust once you come from the best universities.

Embraer’s Innovation Team and Haas IBD Team enjoying a Brazilian BBQ hosted by Sandro

Embraer’s Innovation Team and Haas IBD Team enjoying a Brazilian BBQ hosted by Sandro

IBD Interviewer: You’ve worked with all MBA students from these other universities, is there a difference that you can see in the Berkeley Haas student or do they all kind of blend together?
Sandro Valeri: No no, they’re different. Each university has a kind of… not talent, but a vocation. There are some things that are common. They are all hard workers, and they are all very smart. This is common. If I compare Berkeley to the others, I see you are more open to new ideas. You explore more, and I see that you explore more with a broader view. It seems like you provide them [the IBD students] the background, that they have a broad background so the discussion came with different perspectives and points of view, so this is much different than the others. The others, they are more straight.

The Haas IBD Team at Embraer’s facility in São José dos Campos

IBD Interviewer: How was it comparing MBA students with professional management consulting firms like McKinsey and Company?
Sandro Valeri: I don’t like big consulting firms because they have everything preset. They have that knowledge base and they try to say this is the way it works and you should do it like I say. And when I came to IBD, you adapt to the problem, and you understand the problem. They [the IBD student team] asked a lot of different questions and they presented a lot of different options. They didn’t have this rush to solve the problem. If this was on behavior, they behave like McKinsey, exactly like that. They did the hard work, they worked a lot, and all materials were very professional and very deep. Even the discussions they had in Brazil were great with the executives. We went to talk to two of my bosses and to the other VPs, and they had exactly the same kind of conversation. I can say even a little bit better because they were not trying to stay with one position. They tried to understand the problem. Very valuable for me.

IBD Interviewer: You mentioned that Embraer is taking some of the IBD student team’s recommendations and incorporating them in your strategy moving forward. Is that correct?
Sandro Valeri:
Yes, that is a correct statement.

IBD Interviewer: And what is on the horizon for this approach in regards to innovation for Embraer?
Sandro Valeri: The proposal they (the IBD student team) did was composed by two drivers. One, how we should set the portfolio and the criteria; and then the second one, how we should manage the portfolio. We used something like half of their proposals and it was great. Next year we are going to implement the portfolio management so we still have some cushion when we start the project from January on. So we defined the project and the criteria; we analyzed the project using the criteria and the idea now is to implement.

IBD Interviewer: Now that you have had this experience with the IBD student team, do you think others in your department would be convinced that student consultants are valuable?
Sandro Valeri: Yes, I think our department, Embraer X, loved the experience working with IBD. So they start explaining this to the Information Team, my colleagues, and special people in the Technology Development..they like it a lot.

IBD Interviewer: Is there anything else you want to share?
Sandro Valeri: Perhaps it is important to say that we are in a turnaround phase right now and we need new strategies and new ways of thinking to revamp ourselves. Due to this process, IBD was great to help us to get there.

This concludes our interview with Sandro Valeri, Director of Innovation Strategy at Embraer. The IBD program is grateful for the opportunity to work with Embraer and Sandro’s Innovation team, and we hope to continue our partnership in the future.

Congratulations to the Spring Semester 2020 IBD Project Team Leads!

This year we were once again fortunate to have a group of talented Berkeley Haas MBA students apply for the spring semester IBD student Team Lead position.  Each project Team Lead brings a unique perspective, set of skills, and experience to the role.  We would like to share something about each of them, including why they applied to be a Team Lead and what they hope to gain from the IBD experience.  Enjoy!

Adolfo at Dolomites skiing this past spring

Adolfo in the Dolomites skiing this past spring

Adolfo Quesada Viciana: 

Adolfo spent most of his career prior to coming to Berkeley Haas at Deloitte Consulting in Madrid, Spain. In addition to his extensive consulting background, Aldofo co-founded and managed a small event-planning business throughout high school and university.  Adolfo is passionate about skiing takes the time to pursue it several months every winter and spring.

“I hope to collaborate to create stronger bonds among the team while at the same time looking for the best outcome for our client, in a challenging environment in which we will be exposed to uncertainty and quick decision making. I also would love to get immersed in the culture of the country and region where we will be located, learning from our client, mentors and communities around us, taking advantage as a team of the unique opportunity that IBD will provide to us.” –  Adolfo Quesada Viciana

Akshay rafting

Akshay Dalmia

Akshay Dalmia:

Prior to coming to Berkeley Haas, Akshay was senior consultant and analyst at Ernst & Young and Orios Venture Partners in Mumbai, India. He has a passion for volunteering, youth education, and traveling — he has visited 45 countries.

“The IBD program is an incredible platform to partner with an international client to help solve real business issues they face. It helps us apply the concepts in class in a practical context and stay plugged into the global business environment while studying.” –Akshay Dalmia

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo

Cassandra Salcedo: 

Cassandra has experience working across multiple industries including nonprofit, technology and financial services. Most recently she worked with Pro Mujer International, a social enterprise, empowering underserved women in Latin America. Cassandra also likes hiking and salsa dancing.

As an IBD Team Lead, I will continue to push myself and my teammates outside of our comfort zones in order to make our IBD adventure an unforgettable experience.  I am excited for this opportunity to bring together a diverse group of people, learn from each other’s perspectives, take personal and professional risks as a team and help each other grow in the process.  The journey is the reward!” – Cassandra Salcedo

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann

Charlie Davidmann: 

The majority of Charlie’s career has been with Morgan Stanley in London, and most recently as an associate in UK Mergers and Acquisitions.  Charlie is an international athlete and has represented Great Britain in competitive target shooting. 

“The IBD program was one of the reasons I applied to Haas, and building my leadership abilities is one of my main goals while here. I want to help my team have a material impact on a major project. I also want to experience leading a team outside of the western world!” Charlie Davidmann

Devan Courtois:

Devan Courtois

Devan Courtois

Post college, Devan worked for two years in Houston, Texas with Teach for America (TFA). After TFA, Devan moved on to Deloitte as a Strategy and Operations Business Analyst. Devan also spent time teaching English in Cusco, Peru.  She loves hiking, running and backpacking.

“One of my goals for coming to Haas was to improve my leadership skills and to learn best practices for effectively managing teams. Becoming an IBD Lead is one of the best opportunities Haas offers to refine these skills, and to use best practices learned in the classroom to lead a team of my peers and take on a manager-level role on a consulting engagement.” –Devan Courtois

Eddie Consigliere

Eddie Consigliere

Eduardo Consigliere:

Eddie most recent work was with Juntos Global, as a client Services Manager, supporting Latin America.  He also led several teams as a Senior Auditor at Ernst & Young.  Eddie enjoys cooking Peruvian food, indoor climbing and yoga.

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I believe the IBD program will be one of the most meaningful experiences of my time at Haas, and I wanted to have an active role in making it memorable for my classmates. Leading a team through a global consulting project is an incredible opportunity to further develop the skills I’ll need to be successful as I pursue a career in consulting after Haas. I believe that understanding how organizations operate abroad is important in order to foster greater empathy for clients and stakeholders in an increasingly global context.” – Eduardo Consigliere

Emily Lapham:

Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham:

Emily has background in global business operations and consulting for private and public sector entities. She sent time prior to Haas at the Cadmus Group in Washington, D.C. working as an Emergency Management Senior Analyst and at Northrop Grumman. Emily has completed four marathons and six half marathons. 

“As someone with an academic and professional background in international business, a desire to hone my consulting skill set, and an enthusiasm for travel, I felt that being a Team Lead would be a perfect position to combine my professional and personal interests. In my first job out of college, I worked with our company’s international offices on a day to day basis, often communicating with colleagues from 3-4 different time zones within a single day. I grew so much during this time, both as a professional and as a person, and I wanted to be a Team Lead to continue this learning trajectory.” Emily Lapham

Jorge Abreu cycling in Rio

Jorge Abreu cycling in Rio

Jorge Abreu:

Jorge has spent the majority of his career working for Roland Berger, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a Consultant.  Prior to Roland Berger, Jorge was an intern at Imerys in Paris, France and Hanoi, Vietnam.  In addition to Portuguese and English, Jorge speaks Spanish and French.

“I applied to be a Team Lead in IBD due to three main reasons: (i) to keep exploring and learning how different cultures influence businesses worldwide; (ii) to challenge myself as a leader, seizing this unique opportunity of leading a highly skilled team through a complex and ambiguous scenario; and (iii) to develop and sharpen hard and soft consulting skills such as project management, problem solving, client relationship, teamwork and communication.” – Jorge Abreu

Josh Raines-Teague:

Josh Raines-Teague in the mountains

Josh Raines-Teague in the mountains

Josh is in the concurrent MBA and Master of Public Health (MBA/MPH) program. Prior to Haas, Josh was a Senior Consultant at Deloitte working primarily with public sector health clients on a variety of projects aimed at improving our country’s ability to respond to emergencies. Josh is also a semi-professional musician with over ten years’ experience performing symphonic repertoire with orchestras and chamber ensembles. 

“I applied to be a Team Lead for IBD because I know that the best way to learn how to lead is by doing it. If I can develop my leadership skills while working on an impactful real-world issue and learning about another country and culture, then the proposition becomes impossible to pass up.” – Josh Raines-Teague

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds

Julie Reynolds:

Julie is also in the MBA/MPH program.  Julie has a healthcare background, having spent the majority of her career with Foundation Medicine and Shire PLC.  Most recently, Julie was a manager on the corporate development and strategy team at Foundation Medicine, although she started her career as a public accountant at E&Y. Julie is a marathoner and is chasing a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

“I applied to be a Team Lead because I wanted a challenging real world leadership experience.  I managed teams earlier in my career but haven’t managed people directly for the last three years.  Coming out of business school, I want to be ready to lead teams and thought IBD would be a good way for me to exercise my management skills.  I also love to travel (and eat good food while traveling), so IBD seemed like a win-win opportunity, combining a professional experience with something I love to do in my spare time.“ – Julie Reynolds

Krutika Pursna dancing "Kathak"

Krutika Pursna dancing “Kathak”

Krutika Pursna:

Until coming to Haas, Krutika was the Outreach Director (and founder) for SheSays, a women’s empowerment organization in India. She is also a consultant at E&Y in advisory services.  Krutika is a dancer, practicing classical “Kathak” as part of B.A. degree from the Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya Mandaland, and a Belly Dance instructor.

“I applied to be IBD Team Lead because I hope to put together a team that not only comes from different backgrounds and is able to work well together and get along, but also one that is looking to learn and share expertise. In that way, as a lead my job would be to mainly facilitate these learnings and help those around me grow with the project.” -Krutika Pursna

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto

Luisa Bisinoto:

Before coming to Haas, Luisa worked at Accenture Strategy in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, as manager and business consultant. Her expertise includes strategic and organizational planning, and developing/implementing cost optimization strategies. Luisa enjoys sports, especially volleyball.

“As I advance in my career, it becomes more clear to me that managing people (bosses, co-workers, clients…) and getting them to work productively as a team constitutes the most important part of any job, and I would much like to get better at it. I believe leadership is not innate, and to get good at it we need to practice, learn and improve every day – and this was the main reason why I applied to be a Team Lead.” – Luisa Bisinoto

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert

Megan Reichert:

The majority of Megan’s career has been as a business analyst and consultant at Deloitte Consulting focused on environmental sustainability and design innovation. Before coming to Haas, Megan spent four months working with a for profit organization called Accite Holdings in Botswana and South Africa, and in Winneba, Ghana with Challenging Heights, a non profit.

“I hope to gain greater leadership perspective by leading a team of talented peers to help balance all of their individual interests, skills, and objectives while also meeting the needs of our client. I also hope to form deep friendships as we throw ourselves into a new work environment and spend three weeks together in a foreign country.” – Megan Reichert

Oriana WWOOFing (voluntourism) in the southern Netherlands at a local organic vineyard!

Oriana WWOOFing (voluntourism) in the southern Netherlands at a local organic vineyard!

Oriana Chiu:

Oriana has worked with Deloitte Consulting as a consultant and business technology analyst for her entire career.  Oriana was the networking lead and nonprofit liaison for Women’s Bond Club, an organization for women in financial services. She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and Spanish.  

“I hope to experience how to successfully create a productive and fun team environment while in a different &/new cultural environment.” Oriana Chiu

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves

Thais Esteves:

Thais most recently worked at BCG–The Boston Consulting Group in São Paulo, Brazil, as a consultant.  She has worked with many industries during her time at BCG, including sustainability, food-systems, agriculture, education, and impact investing strategy.  Thais is passionate about social impact, and continues to work with a São Paulo global social impact organization called Inspiring Girls.

“For me, being a good leader is the most critical point to achieve success in any career path. I believe being an IBD team lead will enable me to continue developing my leadership skills; leveraging my past experiences as a consultant to lead a team of highly capable MBAs; understanding each team member’s motivations and how to work together to deliver impact for our client; and at the same time, ensuring a great experience for everyone in the team. I am really excited – it is gonna be a lot of learning, and a lot of fun! “ Thais Esteves

Victor as goalkeeper at semi-professional level for over 17 years

Victor as goalkeeper at semi-professional level for over 17 years

Victor Gorrachategui:

Victor most recently served as associate at A.T. Kearney in Madrid, Spain.  Throughout his career working as a strategy consultant, Victor has worked on a variety of industries including consumer goods, analytics, retail, and oil & gas. Victor has pursued Aerospace Engineering with great passion, including taking pilot lessons for light aircraft.  He is also an avid player of chess and soccer. 

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to create (as a Team Lead) and be a part of such a transformational personal and professional experience that IBD is. I hope not only to continue broadening my perspectives on how business is done in different parts of the world and learning from other cultures, but also to live this experience with a great group of Haassies that will hopefully become a close group of friends for the rest of my life!” Victor Gorrachategui

We look forward to working with all of these terrific student Team Leads in January when the spring semester IBD course begins.

IBD Alumni Interview: Beth Foster (‘18 MBA and IBD alum) loves working in East Africa

Written by Danner Doud-Martin

Beth with the city of Kampala

Beth with the city of Kampala

IBD caught up with ‘18 MBA Beth Foster who was visiting the bay area this August before returning to Kampala, Uganda, where she works as part of the investment arm of Engineers without Borders; Canada (EWB).  Beth sat down with us to talk about her experience prior to Haas, how IBD impacted her future career and her love for working with entrepreneurs in East Africa. 

Before coming to Haas, Beth was in the Peace Corps in Rwanda building a small business with a co-op of farmers. “I understood the potential of business to address societal challenges and be transformative in a way that other foreign aid projects couldn’t be.”  She knew she wanted to pursue international business development but didn’t have a business background or even know the terminology of the type of work she was interested in pursuing. Through conversations with people in the field she learned about social entrepreneurship and impact investing,  terms that are now part of her everyday vernacular.  

Beth's and her 2017 IBD Team with members of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum after our kickoff presentation

Beth’s and her 2017 IBD Team with members of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum after our kickoff presentation

Haas offers opportunities in these areas:

At Haas, Beth took advantage of all the different opportunities in the space, including relevant coursework such as IBD and opportunities outside the classroom, like the Haas Impact Investing Network (HIIN), Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) and internships.  As part of the 2017 IBD program, Beth worked with client Makerere University Private Sector Forum on a project in Kampala, Uganda. “It was great with IBD to get the chance to affirm that I wanted to return to East Africa. It was a really big decision, and not an easy one, but it felt right when I was there for IBD working with Makerere in Kampala.  It was the last piece of validation for making that move after Haas.” 

IBD 2017 Makerere team: Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

IBD 2017 Makerere team: Left to right: Jeannie Valkevich, Matt Hamilton, Khamisi Musanje (Makerere University), Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda (Prime Minister of Uganda), Carolyn Chuong, Beth Foster, and Hans Klinger

Beth’s IBD experience:

IBD’s policy is to provide students unique opportunities in international experiences and so even with her prior work in Rwanda, Beth shared that she thought it made sense she was assigned to work with the only project located on the content of Africa.   “I have a background in education and youth development and the IBD project was with the leading University in Kampala. We were specifically working with Makerere’s Private Sector Forum to develop a strategic plan. The Forum was trying to address two challenges. The first was youth unemployment in Uganda which is incredibly high. Secondly,  they wanted to address the issue of the university’s students graduating without jobs. Given that Uganda is a very entrepreneurial country, we saw the potential of many of these students becoming entrepreneurs and that informed the strategy we laid out.”

IBD leads to connections for future job:

During her three weeks in-country, working with Makerere, Beth learned about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Uganda, built connections with accelerators and investors and met with a lot of entrepreneurs.  “IBD was a great experience,” shares Beth. “It was good prep for my job interview with EWB as I had already made the connections. Meeting with the entrepreneurs there made me more excited than I had been in a very long time and hearing about their ideas gave me goosebumps.  When I came back (from IBD) I was on a mission to find a job in back in East Africa and am so grateful it worked out that way.”

How did you land on the field of Impact Investing?

When Beth was working in Rwanda, she realized that the most challenging part of making that business successful was the community politics and just knowing certain things about the consumer that aren’t obvious.  Beth came to the conclusion after much reflection that “I loved the idea of social entrepreneurship but if I am going to work in this region, I would rather have my whole focus and energy be towards focusing on supporting local entrepreneurs.  They have great ideas and know how to navigate the challenges of their space, but need the encouragement and resources.”

Beth admits that impact investing can mean a lot of different things so when she got to Haas she took two years of discovering where on the spectrum she wanted to be.  Through all her encounters with Haas opportunities, she solidified that she wanted to work in very early stage venture capital in East Africa and in impact-first investing.  She loves her job and the impact she has made with small business owners.

Do you have any advice for potential future students interested in IBD?

One of the unexpected surprises of IBD for Beth was getting more experience in the area of consulting.  “I don’t have a consulting background, but I had an amazing Team Lead who taught me so much. IBD was like a semester long intensive consulting class.  If you want to gain real world consulting skills, travel, and work on a meaningful project with impact, IBD is a good option,” shares Beth. Personally, she learned:

  • How to properly lead team meetings 
  • How to implement design thinking approaches
  • How to best interact with your client, including how to have tough conversations 
  • How to create timelines and deliverable that hold everyone accountable, including the client 

The 2019 IBD Team meets with Beth in Kampala:

This summer, IBD sent a third team of five MBA students to work with Makerere University.  Beth met up with the team and enjoyed seeing how excited they were about being in-country. “I just loved seeing how into the project the team was and the fact that I had that client previously meant that they wanted to know a lot of my thoughts.  It was a proud Haas moment.” 

Beth’s advice to the IBD Program Staff:

“I want to see more Africa based projects! My job is to research start-ups on the continent and there are just such amazing businesses out here.  Haasies can support these businesses and there is so much they can learn.”  

Perhaps IBD will have a future project with Beth and one of the many start-ups she is working with in Africa.  In the meantime, we congratulate Beth on her many successes and wish her the best moving forward.  

Navigating Uncertainty in Brazil

By Soobia Haider, Katharine Hawthorne, Paula Moren, Arthur Tong, & Sam Smith

It was 7am when we arrived at Congonhas airport in São Paulo.  We were supposed to catch a flight to Rio de Janeiro to interview a venture capital firm about their outlook on the Brazilian economy.  As we stood in line waiting to board, we nervously checked our watches as the clock ticked past our scheduled boarding time. An announcement came over the loudspeaker in Portuguese – we missed most of it but understood the most important word: “cancelado” – our flight was cancelled.  Over the next few hours, we learned that all Avianca flights had been grounded as a result of a worker strike in response to the bankrupt airline’s delay in processing payroll.

After the announcement, the passengers swiftly exited the terminal and lined up near the Avianca desk.  A few harried employees handled rebookings and refunds. All interactions had to take place in person, and it took over two hours waiting in line to simply refund a ticket.  The Brazilians waiting in line seemed resigned to the situation, and there were no angry outbursts or twitter rants, which might have ensued had the same situation unfolded in the U.S.  Unfazed at the disruption, the Brazilians chatted, scrolled the internet, and messaged friends and family.

While the strike and cancelled flight were an inconvenience, we learned more about the Brazilian attitude towards uncertainty that day than anything else.  In an environment where you can’t rely on systems like transportation, banking, or communications to always work when you need them, you anticipate how things might go wrong, and you adjust your life accordingly.  This equanimity in the face of uncertainty is not complacency, and, in fact, we found that consumers had plenty of stories and complaints to share.

Consumer pain points

The Avianca strike gave us insight into the Brazilian consumer experience.  Our IBD project focused on financial services, which has many similarities to the airline industry – it is highly regulated, concentrated among a few strong players, and there are significant customer pain points.  

During our time in-country we assessed the overall financial services market with a focus on consumer research to better understand how Brazilians interact with the banking system as well as their motivations for saving and investing.  We heard many stories of frustration around the lack of responsiveness of big banks, the high fees, and outdated branch service models. For instance, if you forget your password and get locked out of your bank’s app on your phone, you have to go in-person to the branch where you opened your account in order to regain access.

The rise of fintech

Consumer dissatisfaction with the big banks has led to the proliferation of fintechs.  Brazil has one of the most developed and fastest growing start-up ecosystems in the world, with 380 fintechs, growing at a rate of 48% in 2018.  As part of our IBD project, we met with a number of start-ups to understand their business models and how they are attempting to compete with incumbent banks.  Many are offering new products and services previously unavailable in the Brazilian retail market, for instance in insurance and consumer lending.

Despite the energy around fintechs, Brazilian consumers seem reluctant to completely cut ties with the banking establishment.  Of the consumers we interviewed, 100% bank with at least one of the major banks. We hypothesized that consumers view fintechs as risky and thus seek the safety of a traditional bank, despite their frustrations with the poor service and limited products offered.

Testing our own resiliency

As the team prepared to depart Brazil, we had an opportunity to test our ability to manage uncertainty.  As we sat on our plane for the return flight to the U.S., waiting to push back from the gate, we felt a jostle.  We listened to another announcement in Portuguese and heard that fateful word again: “cancelado.” A maintenance truck had collided with the plane and the aircraft needed to be inspected for safety before flying again.  We deplaned, shaking our heads, and passed through Brazilian immigration, re-entering the country and adding a second stamp to our passports. This time we knew the drill – we exited the terminal, lined up at the ticket counter, and prepared to wait. 

 

Team RD – Florianopolis Brazil

Written by the IBD Team RD, Perrie Briskin, Jamil Bashir, Emily Brechlin, Yenkai Huang, and Michael Kochevar

“Oh, that’s why he wasn’t talking to me,” the Brazilian man exclaimed loudly with laughter. “I thought he was a mute!”

This was the statement of a friendly Brazilian man when he encountered one of our teammates during breakfast in our hotel. Our teammate smiled and gestured to the man to go first for coffee. When the man thanked our teammate, it was met with another smile and a nod. The man only realized that our teammate spoke English when another teammate gave a heartfelt “good morning!”

This encounter sums up much of our International Business Development (IBD) experience. We were all excited for IBD, eagerly anticipating those sorts of miscommunications and disconnects. Needless to say, we were not disappointed. 

Our team of five spent a few weeks in Florianópolis Brazil (known as Floripa) with a marketing automation company. There was an inherent disconnect from the beginning, far before we set off for Floripa. While we think of ourselves as studious MBAs with diverse professional backgrounds, none of us knew much about tech, let alone marketing automation. We quickly dove in to get an understanding of our client’s operations and how they’ve come to dominate the Brazilian market. 

Although we quickly figured out the industry and our client, there remained minor disconnects around the scope of our project. Just when we thought we had it figured out, we would learn something new that would steer us in a slightly different direction. Those small redirects added up to countless hours of healthy debate and multiple white-boarding sessions. Fortunately, we remained nimble and kept in close contact with our client. It was much easier to collaborate with our client when we were finally in Floripa. Key learning – while remote collaboration can be helpful, sometimes a face-to-face meeting is necessary! (read: boss, I think I need to go to [name your favorite city] to really make this project work)  

RD Team white boarding

In Brazil, we quickly learned that English is not widely spoken. It would be a lie if we said it was easy to navigate – just ask the mute if you need proof. But, Google Translate was our friend. The few years of high school Spanish many of us took also proved surprisingly useful. When all else fails, smile and nod. 

RD Team enjoying cake

Our team of 5 had numerous internal disconnects. We had different schedules, varying preferences and unique goals. We embraced the time in Brazil to bond with one another – sharing our “life stories” as a way to get to know one another on a deeper level. We connected over Brazilian barbecue, food trucks and a 3-hour long dinner with our client (small aside – we forgot to place the order for our food…). Karaoke and juggling (our team leader brought a set of juggling balls!) during sunrise on a Floripa beach eliminated any divide that may have remained within our team. Team RD on the beach

This is IBD, it’s all about learning – it’s about stretching ourselves. Working internationally is not easy, but in the challenge lies great learning and fun! 

In the end, we ask – is there a disconnect that cannot be overcome with a bit of hard work, compromise and fun?