Wrapping Up Our Citibanamex Experience

Written by Kim Eun, Pamela Ju, Deepak Kurien and Austin Lu

It’s been an exciting two weeks for the Haas IBD Citibanamex team!  We came, we met, we ate, we worked, and we conquered – in that order.

Meeting Citibanamex

Our main client contact, Alex West, had done an incredible job setting us up with teams all around the bank.  We had meetings with the CIO, the new head of UX, directors in the eCommerce group, and a lot of exposure to their relatively new Innovation and Digital teams. We visited their call center, the digital factory, a new smart branch, and this afternoon we will be ending our experience at the still-in-the-works Innovation Lab.

Citibanamex has been investing a lot in innovation and digitizing their experience, and they’ve seeded these teams with existing bank experts as well as recruiting from the likes of Wal-Mart and IBM.  We had a lot of opportunities to talk to them in 4-on-1s, and everyone was incredibly generous with their time and resources.  They were excited about our project and wanted to help in any way they could.

The Project

Our project: propose a new insurance product for Seguros Citibanamex, with a focus on how to execute it through digital channels.  We’ve spent these past few weeks ideating around this – specifically a product that would be appealing to women.  At the end of the day, we would go back to the hotel room and brainstorm and argue about what features would be the most important (see picture below).  We were lucky enough to have a team dynamic where we could argue with each other but never take it personally.

More than once, we came up with the only partially joking conclusion that, “Insurance is a perfect product.”  As the Deputy CEO of Seguros Citibanamex reminded us, “Insurance is a wonderfully complex product that also does a world of social good.”  We ultimately came up with a product that we very proud of: Sueños Seguros Citibanamex.  It is an investment-insurance product that helps women realize their dreams.

The Final Presentation

We presented it yesterday morning, and Alex and Gaby Galindo (Citibanamex’s head of innovation) did us the great honor of setting us up in Citibanamex’s beautiful palace downtown.  We started at 8 am in a comedor, where we were served breakfast and Gaby welcomed everyone to the morning’s events.  In addition to us, Gaby and Alex, we had 13 additional guests from the insurance team, ranging from product managers to the Deputy CEO of Seguros Citibanamex.  We could tell that we were helping to bring these two organizations together and were both honored and nervous at the responsibility.

Fortunately, the presentation went really well.  Right after we pitched the product, people began asking us questions.  At first, we were worried that it meant our product was going to be received poorly – but it soon became clear that they were all excited by our proposed innovations and wanted to work through exactly what that would look like.

At the end of the presentation, the leader of the Insurance team thanked all of us for our work and told us that every part of our product seemed feasible – except for potentially the technical components (such as our proposed insurance simulator or process flows through their insurance app.)

We were so pleased with how our presentation went – and pleasantly surprised to hear that they would continue to iterate on our work and that one day we may see a version of our product on the Seguros Citibanamex website.

The Last Days

The rest of the day was a dream: an archivist led us on a tour of the Citibanamex palace downtown, we went out to lunch with the insurance team for traditional Mexican food and were very sad to leave them at the end.  Finally, one of the team members led us on a tour of the Zocolo.  We had been there just the week before, but this experience really showed us what a difference having a local with us makes.  He made us go in buildings that we had just walked by before, and we were stunned by how incredibly beautiful these buildings were.  There was the gold-plated Post Office, with a stunning staircase in the middle that made us all gasp out loud when we saw it.

As our experience is coming near the end, we’re both excited to be going home and sad about leaving all the people we’ve met in our two weeks here.  There is the lady at the front desk who provides us all of our security badges every morning.  She asks about what we have done, and Austin entertains her with stories about eating chapulines (grasshoppers), meeting his new favorite luchador, Fuego, and driving on the streets of Mexico City.  There is Thelma, the incredibly kind administrative aid that brings us water and books our meetings, finds us rooms, and helps us when we don’t know how to handle a situation.  When we walk around the office now, we see people that we know and we stop and chat – it’s hard to imagine that we only showed up two weeks ago.

We’ve seen and accomplished a lot in the last two weeks and we couldn’t have had a better experience.


Evening Weekend IBD Program Kicks Off

EWMBA IBD Students

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

Team Aramis

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

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

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

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

Team Samai

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

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

Team ACT

Updates from IBD Mexico – Team salaUno

Spring 2014 IBD Team salaUno (Manuel Ariztia, James McAdams, Zoe Sifrim, Anna Stolyarova) is working with eye care provider salaUno in Mexico City, Mexico.

“Can’t we just cut it in half?”

We stared back at our client, not quite understanding. “Can’t we just cut the desk in half?” he asked again. We had spent the past two weeks deep in the weeds of salaUno optic shop’s financial data, inventory and pricing. We had visited competitor shops all over the city, providing recommendations on how to best present lens options, and how to refine the sales pitch. We had designed an entirely new layout for the shop, emphasizing comfort and transparency for the customers. But it all came down to one question: can we cut the desk we already have in half?

Let me back up. Driven by the mission to eliminate needless blindness in Mexico, salaUno provides high-quality cataract surgeries and other eye services at a very low cost. Inspired by Aravind Eye Center in India, salaUno makes use of high volumes, operational efficiencies and economies of scale to make its business work. Since it began operating in 2011, they have run a small optic shop, selling glasses to the patients who need them. Until now the optic shop has received little attention; however, due to salaUno’s plans for expansion, the shop has taken on increasing strategic importance. That’s where IBD comes in.

At first glance, we’re a great team to take on this project. We have experience in finance, operations, consulting and health care; we’re passionate about the work that salaUno does; and two of our team members speak Spanish. It seems like a great fit…until you factor in… The Gringo Loco. That’s our affectionate term for our team member whose working-knowledge of Spanish doesn’t go far beyond “Dónde está el baño?” and “Hola! Sí! Por Favor!” The Gringo Loco is also not too great with the metric system. And that’s where we got into trouble.

SalaUno is a real start-up. There’s an all-hands-on-deck feeling around here, and decisions are made fast. Whereas in our previous work, a change in price or a change in layout might take weeks to be approved, at salaUno a good idea is adopted immediately.  We proposed a new layout for the optic shop that would include a low desk for the sales attendant, so that customers could sit at the desk with her and discuss their options. We never imagined that the next day a carpenter would show up to cut their existing desk in half. Not wanting to waste the carpenter’s time, the Gringo Loco took out his measuring tape and recommended lopping off 20cm. Here’s the result:


salauno1The optic shop’s desk post “Gringo Loco” involvement

We have learned on this trip that we are not architects. Luckily, the solution is only temporary. In about a month, the optic shop will be completely redesigned. Our proposed new prices and sales guides will be adopted, so patients will be able to select the lenses that work for them quickly and with no anxiety. SalaUno will be able to track its optic shop’s profits and inventory far better than it has in the past, and the staff who work in the shop will have regular meetings to problem-solve in real time. It has been immensely gratifying to be able to make recommendations that will be implemented immediately, and we are confident that these changes will transform both the patient experience and the shop’s profitability. Though there have been hiccups along the way, we can’t wait to see what salaUno does next.

salauno2Hard at work in salaUno’s clinic, Zoe teaches the Gringo Loco how to count to ten in Spanish

salauno3Anya acquires first hand experience of salaUno’s eye care operation

salauno4Manuel captivates Zoe & James with his excel wizardry

salauno5Zoe is kept company by Nelson, the office mascot

salauno6The team takes over salaUno’s work space…Zoe deftly uses Nelson as a footrest

salauno7The team celebrates an end to a successful project with Javier (middle) and Carlos (far right), salaUno’s co-founders

salauno8Team salaUno gets out of the city and visitsTeotihuacan – the Pyramid of the Sun and Avenue of the Dead are in the background

salauno9Zoe, Anya, & James with picturesque Guanajuato in the background

In the Eyes of a Mexican Ophthalmologist

Team salaUno is working in Mexico City with salaUno, a for-profit social enterprise that seeks to eliminate needless blindness by providing low-cost cataract surgeries. EWMBA students Thomas Chuang, Stephanie Lai, Aarti Shetty, and Shailendra Srivastava are developing salaUno’s value proposition for ophthalmologists. 

Hola amigos! Although none of us have medical backgrounds, we now better understand the point of view of a Mexican ophthalmologist after spending 2 weeks at salaUno. We conducted 9 individual interviews and 2 focus groups with salaUno ophthalmologists. Drawing from our PFPS and Leading People courses, we engaged the doctors in a Post-It idea generation exercise and dot-voting to brainstorm ways in which salaUno can retain and recruit doctors.

Focus group 2

Shailendra, Thomas, and Aarti with the doctors

The doctors commented that the focus group was a great exercise that helped them come together as a team to discuss issues of concerns and brainstorm solutions.  We discussed some potential solutions that we had developed, and their feedback gave us useful insights.

After spending Wednesday and Thursday preparing for our final presentation for the co-CEOs and HR Director of salaUno, we felt privileged to have a professional photographer, Val Torres, come to salaUno to take photos of the clinic and our presentation. A few select pictures are included below, and here is the entire gallery for your viewing pleasure: http://valtorres.jalbum.net/SalaUno/


Thomas, Shailendra, Stephanie, and Aarti with patients in the waiting room

salaUno hallway

Team salaUno with 2 ophthalmologists, Omar Honerlage and Flor Reyes

salaUno final presentation

Team salaUno with Co-CEOs Javier Okhuysen and Carlos Orellana (Haas MBA/MPH ’10)

Our presentation became a 3-hour meaningful and constructive dialogue with salaUno’s co-CEOs. Reflecting on the past month, we’ve learned about the complexities of scaling a health care business, as well as leading and motivating people effectively. Muchos gracias for an amazing IBD experience!

Day Uno in Mexico and salaUno


Team salaUno is comprised of Thomas Chuang, Stephanie Lai, Aarti Shetty, and Shailendra Srivastava. salaUno is a high-volume eye clinic in Mexico City exemplifying the Haas defining principle, beyond yourself. Co-founded by Haas alum Carlos Orellana (MBA/MPH 2010), salaUno is a for-profit social enterprise that seeks to eliminate needless blindness by providing low-cost cataract surgeries. We are developing salaUno’s value proposition for ophthalmologists. 

After a red-eye flight, we arrived in Mexico at 5:30 am, astonished that we could transport ourselves in merely four hours to a foreign country completely different from the U.S.

Alvaro Peon Sanchez (EWMBA 2014) graciously invited us to stay at his parents’ house in Cuernacava, a beautiful city in the outskirts of Mexico City. When we reached the Sanchez home,  a traditional Mexican breakfast of chilaquiles was waiting for us! It was such a dreamy morning with the rain pitter-pattering on their gorgeous lawn. After breakfast, we then moved to the living room where our resident musician Stephanie played the piano, as Alvaro’s father sang Broadway show tunes.  We then went to the Cuernacava market, where we bought silver jewelry, which is popular in Mexico.

Robert Brady Museum

Alvaro’s mother, Beatriz, took us to the Robert Brady museum, which houses an eclectic collection of religious, folk, and ethnic art, including oil paintings by Frida Kahlo.

Robert Brady Museum

After visiting the local grocery store to buy ingredients to cook dinner for our generous hosts, Aarti, a 2-Michelin star chef, led the charge in the kitchen.

Cuernavaca Grocery Store


Aarti Cooking

943568_10100874408400351_502204112_n Cooking at the Sanchez House

After a great home stay at the Sanchez home, we traveled to Mexico City, salaUno’s headquarters. Our first day at salaUno began with an all-hands Monday meeting. Everyone took turns to introduce themselves, and very soon we realized that we were the only non-Spanish speaking people there! We began our work with four  back-to-back interviews with salaUno doctors. It was great putting faces to many e-mail interactions that we’ve had in the last few weeks. We validated some of our initial hypotheses, and some new ideas also surfaced. Carlos later took us for a tour of salaUno’s three buildings, where we witnessed the patient flow through the busy hospital: http://youtu.be/Csy9xFFc7rU


salaUno Doctor


Quality Service and Delivery

At 2 pm, which is normal lunch time in Mexico, we went out to lunch with Carlos to an Argentinian cafe, where we ate hunks of meat! Lunch apparently is the big meal of the day here. Carlos, who embodies confidence without attitude, encouraged us to question the status quo at salaUno. After lunch, we re-convened and analyzed our interview takeaways using Post-It notes. Thank you PFPS! We are now ready for our Round 2 of interviews tomorrow.

Our experience in Mexico has been exciting and fun so far! The only glitch is our inability to communicate in Spanish for the most basic life necessities! As students always, we’d love to learn from you. What are some Spanish phrases that will help us get around these next two weeks?!

Gracias, CAL!



Haas Defining Principles Beyond Berkeley

Dean Lyons and Dr. Carlos Prieto of Escuela Bancaria y Comercial discuss the importance of Defining Principles

Dr. Carlos Prieto, dean of Escuela Bancaria y Comercial, and Dean Lyons discuss the importance of Defining Principles

Even when we at Berkeley-Haas don’t travel, our Defining Principles do–making their way into other classrooms: Estudiantes para Siempre (Students Always) is one of the new “características distintivas” at a business school in Mexico; Confidence Without Attitude is now part of a course on public agency management at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; and a Berkeley Haas magazine article is required reading in a business course at San Jose State University.

In November, Dean Rich Lyons sat down with Dr. Carlos Prieto, dean of Escuela Bancaria & Comercial (EBC), Mexico’s oldest private institution of higher education. The deans first discussed the importance of culture to business schools last May, when Prieto was on campus for the graduation of his son, Diego Prieto, MBA 12.

The culture issue of EBC's magazine

The culture issue of EBC’s magazine

When they met this winter, Prieto was finalizing a set of guiding principles for EBC: Estudiantes para Siempre, Impulsores del Progreso (Progress-Driven), Honestos Sociablement Responsables (Honest & Socially Responsible). This spring, Prieto sent an issue of EBC’s magazine featuring the school’s culture journey on its cover, asking “Who are we?” and “What are our principles?” In a letter to Lyons, Prieto wrote, “The Berkeley-Haas Defining Principles have not only had a profound impact in your own school, but they have outreached your own boundaries and have been a source of inspiration for other academic institutions.”

Closer to home, William Riggs, an assistant professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo shared the following tweet:


Riggs earned his PhD in City and Regional Planning at Berkeley and met Lyons while working as a project manager on plans for the new Haas building.

“I see the Haas School’s Defining Principles as critical skills for future civic leaders as well as for business leaders,” says Riggs. “Public agency management tends to treat leadership and management as a dichotomy. I challenge my students to think beyond that and consider them in parallel.”

Back in the Bay Area, Herman “Buzz” Boschken, MBA 68, also weaves the Haas Defining Principles into his work. This professor of management and public policy at San Jose State makes a summer 2012 Berkeley Haas Magazine article on Haas culture required reading in his Principles of Management course. “The four principles serve as a basis for discerning a culture of competence and socially-aware decision-making in the firm,” says Boschken. “From this perspective, students can see that the character of decision-making hinges on an organization’s core values and a decision maker’s identity with that culture.”

Says Lyons, “Sometimes we forget that among all the world’s institutions of public higher ed, Berkeley is in so many ways a beacon, serving not just our own students but as an inspiration elsewhere. There is great purpose in that.”

Nurturing a Start-Up in a Megalopolis – May 29, 2013

Team Hipos.com is just south of the border in the world’s 6th largest metropolitan area, ImageMexico City. We’re working furiously with Hipos.com, a small Internet start-up, to help define their business model and maximize revenue. But the problem we’re facing is how can Hipos earn pesos if their potential consumers and customers don’t immediately recognize the need for their service? 


Hipos.com seeks to educate Mexicans—the 11th largest population and 12th highest GDP in Imagethe world—to gain significant knowledge about financial services products.  Hipos’ website will allow consumers to find the ideal financial products to meet their individual needs. Ultimately, the business will save consumers money and will help drive revenue (and increased profits) to financial institutions and other types of businesses.


The beauty of working for a start-up is the profound impact we can have on the business in such a short amount of time.  Every stone we turn, industry trend we discover, and gap in the market lead to new strategic insights.  In addition to significant Internet research, we’ve been interviewing successful businesspeople all over Mexico City—most of which have ivy league educations or graduate degrees from top ranked institutions.  We met with numerous consultants that specialize in financial services, successful entrepreneurs, and other members of the financial services community. Their knowledge of the Mexican market and economy is helping us to create valuable insights for Hipos. Over the next week and a half we’ll continue to conduct interviews, ideate, complete a comprehensive financial model, and strategic recommendations. 


Enough talking about work! We’re in Mexico: the home of tequila, Mariachis, and delicious Image(albeit unhealthy) cuisine. Since the first day we entered this sprawling city, we’ve immersed ourselves in their culture.  Even though none of us can speak Spanish at a level beyond preschool, we’ve managed to navigate this sprawling city and take in the sights and sounds.


Some Highlights include: Porter Hall facing his fear and chomping on the chewy worm at the bottom of the Mezcal (a variant of tequila) bottle; climbing the Aztec pyramids at Tiotihuacan; watching Mariachis and dancing (a little bit) in Garibaldi Plaza; exploring the tourist attractions around Zocalo; and discovering how many different ways and names Mexicans can come up with to describe the combinations of tortillas, meat, cheese, beans, and different color sauces.