Ford Shanghai – 2018 IBD

Members: James Westhafer (team lead), Sandra Tamer, Alyssa Warren, John Sheffield, Joe Akoni

Figure : The Ford Asia-Pacific headquarters in the Shanghai neighborhood of Pudong

Figure : The Ford Asia-Pacific headquarters in the Shanghai neighborhood of Pudong

The Ford-Shanghai team was tasked with a very unique problem in their IBD project: How can Ford improve their customer experience in the “pre-drive” space (before a journey starts) and the”post-drive” space (after the journey ends).  It was a relevant problem for multi-national company because so much of Ford’s internal effort is spent on the “in-flight” (during the journey) customer experience. We spent the spring semester at Berkeley researching customer use cases, benchmarking the competitive landscape, and speaking with as many Ford employees as possible to better educate ourselves on this unique problem.  We knew that our in-country experience in China at the end of the spring semester would be immersive and we came in with high expectations. Our time in Shanghai exceeded these expectations and gave us a level of exposure and experience that none of us thought was possible when we were sitting at our gate ready to board our flight to China on May 11.

After registering at the front desk of the Shanghai Information Center in the skyscraper-laden Shanghai neighborhood of Pudong and passing through the facial-recognition security checkpoint, we arrived on the 36th floor of Ford’s Shanghai office.  Our first day was filled with meetings of Ford executives, in groups ranging from strategy to Ford Smart Mobility to their Autonomous/Electric vehicle division.  It was the epitome of “drinking from the firehose” as we continued to educate ourselves on a very complex topic. We soon realized that talking and listening is only one component, and to fully understand the travel woes in urban China, our team had to experience it for ourselves.  We spent the entire second day of our project moving through Shanghai: subways at rush hour, the bus during non-peak hours, the dock-less bike share program, Didi (Uber equivalent in China), and even more.  

    

Experiencing the true urban China mobility experience first-hand was essential for our understanding of the true pains of residents and Ford customers.  It’s these pain points that drive Ford’s strategy in product development and partnership selection and an area that we believed to be a key area of focus in our project.  We didn’t have much time to debrief after our mobility outing because we were scheduled to travel to Beijing on Thursday for all-day meetings on Friday. We wanted to meet with other key Chinese mobility players to better understand their strategies for addressing customer pain points in the pre and post-drive space.  The partners we visited—Didi (Uber equivalent in China), Mobike (China’s most promising and successful dock-less bike company) and Shouqi (Didi competitor)—would be a great data point on how other companies in China were thinking about similar mobility problems.

 

After a marathon day of meetings, we were able to unwind a bit and take in the local flavors of northern China.  There was an eventful Beijing night that included the local favorite dish of Peking duck and a Chinese alcohol specialty, Bijou.  The next day, the team made a memorable trip to the Great Wall of China that far-exceeded everyone’s expectations. We had a great tour guide that educated us on all-things Chinese history and helped put the grandeur of the Great Wall into perspective.  It was a highlight of our trip and certainly a lifetime memory for all of us.

An amazing day trip to Huanghugcheng, north of Beijing, to visit a relatively tourist-less portion of the Great Wall

An amazing day trip to Huanghugcheng, north of Beijing, to visit a relatively tourist-less portion of the Great Wall

We got back to work the following Monday and began designing and creating a comprehensive interview guide that would help to validate (or disprove) some of our customer painpoint takeaways from our mobility outing and various meetings from the week before.  We lined up a number of Ford employees and other Shanghai residents that ranged from ages 23 to 60 in order to help our team better understand mobility trends and personal travel pain points in urban China. We had some very interesting and thought-provoking conversations that validated some of our personal painpoint takeaways, but also some unique nuggets that we used to develop some preliminary recommendations.  

As the week progressed, we had more meetings and team brainstorms to start landing on what our final recommendations would be to the Ford team.  There were many long nights as our team sifted through the massive amounts of data and information that we had in front of us from the 2 weeks of immersive meetings and interviews.  We left the Ford office on Friday on the second week of our in-country visit with a clear (yet ambitious) presentation outline that we would delve into during our last week.

Figure 7: The Ford team working through some slides in “CR-9 War Room”, the designated space for the team during their stay in Shanghai.  Lots of snacks, coffee and water were needed.

Figure 7: The Ford team working through some slides in “CR-9 War Room”, the designated space for the team during their stay in Shanghai. Lots of snacks, coffee and water were needed.

The final week in Shanghai consisted of long working sessions to perfect the slide deck that would be presented to senior Ford leadership at 8am on Thursday May 31st, the last day of the project.  The climax of the in-country experience came on Wednesday May 30th when the team worked from 7:30am until 10:30pm at night, which included a final run through of the presentation in our hotel room while eating one last meal of Shanghai’s famous “soup dumplings”.  

The final presentation on Thursday morning was a wild success.  We presented to the head of Asia Pacific Ford Smart Mobility and the head of Asia Pacific Strategy for Ford along with a number of other Ford executives.  After presenting our findings and making final recommendations on Ford’s strategy in China, the VP of Strategy for Asia Pacific (formerly a partner at Bain Consulting in Shanghai) said that the presentation “exceeded his expectations” and that he saw really tangible ideas that could make a difference in China.  He even started brainstorming with Ford’s lead on Connected Services on how some of our recommendations could be piloted in China! It was a very rewarding ending to the project and validated the hard work that we put in throughout the spring semester. It was an absolutely amazing experience for all 5 members of the team and will certainly be a highlight of our two years at Haas.  We want to publicly thank the Ford team for their help and support throughout the project. It was a joy working with the Shanghai team and we are happy that our recommendations could have a lasting impact for the company. From the entire team, xiè xie for everything, Ford!

The Ford team on the 36th floor of the Shanghai Information Tower in Pudong on the last day of their project.  Thanks for everything Ford!

The Ford team on the 36th floor of the Shanghai Information Tower in Pudong on the last day of their project. Thanks for everything Ford!

 

IBD Team 51job

Written by Andrew Efstathiou, Johna Seo, Vir Choksi and Liz Jung

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Early in the morning, rising to my feet, I open my bedroom curtains to the cacophony of the city and the bustling freeway outside of our window, cutting through Shanghai like a knife through tofu. Today is another day where we need to suit up and head to a large, multinational firm to interview them on their international recruitment strategy. Our client, 51job, is one of the largest recruitment firms in the Middle Kingdom and has come a long way since its inception at the turn of the century. With over 5,500 employees and offices throughout first, second, and third-tier cities in China, 51job is leading the way in helping China’s youth obtain work. With an economy growing at a rapid clip, more and more students that study overseas are looking to return home to start a life and a career. Our assignment at this crucial inflection point for overseas returnees, or “sea turtles” as they are known in the local parlance, is to help our client figure out how to best serve these students.

Office visit to Bloomberg

The office visit to Bloomberg

Today we head downtown to speak with a recruiter at Bloomberg, a large, global financial services firm. The room where we are conducting our interview is filled with Bloomberg terminals and overlooks the Bund, which contains a large radio tower that rests amongst scores of recently constructed skyscrapers, emphasizing the breakneck pace of development that the People’s Republic is experiencing. Our research with various companies, students, and university employees has surprised all of us in realizing the gaping disconnect between demand for jobs from Chinese students abroad and companies with active foreign recruitment channels. After our interview, we head back to the office to assemble notes, debrief, and synthesize our findings.

Bullet train to Hangzhou

Bullet train to Hangzhou

For lunch, we embark on a walk to the local mall that houses an array of local and international food options. Yesterday we sampled a dim sum offering with buckwheat noodles and delicate cuts of chicken. Today we need to eat in a hurry to head back to the office for more research, so we grab a quick bite at Joe’s Pizza, a classic New York pizza establishment that sits aside the local mall. In the afternoon, we must call around ten students and alumni from universities in five different countries. Our room is populated with phones, coffee cups, and computers; after a few hours, we close out our marathon session of phone calls. In addition to research pertinent to our assignment, throughout the process, we have also learned a lot about Chinese traditions, customers, and business practices. During the previous weekend we took a bullet train to Hangzhou, a beautiful old city west of Shanghai that contains a lake surrounded by trees. Escaping the city has allowed us to imbibe the authentic culture and lifestyle of a different part of China. From our first night meeting with our main client contact to our daily interactions with the co-inhabitants of our building, the experience has helped us to step back and become lost in a truly transformational experience that cannot be replicated in any classroom.

Morning of the final presentation

Morning of the final presentation

Around 6pm we depart our client’s office to grab a taste of a different Chinese cuisine, this night being a vegetarian Taiwanese option near the ornate Jing’an Temple. The nebulous cloud of lights, smells, and chatter envelops us as we navigate our way to the restaurant. The food is covered in a generous helping of spices, pepper, and oil. With our food, we must order cold drinks or else we will receive a tepid cup of tea. We reach into our pockets for renminbi, the Chinese currency, to pay, as very few establishments accept credit cards. China has leapfrogged the US in digital payments, and most Shanghai denizens solely pay for everyday objects with WeChat, an extremely popular, all-in-one mobile application created by Tencent. The last stop of the night is a nearby bar popular with locals to wind down from the day and bond as a team. As we step out into the cooling evening air, we see a blue tint emanating from the overpass that greets us every morning as we rise, coming full circle as we rest to meet another day.

 

Team Seedlink- Lives and Learns in Shanghai with Dynamic Clients and Colleagues

Written by Paola Blanco, Nanor Asadorian, Ralph Boyajian, Conor Farese, and Dean Guo

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

Only a week in, and the hustle and bustle of Shanghai is slowly seeping into our lives. We wake up at 8am every morning, and our team breaks into a myriad of mobility tools to get to work. Conor and Paola on the MoBikes – a local bikeshare service. Dean, Ralph, and Nanor grab a Didi – the local equivalent to Uber. We head into the coworking space where our company, Seedlink, is based. Grab coffees, crack open our computers, and turn on the VPNs (even in China, we are never far from gmail). And we get to work. 

Seedlink, our client, is a Human Resources Tech company based here in Shanghai, with offices in Amsterdam as well. They build an artificial intelligence tool that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the science of human behavior. In a nutshell, they can use their tool to predict how well incoming job candidates will perform when compared to the talent a company already has in their organization. They have a strong foothold in China and Europe, and are working with IBD to establish their approach to the U.S. market. We have our hands full, to say the least. Our seven weeks in the U.S. prior to travel was jam-packed with interviews and insights, while our time here in China has been primarily about turning those insights into clear suggestions and tactics that the Seedlink team can use immediately.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Professionally, this has been a tremendous opportunity for all of us. In our push to build a business strategy, we’ve incorporated bit and pieces from almost every class from our core this year. Marketing lessons have influenced how we think about Seedlink’s value proposition and branding. Strategy frameworks have encouraged us to consider the incumbent response to Seedlink’s entrance. From Problem-Finding Problem-Solving, our Haas design course, we borrowed the Business Model Canvas and the insight session tactics. And of course, we lean on our diverse backgrounds to bring it all together: between the five of us, we cover Operations, Finance, Consulting, Tech and Design. Almost perfectly, our project with Seedlink has called on us to weave the lessons from these courses and experiences together into a carefully crafted plan for our client.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

But so much of this experience has also existed beyond the workplace. Our first week here was a huge learning opportunity for all of us. We struggled through the four tones of Mandarin, thankful to our teammate Dean who patiently instructs us (still) each time we stumble. We’ve tried countless food options: Dumpling (x3), Hunan, Yunnan, Hot Pot (x2), Xinjiang, Japanese, Korean… the list goes on and our bellies are full. 

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

The weekends have included a trip to Guilin to see the fabled mountains and Hangzhou for the storied West Lake.

Even today, we’re just back from a weekend on the beautiful Jeju island, one of Korea’s most famous spots. We stuffed ourselves full of Korean BBQ, took a trip through a 7km underground lava tube, climbed the side of the volcano, and hit the town at night to see K-Pop in action.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

Shanghai, in other words, has served us well: we are working in an urban hotspot, and are eager to take advantage of the proximity to beautiful places and of the melting pot of ideas, cuisines, and cultures that happens here.

It should go without saying that this upcoming last week will pass by all-too-quickly. We much more learning in store, and are preparing our final pitch to our client encapsulating the output of 10 weeks of research and energy. And beyond that, we are focused on spending time with each other, and with the other IBD teams in our Shang-Haas family. We know this time is precious, and that this rare moment in our lives – when we can live and learn abroad with dynamic clients and colleagues – will come to an end before we know it.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

Team Flowers: A Flower Market Tour of China

Written by Leah Finn, Mary Harty, Anne Kramer, Laura Smith, and George Panagiotakapoulos

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

Agripacific Holdings is a holding company that owns a number of cut flower farms and distribution centers across Asia, including its two main growing sites, Kunming Hasfarm in Yunnan, China, and Dalat Hasfarm in Dalat, Vietnam. For our IBD project, our team (a.k.a, Team Flowers) partnered with Kunming Hasfarm (KMH) to develop a marketing strategy for selling cut flower crops throughout China – at the moment, most of KMH’s flowers are exported to Japan, while the domestic market is primarily served through a small scale of imports from Dalat Hasfarms. As Chinese incomes rise, a growing middle class is spending more money on luxury home products like flowers, creating a promising market. KMH tasked our team with helping them strategically scale their domestic sales of cut flowers by considering the optimal target customers and sales channels.

For our in-country visit, KMH planned an itinerary that would give us a thorough look at the flower industry in China by visiting six cities – Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong – to tour flower markets, interview wholesaler customers, and even visit the farms of several of their competitors. Luckily for us, this meant we got to experience a diverse range of Chinese cultures, food, and sights as we learned about some of the nuances of each local market.

We began the trip in Kunming, a small (by China standards) city of 6 million in the western Yunnan province. We spent two days touring KMH’s greenhouses and learning about the processes of growing carnations, green wicky (a fuzzy green flower described to us as “soft, like a panda’s face), and hydrangeas. We also visited the Dounnan Flower Market, one of the largest flower wholesaler markets in China. The coolest part about this was the flower auction: an enormous warehouse full of lower-quality flowers (mostly roses) and a huge room to the side where wholesalers gathered to bid on them, Dutch auction style while smoking heavily and doing business on cell phones. It was quite a sight!

Flower auction in Kunming

In Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, and Guangzhou, we visited KMH’s largest wholesaler customers and the Shanghai-based distribution center for the import business. Through our many interviews, we learned that KMH has a strong reputation as a high-quality grower; most of their wholesaler customers would buy more flowers from them if not restricted by supply. Since the China-based farm already had plans to expand growing, we saw an opportunity to organize their Shanghai- and Beijing-based sales teams to begin selling domestic product in those regions, rather than solely managing the import business.

Another powerful opportunity we recognized for KMH is the meteoric rise of e-commerce that has taken place in the past few years, impacting all industries. In many ways, China has surpassed the US in its use of technology in commerce: for example, rather than credit cards, nearly everyone pays for things by scanning a QR code on the item with an app on their phone called WeChat. In the flower industry, many startups have innovated by offering weekly flower delivery services through a subscription model, and several wholesalers have shifted all of their operations online. We had the chance to interview several contacts from these companies to learn about their innovative models. A key question we investigated for KMH was how they could incorporate technology into their business model, and how far down the value chain they should reach to implement it – that is, whether to switch from B2B (selling to wholesalers) to B2C.

Team looking over Beijing with 2 of KMH’s staff acting as our tour guides

The trip concluded with a trip to Hong Kong, where we delivered our final presentation at Hasfarm’s office there. In addition to recommendations about reorganizing their sales force and adopting a technology platform to track customer data, we discussed the trend we observed of new flower companies, particularly in the eCommerce model, shortening the value chain (typically grower to wholesaler to retailer to customer) to increase margins and lower prices beyond the offerings of their more traditional competitors. We encouraged KMH to pay attention to competitors adopting this model as the market grows.

Overall, we were incredibly impressed by the hospitality provided to us by our clients and associates in the industry. After nearly every interview or market visit, we were taken to an elaborate meal, treated to a tea ceremony, or toured around sights like Tianenmen Square by members of the KMH staff or their wholesaler clients. We feel lucky that this experience introduced us to the warmth, beauty, and diversity of China.

Updates from IBD China – Team Thermo Fisher

IBD Team Thermo Fisher (Ramya Babu, Lisa Becker, Scott Crider, George James) worked with the China division of Thermo Fisher, an American multinational company, on a growth strategy project for its environment / water analysis segment.

Moving Fast

Shanghai is not what we expected it to be. Even George, who had already lived in this city before was surprised by how modern and western Shanghai has become. We stayed in Pudong, aka “Pu-Jersey”, a 45-minute subway ride from the famous skyline of Shanghai. With nearly 25 million in habitants, Shanghai is currently the largest city by population in the world.

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

The most awe-inspiring thing to behold is the speed at which China is developing. Mega structures that did not exist a few years ago now tower over older buildings. The pace of growth and notion of limitless possibilities in China, and especially in Shanghai, is quite remarkable.

Food to Die For

Upon arrival, we acquainted ourselves with the area around the hotel, home to many expats. The local businesses cater to this population and thus there are many non-Chinese restaurants, with prices not much different from those of the Bay Area.

We sampled many traditional Chinese meals with our Thermo Fisher hosts, including lunches at the company’s business park cafeteria and dinners at Shanghainese restaurants.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

One of our favorite meals was la mian, huge bowls of noodle soup for around 12 RMB (or $2 USD). Other favorites included xiao long bao (soup dumplings), Da Dong’s Peking Duck (Beijing’s most famous dish) and, of course, the local pijiu, Tsingtao.

La mian

La mian

Xiao long bao

Xiao long bao

The People

We encountered a variety of people in the new, cosmopolitan city of Shanghai: cab drivers from the provinces, coworkers from Beijing, and foreigners from every corner of the globe. As different as they are, these people all share something in common – the pursuit of opportunity. From the rich to the poor, Shanghai represents the growth of China and the opportunity that a booming economy can create.

The people we met were very open to meeting foreigners, especially those who are interested in Chinese culture. George fit in well with the locals and made friends with the Chinese who appreciated his interest in Chinese language, arts and history.

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Culture and Business

Interacting with businesses in China was quite eye opening. There were several conflicting characteristics that we observed. The most prominent are embracing proven ideas, struggling to adopt new ideas, and moving fast. As we spoke with our client and their customers, one idea was repeated throughout: the use of best in class practices combed from all over the world are representative of “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”. The sheer thirst for knowledge that has been proven was astounding to observe.

In direct contrast to the assimilation of proven ideas is the struggle to adopt cutting edge ones. We used design-thinking processes that we had previously learned in the Problem Finding, Problem Solving class. Our client struggled to understand the value of diverging from common practices to flush out insights. This was especially interesting given that the client is a large multinational corporation based in the United States.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

We are truly grateful for the hospitality shown by the city of Shanghai, a constantly evolving city that everyone should visit at least once in his or her lifetime.

Updates from EWMBA IBD – Team SVB in China

Angela Cheng, David Lu, Andy Tang and Orian Williams are Part-Time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Shanghai, China with Silicon Valley Bank.

Enabling Entrepreneurship in China

Did you know that Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) helped Mark Zuckerberg with banking when he was just a little-known hoodie-wearing startup entrepreneur? SVB has been helping entrepreneurs succeed by providing unique financial products and services in the US. Our team is here to help them succeed in China.

Angela Cheng, David Lu, Andy Tang, and Orian Williams are EWMBA students working on an International Business Development (IBD) project in Shanghai, China. The scope of the project is to study credit quality in China for Silicon Valley Bank, specializing in banking with startups.

On our last day in the iLab at Berkeley before departing for the in-country engagement, we went through a brainstorming exercise with Frank Schultz, our IBD faculty mentor. We were glad that he was still smiling after all the hard work we put him through.


IBD-SVB Team + Frank

Week 1

The temperature in Shanghai was noticeably cooler than normal. This was a pleasant surprise and we took it as a good sign for our two weeks stay in Shanghai.

Our team of four arrived at Shanghai on three different flights. Contrary to the typical hours-long flight delays at the Shanghai Pudong Airport, our flights were all surprisingly on time. The first thing that struck us was the heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Oftentimes, two moving parties were just centimeters apart while moving in different directions at high speeds. Just when it seemed like a collision was unavoidable, miraculously both parties maneuvered out of each other’s way. It was like two partners on a dance floor moving around swiftly without stepping on each other’s toes. This city seemed to thrive in harmony, without needing any verbal communication.

We met our sponsor, Arman Zand, from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) for dinner the night before we officially began our work in the SVB office in Shanghai, China. In the Chinese culture, business and social gatherings are often conducted around good food. This occasion was no exception to that. Over several dishes of the local gourmet, we shared bits and pieces of our personal stories.

After dinner, our team kicked off our first official in-country working session in the hotel lobby to prepare for a meeting with the CEO the next day.

svb2First In-country Work Session

On our first in-country day at work, we put our knowledge of the Chinese culture and language to work immediately. We met our first interviewee, a startup incubator, at a building that provided office space and support to about 20 startups. Unlike the typical cubicle setup, each “office” was a 2’x4’ desk space which barely provided enough room for a computer, a cup, and a few miniature personal items.

svb3Startup Incubator in China

It almost caught us off-guard that our first meeting was conducted exclusively in Mandarin. It sure put some of our team members’ Mandarin to practice. A full hour of interviewing in Mandarin along with the writing of some names and terms in Chinese made our first in-country interview a very productive one.  As we found out later, the interviewers spoke more freely and provided more information if the meeting was conducted in Mandarin.

svb4Starbucks at Client’s Office

Did you know that a cup of Starbucks coffee is more expensive in Shanghai than in San Francisco? Our team discovered this because 3 of the 5 meetings on day one were at Starbucks. We were beginning to wonder if Starbucks was also where startups pitched to VCs, but that was not the focus of this project.

On day two of the in-country portion of our IBD engagement, our client helped arrange meetings with several well-known venture capital firms to better understand investor behavior in China. We tooled around the city in a gently used mini-van with our team of four plus our handler provided by the firm, and our driver. The weather was a lot warmer than in the Bay Area so thankfully we left our woolen clothing at home. We had one more meeting to go before having dinner with our sponsors’ team at a local Shanghainese restaurant.

Our itinerary had been non-stop since our arrival, but the team was eager to perform well.  The experience was amazing, but this first week had certainly tested our stamina.  This was one of the few IBD projects
with a public company this summer and so we all considered ourselves quite fortunate to have such a practical consulting experience.

svb5Local Breakfast

We decided to go native and got breakfast from a local vendor outside our hotel. Nothing too adventurous, just some steamed pork buns, although one of us did ask for a spicy one.   We also found a dry cleaning place that would wash dress shirts for one-tenth of the price that the hotel was charging. Did we mention that we love China?

We had a few more external meetings left over from earlier in the week and then some internal meetings to help us collect our thoughts. Performing internal and external interviews for the client gave our team twice the consulting experience.

svb6PFPS Exercise

To draw insights and align our observations from our interviews and observations from the last three days, we applied what we had learned from Problem Finding and Problem Solving (PFPS) class.

Our client invited us to their World Cup themed team-building event.  We were told that fun team building activities are not common in Chinese company offices and definitely were new concepts to SVB local employees. SVB tried to build a more collegiate and social culture in its office, and we saw that everyone was able to build off the energy and make the rest of the day more productive.

svb7World Cup Fun

At night, we met up with one of the EWMBA Seminars in International Business (SIB) classmates and we hung out at Nanjing Road.  Nanjing road was an interesting blend of old and new Shanghai.  Most of the original architecture and building fronts were kept but large billboards had been raised over them.  We also took the subway for the very first time.

svb8Nanjing Road

Over the weekend the team took the opportunity to recover from the late nights during the workweek. On Saturday we visited the Tianzi Fang district and the Yu Garden. The highlight of the day was our dinner at Lubolang, one of the best restaurants in Shanghai. We saw a photo of Hilary Clinton who had previously dined there. Their Xiao Long Bao (soup filled dumpling) was excellent.

svb9Best Dinner

On Sunday the team traveled to the outskirts of Shanghai for the local alumni chapter event held at the Sofitel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental.  We met Ann Hsu, the Shanghai alumni chapter coordinator, and her husband Tom, who used to work in M&A. Tom said he knew Professor Goodson – small world.

We enjoyed an all you can eat brunch buffet with mimosas. Some of the team members even took a dip in the pool afterwards. It was a nice opportunity to get some fresh air in the countryside, but we wanted to get back and work on some additional analysis for the project.

svb10Sofitel Alumni Event

Week 2

During Week 2, the Seminars in International Business (SIB) class visited the SVB office. The CEO gave a presentation about doing business in China and how SVB positioned itself as the model for innovation banking in China.  We even let them hang out in our cell.

svb11IBD Met SIB at SVB

Week 2 was an intense workweek as the team prepared the final report and presentation to the CEO. On Thursday and Friday, we made our final presentations to the CEO and SVB credit team.  We knew our work had paid off when the client told us that they finally have some tools to play with in China.  We celebrated our success at our client sponsor’s house over drinks and barbecue.  Thanks to Haas and Silicon Valley Bank, another great IBD project!

 

Updates from IBD China – Entering the Largest and Fastest Growing Market in the World

Spring 2014 IBD Student Joseph Kim shares his IBD team’s experiences in Shanghai China.

Our team is working in Shanghai, China for a large lab equipment distributor to improve the partnership and product selection process.  We had the chance to interview current customers from top research universities and leading multi-national companies while in Shanghai.  Although the project was challenging at first, as none of the team members had scientific backgrounds, the team pooled its collective experiences together and delivered clear process recommendations that will be implemented both internally and externally.

When we found out that we would be working for a lab equipment distributor, we looked at each other in bewilderment; first, we weren’t entirely sure what the company did, and secondly, we weren’t sure why they had selected a group of MBA’s all with finance backgrounds instead of a group of scientists in white lab coats.  Upon doing some company and industry research, we quickly learned that the company was a mature, industry leader in a growing Chinese market but that the U.S. parent company wanted to continue to grow its already large footprint.  It became clear that given our backgrounds we could help analyze the market opportunities and introduce processes that would increase success in product launches and finding new relationships.

 

tf1Rickety, pedal-powered wagons share the road with luxury vehicles on newly paved roads

Although the team was prepared to conduct a lot of analysis and have customer interaction once in Shanghai, we underestimated the large culture shock, especially for the members of the team who hadn’t worked overseas before.  Shanghai and its 24+ million citizens kept us on our toes and there wasn’t a dull moment that passed by.  Whether it was being hoodwinked in expensive cab rides or trying to find a restaurant that met all four team members’ dietary needs, we quickly realized that working in a developing country would be challenging even if our surroundings appeared to be developed.  Luckily for us, there were two other Haas IBD teams to share travel and experiences together.

tf2Even the chefs wanted to join the three Shanghai IBD teams at the world renowned restaurant, DTF – Din Tai Fung

Even with the language barrier, our best insights about the business came from interviewing customers.  We learned how culture can affect so many aspects of a business.  For example, one customer pointed out that Chinese workers prefer opening windows instead of turning on the A/C like her French counterparts.  Albeit a subtle difference, the smog and dust accumulation from opening a window affected lab results given the sensitivity of experiments, leading to opportunities for our client to introduce more durable machines.

tf3Overcoming language barriers and Questioning the Status Quo by feeling the sign loudly

Overall, IBD was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We had the chance to put our MBA core learning to work from start to finish and had a blast while delivering recommendations that we know will make a difference.

tf4PFPS invades Shanghai