IBD Teams United – The 2017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal”

017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal” Day

Finally, the wait is over!

The Spring 2017 IBD program Team Leads, faculty, and staff don’t have to stay quiet any longer.  The IBD “Big Reveal” event took place on March 2nd when each Team Lead welcomed their respective Team Members with a short two-minute video on their client, their industry, and their overview on what the team has been tasked to solve.  Team Leads also included information about their project destination and what they might experience while living and working for three weeks in-country.  Finally, Team Leads presented their four new Team Members with a small gift that represented something about their project country or client.

Said one Team Member of the experience, “The IBD reveal day was a lot of fun. (Team) Leads did a great job staying silent until the day of so it remained a mystery, which I loved. The videos were hilarious and all of the gifts were so thoughtful.”

Team Tekes has hugs all around

Clapping, hugs and handshakes were exchanged after each IBD team was revealed.  

Another incoming IBD Team Member commented that “I loved seeing all of the fun videos and learning about all of the projects!  The local country specific gifts for team members made the reveal especially tailored and fun.  I was so excited to find out that I’d be spending my summer in Thailand, with a great group of people, working in a new industry.  It is sure to be a fun experience and I look forward to being challenged personally and professionally along the way.”

Team ARM meeting for the first time

Once the IBD project “Big Reveal” was concluded, it was time to get the newly formed groups working on a team building exercise called the Viking Attack – a longstanding IBD tradition.   Building successful team dynamics is one of the main goals of the IBD course; IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube often describes IBD as “teamwork on steroids.”  Although there are many courses at Berkeley-Haas in which MBA students work in teams, there isn’t one quite like IBD in which students end up spending three weeks together outside the US working on a consulting engagement.  As Kristi Raube put it, “we really emphasize teamwork, as students will need to rely on each other in-country.  International work is all about being flexible and being able to handle unpredictable and difficult situations.”  

YGA Team Lead giving her new Team Members yummy baklava

Over the next seven weeks leading up to the departure to their respective project countries, IBD teams will work to gather more insights from their clients, conduct extensive research, and tackle the problems they have been tasked to solve.  At the same time, Kristi Raube and the IBD Faculty Mentors will work with the students on IBD course goals like developing consulting skills and techniques, communication and storytelling skills, and understanding cultural dynamics.   As Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain observed at this point in the course, “My teams are excited, revved up, and they know what they are doing.”  

Team G-Hub

Tune in next month when we check back with the IBD teams on their progress, and we learn how ready they are to head out on their international adventures.  

To see all the photos from the Spring 2017 IBD Program “Big Reveal”, click here.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByYfWhxK5s7RUzJQX1BULU11VFk

Team ElectroMech


Don’t hate, opto-isolate! – Update from South Africa INSiAVA IBD Team

FTMBA students Petar Kralev, Luke Baran, Matthew Hahn, Lucy Hakobyan and Chris Kavcsak spent 3 weeks in South Africa working with INSiAVA a fabless semiconductor start-up that owns and develops silicon light emitting and detecting technology in standard CMOS.


Week 1:

Work hard play hard was definitely the motto of our team and client. Working late nights at the Innovation Hub was well balanced with weekend trips to Cape Town and the South African bush. From constructing the framework equivalent of the movie Inception (frameworks within frameworks within yet more frameworks) in countless powerpoint slides that literally took us to the brink of a Google Slides implosion, to consuming previously unfathomable amounts of red meat and pinotage that are sure to give us heart attacks within 3 months, team INSiAVA was well-immersed in South African culture.

We started off the first week with a heavy 8-hour marathon of a design thinking session with INSiAVA’s CEO and Head of Engineering, which ultimately culminated in a strong value proposition presentation validated by several local customer interviews.



Weekend 1:

To celebrate our great work, we flew to Cape Town that weekend where we sabred bottles of champagne on the terrace of our private 3 bedroom waterfront mansion villa. Don’t worry, we’re professionals.


The next morning we summited Table Mountain, conquering one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. From the top we enjoyed incredible views of the city and the grandiose Lion’s Head peak.



Between delicious authentic African dinners on the waterfront and sophisticated drinks with live music at the hotel, we also managed to mix it up with the local party scene on Long Street, which had a distinctively Bourbon Street feel.


To end the weekend on a strong note, we started with a breakfast of champions – ice cream – on top of Signal Hill, immediately before jumping off a cliff with parachutes strapped to our backs. Paragliding down to the Sea Point gave us 360 degree views of the city and the mountain, the serenity of which was counter-balanced by our immediate regret of crushing copious amounts of frozen dairy before extreme motion and moments of weightlessness.


Week 2:

The following Monday marked the start of another week of top notch work. After several customer and potential partner meetings and interviews, we strove toward validating the value propositions from the previous week. Next up was the Go-to-Market Strategy…which we crushed, as per usual.

Thursday evening we joined forces with our fellow IBDers, GroupeElephant.com, at Capital Craft Brew Academy, a local drafthouse serving up South Africa’s finest microbrews and BBQ. Much to our surprise, South Africa has a vast and pretty darn tasty craft brewing scene. Comparing notes on our experiences thus far we realized that their project was a complete and utter softball. Seriously, from what we can gather they color and take pictures all day. Matthew took away the gold medal for the evening, crushing an entire kilo of beef and an entire platter of gin.


This was of course only to get inspiration to educate our classmates on two chip opto isolators that operate on low voltage low speed on a simple CPU.


And as a testament to the amazingness of the exchange rate, each person spent less than $20.

Weekend 2:

That weekend, our client team took us for a more unique adventure to experience the African wild. INSiAVA graciously hosted us at a private game reserve that is part of the larger Kruger National Park. We went on harrowing game drives that made as though we were part of a National Geographic expedition chasing majestic animals like Elephants, Kudu, and the rare African Wildcat in their natural habitat.



To reflect on our near death experiences, we spent an evening having a traditional braai out in the bush under the most incredible starry night anyone has ever seen. Literally, ever. As the local African wine guided us toward pondering the heavens, we spent hours stargazing and learning about the astrological signs along with useful navigational skills which will surely be used in the near future.


As an environmentally conscious Berkeley student, Chris was deeply troubled by the drought and lack of food strangling the surrounding animals. And when Chris sees a problem, he solves it. After what we can only assume was an intense design thinking process that took place in his head, Chris came to an innovative solution. He gave his dinner back to a nearby bush and watered the plants a bit. This last part may have been a bit misguided as it may have been perceived as a territorial threat to the dominant male rhino in the area, but it’s safe to say he took one for the planet.


Week 3:

During the last week of our IBD project, we visited the Industrial Development Corporation and learned about the strategic investments in the economy of South Africa. Heavy stuff. To unwind, we had a delicious lunch under the supervision of no other than Nelson Mandela in Mandela square of Johannesburg.


The culminating field trip of the week was a tour of University of Pretoria, which gave us perspectives into the education and social developments since Apartheid. Oh and there was Steers, the local equivalent of Burger King. Check it off the bucket list.


And we always remembered to stop for #selfies.


Updates from IBD South Africa – Team African School for Excellence

EWMBA students Susan Hsieh, Melissa Tsang, Cameron Passmore, and Kate DeLeo worked with African School for Excellence, a non-profit organization based in South Africa.


Johannesburg, South Africa

7:15am Breakfast

Our guesthouse in Melville, Life on 3rd, serves breakfast every weekday morning from 7-9am. There is a self-serve selection of cereals, yogurt, fruit, and toast, along with coffee, tea, and juice. Once we’ve settled into “our table”, one of the women who work there (Lydia, Beulla, or Blessings) will come and take our “hot breakfast” order. So far, every day has been an offering of eggs, bacon, and mushrooms. Between our group, we’ve had the eggs almost every way conceivable — scrambled, fried, hard boiled, an in an omelette. One day we’ll have to ask for them poached. The information booklet in our rooms says that the breakfast offering runs the gamut from American to traditional South African. Five days in we are yet to see an option other than eggs, bacon, and mushrooms. Regardless, the food is tasty and is a great way to begin our days.


8:00am Pickup

Our client, Jay Kloppenberg, the co-founder of ASE, comes to pick us up after breakfast. We are heading to the flagship school in Tsakane, a township about 40 minutes southeast of Johannesburg. The site is remote and there is no good way for us to get there ourselves, so we appreciate his hospitality. Even though it is winter break, there is a holiday program called Accelerate running at the school to recruit students for the following year, and Jay continues to have meetings on site as well. As we head further and further out of JoBurg, the roads are becoming more and more remote. When we turn off the highway onto the road into the township, it feels as if we are in a different world. Paved roads turn into dirt streets and it seems as though the entire community is milling about. As it turns out, the unemployment rate in the area is nearly 80% so majority of the community remains close to home every day. Most see their children’s education as their single opportunity to employment, which adds a deeper appreciation as to the symbolism of the school as we enter the school grounds.

9:00am – 1:00pm African School for Excellence (ASE) visit

We arrive at the school and are the only car there. The school looks empty, and we are not even sure if anyone is there. Not long after we park, the head of school, Berkia Banda, comes out to greet us and asks to have a word with Jay in private. We later learn that Mr. Banda had just gotten off the phone with a Grade 8 scholar whose father has just passed away. This interaction serves to remind us that while the school is an oasis to the students and community, it cannot overcome all the ills that the students face.


We are then greeted by four Grade 9 scholars who are at school over their break to help out mentor students in the Accelerate program. Jay asks them to show us around, and the eight of us head down the hill toward the school. As they begin the tour, teaching us about the school and sharing personal anecdotes about their favorite classes and teachers, we naturally break off into pairs, each of us taking our own route throughout the school with our personal guide-peaking into classrooms and exploring the library.

Once the official tours end, we start having personal sessions with teachers and students. Topics range from how everyone became involved with ASE to the plot of a novel that one scholar is writing to how to say “hello” in the language that another scholar invented. The one message that reverberates across each conversation is everyone’s love of the school. The feeling is palpable and contagious.


2:00pm Lunch

When we arrive back in Melville, we pick up some salads downtown to supplement leftovers from last night’s dinner. We had ventured to a neat little restaurant called Ant Cafe, recommended to us by Bernard, the owner of our guesthouse. The food was great, but we severely misjudged the portions and ended up with more food than could fit on the table. But it was nothing that couldn’t be solved by some creative combining…of a chair placed at the end of our table to hold the excess. Needless to say, we didn’t finish it all. As an added bonus, a local overheard our conversation about our upcoming weekend trip to Cape Town as we were waiting for our food and shared her insider knowledge of the best restaurants and trails to try as a “thank you” for our work in the community!


3:00pm Work Session

We eat lunch back in the guesthouse courtyard before heading into the boardroom to do some work. “Boardroom” may be a slightly misleading term. It consists of a table in an indoor/outdoor room. Fortunately, it has power, heat, and wifi. Sort of. Despite showing full connectivity, there are pockets of time where the internet slows to a crawl. The effect on our progress on our slides for Monday’s mid-trip meeting with Jay is drastic, but it gives us time to test out the whiteboard. It turns out that “whiteboard” is also a misleading term. We learn too late that what we thought was a whiteboard easel is in fact just an easel without paper loaded on, and the dry erase marker is a Crayola. At least we’ve left our mark.


6:00pm Break

We take a brief break from work to retreat to our rooms before dinner. We have adjoining rooms with two single beds in each. The rooms are cozy and although we’re in Africa, we are appreciative of the heating system and heated blankets in our rooms. We quickly check the WhatsApp stream that we share with our fellow EWMBA students who are in country to check on the progress of our colleagues across the world. After sending a quick update to the group and to our friends and families back home, we order an Uber – which luckily enough for us is operates in Johannesburg (one of three cities served across South Africa!) and file out to dinner.

7:00pm Outing with ASE team

During one of our weekly calls while we were still in Berkeley, we told Jay that we wanted to take some of his team out to get to know them and to show our appreciation. He ended up picking a spot nearby that we had read about in a few travel books and were curious to try. The reviews were an interesting juxtaposition of a “not to be missed” restaurant and a dive bar.

We arrive with Jay to meet two members of his team that were supposed to already be there. A quick sweep of the place doesn’t show them, and the hostess tells us they are actually preparing for a large group so there might not be space for us. We are making our way to the door, assuming they’ve gone elsewhere, when Jay, who is on the phone with the others in our group, says “What? The secret room?”. Before he’s off the phone, our hostess starts walking towards some occupied tables, indicating we should follow. She goes between them and reaches out to the floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases against the wall, opening a hidden door to this aptly-named secret room.


Over wine, tisers and barbecue ribs, we begin to relax in the informal atmosphere where we get to truly know everyone. The one founder shares his background and love of education as well as some of his favorite stories from his students. The other shares her personal struggles to get through college and how her family has helped drive her success. The others share how much they truly care about and love the students, underscoring just the students reliance on the teachers for strength is a two-way street. We are all sorry to have the night come to a close.

10:30pm Arrive back at our guesthouse

We reflect on the fun night on our way back but have to admit that we’re somewhat relieved to be heading to bed. We typically cap the night off with one final text message to our loved ones back west before either turning to a book or quickly turning on the TV, which seems to consistent primarily of bad U.S. movies from the 90’s (or earlier). While it’s been a long day, we’re excited for the adventures to come tomorrow!



Updates from IBD South Africa – Team loveLife

Robert Heath, Rupal Nayar, Alfonso Perez Grovas, and Julia Wasserman are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project with the South Africa-based loveLife Leadership Academy (an associate of the New loveLife Trust).

The First Days

Our first week in Johannesburg was a waterfall of informational meetings and interviews that shed light on everything we thought we understood upon arrival. One day of marathon meetings stands out in particular, though. The main event that day was with the CEO, Grace, where we presented our kick-off slide deck and initial insights to get her feedback. Her interest in the insights and perspectives we were bringing to the loveLife Leadership Academy really provided a refreshing view on the value we could provide with our combined professional and MBA experiences.

Grace’s message was ever-so inspiring, wanting to do right by the young people of South Africa and provide them with opportunities they deserve. She described loveLife’s history and evolution. She described a desire to channel the risks that youth are willing to take and transform them from negative outcomes into positive opportunities and investments into their own future as well as the community and macro economy.


The “loveLife Way”

Rather than preaching the ways of the world, loveLife inspires youth and builds their self-esteem by empowering them with the message that they too can have on the world. I think I’m most impressed by how they not only say this, but they practice it themselves. At work and in life, the concept of “sawubona” is practiced— it means “I see you.” When you walk into a room or pass someone on the street, you acknowledge each and every person  regardless of position or social standing. And the sentiment is always well-received with a response of “yebo.” Historically, black South Africans were so used to being ignored and seen THROUGH that they make it a point to say this to ensure every person is seen for who they are. It is beautiful. It really just manifests in everything they do. At work, everyone has a voice, regardless of station and I absolutely love that. We haven’t encountered anyone who has been off-putting, and this environment inspires us to begin everyday nice, fresh and happy.


South African Realities

South Africa is plagued by deep injustice and historical inequality. With a current government that is hindering many social efforts that began after Apartheid and with loveLife under that government’s thumb for funding, they are incredibly grateful we are here. It feels empowering and humbling at the same time. We are using so much knowledge gained from life and the MBA in a real way, and loveLife is really looking to us to help them.



Key Insights

For example, just a couple of days later, our meeting with Grace was put into context when we visited a y-center (community youth centers where loveLife programming is delivered) about 3 hours from Johannesburg. During this visit, we split up and held four separate meetings with varying groups of youngsters to really go in depth about their personal experiences and their views on the programs. From this, we gained more valuable information than anyone could have imagined we would. We utilized design thinking methodologies in order to derive many significant insights as we brought our distinct interviews together.


This formed the basis of our workplan for the following week and led to completely re-shaping The Academy’s strategy for revenue generation. Over the following week, we performed even more interviews with potential customers and gathered critical demographic data and statistics to provide a solid case for each of our recommendations that included customer segmentation, pricing, positioning, communication, and product offerings. Although targeting individual learners was an original plan for the loveLife Leadership Academy, we provided a detailed plan for delaying this and re-focusing on youth already in workplace environments, offering products to companies that range from workplace integration to on-the-job training.



The delayed plan for addressing the individual learner segment coordinated nicely with our secondary project – recommendations on strategy for developing a digital platform. We used many of the same insights to define the features we recommended for this platform, features that could significantly improve learner experience and engagement as well as alleviate so many of the logistical issues of organizing and delivering programs to individuals, all while allowing The Academy to maintain even more quality control over the content. Other features of the platform further allow The Academy to take advantage of its unique position within the current educational opportunities for youth and use this in their brand strategy.

In conclusion…

During that first visit to the Y-center, in demonstration of loveLife’s unique approach, we were greeted in the “loveLife way” with dancing ice-breakers and conversation to understand where the youths there came from and how loveLife has helped transform their lives, sublimating their natural youthful tendencies toward risk into positive actions that help them and their communities. We truly believe this unique approach can transform the future of South Africa by meeting youth’s hunger for knowledge and opportunity along with transforming the way companies and the government provide the resources and work environments that will help the society thrive. We look forward to following all of The Academy’s success over the next year!



Updates from IBD South Africa – GroupElephant.com

IBD Team GroupElephant.com Spring 2015 (Matthew Bujnicki, Stacey Chin, Travis Dziubla, Ashley Lohmann) worked with Groupelephant.com – a South African conservation initiative.

IMG_2051 (1)

One of the highlights of business school is the opportunity we give ourselves to move out of our comfort zone and learn new things. That being said, no one on our team expected those “new things” to include “professional grade cinematography in the African wilderness,” and all the adventures and challenges that come with filming around large snakes, baboons, and cute baby rhinos weighing more than most motorcycles.


The African bush is an incredible place, and filming around the people and animals that reside there was a unique privilege, though not without its challenges. Our lead cinematographer Ashley Lohmann was chased onto the roof of a pickup truck by an agitated baby rhino; while she insists it was out for blood, we’re all pretty sure it just wanted a hug. During an on-camera interview of our client, we called out to tell others off-camera to keep quiet, only to realize everyone on the property was within 5 feet; the noise was coming from a family of baboons, who had found their way into our kitchen and were wreaking havoc on our refrigerator (sneaky buggers). We also spent months pre-travel trying to secure permits to fly a footage-capturing drone in the South African bush (which attracted quite a lot of attention from avid mini-conservationists). From food poisoning to incredibly insistent African wasps, the South African ecosystem made its presence known in our whirlwind 3-week film shoot. We left much better equipped to work in the midst of ambiguity.



Ashley with Rhino


In conclusion, we feel incredibly lucky to have participated in IBD, continuing IBD’s partnership with groupelephant.com. We’d like to share one of our final deliverables. May we present “Groupelephant.com and Beyond Corporate Purpose”:


Updates from IBD South Africa – Team EPI-USE

BEPA Redefines Corporate Travel Management

Albrecht Wiedersberg, Benya Phetkaeo, Emily Roesing and Paul Hogan are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Sydney, Australia and Pretoria, South Africa. Their team, BEPA, have been visiting London, Sydney, and Pretoria over the last three weeks working on innovative ways to redefine corporate travel management for EPI-USE, a global IT consulting firm.

EPI-USE, a leading IT service provider in the SAP HR space, asked our team to investigate ways to reduce travel expense and to develop a potential business model for the group. Throughout the spring semester, our team had analyzed travel data, interviewed with consultants and travelers from different verticals, and tested potential solutions for EPI-USE.

Led by Haas alumnus and EPI-USE executive Quintin Smith, our team set a game plan and aligned it with key stakeholders; among them was Jonathan Tager, CEO of EPI-USE. Only a few days after the end of spring semester, our team started a great journey visiting EPI-USE’s core regions to get a better picture of the travel situation and to come up with a high impact recommendation.

Our team spent the first week in Sydney and London where we met with local travel managers, consultants, and members of EPI-USE’s leadership team. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful and great to work with. In our first week, Susan from the London office and Yaron from the Australian office made it very easy for us to get started! After an intense week of analysis and a short sightseeing weekend we packed our bags and first results to transfer to South Africa where the very exciting final phase of our project was to take place.

epi-use1Paul Hogan at Bondi Beach

epi-use2Sydney skyline

epi-use3Working lunch with Yaron

The next morning, we were all excited to meet Quintin who introduced us to the EPI-USE team and made it really easy for us to start work. Over the following days we further investigated travel in the local office while summarizing our results and working on the final project deliverables. We designed and ran a survey within EPI-USE to find out how consultants value comfort and time in business travel, and validated the survey results with a representative survey among Australian, UK, and US business travelers. Based on the survey results we developed a financial model and estimated the potential impact of an incentivization model for EPI-USE.

epi-use4Our team at work

However, our time in South Africa was about a lot more than models and slides only; during the first days in the country, Quintin introduced us to the team with a big dinner at a great restaurant. It only got better from there: Quintin invited our team to spend the weekend at a South African game farm where we had a truly outstanding time. Not only was the place one of the nicest lodges we had ever seen, Quintin and the game farm staff made it very special for us. We were invited to morning and sunset tours where we saw lots of animals, great scenery, and the beautiful night sky. It was also action-packed: The team learned to set up a proper (and amazingly big) fireplace, to shoot a rifle, and to read tracks and signs of the African bush. Finally, in a traditional bosberaad Quintin and our team decided the strategy for our last week of project work.

epi-use5The awesome lodge where we spent almost three days

epi-use6The team getting ready for a bush ride

epi-use8Quintin and team BEPA at sunset 

epi-use9Right before sunset – It took 5 minutes and the sun was gone!

epi-use10Before the BBQ comes a serious fireplace workout

epi-use12Delicious IBD project

epi-use13The team happy after a big meal

As if that were not enough, on the way back from this fantastic weekend Quintin announced the next adventure: Our team would go to another game farm the day before our final presentation. Equipped with this extra portion of motivation and due to the great support of Quintin, the EPI-USE leadership team, and everyone in the EPI-USE offices we had a polished final presentation document in place only a few days later.

The day before our presentation, we got up very early. Everyone was excited about what was going to happen since Quintin had not reveal what exactly our team was going to do this day. The day did not disappoint our expectations: We went to a farm that was focused on veterinary work with rhinos and witnessed how a professor examined three rhinos. This required the rhinos to be darted, a process where the rhino has to be anesthetized for a short period of time to carry out the examination work. This was a big spectacle as a helicopter had to spot the rhino before it was darted and we could witness the veterinarian’s work first hand. It was very impressive to see the rhinos close-up. They are outstandingly huge and powerful animals!

epi-use14A helicopter is used to locate and dart the rhinos

epi-use15The rhino after being darted – Everyone takes care that it does not fall down uncontrolled

epi-use16The rhino is sleeping while the veterinarian examines it

epi-use17A break at “4U2P”

On our last day, we gave a very successful final presentation to a large EPI-USE audience including the group CEO and all key stakeholders. When it was time to say goodbye a couple of hours later and over a glass of champagne we felt very happy and proud of the result we had delivered. However, even more important was the feeling of gratefulness for our very special memories. Or, to say it in Quintin’s words, our team felt our IBD experience with EPI-USE and particularly with Quintin was truly “a treat”!

Team Habanero Spices it up for EPI-USE!

Team Habanero (we’ll explain later) was recently in the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa working with EPI-USE on a project to build a forward-looking operational model to help senior leaders better understand regional performance and share best practices across EPI-USE, globally.

Our team was thrilled to learn that our International Business Development experience would be supporting a Haas alum, Quintin Smith.  Working with an alum was a privilege. Quintin went above and beyond to show us how important this project, and our professional development, was to him. Quintin is a 2008 FTMBA alum from Haas and joined EPI-USE upon graduating. This brought him back to his native South Africa, and more specifically, to his hometown of Pretoria which is also home to EPI-USE Global HQ.

A bit more on EPI-USE:  a technology solutions provider traditionally focused on SAP Human Capital Management products and implementations.  In additional to South Africa, EPI-USE has 3 other major Territories of operation: Australia, United Kingdom and the U.S. Luckily enough for our team, this meant we would have the unique opportunity to travel to multiple countries during our in-country stint.

Early on, the team realized that we had something big on our hands. Every week, we spent time with Quintin via telephone, bouncing ideas off of him and reporting on our progress.  Not only that, we held bi-weekly calls with Jonathan Tager, Group CEO of EPI-USE.  Jonathan was extremely engaged throughout our project, making sure that we had all the resources and access needed to build or model and understand the operations in each of the four regions.

The team spent a considerable amount of time scoping the project, making sure that our expectations were challenging, yet manageable.  This time proved to be crucial as we began to delve deeper into the nuances and differences in operations among the regions. Before traveling to the regions, we scoured their financial statements and held in-depth interviews with the leaders and head accountants in each region.  Our goal was to have a good understanding of the business before arriving in-country.  One key milestone we wanted to achieve was to have a working excel prototype of the model ready before our travel – and we did!


Berkeley > London & Sydney > Pretoria

As we mentioned before, in order to build our model with the level of accuracy required, we had to travel to each of the regions and uncover the drivers of revenues and costs.  Stephen and Kevin traveled to the UK while Rodrigo and I headed off to Sydney.  What we found there was no surprise: amazing people! An overarching theme of our IBD experience was the generosity, hospitality and kindness of each and every EPI-USE employee we encountered. Our team was taken aback by the level of caring showed by our hosts.  When we needed their time, they were there, no questions asked.  We cannot say enough about the unique culture at EPI-USE, where we learned ‘management’ is a verb, not a noun (thanks, Jonathan!).

So what did we do? After building a solid understanding of the EPI-USE business, including how the company earned and invested money, we iterated on our excel-based model.  These iterations made for some long days…


We worked long days…


…and long nights (Julio was the resident photographer. He actually did do some work)


Sleep? We got it however we could!

We certainly do not want to portray our IBD experience as all work. We played…a LOT! It was our first time in these countries, and we took full advantage thanks to our extraordinary hosts.


Rodrigo (left) and Julio (right) in Sydney


Kevin in London

South Africa was unbelievable. We saved rhinos! In South Africa today, rhinoceros poaching has reached an all-time high, threatening the species. They are poached for their horns, which can fetch upwards of $250,000 USD on the black market. We had the extremely rare opportunity to participate in the transport of a number rhinos, which were being moved to platinum mine, where they would be heavily guarded against poachers.


Kevin (left) and Rodrigo (right) on safari


Stephen getting up close and personal with the rhinos.


This was basically dinner each night.


In the end, our project was a success.  Our model was well received and is being piloted in the UK.  We have memories to last a life time.  Thank you EPI-USE and a special thanks to Quintin!

Oh, and we were dubbed Team Habanero because Quintin always wanted us to go the extra mile in our analysis.  He encouraged us to be creative and think outside of the box.  He called it “making things spicy”!


The guys found some time to play a few holes before hopping on their flights back home.