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”!

Updates from IBD Germany & Russia – Munich & Moscow

Brian Canty, Nipun Misra, Jesse Tao and Ajoy Vase are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Munich, Germany and Moscow, Russia.

Week 1 – Germany

Our client is Moscow, Russia based but our first stop and first week was in Munich, Germany to visit a strategic business partner.  Germans have a reputation for punctuality, efficiency, and technical mastery; our business experience in Germany reflected exactly that.

Our meetings were held on the 3rd floor of an office complex about an hour to the northeast of Munich.  We were ushered past a clean and minimalist working space and into a conference room that doubled as a showroom for the company’s products.  A plate of buttered pretzels was waiting for us.

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It was much warmer in the conference room than outside.  We initially wrote it off as inadequate air conditioning for such a sunny day but later learned that the heater was on because the control knob was broken.  Our first meeting was with the CEO, a serial entrepreneur.  About 10 minutes into the meeting, he excused himself for a moment, retrieved a tool kit from his office, and fixed the control knob right in front of us while continuing the conversation.  He then made a comment about how he didn’t want to wait for maintenance to fix it.  I guess the idea that no task is too small when you’re the CEO of a small company is cross cultural.

In addition to speaking with the CEO, we also spoke with the sales and technical teams.  Before officially meeting with the sales team, we had an unofficial business lunch – a reoccurring theme during our trip – at one of the oldest wheat beer breweries in the world.  I’m personally a huge fan of wheat beer so I thought this would be a tourist hot spot.  Surprisingly it was fairly empty during Tuesday lunch.  More surprisingly there was no English menu and the staff didn’t know English.  Fortunately our business contacts translated the menu for us or else I would have just pointed at the most interesting sounding schnitzel on the menu.

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We found our meetings with the technical staff to be very useful.  The sales team validated our research around potential customers, products, and markets.  The technical team provided execution level details about the benefit and limitations of certain technologies and processes.  The diversification of knowledge helped provide more substance to the market research we did.

Back in Munich, our team visited at least one beer garden every single night.  The beer are served in large 1 liter steins and are very easy to drink.  A 2 euro deposit is also charged to encourage customers to return the glassware when done.  In all honesty, after a few beers I was doing a cost benefit analysis in my head and justifying that 2 euros for a stein is quite a steal.  But I remained civil.

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Week 2 – Arrive in Moscow
Upon arrival in Moscow, we were surprised to learn that we had a meeting with one of the largest venture capital funds in Russia the next day.  We were told that in Russia it’s not uncommon for meetings to be booked very close to the actual meeting time, sometimes even morning of.  With the work we did in Berkeley and on the ground in Germany we were prepared.

The next morning we went to the main business center of Moscow, which is an impressive area of newly constructed high rises.  Our guide told us that many large companies have offices in this area to make it easy to have meetings since one would only need to walk to a different building or different floor to meet with another company.

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Our meeting with the investors went well.  We spoke with 2 individuals and there was an obvious element of seniority: the more junior person asked many detailed questions whereas the more senior person only asked a few high level questions. Overall they were interested and impressed by our work and the fact that we were American MBA students.

After the meeting we had lunch with our client contact. He told us that business lunches were very popular in Russia which is why many restaurants offer a special business lunch menu. We compared and contrasted with how in the US, lunches weren’t long and it was not uncommon for people to just get food to eat at their desks and continue working.  We were told that only people who needed to be at their desks, such as traders, would actually do that in Russia.

Over the rest of the week we met with many other investors.  The seniority we noticed in the first meeting continued to be prominent. For example, whenever we met with a more senior person, he would be more interested in high level trends and pushing his point of view. Whenever we spoke with more junior people, they dug into the details more and were more open and receptive towards our recommendations. When we asked our client contact why that is, we were told that Russia is still fairly hierarchical and once you work for a few years and move up, the expectation is to just start delegating work rather than doing work.  This model is not that different from the US model but appeared much more pronounced.

During our initial cultural research, we learned that Russians tend to be more to the point and engage in less small talk.  In almost every one of our meetings, we had some small talk with our counterparts but it was always at the end and felt a bit forced. It wasn’t clear to us if the cultural norm is to talk business first and then have a casual chat or if the investors we were speaking to were just humoring us.

The feel of Moscow was very business focused but we tried to have fun too. During our exploration adventures we met physics and business students from the local Moscow State University.  There was a general fascination that we came from America and we compared perceptions of culture over drinks.  Business was apparently not very popular as a topic of study and most students obtain a technical degree such as math or physics.  Students also often go straight into a higher education program.

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We also met other entrepreneurs since startups and creating your own business is currently popular in Moscow.  What’s interesting though is that many of these Russian startups merely copy successful ideas and apply it to the Russian market.  Ideas like coupons on mobile devices or professional networking using social media exist in the US but because of both the difficulty in breaking into the Russian market as well as the low barrier to entry of copying a successful idea if you’re Russian, many of these startups are sprouting up.  We were even told that the search and maps market leader, Yandex, is just a copy of Google and Google maps.  It was a very interesting type of capitalism and entrepreneurship through copying ideas.

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Week 3 – Startup village

In our final week, we attended the Startup Village event at Skolkovo, which is about an hour to the west of Moscow. Skolkovo Innovation Center is a planned high tech business area that the government wants to turn into the Silicon Valley of Russia.  Despite the billions of rubles spent in developing the area, only a handful of completed buildings.  The remaining area were still working on the groundwork.  We were told that this is just the result of inefficiency and corruption and Russians more or less just accept it even if they don’t like it.

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The event took place at a modern looking 6 story building.  Inside there were demos of ideas and products, classes for students, and a stage for speakers.  A ring of food vendors encircled the building though the most popular stand was probably the one giving away free Angry Birds branded soda.  A temporary outdoor stage was erected as the main stage.  One medium sized outdoor covered area housed many booths for companies to demonstrate their product; our client had a booth there. There were four smaller covered pavilion areas that served as stages and pitch areas for companies focusing on digital technology, health, energy, and high tech manufacturing.  The entire venue was scattered with bean bag chairs, which was fun and added to the startup vibe.

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Speakers came from around the world to talk about startup trends, give advice, or provide interesting insights.  The topic of international expansion was touched upon by many speakers.  The key takeaway many emphasized was to plan and think about what you want to do early in the startup lifecycle. That’s probably easier said than done.

Another major component of Startup Village was the startup pitches.  There were probably more than 50 companies pitching across the various stages.  One startup pitched an idea that was very similar to what we recommended our client to do but, lacking the thorough market research we did, was unable to answer some of the questions from the judges.  Our client pitched well and advanced to the second round of pitching the next day.  At the end of the competition, our client was one of the top finishers and received a notable cash prize.

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There was a surprise visit by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who listened to a few pitches before making a speech.  As an early backer of Skolkovo, it was rumored he would have appeared.  Traffic and security went through the roof in the hour before he publically appeared.

We also met with 2 new admits during our final week in Moscow.  We had brunch with them and a recently graduated classmate.  During our meal we eased their concerns about moving to Berkeley and finding housing – a daunting task even for someone not international.  Afterwards, they were generous enough to guide us around their city and to Gorky Park.  It was great to connect and meet with some of the incoming class.  We had a lot of fun chatting with them and I’m excited to see them on campus next year.

Updates from IBD Tanzania – Team PSI

Aaron Beaudette, Andrew Berry, Chris Pfab and Eric Prando are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Tanzania with Population Services International (PSI).

It was 6:30am and the sun had just come up. Our driver pulled a quick 180 and sped off after the lion, which had just leaped up and broken into a run after a small pack of hyenas on the hunt. We were the first (humans) on the scene and just in time to see the lion charge in and steal a freshly killed Thomson’s gazelle from the hyenas, which numbered only six or seven and did not have the numbers to retaliate. Instead, they simply drifted closer and closer until a growl and a lunge from the lion put them at a distance for good. A jackal also wandered over and joined in the spectacle, waiting for an opening to steal a mouthful itself. On our way back to the lodge after our most memorable safari moment, our driver taught us how to say, “In the Serengeti, we saw a lion eating a Thomson’s gazelle,” in Swahili. The resulting “Serengeti tumeona simba anacula swalatomi” became a commonly repeated phrase throughout our trip.

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Spring 2014 IBD Team “Simba Anacula Swalatomi” is in Tanzania working with Population Services International, Tanzania (PSI/T), a global health nonprofit with a mission to use sustainable and effective collaboration to measurably improve the health of vulnerable people in Tanzania by promoting healthy behaviors and delivering quality affordable products and services. The team – Eric Prando, Andrew Berry, Aaron Beaudette, and Chris Pfab – are providing a recommendation on how PSI/T can best fulfill its goal to reduce deaths from diarrheal disease in children under five years old. We are tackling this problem by looking at household water treatment technologies (focusing on WaterGuard, PSI/T’s current chlorine-based product on the market) and alternative financial mechanisms such as carbon credits.

From the moment our team stood up in the first IBD class at the beginning of the semester and heard that we were going to Tanzania, every one of us was excited with the placement. None of us had ever been to East Africa, for one, and what’s more we were all thrilled to be working with PSI/T’s Director of Programs, Melissa Higbie, who herself graduated from Haas in 2009 with a joint MBA/MPH. Melissa worked with the University of Botswana and in Tanzania for Venture Strategy Innovations before joining PSI last year and was already familiar with the IBD process.

Shortly after our kickoff presentation, we left for a week and a half of field trips around Tanzania to understand water consumers in both urban and rural – some very rural! – areas. Our goals were to familiarize ourselves with different approaches to water sourcing and consumption, as well as to become acquainted with perceptions and attitudes towards treated and untreated water. One interesting insight we had on these trips was that customer education and behavior change are separate concepts, and while they can be achieved independently they need to be integrated in order for PSI’s project to be sustainable.

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On our trips, we quickly learned that infrastructure is a big problem in Tanzania; it took us three and a half hours to drive 70 miles to a nearby city, and even the roads in the most developed parts of the capital, Dar Es Salaam, are riddled with potholes caused by the rainy season. Some were so deep that our 4×4’s almost got stuck. Getting around on Bujaji’s, the local iteration for a scooter fitted with seating for 4,5, or even 6 people, turned out to be an adventure by itself, but always fun.

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Upon returning to Dar, we set up meetings with water experts in the government and nonprofit sectors to test our theories. Before we got too far, though, we had to try WaterGuard for ourselves! After hearing substantial negative feedback on the “chemical” or “swimming pool taste,” we were surprised to find the taste rather mild! Upon further reflection, though, we considered that this may have been to us associating a slight chlorine taste with something that is free from bacteria, i.e. safe to consume. Someone without this context could have a very different reaction.

The food in Tanzania is really good. Between the local lunch shacks on the streets that served fresh cooked fish and omelets with fries, the incredible Ethiopian in Dar, the Indian curries, and eaten-with-hands full tilapias we had on Lake Victoria, there were always new things to enjoy. The local brews also stood out, with memorable brands such as Kilimanjaro, Safari, Serengeti and Castle.

Before delivering our final presentation, we were able to head off to beautiful Zanzibar for a weekend. We took a tiny prop plane – about a 15 seater – for the 20 minutes flight, and upon landing and opening the door everyone on the plane stayed put. We did as well, initially thinking that everyone was waiting for someone to come and get us to lead us down the tarmac. This thinking quickly shifted when other passengers began boarding and we realized that everyone else on the plane was continuing on to another destination! We quickly gathered our things and deplaned before they had a chance to whisk us away to a far less desirable destination… We spent time in Stone Town walking through the medina, getting Zanzi-beards (i.e. a shave at a local shop), and chatting with many, many friendly children all eager to teach Swahili and learn some English. On our flight back to Dar, our very own Aaron Beaudette was promoted to co-pilot (!), which was as exciting for him as it was terrifying for us. (It turns out that there is no co-pilot on these flights and that one passenger gets to sit behind the second set of controls!!).

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Over our last few days, we consolidated our ideas into a practical solution we described as, “In rural areas, empower trusted community members to be door-to-door entrepreneurs who educate on and sell clean water products.” These local entrepreneurs could fill out their basket-of-goods with additional water treatment options, such as ceramic filters, or child health products, such as vitamins or Milo, for sale. This solution is a departure from PSI/T’s current pull-dominant strategy that does not feature simultaneous marketing and sales.

Looking back on our time over the last three weeks, a few things really stand out. The first is that the Haas spirit is alive and well in East Africa. Melissa truly represents everything that makes Haas a fantastic place. We also learned that taking some time to learn the local language – and really have a genuine interest – does wonders to help break the ice. Almost without exception, our best local interactions came when we tried, and often stumbled, to speak and learn Swahili. People loved it. Last, harkening back to our safari adventure, sometimes it does not matter how fast or skilled you are. Sometimes the strongest just wins out. We loved our trip to Tanzania: We had a fantastic team, project, and client and cannot wait until we can get back there for another adventure.

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Updates from IBD India – Team SAP Ganges

Spring 2014 IBD FTMBA students Carmela Aquino, Dora Chai, Chasen Goudeau, Charles Guo, and Nate Wojck are in India working with SAP Labs India.

The road to the heart of the city teased us with twinkling night-lights in the distance, as we made our way past midnight into this strange, foreign town that would be home for the next 3 weeks. We would come to learn over the next few days and weeks that Bengaluru, or Bangalore as it was once called by the British, was once known as a “pensioner’s paradise” – for its relatively cool climate compared to the rest of the country.

These days, it was known more for being the technology capital of India, home to sprawling campuses of many of the world’s largest technology firms. We walked into Bangalore anticipating another version of Silicon Valley on the other side of the globe. We were not prepared for what we came across, a city that was both developed and yet steeped in so much tradition, both modern and yet traditional, and altogether unpredictable. What we learned over the next three weeks was that this would be a theme rippling across our experiences in India .

After 5 months of planning and 24 hours of travel, our team had finally arrived in Bangalore to carry out fieldwork for SAP Ganges, a project incubated by SAP Labs India, the research and innovation arm of SAP. For the next 3 weeks, we would be working with the SAP Ganges team to serve India’s unorganized retail industry, which is composed of several tiers of mom-and-pop shops, or  kirana stores.  They are small shops  that sell a rich variety of consumer packaged goods and bulk items such as rice, and could be found on practically every corner of most Indian cities. India’s 8 million plus kirana stores  account for more than 90% of the country’s multibillion retail industry, far outpacing the reach of modern big-box outlets, presenting immense opportunities and daunting challenges at the same time.

Reaching Indian Retail’s Last Mile

Our team had been preparing for this project for months, with numerous weekly phone calls with our project stakeholders from SAP, both in Palo Alto and Bangalore, and our IBD coach. We had interviewed subject matter experts and industry professionals to gain initial insights into our task. We had conducted research on best practices that could be applicable for the project. But the bulk of our work had to be done in-country, as it was only through fieldwork that we could find ourselves truly gaining the understanding needed to answer our questions. How could SAP truly help bring light to the whole unorganized retail value chain? How could we help bring SAP technology to kirana storeowners, many of whom had relied on pen and paper their whole life to account for their business?

sap1Team SAP Ganges visiting SAP America in Palo Alto in February 2014

Upon reaching Bangalore, we met with the entire SAP Ganges team. The diverse background of the team members, and more importantly, their shared passion for SAP Ganges impressed us. Many of them had switched into the project initially as volunteers. With the help of many of the members of the team, we set out to validate our initial hypotheses in the field by talking to kirana owners, CPG distributors, organized retail players, and CPG companies

The true highlight of the project was speaking with kirana owners, who surprised us with how unique they all were in their aspirations for their businesses and the practices they maintained that kept their businesses alive and thriving. Still, we found that many common things remained – many of these shops would have been around for more than a decade and had developed close community relationships. It has been customary for many Indian households to call the nearby kirana shop to pick up ingredients or household items, over going to a modern supermarket. It was also customary for many of these shop owners to offer revolving lines of credit to loyal customers, to be settled at the end of the month – offering a unique credit service that could be challenging to maintain.

 

store visit 2Speaking with a FMCG distributor at a kirana store

sap2Our team and our client visiting a kirana store in Bangalore

nate&chasenNate and Chasen discussing notes from our interview at our first kirana visit

These kirana shops keep themselves stocked by relying on their distributors, who would visit the shops on a weekly basis to take orders and fulfill them by ordering from the CPG companies. Since each distributor was dedicated to only one CPG brand primarily, any given shop could be dealing with more than 40 distributors. Accounting is done primarily through pen-and-paper, and shopkeepers rely on their books, intuition, and memory to estimate how much inventory is in their shop and how well they are doing financially. Still, these methods are not foolproof. SAP Ganges, with its all-in-one Point-of-Sale device offered a better way for these shop keepers to keep track of their sales, manage their customer credit lines, and keep stock of their inventory. But would shop owners be amenable to it? Our work lay in understanding how to reach SAP Ganges’ target kirana storeowners with the message that would truly appeal to them.

Surprises

Along the way, we were surprised by many things. We had assumed that certain aspects would be more important than others in selling the SAP Ganges solution. And yet kirana owners would surprise us with how they valued some things over others, and completely disregarded certain aspects that we had initially surmised to be important.

For instance, we initially thought the price of the device was too high for kiranas to fully absorb. However, throughout our interview process we learned that many of the upper-tier kirana owners were receptive to the price and possessed a willingness-to-pay that was much higher than what we assumed. We quickly learned that these storeowners saw value in one of the device’s most subtle features, which was the ability to print a receipt and give it to their customer. Phone orders are extremely popular in India, and shopkeepers spend significant time handwriting their bills for their customers. SAP’s solution would allow them to more quickly prepare these bills and provide a more professional invoice than the handwritten alternative. As a result of our discovery and understanding of the value of being more professional for shop owners to compete with emerging organized retailers, we decided to focus our messaging on selling SAP Ganges as “the next generation of affordable point-of-sale technology that promises simple and professional business management.”

kirana1An owner of a kirana store that sells primarily bulk goods

sap3The Nandi Departmental Store, our first kirana store interview

On the contrary, we were also surprised by how many storeowners were unreceptive to change. Many of these kirana owners had worked in their shops for decades. To them, technology was an unnecessary distraction from their current business operations. Even though we could see the value, in particular the efficiency, that SAP Ganges provides, we began to understand why these owners were resistant to adoption. Given the success of their business to-date, they didn’t see the need to invest in a device to make their business better. These owners also have yet to be exposed to the modern technology and retail systems of the United States and other developed countries; therefore, they couldn’t even imagine the benefits that such a technological solution could deliver.

Ultimately, we knew we needed to be sensitive to the kirana owners’ behaviors and practices and couldn’t force a product onto them. Therefore, we decided to focus our marketing efforts on a specific target segment of kirana owners that could envision the benefits SAP Ganges would provide them.

The interviews and visits were immensely helpful in that they provided us a first-hand exposure to SAP Ganges’ target customers, the unique role they play in the Indian society and the transformation India’s retail industry has been going through. Through our visits to the distributors and a local wholesale market, we came to appreciate the entrepreneurial spirits of Indian businesses, from the likes of the Reliance Industries Limited and Tata Group that touch every aspect of Indians’ life to Mr. Raghuram M.V.’s small distribution company which supplies packaged goods to thousands of kirana stores in Bangalore.

sap4Team SAP Ganges visiting distributor Mr. Raghuram M.V.

Not Just Work

Outside of our 5-day work schedule, our team still found time to hang out and explore India. During our first full-weekend we took a trip down to the southern state of Kerala, which was recommended to us by our client. They told us about the houseboats we could rent to explore the Kerala backwaters. These boats were decked with full kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. We could stay overnight and our boat staff would cook for us while exploring the waters. Our client introduced us to  a friend who owned one of these boats and we moved quickly to finalize our transportation plans to Kerala.

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sap5View from our houseboat on the Kerala backwaters

We decided on hiring a driver to drive us down to Kerala and back over the weekend. Drivers in India are pretty affordable, and hiring one is much better than trying to navigate the insane driving in India. Flights to Kerala last only about an hour, but since we planned the trip on such short notice, flights were expensive and we would’ve had to figure out transportation once we landed. Little did we know that the trip to Kerala would take 14 HOURS one-way! We left late Friday night in order to beat the traffic and didn’t arrive to the houseboat until about 2:00pm on Saturday. Granted we stopped to see elephants along the way, but the trip lasted much longer than originally anticipated. Not to mention that driving on Indian highways at night is one of the most terrifying experiences ever. Once you get to Kerala, the highways become one lane in both directions. In the middle of the night, our team woke up to find ourselves driving head-on with another car on the highway! At the last minute our driver would swerve back into his appropriate lane, all in an effort to pass the slow-moving car that was in front of us. It was like a crazy game of chicken, waiting to see which driver would flinch first in order to avoid a head-on collision. This practice of passing up others on the highway was the norm in India, and only us Americans were the ones who seemed to be terrified. We learned how to deal with this by just closing our eyes while we were in the car—ignorance is bliss right?

Kerala was amazing, however. Once we boarded our houseboat, our captain took us to a remote Indian village where we spent $50 on live crab, prawns, and fish. This much seafood would’ve cost over $100 in the States. Our cook prepared the best meal for us as we rode the backwaters and drank Kingfisher (one of India’s most popular beers). During the night we docked, played games, laughed, and listened to the rain while sitting on the deck of our boat. It was such a relaxing experience, aside from the mosquitos, that brought our team closer and gave us a deep appreciation for India.

seafood1Picking up some fresh seafood from a village in Kerala!

seafood2Tons to choose from!

Beyond Kerala, our team got to explore Goa, New Delhi, Agra, and Mumbai. We didn’t know how huge of a country that India is, and one needs more than a month to explore all that it has to offer. As a team, we found Mumbai to be such an incredible place. We were disappointed that we only got to spend one night there (for work purposes) but we were able to get a glimpse into how amazing it was. Our client took us to the Gateway of India, where we posed for photos after being heckled by a photographer. (Indians are very persistent!) We saw the Taj Hotel and ate dinner at Leopold Café, both sites of the devastating terrorist attacks that Indians refer to as “26/11.” Mumbai was the last trip that our group would take outside of Bangalore, and it marked an incredible end to our exploration of India.

mumbaiTeam SAP Ganges visiting Mumbai

Departure

Our departure from India was bittersweet. While we were excited to return to warm showers, consistent electricity, and American cuisine, we knew that we would never be able to experience India the way we did again. IBD was a once in a lifetime opportunity that allowed us to fully immerse ourselves within the richness that is India.

Despite India’s complicated and long history of British governance, we were impressed by how resilient the people of India are. Practices and customs that we observed on our trip dated back to India’s early history, and there are very few societies that have been able to maintain their cultural integrity throughout hundreds of years.

There was never a dull moment in India. Every street, corner, temple, market, and car-ride was a surprise that kept us so intrigued. There were so many moments that our team would sit in silence while in traffic just observing what went on before us in the streets. We asked many questions in order to get a better understanding of what we were seeing, but we left knowing that there are just some things we won’t understand about India.

We left India with all sorts of feelings and thoughts. It is chaotic yet it is vibrant with abundance of life. It is blessed with thousands of years of history yet exhibiting enormous potential reclaiming its historical prominence in the world. It could be overwhelming yet you can always expect to be greeted with a friendly smile. It is such a rich place that is so indescribable, and no one will understand how different of a place it is until you visit.

We loved India, and we hope India loved us back.

departureFinal departure from Bangalulu International Airport with blessing from our dear Indian friends

Updates from IBD Thailand – Bangkok, Krabi, and Vientiane, Laos

Spring 2014 IBD students Christen Chen, Garima Dhingra, Zane Keller and Andrew Mitsch are in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Week 1

Our team arrived in Thailand on Sunday, May 18th. One of the things you first notice when you arrive in Bangkok is the climate. To say it’s warm and humid here would be an understatement: daily high temperatures routinely reach 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) with humidity in the 70-80% range. Needless to say, the best time to explore the city is in the morning and evenings when temperatures are cooler.

shell1Morning in Bangkok

We are staying in the Sukhumvit neighborhood of Bangkok. Sukhumvit is a very modern neighborhood bustling with street life, soaring office and residential towers, and a vibrant mix of western and eastern stores and restaurants. The neighborhood is bisected by Sukhumvit Road, one of the main thoroughfares in Bangkok. This has worked to our advantage since the road is served by both the MRT (subway system) and SRT (monorail). We have found the public transit system here to be cheap, efficient, and safe. Transit is an especially favorable option due to local traffic and road conditions, which we will describe in a later post.

shell2The Sukhumvit skyline

On the second day of our trip, we woke up to the surprising news that the Thai military had declared martial law in response to recent political unrest. This development took a further turn when the army declared on the fourth day of our trip that a coup was in progress. Despite these alarming headlines, we thankfully saw little change in day-to-day life in our neighborhood in Bangkok.

shell3Coup in Thailand (source: CNN)

When we aren’t working on our project, we have enjoyed the local cuisine and coffee shops which are prevalent throughout the neighborhood. Thai food, which is most well known for being spicy, can also be surprisingly sweet and comes with various forms of meat (generally chicken or pork), seafood, and vegetables. To the surprise of the vegetarian in our group, it is relatively challenging to find strictly vegetarian food in Thailand.

Our first week in Thailand was an interesting one between the coup, the surprisingly modern and western environs of Sukhumvit, and the bustling street life of Bangkok. This weekend, three of our group members are heading to Chiang Mai, well known for its rich history. The fourth member will be staying in Bangkok and exploring the Rattanakosin neighborhood which includes sites such as Wat Pho, a well-known Buddhist temple.

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Week two

During the second week, we finally had the opportunity to meet with our client in their office (the political situation previously delayed us from meeting with the client in-person). During the meeting, we discussed our project plan and scheduled some interviews with some of the client’s employees as well as several external parties.

shell5Discussing our IBD project with our client as we walk through the streets of Bangkok

shell6Meeting with our client in their office

We conducted these interviews throughout the week. When conducting these interviews, time zone differences often created a significant challenge: since our client is a multinational company, many of the employees that we spoke with were located in Europe or the United States. As a result, we conducted many of our interviews early in the morning or late at night from various locations. Additionally, employees in different geographical regions have different conversational styles: in Thailand, they prefer to build a relationship first before speaking, whereas in Europe and the U.S. the employees preferred highly structured and direct conversations. Subtle differences such as these are what make the IBD experience a true learning opportunity.

At the end of the second week, half of our team headed to Vientiane, Laos while the other half headed to Krabi, Thailand. Krabi is a quaint beach town located in southern Thailand which is lower profile than its sister beach town Phuket. On the first day, the group climbed up the famous Tiger Mountain; 1,200 steps the team finally made it to the top. The breathtaking views made the hour long climb worth the effort. Meanwhile, the pair that went to Laos enjoyed the French-influenced city of Vientiane and the relatively undeveloped countryside of Laos. When the team arrived back in Bangkok, the political tensions seemed to have eased a bit as the curfew was extended from 10pm to 12am.

shell7IBD team members visiting a Buddha garden near Vientiane, Laos 

shell8IBD team members riding an elephant near Krabi, Thailand

Week three

On the last week, the team was able to extract some great insights from internal employees of the company. Because the Thailand market in which the client operated was underpenetrated, we were able to gain best practices from other parts of the company. These insights were very informative in when forming our final recommendations to the client. On Friday June 6th, we presented our conclusions to three members of our client’s country management team. The recommendations were well received and we discussed the next action items as well as possible future consulting projects.

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

Updates from IBD China – Team YY

Spring 2014 IBD Team YY (Brandon Cato, Justin Harnoss, Peter Garai, Simon Yoo) worked with Chinese social media company YY in Guangzhou, China.

Our team spent three weeks in China working with social media company YY.com, identifying growth opportunities for the firm. We had a fantastic experience, coming away deeply impressed by the people we worked with, the Chinese internet industry and the country’s culture.

yy1The Team at the YY office (L-R: Peter Garai, Justin Harnoss, Simon Yoo, Brandon Cato)

YY is a Chinese internet company listed on NASDAQ with a market cap over $3.5 billion. They provide a live p2p streaming product and have been wildly successful in attracting amateur performers and their fans to their platform but also have services in a number of other verticals, including dating and education. While we already knew some of the impressive numbers associated with our client and the Chinese internet industry during the semester, our in-country experience really opened our eyes on how advanced their products and services are. We were blown away from the smart people we worked with, the state-of-the-art technology and the advanced monetization models we saw at YY.

One particular business practice we thought everyone should immediately adopt is quite simple though: after lunch, employees are permitted to take a nap until 2pm! Some of them have serious gear with them: foldable beds, eye covers, noise-cancelling headphones help turn the otherwise buzzing office into a silent snooze fest in the early afternoons.

yy2Nap time at YY!

yy3The team hard at work with the YY Bear

After three weeks of work, we capped off the project by presenting our recommendations to the management of YY. While we don’t know yet whether any of them will come to fruition, we definitely gained a lot by learning about how the hottest industry works in the largest economy of the world!

yy4Dinner after our final presentation

Guangzhou may not be on everyone’s radar as a top tourist destination, but the third largest city in China with a population of 11 million is growing at a blazing pace. The downtown area is already full with impressive skyscrapers, lit up in bright colors at night, and everywhere we went we could see at least 3-4 new ones being built. The growth was also represented by the Aston Martin, McLaren, Lamborghini dealerships located within a few blocks from our hotel, and their products on the road.

yy5We couldn’t find the color in the catalogue

The huge size and growth are accompanied with crazy traffic, as 5-6 lane roads slice through the city everywhere, and the local driving style left us with a couple of scares each time we were cabbing around the city. We quickly learned that pedestrians here are at the bottom of the food chain and one should carefully look in all directions even on a pedestrian crossing with a green light in a one way-street!

Weather-wise the time of our visit was less than ideal, the rainy season greeted us with showers, high humidity and temperatures around 90 degrees almost 24/7. Luckily, air conditioning was available everywhere, but the weather certainly did not encourage long walks outdoors.

yy6Dragon’s Boat Festival treats being prepared

yy7Guangzhou’s impressive skyline at night

The city has less expats than the others we’ve visited (Hong Kong and Shanghai) and thus is a bit tougher to get around for foreigners, but we didn’t have major problems. The language barrier was the greatest hurdle, but colleagues at our client and the hotel staff were always very helpful, and our sign language skills have definitely improved during the three weeks, while thankfully almost every restaurant had picture menus. Speaking of food: exploring the Cantonese cuisine was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. On occasions we had dinner with our clients who recommended us the best dishes, otherwise we just leaned on our awesome picture analysis skills to figure out what we are ordering (and what we definitely do not want to order).

During the weekends we visited Hong Kong – which is only a 2 hour train ride away – and Shanghai, were we met with Team Galderma. Both cities were phenomenal and we really enjoyed exploring the different faces of China. Unsurprisingly Hong Kong was the most “international” of the three, Shanghai showed its heritage as China’s most cosmopolitan city while Guangzhou made the impression of a city that at its current pace of development may very well present a picture much more similar to the other two in five years. We’ll have to check it out again!

yy8IBD Teams Galderma and YY join forces in Shanghai

Updates from IBD Madagascar – Team RioTinto

Spring 2014 IBD students Casey Lord, Najat Ould-Ali, Chad Reed and Pablo Uribe are working with the corporation RioTinto in Fort Dauphin, Madadascar. 

Christian smiled as we walked into the small room, his wide grin exposing two missing teeth. His overalls were stained with rust and grease, leftovers from a hard day’s work transforming waste metal into farming tools. In a soft voice, he muttered something in Malagasy. Our translator repeated, “Christian is happy that you’ve come to ask him about his business.”

Christian is just one of the entrepreneurs that Rio Tinto, a multi-national mining company, is seeking to support through its Local Content Program. To Rio Tinto, local content means procuring products and services from local entrepreneurs, rather than contracting foreign companies to set up a local base. For the next 40 years, Rio Tinto will be extracting ilmentine from a mining site in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar, and working with local companies is a core part of its strategy. In the long term, Rio Tinto hopes that this strategy will improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Fort Dauphin, increase the town’s exports, and strengthen its economy.

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But Fort Dauphin is not exactly overrun with ambitious entrepreneurs. It is one of the poorest parts of Madagascar, cut off from the rest of the island on account of the country’s infamously poor road infrastructure. Walking through the streets of this small town is a leisurely pursuit: occupying a small peninsula in the Indian Ocean, the town has a laid-back, island vibe. People take life slowly here. In the morning, you will see local fishermen out at sea in their narrow wooden boats. These fishermen use the most basic tools, unlike their more sophisticated counterparts on other parts of the island. A few hours later, women wearing brightly coloured sarongs can be seen walking towards the market balancing large baskets on the heads, full of fresh, silver fish. The market is the single source of fresh food in the town; beyond the small boutikas, there are no grocery stores here. This is a perfect illustration of the town’s enterprises: small, with little growth. Entrepreneurial spirit is one thing you will not smell in the air.

This is a problem for Rio Tinto: how to do business with local companies, if none of them are big enough to handle your contracts?

This is where we came in. We were tasked with producing recommendations and a training toolkit for CARA, the local business support centre. Rio Tinto, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the German development agency GIZ established CARA to be a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs who need help with formalisation, training and accounting. Rio Tinto hopes that CARA will facilitate the transformation of microenterprises into medium-sized businesses that can provide maintenance and waste management services and other products necessary for its mining operations.

Fort Dauphin is no Silicon Valley, so it was important to kick things off by making sure we understood the lay of the land. We conducted almost 40 interviews (in 3 languages) with micro, small and large companies, and a range of funders and support intermediaries. These interviews gave us a set of insights that, together with the conceptual framework we developed previously in Berkeley, put us in good stead to start generating solutions. Four packets of post-its and two Sharpies later, we had generated a list of strategic recommendations aimed at strengthening CARA and improving its offerings to micro businesses.

Reflecting on what we’ve learned, one thing really stands out. Building businesses requires strong foundations. Foundations made of both tangible (e.g., supportive financial institutions) and intangible (e.g., entrepreneurial culture) forces. In the last three weeks, we have been struck by how often we take this for granted in the US. We’re some of the luckiest people in the world to live just a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley. As budding entrepreneurs, we have the world’s leading tools, knowledge and networks at our fingertips. IBD has made us realise and appreciate how priviledged we are – and given us a new-found determinism to make the most of these resources during our final year at Haas.

riotinto2

No trip to Madagascar would be complete without exploring the country’s rich biodiversity. In addition to exploring the capital city and a couple of small villages, we escaped to two wonderful nature reserves to interact with Madagascar’s famously adorable lemurs and stand in awe of its towering and ancient baobab trees. The low volume of tourists here swung in our favour, allowing us to get up close and personal with this little fella.

riotinto3

An afternoon at the beach turned out to be a great way to get to know the local children. Pablo, ever conscious of being a Student Always, decided to put his negotiation skills into practice.

riotinto4

If the enthusiasm and drive of this next generation of young entrepreneurs and the natural beauty of the area are any indication, we are confident that the future of both Fort Dauphin and Madagascar as a whole is bright.

riotinto5

Updates from IBD Brazil – Surfing the Waves and the Web

Spring 2014 IBD teammates Catherine Andresen, Carlo Cubeddu, Dan Goldman, and Juhie Tamboli are examining internet use in Brazil.

Our team got lucky. We got to spend three weeks traveling around Brazil studying the industry and the culture. We spent the first week getting to know the sprawling city of São Paulo, the second gazing at dramatic scenery in Rio de Janeiro, and the third walking on the beaches in Fortaleza in the Northeast region of Brazil.

Our time in São Paulo was marked by protests, steaks, and caipirinhas. Leading up to the World Cup (starting a mere week after our departure) we’ve witnessed a palpable frustration among Brazilians. Everyone we spoke with had something to say about corruption in government and lack of preparation for the World Cup.

brazil1Mercado Municipal, São Paulo

Getting around the city proved time consuming while we attempted to dodge protests and manage traffic given a bus driver strike. We decided the best way to deal with traffic stress was dining at a churrascaria, Brazilian steakhouse, with a caipirinha in hand and a couple of local beers. We were told to drink in the culture, right?

brazil2Varanda Steakhouse, Sao Paulo

Immediately upon arriving in Rio, we fell in love: the dramatic hills, white sandy beaches, and beautiful people are even more stunning in person. While in Rio, we visited a favela (Brazilian shanty) called Rocinha. No guidebook told us to seek out Rochina, but our experience there was unparalleled. We met with a man who grew up in the favela that was now giving back to his community by delivering high quality internet through fiber optic cables. He told us how he taught himself the technology, began providing internet stolen from a large telecom company, then grew large enough to obtain a license to provide internet legally. His vision is to provide high quality internet to all of Rocinha then expand to other favelas in Rio.

brazil3NetRocinha ISP, Favela Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro

Another highlight of our project had a very different backdrop. We shared a bottle of wine at the home of one our idols – the man who literally wrote the book “The Internet in Brazil”. We chatted about what we’ve learned and our investigation hypothesis while gazing out his window overlooking the Copacabana Beach. Between meeting industry experts like the two mentioned, we were able to see the city from above at Pão de Açúcar and at the foot of the Corcovado.

brazil4Pão de Açúcar, Rio de Janeiro

brazil5Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

From Rio, we headed North to a coastal city called Fortaleza. We spent our first day 4-wheeling over sand-dunes and drinking from coconuts with our toes in the warm Atlantic waters.

brazil6Morro Branco Beach, Fortaleza

One of the most rewarding aspects of our project entailed interviewing average Brazilians about their internet experience. During one such interview our new friend and interviewee Wellington, gave us a tour of his town. He brought us to the municipal library and church in the middle of town and introduced us to community volunteers preparing a feast for the whole town for a festival that evening. We sadly had to decline the invitation to attend, yet not before taking pictures with about half of the locals.

brazil7Municipal Library, Itaitinga, Fortaleza

brazil8Sant’Antonio Church, Itaitinga, Fortaleza

Our trip in country gave us a much richer understanding of a topic we’d researched from Berkeley for months. Learning from industry experts and talking to a wide mix of Brazilian internet users gave our project a depth well beyond the data. Our eagerness to truly understand the telecommunications market grew with each passing day, bringing a new meaning to our work.

 

IBD Updates from China – Team SAP Business One: Parts I, II & III

Team SAP Business One aka “Shanghai Knights” Andrew Hinton, Oseyi Ikuenobe, Ryo Itoh and Yavuz Alkan– worked with SAP in Shanghai to help with the launch of a new software product in China and the United States. They were located at SAP Labs (the innovation and development organization of SAP) in Shanghai’s Technology Park at Pudong.

Part I – “Change is Gonna Come”

Prior to arriving in Shanghai we had several iterations with the client on the scope of our project. We oscillated between a validation of the launch strategy for China, and evaluation of possible launches in English speaking countries (including the US). We arrived in China with a clear scope in mind and armed with our “arrival presentation” we went to our kickoff meeting.  We hadn’t gotten through half of our slides before our project sponsor Robert Chu (EMBA ’06) stopped us to tell us something that would change the course of the next 3 weeks.

sapchina1“Shanghai Knights” @ SAP Office

He had decided that he was now a lot more interested in deciding between two courses of action for the product. SAP was trying to figure out if they should continue developing the product till it was complete or roll it out in a beta form and iterate based on customer feedback.  He also wanted to understand how this decision affected a launch in the US.

This was a shocking development, but we were prepared for a change and were delighted that we would be focused on something that would be meaningful to Rob. But there was more! Rob also mentioned that he would be leaving a few days later for 2 week business trip to the US – ironically spending a few days in the Bay Area. But wait, there’s more! Since the product was still in development, and there was a major release that week so most of the people we needed to talk to, would be too busy to talk to us until the following week.

So our first week was off to a rocky start but we were up to the challenge! To help deal with the pressure we spent most of our time outside the office exploring the sights of Shanghai and going on culinary adventures all over the city.

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sapchina3Hai Di Lao HotPot in Pudong

sapchina4Tai Di Fung with the two other Shanghai based IBD Teams

sapchina5The Bund (with a new friend we made)

sapchina6Nan Jing Road

 

Part II – Settling in

The bombshells dropped on us in the first 2 days seemed like an insurmountable number of hurdles, but all put together they actually gave us a chance for success. We were happy to have most of the first week to ourselves to do research related to our new scope – as most of the pre-work we had done was China specific. So we set about our task of researching and creating analytical models and lining up interviews.

We were surprised by how much we relied on what we had learned from our core courses as we began to piece together our analysis.  We used marketing frameworks from marketing and strategic brand management, entry decision strategies and game theory from our strategic management course, and problem framing techniques from PFPS.

2sapchina11Shanghai Knights @ Work

We had decided to reframe the questions we were asked by thinking about the real issue SAP was facing, ensuring that our work would be truly useful for SAP. True validation of our approach came at the end of the second week when after a presenting an update to Rob.

To celebrate our progress/success and to continue the tradition of exploring Shanghai through our stomachs we had some more great food and even managed to arrange a birthday cake for Ryo – thanks to expert usage of Google Translate (it pays to have the MBAA VP of Technology on your team) and smiles.

2sapchina2Ryo’s birthday at Di Shui Dong

We ended the week with an amazing trip to Beijing with members of one of the other IBD teams in Shanghai. We visited the Great Wall, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square the Forbidden City. We also got to enjoy a great dinner at a famous roast duck restaurant. Our trip to Beijing also gave us the opportunity to experience China’s famous sleeper trains and the high-speed train back to Shanghai.

2sapchina3Sleeper Train

2sapchina4The Great Wall

2sapchina5Summer Palace

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2sapchina8Tiananmen Square

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2sapchina10Forbidden City

 

Part III – The Home Stretch

By week 3, we had interviewed a Senior Director in SAP’s main office (with a spectacular panoramic view of Shanghai) on Nan Jing West road, the owner of the product we were working on, members of the customer engagement team as well as a product evangelist. We were struck by how passionate they all were about this new product and the fact that it was the first major SAP product to be conceived and built entirely in China.

3sapchina1The Jing ’An temple is across the street from SAP’s Nan Jing West Road Office

The highlight of our project was meeting with one of SAP’s customers in Shanghai. We got to spend several hours with them learning about their business and how SAP’s solutions could help them grow their business. It was amazing to see the impact that technology could make on small businesses.

3sapchina2Visit to Ryss – an SAP customer

The meeting was particularly memorable because they treated us to a feast for lunch after our interview was over. It was probably the best meal we had in our entire three weeks in China. Our lack of Mandarin or Shanghainese language skills were alleviated by two great SAP employees Bo and Yolanda who were great translators and guides throughout the customer visit.

Our time at SAP was rewarding as we feel we added value to a very important strategic area for SAP. We got to experience life as SAP Shanghai employees – complete with eating lunch in the cafeteria (and the local Family Mart), interacting with great people like Rambo who helped us with the temperamental AC in our team room (it was quite warm in Shanghai during the day).

3sapchina3Final Day at SAP (with Emily Tai)

We did our final presentation via conference call with Rob (who was in the US almost the entire time we were in Shanghai) and it was high fives all around when he ended the meeting by telling us we had done a great job and he was happy with what we had done – joking that he wishes he could email our professors to give us an A! We promptly shared our faculty mentor’s email address with him!

Thanks to SAP, IBD, and Shanghai for a great experience! Special thanks to Emily Tai who in spite of her busy schedule was our contact throughout the project and a great host!

3sapchina4Final Dinner on our last night in Shanghai

3sapchina5Goodbye Shanghai we’ll miss you!