Greetings from Middle Caye in Glover’s Reef Atoll!

Written by IBD Team WCS,  Banu Nagasundaram, Lindsay Zhang, Mark Parker, Maureen Klarich, and Pathak Pankaj

Glover's Reef Marine ReserveWe are Team WCS.  Our project this summer is to work in partnership with the Belize organization of the Wildlife Conservation Society to recommend effective management practices for Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, a World Heritage site that also serves as one of the nine designated marine protected areas in Belize.  

During our five weeks at Berkeley, we began understanding marine protected areas and started navigating the complex network that involves marine protection management within Belize.  From fishermen to government to landowners to conservationists, there are many whose livelihoods are impacted by decisions made within these marine protected areas. Each week, we met with the WCS Belize management team from Berkeley to begin building relationships and ultimately the direction in which we would take this project.

Upon arriving to Belize City, we spent a day in the WCS Belize office before heading out to the Middle Caye island which is owned by WCS.  This was truly a once in a lifetime experience, exploring and understanding the realities of marine protection management 35 miles off the coast of Dangriga, Belize. 

Follow us for a day in the life of a Berkeley Haas IBD consultant on Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve:

6AM – 9AM

Sunrise Glover's Reef Marine Reserve

Early to bed, early to rise!  Along with the WCS and Belizean Fisheries and Coast Guard staff on the reserve, we started our days with the sun. Breakfast, delivered by the cooks Ms. Annette and Ms. Brenda, began promptly at 7AM.  Fried jacks (a Belizean specialty best described by our group as “fried dough”) and coffee were essential to the start of our day along with in-depth conversations with the WCS team and their visiting guests from the St. Louis Zoo. We spent a lot of time on the dock of Middle Caye, learning about the experiences of the WCS staff – many of whom have worked for and amongst the various stakeholders throughout their careers. What valuable conversations and a beautiful environment to hold these!

Dock at Glover's Reef Marine Reserve

9AM – 11AM

Taking in the nature of Belize. Along with the guests from St. Louis, we had the opportunity to explore the reserve each morning – learning about and understanding the marine ecosystem within the reserve and clearly understanding the need for conservation of this beautiful protected area. The team had the opportunity to partake in snorkeling the reef – a big shout out to our teammate, Banu, for diving right in and exploring the open seas for the first time!  She went from joining boat rides to swimming on her own in the reserve within four days.

11AM – 12PM

We took each morning to check in with the WCS Operations Manager, Ken. We really valued this time to talk through some of our observations and understand his perspective on the region. These sessions took place in the Research Lab where we were able to get a break from the strong sun.

12PM – 2PM

Ms. Annette and Ms. Brenda were back in action for lunch, hosting for over 40 guests – the WCS staff, the St Louis visiting guests, the Fisheries staff and Coast Guard staff on-site at Middle Caye, and ourselves.  Each meal gave us an opportunity to interact with stakeholders, learning their personal histories, their path to Glover’s Reef, and their thoughts and ideas surrounding conservation of this beautiful area.

2PM – 6PM

The afternoons were spent with more snorkeling and exploration of the Glover’s Reef atoll and the islands outside of Middle Caye.  Throughout the week, we had the opportunity to visit and meet with key stakeholders in the region who sit on the Advisory Committee of Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve.  These included Jim and Kendra who own a resort in Glover’s Reef. Living in Belize for 25 years, they have a vested interest in protecting the ecosystem of the reef for their guests and sustainability of their livelihood on this atoll.  We also had a chance to speak with Warren, another landowner who was born in Glover’s Reef and continues to be an active participant in the community. One evening, our boat captain Bok took us out to meet fishers who had just come in for the day.  Hearing their perspectives and efforts to teach the younger generations of fishers about the needs for sustainability was encouraging and inspiring.

Fisher boat

7PM – 9PM

Dinners were served to the entire group – complete with rice and beans, chicken stew, and local desserts and fruits. Again, the opportunity to engage with the stakeholders on the island over meals and card games following dinner gave us the ability to build relationships and get to know the team better.

Throughout the day

Sun and mosquito protection were essential! The island’s mosquitos were no joke, and some group members survived the mosquito bites better than others. We also learned that any walk on the island needs to be accompanied with long sleeve t-shirts, long pants, and bug spray applied to any open skin.  Wish we had bought some stock in mosquito repellent and sunscreen approved sunscreen brands!

2019 IBD Team WCS Belize

2019 IBD Team WCS Belize

As we’ve headed back to Belize City, we are looking forward to the continued learning in our 2nd week – meeting with other Marine Protected Areas to discuss best practices and exploring the best of Belize.  Look out for another update in the next week! 

 

The Stories Behind the Bottles

Bottles of Samai

Bottles of Samai

By IBD Team Samai

Samai is Cambodia’s first premium rum distillery founded by Daniel Pacheco and Antonio Lopez de Haro in 2014. Samai’s mission is to lead in the craft of distilling premium Cambodian spirits that combines high-quality, locally grown ingredients, innovation, and passion. Our team of five had the opportunity to work with Samai on its marketing expansion strategy and financial model for the next round of fundraising. Samai’s hope is to deliver high- quality Cambodian rum to the world and help change the perceptions of Cambodia. 

Introduction and Guided Tour

On the first day to Samai, Daniel gave the team a thorough tour on the production process, which ranged from fermentation to bottling. To gain an understanding of what the rum production process looked like before arriving on-site, the team attended private distillery tours and conducted several interviews with individuals who worked in the spirits industry. Being able to visualize the production steps allowed us to make more informed and strategic recommendations. In addition, we were able to have more insightful conversations when speaking face to face with Daniel and learn more in depth about business.

Team Samai sitting around a table talkingDay of Arrival Brief

Prior to arriving on site, the team held weekly conference calls with Samai to discuss the scope and details of the project. For the Day of Arrival Brief, we presented to Antonio and Julie, their marketing manager, on our findings on the global go-to-market strategy, focusing on the Spain, UK, Hong Kong and Japan markets. 

Given that Samai is a growing start up, our project scope fluctuated quite a bit. After we presented our global expansion plan, we found it more opportunistic to help Samai redefine their mission and values and provide them with strategic marketing plans and tactics for implementation. 

Samai bar

Samai bar

Events on Thursday Night

Rum Tastings and Cocktail Competition

Every week, the Samai Distillery opens its doors to the public so that new and devoted Samai customers can enjoy hand-crafted cocktail beverages prepared by Samai’s bartenders. The most popular cocktail on the menu is the infamous 21 Points, cheekily named by co-owner Antonio. Original cocktail 21 Points presents a classic version of a rum and coke, while the 21 Points features the Samai Rum, cola, lime, bitters, and fresh sugarcane. We can attest that it is as delicious as it sounds! We spent our evening talking with customers, bartenders, and expats to gain deeper insight into their perspective of Samai. These insights were an invaluable contribution to our formulation of marketing and expansion strategies. Glasses lined up

One of the traditions started by a prior IBD team is to  host a Thursday night cocktail competition. This year, the girls and boys battled it out for curating the best cocktail on the tiki bar menu.  The girls’ cocktail were so popular that there were a few moments where we couldn’t keep up with the demand. We did our best to act like seasoned bartenders who knew how to accommodate a packed bar. We learned useful skills that aren’t often taught in the classroom, had fun, brought in incremental sales for Samai, and met some interesting people.IBD Team in front of the rum barrels

As much fun as Samai nights may be, its purpose is to produce rum. Venezuelan co-owner Daniel Pacheco hopes to improve the reputation of rum as a high-end alcohol worthy of appreciation.

 

Samai bottle next to a beachWeekend Adventure #1

Beach in Koh Rong Sanloem

 

The team had a great, relaxing time on the Koh Rong Sanloem, a well-known island off the coast of Cambodia. We continued to work on our marketing efforts, even during our vacation weekend. During our resort stay, we asked if the resort had Samai rum at their bar. To our surprise, the resort said that they had already ordered Samai rum, or we would have never given up our marketing efforts.

 

Angkor Wat in Siem ReapWeekend Adventure #2

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap

The team rose at 4am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Though exhausted from the early wake up call, it was truly worthwhile experience to have see this exceptional view. The team also enjoyed visiting multiple temples in Angkor Wat and learning about the history of the Kingdom of Cambodia.  

 

Team Sega Sammy: Tokyo 2019 #samuraibd

Written by Sega Sammy Team Member, Mina Matsumoto, ’20 MBA Candidate 

When people think of Sega Sammy, most picture Sonic the Hedgehog. However, Sega Sammy Holdings is more than a cartoon- it’s a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that merged Japan’s biggest pachinko manufacturer with one of the leading arcade and video game makers. They invited a Haas team to help them create a sustainable investment strategy for their corporate venture capital team. As a mature company, they want to invest in the future. 

Team IBD Sega Sammy

Day 1 – VR 

Mina: Holding a laser gun, I stood on the edge of a high tower. I shot a grappling hook through the air, jerked the gun back, and flew through the air to another tower. My teammates were across the field, shooting at the opposing team. This was Tower Tag, a multi-player VR game in the Sega Arcade in Shinjuku. 

Next to us, there were other VR games where you can ride a horse through a western, or fight off a ghost (I didn’t dare try that one). To a passerby, all of the sudden movements wouldn’t make any sense. But until the staff comes to help you out of your headgear, you’re in another world. What a way to end our first day of work- by the end, we were ready for a traditional izakaya dinner with the clients. 

Fearless Team Lead, Julian Florez, along with team members Andrew Blute and Aanchal Kawatra, take their shot in Tower Tag

Fearless Team Lead, Julian Florez, along with team members Andrew Blute and Aanchal Kawatra, take their shot in Tower Tag

Day 5 – COO

Upon entering a large circular boardroom, with memorabilia of Sonic the Hedgehog and gaming history along the walls, we were greeted by President and CEO Haruki Satomi wearing a Haas jacket. Mr. Satomi (EWMBA ‘12) has been in leadership roles at Sega Sammy for over a decade, and has been president and CEO since 2017. It was a great opportunity to chat with a fellow Haasie about his experiences as CEO, and about the futures of corporate venture capital and gaming. How to use new technology in their current business, and how to source good talent that can partner with the business units to identify promising startups earlier are both key priorities. 

Haruki Satomi (MBA 2012), President, Sega Sammy Holdings; CEO, Sega Holdings; President, Sammy Corporation.

Haruki Satomi (MBA 2012), President, Sega Sammy Holdings; CEO, Sega Holdings; President, Sammy Corporation

Day 9 – Pitch Night

In Tunnel Tokyo, the area of the office we worked out of, startup events happen multiple times per week. We were invited to attend a Startup Pitch Night, where five early stage startups presented their ideas. 

Startup Pitch Night with screen of game

Day 10 – Baseball Game 

A different kind of pitch: to kick off our final weekend, we caught a Giants game (yeah, different black-and-orange Giants) at the Tokyo Dome. Japanese baseball games are quite a bit more intense than MLB games; we enjoyed watching the passionate fans sing chants for each of their players, and cheer wildly on their feet. 

Giants game at the Tokyo Dome

Giants game at the Tokyo Dome

Final Presentation

Following our final presentation to the executive committee, we celebrated an amazing trip AND Andrew’s birthday with the clients out in Tokyo. かんぱい!

IBD Team Sega Sammy

 

A Week in the Life of an IBD Team – Team Ananda

Written by Igor Borges, Stan Cataldo, Ryan Dingler, Elaine Leong, and Mila Pires, of the Ananda Development team in Thailand.

It was May 13th at 6pm and our team had just arrived in Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok’s main airport. Ryan (one of our team members) hailed us a Grab, Thailand’s Uber, and we were on our way to the hotel. In the hot and humid Thai weather, we passed two of our clients real estate developments. During our research, we found Ananda Development (our client) had a strong real estate presence in Bangkok and were already finding that to be true!

Ananda1

The next day we met Lloyd, our main employee contact and the best host we could have asked for. He introduced us to his staff and gave us a tour of the office, which looked more like a high-tech company office in the Bay Area than a real estate company.

Ananda2

Ananda3

After showing our initial research and framework to Dr. John, Ananda’s Chief Development Officer, we rebuilt our deck to dive deeper into the solutions we identified as strongest in preparation for our field research the following day. To decompress, back at the hotel we began a tradition, which continued for the full three weeks, where we would all play foosball but only Elaine would win. Then we managed to get through the intense Bangkok traffic to Beer Belly, a restaurant recommended by an employee at Ananda, where played some pool, air hockey and ping pong along with eating fried pork skin and some (very) spicy food.

Ananda4

Tuesday during the day, Lloyd and his team setup tours of three of Ananda’s real estate developments, from pre-construction to fully sold-out and transferred properties, including an amazing 4D projection for the Ashton brand (Ananda’s most luxurious sub-brand). The three developments were all different Ananda sub-brands (these brands vary by target resident income and style) which gave us a good perspective of the various types of customers Ananda attracts.

Ananda5

In the afternoon, we went to dinner with Ananda and a USC-Marshall team that was also doing a project with Ananda. It was a great opportunity to mingle and try several typical Thai dishes that our Ananda team ordered for us. This was also the point where Ryan was introduced to mango sticky rice – a true love story in the making.

Ananda6

Wednesday we spent the day incorporating our initial feedback from Dr. John and additional information and insights we gathered during our field tours into our deck before our presentation to the CEO on Thursday. We also got to participate in a Singularity University event on the development of “fake meat” delivered by a professor from Japan.

Ananda7

Thursday, was our big day to present to Ananda’s CEO, Khun Chanond Ruangkritya. Khun Chanond is a young Berkeley alum that is at the forefront of rewriting how real estate is done in Bangkok. During the meeting, he gave us the go-ahead and said we were heading in the right direction and gave us a lesson on how to be a successful but humble leader – a true Haasie! To close the day, we were invited to the presentation of USC’s project and networked with professors and other USC teams that were also in Thailand.

On Friday we visited another Ananda building to learn about their Property Management division and how they manage existing developments. Also, Ananda had a TGIF event, where we were able to hear an amazing Adele performance by one of our close Ananda contacts, who used to be a professional singer before joining Ananda.

Ananda8

After the performance, we headed to our flights to Chiang Mai (a city in the north of Thailand) where we spent the weekend visiting temples, caring for our “own” elephants at a sanctuary and driving rented motorcycles.

It was an amazing pleasure and privilege to be in this project and we hope the next classes are as lucky as we were in getting such a heartwarming, exciting and eye-opening experience as ours. Lloyd and the team were wonderful hosts, every week they planned multiple events for us to network with CEOs, academics, and Berkeley alums.

Thank you Ananda for this unique experience and for the invaluable lessons!

Ford Shanghai – 2018 IBD

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

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

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

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

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

    

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

IBD BLOG – TEAM MAJID AL FUTTAIM

Written by: Jorge Tellez, Ryan King, Jennifer Rokosa, Daniel Clayton and Kelly Gillfillan

Entry 1: May 17, 2018

The five of us (Jenny, Daniel, Kelly, Ryan, and Jorge) touched down in Dubai five days ago and were greeted by 105-degree heat and a 4-day long sandstorm. Dubai has a giant desert in its backyard, and if the wind is blowing strong enough in the right direction, the entire city gets hit with a wall of sand. From the street, a sandstorm just looks like a foggy day (not quite San Francisco level fogginess, but close), but if you run your fingers across any outdoor surface, you can immediately see the layer of sand blanketing everything.

The jetlag is finally starting to wear off for most of us. Dubai is 11 hours ahead of Berkeley, meaning we’ve been hitting the coffee pretty hard. However, starting today, we’ll be drinking those coffees in a large closet at Majid Al Futtaim’s (our host company) headquarters. Let me explain…

Team Majid Al Futtaim at the Cultural Center

Team Majid Al Futtaim

Today is the first day of Ramadan in the UAE, meaning most Muslims are fasting for the whole month. Between the hours of 4am and 7pm, it’s is not permitted (whether Muslim or not) to eat or drink in public, including in the office. So while we’re on-site, we’ve been instructed to keep any eating or drinking restricted to a small pantry area on the fourth floor—don’t worry, they have an espresso machine in there.

We head to the UAE cultural center later today where we’ll learn a little bit more about the history of the country, the traditional dress, food and customs. This weekend, we’re heading out to the desert on a guided tour, and then to Abu Dhabi to check out the sights there. Pictures to follow!

 

Entry 2: May 24, 2018

Somewhere between hanging out with two dozen penguins at the foot of an indoor ski slope and watching tourists scuba dive with sharks inside a three story aquarium, you realize the words “shopping mall” in Dubai mean something very different than they do back in the states.

Penguins

Penguins

For us, five millennial Americans dropped into the Middle East for the first time, the word “mall” evokes imagery of angsty loitering teens, sticky movie theater floors, and CDs with the parental advisory warning peeled halfway off (I don’t know about you, but that’s the only way my parents would let me listen to Eminem). Conversely, malls in Dubai have less to do with shopping and more to do with mind-blowing art installations, architecture, five-star restaurants and hotels, movie theaters where you’re served three-course meals, and did I mention, PENGUINS!

This is all to say that while malls in the US have been dead for nearly two decades (thanks, Bezos), they’re thriving here in Dubai. Why? A couple reasons:

  1. E-commerce hasn’t had nearly the same impact here as it has had in the states. Online sales penetration stands at just 2% of total retail sales in the Middle East and Africa, compared to over 10% worldwide.
  2. It hot. Really, really hot. Six months out of the year its too hot to go outside, so heavily airconditioned malls are absolutely the place to be.
  3. The folks at Majid Al Futtaim (our host company) and Emaar (their primary regional competitor) realized a long time ago that experiences would be the way forward for brick and mortar retail. Hence why malls here are built around incredible, experiential attractions.

That last point, which doesn’t really sink in until you’re watching a fountain show at the base of the tallest building in the world, left the five of us asking “How are we going to add value here when this company is so far ahead of mall operators in the US?”

Sitting in Silicon Valley, its sometimes easy to think the US is at the forefront of virtually every industry, but our ignorance was made abundantly clear with just one lap around the Mall of the Emirates. Our recommendation to Majid Al Futtaim was not going to be as simple as relaying what mall operators in the US are doing. Instead, we’d have to figure out how a company that is performing quite well can continue to innovate in the retail space, and how they can even better prepare to defend against e-commerce, which we’d be naïve to think Dubai is immune from.

More next time from Team Majid Al Futtaim!

Entry 3: May 31, 2018

We presented our final project today! The last week and a half was filled with almost a complete overhaul of our presentation, as we homed in on some key recommendations for the company and what we envision the mall of the future will look like. If you had asked me a month ago, my vision of the mall of the future would have been precisely the malls we saw on this trip, but there are some really interesting regional dynamics that lead us to believe a lot may change behind the scenes for malls in the Middle East.

A good example is everything happening in Saudi Arabia today, where the crown prince is loosening up a lot of restrictions, allowing women to drive for the first time and allowing movie theaters to reopen after a more than 30-year ban. Majid Al Futtaim, who manages Vox Cinemas, has plans to open 300+ screens in Saudi Arabia in the next year.

From the dozens of conversations we had with Majid Al Futtaim employees over the last three weeks (including the CEO), it seems absolutely key for malls to position themselves as “experience centers” going forward, as opposed to shopping-only centers. This means more movie theaters, gourmet restaurants, and leisure activities—like an indoor ski resort, for example, or a giant aquarium full of sharks! (Those last two already exist.)

We also believe that the relationship between mall operator and tenant (retail stores) will change in the coming years. We’ve seen a ton of direct-to-consumer brands realize that their e-commerce presence isn’t quite enough, and that they actually need a brick and mortar presence to round out an “omnichannel” offering (e.g. Warby Parker, Everlane, Casper, and dozens more). We think this will be one of the primary retail models going forward, meaning that there will be a host of online-only retailers looking to move into the brick and mortar space through pop-up shops and showroom-style stores.

Mall operators can take advantage of this trend by pioneering what we’re calling a “store-as-a-service” model, whereby the mall operator provides everything required to build and run a store, making it very easy for brands that do not have a physical retail presence to create one quickly. This would also have the benefit of attracting fresh, new retailers to the UAE by offering a de-risked and less capital-intensive entry to the country.

We’ve also been really impressed with Majid Al Futtaim’s commitment to sustainability. Most of their buildings and hotels are LEED gold or platinum certified, which is no small feat. Further, they have a goal to be “net positive” in carbon and water by 2040. Jenny absolutely nailed her piece of the presentation, which focused on how the company can make progress towards achieving that goal by partnering with clean building technologies (at Berkeley, for instance) and helping them through the commercialization phase, which is often known as the “valley of death” for cleantech given the number of companies that fail at that stage.

Team MAJ enjoying dinner after their presentation

Team MAJ enjoying dinner after their presentation

Our presentation was very well received, and we’re thrilled to hear they’re interested in many of our suggestions. We look forward to being in touch with the team in the future and we’re incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work with them all.

We went out on the town to celebrate the end of our project and this journey last night. We shared highlights over pizza and drinks and then packed up for the 15 hour flight I’m currently on now. I think we’re all excited to get back stateside and start our internships, but sad at the same time that this amazing journey has come to an end.

That’s it from us (Jenny, Dan, Kelly, Ryan and Jorge)! Thanks for reading!

IBD Team 51job

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

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

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

Office visit to Bloomberg

The office visit to Bloomberg

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

Bullet train to Hangzhou

Bullet train to Hangzhou

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

Morning of the final presentation

Morning of the final presentation

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