Spring 2020 IBD Teams Deliver!

Video

Team Maston Oy presenting their final presentation to their client

IBD Team Maston Oy presenting their final presentation to their client

As we complete this year’s demanding spring semester IBD course — unexpectedly impacted by the sudden COVID-19 pandemic — we want to highlight the outstanding work accomplished by our 80 Full Time MBA students.  Among these, 16 IBD student Team Leads in particular deserve special mention.  They willingly took on expected Team Lead responsibilities, including managing their MBA peers and project clients in the midst of a global health crisis and unforeseen shifts in project scope.  None of these IBD students were able to travel overseas to complete the complex project work they had begun in January with their clients and MBA teammates.  Despite that, they recently completed the remote delivery of final project recommendations that made a real and valuable impact on their clients’ organizations.

We would like to share below some of the comments we received from our spring semester 2020 IBD clients, following the successful delivery of final project recommendations by their student teams.  Also included below are a few impressions we recorded from this year’s IBD Faculty Mentors and Team Leads.

2020 IBD Clients:

“The benchmarking, revenue modeling and pricing structure proposal we received were excellent, and have left us with valuable tools and reference materials that we’ll use across the lifetime of the business.”  Ross McConnell​,​ Blinder Limited

 

“We sincerely appreciate the hard work, dedication and extensive collaboration of the IBD team. Despite the global widespread of the Coronavirus and consequent cancellation of the India trip, the IBD team still came out with a substantive report. We are extremely grateful for their valuable contribution.”  Gaurav Mohan, Dura-Line India

 

“The group work was very much visible and each member gave their best while preparing the implementation plan. The team efforts are commendable and contributed greatly to the final deliverable while ensuring the larger good for the hospital.”  Kuldeep Singh, Seva Foundation

 

“These months working with the IBD team were of great value to us, both for the process of building the project and for the legacy it leaves.”  Guilherme Quandt, Softplan

 

“I’m so impressed that our IBD team is managing to keep their motivation and work ethic despite the challenging pandemic environment, along with being even able to conduct the necessary research. Our team produced valuable strategic guidance for us.”  Auli Parviainen, Maston Oy

Faculty Mentors:

“The team did a lot of heavy lifting in the final weeks of the project, and it all came together well with a solid recommendation to proceed with Hilltribe Organic organic desserts. The  team’s creativity and success interviewing potential channel partners and Thai consumers was particularly impressive, and their survey results indicating how to position, price and roll out the offering will be invaluable as the client moves forward.”  Judy Hopelain, Faculty Mentor, Team Hilltribe Organics

 

“It’s been lots of hard work, and they went the extra mile more than once, but this is the kind of presentation and effort that will get you remembered (and promoted)!” Olaf Groth, Faculty Mentor,  Team SAP Ariba

Team Leads:

“I am proud of the deliverables we presented to our client. In fact, they invited a few high-ranking executives to the presentation, so they must have felt confident about our project and final recommendations.”  Eddie Consigliere, Team Lead, Team MEC

 

“I really appreciated the team’s integrity and their ability to put the team first and put the work first, and to want to produce something that we were proud to put our name on.”  Josh Raines, Team Lead, Team SAP Ariba  

 

“We had a valuable and fun experience learning how to work within an immersive cross-cultural business environment through the IBD program. We enjoyed getting to know our client and about the China-US investment environment; it was a really great opportunity for us to complete a full end-to-end international strategy engagement.”  Oriana Chu, Team Lead, Team ToJoy

Enjoy this video of IBD Team Lead Emily Lapham sharing her thoughts on the team’s final deliverable to project client Entrepreneurs Without Borders.

Congratulations to all of our spring semester 2020 IBD student teams in accomplishing so much for so many clients in such a difficult environment.  Well done!

IBD teams hear from their peers on how to manage through uncertain times

Our lives changed drastically in the month of March when California residents and students were told to shelter in place due to the increasing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.  All UC Berkeley and Haas classes – including the IBD program – transitioned to remote only, and IBD project travel scheduled for May was put on hold.

In spite of these disruptive changes, our spring semester FTMBA IBD project teams continued to work diligently and remotely on consulting projects with international clients.  The current group of IBD students is now preparing to offer their project solutions to clients at the end of the semester in early May.  In talking with these outstanding IBD students, we increasingly came to appreciate the life experiences they brought to their project teams – and how helpful these can be in a time of crisis.  Recently we invited a few current and former IBD students to share their experiences of leading through difficult times.  As IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischier put it, “There are so many students in this class who have impressive backgrounds and have spent their careers working in uncertainty. We can really learn a lot from each other.”

2019 Team Lead Jenny Nixon with her SAP Ariba Team

2019 Team Lead Jenny Nixon with her SAP Ariba Team

Jenny Nixon, ‘20 MBA candidate and 2019 IBD Team Lead

Jenny Nixon, a second year FTMBA student and a 2019 IBD Team Lead, spoke to the IBD class about her experience of leading through adversity.  Before coming to Berkeley Haas, Jenny was a combat medic and a US Army Officer and Commander in charge of leading Blackhawk Helicopter missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Jenny shared with the current IBD Team Leads this advice from her background of leading military teams:

  • Know your people.  Know their situation and how decisions impact them and what is on their mind.
  • Believe in and convey the importance in what they are doing.
  • Be more flexible.  Be able to talk one on one with your team members and pivot if they need a different experience.

She also had words of wisdom on what NOT to do as a leader:

  • Don’t be invulnerable and act like you are unaffected.
  • Don’t pretend that everything is ok when it’s not; face the problem directly.
  • Be open to hearing concerns and letting people vent, but don’t let it become an echo chamber for negativity.

In assessing the project experience in front of each IBD student, Jenny emphasized that “more than ever, it is important to focus on the task at hand as this is an opportunity to help an organization right now, during a very difficult time globally, in a real way.”  

2020 Team China – Megan Reichert, Geoffrey Easterling, Harshita Mira Venkatesh, Jordan Woodall, María del Mar Londoño Jaramillo (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

Geoff Easterling, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Member

Geoff Easterling, a current IBD Team Member, talked to the IBD class about a particularly tough time he experienced in leading his team as a Fire Direction Officer in Afghanistan in 2014-2015.  After thinking that they had reached the end of their overseas deployment, Geoff and a small group of soldiers were directed to remain in Afghanistan for an additional three months.  Geoff managed to help his team get over this sudden and disappointing change far from home.  He and his group found renewed relevance in their work as a unit, forming a bond that Geoff cherishes to this day.

Josh Raines-Teague

2020 Team Lead, Josh Raines-Teague

Josh Raines, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Lead

Josh Raines, a current IBD Team Lead, spent time as a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP.  He worked with many organizations involved in global health issues, including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention during the Ebola and Zika crises.  Josh mentioned to the IBD class that in times of uncertainty, he recommends reverting to established frameworks and systems:

“If paired with what you know to be true (the facts), these systems allow you to not only to feel in control but to actually be in control. It’s these times of uncertainty where integrity and commitment to the team despite obstacles really comes to the fore and makes all the difference. Ultimately, this will prove to be an incredible and valuable learning experience.” 

Emily Lapham, ‘21 MBA Candidate and 2020 IBD Team Lead

Emily Lapham

2020 Team Lead, Emily Lapham

Emily Lapham is a current IBD Team Lead.  Prior to coming to Berkeley Haas, she worked as an Emergency Management Senior Analyst for the Cadmus Group – a consulting firm focused on homeland security and environmental issues.  Emily talked to the IBD class about the constant “exercising” her Cadmus Group team would do in order to prepare for times when everyday assumptions were no longer possible:

“I would advise Team Leads to think through different paths towards the same objective. This requires clarifying what the high-level objective truly is for the client. And then, instead of dwelling on the fact that we are seemingly falling on a “Plan B” (or C or D or E…), reframe it as another path to support a larger objective. For example, is it to explore a potential new business line or is it to assess diversification of revenue, and exploring a new business line was a means of doing that? If it is the latter, in a time of uncertainty or crisis, focusing on the larger objective (in this case, diversifying revenue) provides space for creativity.”

Emily admits that she is an eternal optimist, and she firmly believes that it is during times like these that there are opportunities to do a lot of good.  She wants her peers to remember that if they can “think through how our clients can best serve their customers at this moment,” it will “help make them stronger in serving non-traditional or new groups of clients going forward.”

IBD Faculty Mentors

In addition to our IBD students, the IBD Faculty Mentors also spoke up during the recent conversation about how to manage through adversity.  They emphasized that this current experience will be rich with learning opportunities for MBAs.  “Step up now,” said Faculty Mentor Olaf Groth, “and rest assured that employers will want to hear about how you handled yourself and your team during these tough times. Resilience leadership is a highly prized skill.”  Olaf concluded by telling the class: “There are good horizons beyond every crisis. Let’s all saddle up!”

 

 

 

IBD Team Hilltribe Organics enjoys an evening of baking and bonding

 

Team Hilltribe - Thais Esteves, Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Santiago Correa Posada (Not in the order of the photo)

Team Hilltribe – Thais Esteves, Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Santiago Correa Posada (Not listed in the order of students in the photo)

Hilltribe Organics (HTO) is an intriguing social enterprise focused on Thailand.  It was created as part of a YPO competition that aimed to foster an entrepreneurship mindset among young leaders and to define solutions to help marginalized farmers’ communities in Thailand.  Today HTO’s mission is to achieve long term sustainability for the rural farming families of the socially marginalized hill tribe communities of Northern Thailand. Since launching in 2014, HTO has become the #1 organic free range egg brand in Thailand based on the high quality of their eggs and sustainable production.

 Richard Blossom, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Thais Esteves, Santiago Correa Posada, Burton Mendonca, Ana Alanis

Richard Blossom, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, Thais Esteves, Santiago Correa Posada, Burton Mendonca, Ana Alanis

The current spring semester IBD project team has been asked to develop a business strategy to allow HTO to expand beyond organic egg production into organic dessert production in Thailand and the surrounding region.  Last month the IBD team took advantage of a rare opportunity to meet their project client in person — well before the California shelter in place directive was announced. HTO Co-Founder and CEO Richard W. Blossom invited the IBD team to his home in the Bay Area soon after the entire student team was formed in late February.

Student Team Lead Thais Esteves and Team Members Ana Alanis, Burton Mendonca, Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry, and Santiago Correa Posada all joined Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain at Richard’s home to work on baking and sampling potential organic dessert items as part of the current IBD project.  As Judy Hopelain reported afterwards, “This kind of informal interaction usually doesn’t happen until teams are in-country. It was an amazing opportunity to get to know the client and their story behind the company in a relaxed setting at the beginning of the project.”

Ana and Santiago cooking

Ana and Santiago cooking

In addition to experimenting and baking desserts with HTO organic eggs, that night the IBD team was treated to an organic pasta dinner courtesy of Perfect Earth Foods, which uses raw materials from farmers in Thailand.  As HTO CEO Richard Blossom said after the event, “The best way to think about a food project is to cook and eat the product! Plus it’s a great way to get to know about the project and one another.”

Learning more from Richard about Perfect Earth Foods and HTO

Learning more from Richard about Perfect Earth Foods and HTO

Say Hello to Nina Ho MBA ’21, Our Spring 2020 IBD GSI

Nina on the Big Reveal Day with a sign that says UgandaThe IBD program is thrilled to have second year Full Time MBA student Nina Ho contribute to the spring 2020 FTMBA IBD program as our Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). Previously, Nina was a student Team Lead for the Makerere University project during the spring 2019 IBD program.  This is the second year that a former IBD student Team Lead has held the GSI role: Libby Ananda MBA ‘20 was the first.  The GSI role was created to benefit both IBD faculty and students.  Recently we had the opportunity to talk with Nina about her IBD experience as a student in 2019, as well as her expectations as this year’s IBD program GSI, and we’d like to share her interview below.

Nina and her team on a safari

Nina and her IBD team traveling and enjoying a safari

 IBD Interviewer: Why did you want to be the IBD GSI?

Nina Ho:  IBD was a unique experience: when you are pushed outside of what’s familiar, you learn more about yourself and those around you.  Spending quality time with my amazing team, I learned tremendously from them, and we got so close. As a GSI, I wanted to pay it forward and facilitate an unforgettable experience for the next class.  I also wanted to continue working with Whitney Hischier, who served as my Faculty Mentor last year. I respect her as a professional mentor and believe there’s a lot to gain from another year of working with her.

IBD Interviewer:  Do you have any goals for your role as a GSI?

Nina Ho:  Students come to IBD with different starting points. Some have consulting or leadership experience; others don’t.  I see my role as helping to close that gap — get those students up to speed so they can accomplish their project goals.  I look forward to acting as an intermediary with the faculty and help to inform decisions that support the students’ learning.

IBD Interviewer:  You worked with IBD project client Makerere University in 2019. Were you proud of the work you did as an IBD Team?

Nina Ho:  Throughout the course of IBD we were able not only to diagnose the root cause of their challenge, but also to devise a realistic implementation plan for the solution we recommended.  I am proud of the breadth of work we completed and how we handled the client interaction to get to that point. 

Nina talking to her 2019 IBD client - Makerere University

Nina talking to her 2019 IBD client – Makerere University

IBD Interviewer:  Would you change anything about your IBD experience?

Nina Ho:  Though A LOT of things didn’t go as planned, I wouldn’t change anything.  Ironically, all the challenges we faced made us get closer as a team – we learned how to trust each other. 

IBD Interviewer:  Did the IBD experience help with your summer internship or after graduation career choices?

Nina Ho:  IBD gave me the confidence to lead a consulting project ahead of my internship.  Though I had a consulting background and understood how to do the work, I was looking for reps to lead a team in an ambiguous, non-straightforward setting. 

IBD Interviewer:  Are you focusing on anything over these next couple of months before you graduate?

Nina Ho: I am training for the AIDS Lifecycle charity ride from SF to LA and working on being a better skier — gotta work up to those black diamonds!  I am also looking forward to spending as much time with my classmates before graduating.

Nina standing on a rock

IBD Interviewer: What is your favorite thing about Haas?

Nina Ho:  Honestly, the community.  I am consistently moved by the generosity of my classmates, staff and faculty and how people show up for each other.  The spirit of Haas creates an inclusive space where I’ve been able to take more risks and find a place of belonging.  

IBD Interviewer:  You introduced us to your love of wearing headbands while traveling.  Do you still wear headbands?

Nina with a beautiful backdrop

Nina Ho:  Yes, and most recently in New Zealand — you really need that when you’re on a backpacking trip and can’t shower!

The IBD program staff and faculty are fortunate to have Nina as a member of our team, and we know she will contribute to the overall success of our students and the spring 2020 IBD program.  Thank you Nina!

 

The “Best” IBD Conference!

Haas IBD Conference group photo

The latest annual IBD Conference was held in Chou Hall at Berkeley Haas on September 13, 2019.  In his concluding remarks, IBD Faculty Director Frank Schultz proclaimed that this year’s Conference was the “best IBD Conference ever.”  Frank has been an IBD faculty mentor since 2012, so after experiencing years of IBD Conferences, he knows what it took to make the 2019 IBD Conference stand out:  “After listening to our students’ feedback, we wanted to try a new format for the Conference. I think it really worked; and students, staff, guests and faculty had the opportunity to reflect, reconnect and learn from each other.”

Audience clappingChange of Conference Event Format:

In place of the poster sessions of past IBD Conferences, this year student teams were asked to bring photos, props, souvenirs and local dress to celebrate their IBD experience and their project countries.  All totaled, in 2019 there were 80 Full Time MBA (FTMBA) IBD students and nine Evening & Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students, representing 18 separate IBD teams. Guests, staff, faculty and students mingled among the IBD team tables, as each IBD student team shared stories and anecdotes from their time spent living in-country and working with IBD project clients.  IBD Aditya Team Member Lauren Grimanis thought the “mix and mingle” part of this year’s Conference was “a great way for all of us to come back together after spending the summer apart to hear more about our IBD in-country experiences.“

Wildlife Conservations Society (WCS) Belize presenting their learnings at their table

Some of the IBD student teams displayed their client’s projects openly at their tables.  Team Samai showcased client-made rum from Cambodia. Team We Care Solar, which worked in Kampala, Uganda, displayed a bright yellow solar powered suitcase. This student team explained that these suitcases provided efficient solar energy systems to health facilities in areas without reliable electricity.

We Care Solar Team

We Care Solar Team

Berkeley Haas staff member David Moren, Associate Director for Haas Alumni Relations & Development, was one of the Conference guests who spent time talking to different IBD student teams during the mix and mingle portion of the event.  After speaking with EWMBA student and We Care Solar Team Member Steven Wang, David was impressed by the work the student team performed together with their client: “Talking to Steven and hearing about their project was incredibly inspiring.  Just five minutes with him gave me a great sense of the impact he and his team made in Uganda.“

Team Aditya presenting their research at their table to members of Team Dura-Line and SAP Ariba

Every IBD Team Presented this Year:

Team Seva giving their presentation of their project at the conference

The Conference event program also changed to include a two minute presentation by each IBD student team.  IBD students were asked to share their own “lessons learned” from their time spent in-country working with their project clients.  The presentations varied in content and message, but the new format was appreciated by IBD students. MBA ‘20 Lauren Grimanis was one of the many students who enjoyed the new format feature of peer presentations:  “The highlight was each team’s two minute presentations, which included project and experience takeaways and funny team dynamics.”  

Team Samai giving their presentation at the conference

IBD Student Contests:

One aspect of the Conference that remained the same this year was handing out awards for the best IBD in-country photo (Aesthetic and Team versions) and the best IBD in-country blogs.  Each year as part of their course deliverables, IBD student teams write blogs about their time spent working in-country. IBD staff post the blogs on a weekly basis on the Haas in the World site.  This year’s IBD student team blog winners were:

Team We Care Solar receiving their award for winning best blog entry 2019

Each year the IBD program also recognizes and awards winners for the best IBD team photos taken during the project in-country period.  The winning photos are displayed at Berkeley Haas in the IBD hallway near Faculty Building Office 445. The best photo winners for 2019 are:   

  • Team Dura-Line – Best Aesthetic Photo 
  • Team Ananda – Best Team Photo

Team Ananda posing on stage after winning best team photo 2019

Finally, this year’s Conference concluded with thank you messages to the many people who make the IBD program happen, including our amazing IBD Faculty Mentors Judy Hopelain, Whitney Hischier, Jon Metzler, Arman Zand, and retiring Faculty Director Frank Schultz.  The IBD program can’t thank Frank enough for all the time, expertise, passion and dedication he has given willingly to IBD during the last seven years. All of us will miss him!


Faculty members receiving gratitude on stage after conference. Please look for an article on Frank Schultz’s retirement in future IBD newsletters and blogs. Frank Schultz Ending Speech

Find more photos from the day and the conference here!

Uganda Come to Africa!

Team Makerere is comprised of five Masters in Business Administration (MBA) students from the University of California, Berkeley, USA: April Zhu, Samuel O’Reilly, Juliana Pugliese, Pat Hyde and Nina Ho (who served as the Team Lead).

Team Makerere descends on Zimbabwe and Botswana!

From the moment the team was formed, plans had already begun to make the most of our long flight over to Africa by traveling together. After much deliberation, the team decided that Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the Chobe National Park in Botswana would be our destination. And as a lovely surprise, Partners would be joining the team as well. 

First Official Team Meeting

The Team then flew together to Johannesburg, South Africa where they officially kicked off their in-country experience with the first official Team Meeting in Africa. Team Lead Nina Ho led the first official meeting by discussing our first day’s schedule and team norms. The team expressed joy and excitement as the moment they had been working on for the past 4 months had finally arrived. The next morning, the team boarded flights headed for Uganda!

How might we equip Makerere with the right people, process, and technology to enable them to develop and iterate their own solution that addresses students’ needs?  

Makerere University Private Sector Forum approached us to develop a non-conventional approach to internships that improves the quality of Makerere University graduates through enhanced hands-on experience with professional practice.

Makerere University students face significant challenges in securing internship positions, as well as participating in meaningful professional development during their attachments. Students are rarely given consequential work, and subsequently meaningful feedback, because they often enter their internships lacking essential workplace skills around communication, professionalism, and teamwork. 

Therefore, our time in Uganda was spent by meeting with each primary stakeholder: the students, faculty and employer partners. These meetings allowed us to validate our prior research, learn the ground truth and use the information we gathered to help us adapt our vision for a non conventional approach to internships. 

One day in Kampala

Anyone who has lived in Kampala will tell you how frustrating traffic can be. To only go 2 miles can take up to 1 hour, but the blistering heat and humidity will make you think twice before walking. On our second day in Kampala, we had meetings arranged with Umeme Power and the Bank of Uganda. The map said that it was only 7 minutes away by car, but we knew that could mean anything. We woke up much earlier than usual and planned to go to a coffee shop down the street so that if it did in fact take only 7 minutes, we would have somewhere to wait. The drive did indeed take 10 minutes and we were able to enjoy a nice cup of Ugandan coffee while we waited for the meeting to start. Our day was looking up. When we finished our last meeting at about 1pm, our blind optimism from that morning led us to say, why not, let’s take an uber back to the hotel. As the wait for the uber ticked past 30 minutes and the blistering heat was starting to take its toll, our uber pulled up. The Toyota Wish had seen better days, but we were optimistic that it would get us there in record time. As sweat was dripping down my face, and countless boda boda’s (motorbikes) passed us in traffic, I regretted our decision not to walk the 2 miles. I looked down at my watch and yes, it took us 75 minutes to go 2 miles. 

The Haas Global Alumni Network is Strong 

One of the reasons many of us chose to attend Haas was that we wanted to join a community that doesn’t end with graduating business school. Early on in the project we were researching Uganda’s economy and realized that Makerere University Private Sector Forum had established partnerships with many traditional employer partners such as banks, but none with fast growing sectors in the country. During our research, we came across Fenix International, a solar energy company based in Kampala. The CTO happened to be a Haas 2008 Alum and he immediately responded to our cold linkedin message while he was on vacation offering to meet us in San Francisco and link us up with Fenix’s human resources team in Kampala to help us gain feedback on our project and learn more about what students need to be successful in the fast growing Uganda economy. 

The Development Fellowship Scheme

The Development Fellowship Scheme (DFS) is a solution-based career preparation fellowship that includes a dynamic two-part training program for Makerere University’s third-year students. The DFS is structured into a nine workshop Development Fellowship Scheme Skills Course and the 10-12 weeks Development Fellowship Graduate Training Program. The goal of the DFS is to provide Makerere University students with the opportunity to work in teams on real life business problems, while simultaneously developing the analytical, interpersonal, and practical workplace skills necessary to thrive in the formal sector.  The Team presented the DFS to the Executive Director of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum and received positive feedback for the program with hopes of it’s implementation this fall for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Team RD – Florianopolis Brazil

Written by the IBD Team RD, Perrie Briskin, Jamil Bashir, Emily Brechlin, Yenkai Huang, and Michael Kochevar

“Oh, that’s why he wasn’t talking to me,” the Brazilian man exclaimed loudly with laughter. “I thought he was a mute!”

This was the statement of a friendly Brazilian man when he encountered one of our teammates during breakfast in our hotel. Our teammate smiled and gestured to the man to go first for coffee. When the man thanked our teammate, it was met with another smile and a nod. The man only realized that our teammate spoke English when another teammate gave a heartfelt “good morning!”

This encounter sums up much of our International Business Development (IBD) experience. We were all excited for IBD, eagerly anticipating those sorts of miscommunications and disconnects. Needless to say, we were not disappointed. 

Our team of five spent a few weeks in Florianópolis Brazil (known as Floripa) with a marketing automation company. There was an inherent disconnect from the beginning, far before we set off for Floripa. While we think of ourselves as studious MBAs with diverse professional backgrounds, none of us knew much about tech, let alone marketing automation. We quickly dove in to get an understanding of our client’s operations and how they’ve come to dominate the Brazilian market. 

Although we quickly figured out the industry and our client, there remained minor disconnects around the scope of our project. Just when we thought we had it figured out, we would learn something new that would steer us in a slightly different direction. Those small redirects added up to countless hours of healthy debate and multiple white-boarding sessions. Fortunately, we remained nimble and kept in close contact with our client. It was much easier to collaborate with our client when we were finally in Floripa. Key learning – while remote collaboration can be helpful, sometimes a face-to-face meeting is necessary! (read: boss, I think I need to go to [name your favorite city] to really make this project work)  

RD Team white boarding

In Brazil, we quickly learned that English is not widely spoken. It would be a lie if we said it was easy to navigate – just ask the mute if you need proof. But, Google Translate was our friend. The few years of high school Spanish many of us took also proved surprisingly useful. When all else fails, smile and nod. 

RD Team enjoying cake

Our team of 5 had numerous internal disconnects. We had different schedules, varying preferences and unique goals. We embraced the time in Brazil to bond with one another – sharing our “life stories” as a way to get to know one another on a deeper level. We connected over Brazilian barbecue, food trucks and a 3-hour long dinner with our client (small aside – we forgot to place the order for our food…). Karaoke and juggling (our team leader brought a set of juggling balls!) during sunrise on a Floripa beach eliminated any divide that may have remained within our team. Team RD on the beach

This is IBD, it’s all about learning – it’s about stretching ourselves. Working internationally is not easy, but in the challenge lies great learning and fun! 

In the end, we ask – is there a disconnect that cannot be overcome with a bit of hard work, compromise and fun?

 

Building Bridges: The Story of How Two Asians, Two South Americans, and a North Carolinian Found Each Other in Germany

Written by Team SAP Ariba: Jennifer Nixon, Antonio Ciudad Casafranca, Ka Wing Lo, Rodrigo Morelli and Boyu Zhang

More than just data integration… 

SAP’s CEOs’ words marked us from the beginning when we got to SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. SAP’s core business is more than just data integration; it is about creating “bridges” within an organization so that communication can flow freely, and thus, better decisions are made. 

Experiencing this project with IBD consulting eyes resulted in a similar realization to each of us. From visiting the offices in Palo Alto, to the headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, to the Apphaus in Heidelberg, we were able to see first hand what makes this giant tech company tick. It was not just that we had not seen so many bridges, literally connecting all buildings in the headquarters like a giant above- and below-ground maze. These bridges weren’t just to shield employees from the harsh German winters. The concept of bridges was embedded in this company’s DNA. The key to success for them was collaboration, which led to the best possible solution for the client. We knew that this was what this big tech company did differently. 

The purpose of our project itself was to create a concept and strategy for a new product in Northern Europe. And for that reason, we had not only to understand our potential Northern European client, but also get a better understanding of one another. 

Coming from 5 different regions in the world: Brazil, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Peru and the US, the “data integration” had to start with us. One morning, as we entered the SAP headquarters building, a symbol struck us from an SAP sign welcoming a distinguished Chinese client delegation. The symbol depicted below means team – the

The Chinese symbol for team

inner symbol means talent, and the outside 4 walls mean group, which we saw as a great representation of the four nations from which we came. We realized that this symbol represented what we have become: a talented, multifaceted group that came together as one team, on the other side of the world, to solve a complex problem.

Our Journey to the Bridges:

Living in Heidelberg for three weeks, we were exposed to the oldest university city in Europe. Being surrounded by centuries of pursuit of knowledge, exemplified by the willingness of SAP people to talk to us and share their experiences with us, helped to open our eyes to a new understanding of the client, but most importantly to the company integration project that we had to help accomplish.

SAP Ariba is itself in an undergoing process to integrate with SAP, and our proposal had to take those aspects into consideration. 

We were also able to explore Germany, and understand centuries of division, but also reunification and integration of a new Germany. This nation does not forget its past, but builds “bridges” to connect its future.

It is about abandoning the silos and understanding our client’s client, our client, and each other. The pain points of one were not the pain points for everyone, so we had to bridge the gap to find a common ground, and work from there to find a comprehensive solution. 

It has been a journey to create bridges around the world and between us. After this experience, it is safe to say that we will always search for ways to connect people, build trust, and team up! 

IBD Team We Care Solar in Uganda, July 2019

Written by Ana Quirino Simões

“Not only lights, it provides warmth…”  – midwife in Kyannamukaaka, Uganda

Roughly seven weeks ago, our team was introduced to We Care Solar, a non-profit based in Berkeley that aims to reduce maternal mortality rates in the developing world by providing the most essential resource for successful nighttime deliveries … LIGHT.

We Care Solar offers a simple concept – a ruggedized suitcase with up to four bright LED lights, fetal heart monitor, and basic USB charging that draws power from the sun and stores in a reliable battery. With a solution that is simple, low-maintenance, and user-friendly, locals describe this suitcase as “Light in a Box.” Proper lighting has an incredible impact at healthcare facilities where the only alternate source is the tiny LED in a smartphone and enables staff to perform procedures otherwise avoided when surrounded by absolute darkness. Assurance of available lighting enables facilities to care for more patients, contributing to positive performance metrics, eligibility for more public funding, and increased healthcare service options. Network effects of the Solar Suitcase have the power to elevate the life of an entire community.  

Given the successful impact with their simple and ruggedized design, it is not surprising that they want to branch out beyond maternity to support other areas of healthcare that are similarly challenged with scarce and unreliable power, such as vaccination, lab services, and surgical operations.

We Care Solar asked the IBD team to assess the next opportunity to grow their impact.

A “direct” connection from San Francisco to Kampala takes about 28 hours and has 2-3 stops/layovers. Steven would tell you that the 28-hour hub to Kampala is a myth. A combination of airport delays, severe weather issues, and lack of alternate flight options led to a total travel time of 52 hours for Steven. As for his luggage, he found out that it was still stuck in Newark by the time he landed in Uganda. Fortunately, Chinmay helped by sharing his clothes (no further details) until Steven could go clothes shopping at the fancy Acacia Mall. That’s how one starts a great journey as a team!

For our first days on the ground, we met with the local We Care Solar team, who gave us incredible perspective into their work and the realities they have to deal with. IBD is truly hands-on and we were immersed in the problems of unreliable electricity. On the second night of the week, we experienced a full 12-hour black-out in our Airbnb: no lights, no hot water, no cell phones, no internet, no computers, no TV. And no fans!

On the bright side, days start early in Kampala. Ana was the team’s early morning person and enjoyed peaceful morning sunshine on the balcony of our Airbnb in Ntinda.

Our early mornings would start with breakfast in the apartment before we commuted around the city to where many of our stakeholders were based. Because of the severe traffic, almost every trip took an hour despite Uber claiming an optimistic 15 minutes. The roads are filled with cars, people, and boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), and one driver joked that sometimes he has to close his eyes and pray when he drives through Kampala.

By the end of the first week, we had visited a variety of healthcare facilities and learned about their challenges, including those in more remote areas in the Masaka region. We visited mid-size healthcare facilities that served a wide local population range between 5000-20000 patients per year. Beyond maternity, these facilities also offer out-patient treatments, vaccination, diagnostics, and treatment for wide-spread diseases such as HIV, TB, and malaria; one of the facilities also had an “operating theater” (OR). They were all connected to the main electricity grid, but all reported outages 2-8 times a month, lasting anywhere from a few hours to two whole days.

Their top wishlist items for We Care Solar? More lights. Brighter lights. Security lights. Treating patients in darkness is a difficult business. Non-preventable yet treatable conditions such as obstetric hemorrhage (massive bleeding from childbirth), obstructive labor, eclampsia, and sepsis can go undiagnosed and become fatal just because there are no lights.

Driving through rural Uganda gave us a good sense of the impact that the Solar Suitcase has had in the communities and ideas about how to expand it to other areas of healthcare and reach a broader population.

During our second week in Kampala, we met with multiple stakeholders in the healthcare and solar solutions space: the Ministry of Health, solar distributors and installers, healthcare experts, and other NGO representatives. The potential for partnerships to amplify WCS’s reach became very clear. We started to get a glimpse into the intricate network of stakeholders and factors that need to work in harmony to influence and transform the condition of healthcare in places like Uganda. 

It was not all work! During the weekend, we squeezed in a safari visit at Lake Mburo National Park and experienced the amazing local nature. The park is beautiful and amazing, even with challenges such as bugs, especially mosquitoes. If you see Neha, ask about the feline friend she made at the lodge.

A walking safari allowed us to get really close up to the animals. The zoom lens on Ana’s camera also helped.

For seven weeks, we were challenged with tackling one of the world’s biggest problems. Each one of us has collected new experiences, gained a new perspective of the world and our own realities, and made new amazing friends. We finished our journey with a deeper understanding of Uganda’s challenges in healthcare and in everyday life. And after we finished our final recommendations report to We Care Solar, we celebrated in the best way possible – with an African Night at the Kampala Cultural Center.

The narrator at the Cultural Center explained: “If you get stressed, relax and shake your sitting facilities – and you will be happy!”

A big shout out to the We Care Solar team and all of their support with information and logistics! We hope to see them again soon. Weebale!

Pictured left to right: Ana, Steven, Chinmay, Neha

Team We Care Solar

IBD – Uganda 2019

Chinmay Gaikwad, Ana Quirino Simões, Neha Shah, Steven Wang

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!