An Interview with IBD’s Program Coordinator, Dara McKenzie

Dara McKenzie, IBD Program Coordinator, has been an integral part of the IBD Team for over four years. Dara is responsible for coordinating all international travel and accommodations for over 100 MBA candidates.  She also supports the IBD Team, managing client contracts, and accounting for both clients and students.    Executive Director Kristi Raube reports that Dara’s “upbeat, can-do attitude makes (her) a great member of the IBD team.”  We wanted to share a little more about Dara with the IBD community.  Please enjoy the following interview with Dara

Dara visits the Louvre Museum in Paris, Summer of 2017

Dara visits the Louvre Museum in Paris, Summer of 2017

Question:  Where are you from and how did you end up in the Bay Area?

Dara: I am from Boston, born and raised. Four years ago, I decided to move to California on a whim. I had visited only once before, but I knew I wanted a change — so I packed my bags and bought a one-way ticket.

Question: Tell us about your career here at Berkeley-Haas. Why did you want to work here? What do you do here at Berkeley-Haas?

Dara: I first saw a posting for this position while I was working in Engineering as an admission specialist. I was immediately intrigued at the international component of the job, so I jumped at the chance to apply. Luckily, I got the job, and it’s been one of the best choices I’ve made. I’m the program coordinator, and I work with students, clients and staff on everything ranging from travel and contracting to accounting and much, much more.

Question: What is your favorite part of IBD?

Dara: My favorite part of IBD is interacting with students and hearing about their in-country experiences. I also love the Big Reveal—it’s the first class of the semester when they learn who’ll be on their team, what project they’ll be working on, and what country they’ll be working in for three weeks at the end of the project.

Dara in the Louvre Museum, Summer 2017

Dara in the Louvre Museum, Summer 2017

Question: What is the hardest part of your job?

Dara: The hardest part of my job is contracting. I have no legal background, and often times I’m the intermediary between two different organizations and their legal teams trying to come to an agreement on a contract. Although it’s a long and tedious process, I have to admit I’ve learned a lot from the contracting experience.

Question: If you could pick one Berkeley-Haas principal that is your favorite right now, which one and why?

Dara: My favorite Berkeley-Haas principle is Student Always — I strongly believe there’s always something new to be learned, and I’m grateful to be in an environment that not only encourages this but gives me the opportunity to pursue this principle every day.

Question: You travel a ton, tell me about your favorite place. Where would you like to go next?

Dara: This is a very hard question, because I’ve visited so many wonderful places. If I have to choose just one place, I would have to say Jamaica. My family is from Jamaica, and I’ve been visiting there since before I could walk. I’ve been to Jamaica a number of times, and it’s always been a blast, from the culture and people to the weather and nightlife — it’s never a dull moment. Jamaica is very laid back and everyone is always happy. My second choice would have to be Paris.

I have yet to visit Asia, and I’m hoping my next trip will be to Hong Kong or somewhere in Southeast Asia — maybe to Singapore or Indonesia.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Question: What is one thing on your bucket list that you have crossed off and one that you still have to accomplish?

Dara: One thing I have crossed off my bucket list is snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.

That was an incredible experience and one that I’ll never forget. One item on my bucket list I have yet to cross off is to visit all 7 Wonders of the World. Although there are many different versions of this list, I can say that so far I’ve visited two of them (the Colosseum in Rome and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia)

Dunns River Fall, Jamaica

 

 

The 2017 International Business Development (IBD) Program Holds its Final Event of the Year, Celebrating the Teamwork of Berkeley-Haas MBAs

Full Audience and KristiThe International Business Development (IBD) program yearly cycle officially came to a close on September 15, 2017, with the final event of year, the IBD Conference, held at the Haas School of Business.  IBD student teams, both from the Full-Time (FTMBA) and Evening and Weekend (EWMBA) MBA programs, were tasked with creating posters that showcased their international consulting journey.  Berkeley-Haas faculty, guests and fellow classmates mixed and mingled among the 20 posters as teams shared their projects, final recommendations and in-country experiences.  The IBD Conference represented the first time IBD student teams came back together after the conclusion of their MBA summer internships in order to talk about the exciting project work they did in-country.

Judy and Aramis

IBD Faculty Mentor, Judy Hopelain, talking with EWMBA Team Aramis

It was a great time for reflection for many students, as well as an opportunity to speak publicly about the accomplishments of their IBD projects and the impact on the organizations and individuals they served.  Said EWMBA candidate Joe Layton about the Conference experience: “It was nice seeing that people wanted to hear about our project that much, since we love talking about it.”  Frank Schultz, an IBD Faculty Mentor and Instructor for both FTMBA and EWMBA programs, observed, “it is great to see students from both the Evening-Weekend and Full-Time MBA programs coming together, interacting, and sharing their projects.  You could clearly see why both programs are ranked so highly!”
The IBD Conference was also a great opportunity for Berkeley-Haas faculty and staff to engage with MBA’s in their element.  EWMBA Director of Academics, Mark Gorenflo, attending the Conference for the first

Mark-and-Beth-showing-Makarere

Team Makerere’s, Beth Foster, chatting with Haas Staff, Mark Gorenflo

time, said,

“I attended the IBD Conference to get a sense of the scope of IBD opportunities and the depth of each team’s consulting experience. I was amazed at the number of very different opportunities, with huge variety in geography, culture, and types of customers (private companies, public companies, non-profits, and government entities). I was also deeply impressed with the enthusiasm, rigor, and imagination that the IBD teams brought to their engagements.”

Poster-Session-in-actionAll the Conference posters, teams, and projects as presented were impressive.  Ultimately a vote was held to select the two best IBD teams to make a presentation to the general Conference audience.  IBD Faculty Mentors and students voted separately, picking EWMBA Team Samai and FTMBA Team Agripacific Holdings, as the two winners.  Click here to read more about their respective presentations.  

 

Following the two IBD team presentations came the announcement of the annual project

Sarah and Seva talking about project

Sarah Evans, from Team Seva, presenting their project poster

photo and blog award winners.  Upon returning home from their in-country journeys, students were asked to write blogs about their experiences working and living in a new country.  IBD student team blogs were posted weekly on the IBD Haas in the World Blog site.  IBD students are also asked to submit their “best team photo” and “aesthetic or art photo” to be judged by the IBD Staff.  Winners of the IBD photo contest will have their photos featured later in the IBD Hall of Fame in the Faculty Building at Berkeley-Haas. Click here for the Winners of the Blog and Photo Contest

After all the IBD team presentations and awards were handed out, and the last group photo was taken, it was time to say goodbye to the 2017 IBD program. As Executive Director and Faculty Mentor Kristi Raube concluded, “I’ve left the IBD Conference on a high, and although it is sad to see this all come to an end, we are ready to do it all over again.”  All of us in the IBD program look forward to another year of IBD in 2018.  To view the photos from the Conference, click here.  

IBD full class 

 

Freedom with Responsibility. Trust. Excellence. Commitment. Authenticity.

Clearsale-picture-1Written by Anna Braszkiewicz, Reginald Davis, Anik Mathur, Risa Shen and Nolan Chao

Freedom with Responsibility. Trust. Excellence. Commitment. Authenticity.

These were among the ten core values that our IBD client, a Sao Paulo based tech firm, harbored as a part of their organizational culture. In our first week in-country, we sat down with the client’s People Development Manager to learn more about these values and why they were so important to the organization. Our team was impressed by how much our client emphasized the principle of “professional-in-a-person”—the concept that a professional career is oftentimes a large part of a person, but that people tend to separate the two once they are in the office. As a result, our client’s organization also wanted to cultivate the “person” and ensure that employees could truly be themselves. There were many affinity groups across the organization—ranging from video games, music, crafts, dance, and writing—to breed this personal development.

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Our client’s People Development Manager walks us through their organizational culture.

IBD is no different with respect to a “professional-in-a-person”. Throw five Haas MBAs together in a conjoined Sao Paulo studio apartment for three weeks in a country they’ve never been in, and add a management consulting project for an international client on top of it—the two worlds are bound to intersect! So today, we’ll tell you about a typical day of our life in Sao Paulo—as both a professional and a person.

Although June is actually winter time in Brazil, the weather is still quite pleasant. I’d usually start my day off with a short run through the city on Avenida Paulista — often described as the “5th Avenue” of Sao Paulo. It’s filled with stores, museums, and cafes, and is one of the most bustling streets in this massive, sprawling city. It was a fascinating way to see the street art and architecture that Sao Paulo is well known for. In the morning, the team would all cook a light breakfast together and then take a cab to the company office.

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A mural depicting Avenida Paulista near our apartment; the building with red pillars is the Sao Paulo Museum of Art.

It was then down to business when we arrived at the office. Our project was scoped towards market entry selection and implementation. Our client had recently expanded to a new office abroad and was looking for further opportunities to harbor their international growth and capitalize off of their new location. Once we arrived on-site, our day would often start with an internal interview, ranging from Sales to Marketing to Product.

We would also talk with agencies helping to

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An Avenida Paulista building decorated as a basketball hoop during the NBA Finals.

coordinate the Foreign Direct Investment activities for both Brazil and our target country markets. These officials were great resources in underlining the importance of differences in business culture, and providing information about location strategies, business regulations, and trade patterns. It was great to hear multiple perspectives about internationalization strategy to test our hypotheses en route to our final recommendation

One of the big cultural differences our Haas classmates had told us about for Brazil was that lunch is a big deal! Lunches often are over an hour long, and the city is full of lanchonettes (“snack bars”) and “pay-per-kilo” buffets to fulfill your culinary desires. Some days were more special than others; Wednesday, in particular, is known for serving feijoada—a hearty Brazilian stew made with black beans, beef, pork, and sausage and typically served with a huge plate of rice.

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The Sales, Marketing, and Intelligence teams gave us a very friendly welcome during our first week in the office!

After that, we’d synthesize our insights from the morning and seek further market research on foreign markets and the industry statistics within those markets. A large focal point for us was combing through multiple research sources to derive the correct data insights. The client’s industry featured a host of white papers and information, but oftentimes had contradicting points—a large part of our role was to carefully verify the data. Finally, after hours of research, it was time to head home!

After riding home through the hectic Sao Paulo traffic—sometimes up to an hour long—we’d either make a group dinner in the apartment or go out and try a restaurant in Sao Paulo. Another common culinary delight in Brazil is a churrascaria, or steakhouse. It would typically be served rodizio style “all you can eat”. Talk about a filling meal!

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…Complete with team member Reggie Davis being tossed up in the air!

After dinner—if the rodizio wasn’t enough to send us to a food coma—we’d relax back in our flat—catching up with friends from home, watching Netflix, playing cards, or relaxing on the rooftop pool of our apartment. Before we knew it, it was time to sleep and get ready for the next day’s journey. Bon noche! (Good night!)

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Team Flowers: A Flower Market Tour of China

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

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

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

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

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

Flower auction in Kunming

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

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

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

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

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

IBD Team Works with La Clinica Oftalmologica Divino Nino Jesus, a Non-Profit Eye Clinic

Written by Mark Angel, Robert Gutierrez, Megha Kansra, Tyler Saltiel and Sarah Evans

As soon as we landed, the humidity knocked us out. Walking off the airplane, we immediately felt our clothes stick to our bodies and walked through the still, thick air toward the open-air baggage claim. We had heard the Amazon was humid, but we were not expecting its immediacy. Despite the unprecedented heat and humidity, we couldn’t contain our excitement to begin the in-country portion of our project.

Our team is working with La Clinica Oftalmologica Divino Nino Jesus (DNJ), a non-profit eye clinic based in Lima, Peru, dedicated to eradicating curable blindness. We had just landed in Iquitos, the largest city in the world not connected by a road and the “gateway to the Amazon,” where DNJ had recently expanded. We were to spend the next three weeks working with DNJ’s team to provide strategic marketing recommendations: one week in Iquitos and two in Lima.

Alberto, the executive director of the clinic and our main client, picked us up the next morning in DNJ’s van to drive us to its clinic, 40 minutes outside of central Iquitos. After a brief pit stop to push the van out of wet sand, we arrived at the clinic.

We spent the morning with Diego, the Outreach Coordinator in Iquitos, touring the clinic and learning more about the operations of the Iquitos facility. We even got to see the inside of the operating room where DNJ ophthalmologists perform their life-changing surgeries.

Hot, sweaty, but extremely inspired by the facility, we returned to our hotel to prepare for a meeting with Alberto held in our conference room for the week – the outdoor hotel restaurant and bar. After a productive meeting with Alberto discussing the financial performance of DNJ, we returned to the clinic the next day. Diego and Alberto were eager to have us interview patients and family members accompanying them on their visits. We stationed ourselves in an unused triage room in the clinic, and two by two, patients and their companions sat down to chat with us (en español) about their experiences with the clinic. We were immediately struck by patients’ gratitude and openness. One older woman excitedly told us about her beloved garden, and how grateful she was for the free cataract surgery that would enable her to tend to her garden once again. She and her daughter talked about the excellent service they had received, noted some areas for improvement at the clinic, and finally – to our surprise – gave us an invitation to their home. Another older gentleman, stylishly dressed with a Canon camera slung around his neck, waxed poetic about how eager he was to photograph the people and traditions of the beautiful Loreto region again.

As we spent more days in Iquitos interviewing patients, we continued to hear similar stories. Patients described DNJ as a “gift” and “blessing,” praising the personal attention of the staff. In Iquitos, a city accustomed to seeing NGOs shuttle in and out on a temporary basis, DNJ’s gleaming new Iquitos facility and world class staff, seemingly here to stay and providing services for free, prompted awe and surprise. By the end of the week, we were all deeply moved by the immense difference DNJ was making, and we felt doubly determined to provide impactful recommendations.

After a final day in Iquitos – spent boating down the Amazon (the world’s widest river) and feeding piranhas, alligators, and adorable baby monkeys – we headed back to Lima. In Lima, we extensively interviewed DNJ staff members, collecting their stories, recommendations, and perspectives on patient experience and marketing. A highlight was getting the opportunity to scrub in and watch a live cataract surgery conducted by one of the top ophthalmologists in Latin America. The head nurse patiently explained each step of the process, from the medical checkups of patients just before surgery to the steady incisions and movements of the surgeon to the final, triumphant moment – a mere 10-20 minutes after the surgery began – when patients were helped up off their bed and walked out of the clinic. We were amazed that in under an hour, we had watched a man get back his sight…for free.

After a final push to crystallize our recommendations, we made a presentation to the DNJ board and senior management. We were touched that the board attentively and eagerly listened to our recommendations, and even brought us gifts – delicious alfajores! They were excited about the opportunities ahead and the path forward we charted for them.

Que Alegre! Updates from Guatemala City

Written by Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison

FTMBA students Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison traveled to Guatemala City during May 2017 to work with the fourth-largest, family-owned, home goods, hardware, toy, and baby retailer in Guate mala: Cemaco.

Guatemala City

Our team arrived in Guatemala City during an exciting time for retail. Last year, the retail industry grew 13%, with growth driven by middle/high-end of the market in Guatemala City. Our client Cemaco benefited from these demographic trends, increasing revenue despite growing competition, doubling the number of stores, and receiving recognition as one of Guatemala’s most recognized brands.

Cemaco came to IBD looking for big ideas to meet aggressive revenue and profitability goals.  Among the five pillars for growth highlighted in the 2020 vision, our team was tasked to develop strategy and implementation roadmap to become the dominant e-commerce retail player in Guatemala.

The Initial Research

E-commerce is nascent but growing in Guatemala City. In 2016, e-commerce grew by 20%, mainly used by the young, urban, upper class.  Cemaco launched their beta e-commerce site in April of this year, allowing us to work in parallel with the team and project.

Prior to arriving in Guatemala City, our team conducted secondary research on the industry, competition, company, and customers to make the most of our time in-country. We sent a survey to 600 active and 250 lapsed Cemaco customers and received 80% response rate. This amazing level of loyalty and commitment from the customer base was incredible – we were excited to meet the team and customers during the coming weeks!

Arrival in Guatemala City

Arriving on Saturday, May 13th, we were greeted by the Cemaco team for a tour of the city.  We stopped by a local market, picked up groceries, and of course visited a Cemaco store.

First Days at the Office

Our day of arrival presentation gave us helpful feedback to move forward with our proposal. Meeting with the team, we felt incredibly welcome. Not to mention, it was Peter’s birthday! The team took us out to lunch and we celebrated over cake!

Learning about the market

To learn about the market, we focused our time visiting Cemaco and competitor stores, going to the warehouse to see the e-commerce logistics firsthand (and ride a forklift together!), and conducting in person interviews at Cemaco stores. These experiences helped us understand

  • What obstacles/profitability challenges Cemaco will face: Labor is very cheap in Guatemala. From a logistics perspective, Cemaco has been very flexible and fast, figuring out how to package and deliver e-commerce orders in 1-2 days
  • How Cemaco sets itself apart from the competition: Cemaco is a customer first company that puts its stores at the center of its experience. Cemaco stores are welcoming, bright, and customers enjoy spending time browsing the wide variety of products
  • Why customers love Cemaco: As an established, family owned company with Guatemalan roots, customers are extremely loyal. They feel that they can find everything they need for their homes at Cemaco, and expect to find high-quality products.

Weekend trips 

As our classmates pointed out to us, our team didn’t just work…our client Cemaco planned amazing weekend trips for us. First, we went to Lake Atitlan, where we enjoyed an amazing view of the lake, mountains, and volcanoes went on a nature hike with swinging bridges and saw ancient Mayan ruins.

On our second weekend, we hiked the Pacaya volcano where we roasted marshmallows on top and visited the beautiful, historic Antigua.  Walking down the cobbled roads, we took in the architecture and culture of the city – from carrot ice cream to a speakeasy bar called “No Se,” we tried to find all the hidden gems that Antigua had to offer.

Final Presentation

Back at work, in our final presentation, we recommended that Cemaco prioritize its growing B2B business through an e-commerce platform, and developed a customer-first omnichannel experience plan for both existing and new customers. We were especially excited about our plan to partner with apartment buildings in the nearby Zone 4, known as the “Silicon Valley of Guatemala City,” where first time renters were moving out of their parents’ home before getting married. The team took us out to drinks to celebrate!

In Conclusion

Guatemala is an amazing country and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. We were so impressed by the culture that Cemaco has created and kept strong over the past 40 years, encouraging their employees to move across functions, pursue continuing education, push for corporate social responsibility, and experiment with new business strategies. We are excited to see what’s next for Cemaco!

Updates from IBD Shanghai – ARM Accelerator

Written by Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller

FTMBA students Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller traveled to Shanghai, China during summer 2017 to work with ARM Accelerator.

IBD team in the ARM Accelerator Shanghai office

The Internet of Things (IoT) involves embedding objects in our surroundings with sensors, which capture data and make decisions without the need for human intervention. IoT is poised to change the world, and our client, ARM, is playing a major role in the IoT revolution. ARM is a multinational semiconductor company that designs architecture for the chips that power our smartphones and tablets. Over the next 20 years, ARM expects to deliver 1 trillion chips for IoT devices.

Two years ago, ARM China launched the ARM Accelerator to support IoT startups. Our five-person IBD team traveled to Shanghai to work with ARM Accelerator, helping them develop a strategy to attract Silicon Valley startups, and crafting a plan to diversify their revenue sources.

Initial Research: Bringing Silicon Valley to China

IBD team members Jen, Harsh, and Chris presenting our recommendations to ARM leadership

Our initial challenge was to advise ARM Accelerator on a strategy for attracting U.S. startups. We hypothesized that U.S.-based startups would not want to travel to China for the program, and anticipated recommending a Silicon Valley office. To test our hypothesis, we spoke with founders from 12 different IoT startups in the U.C. Berkeley ecosystem.

We were surprised to learn that virtually all of the founders had either already spent time in China, or anticipated going in the near future. The primary reason for Chinese travel was to connect with manufacturers, but several startups were also interested in meeting Chinese investors and customers.

IBD students with ARM Accelerator leadership, including Allan Wu (center), President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘96

We also discovered that most startups learn about accelerators through their networks. The ARM brand is strong, but few startups had heard of ARM’s accelerator, underscoring the need for business development efforts and localized marketing content in Silicon Valley.

Evaluating the Accelerator Business Model

In the weeks leading up to our trip, we expanded our focus. At two years old, ARM Accelerator is still a startup, and they wanted insights into how other accelerators achieve financial sustainability. We analyzed successful accelerators from around the world, and compiled preliminary recommendations to test in-country.

IBD team member Jen Hoss at the TechCode Shanghai Accelerator, testing an Augmented Reality windshield

 

Day of Arrival

On May 12, we flew to Shanghai. None of us had ever visited mainland China, and we were eager to meet the ARM Accelerator team and learn more about the Chinese startup ecosystem.

ARM Accelerator founder Andy Chen and head engineer Shi Lei gave us a warm welcome, and briefed us on an itinerary packed with interviews. Over the following days, we met with ARM Accelerator graduates, venture capital investors, other accelerators, and the local government. We even attended a presentation in which ARM Accelerator companies pitched their autonomous vehicle technologies to representatives from BMW.

IBD team members from left to right, Jen Hoss, Justin Wedell, Amanda Eller, Chris Roberts, and Harsh Thusu, meeting with bike-sharing startup MoBike.

Interview Highlights: TechCode, Shanghai government, and MoBike

TechCode is an accelerator and incubator started in China, with locations all over the world. Daphne Han provided insights into the benefits of the accelerator for TechCode’s corporate sponsor. She also gave us a tour of their co-working office space, and IBD team member Jen got to test a TechCode company’s “Smart Windshield,” which uses Augmented Reality to provide real-time information to drivers.

Another highlight was our meeting with Zhang Lan from the Shanghai government’s Development and Reform Committee. Mr. Lan shared fascinating insights about the government’s role in supporting entrepreneurship, and the incentives available to ARM Accelerator companies.

Mr. Lan then brought us to the MoBike headquarters. MoBike is a bike sharing startup that has taken

IBD team at the MoBike Shanghai office, with Shanghai government official Mr. Zhang Lan and our ARM colleague Allan Zhong

China by storm, with support from the government. 25 years ago, Shanghai was full of bicycles, but their replacement with motorcycles and cars has exacerbated pollution. MoBike is reversing the trend, and we were impressed by the number of Chinese taking advantage of MoBike. MoBikes can be parked anywhere, and locked or unlocked with a smartphone app; each morning the bikes pile up in front of office buildings, and by evening rows of MoBikes surround the metro stations.

Our ARM Accelerator hosts took us for a traditional Chinese business dinner, which meant plenty of baiju, or Chinese spirits

Eating our way across China

The team made the most of our free time by trying every dumpling we could find. We learned about the art of handpulled noodles, sampled Uigher-style barbecue, and tasted Schizuan Province’s spicy mala peppercorns.  We even contemplated opening a Berkeley franchise of China’s popular Yang’s Dumplings chain.

Between meals, we climbed the Great Wall, explored Beijing’s Forbidden City, and hiked the mountains surrounding Hangzhou’s famous West Lake.

And throughout our trip, we were greeted by local Haasies. Alan Wu, President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘97 provided valuable feedback throughout our project and shared his visions for China’s technological future.

Making new friends over a Beijing-style hotpot dinner

And the Haas Shanghai Alumni group welcomed us with a happy hour, where we met two incoming classmates to the class of 2019.

After a successful three weeks in China, we are excited to continue following ARM Accelerator’s progress as they help build companies shaping the future of IoT.

Phnomenal Times

Written by Sushant Barave, William Conry, Daniel Conti and Joe Layton

For our IBD project, we’re working with Cambodia’s first and only rum distillery, Samai, based in Phnom Penh. Our team is partnering with Samai’s founders, Antonio and Daniel, on expansion strategy, new market pricing, operational improvement and accounting guidance.

Prior to arriving in Phnom Penh we had been corresponding with Samai to finalize the scope of the project and complete as much pre-work as possible. While our team was productive across those six weeks, it was remarkable how much more effective we became on location with the client. For instance, we had an idea of what the rum production process looked like, however being able to visualize the steps enhanced our understanding to the level required to make recommendations.  Additionally, speaking face to face with Daniel, Antonio and Champich, the master distiller, we were able to have more insightful conversations and gain a better feel for the business and its needs.

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Another byproduct of live meetings is shifting priorities. While the project work streams had been determined in advance of our arrival, it became clear our first-day additional challenges that require support will surface. Our team recognized the importance of prioritization as a guiding principle – we need to invest our time and resources into the projects that are most vital to Samai and also ensure our deliverables are actionable.

 

Cocktail Competition

Samai’s distillery is open to the public on Thursday nights, when it serves up Samai rum-based cocktails to a lively, mostly expat, clientele. During our required rum tasting our first day on the job I suggested –  somewhat jokingly –  that we have a competition on Thursday to determine which Haas team member can create the best cocktail. Antonio sounded intrigued and within a day we had teams decided, menus set, ingredients purchased and a professional flyer posted on social media. That escalated quickly!

Dan and I settled on a variation of a Dark and Stormy entitled Ann’s Arbor, an homage to our undergraduate institution. Leveraging Joe’s advanced rum knowledge, he and Sushant crafted a more complex, boozy concoction, a Queens Park Swizzle.

We met at the distillery early to pour practice drinks and tweak the recipes until we had it right. This was not just a fun experiment; patrons would be paying for these cocktails! Once we had the proportions, preparations, and presentations down, it was game time.

It could have been the Berkeley-Haas name on the flyer, perhaps it was the sophisticated drink selection or maybe it was our rugged good looks and charm behind the back bar, but the orders flowed in like Trump tweets after a New York Times bombshell report.

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

At a few points we couldn’t keep up with the demand – we were forced to act like seasoned bartenders who knew how to accommodate a packed bar.

For the competition piece, believe it or not, according to the official tally the contest ended in a tie! The Ann’s Arbor team will point out that our drink had a higher volume of orders, which should be the tie breaker. The Queen Park Swizzle duo will remind us that more orders led to more misinformed votes from those who only sampled one beverage.

Regardless of who deserves the crown, overall the cocktail competition was a win. 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.

After shaking and stirring as celebrity bartenders for the night, it was back to our real lives Excel modeling and PowerPoint-ing as consultants at the Samai office the next morning. It was fun while it lasted, but there’s still work to do!

Back to work

Back to work

Berkeley Haas IBD 2017 – Aramis Menswear, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Written by Diane Chiang, Barun Mazumdar, Abhishek Mishra, Kalyan Pentapalli and Priya Vijayakumar

Weekend before in-country: Foz de Iguaçu

Five happy and excited Cal bears arrived at the Iguaçu airport on late Friday evening after spending almost a day in air and in connecting airports. We checked in at the beautiful Belmond hotel (which overlooks a small portion of the falls) and had our introduction to authentic Brazilian cuisine and Caipirinhas. It was love at first sight! The Iguaçu falls were absolutely breathtaking – on Saturday, we took a short walk along the waterfall trail and a boat ride on the Iguaçu River before flying to Sao Paulo.

The beauty and grandeur of the waterfalls made this short detour to Iguaçu totally worthwhile.

We arrived at Sao Paulo (SP) on Saturday evening and to kick off our 2-week stay at SP, we went to the acclaimed chef Alex Atala’s restaurant – D.O.M for an amazing fine dining experience. We spent the rest of the weekend exploring Sao Paulo and fine-tuning our Day of Arrival presentation.

First Week at the client site in Sao Paulo

We had an early start on our first day at Aramis’ office – Fabio Davidovici and Luan Silva with whom we had been collaborating since the start of our project greeted us. We presented our “Day of Arrival” presentation to Richard Stad (CEO) and Fabio. It was a very interactive session peppered with questions and interesting discussions around retail trends, brands, and competition.

Because of the high level of engagement, our meeting that was initially scheduled for an hour ran for over two hours. Richard appreciated the groundwork we had done while at Berkeley, it was also a great opportunity for us to learn more about the company and its challenges directly from the CEO. At the end of the first day, Fabio gave us a tour of one of the stores to round out the day.

On Tuesday, we spent the entire day visiting Aramis’ stores at various malls in Sao Paulo. This was an amazing way for us to get to better understand their products, store layouts, and store employees. We interviewed many store managers and sales people to understand the challenges and processes within the stores. We also visited many of Aramis’ competitor’s stores. We shared our initial feedback, observations, and ideas with Fabio, many of them centered on visual merchandising in the store.

Throughout the course of the week, we met with directors and managers across different functions – Marketing, CRM, Inventory planning, Warehousing, E-Commerce, Store Supervisors, Retail, HR and Customer Service. We also got a chance to have lunch on one of the days with the Founder, Henri Stad. Although we experienced a language barrier, Fabio attended all the meetings with us and helped with translation and provided more context.

We also scheduled meetings with stakeholders outside Aramis. We had a very insightful discussion with Fabio Matsui from Cypress Capital (HAAS ‘03) where he walked us through the Brazilian apparel retail industry and the various participants.

We also met with Daniel Maladrin (HAAS ‘05) from 2BCapital/Bradesco – the PE firm that invested in Aramis few years ago. Daniel introduced us to Leonardo Santos from Semantix, which was another company that the PE firm had invested in. We invited Fabio to join us for our meeting with Leo, where he walked us through the omni-channel strategy he had implemented at an American retailer and the challenges he faced launching in Brazil. We identified many synergies between Aramis’ omni channel implementation and the current work that Semantix is doing, and the two companies plan to start some initial discussions to collaborate.

By the end of week one, we learnt a lot about the Brazilian people – their food, culture, and working styles.  Fabio spent a generous amount of time to ensure we were comfortable, got enough face time with Aramis employees and explored Sao Paulo the way locals do.

 

Splendid Salvador and Refreshing Recife

We took a late flight on Friday to Salvador to experience the northeastern part of Brazil. We spent Saturday at Salvador exploring the churches, beaches and the colorful Pelorinho neighborhood. The highlight of the day was the amazing Bahian cuisine we had at Pariso Tropical. This restaurant won our top vote among twenty other strong contenders for the best food of our entire trip! Later that night, we flew to Recife and spent our Sunday exploring Recife and nearby Olinda. We returned to Sao Paulo on Sunday night.

Monday started with a series of previously scheduled meetings.

Talia from Visual Merchandising was the first meeting; she travels around the country for store openings and renovations. She has been re-working the store layouts to make them look fresh and cater to younger demographic. The major challenge she faces is convincing the store managers that the new layouts will lead to increased sales. We then met with Felipe from Store Sales Management who manages all store managers across the country and was able to share how sales strategy has changed over the years and lately with the advent of new POS technology.

 

At the end of each day, we debriefed and communicated our findings till date and next steps with Fabio. We had dinner with Fabio and his wife Fernanda, who took us out to Don Veridiana, which many locals claim to have better pizza than in Italy.

On Tuesday, the team interviewed Mariana, Director of Product, the final scheduled interview and learnt more about how Aramis designs and sources its products. With interviews now over, we focused on consolidating our findings and clarifying any remaining questions we had. After a full day working session, the team agreed to expand the scope beyond assortment planning and omni-channel to include other functional areas and do a 360 analysis.

On Wednesday, the team marched towards the converge phase and began to build on the final business plan to the client. We separated our recommendations into multiple functions including: Inventory Planning (Assortment and Replenishment), Customer Relationship management (CRM), Customer Service, Data/IT Integration, Store Experience, Multi-channel, and Internal Communication. Throughout the day, we had multiple calls for clarifications, and by the end of the day, we had an initial draft that we shared with Fabio before we headed out for some excitements! In the evening, we went to watch football match between two bitter rivals: Palmeras and Colinhas, accompanied by Fabio and Luan.

Thursday being the final day, the team had an early start. We received feedback from Fabio on the initial draft, and decided to move forward with additional deep dive into assortment models. We had dinner at the CEO Richard’s house, along with his wife and son. We learned about Richard’s travel experiences, and discussed his vision about emerging technologies in retail. After dinner, the team headed back to the hotel for the final home stretch of our business plan and wrapped up around 4am.

Friday, the last day at Aramis, was quite a bittersweet experience. We started the day with our presentation with Richard (CEO), Fabio and other executives. Richard showed strong interest and agreed with most of our findings and recommendations. He showed special interests in the assortment models that we recommended and believed it could be quickly implemented. Richard appreciated the fact that we had dug deep into the entire organization, and that we understood the sentiment and culture of Aramis in such a short timeframe. Though rewarding and relieved, it was quite a bittersweet moment when we finally had to say good bye to everyone at Aramis.

Brazil Finale

For the final weekend in Brazil, we headed to Rio de Janeiro. Over the next two days, we experienced the landmarks, nightlife, shopping, and cuisine. The experience of the IBD program has been beyond our expectations and cannot be expressed in words. We appreciated the opportunity to work with Aramis while experiencing the incredible country of Brazil. The five of us also built such strong bonds during the trip that we know we can rely on each other.

Wrapping Up Our Citibanamex Experience

Written by Kim Eun, Pamela Ju, Deepak Kurien and Austin Lu

It’s been an exciting two weeks for the Haas IBD Citibanamex team!  We came, we met, we ate, we worked, and we conquered – in that order.

Meeting Citibanamex

Our main client contact, Alex West, had done an incredible job setting us up with teams all around the bank.  We had meetings with the CIO, the new head of UX, directors in the eCommerce group, and a lot of exposure to their relatively new Innovation and Digital teams. We visited their call center, the digital factory, a new smart branch, and this afternoon we will be ending our experience at the still-in-the-works Innovation Lab.

Citibanamex has been investing a lot in innovation and digitizing their experience, and they’ve seeded these teams with existing bank experts as well as recruiting from the likes of Wal-Mart and IBM.  We had a lot of opportunities to talk to them in 4-on-1s, and everyone was incredibly generous with their time and resources.  They were excited about our project and wanted to help in any way they could.

The Project

Our project: propose a new insurance product for Seguros Citibanamex, with a focus on how to execute it through digital channels.  We’ve spent these past few weeks ideating around this – specifically a product that would be appealing to women.  At the end of the day, we would go back to the hotel room and brainstorm and argue about what features would be the most important (see picture below).  We were lucky enough to have a team dynamic where we could argue with each other but never take it personally.

More than once, we came up with the only partially joking conclusion that, “Insurance is a perfect product.”  As the Deputy CEO of Seguros Citibanamex reminded us, “Insurance is a wonderfully complex product that also does a world of social good.”  We ultimately came up with a product that we very proud of: Sueños Seguros Citibanamex.  It is an investment-insurance product that helps women realize their dreams.

The Final Presentation

We presented it yesterday morning, and Alex and Gaby Galindo (Citibanamex’s head of innovation) did us the great honor of setting us up in Citibanamex’s beautiful palace downtown.  We started at 8 am in a comedor, where we were served breakfast and Gaby welcomed everyone to the morning’s events.  In addition to us, Gaby and Alex, we had 13 additional guests from the insurance team, ranging from product managers to the Deputy CEO of Seguros Citibanamex.  We could tell that we were helping to bring these two organizations together and were both honored and nervous at the responsibility.

Fortunately, the presentation went really well.  Right after we pitched the product, people began asking us questions.  At first, we were worried that it meant our product was going to be received poorly – but it soon became clear that they were all excited by our proposed innovations and wanted to work through exactly what that would look like.

At the end of the presentation, the leader of the Insurance team thanked all of us for our work and told us that every part of our product seemed feasible – except for potentially the technical components (such as our proposed insurance simulator or process flows through their insurance app.)

We were so pleased with how our presentation went – and pleasantly surprised to hear that they would continue to iterate on our work and that one day we may see a version of our product on the Seguros Citibanamex website.

The Last Days

The rest of the day was a dream: an archivist led us on a tour of the Citibanamex palace downtown, we went out to lunch with the insurance team for traditional Mexican food and were very sad to leave them at the end.  Finally, one of the team members led us on a tour of the Zocolo.  We had been there just the week before, but this experience really showed us what a difference having a local with us makes.  He made us go in buildings that we had just walked by before, and we were stunned by how incredibly beautiful these buildings were.  There was the gold-plated Post Office, with a stunning staircase in the middle that made us all gasp out loud when we saw it.

As our experience is coming near the end, we’re both excited to be going home and sad about leaving all the people we’ve met in our two weeks here.  There is the lady at the front desk who provides us all of our security badges every morning.  She asks about what we have done, and Austin entertains her with stories about eating chapulines (grasshoppers), meeting his new favorite luchador, Fuego, and driving on the streets of Mexico City.  There is Thelma, the incredibly kind administrative aid that brings us water and books our meetings, finds us rooms, and helps us when we don’t know how to handle a situation.  When we walk around the office now, we see people that we know and we stop and chat – it’s hard to imagine that we only showed up two weeks ago.

We’ve seen and accomplished a lot in the last two weeks and we couldn’t have had a better experience.