Students Cull Life Lessons from International Consulting Course
Members of the full-time MBA class of 2012 are just back from three weeks spent on international consulting projects across the globe. The students were part of International Business Development (IBD), one of the courses fulfilling the experiential learning requirement of the Berkeley-Haas Innovative Leader Curriculum. This year a record 26 teams took on projects, from improving the sustainability of a school feeding program in Ghana to working on an expansion plan for a New Zealand Bio-IT startup, and expanding vocational training opportunities in a Cambodian coastal village. You can read their adventures in full on the Haas in the World blog, but here is just some of what they learned:
Reality Differs from Rankings, Republic of Congo
A team assisting the Wildlife Conservation Society in growing ecotourism at Nouabalé Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo has traveled by dugout canoe and been charged by a gorilla and swarmed by ants. While the consulting project has “been a great opportunity to apply lessons from Strategy, Marketing, Accounting, and Problem Finding Problem Solving,” blogged one student, “I have gained just as many insights about operating in a developing country. Seeing a country’s corruption ranking from Transparency International in class doesn’t always prepare you to pay bribes before you even leave the airport.”
Technology has Boundless Reach, Ghana
A team working in Ghana had extensive contact with farmers and has "witnessed the poor life conditions of some of the farmers we are trying to help,” blogged one team member. “Farmers who live in a shack in the middle of a farm. A shack with no electricity, no water, and no sewage system. A shack with 30 minutes walk to the closest street. But then I also witnessed the reach of technology—these very same farmers somehow owning and using cell phones.”
On the Ground Means in the Know, Ecuador
Like all IBD teams, a team on a health care project in Ecuador spent months on research ahead of landing in their destination. “We started our field work in Quito, where we interviewed government officials, public health experts, and doctors…” wrote one blogger. “With each successive interview, we had a step-change increase in our understanding of the health care landscape and our client’s situation. We realized that the organization was not at all ready for the sexy technology-based health care models we had spent months researching. What they needed were the basics: Better equipment, resources, curriculum, and communication processes. We decided to scrap the research we’d done and start from scratch, using what we had seen, heard, and learned on the ground as a basis for our recommendations."
Haas is Global, China
A Beijing stop for one team included a mixer held by the Haas Alumni Association at a restaurant and bar in Sanlitun. The event also included the School’s Mayfield Fellows and some new admits. This, blogged one teammate, “served as a warm reminder that Haas is truly all over the world.”
Soccer Unites, South Africa
On a drive to visit Orange Farm (One of South Africa's largest and poorest informal settlements), one IBD student described the view as bleak: "We saw hordes of kids walking in the highway, trying to jump into pick-ups to save walking kilometers to their homes through a semi-desert, and improvised stalls...selling food covered in dirt." But it was in Orange Farm that this student found a teenager who could name the three key players from the student's beloved Bilbao soccer team, "Something that nobody from outside Spain, even in Haas had ever done in my life!!!"
From Madagascar to Ghana to New Zealand (top to bottom) Who makes you proud to be Berkeley-Haas? Tell us in the comments below or share your stories with [email protected].