U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Berkeley-Haas #3 among the “10 Best Business Schools for an International MBA,” citing the school’s International Business Development Program (IBD) program for providing an “international edge.”
Each spring and summer, some 80 Berkeley MBA students participate in the IBD Program, with 16 teams traveling to 14 different countries to work in fields from ecotourism to technology to healthcare.
More than 1,200 students have taken part in the program over the last 20+ years, applying skills learned in the classroom to challenging management consulting projects in more than 80 countries from Argentina to Zimbabwe (above).
One IBD team explored automotive markets in India and shared this GIF on the Haas in the World Blog
Before traveling abroad, IBD students group into teams of five and consult remotely with their assigned client for four months. They then spend three weeks in-country, further refining their project and delivering a final presentation to their client.
In September, the teams present their projects to the Berkeley-Haas community and prospective IBD clients at the IBD Conference.
Sebastian Amenabar and three of his full-time MBA classmates, Dan Fishman, Emilio Rosseto, and James Chow traveled to Zimbabwe. There they helped UK-based venture capital firm Apsara Capital develop and deliver a workshop for budding African entrepreneurs.
Traveling first to Africa University in Mutare and then to the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, the team built on a three-day pilot program developed by a previous IBD team, expanding it to an intense week-long workshop—the ACT Entrepreneurship Project—where college students identify problems, then develop and iterate solutions with business potential (below).
“Many students in Zimbabwe have no entrepreneurial experience, so we first sent them out into the community to talk with people and identify pain points,” says Sebastian. “A lot of people there have trouble paying bills, which is often done via text messages, and there are also a lot of power outages, so many of the students’ business ideas related to payments and electricity.”
The workshop culminated in a pitch competition at both universities, judged by Apsara Capital and Zimbabwe investors, who selected a winner to receive mentorship and resources.
During the project, Sebastian and his team drew heavily on the design thinking techniques in the core Berkeley MBA course, Problem Finding Problem Solving. The team also benefited from the different skill sets of its members, which included teaching and pitching
“This was a great opportunity to be culturally challenged by having to work hands-on in an international setup,” says Sebastian. “We had to keep adapting ourselves.”
Ariana Alisjahbana, another full-time MBA student, joined Claire Bianchi and Patrick Scandling on an IBD engagement in China.
The team developed an overview and analysis of investment trends in Silicon Valley for YY Inc., a Guangzhou–based social media company that specializes in live streaming videos and related virtual product sales. YY is a public company listed on NASDAQ and has approximately 400 million users.
“One reason I came to Berkeley-Haas was I wanted to transition into the technology industry, so I was excited to be assigned to a large tech company in China,” Ariana says.
Her IBD engagement not only gave her valuable consulting experience, it proved helpful later, she added, when she joined Google in Singapore for an internship.
“Work experience at a Chinese technology company is something rare and valuable. I can provide a point of view that few others have, and this helped raise my credibility.”