International Consulting Experiences Expand for Evening & Weekend MBA Students

A power outage at Uganda’s Entebbe airport sparked an “a-ha” moment this summer for Michael Edde, a student in the Evening & Weekend MBA Program. Edde, MBA 13, was in Uganda on a team consulting project through the Haas School’s International Business Development (IBD) course, offered for the first time this year to evening and weekend MBA students.

Edde’s team traveled to Uganda to strategize on deployment of solar suitcases to health facilities, with the specific aim of powering lights and fetal monitors to make night-time labor and delivery safer for women. "While waiting to clear passport control, we experienced our first blackout and were reminded why we were here,” Edde wrote in a blog post. “If a country’s only major airport can lose power in the middle of the day, what does it mean for the hospitals and mothers giving birth?”

Edde was among the 20 evening and weekend MBA students spread out across seven countries this summer as the program expanded its portfolio of international experiences to include IBD, a course pioneered in the Full-time MBA Program that gives students hands-on experience in consulting projects worldwide.  Forty evening and weekend students also traveled this summer for the Seminar in International Business, a course exposing them to different business environments through two-week treks featuring corporate visits in countries from China to Chile.

For IBD, five teams spent two weeks in-country on projects that included conducting strategic analysis for a German software giant in Shanghai and developing a marketing and sales strategy for an insurance software developer in Brazil. The Uganda team was advising We Care Solar on entering the country with its compact solar suitcases, which can power lights and fetal monitors to increase the safety of women delivering babies at night.

Before traveling overseas, IBD students spent five Saturdays in the classroom, building capabilities in teamwork, navigating ambiguity, and wielding influence with clients. Lecturer Frank Schultz, the instructor, also brought in consultants from Capgemini Consulting and McKinsey & Co. to work with students on defining project scope and other critical consulting skills. Capgemini consultant Tina Doede, MBA 08, observes that negotiating the project scope with clients gives students complete ownership for the project—and the outcome: “This program offers some really meaty challenges that let students demonstrate a breadth of consulting skills in a fairly abridged format."

Alumni also played a role in the Seminar in International Business. The course, taught by Haas Lecturer Greg La Blanc, culminates with two-week treks. As students traveled to China, Chile, and Argentina, Berkeley-Haas connections opened doors to meetings with Nicolas Goldstein, MBA 03, CEO of airline LAN Peru, and executives at Silicon Valley Bank, Gap, and Apple in Shanghai, thanks to introductions by Ann Hsu, MBA 98, head of the Shanghai Haas Alumni Network chapter.

Alvaro Peon-Sanchez, MBA 14, blogged about the China trip, sharing highlights such as the Terracotta Army and coming down from the Great Wall via toboggan. His favorite quote from the trip: “In China, everything is difficult, but everything is possible.”

Read more about students' international experiences in the Haas in the World blog