IBD Team travels to Singapore and beyond
Written by Monica Shavers, Edson Flores and Nick Maynes
Big Reveal / Why we were excited about Singapore
Big Reveal day was inspiring for everyone in IBD this year because the possibility of actually traveling again to our international clients was the highest it had been since the beginning of COVID-19. The past two years had not been able to travel, but our class had high hopes that we would be the first class to start up travel again.
After we found out who our team was and that we had been selected to travel to Singapore, our team was ecstatic. Nobody on our team had ever been to Singapore, and we all had wanted to travel there.
Pre- Week 1 Singapore / Thailand Travel
Some of our team members decided to take advantage of the opportunity to go to Asia. They traveled there a week early to explore Thailand before starting work in Singapore the following week. They landed in Singapore late Monday night, took the Ethics final at midnight from a small cafe, and tried to hop on a flight Tuesday morning but failed due to not completing the Thai Pass in time to travel. The team quickly pivoted to moving their flight to the following day and booking a relaxing stay at Singapore’s famous Marina Bay Sands. After a quick detour at MBS, the team was off to Bangkok.
Once in Bangkok, the team explored the many wet markets, attempted to use the public transportation system, and ventured through the various attractions within the city. The highlight of the trip was meeting up with incoming Haasie (Doris Yuan ‘24), current classmate (Varot Pakavatsoontorn ‘23), and second-year Haasie (Kendall Lam ‘22) on a rooftop bar that overlooked all of Bangkok. It was a really cool experience meeting up with three classes of Haasies across the world and sharing our experiences.
Week 1 in Singapore
Our first week on the job was hot. The 4-minute walk to the office had us drenched in sweat. However, by the end of our stay, we had perfected the commute. We like to think it was by having our bodies get used to the weather, but in reality, it was learning about all the tunnels with AC that connect between buildings and malls. In the office, our coworkers were a mix of Brazilian ex-pats and local Singaporeans; everyone was warm and friendly. Our first lunch was a 3-hour hot pot affair which was amazing and included a live demonstration of someone pulling noodles at our table. The rest of the week was a combination of visiting supermarkets, specialty stores, and hawker centers. At night we explored the many recommendations we received for food and drink because, according to Singaporeans, eat and drink are what you do in Singapore. This is not a complaint by any means.
Weekend in Thailand
After a long week of validating and revising all of our assumptions coming into Singapore, we treated ourselves to a weekend in Phuket, Thailand, commonly known for its beautiful beaches, unique islands, and spotlight in the 1974 James Bond movie.
With such a short amount of time, we landed late Friday night and hit the ground running Saturday morning. We got up early for a nice breakfast on the beach, hopped in a tour van, and almost 2 hours later found ourselves on a long boat heading toward the Phang Nga islands. Our first excursion of the day was sea canoeing in the coves of different uninhabited islands. Our canoes would squeeze through openings no more than 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall. We’d have to lay all the way down and use our hands to pass under the opening. We went into four coves until the tide rose, and we could no longer fit.
Our next stop was the infamous James Bond island. We explored the island from end to end, walking across a small beach and even swimming in the same water as Roger Moore did when he shot the movie.
After a short hour spent on James Bond Island, we headed to Koh Panyi, a floating Muslim village suspended over the water. Here we enjoyed a Thai meal, shopped, and visited the village’s floating soccer field.
We headed back to the dock to our final and favorite part of the tour – the monkey cave temple.
After a long day, we headed back to our resort hotel for a night out at Bangla Road, where we ate more amazing food at another hawker stall.
Week 2 in Singapore
With the deck 80% complete, our assumptions validated (or not), and we went into our 2nd week prepared to finalize our recommendation. Our week started with a wet market visit in Chinatown to get an understanding of what traditional Singaporean’s shopping behaviors and preferences looked like. As our luck would have it, most of the wet market stalls had finished up for the day, so we didn’t get to see the hustle and bustle we expected. On the bright side, the account manager of our client was a 4th generation Chinese-Singaporean eager to show us the customs and traditional foods of his culture. We quickly headed to the hawker center, and he brought us an assortment of different Chinese dishes.
We needed to walk off all the great food we ate, so after lunch, we took a stroll around Chinatown to see the historic Chinese shophouses and street murals.
On Tuesday, we spent the morning continuing to prepare our presentation, refining the flow, and developing the vision for the interactive workshop portion. Luckily, the account manager who took us to the wet market the day before had some free time open up and saw that the wet market was open, so he took us back for a quick visit. Here we got to see the real hustle and bustle of the wet market shopping experience. We heard the aunties and uncles bargain for a deal on their fresh fish and buy the different ingredients they needed for their next couple of meals.
Once we returned from the wet market, we had a lengthy call with the finance team. The financial analysis was one of the last portions we needed to finalize our recommendation. We went into the conversation with an open mind as to what thoughts the team would have about such a significant investment. Our financial guru, otherwise known as Edson, had prepared a detailed profit & loss statement that we were hoping to validate with the team and get their perspective on how feasible this investment would be. After completing our meeting, we quickly realized that while the concept was viable and an extremely attractive opportunity, the financial costs were likely too significant for the company to take on at the time. We went to dinner at 28 Hong Kong St, the 21st best bar in the world, and strategized over-elaborate cocktails. We spent 2 hours talking about ways to supplement costs to make the financials a bit more workable and ways we could cut costs to save money. When we finally realized that what we identified was the true financial nature of the opportunity, we discussed how we would deliver this news to our client. With a new plan of action in mind, we got up early on Wednesday, finalized our overall recommendation, finished the presentation, and prepared the material for the workshop. When the morning of our presentation finally arrived, in true American fashion, we bought our clients coffee & donuts as a thank you for sitting through the next 2 hours and started delivering our recommendation. Two hours later, we wrapped up with a team energized and flowing with ideas for taking the recommendation to the next level. We celebrated over Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings). After a long but meaningful two weeks, we were finally done and ready to end our last few days in Singapore, exploring the sites we had yet to see.
To end our memorable trip, we met up with three members of the incoming class of 2024 who were all local to Singapore for dinner & drinks. And we spent our final day visiting the zoo for a private tour where we got to get up close and personal to feed and pet giraffes, baby goats, and tortoises. It was truly a trip we’ll never forget!