Sharon Lau is a full-time MBA student working on an International Business Development project spanning across Gurgaon, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Singapore. She and her teammates, Roland Ekop, Alberto Francisco Granados, Daisy Huang, and Maryam Rezapoor, worked with Dura-Line to assess market entry strategies for the data infrastructure industry in Southeast Asia.
On the day of the Big Reveal, as if it wasn’t exciting enough just to find out who our client and teammates were, we also learned that our project would be based out of India, with “possible travel to Vietnam and/or Indonesia.” After working with our client to better understand our project, it turned out to be all of the above, and more.
Asia is a unique landscape with diversity in all its forms across so many countries, cultures, climates, and economies. In order to better understand how successful market entries and business development worked in Asia, we first studied two countries in which they had done exceptionally well: the US, which we learned more about during our semester, and India, which we explored during our first week of IBD. After India, we would split up for on the ground research in two target markets for our client: Indonesia and Vietnam. After our in-country assessments, we would return to India to work through our findings with the client before flying to Singapore to present to their global C-suite at their off-site management retreat. With a lot of miles ahead of us, we packed up and got ready for a very eventual 3 weeks.
Week 1 in Gurgaon: Understanding a Success Story
We landed in Delhi in one of the hottest months of the year and were immediately fascinated by all the differences and familiarities in our new environment. One of our team members remarked how the way locals crossed highways and traffic patterns reminded him exactly of home. Another team member was so excited by the incredible variety of new foods and spices that she went on a food tour and sampled as many new things as she could.
After meeting with Dura-Line’s Asia management based out of Gurgaon as well as some of their largest infrastructure and telco partners in India, we were armed with insights and more questions for our interviewees on the ground in Indonesia and Vietnam.
Week 2 in Jakarta and Hanoi: Exploring New Markets
After we bid India goodbye for the first time, we split up into our Indonesia and Vietnam teams. In our second week, we interviewed stakeholders and players in our clients’ ecosystems, learning about the intricacies of the industries in each country that couldn’t be found with online research. This proved to be especially interesting, as both countries have a highly relational business environment in which the best way to learn more is to actually speak with people face to face.
Although we had our schedules packed with meeting industry experts and navigating around our new countries, we were especially thrilled to be able to meet Haas alum Matthew Sinder MBA 99, who had a wealth of experience in the region as well as fond memories of campus.
Week 3 in Singapore: Sharing Our Learnings
After a quick trip back to India to realign with the Asia management team on our findings and recommendations, we were off to Singapore to present to our client’s C-suite on the famous bayfront. Our presentation was the centerpiece of a 3-hour workshop, and it was such a rewarding experience to have all of our in-depth research lay the groundwork for an important strategic discussion for truly aspirational leaders.
We wrapped up the project with hours of lively dinner and drinks with the Dura-Line executive team, during which we were inspired to see how CEO Peter Hajdu, Haas MBA ‘05, was boldly and unapologetically leading the company in line with our Haas values. As we packed our bags for what seemed like the millionth time in 3 weeks, we knew we had flown an exceptional number of miles to live out a quintessentially unique Haas experience.