On January 21st, Berkeley Haas Full-Time MBA and Evening & Weekend MBA students, along with IBD faculty and staff, met virtually for the first day of the remote 2021 IBD class. The first IBD class is always an exciting one, and this year was no different. The newest class edition of the 29-year-old IBD program is the first ever fully planned remote and dual listed (FTMBA and EWMBA) course.

New to this year’s first IBD class (often called “the big reveal”), project clients dialed in remotely and presented overviews of their organizations and project scopes. As IBD Faculty Director Whitney Hischer said, “We were thrilled to have our IBD clients join us live from all around the world for the first class. It was a great way to introduce students to their projects.”  

Due to current global Covid travel restrictions, and the resulting inability of our students to travel outside the U.S., the remote 2021 IBD class is much smaller than usual with only 12 MBA students enrolled. Fortunately, this allows for a more intimate and intensive engagement between students, faculty, and clients. Faculty Director Whitney Hischier designed a unique and targeted international consulting course that promises plenty of interaction between all concerned, including the current IBD Graduate Student Instructor, Emily Lapham. Emily, a second year FTMBA candidate and previous IBD student, reported that after the first day of class: “I am excited to see the new class format that Whitney is implementing. Not only has she dedicated time for team mentoring and client calls, she has carved out time for presentations from experts in various industries during every class.”

The long-running IBD program, delivered virtually or in-person, remains popular with overseas organizations that require help in tackling their highest level strategic business problems. This year we received 28 client project applications for consideration in our remote IBD course. The three projects ultimately selected offer a unique blend of real world problems to solve on behalf of organizations as diverse as a sustainability startup, a regional higher education leader, and a complex for-profit corporation. Two of the chosen IBD projects are based in Africa (Ghana and Uganda), while the third client is headquartered in Latin America (Peru). Remarkably, one of the entities in Africa is a social enterprise co-founded by a current UC Berkeley Mechanical Engineering PhD candidate.

At the start of each year’s IBD class we usually ask our students to share their hopes and expectations for participating in the IBD program. This is what we heard from a few of our MBA candidates in the 2021 IBD class:

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with a social enterprise and help with their business development. In addition to the experiential learning, I am excited about making an impact with this project in a way that is very meaningful to me.” Poorna Samanta, EWMBA ‘22

“Coming from an engineering background, I really want to gain hands-on experiences in breaking down business problems into actionable plans and working with people from a different culture. ” Juan Yu, FTMBA/MEng ‘22

“In my future career, sustainability will be massively important, so I am excited to work with our client to learn about the recycling process and where there are positive financial opportunities.” Kartik Atyam, EWMBA ‘22

“I am seeking even more international experience and also trying out consulting for the first time. I believe IBD will arm me with valuable skills wherever I end up after graduating.” Eric Holly, FTMBA ‘22

The IBD program wishes our students, clients, faculty and staff the best as they set out on another challenging and productive year. Please stay tuned to learn more in the months ahead about this year’s IBD class experience.

Previous An Interview with IBD Project Client Ross McConnell (MBA ‘04) Next IBD partners with Ugandan start-up Takataka Plastics