Social Sector Solutions from the Undergraduate Perspective [1/3]

Social Sector Solutions, S3, is an experiential learning class that allows diverse teams of students to help nonprofit clients craft tangible solutions. Each team usually has three MBA students, one student from another graduate program, and one undergraduate student.

Spandi Singh, Richard Lui, and I are three of the eight undergraduate students who joined this semester. You are about to read what will become a three-part series documenting the journey of undergraduates collaborating with MBA and graduate students to solve real-world problems for nonprofit clients. In this mini-series, I will cover our individual motivations for joining the program, our struggles throughout the project, and tips for future applicants who may want to take this unique course.

What motivated you to join S3?

Spandi: I always had an interest in policy and was initially drawn to the Center for Social Sector Responsibility at Haas. Unlike most undergraduates on the team, I’m double majoring in Development Studies and Media Studies with a particular interest in social impact and policy, so I thought this nonprofit consulting class would be different from my standard courses. I also wanted to be challenged, and I definitely felt the challenge when I joined my team. MBAs have more experience, and they are trained with the relevant skills that I didn’t have, given my major. I knew that they would be really smart, and I wanted to be in an environment where I could learn and grow.

Richard: I’m going to be an investment banker after graduation so I wanted to use this last semester to do a lot of things I won’t be able to do in the foreseeable future. I did consulting work on campus before, but the S3 experience is structured differently. It’s an actual class- half lecture and half teamwork session. More importantly, you get to work with MBA students who are more experienced. As a senior of undergrad, I am often expected to carry the group; however, with this team, I will be the youngest member of the group, so I am looking forward to playing a different role in the team. Moreover, clients are paying money for these projects which demonstrate their commitment.

Sammy: I was first drawn to S3 because of it’s experiential learning style of teaching. I’m definitely a hands-on person so I am naturally more engaged in this type of class. Moreover, I will be going into consulting for full-time upon graduation so this would be a perfect opportunity to “get my feet wet”. But most importantly, I think being in a class with MBAs was the real draw for me. You always walk into Haas seeing the MBAs, so this was the chance to actually meet and work with them. I thought that was pretty cool.

What is your project and role?

Spandi: REDF is a social enterprise that does venture philanthropy and provides grants to other social enterprises in the country to access employment. They want to create a certification program for social enterprises so that they can win preferred contract from the government in terms of procurement. Certification programs are already established in the UK and Australia, and REDF wants to explore what the program would look like in USA.

Last semester, I worked on Twitter’s Public Policy team, and I wanted to further explore how policy was integrated with other businesses. For this project, given my background in policy, I played the role of navigating through the government and legislation possibilities in establishing the certification program. With that said, although my expertise is in policy, it does not mean that it is exclusively all I do. If I wanted to learn financial modeling, my team would be flexible and say, “you can work with me on this and we can learn it together”. So while we have specific roles, we are able to explore new areas and learn more about those.

Richard: Sanville Institute is a master’s-level psychotherapist program that provide interactive learning to students that want to develop their skills to practice as clinicians, supervisors, teachers, researchers etc.

As I have an investment banking background, I’m more or less the finance guy so I’m in charge of the finance workstream. Nonetheless, I was happy to contribute to where I was needed. Most of the other team members on my group partners to work with in their workstream.

Sammy: The Berkeley Food Institute seeks to empower new leaders in the food system to cultivate diverse, just, resilient, and healthy society. They want to help expand access to affordable food and promote sustainable and equitable food production.

My role on the team is to become the expert in our client. My workstream is more frontloaded in the sense that I need to understand BFI’s capabilities and resources in order to evaluate the feasibility of our recommendation in relation to BFI’s constraints. I’ll be doing this by conducting mainly interviews with the core members of BFI, in addition to its affiliate staff and faculty and their executive committee.

What has been something you’ve learned thus far?

Spandi: Working through the workplan was very interesting for me because there were only two people that had prior consulting experience, so it’s was a great learning opportunity for the rest of us to see the process.

Sammy: My team consists of people who come from design and consulting, so we have really been working on integrating design into the consulting frameworks. My team is big on post-its and ideation workshops so it’s really cool to see the bridge between creativity and strategy.

What do you hope to achieve for your project by the end of the semester?

Spandi: In terms of the project, it’s a very complex issue so I would be very happy if we can get a good grasp of the problem and to make appropriate recommendations. From doing research in the past few days, I realized that there is so much information out there, so to narrow down the research would already be an achievement. Personally, I want to pick up more hard skills. I think I like consulting enough so it’s nice to build upon skills outside the policy realm; for example writing the business plan and learning financial modeling.  

Richard: I want to get a good set of financial projections and to give the client a deliverable they will be happy with and truly execute the recommendations. Financial sustainability is something they struggle with so I want to help them build a sustainable set of financials which is challenging for non-profits that  just don’t have huge revenue streams.

What has been a highlight so far?

Richard: Our team got to fly to Los Angeles to attend the Sanville Convocation. When we got there, we were able to interact with the students pursuing PhD in psychotherapy. We were able to conduct interviews, ask for feedback about their problem, and chat with alumni and faculty. This facetime with our client made us feel so much more invested in the project when we came back.

Sammy: After the kick-off with our client, my team lead initiated a social afterwards. It was very nice right off the bat to get the chance to meet my teammates and Mckinsey coach offline because I think that definitely got me more comfortable with my team. I think that it’s helpful to have done this because I came in kind of worried about where I would fit on the team and this social really made me let my guard down and just naturally find my place in a team of MBAs and graduate students.

What has been a struggle?

Richard: Time is a struggle right now. You have to come in knowing that you will need to dedicate a lot of time in this project. I sometimes feel like I struggle with the financials since I’m alone on that workstream, but asking for help from my team lead has definitely been helpful in this regard.

Sammy: I think this is a personal struggle but I dealt with some confidence issues in terms of questioning my competency in leading my own work stream; however, those feelings quickly subsided with my team’s continuous encouragement and confidence in me. MBA students really are just students, so if you’re applying, don’t be intimidated by working with people that come in with a world of experience. They’re also here to learn!

What’s your team dynamic thus far?

Spandi: It’s a very open and fun work environment thus far. We have snacks every week. Our team lead has done a great job in bringing people together and ensuring that everything is submitted on time. He maintains good dynamic in the team: open, funny, and willing to hear new ideas. He’s sets a good tone with the team, maintaining balance between the personal and the professional.

Richard: It’s very balanced. There is equal working opportunity for every single member of the team, so just because you’re an undergraduate student, it doesn’t mean that you do all the grunt work. There are no powerplex at all. Our team lead doesn’t treat us any differently from the MBA and graduate students. He’s good at making everyone comfortable in their role after asking us what we wanted to achieve.

Sammy: I love my team. Like I said before, while I was excited to meet a room of such knowledgeable students, I was also intimidated by their qualifications. The team lead is really carefully selected by Nora and Paul to make sure that everyone is having fun, feeling like their work is meaningful, and has help when needed. Your teammates truly see you as an equal and they will emphasize that your opinion is just as valuable as theirs. I’ve never been in a more supportive team.

Make sure to subscribe at the top right to stay updated on life at Haas and this three-part series!

Life Lessons from John Foraker, Annie’s CEO

1008_best-small-annies-foraker_416x416 CEO John Foraker | Photo credit: Forbes.com

Seniors at Haas always joke that they’re jaded from the disheartening job hunt that often involves compromising one (or more) of three things: a job that pays them well, a position that they’re good at, or work that will get them excited to go to the office each morning. Yet speaking with John Foraker, Haas MBA ‘94, or probably better known as Annie’s current CEO, made me realize that you actually don’t have to compromise anything. He’s been at Annie’s for over 15 years and he spoke about it as though he was still in the honeymoon phase.

Today, I want to share with you how Haas has helped prepare him to lead this organic food company that is expected to reach $1 billion in organic and natural sales by fiscal 2019. More importantly, I want you to pay careful attention to the little life lessons he sprinkled throughout his chat with me.

Foraker pursued his MBA at Haas because of its specialized curriculum on guiding early stage companies and entrepreneurship. Foraker credits Professor Bank’s Organizational Behavior MBA course as “one of the best classes” he took. “One of the biggest success factors in your career and leadership is dependent on your ability to use Human Resource knowledge to manage an organization and work with the people,” he says. People make all the difference in the organization and Foraker is very careful in only selecting individuals that embody the mission of the company and continue its organic growth. Likewise, Professor Engel’s Introduction to Entrepreneurship MBA course inspired Foraker and some friends to form Napa Valley Kitchen, which later became an integral part of Homegrown Natural Food. With experiences from class and the two food businesses up his sleeve, Foraker was perfectly positioned to invest in Annie’s in 1998.

When Foraker first joined Annie’s, it had only six or seven employees. Annie’s at that time had already integrated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into its business model but faced difficulty in establishing a clear mission statement for the company. “The first year was a scrappy entrepreneurial environment in transition to a more professional company that had a culture and value that has carried over the past 20 years,” he says. The booming business that Annie’s enjoys today was not some big overnight success; the company almost went bankrupt several times and were “at risk of selling themselves to a big company”, he describes. But never did they once compromise their vision to provide organic products to customers and stay engaged with the community. This defining vision has clearly paid off; even though General Mills now own Annie’s, Foraker has been able to deliver his promise to loyal followers that nothing would change besides gaining extra resources and product lines. Consumers continue to love Annie’s and still wholeheartedly trust the ingredients in the box because of its pure expression of their culture and values towards organic food that taste delicious.

As an entrepreneur, you have to face some risks to gain bigger successes. There may be times where you also have to Question the Status Quo, and Foraker definitely had that moment when he decided to launch a Crackers line, more specifically, the Cheddar Bunnies. Private equity investors uniformly thought it was an unnecessary expansion because the Mac & Cheese line was bringing in profits with huge opportunities to dominate that segment. Yet Foraker believed that the brand stood for more than Mac & Cheese; it symbolized a parent’s love for their children to eat healthy. His strong belief gave him to courage to launch Cheddar Bunnies cracker and soon enough, it reaped in $500K of profit for the company alone. “It was the biggest home run ever”, he recalls fondly. “You have to go with your instincts and follow your consumer. We listened and knew they were interested in a cracker with clean ingredients,” he says. But not every launch has a success story he gently reminds. “You just have to accept fail fast and move on”.

homepage_slider_mobile2A brand that caters to the kid inside all of us | Photo credit: Annies.com

Looking into the future, Foraker believes that the purpose-driven business will be the successful ones. Those are the businesses that don’t focus just on their bottom line, but really believe in building the world around them for a better place that allows them to also connect with consumers. “Those are more meaningful anyways”, he says.

So as you apply for your next job, don’t just think of those big Fortune 500 that will give you the biggest paycheck, but the ones that have the biggest heart for the greater good of society. As the Haas pillar states, Go Beyond Yourself.

 

Study Abroad Feature: Asia and Europe

Midterms, job recruitment, paperwork, and course prerequisites- there is always one reason or another that make people want to, but ultimately do not study abroad. Blocking out the noise inside your head can sometimes be difficult; on any given day, we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and travels miles away to live in an unknown place for half a year.

Like many Haas students, I myself had some reservations about studying abroad. How do I show my personality through a Skype interview? Can I still graduate on time? All these worries subsided and I went ahead and did it anyways. As Nike says, just do it!

We’re trained in school to think logically and methodically. But sometimes, you shouldn’t have to weigh out your opportunity costs that seriously. I hope that by reading about these other amazing Haas student’s stories, you will seriously give studying abroad a chance.


C3R2X9 Barcelona, Park Guell By Architect Antoni Gaudi

Damon Laguna
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Program: CEA Barcelona

Can you share why you chose to study abroad?
I think it was when I realized that there wasn’t going to be another time in my life where I can go to a country and live there for an extended period of time without any responsibilities. I’ve never left the continent so having the opportunity to travel was very intriguing to me.

What made it a memorable experience?
You hear about the places, you read about them, but when you’re actually there, it’s so different.  You appreciate it so much more. Everything over there is so old compared to the US- here, history is hundreds of years old, but in Europe, we’re talking thousands of years old.

Looking back now, what was a major takeaway from your time abroad?
I realized I learned something new every day- I learned a lot about myself. I felt very fortunate to have grown up in a place (America) where I have so much opportunity and not take that for granted. It was in Prague when I realized this; I looked around and saw that people grow up in the city and they generally stay there. It really made me appreciate the mobility that California and USA gave me.

Any tips on what to consider when you choose a place?
Think about what factors are most important to you. I chose Barcelona because I took four years of Spanish in high school. The weather was great and it was an easy place to fly from which was a major bonus. Also, don’t be constrained by just opportunities with UCEAP. I actually went through CEA and my credits counted towards Haas too.


12031382_10153116452683483_811440323665515544_o                                                                                                                                             Photo courtesy of Soo Song
Soo Song
Location: Hong Kong SAR
Program: UCEAP, Hong Kong University

When did you realize you wanted to study abroad?
It was actually the day the application was due. I have always been interested in going abroad, but I never got around to filling out the app and fully committing to it. I actually entered Berkeley as a Linguistic major, and I just really love learning about people; studying abroad was kind of a way for me to intersect all those things.

I also really needed to get out of the Berkeley bubble. While it might seem that it seems kind of strange in hindsight since I studied abroad during the first semester of getting into Haas, it was an ideal time for me because I needed it.

What is the Berkeley bubble that you mention?
It’s a one-track mindset. When you’re surrounded by people who are extremely high achievers- sometimes in a good way and sometimes in narrow-minded way, you tend to forget how big the world is and how small you are. The Berkeley bubble is a bubble full of very intellectually bright people but limited in recognizing that this bubble isn’t the center of the world. We have so many places and people in the world and I think that the Berkeley community needs to know that.

What is a tip for people to capture their memories abroad?
I committed to writing everything down and I think that decision was the best I’ve made. Actually I had a private blog shared with my 4 best friends and I wrote everything in there. My highlight, my daily routine, my really low moments when I first came, the great food I was eating, and my travels. I made a commitment to recording every experience and person I met which made the whole journey abroad almost feel like a story.

Would you go back again?
In a heartbeat. But one thing to take note of is that study abroad isn’t glamorous all the time. I had struggles with being misidentified. People questioned my cultural identity abroad that I never had in America and it bothered me a lot. I was so used to communicating and being fully understood in America that the language and culture barrier in Hong Kong was discouraging at time. It was a humbling experience to say that least. Eventually, I got a grasp of the city and met locals that took me to experience the local’s perspective of the city. These pockets of memories  slowly but surely shaped Hong Kong into becoming home to me.


You’ve now heard two study abroad stories from Haas students that have had eye-opening experiences during their semester abroad. Now it’s time for you to make your own!

Career Profile: A Glimpse into Non-ABC Roles

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In the midst of October where the sun will set earlier and the leaves from the trees start to fall, it is also the time when recruiting season start to ramp up for many. Strolling through the Haas courtyard, you are bound to see one of three observations:

  1. Someone practicing cases with another person
  2. Someone in a business suit holding a leather folder
  3. Someone seeking advice/feedback from someone else

Haas is composed of a diverse group of driven, intellectually curious, and well-connected people. As we learned in the beginning of our orientation, the network we build here will be the network we can use forever. Yet from looking around, it seems that a significant amount of students work within a narrow scope of the ABC (accounting, banking, and consulting) for one reason or another.

Therefore, today I decided to question the status quo and draw attention to the non-ABC route because I want to encourage you to think beyond that narrow scope and take time to self-reflect on what you truly enjoy. To facilitate this process, I interviewed four Haas students who did incredible internships this past summer without following the ABC track.


Evelyn Wang
Company: Nike
Position: Procurement Intern

How did you get involved in supply chain?
My mom worked in a similar industry so I was able to see bits and pieces of the work she did while I was growing up. With a general idea of the role, I applied and was accepted to be the Supplier Management Intern at Boeing; Boeing helped me reinforce my interest in this role. I found it incredibly rewarding to see the mechanical parts come together to form a product. Full disclosure though, there’s a learning curve; but once you get the hang of it, it’s really fun. You get opportunities to collaborate with different departments like IT, finance, marketing, inventory management.

Can you share a few projects you did at Nike?
Sure! I worked on the Packaging & Components team. For example, the Jordan shoes and Air Force 1 shoes is made up of many parts; I had to look into each individual component such as the eyelets, shoelaces, dubraes to find ways to reduce costs. I spent a lot of time researching historical price trends as well as explore different supplier options, partnership location, delivery costs and more.

Another fun project that I got to work on was solving the answer to “how might we fit a larger size shoe in a smaller size box”. By figuring out this problem, Nike could reduce fiber usage and increase sustainability. Like a case study, I went to the employee Nike store to measure the boxes and shoes of the top 10 best sellers and do analysis on those shoes to see if they could fit into a smaller box. Turns out it could! My internship ended before I could find the solution for that though- perhaps it could be something the next intern could work on.


Mari Wu
Company: Uber China
Position: Competition and Product Operations Intern

Why did you choose to apply to Uber China?
As an international student, I faced a dilemma between looking into opportunities in the USA or return back home to China. I ultimately chose Uber in China because I wanted to test out what the working life would be in China in order to decide whether I wanted to return to China for my full-time job or recruit in America.

What was exciting about your role?
As you know, Didi and Uber China recently merged. I spent most of my summer doing extensive research on our competitor, Didi. I would analyze their data and act almost like the CIA of Uber to form conclusions on how we could perform in similar ways and also predict Didi’s next strategy.

What was a key finding you found?
For example, I did an analysis on one of Didi’s most popular cities, Hangzhou in order to find patterns against our operations. I discovered that unlike a typical business cycle where there were two peak hours, Hangzhou had three. The unusual hours were from 9PM to11PM on weekdays. It turns out that the top technology firms like Alibaba was located in this city and apparently workers would stay late because they were provided with free dinner.

Do you have any thoughts on why Uber China ultimately merged with Didi?
They actually merged on the last day of my internship. I cannot disclose too much but one overarching idea that I think led to Uber’s merge in China was largely due to the lack of local customer insight.

For example, Uber partnered with Baidu Map and Didi worked with WeChat. Unlike America whose applications develop a one-point solution (one app solves one problem), Chinese customers like all-in-one package deal that WeChat offered. In this all-in-one capability, customers could the hail the taxi service (Didi) without even downloading Didi’s app. WeChat is not a social app, it’s a lifestyle app. By partaking in this partnership, WeChat provided Didi with the user inflow that made it that much stronger. Therefore, I think if Uber had understood the customer’s app patterns, they would’ve formed the partnership accordingly.


David Li
Company: Google
Role: Associate Product Marketing Manager Intern

What is your background and why are you passionate about marketing?
Growing up in the vibrant diverse city of Hong Kong, I was a rather observant child, exposed to an environment filled with the jarring juxtapositions of wealth and poverty and of modernist constructs immersed in underlying rich cultural heritage. It always fascinated me how these landscapes were shaped, and the nuances that built these complex dynamics. Marketing is all about understanding this sensibility and exposure, and the interaction between individuals with society and with products.

My exposure to these forces and underlying complexities that shape interactions were reinforced through my traveling adventures with my dad on his fashion business endeavors. I recall a specific fashion fair in Dusseldorf where I was puzzled over two similar pieces of clothing marketed in two fashion booths. One was charged a mere $5, whilst the other at a blatant $500. I came to realize that it boiled down to a brand’s power to liberate this difference, building a perception of premier. Marketers thus are equipped with the ability to conjure up the magic and hype behind a product or brand. There is a sense of excitement and cheekiness to marketing, serving as a voice of your company to your consumers, that really excites me.

Why was it an eye-opening experience to be a part of Marketing at Google?
Google Marketing is a truly unique organization, as no other organization has the breadth and depth of products Google has to offer. We are also at the forefront of developing the intersection between marketing and technology, ‘art, copy and code’ as we call it, to explore new ways in which technology can help build brands in a digital world. The fast-paced nature of the work conducted was particularly eye opening. We have a phrase called ‘launch and reiterate’ which describes the rapid ways we launch and execute campaigns and churn out more exciting ways of connecting the consumer to our products.

What is the role like for an APMM?
APMM at Google is a rotational program that allows you to touch upon different verticals within Google’s products (ie. YouTube, Android, Chrome). The degree of breadth is unique to the company; from potentially touching on B2B marketing to brand marketing, Google APMMs gain exposure and training to different types of marketing. The icing on the cake is also that the program is global. This means that after 18 months, you can travel to an international location, be it in Singapore, Rio, London, and learn how marketing differs in these local or regional markets.

As an APMM intern, I had the opportunity to execute a project with Google Play surrounding how we can create bigger and better partnerships. This involved working with different global and cross-functional stakeholders, creating pitch decks and other super cool things that I cannot disclose!

The most important aspect of this role is the ability to self-drive your own projects, take complete ownership of your work and embrace ambiguity. You have to be okay with dealing with uncertainty and pivot when necessary.

We have all read stories about the incredible perks at Google. What was your favorite?
After a training bootcamp we had in the SF office one day, we hopped on a shuttle to Safari West in Sonoma! It was an amazing two days of sunshine, good vibes, and touring around in jeeps to see safari animals. Other than that, I looked forward to my daily dose of Noosa yoghurt for breakfast.

Any final thoughts on Google?
If you’re interested in applying to any role at Google, be genuine and tell your story. We want to hear what have shaped your experiences and how you can bring your whole authentic self to work!


Adam Sloane
Company: Annie’s Inc.
Role: Business Development Intern

What were some of your projects as a Business Development intern?
So as a business development intern, I worked quite closely with the Sales department. I analyzed a lot of product data- data on our product, competitor’s products, as well as pattern searching in relation to promotion spending and general sales data. Ultimately, it was to see how certain products were performing in their respective food categories.

Can you share some of your projects?
Of course! We recently changed the structure of the ketchup bottle from an upright bottle to an upside down bottle. I tracked the new packaging style to see how its statistics performed against the old product. I also spent some time analyzing our fruit snack product line to understand why in some retailers we were losing market share.

What’s the culture like at Annie’s?
Even with the General Mills acquisition, the culture I’ve heard has managed to stay the same. It’s a tight-knit group of around 60-70 people; I could sit down and talk to the different directors -sales, marketing, operations, and logistics. Actually, I even got to sit down and chat with John Foraker, the CEO of Annie’s, about his perspectives in Annie’s.

What’s a fun fact about working here?
There is a garden right outside and a gardener comes and picks the produce for employees to take home for free; this is just one example showing how Annie’s really spends a lot of time emphasizing clean and healthy eating.


So now that you’ve read up on some amazing internship experience, where are you planning to go? I hope that I could show you that there are so many other jobs out there to explore. Your internship doesn’t define who you are, but it does pave way for your next experience. As Dr. Seuss says, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”

A Haas Course that Wheeled a Rotisserie Food Truck to Success

Some people wish to meet celebrities or Olympic athletes, but I would want to meet an owner of a renowned culinary shop. I had the chance to live out this dream this past Saturday morning during my regular Ferry Building Farmer’s Market stroll. By chance, I met Thomas Odermatt, a UC Berkeley alumnus, who has—quite literally— been roasting up a storm at his food truck, RoliRoti Gourmet Rotisserie.

Upon arriving at the Farmer’s Market, you can’t mistake Odermatt’s food truck. Enveloped in the fresh aromas of tender chicken and rosemary potato cubes, the truck is flanked by a queue of customers that wraps around the corner of the Ferry Building. Once you see the line and get a glimpse of the crispy herbed pork sliced into Porchetta sandwiches, you know you’re in the right place.

IMG_0425Thomas Odermatt, the owner, making the Porchetta sandwiches himself for his line of hungry customers

A Class Project that Became Reality

Like all successful companies, RoliRoti had to start somewhere. For Odermatt, it started with a business plan project from an entrepreneurship class at Haas in 2001. It was with the encouragement of his professor that he really ventured off with the idea.

While an idea can form overnight, the actual research and behind-the-scenes effort take much longer to execute. Growing up with a family in the retail meat industry, Odermatt was inspired to center his business around savory rotisserie. Street food at the time was inexpensive and regulations were not strictly enforced. Taking advantage of this mostly unregulated sector, Odermatt chose to specialize in roasted chicken- an inexpensive meat that suits most people’s stomachs.

Creating a successful business plan often comes from a good idea. But ultimately, it must bring disruption into the industry. In 2012, no one had thought about getting a gourmet meal from a food truck.

Success Comes From Failure

When you take a bite into the juicy chicken and flavorful pork loin, your taste buds can rest assured the food is developed from a family recipe passed down for generations. However, it was not always this way.

Early fans of RoliRoti might remember how the food truck had once served a French dish called Ratatouille. This was due to the wildly popular Disney movie at that time, and so Odermatt thought he could use this for leverage in the market and offer his own version of it. However, he removed it shortly from the menu because of poor sales compared to its rotisserie chicken counterpart. From this experience, Odermatt learned a valuable lesson: do not change the business model to follow perceived popularity from the media.

Now the menu features only a handful of items. This is part of Odermatt’s philosophy: “instead of having many options that are all average, take one of them and make it your signature”. His philosophy has paid off visibly, as he reports that on any given day, he sells over 800 porchetta sandwiches and roasts over 500 whole chickens.

IMG_0440

The famous Porchetta sandwich and chicken

Staying at the Forefront of Food Truck Industry & Beyond

RoliRoti’s success is partly due to its promise in its unchanged recipe from the start. It is almost “a little bit old fashioned,” as Odermatt puts it—retaining the same flavor that guarantees the same high quality dining experience every time.

Over the course of a few years, the food truck has grown into becoming a main chicken supplier in the Bay Area. It now provides the meat for Whole Cart, a mobile food service/catering company that brings groups of food trucks to corporate events; a concept similar to Off the Grid because both entities share the same owner.

Now in 2016, Odermatt has big plans ahead for the industry and his company. For the past 1.5 years, Odermatt has been preparing to bring Sous Vide cooking method, the ability to cook in a vacuum sealed bag of a temperature controlled water bath, to the production facility of mobile culinary operations. Sous Vide cooking is already well-known in restaurants for producing meat with an even doneness without dry edges or rare centers. Odermatt wants to introduce it into the business model of commercial driven operations.

Even though RoliRoti has expanded to more businesses beyond the food truck scene, Odermatt is still committed to his customers. You’ll occasionally spot him at the market preparing the Porchetta sandwiches because he believes in personally receiving customer feedback and quickly adapting to the change. As he puts it, “no matter how big we are, the key is always the customer.” So next time you stand in line waiting for your order, don’t forget to greet the staff. Did I mention that’s how I got to chat with Thomas about this food truck?

YES! You Can Study Abroad as a Junior in Haas

If you clicked on this article, it is probably because you’re on the fence about studying abroad. You may be a Haas student, or you may be studying another major and just happened to stumble upon this article after searching up different articles about this dilemma. Either way, you probably have one of three thoughts floating in your head right now: How can I study abroad and graduate on time? Is it possible to recruit abroad? Should I go with my friends or alone?

Through this column, I will hopefully be able to answer all three of these questions and more. Follow me on my journey towards studying abroad this spring semester! I am no expert at studying abroad and will probably make some mistakes along the way (which I’ll teach you to avoid!), but that makes this column genuine. Everything will be in the present, and I will report on my decisions from the prior month here. You can keep me accountable to that promise!

So, to get the ball rolling, let’s start by answering the most important question:

5 Reasons Why Should You Study Abroad

  • You become a global citizen – By understanding foreign cultures and traditions, you will be an asset to your future company when international business is involved
  • Get inspired – Encountering new experiences may come with pleasant surprises and who knows, maybe you will return to school with a new perspective and passion
  • Fully independent and self-sufficient – While you struggle through the transportation system and figure out your new foreign phone service, you will discover more about yourself—how you react to challenges, what you do to resolve the problem, and more
  • Act locally, connect globally – While you pick up local slangs here and there, you will also meet other international students abroad and create a diverse network. You’ll have friends in more countries than you’ve visited, and rack up 500+ connections on LinkedIn for good!
  • Do it for the food – Your Instagram account will be the envy of all your friends still at Cal

Have I convinced you yet? I”ll be writing more about this topic so keep following the Haas Undergraduate Blog and follow me on my study abroad experience ( and process towards doing so)!