By Felicity Aldridge (’16), Jacqulyn Barbieri (’16), Piyush Jain (’16), Meredith Roman (’16), Jaime Sanchez (’16)
UCLA Anderson’s Applied Management Research (AMR) field study program presents an opportunity for companies and organizations to work with MBA students for six months to solve strategic or important organizational issues. Domestic and international projects range from launching a new product, entering a new market, solving operational problems or evaluating potential acquisitions. It’s an opportunity for students to put management tools into practice and make a direct impact.
Our team of five (each of us have diverse backgrounds, with careers in real estate, technology or entertainment) is working with a coffee cooperative, representing more than 100 farmers from Guatemala. AMR has been a great learning experience and our key takeaways are:
Industry knowledge: Prior to our project, the only knowledge we had about coffee was that it helped us get through late nights and early mornings. In the span of just four months, we learned how coffee is grown and how specialty coffee commands a price tag of $4 per cup compared to the export price of $0.4 per pound. During winter break, members of our team visited the Guatemala coffee growing regions as well as coffee hotspots in Los Angeles, interviewing over 50 stakeholders. Starting from the ground up in Guatemala, we visited farmers to learn about their challenges in producing coffee. We met with national coffee associations, coffee consultants and export houses to understand the Guatemala coffee landscape before diving deep into our project. Our favorite part was coffee cupping, which is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee.