The USD Student International Business Council Presents at Tesla


Tesla Team

Pictured from left to right: Michael Bornstein, Kirsten Kuang, Tim O’Reilly Noah Dickinson, Kevin Jerger, Trevor Denney, Megan Kerpsack, Luis Romero, and Dr. Stephen Conroy


The Student International Business Council (SIBC) is a privately endowed, student-led organization dedicated to peace through commerce. Focused on leadership, international business and responsible business conduct, the long-term goal of the council is for students to develop into a business professional who plays a fundamental role in peace around the world. SIBC completes several projects every year in collaboration with business leaders in the San Diego area and other parts of the world, giving council members real world experience using commerce to facilitate positive change.


The SIBC was given a special opportunity to consult on a real-world project for Tesla in Freemont, California and present at Tesla Headquarters in Freemont, CA on March 22, 2019. The SIBC team, totaling 25 members worked on the project since September to research optimal store locations and seasonality for Tesla. After the presentation, the SIBC was able to test drive Teslas and experience an exclusive tour of the Telsa factory.


Thank you to our benefactor Frank Potenziani and M & T Trust, Todd Bruschwein, USD Alum Jordan Jadallah and USD SIBC Faculty Advisor Dr. Stephen Conroy for making this real-world project possible.


Project Manager and USD Senior Kevin Jerger shared, “Our presentation went smoothly and was received very well by our hosts. Seeing how our work was met with their constant engagement and interaction with our presentation was well worth the hard work the team put in throughout the life of the project. It was incredible experience for the entire team to work hands-on with real sales data and analyze this data into meaningful results for our client.” 


Our Tesla contact Todd Bruschwein shared his enthusiasm, “I was thoroughly impressed with you and your team's work. Great job! Speaking with my colleagues, I can say that we all thought you and your team were able to achieve a strong final product despite your limited access to internal data or institutional knowledge." The SIBC is extremely grateful for this unique opportunity and hopes to partner with Tesla in the future. All USD undergraduate majors are welcome to join the SIBC and gain real-world sponsored international business experience. To learn more visit

"USD’s Student International Business Council Hosts 30th Annual International Political and Economic Forum" Article from USD's School of Business

Article originally published by the USD School of Business:

On Friday, October 26, the University of San Diego Student International Business Council (SIBC) hosted the 30th annual International Political and Economic Forum. This forum consisted not only of USD students but also students from the University of Notre Dame and Benedictine College. Each year, these students come together to present on various themes introduced by the SIBC's benefactor, Frank Potenziani. This year, each team presented their research and ideas on ‘How Artificial Intelligence (AI) will disrupt labor markets and employment in the U.S. economy over the next 10 years.’ The presentations were judged by a panel of USD School of Business faculty, donors and SIBC alumni from Notre Dame.

USD students Krisy Walker (Finance ’21),  Aruna Gossai (Economics ’21) Fernanda Rendon (Finance ’19),  Savannah Sambrano (Business Administration ’21) and Ivan Del Muro-Garcia (Business Administration and Real Estate ’22) presented on how AI will impact industries such as retail and agriculture. Their research confirmed what has already been seen with industry giants such an Amazon -- AI is highly likely to impact the retail industry but is less likely to affect the agriculture industry to the same extent. The group easily tackled responses during the Q&A session following their presentation and were complimented by a panelist on their entrepreneurial approach to the topic.

The University of San Diego School of Business is one of only three universities in the nation with a privately-endowed, student-run SIBC. The mission of the SIBC is to empower students through the ethical advancement of international commerce by developing leadership, entrepreneurial ability and global interaction.

This summer, the SIBC organized two incredible projects where students explored the Mediterranean islands of Crete and Cyprus while gaining hands-on work experience in international business. This unique opportunity is just one of many that the SIBC offers to its members.

"SIBC: Student-Led Council Offers a World of Experience" - Article from the USD News Center

An article posted about Student International Business Council written by Ryan T. Blystone from February 9, 2018

It's no secret that students who want to attend University of San Diego crave an international experience. Studying abroad is often one of the top questions asked by prospective students and parents. USD is ranked second in the nation for undergraduate study abroad participation percentage because students can experience a different culture, a different way of life and create a trip of once-in-a-lifetime memories.

But did you know that undergraduate students can pursue an international experience while connecting it to a meaningful project in which you gain real-world business experience, foster peace through commerce and do it at virtually no cost?

The Student International Business Council (SIBC) is the only privately endowed, student-run council on campus. Open to all majors and all students from first-year to seniors with no experience necessary, the SIBC provides international experiences and a chance to make a difference in the world.

Started in 1998 at Notre Dame by Frank Potenziani, a Notre Dame alumnus living in San Diego, the SIBC's mission is to empower students through the ethical advancement of commerce by developing leadership, entrepreneurial ability and global interaction with a vision of peace through commerce. The SIBC operates at just three universities nationally — USD, Notre Dame and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

Since 2003, USD's SIBC enters its 15th year of giving students opportunities to participate around the world to promote professional skill development, networking, internships, and personal growth. Through it, a student's global perspective is widened when considering their future career path.

"The SIBC provides a unique learning experience that enables students with a globally minded education, empowers them with tools and methods to positively transform lives and communities and engages students to sustainably create value (profits, prosperity and peace) for business and society," says USD School of Business Dean Jaime Gomez. "The SIBC is education with a purpose."

Helping Students Find Their Purpose

Gabriel Nakashima, founder and CEO of Charter Substitute Teacher Network, earned an economics degree from USD in 2009. He was in SIBC for three years and was intrigued by the international travel component, but his exposure to businesses and entrepreneurs using commerce to address social issues truly inspired him.

“When I learned about entrepreneurs using business to affect social change or a social mission, business took on a whole new meaning for me. It was something I could devote myself to entirely, which I did a few years later when I started the company I run today. The SIBC was one of the biggest influences during my time at USD,” he says.

As SIBC president, Nakashima led three projects. "The first was a Yerba Mate company called Guayaki. I met a Guayaki representative on the golf course, told him about the work of the SIBC and began a revenue-share program that ultimately sent several SIBC students to South America to learn about Guayaki's socially focused business model. I facilitated a project with the San Diego Padres and went to the Dominican Republic to assist with community outreach efforts. Lastly, I met an individual from Sierra Leone at a leadership conference SIBC had sent me to in Italy and began a project with his organization, Peace Links. The organization helps former child soldiers in Sierra Leone find their way back into society in productive ways."

Leadership Development

Pearl Lai is the current SIBC president. The junior international business major enjoys her involvement and the student-run element, too. Its board has a chief financial officer, chief design and marketing officers, an online engagement coordinator, special event coordinator, alumni relations chair and internship directors for Asia and Europe. Brittany Kirk, a USD and SIBC alumna, is a student advisor and Dr. Stephen Conroy, associate dean of undergraduate business programs and economics professor, is the faculty advisor.

"We learn from each other and focus on individual development and professional development. I learn from our members all the time, whether it's new research they've discovered or about our organization in general," Lai says. "Our slogan of peace through commerce is something we fully live out. We always go back to how can we make the world a better place through commerce, through business and entrepreneurship."

Lai’s most notable SIBC experience actually happened in San Diego last spring. She was project leader for Buy-Side, an SIBC finance competition for the USD, Notre Dame and Benedictine chapters. The event taught students the methodology for choosing to invest in sound companies. Each team chose three companies that are doing well financially, are socially responsible and will still have an impact 10 years from now. USD's choices were Sprouts, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Classy.

Project Learning 

New projects emerge each semester. This past fall, two groups worked with companies in Mexico — a sustainability project with Pacifico Aquaculture in Ensenada and a marketing campaign for a global pharmaceutical conference hosted by Vector Pharma in Mexico City — and another was involved with an emerging technology project in Silicon Valley.

The learning is real and students are outside their comfort zone.

"I learned a lot about my own personal leadership style," says Zeyna Alfi, a senior international business major, who was the Vector Pharma project leader. "I was leading our seven-person group and I didn't know any of them before this project. I tried to make it as friendly and as fun as possible. It was a lot to handle. Vector Pharma expected a lot from us, especially because we were from USD and we were coming to Mexico City. They brought in the president of the biggest pharmaceutical company in Mexico. It set expectations even higher."

She and her fellow student project group — Nick Chai, Abby Hotchkiss, Julia Freund, Carolina Lemmen Meyer, Ivan Hernandez and Caroline Murray — presented ways to market Asia and Europe contacts through different communication methods. "We gave them the tools, resources and apps to make their marketing much more efficient."

Dr. Conroy, who went along with the Mexico City team, saw the impact of the students' participation firsthand.

"Working on consulting projects, like the one we did in Mexico City for Vector Pharma, provides a window into how people in other parts of the world conduct business. We know from reading research in this area that experiential learning of this sort is deep learning. The lessons learned last a lifetime and so do the relationships forged not only with clients, but also with fellow USD students who work late hours on these projects trying to perfect the analysis and the presentations."

The fall semester also included a trip to Notre Dame for the International Political and Economic Forum, attendance at a Notre Dame football game and a group of SIBC USD students gave a presentation on the question, “What will your grandchildren's lives look like?”

"To create predictions or assumptions that were solid enough, we chose to do 30-40 years out," says Audrey Cramer, a USD junior international business and economics double major. She says the group researched such areas as healthcare, finance, technology, robotics, sustainability, jobs and globalization.

It is one of many exercises to help SIBC participants understand and develop as business professionals who can play a fundamental role in peace around the world.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Photos and video provided by the SIBC


"SIBC Offers Real-World Experience" - Article from the USD Vista

An article written about SIBC written by Celina Tebor in October 19, 2017

Student International Business Council is the only club on campus with a private endowment

Celina Tebor | Feature Editor | USD Vista

Students at the University of San Diego have a plethora of clubs and organizations to be involved in — from intramural sports to cultural clubs, it seems like there is something for every student. However, there is only one organization on campus that has a $1.1 million private endowment, is one of three chapters in the nation, and sends students around the globe with financial backing: the Student International Business Council (SIBC).

SIBC seeks to give students real-world experience in international business. President of SIBC, Junior Pearl Lai, said that SIBC is important because it gives students a different experience than they get in the classroom.

“You’re taking what you’re learning in a classroom and taking it to a project and formulating a real plan,” Lai said. “It helps with public speaking, and research, and organization.”

Junior MJ Layco said his experience in SIBC has improved both his work ethic and professional skills.

“Companies can take whatever we do into consideration,” Layco said. “We just need to put trust into our work, and if we’re successful, [the companies] let us know.”

SIBC began at the University of Notre Dame in 1898, then spread to Benedictine College and eventually came to USD in 2002. Brittany Kirk, the SIBC advisor, was involved during its formation at USD. 

“I started as internship director,” Kirk said. “We had interns in UK and in Hong Kong, and there were some international leadership conferences in Italy and France that I attended also.”

SIBC’s benefactor is Frank Potenziani of the M&T Foundation. The foundation aims to strengthen the community engagement through charitable contributions to organizations. Potenziani established USD’s chapter of SIBC in 2002 with a $1.1 million endowment and frequently meets with all three chapters of SIBC throughout the year.

“[Potenziani] is fiercely intelligent and not only supports us financially,” Kirk said. “He makes himself available to the council during the semester, coming to campus and hosting networking events in Rancho Santa Fe.”

With its large endowment and $50,000 annual budget that operates off the interest from the endowment, SIBC gives students the opportunity to travel and gain experience around the world with significant financial backing. 

This fall, the entire council was invited to an overnight trip in Ensenada, Mexico to visit its project at Pacifico Agriculture. 

“We’re working on coming up with more green, sustainable, eco-friendly packaging for [Pacifico Agriculture’s] striped sea bass,” Kirk said. “The SIBC is paying for hotels, there’s boat rides out to the islands, and it’s covering all transportation costs and meals.”

SIBC utilizes its endowment to give students real-life experiences that are hard to find anywhere else for a low or free cost to the student. 

“We utilize the endowment from our benefactor to get students to gain real-world experience, or gain a means if they didn’t have one before,” Lai said. “I think our main purpose it to not only bring students together in a classroom setting, but bring them together, foster friendships, and make future connections.”

Lai explained that while some of the trips are costly, USD’s chapter of SIBC benefits from the excursions.

“We sent one of our student-internship directors to Paris, and because the money is used to send the student to where they need to be, she brought a project and managing campaign for us to work on,” Lai said.

Layco joined SIBC in spring 2017, and has participated in projects ever since. 

“The biggest project I’ve done is a marketing campaign project that we did last spring with a company in Chicago,” Layco said. “They gave us instructions of what they wanted and we had to create a marketing campaign for them and present it to them. We actually got to travel to Chicago.”

SIBC also has a trip once every semester to the University of Notre Dame for all three chapters to discuss plans for the following year. Lai explained that every year’s forum is different and presents a unique challenge.

“In the fall, we have the international politics and economics council,” Lai said. “It’s an economics forum where the benefactor gives a prompt to each school. This year’s is ‘What will our world look like for our grandchildren?’ [USD’s chapter is] focusing on the market trends and technology that can change people’s lives in the next 30 years.”

The three chapters present to each other their ideas at the forum, and find projects to relate to the topic for that semester.

“We have four projects this semester to work with tech companies and work with international companies,” Kirk said. “We network with the other SIBCs, work on presentation skills, and work on project management.”

Layco is involved in one of the four projects this semester, working with the prompt that was given to SIBC during the international politics and economics council.

Although SIBC sends students out on projects every year and has significant financial backing, most students at USD do not know about it and membership for the organization is low. Kirk referred to it as USD’s best-hidden secret.

“If you ask people on campus if they know what the SIBC is, 90 percent have never heard of it,” Kirk said. “They’re not aware that there’s a council on campus that’s privately endowed to gain experience.”

At the end of the 2016 school year, SIBC only had 35 members. Currently the organization has 50 members and is trying to expand their membership. There is no application or previous experience necessary to join.

“Our goal is to make it a very big organization,” Lai said. “My personal goal as president is to bring it up to 70 members. While we want to have a lot of members, we want to make sure everyone feels involved and has a part. The goal is to bring more projects to our organization.”

SIBC meets in Olin 225 on Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. and is open to all majors.