Monday, March 30, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I would have written sooner, but it has taken me a few days to process what just happened. We did it... and it was a success!
Our final days in Lima went very fast but they were memorable. After a few long Kelley Case Competition-like days of wrapping up our consulting projects, we made it to the final presentation day. All of the Kelley groups and companies assembled at the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in Lima.
We started on Peruvian time - 40 minutes late - but once we got going, I think things really went well. Some of our clients commented on how they learned not only from the presentation created for them but from the presentations given by other groups as well. The Executive Director of AMCHAM had not planned to stay past the introduction but he ended up staying through the first part of the presentations and seemed quite pleased. After all of the presentations were completed, we lingered for a while to share parting comments. (Then my group headed off to our second multi-hour Peruvian lunch with our client!).
So we made it to Peru, did what we said we would do, had some fun and made it home safely. What now?
Hopefully GLOBASE 2009 is the first of many Kelley GLOBASE trips to come. We have learned a lot along the way and there's definitely room for improvement; but I think this was a pretty good start. We launched a new service-oriented program at the Kelley School, gained a hands-on international business experience from the perspective of small businesses operating in developing countries, and found solid in-country partners to help facilitate future projects. I am very thankful for all of the support we received from multiple departments at Kelley and the dedication of our 20 students to the big task.
So this is where I sign off. The end is bittersweet but the memories and take-a-ways will last a long time. I look forward to following the progress of future classes for years to come!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
GLOBASE was an amazing experience to take my MBA skills and apply them to a business in Peru. Working with Mili Blume and her staff was a mutually beneficial experience. I learned about the Peruvian business climate, exportation strategies, and how businesses compete on a local level. Hopefully, Mili benefited from our consulting recommendations in attending trade shows, e-commerce, and inventory management. I cherish my relationship with Mili and hope to remain in touch with her for a very long time.
Finally, I cannot forget to mention the two highlights of my trip; Machu Pichu and Paragliding. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World as well as having my heart beat through my shirt while floating 300 feet above the ground below.
The next time I got to Peru, I will bring my wife and consider buying only a 1 way ticket!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
We have plans for a nice dinner, organized by someone other than me. I am not sure but I think the restaurant's name translates into "Witch." One thing I have grow very appreciative of during my time here has been the openness and creativity of Peru and the people. Names for restaurants and other places are sometimes scary, enlightening, sexy, hopeful, and other eye-catching things. It has added a spice to my life that I find ad hoc at best in the US. I will miss it.
Am I feeling bittersweet right now? I think so. I will write more about that later.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I don’t want my lack of detail on Manchu Picchu to communicate any dullness of experience. Quite the contrary. I hope that my brevity underscores the sheer power of that amazing place. Seeing it is to remember the wonder and excitement of your first Christmas morning, your first kiss, or your first head-over-heels love. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen and despite the many pictures taken, I need none for the impression will never fade.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Our team has come such a long way in just four days of working with our client. We spent seven weeks trying to prepare for this visit, but we couldn't possibly have provided as valuable and relevant of a recommendation without visiting in person.
After our first day in the Inkasign office with the owner and designers, we ventured out to one of the production facilities on the second day (Wednesday). This was our first trip outside of the nicer areas of Lima. We finally got a chance to see a more realistic side of Peru and see the people whose lives are most affected by Inkasign's ability to grow and create more opportunity.
We also gained a more intimate understanding of how exactly the product is made. I can't say the machines were particularly new, the plant particularly cool or the smell particularly sweet; but the conditions definitely weren't terrible. The owner of Inkasign is good to his employees and seems to pay a fair wage, but the entire area where the goods are made is below a poverty level that we see in the US.
On Thursday, two other members of the our team headed to an even poorer area with dirt roads and a small, enclosed cinder block production room to see a contractor who also makes Inkasign's goods. I stayed behind to work on other project research but wish I would have gone.
So things are really starting to come together. We presented our rough draft to the group today and have decided on our recommendations. Now we just need to polish things off.
Tomorrow it's off to Cusco and Machu Picchu for the weekend!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
BTW, you can check out the JW Marriott in Lima here:
Today we were onsite with our client. What an amazing experience. This company went way out of their way to ensure we could get all our questions answered. They also gave us a tour of their manufacturing facility. My team is focusing on delivering a great set of recommendations in the hopes of adding value to our client and their business. Despite this focus, I find that I am continually pondering the many nonbusiness things that make their culture different from mine and likewise those things that make it similar. Humor to make people comfortable, kissing on the cheek as a ordinary greeting, a love of sharing favorite dishes over lunch, office politics, helpful co-workers, self-conscienceness, arrogance, and on and on. I don't think I will comment on which of the above are cultural similarities and which are differences because that is not really the point. These thing represent us. As people. We have common ground and unfamiliar ground but we all are standing on it.
I don't really know what my point is here. I guess that I just feel that the world is smaller than I previously thought. There are differences but so many similarities as well. I will resist the urge to say something as silly as "I feel more connected to those around me," but I do think I will end the day with a drink downstairs and strike up a conversation with a stranger not knowing where the topic will go but knowing we can share.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Now it's time to guess what I ate? Okay, okay, I admit; I did not have anything too exotic (a variation of steak), but I did try the swordfish and chicken hearts! The chicken hearts were not too bad-they actually tasted like sausage.
The second first I had was venturing to a custom tailor. My roommate Eric and I purchased 2 custom dress shirts each. The feeling of getting measured by a tailor for perfectly made-to-fit shirts was awesome. I may end up going back for a custom suit...who knows?
My team was late for our meeting this morning. When in Rome, do as the Romans. "Another coffee and how about that pastry there? Muchas gracias."
Then I looked across the table at my teammate from Brazil who was having a great conversation with our client. He was much better as Spanish than he let on and seemed to be really enjoying himself. Everyone was having a bit of a hard time hearing because there was a good breeze coming through the open windows and the sounds of traffic on the street below were pretty loud.
I returned to the conversation because another teammate had just turned to me to translate the last few minutes. They had been joking about something and when I heard it in English, I started laughing too.
After our meeting, the owner of the company hosted us for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Our team of four was joined by he and the three women working in his small office. One of the women spoke English pretty well and another one was trying to learn.
Over our 2+ hour lunch, we talked about our families, culture, music, religion, political views, food preferences and plans for going dancing one night while we're here. I'm not sure if it was the pisco sours we were drinking or just my growing comfort with understanding a little Spanish, but I no longer had a headache and I wasn't worried about the language barrier. We were all enjoying each other's company and I realized that even across another continent, we're not that different.
So we had a great first day with our client. Not only did we get a clearer picture of their business issues but we got to put faces and personalities to the names, despite a language barrier.
I'm looking forward to visits to the plant and store today after we work from the hotel in the morning. I'll report more later.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I have included a video from my web cam. Three things become immediately apparent. (1) We are in an amazing city. (2) The team is diligently working away. (3) I have no business operating a camera.
My team is working with a silver jewelry manufacturer, Mili Blume. I will fill in the details about her shop later today. For now, check out her website at:
After Apomipe, we decided to go back to the hotel to change clothes and then depart for dinner. Several members of our group found several restaurant choices about 1/2 mile away. The weather was great, so we decided to walk instead of taking a taxi. After watching a beautiful sunset over the Pacific we decided to eat at Magoe's restaurant. The restaurant was situated high on a cliff overlooking the ocean. We couldn't ask for a better location.
The group all ordered the local drink favorite-a Pisco. I am not sure what is was made of, however it was quite tasty. Dinner was a variety of ceviche, calamari, and kabobs. The food was by far the freshest you could imagine. I also became aquanted with Cusquenos, the local beer-similar to Bud Light.
After dinner, we decided to make a "quick" stop at the casino. The interesting part about the casino is that they do not accept soles (the local currency), they only accepted American dollars. It really didn't matter because I only ended up donating my $25 to the Peruvian economy.
Next up...the details from Mili Blume. Buenos tardes!
We also had a chance to get acclimated to Lima and get a taste of the Peruvian culture! Lima is a much cleaner city than other big cities I've visited in developing countries. We enjoyed great weather, walking through the Mirafloures area and a fun group dinner overlooking the ocean (I have great seafood paella!).
Tomorrow, we're off to our client site for the first day. We'll review our pre-trip research that we sent to our primary contact over the weekend and get a tour of the office.
I'll report back on how it goes!
Now if I can just stop worrying about "wowing" them and get to sleep,
Congratulations and thanks again to everyone at APOMIPE. Today, and everyday, you have been awesome.
Monday, March 9, 2009
After viewing the sites from the room, we ventured down for breakfast. WOW, was my first impression. Freshly squeezed guava, orange, and pineapple juice was just the beginning. Made to order omelettes, french toast, silver-dollar pancakes, fruit, pastries-everything you could wish for; and all served buffett style. If I haven't said it already, this hotel is very nice.
After breakfast, off to explore the rest of the hotel-a tour of the shops and common areas took me to the gimnasia y piscina (gym and pool). Of course I had to get my workout in and then jump into the heated pool-complete with waterfall. Wait until you see my pictures...
Did I mention, this hotel is awseome? Until I upload my photos, check out these two links:
Off to get ready to start the day...Buenos Dias!
So of course a few of us just could not get a good night sleep w/o checking out the town ...
We found a 24 market and decided to purchase water, juice and some fruit ...
A Brazilian friend of mine suggested we try golden passion fruit also know as maracuya. The aroma of this fruit alone was inticing but the taste ... Oh how sweet it is ... the taste was perfect - a blend of the bitter, in the seeds, and the sweet in the juice--
... Until tomorrow
Everyone has been really great and very helpful. Special thanks to Ralph, our guide from the airport. He has already shown such pride in his country, I am humbled by the prospect of getting to experience it myself tomorrow.
Exploring and sharing starts to tomorrow but right now, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz......
The hotel is great-free WIFI, nice stores, and a great bar/lounge. I am thankful to be on this trip and I look forward to the next 9 days...until next time, Adios!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
A small group of people have set up a table and are collecting donations here at the airport to help fund cancer and other tragic disease research. I small boy, no taller than my belt, very proudly and with a grim, determined look of satisfaction, put a handful of change in the donation bucket. It made me smile in that way that makes you hopeful in general.
I would like to give that young man a high-five. No longer in my mind is being awesome having the right friends, the best car, the right clothes. Awesome is reaching outside yourself. Giving. Helping when you don't even know the end result of your contribution. It is a little boy trading a few minutes at the arcade to help someone else he will never meet.
Have you been awesome today?
Next stop, Lima Peru.
The opportunity came quickly in the year ...
Should I spend my spring break doing the normal stuff students do or will I join a group of students who wanted to positively change the world?
The choice was easy ...
I am so excited to be traveling to Peru with 20 other Kelley students ... Myself and team members (Monica, Matt and Kunal) will be consulting a small Peruvian company, Galeon Suppy, on an engagement. They sell an ingredient for skin care called, Baba de Caracol.
Theres so much to tell but now I have to board my flight or I will be left ...
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I remember the days when my mother and father sent me off to summer camp in upstate New York. "Do you have your toothbrush, socks, enough money, etc?" They made me write out a checklist so I wouldn't forget anything. Well, these are the final hours before our trip to Peru and I think I packed all of the essentials:
- Socks, t-shirts, and boxers
- tooshbrush and deodorant
- charging cords for various gadgets (ipod, laptop, etc.)
- UNO cards
I even set up a Skype account so I can communicate with my family while I am gone. Mom and Dad would be proud of me; by the way, I need to call them and ask to borrow some money!
Our bus to the airport boards at 6:15am which means my alarm goes off at 5:00am. My dad calls this "fishing-early," because only people who are out on a boat throwing hooks in the water are awake.
We are all excited. It is an adventure and one that will change for the better how we live in our world. But before all that, I just hope Starbucks is open early.
Friday, March 6, 2009
I think it was because I wanted to decide what the best practices are from all over the world, not just from the US. I decided that my need to learn about people and their culture is never satisfied. I decided that the world can in fact be made better by reaching out and helping others for no better reason than to help. I decided that I feel like a better global citizen when I make myself a part of that globe, not just exist in my corner of it. I decided I have a lot to learn from our amazing Peruvian counterparts (and hope I have a lot to give). I decided to throw myself into the unknown, knowing that I would be made richer for it and in exchange hopefully enrich someone else's life.
A famous person once said, "decisions are made by those who show up." So why did I show up? I wanted to decide.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
My desire to do a project like this dates back much further than August. Back in 2005, I spent some time teaching English in Africa. As with any trip like that, you go into it thinking that your life will probably be changed in some way. My family likely feared that I'd stay over there and I worried that I might not want to go back into business when I returned. Interestingly, neither of those changes occurred with me.
One of my main take-a-ways from the experience was that my personal volunteer efforts couldn't actually make that much of an impact. The areas of Kenya and Ghana where I lived needed better education and economic development on a broad scale before the situation could be improved. I knew that I would be a much better use once I could offer more sustainable aid...
Fast forward almost four years...
After Africa, I returned to my job at a software company. I really enjoyed my job and was privileged to coach high school basketball on the side too, which helped satisfy my desire to include social service in my life.
My first year of business school was so busy that I barely had a chance to realize I missed coaching and something was missing in my life. By the spring of that year (last year), I started to look for that next opportunity to get involved in a challenging service project. I looked into the idea of taking MBA's to Ghana but just ran out of time to plan it.
I then heard that Tania and Monica were creating a new program focused on providing service to entrepreneurs in developing countries... I was immediately interested.
As soon as we returned from our summer internships in the fall, Tania and Monica began to recruit additional people for the leadership team. I quickly expressed interest and joined the team.
Since then, the leadership team has been creating and adapting a social enterprise focused program with the goal of helping entrepreneurs in developing countries. We are joined by 15 very talented first-years, 1 PhD student, a faculty advisor and a videographer. The last 6 months have been eventful, but we're finally here.
I look forward to sharing my side of the experience...