“Where’s the ball! Find the ball!”

The Fingersmith!

The Fingersmith!

London! Ever since I was a child, I had dreamed of going to London – and here I was! This was my first time in United Kingdom – in fact, not just me, but for all four of us; Ben, Adam, Nishant and me. While the journey to the city was highly eventful in itself (Ben and I ran for all legs of the connecting flights and almost missed our international leg; did not get our bags on the flight and a whole lot of other misadventures), once we went out on the first weekend, it all was worth it. Watching Adam take countless selfies at every place we visited made me realize that it was not just me who found this place fascinating!

During one of these tours, near Big Ben, we came across this strange street of gambling, which we named “where’s the ball, find the ball” (cleverly named after what the person kept saying). The person managing the game let us call him the fingersmith (you’ll see why), had three small cups in front of him and a ball. He kept switching the position of the ball under one of the three cups, and the challenge was to figure out where the ball ended up. While a fairly easy game to make money, it seemed highly addictive since people went on playing multiple rounds. The fingersmith would act as if he was losing every game and made the person playing feel extremely confident of himself/herself. Then, in the last round, he would trick them into choosing the wrong cup or switch the cup without them realizing, thus winning back all the money and more. It was really interesting just to watch how he would use people’s psyche against themselves.

Could we have beaten the mentalist at his own game? Well, let’s just say that the 30th of May is our last day in London, and we have a lot to look forward to!

Before We Missed the Train…

Friday, May 15

After a week in Shanghai, everyone is starting to get used to the city despite it being completely foreign to most of us. Differences, once apparent, are beginning to fade away as we get acclimated to Shanghai life. While our morning commute never fails to bring excitement, (boltng through four lanes of traffic on three-lane roads at harrowing speeds), the initial culture shock many of us felt has gradually resided, replaced with the joy of exploring a foreign city on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Today, we are going to travel 200mph on a high-speed train to Beijing, where we will spend the weekend with a number of our colleagues on the Phillips team. Once we arrive in Beijing, we are planning on immediately visiting a restaurant famous for Peking Duck and later checking into our hostel, with eight of us sharing a room. Despite being an avid vegetarian, our teammate Sumanth is equally as excited as the rest of us to visit the restaurant.

As our work day winds down, and the thrill of the journey ahead of us begins to set in, I cannot help but reflect on how amazing my team has been. We not only work well together, but everyone has had a great time with each other. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, and with that I will sign out.

Best,

Joe Case

After We Made the Train….

Following up on our previous post, it would appear as though two hours is not quite long enough to get from Pudong, Shanghai to the Hangqiao High-Speed train station here in China. At least it wasn’t for our team last Friday afternoon. After sprinting across three floors of an enormous train station in Shanghai, in what many would consider an Olympic-style, 400-yard dash, we missed our train to Beijing, seriously deflating any hopes we had of visiting the archetype of Chinese landmarks: the Great Wall of China.

Fortunately the sun always does come up tomorrow, even in China. And, with the rising sun, we traveled to the train station on Saturday morning to catch the next available high-speed train from Shanghai to Beijing. During the five-and-a-half hour ride, we strategized on the next best way to visit the Great Wall and somehow meet up with the other six members of our little excursion in the process, eventually coming up with a plan that involved an Audi A6, a glowering Chinese wheelman, and an overall harrowing journey from the Beijing train station to a remote section of the Great Wall. Thanks to some help from the Phillips team, who actually made the Friday afternoon train, we arranged to have a driver come pick us up at the station and take us to meet up with the rest of our group at the Great Wall.

Following another three hour car-ride that involved more use of the horn that non-use and the passing of innumerable slower vehicle on one-lane roads and around hair-pin turns, we arrived at one of the most picturesque scenes I have ever had the pleasure to visit to begin our Journey on the Great Wall of China….

Lake Louise Road Trip!

Team Canada has been cranking out some serious work of late, including all but locking ourselves in the house our last two days in Calgary.  This follows a productive five days in Ottawa filled with meetings. Today we needed to get out of the house.  The weather was supposed to be okay, and turned out to be beautiful, considering just two nights ago it snowed in Calgary!  This was a fortunate turn of events for our trip to Banff National Park, including Lake Louise and Banff (the town).

The full “hike of interest” was 14km, 7km each way, but my personal goal was to make it to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, 5.5km away, not open until June (we found this out later, naturally).

 

DSC_1712When we arrived at Lake Louise, the first shocker was the amount of ice and snow on the lake!  It was no longer completely frozen, and you could definitely see the beautiful crystal clear water surrounded by snow-capped tree-covered mountains, but the Lake isn’t the same in May.  My previous trip here was in July, when there was no snow on the lake, and the beautiful blue lake surrounded by the lush green on the mountains makes for an unbelievable scene.  Regardless, the view was impressive, but with the girls’ photo rate constant and fast, and the hiking rate was intermittent and slow.  Thanks to Adi for the wonderful pictures.  The team before we started walking:

Compressed Flag at Lake LouiseAnd, then we started the flat walk around to the back side of the lake: ten feet… selfie break… ten feet… selfie break.

Killin' it.

Killin’ it.

And some group shots:DSC_1771After crossing the paths of a lot of other hikers, kids, dogs, and even rock-climbers scaling something gnarly, we made it to the other side of the lake.  The view back to where we started:

Yes we started next to that huge building.

Yes we started next to that huge building.  The one behind the snow covered like and in front of the snow-capped mountains.  Yes, that one.

And, now we came to a decision point.  The next part of the trail to get to the (closed) Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House was no longer along the lake, included some elevation change, and was mostly through the woods.  The shade meant the snow hadn’t melted in many places, and where it had there was mud.  We didn’t trek much further, but decided to head back and check out Banff.

Going Beyond

Always Going Beyond!

Banff is a neat little town nestled between the mountains, but we didn’t do anything too exciting there, just grabbed a bite to eat, some coffee, walked around, and stopped in a few standard tourist shops.  Then it was back to home base to unwind.  Tomorrow will undoubtedly bring more work, our last full day in Calgary.  Then it’s off to Vancouver, before home sweet home in Columbus.

DATA is a Four Letter Word

For seven weeks of Strategy class, all we heard about was how we should appreciate the case exhibits and how difficult good, clean data would be to get in the real world. Well, the real world done slapped us the face. Our project is to find real, total, landed costs of parts in a global supply chain, and compare them to quotes received from suppliers based in China.

IMG_1795

Me showing all the data we need to find

SPOILER ALERT: Getting the data you need is hard!

It’s not that they don’t have data, it’s just not what we need. Without access to their IT systems, you have to constantly rely on others to get data, and, in other cases, estimate costs to try to complete the picture. It pretty much reminded us all of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV3Oncvz_cU

Who doesn’t love a nice Zoolander reference? Anyway, on top of all of this, people are busy, and asking them to find time to help students comes in a less than close second to their day-to-day duties. This is not their fault, as their jobs are important, but it is a hindrance.  All in all, we are making progress and are using some methods we learned in Operations class to find some of the data ourselves.  We are confident we can find what we need and provide a strong end product for CVG.

 

Eating in Tanzania

By Elliott Ethridge

Our group has now been together in country for over a week. During this time, we have experienced an exceptional range of locally sourced and processed foods.

In Zanzibar, the primary source of protein was seafood. Shocker. Groups of fishermen would take anything ranging from a wooden canoe to a wooden hulled sailing vessel out into the Indian Ocean to fish for anything that would bite. Around 6pm, the boats would paddle/sail/motor back to the beaches and moor just off the shore. The children would then take turns hanging from the mooring lines. Fisherman often sold their daily catches to middle men who would take it to the town square and lay it on a layer of newspaper for display. This part was pretty worrisome, as there was no refrigeration whatsoever. Flies were everywhere, and I have a sneaking suspicion that inventory not sold was held for the next day. I ate a lot of rice and fried dough in Zanzibar.

As we migrated to Morogoro, we passed through multiple small roadside markets consisting of shacks selling fruits, vegetables, and various other wares. For dinner, we stopped at a road side restaurant and ate what would turn out to be the first of many meals consisting of fried chicken, rice, and beans. One thing to note in Tanzania is that Indian dishes are popular. Curry is a delicious addition to an otherwise repetitive ingredient list.

A few nights ago, the group just couldn’t stomach any more rice, chicken, and beans. We took a taxi into town and found a restaurant that offered American fare (sort of). Items included “Chicken Kentuck”, “Kenturky Chicken” that was offered “crumbred or fried”, and a “hamburg” described as, “two bun filled with beef parties”. After a 2.5 hour wait, we received our food. On the whole- it wasn’t bad. We were honestly just happy to eat something different and faintly reminiscent of our native cuisine. Since then, we’ve found a wider range of food including a pretty decent pizza and some really tasty bird wings of some sort referred to as “Drums of Heaven”.

Now, we are in transit to Dodoma near the center of Tanzania. My keyboard is covered in crumbs from Alpella Rings – a marshmallow and chocolate covered confection purchased at the last roadside market we passed. They’re pretty good and will serve to hold me over until the next adventure called dinner.

Typical Tanzanian meal of fried whole tilapia with rice, beans, and spinach, washed down with a refreshing mango juice

Typical Tanzanian meal of fried whole tilapia with rice, beans, and spinach, washed down with a refreshing mango juice

“Teaching” Operations and Marketing in Tanzania

By Mike Sargent

Elliott "Teaching" an MBA Operations Class at SUA in Morogoro

Elliott “Teaching” an MBA Operations Class at SUA in Morogoro

We concluded our week in Morogoro by teaching an Operations and Marketing course to MBA students and MSC (Master of Science Agribusiness) students.

This was a deeply humbling experience and an exciting opportunity for us to apply our knowledge from our first year at Fisher. Professor Matta’s and Professor Chandrasekeren’s slide decks were instrumental. But, Professor Dial’s use of interlocking fingers was the single most valuable takeaway, and it proved just as effective in our new culture (or so we hope).

Despite not threatening a participation grade, we were successful in soliciting comments and questions. And, other than Elliott drawing an incorrect diagram on the board for queuing theory, everything went according to plan. We even asked the professor if he had anything to add at the end to which he casually replied; “We presented a good introduction to the topic.”

We feel that we mitigated personal embarrassment and by extension limited damage to Fisher’s strong reputation.

A Poem about a Kenyan Desert

We thought that traveling would be really neat,

We didn’t know that we would be cleaning feet.

A mission trip was outside our project scope;

But, understand the people – that is the hope.

I gathered my thoughts on the bus ride home,

Here is the result: I wrote a poem

Bus Group

The trip began by boarding a bus,

There was barely enough room for all of us.

The twelve hour journey was crowded and rough,

The road was not paved, by the end we’d had enough.

Scenery

Twelve hours of bumps and a whole lot of dirt,

Limited water and food made my head hurt.

But this trip it is not about all of my woes,

We must get the bugs out of kids’ toes.

Pastor Hirbo greeted us with his famous smile.

One look at his face and the trip was worthwhile.

Jiggers bite the feet and burrow into the skin,

Over one million are effected, where do we begin?

We knew we would be with medical staff in Marsabit

But, we didn’t know that we would be a part of it.

John_Andrew_Me Cleaning

Apprehension was high and nerves were shot,

MBA students yes, but medical students we were not.

We broke into groups and were shown our tools,

Some drove and some walked to the nearby schools.

Wash, soak, rinse, then dry-

The vaseline makes the jiggers go bye.

Ryan Treating

My shoes are red and covered in dirt;

But, that’s nothing compared to how my heart hurts.

We arrived to help make Kenya jigger free

I didn’t know how much it would affect me.

Bus at Village

The kids were strong and tried to smile,

But, the treatment was painful and took a while.

The sight of one boy made my heart break in two,

The jiggers got to his feet and he didn’t know what to do.

Boy with gloves

The shame on his face and pain in his eye,

A lump came to my throat and I started to cry.

I got comfort from my team; we worked as one.

We were committed to help until the treatment was done.

The last step in the process is putting shoes on their feet,

The one-for-one model from Skechers, which was pretty neat.

Putting on Shoes

At the sight of the shoes, the kids formed a line,

All of them wondering – will one of those pairs be mine?

Shoe line

More kids than shoes, a sad realization-

How can we truly help this great nation?

Over 300 were treated with kindness and care,

And jigger prevention they are now well aware.

We debriefed from our days and said our goodbyes,

The impact of this experience was truly a surprise.

Jake Carrying

 We started the journey a bit distressed.

As we leave, we are feeling overwhelmingly blessed.

Farewell to Marsabit and it’s desert air,

This brief look into our trip; I’m glad I could share.

 

Sometimes you just gotta improvise.

Business trips are not glamorous. One of the downsides of business travel is that the gyms are nowhere near as nice as the RPAC. We have had to improvise to make sure that we stay in shape while working here in Mexico. We’ve been working so hard that we don’t have time to visit the hotel gym. However, good problem solvers are always looking for ways to kill two birds with one stone. We found a dual-use for aluminum castings:

photo (16)

 

In all seriousness, we’ve learned that the key to business travel survival is to be flexible. It’s uncomfortable to be out of your element and without the luxuries of home, but a great opportunity to learn how to adapt to any situation you get thrown into. We’ve learned to use humor as a coping mechanism—teams that laugh together, thrive. We laugh a lot.

 

Forbidden Economies of Scale

After our amazing and exhausting trip to the great wall Saturday, and reunited with the CVG team, we decided to hit up the epicenter of ancient Chinese power and modern tourism.  We woke up early to beat the crowds and subwayed over to the Forbidden City complex.

“Large” doesn’t quite capture it.  Everything China does is bigger, but the Forbidden City and surrounding sites take it to a whole new level. From the second you leave the subway and walk up into the square across the road, your entire field of vision is taken up by massive palace walls on one side and a field of stone on the other.  Even early in the morning, milling crowds of tourists (both international and Chinese) mill around taking pictures of everything and entering into various queues for the attractions.

We decided (unwisely), to go to the Forbidden City first, so began entering into lines.  First, there was the line for the first security check; then, the line to get into the city; then, the line to get tickets; then the realization that we were in the wrong ticket line; so, out to another line to get the right tickets; then more security…

Finally, we made it in!  By this point, we had passed by several tiers of walls and gates that would daunt the Mongol hordes.  This is not a place that it would be appealing to attack, especially when you include the formidable presence of various Chinese military forces protecting the area.

Inside was beautiful. The complex is a Russian nesting doll arrangement where you pass through successive gates with palaces that ancient emperors used for all types of activities: putting on shoes, holding banquets, being rubbed down by concubines.  There are even palaces for resting in between traveling between palaces in the complex (which is reasonable since it is pretty exhausting walking between them.  We are talking a multi-mile stroll).  The buildings also house various pieces of art, antique military equipment, and other posessions of the dynasties, so that you can get a better picture of life back then.  What is amazing about these cases of artifacts is that a sword from 3000 years ago may be sitting next to a sword from 700 years ago without much change.  Both the quality of preservation and the timelessness of the culture are incredible.

My favorite piece of the interior, however, was the gardens.  Within the massive stone walls, the ruling class could relax from their stressful lives by wandering around carefully manicured gardens, fountains, pools and weathered stone formations.  Even with huge crowds inside, it was a strangely tranquil environment. I can imagine that the gardens were a great place for emperors to come after a long day of ruling a quarter of the planet’s population.

After a few hours, despite only having seen a fraction of the complex, we decided to move on to see a few more of the sites surrounding the area.  Unfortunately, because the exit to the Forbidden City is on the far side from the entrance, when we left we realized that we had to walk all the way around the walls of the city to get back to Tiananmen square.  This helped get us up to our Chinese daily average of twelve-thirteen miles of walking a day.

Tiananmen square is pretty impressive, although there is not a lot in it.  Surrounded on all sides by monolithic sculptures and buildings dedicated to the Chinese bureaucracy, its interior is mostly empty, though dotted with throngs of tourists, marching soldiers, lights and security cameras.  In the very center, there is a large stone pillar dedicated to the People’s Heroes.  While not quite on the same scale as the Washington monument, in the middle of so much empty space, it sends a message.

By this point we were pretty much touristed out, so we headed a few miles (or two blocks according to Yuming) down the road to a famous dumpling restaurant.  We had a big group, so they gave us a private room upstairs.  We proceeded to absolutely pig out, devouring 150 dumplings and a couple side dishes between the eight of us.  We ordered a range of different fillings, and everything we ate was delicious.  Best of all was the price: only 260 RMB total or about $5 USD per person.

Impressive Panorama of Tiananmen

Dual Team OHIO in the Forbidden City!

Dual Team OHIO in the Forbidden City!

As we tried to avoid slipping into food comas, we caught the subway back to the train station.  Fortunately, this time the CVG team was with us, so they managed to make it on time!  We blasted off back to Shanghai at 300 km/hr, tired but happy with an awesome trip to Beijing.