“There was an idea… to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more.” – The Avengers
Eat your heart our Nick Fury.
Just as the Avengers Initiative assembled a team of complementary strengths to “solve” an incredible problem, so too does the Fisher College of Business’ Global Applied Projects program. Introducing Team Yellow, made up of six MBA students who are making the trek to Koblenz, Germany to work with DHL’s Global Automotive Sector.
Brian Glorioso brings three years of finance experience, having worked in the real estate industry following his studies at the University of Chicago. On the strategy, Team Yellow is represented by Devin Henderson and Natalie Jarecki, whose backgrounds include working for The Ohio State University and Abercrombie & Fitch respectively. Sruti Jagabattula gives the team its international flair, with experiencing working for Tata Power and Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited in India. Tim Kiss is the team’s automotive guru, having worked for a Honda supplier in product development for five years prior to arriving at Fisher. And finally, yours truly, Mark Steidler is the team’s marketing resource, with three and a half years in a business-to-business marketing role.
Over the next three weeks, this blog will document our work for DHL, life in Germany, and all of the adventures in between. But for now, we’re trying to fight off jet lag (Ed note: what Mark really means is that the team is exploring the city for the best beer garden). Catch up with us tomorrow when we’ll tell you a little bit more about our project with DHL and life in Koblenz. Auf Wiedersehen!
We arrived at Chongqing just yesterday after a long journey, which I thought would be pretty tiring. The journey actually turned to be quiet adventurous for us and I must say that I have had a great time with my team so far! Some of the highlights of the journey were being taken aback at the Beijing airport when we didn’t find our bags at the baggage claim and also the impromptu visit to the Forbidden City in the limited time that we had during the layover! About the baggage claim – we were told that we would receive our bags at the Beijing airport for customs clearance and so we tried searching at the baggage claim area for almost 30 mins, deriving multiple theories of where our bags could possibly be, only to find out eventually that we would be receiving our bags at the final destination. After all the amusement, and some relief, we decided to head out to the Forbidden City and come back well ahead of the boarding time. The Forbidden City is one of Beijing’s pride and major attractions that served as the home of the emperors for almost 500 years, from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty.
Figuring out our way to go to the Forbidden City in a totally unknown city was a lot of fun and a unique experience. These photos elaborate upon that:
All the Jeffs – waiting for the train to arrive at the subway at Beijing airport. We decided to take the train to go to the Forbidden City.
The subway at Beijing airport. Our first impression of this airport – it is really huge and spacious!
Trying to figure out the map! It was great fun to venture out on our own and find our way in a city unknown to us 🙂
The ticketing machine. The instructions were in Mandarin, and luckily we spotted the button which gave us instructions in English as well.
Outside the Forbidden City, Beijing!
President Mao Zedong and the Forbidden City.
A Chinese old man doing the traditional Tai Chi exercise at the garden at Forbidden city
America’s favorite drink – Chinese style!
A common interest between America and China: watching an NBA game!
After venturing out into the city of Beijing, we returned on time to catch our next flight to our final destination – Chongqing. We arrived here in the evening, took the cab, and reached our hotel safely. After our adventures at Beijing, we were all set (but mostly surprised) for more adventures at Chongqing!
More on these adventures in the next blog! Stay tuned 🙂
Day 0 – Kyle Wefler made plans to arrive in London a day before the rest of the group to proactively defeat his imminent jet lag. Smart thinking, Kyle! Lucky Kyle lands safely in London and swiftly makes his way to Heathrow’s baggage claim area, only to learn that his checked bag decided to make a solo trip… just not to London.
Day 1 – Another fortuitous series of events! Anda Basho, Anurag Chaudhary, and Kimberly Miranda arrive in beautiful London at 6:30 am local time, an entire hour ahead of schedule. John Duffy makes his way into the city on a separate flight mere minutes later. We soon learn that Deepak Ranganath’s flight is delayed by 3 hours and is now expected to arrive at 9:30 am. And so we wait.
While we wait – COFFEE. An 8-hour overnight flight but hardly an hour of sleep means that the question of whether or not to have caffeine isn’t even an option. $2.80 for a medium-sized mochaccino? Yes, please! …Oh, wait, that’s NOT a dollar sign. Because now we’re in the United Kingdom. And here, £2.80 in pounds is $4.72 in dollars. A far cry from the sweet deal I thought I had gotten! Mochaccino priced at a British pound-sterling premium: 1, sleep-deprived MBA student holding the weaker currency: 0.
Meanwhile, 9:30 gets here before we know it, and we finally locate Deepak after an unsuccessful hour-and-a-half-long search attempt. Each of us exhausted, we purchase Oyster passes for the tube (London’s subway system) and we sit down on the first of two trains that will take us on the 1.5-hour trek to our lodging in central London.
Finally comes the time to transfer to the second train (“Mind the gap!”). A group of five with all ten hands occupied by luggage, we squish our way through the already congested underground madhouse, up and down stairs and escalators, over to the line that will ultimately take us to our stop at Aldgate East; only to learn that the entire line is closed for three days due to the upcoming bank holiday on Monday, May 5th. Fighting our way back down into the subway system, we manage to find an alternative route to our destination and finally emerge from the tube (which is two blocks from our accommodations), about 7 hours after landing.
Once we got settled into our rooms, we explored the area a bit and stumbled upon food truck heaven, just down the street from us. (Watch out, Columbus!) InterXion’s headquarters are also just a ten minute walk for us. We have a busy week lined up and it all begins tomorrow on Day 2 at a sushi restaurant for lunch with InterXion’s CEO of the London division. Coming up later this week, we’ll be meeting with the Directors of Operations, Finance, Sales, and HR. As for tonight, the plan is to catch up on SLEEP!
Fifteen hours is a long time to spend on a plane. But it makes sense when the journey you’re going on is to such a different place from Ohio as Ethiopia.
We had a smooth flight. There were many adorable yet crying babies on the plane, so sleep was limited. The arrival process was fairly smooth and quick too. Asres, our kind guide from the University of Addis Ababa, met us at the airport and drove us to the hotel.
The hotel helped us hire a driver who took us to the Piazza area, a busy center with many stores, cafes and restaurants. We had our first cup of strong Ethiopian coffee at the popular Tomoca cafe, and then walked around to find places to meet our basic needs: an ATM, pastry shop (!), and phone card for additional cell phone minutes.
Some things we noticed our first day in Addis:
Traffic: is basically organized chaos. There are few street signs and street lights, many roundabouts, tons of cars, buses and pedestrians. Yet everything flows together somewhat smoothly. Cars drive very close to each other and people, yet somehow nobody got hurt (at least not yesterday. Carla mentioned that Addis has one of the highest car accident rates in the world). Also, horn honking was surprisingly low and considerate.
Poverty: Yes, there is poverty here. We saw some small areas that looked like shanty-towns where the houses were basically concrete slabs with simple corrugated metal roofs and tarp walls, and many people begging or sleeping in the street. A few little kids came up to Danny and Niraj, grabbing onto their pants and begging them for money with their sweet little smiles and open hands. For the most part we ignored beggars, but brought little trinkets (pencils, marbles) that we will give out to kids during our trip.
Busy, bustling street life: Even amidst some poverty, many cafes were full of people drinking coffee and tea, eating snacks, relaxing and talking with friends on a Friday afternoon. People waited in long lines for buses that choked the streets. There were people working; with many active construction projects in progress and tall buildings scaffolded with long wooden poles.
Friendly and polite: We met several locals who were willing to help our clueless tourist selves navigate language barriers with bilingual assistance. One very kind shop owner helped us add minutes to our Ethiopian cell phone, and several times people helped me (Danielle) while I was waiting in line to buy something, (apparently) looking confused. Thank you, kind people!
Prices: We knew the cost of living here would be much lower than US standards, but we still experienced reverse-sticker-shock when buying things. One doughnut and three cups of tea cost about $1(total!) in a cafe, and our delicious meals at the hotel restaurant were about $3-5 each.
Style: The women in our group had been concerned about wearing appropriate clothes here, wanting to blend in and dress modestly. But I was surprised by how fashion-forward many of the women in Addis are. Skinny jeans, colorful makeup (especially bright lipstick), trendy hairstyles (braids, twists and side-sweeps), and leopard-print scarves are popular here. Many women wear stylish hair coverings made from sheer, jewel-edged fabric or with varying patterns. Cute flats and some high heels were spotted too, though I’m glad we were advised to wear comfortable shoes for walking.
Rain!: There was a very strong thunderstorm yesterday afternoon. Some of the streets were muddy.
Most strongly we have notice scenic beauty with mountains in the background, colorful flowers everywhere, lots of trees and birds… mixed with exhaust from so many cars and buses. We keep seeing hints of other places we’ve visited or lived in here. The traffic reminds Niraj of India (but minus the cattle), the beggars are less aggressive than those Alejandra has encountered in Peru, and the narrow elevators remind Carla of Tel Aviv. The beautiful landscape and flowers look like Hawaii, and the hustle and bustle, busy activity and organized chaos remind me of New York City.
Overall, we’re so happy to be here and can’t wait to explore more!