Here we go!

Team London is currently rehearsing in the conference room that, in just 2 hours, will be the setting for our exciting final presentation!  We did a dry run with the Managing Director yesterday morning, and we received a very positive reaction and great questions for follow up.  The 6 of us have worked very hard leading up to this day, and I’m confident that we have a stellar deliverable for Interxion.  We are all optimistic and very much looking forward to this grand finale!

One of us will fill you in with a follow-up post to describe how it goes! 🙂


A slight change of pace

Days 12, 13, 14, & 15 – The past several mornings greeted us with surprisingly calm, cloudless, blue skies; a stark contrast to our insane workdays over the week.

Clear blue skies -- a London rarity!
Clear blue skies — a London rarity!

As mentioned previously, we have not had wifi in our dorm-style German Mission lodging, so I haven’t been able to keep you all abreast of the subtle madness that we have endured!  (I still wouldn’t quite label it a “storm”.)  We have been conducting interviews consistently throughout the week to piece together more specific details about Interxion.  We’ve learned that a half hour, or an entire hour even, is hardly sufficient to touch on all of our burning questions.  The interviews often leave us more perplexed than we began, as the answers we receive frequently lead us to even more questions.  I must say, though, it’s pretty cool to reflect on how far we have come since we first started this project about 10 weeks ago.

London is a great city, despite the absurdly fickle weather.  If you’ve been following along with the previous posts, you’ve been able to see some of the beauties and oddities that we encounter on a regular basis.  My everyday accessories have recently become a jacket and an umbrella since it goes from 70 degrees to 50, sunny to rainy, (and back again), several times in the span of a day (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating).

(Note: This is only half of London’s enormous tube system!)

For an American on such a strict budget in this European city where everything is priced at nearly double that in the States, we are constantly finding ways to survive on the cheap.  This includes routines such as walking everywhere, hand-washing clothes in the sink, and buying food mostly from local convenient stores.  We have had little success finding quality food in these places, and dining out regularly is out of the question.  The food challenge is intensified since we have neither a refrigerator nor a microwave/stove for the items that we do buy.  Desperate for some variety outside convenient store selection, Anda and I recently ventured by tube into The Unknown (aka Zone 3) for a trip to the nearest ASDA, a local supermarket chain.  We scooped up several packaged tuna and salmon pasta bowl lunches that come with a decent price of about £3.00 (about $5.00), can be stored at room temperature, and have an expiration date well into the year 2016.  Jackpot!

We were also thrilled with the canned meat selection, as you can imagine. Canned meat

As a bonus this week, we had the great opportunity to meet the VP of Marketing at Coca Cola Europe, who gave us a tour of their brand new central London offices.  It was fabulous! Coca Cola

We’re reaching the point of bittersweetness in our trip as the project reaches its culmination and our opportunities for in-country exploration begin to narrow.  I’ll try to post more frequently if I can find reliable wifi!  Just one week left in this adventure…

Catching up!

Days 7, 8, 9, & 10 – Malfunctioning wi-fi in Wynfrid House meant no blogs for the weekend!  I’m going to try to get you all caught up. Telephone

Friday – Another day at the Interxion office followed by a night in playing cards and charades.  John Duffy left us for the weekend to hang out with his friends in the Netherlands.  We missed him so much and felt lost without him, so we just moped around, longing for his return.

Saturday – Anda and I went shopping along Oxford Street, which has some of the best retail options in the city.  This included a visit to the infamous Zara store, as my fellow MBA students will surely remember — we reviewed the case twice.  Much to our disappointment, we didn’t find the store to be all that it had been hyped up to be.  Zara, a meager 2-story establishment, was just across the street from a 6-story H&M store (with greater variety and much more attractive prices).  Yeah, so contrary to popular belief, Zara ain’t cheap, even in Europe. (A “stone’s throw” away from Spain.)

We stopped briefly in McDonald’s because we knew it had a “loo”, and I ordered some French fries to legitimize the visit.  I didn’t want to be viewed as that typical American eating “typical” American food, so I put on my best British accent (which sounded more Australian) and asked for French fries.  In the UK they’re called “chips”, but the menu referred to them as French fries.  I was in a pickle there.  But whatever, hopefully they thought I was a clueless Australian or at the very least, Canadian.

The next stop was Buckingham Palace, where Anda and I had an all-too-brief encounter with Team France.  The guys of Team London spent more time with Team France later that evening, which I’m sure Anurag will be ecstatic to blog about! Buckingham

Sunday – The whole team (minus our beloved Duffy) hopped on a double decker bus, which took us to the British Museum.  This place houses the famous Rosetta Stone, which, as you can probably imagine, drew in quite the crowd.  We snapped the best picture that we could manage… Rosetta Stone

Later, we discovered how ridiculously serious the English take their distinction between food to be eaten at the restaurant and food that is “taken away”.  The two options are offered at drastically different prices, and if you order it as take away, but are caught slurping your take away soup in the restaurant while waiting for your teammates to complete their order, all food service operations shut down for a moment in time and you’re bluntly reminded in a shout over the counter, “EXCUSE ME, THAT WAS TAKE AWAY.” Pshh…

The next stop was Hyde Park, which has a Sunday tradition of free public speech at Speakers’ Corner.  We were anticipating open debates on exciting real world issues, but were sadly disappointed with the turnout of 100% religion centric disagreements as bizarre as the horned man with a cape and pinwheels.  So we just left and got some ice cream. Speakers Corner

We strolled through Hyde Park for a bit more, and stopped for a moment to observe the ducks in the little lake in the center.  Then we ran into this fine couple walking by cheerfully, hand in hand.  Can you guess who it is? Billary

Yup, that’s Bill and Hillary Clinton.

OK, so we really had a blast without Mr. Duffy, but we seriously kinda did miss him too.  He came back for work Monday morning in one piece, but he refused to share his pictures.  You’ll have to contact him directly for the scoop on his trip.

That’s all for the weekend adventures!  Now it’s back to work for Team London!Back to work

In closing, I’ll leave you with some fancy British store fronts. Fancy store fronts

Definitively English

Day 6 –  Pants.  You know, the things we put on nearly every day.  The things that go over a person’s legs and are fastened at/above the hips or sagging below the bum, however you fancy wearing them.  You might even choose to put on sweatpants, you know, just to lounge around in.  …Nerp.  In the UK, you’re more likely to convey the idea by using the word “trousers”.  If you say “pants” around here, you’re actually referring to underwear.  And “sweatpants”… um, well, it’s probably one of the most revolting words you could say to a Brit.

A few other Britishisms I’ve picked up:

“Lift” = Elevator

“Notes” = Bills (as in dollars)

“Cheers!” = Thanks / Goodbye

“S’alright.” / “No worries.” = A response to “Thank you”

“Speck” = A kind of smoked ham (Not sure if it exists in the U.S… I’ve certainly never seen it before.)

“Rocket” = Arugula  (When I asked the sandwich artist what “rocket” was, she picked up a piece and waved it in the air as if saying, “Ehm, HELLO. This stuff.”)

Walkers’ Definitively Prawn Cocktail crisps = Lays Shrimp Cocktail chips (if there ever were such a thing)

Mmmmmmmmmmm heaven in a pink bag.
Mmmmmmmmmmm DEFINITIVELY heaven in a pink bag.
















A little piece of America in a can. Cans










Back at the Interxion offices, we met with the Directors of Sales and Operations, both of whom are extremely knowledgeable and quite friendly (like just about everyone we have met so far!).  Today was another action-packed day for us, but the most eye-opening part of it was the tour through one of Interxion’s state-of-the-art data center facilities.  It was great to be able to physically see the service solutions that data center companies like Interxion provide, because up until this point, most of us were only able to haphazardly piece information together to construct our own visual understanding of how this business operates.  The way network connectivity works is quite complex, and even more so is the data center’s role in it.  Being able to see how it all functions helped our team leap over a big consulting hurdle.  Understanding the problem is a huge, essential first step, and it also consumes the most amount of our time.  Where we go from there is the challenge that follows (i.e. now what?), and it’s what we’ll continue to work on throughout the next week.  This is a rough industry as far as we can tell, and as is expected with just about any technology, it is also ever evolving and therefore, ever more difficult to strategize.

We ended today with a much clearer picture of the steps we need to take tomorrow to plow forward through this challenge.  We have an insanely busy day ahead of us!  And this weekend we’re pleased to be entertaining the Scott’s team from Lyon, France as they visit London for the weekend!  Jolly times ahead!

A little less ordinary.

Day 5 – Text from Kyle at 7:44 am:  Earnings call isn’t until 1:30pm London time FYI.  No need to get to the office before 9.

I had already been up since 7 am and was planning to get to the Interxion offices with the team a half hour early for the Q1 2014 earnings call at 8:30.  I smiled down at Kyle’s message as I realized that we had all still been set on Eastern Standard Time, and that the call was actually 5 hours later than we thought.  Deciding to take full advantage of the extra time that was magically granted to us (even if by error), I made my way down to the breakfast hall of our hotel.

The room was already full with many guests, the center tables lined with your typical continental breakfast foods… Cereal flakes, mini waffles and jam (no syrup), shot glass sized yogurts, sliced bread, Nutella, cucumbers, cheeses, boiled eggs, and an assortment of processed deli meats.  Did I mention that we’re staying in a German Catholic Mission bed & breakfast house?  Ja, sehr gut!  Complimentary (German) breakfast has indeed been a wonderful perk for us as visitors in one of the most expensive cities in Europe!

Now… back at the Interxion office for Round 2.  Research.  Trip #1 to the free breakroom coffee machine.  Databases.  Spreadsheets.  Trip #2 to the free breakroom coffee machine.  Industry and competitor analysis.  Angry at how similar this all is to the strategy class we thought was already far behind us.  Realizing now how meaningful that strategy class is for us now in practice.


Readings.  Earnings call.  Internal meeting.  Skype with Mr. Kurt Roush.  Continued internal meeting.  45 minutes over scheduled meeting time.  Seriously, we’re still in this meeting?  Finishing up meeting with preparations for more meetings tomorrow (with Directors of Sales and Operations).  Coffee #3.  Continued research.  5:30 pm.  Let’s go home.

Highlight of the day:

Anurag gets stopped on the street by a random British woman seeking “Asians to interview for their views on fashion”.
Anurag gets stopped on the street by a random British woman seeking “Asians to interview for their views on fashion”.











We’re still feeling great about this project, just mostly overwhelmed with the amount of data and possibilities right now.  But we are fiercely fearless (rawr) and, the best part of it all, there’s plenty of free coffee!

Cheers Kyle



Cheers, mates!

The calm.

Day 3 – It was the third consecutive beautiful day here in London, partly cloudy (and partly sunny) with gusty winds, and a high of a modestly warm 64 degrees F.  As I saw all of the locals out walking the streets or relaxing in the grassy areas to enjoy the sun, I reflected back to yesterday’s lunch with Doug and how we began the afternoon out on the uncovered restaurant patio.  Everyone there kept gushing about how beautiful a day it was, while in my own mind I defaulted to the thought, It’s not anything extraordinary – moderate sunshine, slightly warm — typical spring weather.  Nothing “nice”, just… typical!  Sunshine is a rare gem in London, though, as we learned from Doug.  With today being not only a beautiful day, but also a bank holiday with many people off, the streets were bustling with activity!

The six of us were on a mission, and that was to explore London without going broke.  I’d say we actually did a great job!  Look rightTraveling took place mostly on foot, and we’re very thankful that the wonderful British are kind enough to remind us tourists which direction we need to look for oncoming traffic before crossing the street.  (Although it wasn’t enough to prevent a very close encounter between one of us and a car’s bumper… What can we say?  Old habits.)

We managed to find a great boat tour along the River Thames that took us from Tower Bridge over to Westminster, the area where you’ll find the Eye of London (the big ferris wheel) and Big Ben (that famous ol’ clock).OHIOIMG-20140505-WA0046IMG-20140505-WA0043

Wrapping the day up with dinner at a local café, we as a team reviewed our strategy with Interxion moving forward.  Yesterday’s conversation with Doug presented us with a few new challenges, quite different from before, but nothing that can’t be tackled by this phenomenal group of talented and creative people.  Our team’s energy is high, collaborative efforts are solid, and outlook is very positive.  We prepared for our meetings with the Directors of HR and Finance tomorrow, and then headed back to the hotel.  It is now just after midnight, and the team has headed off to bed as I finish up this post.  We feel good about this.  There’s a sense of calmness among the six of us, and I don’t think we’ll even have a storm of chaos to face.  But… I guess we’ll just have to see how things go tomorrow.

Interacting with Interxion

Day 2 – Today we had our first in-person interaction with Doug Loewe, the CEO (Managing Director here in the UK) of Interxion (also pronounced “interaction”), and what a fun and insightful meeting it was!  Four and a half hours there at Sushi Samba with Doug, and we got to know him, how he sees his company, and how he envisions the six of us coming into play.  Be inquisitive, he told us.  If you have more questions than answers at the end, it’s a good thing, he told us.  So ask lots of questions, he told us.  After today’s lunch discussion with Doug, I felt this project taking an unexpected turn…  At this point, I think the experience with all of those ATRQ’s from Professor Matta’s class may come in handy!Sushi Samba Doug

Sushi SambaThe rest of today was spent just exploring London a bit and venturing along Brick Lane, a famously hip street in the city.  Interxion’s headquarters are on this very street, and we’ll be spending our first day there on Tuesday when we begin the work that we came here to do.  Tomorrow (Monday) is a bank holiday, so we’re off for one more day.  No solid plans just yet, but Anda and I are determined to buy a hair dryer. (Exciting, I know.)  We’ll also probably do some touristy stuff.  You’ll read all about it tomorrow!  G’night for now, mates!

Right on time!

Mind the gap


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.  CoffeeAn 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!

Till tomorrow!