Undertaking Mission (trip to) Marsabit!

After spending the last few days in Nairobi meeting the end users of our water waterpack (PackH2O) at Machakos, meeting the Marketing Head of Coke (E. Africa) and getting a solid headstart on our projects, it was time to undertake our Mission Trip to Marsabit. Marsabit is the capital of Marsabit county located in northern Kenya. It borders the eastern shore of Lake Turkana. The largest town in Marsabit county is Moyale and the county has a population of 291,166 (Kenya census 2009). In Marsabit, we would be treating jiggers – a parasitic arthropod found in most tropical and sub-tropical climates that has infested the feet of most of the younger children in Marsabit county. Our trip was scheduled between Wed 5/13 and Sat 5/16. Our host, Connie, suggested that we spend the evening prior to our departure mentally and emotionally prepping ourselves for the mission and call it an early night, especially since it would be immensely challenging for most of us.

On Wednesday, we woke up early and left at 5:00 AM to go to Mount Kenya University (MKU). At MKU, we were joined by a few students from the Nursing and MBA programs at MKU along with three professors. By 6:30 AM, we were en-route to our destination – Marsabit. We were told by the PFC staff who had been to Marsabit earlier to brace ourselves for a long and bumpy journey. In retrospect, I firmly believe I should have taken heed of their advice. Most of us assumed various sleeping positions as soon as we hit the tarmac. Five hours into the journey, most of us were awake, the bus was chirpier than ever, and we learned a great deal about Kenyan culture from the MKU students. We made a quick stop at Isiolo and fed ourselves some chapatis coupled with soda. Just then, Connie informed us that one of the retailers at Isiolo had enquired about the waterpacks and ended up buying ten of them! This was a promising start, especially for our Go-To-Market team – a retailer interested in buying and selling the waterpacks! We got back on the bus and started our journey onward. We had seven more hours to go, and the weariness had started to show up on the faces of first-time-Marsabit-travelers.

Nairobi to Marsabit

The herculean 12-hour drive from Nairobi to Marsabit and Google map’s misleading  time estimate!

We made another quick stop for refreshments at Merrill where the tarmac ended and the unpaved road began. With four more hours to go, everyone tried sleeping with little success (as always, there were outliers). The ride on the unpaved road was scenic and uncomfortable at the same time. After a twelve-hour super-long-and-tiring bus ride, we finally reached our destination – Marsabit. Phew! We were hosted by Pastor John Hirbo, the Director of Marsabit Ministry and the lead activist in the fight against jiggers in Marsabit. We quickly freshened up and had dinner. The team realized that, despite his efforts and status within the community, Pastor Hirbo, like most other Kenyans that we’d met, was an extremely cheerful and friendly person. Over dinner, we were given a brief overview of the schedule for the next two days in Marsabit. We called it a night as work was to begin at 8:30 AM the next morning. We are so excited for the next two days!

– Greif PD Team in Kenya

Happy Victoria Day!

Lake Louis in Alberta

Lake Louis in Alberta

After being trapped in the snow in Calgary for the entire weekend, we all were ready to let loose. To our amazement, we were given a day off on Monday, as it was Queen Victoria Day. For us, that meant a holiday and day off from work. We all decided to put on our hiking shoes, rent a mini van and head up to BANF National Park. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the drive was very scenic. We were in the middle of the mountains with green lush trees and snow on the top. It was like driving through a beautiful painting.

DSC_1763We all had heard a lot about Lake Louis from the locals and decided to drive an hour up north to see why people were so astonished by the beauty of this lake. Once we got there, parked the car, we were amazed to still find snow on the ground. After we walked few steps, we were all spell bound. I had never seen such an amazingly beautiful lake: clear blue water, still half frozen and surrounded by mountains and lush green trees. The entire place was so beautiful. I literally thought I had seen heaven. It was so serene and peaceful. I remember Natalie had to move me forward, as I could not stop taking enough pictures.

DSC_1781After we took 1000 pictures or so among six of us, Jackson motivated us to do a five km hike to reach a secluded tea house that serves 1000s of different kinds of tea. Adi, being a hard-core tea person, was super excited about the idea. I think we were not even half a mile into the hike when we decided we hadDSC_1819 had enough of cardio for the day and were ready to walk back and check out BANF. Our walk back was not complete without me trying to push Keith into the lake, and Natalie posing for selfies.We girls forced Keith to show us around. We finally made a quick stop at BANF downtown. It was quite a small town, but full of local cafes and gift shops.

BANF downtown

BANF downtown

We had our caffeine fix, grabbed a bite and made our way back home. We played country music, browsed through our photos. All in all- we had a “picture perfect” day!

First week of work at CVG Northampton

It took us a little bit of time to transition into our work role after our wonderful London trip Arriving in Northampton, we all knew it was time to get back to business. The first day at CVG Northampton office (May11) was figuring out where the bathroom and canteen were, and going through the KAB safety training. Soon enough, we started working on our project plan and task list to provide the team here with the project overview and our data requirements, and scheduling interviews and meetings with various CVG stakeholders.

Working hard but we don't forget to share a laugh and enjoy!

Working hard but we don’t forget to share a laugh and enjoy!

One of the things I discovered is the importance of being flexible in terms of work schedule and tasks, along with learning to deal with ambiguous situations and data. In the real world, data is mostly incomplete, and situations change on a daily, even hourly basis. Upon putting ourselves in high gear on our project, we started to discover scope creep, competing priorities of different business units and managers, as well as organizational issues. By end of the week, we fortunately started to get a hold of the situation and, after seeking help from CVG’s executive team, were able to make great progress! We also got a taste of a management consultant’s role, and how challenging things can be. Overall, our GAP project has been a great experience. I am sure it will be one of the projects where we will have amazing work and life experience takeaways!

 

Team CVG: Working with New People

We have officially reached the midway point of our GAP project! One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is getting to work with new people. Over the course of our first year, we work primarily in our core groups – so most of our projects are with the same four people over the course of an entire year. My core team (Team 13!) was awesome, and I loved working with them throughout my first year. However, it has been a valuable experience working with new people.

Ben Adam

Nishant, Adam, Saha (Another Team 13 Alum), and I have now spent almost two entire weeks together. And, I do mean entire weeks. (Almost every waking moment I spend is with these 3 knuckleheads.) GAP has been an awesome opportunity to get to know a couple people that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise. You really get to know someone after traveling with them for two weeks. So, I guess getting to know Adam and Nishant better has really been an unexpected delight (see what I did there?).

CVG UK: Calculating Holding Cost was a lot easier in Ops Class

Today, we spent time in the KAB seating warehouse timing a few specific activities so that we can get a reliable estimate for the labor cost portion associated with the cost of holding inventory. It might not sound glamorous, but it was an awesome opportunity to apply what we have learned in the classroom to a real life situation.

We are tasked with creating a cost model that represents the actual landed cost of a particular set of component parts for CVG. Part of that model includes developing a method to accurately assess the cost of holding inventory waiting to be shipped to other locations. To perform this analysis, we first interviewed contacts from both inbound and outbound logistics so that we could accurately map all activities involved in receiving and handling a part from the time it reaches KAB warehouses, until the time it is loaded on a container and ready to leave KAB.

First, we timed the unloading and receiving process. We watched and timed as one KAB employee unloaded twenty two pallets from a truck. Upon completion, a different individual came to scan each item and check it into the KAB inventory system. By timing this process, we hope to get a better idea of the typical amount of labor dedicated to a particular group, so that we can add this information into our model as an additional cost of holding a product in inventory.

I plan to pursue a career in marketing upon completion of my degree, but this project has already made me appreciate the complexity and interdependence of different functional areas. GAP has given me the opportunity to analyze a problem across multiple disciplines all while assessing the implied risks inherent in making sourcing decisions.

The Kenya Team’s 2nd Day in Marsabit

Friday, May 15, 2015
Yesterday, we spent a majority of the day treating jiggers. See John’s Post  for more information on our experience treating jiggers the previous day.

This one little girl was embarrassed and scared during treatment and the photographer got a photo of me as I went to console her and remind her to keep her feet in the potassium solution

This one little girl was embarrassed and scared during treatment. The photographer took a photo of me as I went to console her and remind her to keep her feet in the potassium solution.

With the kids after we treated them for jiggers and gave them BOBS

Posing with the kids after we treated them for jiggers and gave them BOBS.

The team I worked with to treat jiggers. That day our team treated 84 children in just a couple of hours!

The team I worked with to treat jiggers. That day our team treated 84 children in just a couple of hours!

Today, rather than treat jiggers, my team was tasked with going to the Full Primary School in Marsabit to distribute BOBS from Skechers (yes, that is spelled correctly) shoes (they’re kind of like crocs). The few children at the school who had jiggers had been treated the day before, so, our only task was to hand out shoes.

BOBS by Skechers: Before and After shoes

BOBS by Skechers: Before and After shoes

Walking to the Full Primary School in Marsabit with the boxes of shoes

Walking to the Full Primary School in Marsabit with the boxes of shoes.

Throughout the course of the morning, we handed out 267 pairs of shoes. In all honesty, I felt like I was making a greater impact the previous day treating jiggers. With jiggers, there were steps I followed, and I knew what the outcome of my actions would be. Wash, rinse, soak, dry, Vaseline and cover. Those were the steps that I knew resulted in the removal of this nasty parasite that lives in the fingers and toes of children stealing the little nutrition they get. Surprisingly, distributing shoes left me more emotional than treating the jiggers. When we ran out of shoes in someone’s size, there were no steps for me to follow. I couldn’t even communicate with those children to explain to them why THEY didn’t get shoes. Seeing the look in their eyes as they searched through the boxes looking for their size tugged at my heart, and I had to keep from crying.

The toughest part of the whole experience was learning the story of one particular eleven-year old boy. He was not wearing a school uniform like the others, so he immediately stood out. Mohammed, one of the teachers, explained to me that this little boy was a double orphan. He lost both of his parents to HIV/AIDS. He was born with the disease, and, at his young age, it had already reached full blown AIDS. He lives with his grandmother; however, his grandmother cannot afford to keep him in school or to feed him. He had to drop out of school and now spends his days scouring for food because his ATV medicine cannot be taken on an empty stomach. So, not only does he not have enough food, but he can’t take his medicine to keep the disease at bay. Listening to this story affected me much more than I ever thought it would. We ended up giving this boy two pairs of shoes (all other children only got one). Even in his situation, he had a humungous smile on his face when he received his shoes. I had to look away to calm down my emotions and keep myself from crying.

After distributing shoes at the school, we went back to the hotel to relax for a while. While relaxing, we learned that the governor of Marsabit wanted to put a PackH2O in every school and bought all the packs that Partners For Care currently has in stock! After this great news, we were invited to the graduation ceremony for thirty five students who had completed computer training at Pastor Hirbo’s IT school. (Pastor Hirbo has spent years fighting jiggers in Marsabit and dreams that one day Marsabit County will be jigger free.) Without the IT training provided by Pastor Hirbo’s congregation, these students wouldn’t be computer literate as they had no previous computer experience and learning these skills elsewhere is too expensive.

The kids ran to play with the leftover shoe boxes as we left the school

The kids ran to play with the leftover shoe boxes as we left the school

Jake, Akshay, and I after distributing shoes

Jake, Akshay, and me after distributing shoes

Celebrating

Celebrating

The OSU students with some of the IT school graduates

The OSU students with some of the IT school graduates

At the end of the evening, we recapped of our visit. Over the course of two days, the team comprised of students and staff from Mount Kenya University, Partners For Care, and The Ohio State University treated a total of 318 children for jiggers and distributed 1,000 new shoes. It was an extraordinary experience, and I’m so grateful that I was able to take part in it!

European work-life balance perceptions

As a passionate traveler, I have always enjoyed waking up in a new city and going out to explore what the city has to offer. For me, there is no better way to discover a new place than walking among the locals, eating their same food, and trying to adopt the same lifestyle.  So, that’s what we’ve done. We wake up to local coffee and a small breakfast, and take the bus to the office. Lunch is typically bread, ham, and cheese. Bread, ham, and cheese are probably a safe bet for any meal, actually. On our way back, we stop by the grocery store for our daily purchase of food, which we end up either cooking at night or snacking away.

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Quick bite over one of the canals

The vibe and culture of Amsterdam are pretty relaxed. You will usually find people out in the park from the early hours of the afternoon. Everyone seems to come home early, hang out at the park or restaurants, and just enjoy life. It is refreshing to see a healthy work-life balance and people actually enjoying life outside of work. We are realizing how work-driven the United States is, especially as MBA students who will most likely dive into the corporate world. It has been a sharp contrast to see and hear about the flexibility with which businesses operate in Europe.

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Locals playing chess in the square

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Bike rides are pretty common here….even pets enjoy them!

As part of our project, we have also been doing some research on labor laws for various European countries, many of which are very employee-friendly. Firing someone is not as easy as in the US, and leaves (sick, maternity, sabbatical), are a lot more common and easier to process. I was talking to a friend from Germany, and I was shocked to hear she had a 1 year parental leave when she had both of her children. She was given the option to choose the length of her parental leave and different payment ratio options. The first 3 months’ salary are always paid in full.

How do companies bear this cost, I wonder? Why can they do it here, but not in the US? I found out that at least for Germany, the government participates in a part of the pay, and the rest of the leave is paid in a smaller percent. It seems that for a vast majority of Europeans, they would rather have a pay cut or smaller sized house in order to have more time with their families. This attitude offers another perspective when it comes to making life choices and the types of companies we want to work for after our MBA program. What is our price for an additional hour with our families, I wonder?

A case of the Mondays (5-18-15)

After our evening train ride back to Shanghai, we were ready to hit the ground running on our final deliverable for Philips.  With most of our on-foot research done, we settled into a 9 to 5 routine at the office to start putting together a game plan for our final deliverable.  With our presentation less than two weeks away, its crunch time.

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(Left to right: Neel, Becca, John, Ian, Dana)

After a hard day at the office, Team Philips was homesick for some familiar foods.  Luckily, The Shed, home to the 2 yuan wings, had a half-off Monday night menu.  We met up with some of the CVG Shanghai team and also made a few new friends.

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On Top of the World

Yesterday (5/11) was the team’s first full day of project work in country. We spent a good nine hours together on a couple aspects of our project: establishing the interview questions we are going to ask of the ICOPHAI sponsors, speakers and attendees; laying the framework for the post congress attendee survey; and, researching the extent of economic and social impacts of zoonotic diseases for marketing materials.
Our progress was good and as the team was getting hungry, so we decided it would be great to take in a great view of the city. The Marriott in Bangkok has an open air restaurant and bar on the 45th through 48th (48th? not sure, they are not numbered after 45!) floors. Here are a couple pictures from the top of the world!
45th floor

Working Late

Late Friday night, Matt and I had the opportunity to interview via skype Dr. Abhay Satoskar. Dr. Satoskar is an MD, Phd at The Ohio State University and will be presenting at the ICOPHAI 2015 congress later this year. Dr. Satoskar is an expert on zoonotic disease immunology and has extensively researched neglected tropical diseases such as leishmaniasis; a disease spread by sandflies. Interviewing Dr. Satoskar was a great opportunity to apply what we learned in class prior to our departure about successful interviewing. Thank you Heidi! We were able to identify, plan, prepare, and execute an interview with great results. Dr Satoskar was an invaluable resource in helping our team better understand the mission of ICOPHAI and the role the congress has in bringing together academics, industry partners, and policy makers in an open forum to discuss zoonoses.
Some of the questions that yielded the best outcomes were:

Do you have a personal connection to diseases to zoonotic diseases?

Dr. Satoskar shared an experience he had while working in an emergency department in India. A young child was brought to the ER in shock and later died of a zoonotic disease called visceral leishmaniasis. The disease had spread to the child’s spleen and liver, causing them to swell. Left untreated, the child’s spleen ruptured and subsequently resulted to a severe internal hemorrhage that took the child’s life.

What is the role of industry partners in making the congress a success?

Dr. Satoskar talked about the importance of industry and academia working together to understand, and, hopefully, prevent animal borne disease outbreaks. He stressed the need to take a OneHealth approach, which means that all relevant stakeholders need to work together: academics, industry partners, environmentalists, governments, and NGOs. He shared ideas for further collaboration and better information sharing across disciplines.