Taking Y’all to Church on Our DHL Project

As our circadian rhythms and livers continue to adjust to Germany, it’s probably about time to introduce our loyal readers to our project. Over the next three weeks, we’re meeting with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and tier-1 suppliers to help DHL Supply Chain’s Global Automotive Sector determine the buying behaviors of both prospective and current customers. Since we were assigned this project back in late February, we’ve met with DHL clients stateside to understand the industry and get a feel for DHL’s many, many different services within the automotive supply chain. And now that we’re on DHL’s home turf of Germany, we’re traveling all over the country to develop findings and a solution that can not only be applied to Europe, but can also be extended to DHL’s global market.

Ford Sign

On Monday, we met with one of DHL’s freight forwarding customers, a tier-1 safety equipment manufacturer located in our home base of Koblenz. Our main point of contact, Helge, gave us a thorough background of their business and how the approach logistics procurement. Tuesday’s agenda took us to Cologne, where we met with Markus of DHL’s Lead Logistics Provider team, which manages the entire supply chain for Ford Europe. DHL’s team for this project works just feet away from where Ford produces all of its Fiesta cars for the European market. While on-site, we got a personalized tour of the entire production complex, from where the body frame is created to where the finished car is rolled off the line for final quality testing. For security reasons, we weren’t able to take pictures throughout the tour, so you’ll have to take our word for it about how insanely awesome, complex, and impressive the entire process is when orchestrated in real-time. However, we did get a picture of us in our snazzy vests.

Team DHL at Ford

After spending the day with Markus and his team, we found our way over to the Koln Dom (the Cologne Cathedral), Germany’s #1 tourist destination. While walking through a tunnel (which smelled like the exact opposite of what cologne should smell like) on the way over, I Wikipedia’ed as much as I could about the church and impressed my teammates with off-the-cuff knowledge about its prolific history (Don’t tell them I did this… I want them to think I’m smart). For instance, did you know that the Cologne Cathedral was the world’s tallest building from 1880-1884? Boom. You’ve been knowledge’d.

Team DHL in Cologne

For dinner, we headed over to Fruh to try out one of Cologne’s famous dishes. “Heaven & Hell”, as it is loosely translated, is an interesting combo of blood pudding served over apples and mashed potatoes. Tim seemed to be halfheartedly enjoying the experience, until his first burp which, by the looks of it, was a negative life-altering experience. Also, a quick note on Cologne’s beer policy: if you order a beer at a restaurant, they’ll keep bringing you new ones until you politely refuse. Now that’s what I call customer service.

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Despite the mixed reviews about blood pudding, Cologne’s cuisine TOTALLY redeemed itself with its nougat pretzels, a combo of white and dark chocolate, nougat, and almonds resulting in a diabetic shock and cavity inducing pastry of sheer deliciousness. Needless to say, we slept like kings.

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Lady and the Tramp

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“John of Gondar”

Day 4: Gondar City-

May 5th (Monday) is an official holiday in Ethiopia and all government offices are closed. However, a subteam of our Gondar hosts had promised to make time to meet us at 1.30p. We decided to go to explore the city and check out the local market before our meeting. What an adventure it turned out to be!

First, we went to a souvenir shop which was filled with great local craft pieces – including wall hangings, dolls, decoration pieces, clothes, shawls, musical instruments and many other interesting pieces. Even though we promised ourselves that we will window shop, seek comparisons, not fall victim to impulse decisions and try our bargaining skills, the moment of truth was interesting. The pieces were so beautiful that it was hard to resist the urge, especially since we would automatically make mental calculations of how low the dollar-converted costs would be!

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Our first real adventure of the day was right outside the souvenir shop where a group of 2 young boys approached us and tried to “exchange” a 20 dollar bill for an interesting story. Their concern was that they had an “old” 20-dollar bill from 1981 which the local merchants would not accept. They wanted the nice Americans to help them by exchanging it for a newer bill since we could easily pass it on when we got back home. We had an interesting dialogue about the authenticity of the bill and in the end decided to agree to disagree.

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From there we got in the van and were taken to the local market which was bustling with activity of every sort – from fresh vegetables to chickens to clothes, utensils and hardware. Almost everyone we met was extremely friendly with smiles all around. We all noticed that many of the shopkeepers spoke very good English and didn’t try aggressive approaches to sell to the visiting “freinji” (local word for light skinned foreigner). We also noticed that there were quite a few women entrepreneurs who confidently ran their shops.

During this visit to the market we happened to stumble upon John, a 10th grade student who made our day! There was something about his demeanor that put our whole group at ease with him. We struck up a conversation with him to find out about how he loved fashion forward shoes which he then converted to soccer shoes when his 5 brother team rule over other kids in the neighborhood. He told us about his dreams of becoming a doctor one day and serving his nation. We not only got great advice from him about which fabric to buy or how to avoid fast colors but also got a pleasant surprise – an offer to show us where the beautiful fabric was weaved by the locals.

We had set a deadline for ourselves to leave the market by noon so that we could head back to the hotel, have lunch and get ready for the 1.30p client meeting. However, the offer was just too good and all of us make a group decision to flex our time in favor of this unbelievably authentic experience. John took us through the market until we reached a semi-residential area where small shacks housed families as well as a cottage industry of 1-2 person manufacturing units. John showed us where a person was hard at work at a small hand-powered loom weaving a beautiful fabric from threads of cotton. John would later also show us where the raw picked cotton was sold and along with the bobbins used to convert piles of raw cotton into thread which would then be used in the weaving process.

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On our way back, we were taken thru another route in the neighborhood where we saw ladies cooking the day’s lunch. John took us to one of the ladies and we were able to see how pancake type batter was first prepared and then poured over a heated plate to make Injeria – the staple of the Ethiopian diet. As we watched this process, we were surrounded by many curious and smiling children. For some reason, they found trust and comfort in the faces of Danny and Niraj—whose hands they held and started to walk thru the alleys back to the market. Only after we reached the van did they finally say smiley goodbyes and went off their way.

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As we said farewell to John, he offered to take us on more experiences like this should we choose to. Since he was off school for the summer, he was willing to take time off from soccer and show us around while someone covered his shop. A definite stop that we all agreed to put on our itinerary was the visit to the Jewish blacksmiths. Knowing of the historical struggles of the Ethiopian Jewish community, this experience was a must have.

Oh how lucky we got with finding John!

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We got back to the hotel recounting our many adventures (some of which we couldn’t list here) in time for our client meeting. We ended up having a 3 hour meeting with them and then a 3 hour strategy session which shed new light into how to proceed with our mission in Ethiopia. Tomorrow is a packed day and if things go well, a packed week full of work.

We can’t wait to meet up with John again!

That Time When Five Americans and an Indian Celebrated a Mexican Holiday in Germany

While Monday was our first official on-site working day in Germany (more on that to come once we get some of the pictures), it was also Cinco de Mayo. In America, we typically use Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to drink in honor of our friends south of the border. So why should this May 5th be any different, despite adding an extra few thousand miles of separation between us and the birth site of tequila?

Apparently, a few of our German comrades had the exact same idea. Koblenz features not one, but (at least) two Mexican restaurants, including one in the same square as our apartment. By 8:00 on this beautiful spring day, the outside patio was crowded and the prospect of margaritas welcomed us with open arms.

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As we flipped through the menu, we realized Sruti was out of her element, and had never had fajitas before. So there would clearly be no better time for an Indian student studying in America to try traditional Mexican cuisine than while on a trip to Germany. The night ended with complimentary candy… baby rats? Feetless iguanas? Not really sure what these were but they were good? OK? Jury is still out. The whole experience was bizarre.

Mexican Candy

However, despite the glory of creating our own cultural melting pot over dinner, I would be doing all of our thousands of blog readers a disservice if I waited even one more second to show you the key chains the front desk gave us for our three apartments. Discuss in the comments below…

Koblenz Key Chains

Building Language Skills One 18 Letter Word at a Time

18 Letter German Word

…wut?

Before diving in to how Team DHL dealt with overcoming the language barrier in its first 48 hours within Germany, it’s worth noting that I took three years of German in high school. Combining that decade old education with four 15-minute lessons in Duolingo last week and needless to say, my hubris towards reading, writing, and speaking German was at an all-time high when our wheels touched down in Frankfurt on Saturday morning.

And it only took a few hours to be brought back down to Earth.

Luckily for us, the Frankfurt airport is very much a German/English hybrid, with both languages used in tandem on all signage. Most of the customer service agents spoke English as well, which was incredibly useful when we went to pick up our rental car. Even the guy that brought us our car greeted us with a giant “SUP GUYS?” when we arrived at the garage, quickly picking up on our Americana. So much for blending in.

Upon arriving in Koblenz (which is a charming and quite nicely sized German city that sells itself short in its marketing materials – GAP 2015 project?!?!), we quickly realized that we wouldn’t have the same dual language luxury of the Frankfurt airport. I had the genius idea of parking in a garage marked “Frei – 400”, correctly assuming that “frei” meant “free” but failing to realize that it was commentary on the amount of open parking spaces and not the cost of parking itself.

Natalie and Sruti with Church

After we set up shop in our apartment, the team hit the road for an authentic German meal. We found a cozy restaurant in one of Koblenz many, many squares, and after correctly nailing down a table for six, we quickly realized that our German vocabulary was limited to niceties and had a shocking lack of culinary terms. Our waiter, like the attendant in the parking garage, instantly recognized that we were Americans and came prepared with an English menu. We each ordered traditional German fare, with varying different types of meat, potatoes, and sauerkraut. I was in heaven.

First Meal in Germany

We next headed off to the local bars to get a lay of the land. The first bar we went to felt like a dive bar back home. US state license plates adorned the walls, and we even found a confederate flag which was… weird. Our cozy table featured a basket of peanuts, and we were scolded for not throwing our discarded shells on the ground like the rest of the patrons.

More of Irish Pub Night #1

For our nightcap, we ventured into the Irish pub across the street from our hotel. Having patronized many an Irish bar in my young adulthood, I felt in my element. I suavely (or so I thought) ordered “ein Guinness und ein Magners”, coupling my shallow German skills with my deep knowledge of Irish adult beverages. However, the bartender was having none of it, and replied back with the price… in English.

Irish Pub Night #1

Overall, we had a fantastic weekend in Koblenz. We still have much to learn on the language front and on how to not stick out like the traditional American tourist. Tomorrow, we begin our project at TRW, one of DHL’s customers. Stay tuned for more info on our project!

Mistranslation of the Day: When a crying woman approached Devin asking for directions, and Devin replied (in German) “No… do YOU speak German?”

Ausfahrt

Team DHL Assembles in Germany

GAP Avengers

“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!

Off to Ethiopia!

Seven Master of Business Administration students from Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business will visit Ethiopia for three weeks in May as the in-country portion of our Global Applied Projects class. The class is taught by Kurt Roush and advised by Professor Scott Livengood.

We are: Javed Cheema, Katie Fornadel, Carla Garver, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Niraj Patel, and me, Danielle Latman. Combined, we are from three different countries, have traveled to almost 70 countries, and have 65 years experience in sales, marketing, operations, financial services, nonprofit and military industries.

The Ohio State / Ethiopia One Health Partnership asked us to harness our business skills to help operationalize the partnership’s rabies elimination project, adding a layer of practical implementation to the research and training that veterinarians and scientists have already developed. We have split up into teams focusing on the finance, marketing, operations, logistics and data collection functions of the rabies elimination project. Our goal is to develop a proposed roadmap that will allow the U.S. and Ethiopian partners to implement the rabies elimination One Health model project on a targeted region in Ethiopia.

We will travel to Ethiopia from May 1-25 to work with officials in Addis Ababa and Gondar. For the past seven weeks, we have met with the CDC, Drs. Gebreyes and O’Quinn, cultural anthropologists and social service agencies to prepare for our trip. We have also eaten at the lovely Lalibela restaurant here in Columbus, received our travel visas, and gotten a lot of shots — and were dismayed to find a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in the U.S.!

For all of us, this will be our first time visiting Ethiopia and sub-Saharan Africa in general, and we are excited for what are sure to be many new and rich experiences! We are looking forward to exploring the natural environment of the Blue Nile Falls and Simien Mountains, driving overland from Addis Ababa to Gondar, seeing the history of ancient castles and churches, visiting marketplaces and drinking delicious coffee with each other and our new colleagues and neighbors. We are thrilled for the opportunity to contribute our business skills and passion to build on the One Health Partnership’s success and help eliminate rabies in Ethiopia.

From left: Katie Fornadel, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Danielle Latman, Niraj Patel and Carla Garver. Not pictured: Javed Cheema.

From left: Katie Fornadel, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Danielle Latman, Niraj Patel and Carla Garver. Not pictured: Javed Cheema.