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May 28, 2009

Arrival in Warsaw and First Few Days

I arrived in Warsaw, Poland last Sunday and have been going non stop ever since! We had a tour of the city on the first day--it is amazing how new the city is compared to some of the other European cities I have visited, and how far it has come since it was completely destroyed fifty years ago.

After the city tour on Monday, we had the opportunity to meet our Polish team members. Not only was it interesting to hear about student life from their perspective, but it was also nice to gain an Eastern European perspective on the role of marketing/branding as well as consumer behavior in the Eastern Europen marketplace. A few of the Polish MBA students took us out and showed us around Warsaw after our initial group meeting. It was nice to see the city from residents our age--not from a tour guide or a book!

Wednesday we had the opportunity to travel to Kzpecise, which is in the souther part of Poland, 4 hours away from Warsaw. Once there, we toured Cargill's Animal Nutrition Facility and talked with management about key issues and opportunities related to capacity and distribution. Seeing production from this perspective will give us a first hand vantage point into whether we recommend that Cargill expand their production facilities to service other European markets.

The trip is not all work! I have had the opportunity to see some pretty amazing places and eat at some pretty nice restuarants. Tomorrow morning I leave for Budapest, Hungary at 5 AM. I will post updates!

May 23, 2009

Hours Away From Eastern Europe

It is 11:48 PM on Friday, May 22 Central Standard time. I have to be at the Minneapolis airport at 7:30 AM tomorrow morning and I am just starting to pack everything that I will need for the next 2 weeks in Poland and Hungary! Just so you know, packing is the only part of traveling that I am not a fan of--which is probably why I haven't started yet. Anyway, I have all day to sleep on the plane tomorrow, so there is no sense in doing it now right?

Up until this point, this class has been one of the most exciting classes I have taken here at the Carlson School of Management and the University of Minnesota. The main reason: ambiguity! Cargill, a large agribusiness firm headquartered in Minneapolis, is looking to expand their pet food operations into the Eastern European countries of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Russia. They have very little knowledge of the competitive environment, distribution channels, and advantages/disadvantages of multinational brands versus private labels. It is up to us--the students--to conduct a market analysis and ultimately present what we think the most feasible and profitable way of entering the market. What better way to get actual consulting experience while still in college?

Not only will we be traveling to Cargill facilities throughout Poland and Hungary, but we will also gain experience working on an international team with MBA students from the Warsaw School of Economics. Coming from a small town in Southwest Minnesota, I feel that this experience will be different from any I have ever had, but it will prepare me well for working on global teams after college.

Anyways, I should probably start packing before it gets too late! Next stop Warsaw, Poland!