June 4, 2009

The Big Show

So today was the big day, the day we have been preparing for, and the day of truth. Today was our final presentation to the Cargill Poland team.

The presentation was intense and right away filled with questions from the Poland team. This lead to many in depth discussions and our group had to field a lot of detailed questions. The morning session was dedicated to the functional teams (strategy, marketing, distribution. etc) and the afternoon was dedicated to the country specific teams.

Overall the presentation went well and the management from Cargill said they were impressed with our findings. Honestly, i felt they were not suprised by anything we said but we more happy with the fact that we reinforced their assumptions and plans to move forward in the area. it was a good experience and i definitly feel that i know a lot more about consulting and how consulting projects work. I learned what a consulting project needs, how it should be organized and what the expectations should be.

The group has one more day to enjoy Poland and then we will be returning to Minnesota. I hope to remember Warsaw fondly and take the skills i have learned from this project into my future internships and career.

June 2, 2009

Most Popular Tourist Site in Budapest

This past weekend the group traveled to Hungary. The first day was a visit to the Cargill animal nutrition plant in Karcag. This plant was a lot bigger than the one in Poland. At first i was worried we would be receiving duplicate information from the manager at this plant but it turned out to be even more enlightening and we learned even more about the operational capabilities of Cargill and how they could service the eastern European market with a new pet food plant there.

Armed with new information, we headed to Budapest to stay for the weekend. I was really excited because Budapest is littered with classical buildings, historical landmarks and buzzing life in every direction. The problem was I started feeling sick when we landed in Hungary and i would soon discover I would be spending my weekend not in the living streets of Budapest but in dragging rooms of a Hungarian hospital.

To summerize the experience; I got so sick i needed 3 IV bags and multiple test run on me. all this in a creepy old soviet hospital which envokes images of psych wards in slasher movies. Though its puke green walls were not pleasent, the nurses and doctors were very nice and i was really lucky because lisa englander stayed the entire time with me to keep me company. She was a rock star. After a full night in the hospital, I was released i have slowly been recovering.

Now that we are back in Warsaw it is all back to business. we have really hunkered down and gotten a lot of work done today. our presentation is put together and i am getting really excited about what we will be delivering to Cargill. I also feel good about my part covering Russia. With all the hard we have put in and a little bit of luck, we will pull this presentation off with flying colors :)

May 28, 2009

Learning More & More

Over the past few days I have grown to enjoy Poland more and more. History is so important here and finding new little shops or polish places to eat has been fun. I have also been able to meet polish students who will be helping us on our Cargill project. The two polish students we have really made friends with have been Ula and Marta. Even with their busy schedules, they have made time to take us out, show us new parts of the city and just help us understand how the polish really live. A few nights ago they showed us the city by the river. From the river you can see both sides of the city and enjoy its beautiful night skyline.
In these past two days we have also learned more about our project and have a greater understanding of Cargill’s situation here in central and eastern Europe. Our first meeting was with the Cargill GM for Poland and the Polish team lead Martien. They truly have a deep understanding of what the market is like here in CEE. I am learning a lot about consulting projects and how they are continually fluid and can change scope when new information is presented. I am continually hit with new ways to look at a situation and problem, whether that is from a operations perspective, supply chain, or by understanding to customer better. Cargill’s great cooperation with us has illuminated how detailed our project is and its truly global reach.
Yesterday’s tour of Cargill’s Pet Food facility was very interesting and very informative when it came to operational questions and the town of Krypicie is very charming. We still have a lot of work to do but the next few days will be interesting and give me a real world view of consulting and working for Cargill.

May 27, 2009

First Day In Poland

Today was our arrival to Warsaw Poland. It started rising early Saturday morning and taking the short flight over to Chicago. Everything went smoothly and since we had extra time, a group of us was able to have lunch at Gerodano’s. This is Chicago’s finest for deep dish pizza and boy was it good. I had two huge pieces and could have had more. That killed most of the time we had to wait until check-in and so we headed back to the airport. A couple hours later we were on the plane and ready for our CEE adventure to begin. I spent the 8 hour flight just reading, sleeping, or making funny faces at the little boy sitting in front of me.

Once we landed I as happy to find that for the first time in my 4 international trips, the airline company had not lost my bag! This was a good start to the trip. We were meet by Gosha (a student) and a professor Bogdan from the Warsaw school of economics. We took a bus to our Hostel and were then told we had the rest of the day to explore. The group of Jesse, Olena, Justin, Mike, and Nate all went out to lunch and then following up with some exploration of the city center. We rode the oldest underground subway in Europe to the Centerum. The city is not huge and did not overly impress me. We only walked the very commercial area, and those areas for me are not very interesting because they are just like back home. That is until we went into the old town. It was everything ou see in european medeval pictures. I love it.
Prices are reasonable here but I have yet to exchange money so I am nervous carrying so much cash around. After exploring we returned to the hostel and I went for a run. I explored more of the city and casually jogged through some parks. I was happy to see more classic architecture and real character in the neighborhoods I jogged through. I finally showered up and then meet up with a larger group and had dinner.
Tomorrow we will be getting the official guided tour and meet our polish counterparts for the project. I hope I get to see more of this beautiful city.

April 30, 2009

Divide and Conquer

Now we have begun diving parts of the project. Learning about the Pet Food industry in other countires can be quite daughnting. I have now been put in charge of finding the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats of Cargill moving into the Russian Federation. I am excited because I have a bigger country, so it should be more exciting to see what Cargill could do in the country. There are also, intuitively, more complex barriers to entry with Russia. Dealing with and finding ways around the beauacracy of the country could be a project all to itself. However, the effort might be worth it because of Russias huge market size. But we will see.

It's time to really dive in now!

April 25, 2009

Consulting for Cargill

About a month has now passed and I am in the heart of our consulting project for Cargill. Starting this class, I was really excited about the opportunities we would be presented with working for a big company like Cargill. I was also intrigued to learn more about emerging markets and an area of the world I have never been to. Thus far, we have spent the first few weeks learning about the region. Central and Eastern Europe is rich with history and cultural diversity that I was unaware of before this class. It has been interesting for me to learn about the differences between the countries in the region because I has always imagined this area as overly homogeneous. This was a wrong presumption and the variance in cultures, languages, and economic development are astounding. enjoying economics myself, this class has been really informative and cool in terms of the economic background we get on these countries and how we use this information to inform our decisions and recommendations to Cargill.

Last week was when we really started focusing on what we are going to do for Cargill. This topic shift started with a presentation by VPs of Cargill's Animal Nutrition department. They laid out a broad blanket of what we would be covering over the semester and how we would be helping them make critical decisions.

-- Side note: the more I hear about the Cargill business, the more I want to work for them. they just sound like a great company with good morals and a dedication to employees. I could also see myself working there and being able to work abroad. I just don't know if I know enough about the Ag business Yet.

After the Cargill presentation, it was great to see how teams were formed to attack the business problem presented. This is a real consulting job and It really started to feel that way when Prof. Bartlett, 'Project Manager', split us into teams. There is a Marketing/Branding team, a Supply Chain team, Strategy, and also country specific teams. Even with these teams there has been a lot of collaboration between the groups. we have big group discussions about problems and solutions. its cool, and I am having fun so far.