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MIT Sloan Student Blog Archive

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02/19/2012

Back to US, I start to miss the food and people in Colombia!

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Cannot believe that our days in Colombia were just one week ago! It seems that the memory was a long time ago and time really flies! Still remember clearly about the time I enjoyed the food, hanged out with Colombian, and experienced the different kind of life in Latin America. How amazing the life experience it was!

As we had the G-Lab reflection poster session this week, I checked other team’s poster and felt very interesting that our poster is quite different from other teams. Other teams’ posters are like the traditional project posters from business school students while our poster was very animated with the strong style which matched our client, an animation studio. Since "Oruga" means caterpillar in Spanish, we used the idea that the way how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly and the path it will go through to demonstrate our project scope and recommendations for Oruga Touching Dreams.

We hope that Oruga will become a butterfly one day soon in the coming future!  

Cartel Oruga

 

02/09/2012

Once back

Brazil time is over, and it is time to go back to reality. After 40hours of travelling, lost baggage and crossing the Atlantic twice, we are back in Boston. Pondering about the lessons we acquired, I can’t but questioned our activities, our success and our development through the process.

Continue reading "Once back" »

02/07/2012

Ciao! Our Last Week in Bogota.

Can’t believe this is the last week of our project in Colombia and also the countdown of our new spring semester. The more familiar with the city, the more I don’t want to say “Ciao” to Bogota. Preparing and making the final presentation to Oruga Touching Dreams management team, and wrapping up all the action plans and other document stuff before we leave, our last week in Bogota ended up with a warm smile and appreciation between Oruga and MIT G-Lab team.  

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Continue reading "Ciao! Our Last Week in Bogota." »

02/06/2012

Pray for Kenya

After spending more than 1 month in Kenya/Tanzania, I am finally leaving Africa - the continent full of impressive nature, friendly people and enormous hopes. I miss Africa. I will definitely be back soon – for sure for the animal migration. 

This was a picture taken when we went to Sunday church service in Kenya. Praying for Kenya for a peaceful election in 2012 December. Hopefully less tribal conflicts and more peace.

Pray for Kenya

One thing I learnt and which has a tremendous impact on me: is the positive energy and optimism of Africa. No matter how limited the resources available in Africa, people never give up, but instead come up with innovative business model to accommodate this limitation.  For example, there is very limited internet access and not very good infrastructure in Africa. Online banking and even branch banking is not available for everyone.  Safaricom (one of the telecom companies in Kenya) came up with the idea of mobile money product (called M-Pesa) for Kenyans to send money back home through mobile phone. It is impressive to learn from how people turn limitation of resources into positive energy in creating innovative business model. 

 

Building the linkage

We have been preparing daily update presentation to the CEO for the past 3 weeks. Now comes to the challenge to the CEO in understanding the interconnection and linkage of all the sections.  We have been thinking of different ways to link the different components and recommendations that we have thought about.  Eventually, we were so happy that we thought of this route-to-market cycle.  All the elements are interlinked together, and last element will go back to the first element. Please see together the framework (which also becomes our agenda of our final presentation).

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We are glad to have a successful final presentation to the CEO on the last day of the project. He was very happy for our work – especially luckily that he believes our recommendation and work is detailed, insightful and actionable. He invited us to present again to the Executive Board after the project finished. 

 

Chinese New year in Kenya

 

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Throughout the past couple weeks, it was interesting that we have met a lot of expats working and living in Nairobi for different reasons.  It is interesting to see Nairobi being such a cosmopolitan city, and attracts so many people from different parts of the world.  I would never imagine to have celebrated Chinese New Year with 30 people of different nationalities in Kenya.  We had dinner in a great Chinese restaurant called Jiangsu. Food was quite authentic there. Everyone who came dressed in festive red color.

It was interesting to meet many aspiring individuals who all come to work in Kenya for one single reason – have hope and dream in Africa’s future.  Some people worked in Acumen fund that invests in social enterprises. Others work in Clinton foundation specializing in the healthcare Aids initiatives. A lot of other people have their own investment funds or start-ups. Impressive to see many non-Chinese trying to do something between China and Africa. One thing we all agreed was that – the press and media has always been putting a negative image of Africa, but never try to show the positive and prosperous side.  It is interesting to witness in person the positive attitude and energy of the continent.

 

Innovation to combat limited resources

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It was another working day. Everyday we are busy, as we have daily update meetings with the CEO. We met the Head of Value-Added Services of the biggest telecom services company (Ssafari Com) in Kenya during one of the networking events, and he invited us to visit his office and have a chat with us. It was a great experience to go to the office of a real company (not a start-up). Their campus is really nice, much nicer than average Kenyan office buildings. 

It was great chatting with him, and he told us a lot of things about the innovative initiatives they are having in the company. You can’t believe how much innovation there is within Africa. Nothing other parts of the developing world can compare to….Initially I thought they are just aiming at satisfying the basic needs and come up with basic services, but indeed, they all have very innovative ideas, and trying to solve the problem of limited resources. For example, they use a lot of mobile money. As most people don’t have computer or internet or credit card, so you can basically use the airtime on your phone to pay. And also, Safaricom manufactures its own computer. It only costs you $50 for a keyboard – and then you can put your SIM Card inside (with data plan), and connect to the TV as computer!! So innovative! 

 

Starting My Artwork Collection

The best part of G-Lab has been hearing the different stories from my classmates, and comparing them to my experience. By the very nature of the course each individual experience can vary wildly. After hearing the stories of friendships made, projects completed and exotic side trips, I have to say that my team did pretty well with our experience. That’s a testament to our host company as well as the people of Indonesia who always made us feel at home.

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Africa Trek 2012

After delivering the final presentation for my G-Lab project in Lagos, Nigeria, I headed to Eastern Africa to join more than 30 Sloanies for the MIT Sloan Africa Trek. Student-planned treks are one of my favorite things about MIT Sloan and the Africa Trek, planned by my classmate, David Ly, proved to be an amazing way to explore Eastern Africa with a combination of work and play. We kicked off the trek with a two-day Safari in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Park - a beautiful game reserve filled with lions, elephants, hippos, and other wildlife.

Sloanies on Safari

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Loud ≠ Right: Data-Driven Operations

During my G-Lab team's first day on-site with Superflux, Nigeria's largest secure printing company, we met with the management team to learn more about the operation. We asked what data is captured, how they price their product, and what their cost structure looks like. It became clear that sound data was hard to come by at Superflux - in fact, one employee explained, "in many cases the person with the loudest voice is assumed to be right." Developing a more objective measure of the Superflux operation became the focal point of our project.

Continue reading "Loud ≠ Right: Data-Driven Operations" »