Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One student's GLOBASE Ghana week 1 experience

Guest Post By Rezarta Haxhillari
First-Year MBA, Consumer Marketing Academy

Cultural Drummers and Dancers at Welcome Dinner
Sunday: I can’t believe that after seven weeks of hard work and learning, we are finally in Ghana!  It feels so surreal to be here.  Our tour guide and a few of our partners welcomed us to the airport and accompanied us to our hotel.  Our tour guide’s name is George.  He will be with us for most of the trip.  Today, he shared a little bit of history about Accra.  He explained to us that by the time we leave in two weeks, he hopes to teach us about four important life stages in a Ghanaian’s life: birth, puberty, marriage and death.  I am excited to hear his stories!   Our hotel is right on the water and the ocean looks beautiful.  For our first dinner, we went to an authentic restaurant in Accra.  The food was delicious and the entertainment was great!   The restaurant had a dance group that danced a number of different traditional Ghanaian dances.  They even got us to participate in some of the dances with them.  What fun!
Monday: Today, we visited the New Horizons Special School in Accra.  It is one of the only schools of its kind in all of Ghana.  I loved meeting all the children.  We had a chance to not only help organize around the school, but also participate in some fun events with the students.  I especially enjoyed the show they performed for us during lunch.  It was very well choreographed!  Overall, today was a humbling experience.  Being at the school and seeing the children have fun was a great reminder to enjoy life to the fullest.
Kelley Students with Ghanaian Children on Dodi Island
Tuesday: Today is Ghana’s Independence Day!  We spent the day in the Lake Volta region and visited Dodi Island.  We were on the lake most of the day.  The views were spectacular.  I especially enjoyed the live band on the boat.  Our excursion was fun and relaxing.  What a great way to prepare us for our working days ahead.  I am excited about getting started on our in-country work tomorrow!  As the Ghanaians say “Early to bed, early to rise”.  Until next time…
Wednesday:  Today was our first day with our client.  We are working with an organization called Challenging Heights.  This organization does incredible things for the communities in which it serves.  Its biggest contribution is rescuing children from child slavery.  It also ensures at-risk children are given educational opportunities.  We are helping them with a marketing proposal for one of their upcoming business ventures.  We spent most of the day at the Challenging Heights office.  We had created some hypotheses about who we thought our target consumer was as well as a sales strategy.  Today helped us confirm as well refine our recommendation.  Our client James helped us secure several phone and in-person interviews with industry experts and potential future consumers of our product.  We learned a lot and look forward to refining our recommendation accordingly. 
Challenging Heights Team at CH School
Thursday: Today was an early day! We spent the day visiting the Challenging Heights School and Hovde House shelter.  I really enjoyed meeting some of the children as well as the hardworking staff.  Then, James had us over for a traditional Ghanaian dinner at his home.  His wife had prepared many, many traditional Ghanaian foods.  They were all fantastic!  My favorite was this white rice ball served in a bowl of groundnut soup.  It was scrumptious!  I must say, of all the countries I have visited around the world, Ghana has by far the most hospitable people.  Everyone is incredibly nice and welcoming. 
Friday: We conducted a few additional interviews today.  One of these interviews was with a marketing professor that is nationally renowned in Ghana.  He offered great information about how sales and marketing works in Ghana.  It was very helpful.  We spent the rest of the day finalizing our PowerPoint and began to prepare for our presentation tomorrow.  We are excited to share our findings and our recommendation with our client as well as the rest of the GLOBASE Ghana teams. 
Challenging Heights Team at Final Presentations
Saturday: Today was our last official working day.  We spent the earlier part of the day putting the final touches on our presentation.  Then, we had a relaxing lunch and headed to the conference center.  I am happy to report that our presentation was very well received.  Our client was very excited about our recommendation.  He especially liked our salesperson tool kit and training manual.  He is looking forward to implementing everything.  We have full faith he will be very successful with all his future business endeavors.  It was an absolute honor to work with him and his organization.  We learned so much about both how to do business in Ghana as well as about this beautiful country’s very rich history.  I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to come and visit Ghana.  This trip has truly been life-changing for me.  It is the biggest milestone of my business school experience.  I would highly recommend doing GLOBASE to any prospective students.  Words cannot describe what a wonderful experience it is.

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