Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Journey of a Leader: If it were easy, everyone would do it.

Second-year MBA, Consumer Marketing Academy 

Here we are, right in the middle of the GLOBASE Guatemala experience.  Our twenty student consultants have been assigned teams and their client projects.  

All of our clients for GLOBASE Guatemala.
Two weeks ago, our five Guatemalan clients traveled to Bloomington (the first time in the United States for some) for 3 days to meet their student consultants.  The students were able to ask those important questions of their clients so they can get a good understanding of the critical issues their clients are facing and gut check some of their assumptions and hypotheses.  

We've gone through four GLOBASE classes where guest speakers have lectured on: doing business in Latin America, consulting frameworks used by top U.S. consulting firms, economic conditions and realities of Guatemala, marketing frameworks used to formulate and assess specific project objectives, and a case study of a U.S. firm’s involvement in the tumultuous history of Guatemala.  It’s been an incredible 4 weeks so far, but it’s not easy.  That’s why I have a certain respect for the people that sign up for this program.

My team with our Guatemalan client.
Consulting a small/medium enterprise in a foreign country comes with a set of challenges.  Becoming knowledgeable about the economic climate of Guatemala is not easy, especially if you haven’t been there before.  Meeting your clients for the first time can be intimidating … they have high expectations for you.  Adjusting your assumptions about the company mid-project isn’t the easiest thing in the world.  Discovering enough about the company so you can come up with a clear project objective sounds easy, but it’s far from it. "You want to increase profits…yeah, by how much? By cutting costs where?  How long do you have to become profitable?  Six months?  One year?  Two years?  Who is the target purchaser of your client’s goods?  Are you sure?"

Suffice it to say, our students are at the crux of their GLOBASE projects.  If you were to graph difficulty on the y axis and time on the x, we’d be at the top of the curve, the height of difficulty but almost ready for the downward slope.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s ambiguous.  It’s hard.

But if it were easy, everyone would do it.

My team enjoying a few drinks with our client.
Yes, our students are probably at the most difficult point in the GLOBASE journey, but that will make the payoff even sweeter.  In four weeks, we will be in-country.  The students will see their client’s business up close.  They’ll fine-tune their assumptions and tools.  They’ll do on-the-ground research in real time with the employees of the company.  They’ll put their MBA skills to use.  They’ll deliver value to their clients.  They’ll teach. 

That’s the payoff.   And that payoff is reserved for the people that put in the hard work that GLOBASE necessitates. 

Watch Megan in our "Journey of a Leader" series on YouTube.

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