Monday, March 31, 2014

GLOBASE Ghana: Post Trip Reflections

By Ellen Gartner Phillips, First-year MBA, Consulting

It’s been six years since I’ve had a spring break. This year I chose to spend mine with GLOBASE Ghana. GLOBASE was one of the many reasons I was excited to come to Kelley: the opportunity to travel to a new place and work on a client engagement in a developing economy during an MBA program is unique.

Having interviewed for trips back in the fall, our group of 26 students spent the first seven weeks of the spring semester getting to know our clients, the issues they were facing and a little bit about the Ghanaian culture.  The time flew.  Our student leadership team did a fantastic job of preparing us for the unexpected, which proved invaluable once we got to the capital city of Accra.  The first week was spent working on projects: asking even more questions, getting answers and confirming or disproving hypotheses we had made from afar.  We had struggled to feel confident that we could recommend a solution that would work within the Ghanaian system

Finally getting to see our company in action, it became clear that security concerns and operational issues would be the biggest hurdles in making our solution implementable. 

Me and children in Ghana
This year’s projects ranged from micro-finance institutions to artisans to agricultural organizations.  The first week of the trip culminated in presentations to the entire GLOBASE team and clients.  Having seen the progress that everyone made over the two-month process was incredibly rewarding.  I took great pride in the solutions everyone was able to recommend to their clients regardless of the challenges that everyone faced before being in country. Having spent such a significant amount of time on project work, it was hard to believe that that portion of the trip was over.

We then spent two days doing service work at schools and playing soccer with children that had been rescued from human trafficking. We tried to do Kelley proud, only losing 1-0.  It was easy to forget the reason these kids were at the school we visited, and humbling to play alongside them knowing they had been brought out of such terrible circumstances.

Our trip culminated in a stay at a beautiful resort where we all felt as though we were really on spring break.  We toured a couple coastal villages, helped fishermen pull in their nets and visited one of the few slave castles still preserved on the coast.

Kelleys all pulling together
Coming back to Bloomington, I expected more culture shock.  It feels good to be back. I will forever share a bond with our team over jollof rice, broken-down buses and bizarre movies played on long drives.  We’ve all grown out of our experiences in Ghana.  I’ve had people ask me if I got out of it what I expected, and I don’t know how to answer that.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  In thinking about it, I’ve received more than I could have imagined: life-long friends, a broadened perspective and appreciation for the beauty of the Ghanaian people and country. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

IGOE: Fostering Diversity at Kelley and Beyond

By Tulio Bracho, Second-year MBA, Finance

Julio, an IGOE fellow
It was a sunny day in January 2012, just as any other day of January in Sao Paulo, Brazil. After working all day on a project to improve quality and reduce cost in the manufacturing plant where Jeferson Barros worked at, he returned back home and found a letter that would open the door to the new opportunity he was looking for.

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Since its founding, the Institute for Global Organizational Effectiveness (IGOE) has had the objective of recruiting the best Hispanic and Latin American talent to come to the MBA program at the Kelley School of Business to develop their skills, broaden their perspective, and utilize their valuable experience to enrich our Kelley community.

The success of the IGOE fellows at Kelley and their post-MBA careers is a testament of the value of the IGOE mission. Since its founding in 2010, the Institute has provided fellowships to thirty six students from eight different countries from Latin America. Diversity is at IGOE’s core.
Companies that embrace diversity have found in the IGOE fellows a valuable source of talent. For example, Cummins Inc. has hired four IGOE fellows for full-time positions since 2011: Rocio Ortiz (Class of 2011), Ana Maria G√≥mez (Class of 2011), Avril Fuentes (Class of 2013), and Jeferson Barros (Class of 2014). When I asked Rocio what made her choose Cummins as the place she wanted to work at she said, “Diversity is what attracted me the most. Cummins is a global company with strong presence in many countries. They understand how valuable diversity is and they leverage people’s diverse backgrounds to build solutions for its customers”. Currently, Rocio works for the Division of Emissions Solutions as a Global Market Intelligence Manager. She went on to explain how diversity is found at the company, “in my current team I am working with people from the U.K., India, U.S., and Mexico”.

Avril, who is a Market Strategy and Planning Manager, feels excited about the opportunities the company offers to interact with teams located in different parts of U.S. and the world. She explained, “Working with diverse teams, understanding their own particular situations, and traveling on-site to learn about the drivers of the business allow us to formulate better solutions”.

Rocio, Ana Maria, and Avril are currently developing their careers at Cummins and gaining valuable experience that will open more doors to them and others. They have found that the diversity initiatives promoted by IGOE are a valuable resource for any company that wants to succeed in a globalized economy. 

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Jeferson Barros pictured with backpack
That day about two years ago, when Jeferson read that letter, it was a sunny day just as any other day of January in Sao Paulo. However, unlike any other day before, that day he learned he had been awarded an IGOE fellowship to complete his MBA in one of the best business schools in the world, the Kelley School of Business. That letter represented the opportunity to push himself to new limits and become a game changer. This June, after finishing his MBA, Jeferson will become a Supply Chain Analyst at Cummins and join fellow IGOE alumni Rocio, Ana Maria, and Avril. More than that, he will be an example for other Latinos/as and Latin Americans who also want to pursue their dreams.