Monday, April 6, 2015

How I found my leadership niche in Guatemala

By John William Scott IV, MBA'15
I recently traveled to Xela, Guatemala for Spring Break as part of the Global Business and Social Enterprise Program (GLOBASE).

My team and I delivered an inventory management tool to one of the best restaurants in the country—and definitely the best in the state of Quetzaltenango—called Tertulianos. We wanted to help the restaurant have a better visualization of how they use funds and how they can more effectively track inventory, while preventing loss and spoilage.

The most important thing I learned from this experience was how to scope, develop, and deliver a solution within a tight time frame without over- or under-promising the client. If the tool is implemented correctly by Tertulianos, it has the potential to help continue the restaurant’s double-digit annual growth, this time with more profitability.

What I did not expect to learn was the continued development of my Spanish language skills.  I come from a liberal arts background (I studied Spanish and Economics at DePauw University), so I served as the translator not only for my team but for many of the 20+ students who also traveled to Guatemala for GLOBASE. I was one of two translators on the trip.

The opportunity to utilize my language skills made this GLOBASE trip particularly appealing to me because I was able to leverage a skill I have spent years developing and perfecting. It helped me to create a more holistic business experience.

Waving the Kelley flag among the Tikal ruins
My GLOBASE team
My Spanish language skills helped me to be more effective in my leadership role within our team. One of our greatest challenges was assisting our client in articulating ideas for additional uses for the program we developed.

Some of their comments included fine-tuning the program to make it even more effective. I was able to walk them through visualizing their current inventory management processes and understanding how those processes could be even more effective. That way, when we delivered the final version of our solution, they had a strong understanding of the basics of operations management and process improvement.

My Spanish, combined with the coding and operations management skills of my teammates, not only helped us understand our piece of the project, but also reminded us which parts we were responsible for. In the end, this was an opportunity only the Kelley School could offer, and it's one of the main reasons I applied here. In fact, in my interview for admission, I mentioned GLOBASE Guatemala as one of the programs that most interested me.

The beautiful patio at Tertulianos

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