Selemon Asfaw is a 2nd year student at Tuck. He’s an organizer of the 2013 Diversity Conference as well as Co-chair of the Tuck African Ancestry Business Association. Prior to Tuck, Selemon was and education entrepreneur doing work in the Midwest with public and private enterprises. Next year he will be joining Goldman, Sachs & Co. in their Healthcare Investment Banking Group. He’s a native of Detroit and also a recovering MBA blogger known as ‘The Senator’.
Read Selemon's first post on his Tuck Global Consultancy project in Uruguay here.
Myself and the TGC Uruguay team have been in South America for almost two weeks. How time flies! Our first week on the job we started to get to know our Uruguayan teammates much better, clarify the client’s needs and start getting our hands dirty in primary research and data analysis.
First of all, the Uruguyan people are amazing. They’re warm, open, very honest and of course football (soccer) fanatics. I also think they have a natural comedic gene—one of our teammates constantly keeps the team laughing throughout the day; we may have to fly him to Hanover in the spring for his own stand-up comedy show. In addition to the Uruguayans being great hosts, we’re also learning a lot from each other.
In our first week, the Tuck team was itching to fly before we could walk but smartly, our Uruguayan counterparts kept us grounded so that we could learn the lay of the land and acquire some South American business etiquette before we pushed the envelope too much. In addition to completing our informal ‘customs-in-business’ crash course, having native speakers with local contacts on the team has allowed us to gain much better insights into the client’s problem than a purely outside perspective. It gives the project a feel of co-creation rather than just being driven by an external Tuck point-of-view.
While we’ve learned a lot from our Uruguayan teammates they’ve also appreciated that we’ve been able to share our respective technical skillsets and general management frameworks we came equipped with as a result of our Tuck education. We’ve also been adept at helping our teammates recognize the project management and soft skills required to manage multiple stakeholders as part of one project—it’s been a great exchange and up to this point it’s really enabled the client to become more comfortable and trusting of the entire team while still being able to utilize the entire Tuck MBA toolkit that we came ready to use.
In addition to starting the project off on the right foot, we were able to spend last weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For most of us it was our first time in the European-inspired jewel of a city, it was remarkable and also inexpensive, which is awesome when you’re on a student budget. At the end of the weekend, we had a hard time agreeing on what was most extraordinary about the experience; Argentinian steakhouse dinners, the bridge inspired by Tango dancers or the fact that Argentinians don’t go out on the town until 3:30am (and don’t come home until sunrise). Needless to say it was a nice interlude to a busy first week.
Tango Bridge in Buenos Aires, Argentina
As we’re wrapping up week two, our project is really starting to come together nicely. We’ve already begun advising the client on short and medium-term goals we think they should be focusing on and the response and encouragement we’re receiving from the business community here in Uruguay is inspiring. It seems like everyone is enthralled by and wants to be a part of the transformation of the business school here in Montevideo. As a team we couldn’t be more motivated to put the ball in the back of the net for Team Uruguay.
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