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We made it.

That was the overwhelming sentiment as the group sat down for one last dinner together at the close of our program just days ago.   Final presentations were done, clients were pleased, and it was almost time for us to leave this great country. It was only fitting that we would have traditional steak and malbec as the concluding meal, capping off a glorious two-week run of daily carne servings.   In this piece, I will highlight some of the activities during the last leg of the trip, as well as some of my personal favorite experiences throughout the trip. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

Once we returned from Mendoza, a handful of company site visits remained before our final presentations. One of the more interesting ones was with Tetra Pak, a global leader in packaging solutions for food products based out of Sweden. Our host, Argentina sustainability manager Flavia, gave us an in-depth walkthrough of their company profile and their current sustainability initiatives. Among the things highlighted were a timeline of their ongoing sustainability focus areas and the downside of climate change, both pictured below:

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Tetra Pak Argentina HQ

The following day, the trip had reached it’s climax.  Team Biogas was last but not least in the order of presenters, and we achieved our goal of delivering an understandable end-product that our clients can use as they continue to grow their start-up.  It was a great experience getting to know Martin and Weibel, and we wish them all of the success in the world going forward.

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Success!

Now, for a brief countdown.  I will leave you all with a short list of the top three things I will miss about Argentina after this two week stint.  As the locals say, Ciao!

3. The food: Empanadas, steak, wine, dulce de leche, croissants, I could go on….

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2.  The scenery: Argentina literally has every type of climate within it’s national border. Pictures don’t do it justice.

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1.  The people: Both my GW colleagues and our new friends abroad were who truly made this experience an unforgettable one.

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I cannot believe it is over! The presentation is delivered and we all moved on with our plans post CAP.

I will give an overview of our last minute project touch-ups and preparation, as well as of the presentation itself. Our team was very nervous for the presentation for multiple reason! First, we did not get that much time to practice, and second, the pressure was pretty high! Our client was a Chinese company and the experience we received was truly authentic! The night before we were polishing up the report, and the next morning at breakfast we were making sure the presentation had the right color scheme (at the end it didn’t only align with the color scheme preferred in Chinese culture, which is mainly red hues, but it also fit nicely with the interior of the clients’ conference room haha).

We were presenting in the afternoon so we had some time for the final run through. Then the bus picked us up to drive us the HQ. We arrived early, so we were welcomed in the reception/tea room for a casual conversation with the CEO and GM of Metropolo Brand, Mr. Meng Yu (I was about to faint at that point – was so nervous).  The presentation took 1.5 hours and went incredibly smooth (perhaps since we had Dr. Yu translate for us). Also, we were standing the whole time even though the client wanted us to sit down (probably was a better alternative because I was wearing heels and my feet were killing me!!!). We finally sat down when the presentation was finished and the CEO told us that we went “BEYOND HIS EXCITATIONS!!!” Needless to say we were all so ecstatic!!!

I must say that at the end the beyond expectations part was on both sides. We were so happy to leave the beyond expectations footprint in China, as it certainly did the same for us – it gave us the unforgettable experience, in both cultural and professional realms!

It was time to change real fast and hit up the ‘fake goods’ market and then head out for the farewell dinner at the Din Tai Fung restaurant (the dumpling place) – bitter sweet feeling! I will definitely be back China!

The Dream Team! Determined!

Staying focused during the presentation!

Our prefessor, Dr. Larry Yu, shakes the hand of Mr. Meng Yu, CEO and GM of Metropolo Brand.

Delivery beyond expectations! This is how we do it! ;)

Departing Istanbul

After 12 jam packed days in Turkey, it is hard to believe our time here is over! We learned a lot, made new friends, had A LOT of fun and worked very hard to give our client the best work we could. I would say it was a success all around.

Here are my 10 favorite moments from our time in Turkey (in no particular order!):

Enjoying a drink with my fellow bloggers, Professor Akyuz and Kirsten.

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Crossing the bridge connecting Asia and Europe.

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Visiting the spice market!

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Shake Shack. Hear me out…it was nice to get a little bit of home while we were abroad. 12 days is a long time to go without a good shake!

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Our relaxing resort weekend in Izmir!

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Belly dancing on the boat cruise.

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Ice cream!!

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Merhaba (Hello)

We had the opportunity to visit the largest media house in Turkey on our last day of business meetings. We were given a tour around the premises by their communications specialist. Some of their channels and businesses we witnessed included, the radio channel KRAL (15 million listeners), the sports channel Ntv and also the production room. We also experienced 2 live shows as they were airing on tv. One of them was on capital markets on CNBCe (financial news channel) and the other one being a cooking show. This is when some of us got our 5 seconds of glory. As we entered the studio, the camera crew unexpectedly panned the cameras on us and voila, we were live on Turkish television!

This exciting excursion was followed by a presentation on the Turkish economy and the various businesses under the Dogus Group umbrella. We learned about the partnership of Dogus group and CNBCe. It was interesting to learn that CNBC provides the technological know-how and global markets information to media houses in most countries. Once the markets close, the channel airs soap operas and other famous American tv shows such as Breaking Bad.

The entrance to the elaborate office:

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Presentation in one of the fancy conference rooms:

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Dan and I trying to impress:

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The Turkey Crew with Professor Akyuz and our presenter:

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Final Sign-off

Today is our last day of business meetings in Istanbul and it all seems bitter sweet. Bitter because none of us wants to leave Turkey, sweet because we are taking back a life time of memories. If you are a first year student and are reading this, let me say this with utmost confidence that this CAP was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I can now talk at length about Turkey’s economy, geography, history, business environment and fashion industry. Such has been the learning. This would not have been possible without Professor Akyuz. He brings immense experience on the table and has a plethora of contacts in Turkey which was evident through the nature of our meetings. It is no mean feat to be able to meet the largest conglomerate (Koc Holdings), that controls 10% of Turkey’s GDP! From financial services (private equity, stock exchange, IFC) to media and luxury goods, our meetings covered most of Turkey’s private sector which allowed us to gain a tighter grip on understanding Turkey’s political and business landscape.

Also, on a side note, if you want to be treated to a drink on a roof top bar, volunteer to be one of the bloggers.

Istanbul – We will be back soon!

Leb-i-Derya: The Bloggers (Ryan, Ashley and myself) enjoy an exclusive drink with Professor Akyuz with a view of the Bosphorus. #Topstuff

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Not bad digs for the evening huh?

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May 21, 2014 concluded Turkey CAP’s illustrious exploration of Istanbul with a resounding exclamation point: a 4 hour booze cruise up and down the Bosphorus. Now, let’s be honest here: not only did we learn a great deal from being in this wonderful country, working with our client, Beymen and visiting various high-level organizations, but our CAP was unequivocally the best. Will there be dissent with my last statement? Sure. Will that dissent deserve even an iota of consideration? Absolutely not. 

Allow me to briefly demonstrate. At Turkey CAP we’re all about wearing multiple hats. As can be seen below, our extremely talented TA, Kirsten Stajich, doubles as a bar tender in our hotel, the Palazzo Donizetti when she isn’t expertly coordinating our events: 

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Did you eat high-end Sea Bass caught bear-handed from the Bosphorus? Not if you didn’t attend Turkey CAP:

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Did world renowned journalists ask for your autograph (kudos to Raj)? I’m sure this was a proud moment for Andrew Finkell, author of “Turkey what everyone needs to know.”

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Did your client allow you access to cutting edge racing technology? Don’t think too hard because they did not. 

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Did international interns working for NGOs openly admit how jealous they were and how they wished they could transfer to GW? (way to promote the brand, Lance and Joy): 

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What about your boat (cough): Did it have Attila Bey, the world’s most interesting man and tour guide extraordinaire, along with superbly talented female colleagues in high-fashion evening wear? Try again. 

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What about your client presentations. Did you pose on skyscrapers and then play with giant chess boards? Again, you did not. 

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checkmate, rookies:

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Last, but certainly not least, I would be remiss not to mention how wonderful our esteemed Professor Aykuz was, is and forever shall be. Professor Aykuz literally has most anything/anyone within a phone call’s reach for him, so needless to say, we were spoiled to have him as an instructor. 

I hope this has been instructional; I trust that it has been painful. And, with that, I bid you adieu, but not before another boat pic. 

Cheers! 

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A glimpse of San Telmo

A glimpse of San Telmo

Argentina is a glorious country with a perfect combination of natural scenery and cultural heritages. Walking on the cobblestone street in the District of San Telmo, Buenos Aries, I always feel like I’m wandering in an Italian or Spanish small town. Highly recommend you to visit San Telmo district, sit down and enjoy the coffee with friends in a small plaza while breathing the fresh air in the morning and watching the elegant Tangle dance. Of course please feel free to search for some interesting antiques if you want, but be careful of the shocking price.

Full-day tour of Andes from Mendoza

Full-day tour of Andes from Mendoza

Mendoza is the wine capital in Argentina and Latin America. To me the most attractive part is the nearby Andes Mountain which separates Argentina and Chili. We spent a fantastic whole day in a remote resort and restaurant sitting on the foot of the Andes, riding horse, enjoy native music, drinking Mate and wine, of course as well as tasting the juicy steak. I hope we can stay there longer and have chance to hike in the deep Andes Mountain. But it’s also a good thing to expect a more wonderful second visiting in the future. I will be back soon!

In our last blog, I highlighted some of the key events and experiences our group as a whole went through upon our arrival to the Paris of South America. How time has flown since then! After four days in the capital city, we would head west to the desert region of Mendoza. Home to the majority of the Argentine wine industry’s key players, there were plenty of renewable energy learning opportunities to be had in this beautiful area as well. In this piece I will discuss Team Biogas project-related experiences during our excursions there, while also highlighting some of the fun had along the way.

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A Cuyo representative with the biodigestor experimental model.

After our initial client meeting in Buenos Aires, we had clarified all remaining doubts regarding both the details of our project deliverables and what the other partner (whom we had yet to meet prior to the face-to-face) was looking to get out of the experience. However, we had still yet to see Biogas in action! Lucky for our group, we had the opportunity to do just that at Cuyo National University. The CAP program included this afternoon site visit just for our team, where we would proceed to get up close and personal with the core technology that converts the various forms of waste to energy. In Cuyo’s case, they were using a mix of leftover wine, tomatoes, and olives mixed with animal wastes as the inputs.   This experimental group was receiving both tutelage and funding from a sister school in Germany, which showed through their expertise in the European low and hi-tech biodigestor models. They were even gracious enough to give us some insights about the future of the industry, specifically what would happen should energy subsidies change in Argentina as a result of next year’s election.

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Team Biogas and Team Cuyo

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Mendoza wasn’t just about business. We had a great time learning about the regional culture and what the locals did for fun. A winery tour was a must, and La Bodega Nieto Senetiner did not disappoint. Our tour guide, Martin, who happened to be a wine and gastronomy expert, gave us an incredible tour including multiple tastings at the end. Most memorable was a nice speech during our first sampling about the difference between flavors and tastes, which he insisted were of vital importance when deciding on wine preferences.   The people in Mendoza were also quite partial to Fernet, and herb-based liqueur popular to mix with Coca-Cola. Taking cues from the artistic nature of the city, the resto-bar atmospheres also did not disappoint.

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Martin being a gracious host

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Fernet in all it’s glory

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A restobar in downtown Mendoza

As we head back to Buenos Aires to wrap things up, I anticipate that the significant experiences had in Mendoza will serve us well in the delivery of a quality final product. Nos vemos (until next time)!

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