This is it!

I’m writing this last blog from the comfort of my home in North Carolina as time and internet access did not permit for me to relay our last hoorah live from Brazil.  Perhaps the extra time will give me added perspective of the whole experience!

We disembarked and said goodbye to our 3 day bedroom/living room/tanning salon on the shore of the river and drove back to our hotel as the sun was setting in Santarem.  We all knew that the next day would be intense: in two days we would finally present our findings to Davide! We all tried to meet that night to come up with a plan to divide the last of the work, some of the teams had the vision of pulling an all nighter to polish their work…that however was way too ambitious, we were all pretty exhausted from our strenuous schedules the days before.  Our team woke up at 6am the next day to start working on the report and the presentation.

Team handicraft putting their report together – photo by Sid Nilakanta

The final version was due by noon and we were all very pleased with the product we  turned in.  Four team representatives then worked from noon until 6pm to put each team individual report into a final client report which would integrate all of the projects.  At the end of the day, we had a final product to present to Davide the next morning.  I need to give a big thanks and shout out to our team leaders, they really worked hard to put our presentation together while the rest of us had most of the afternoon to relax.

Relaxing by the pool

Relaxing IN the pool

The next day, we were all there in the hotel conference room, a little nervous but mostly excited about presenting our work to Davide.  What made me most excited is that I knew and I had met the people in the communities that we would actually be helping and I felt deeply invested in their development.  One after the other, we presented our findings to Davide.  We had to present in English and he would then ask his questions in Portuguese translated by our T.A. extraordinaire, Raissa.

Bernie presenting

I’d like to say that the presentations and recommendation were a 100% successful and I could, and you would never know the difference, but it might be more interesting to tell the truth.  The truth is that in fact at the end of the presentation, not all of Davide feedback was positive.

Yes, he liked a lot of our recommendations for each areas of the project but he also mentioned that maybe we did not have enough exposure to the communities to truly understand all levels of the problem.  I do believe that we did the best we could. It was indeed challenging to get a lot of clear and reliable information when we started the project at GW, and perhaps we did not get enough guidance from PSA at the beginning to truly understand what the communities needed.  There is no one really to blame for this, the CAP program and PSA can only learn from this experience.  Having the right information, schedule and setting the right expectations are crucial for a consulting project to be successful.

That being said, it was truly a life-changing experience in all facets of my life, professional as much as personal.  I have learned new consulting skills, have met exceptional Brazilian leaders and created a really special bond with my fellow MBA CAPers.

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