So, another generation of HBS students has made it through FIELD 2. And after soaking up the sun in a variety of Southern Hemisphere hotspots, they’re no doubt relieved to be back here in the icy embrace of Boston’s post-apocalyptic winter wasteland. In January, HBS dispatched RCs to the ends of the earth. Destinations included repeat favorites Argentina, Brazil, China, Ghana, India, Malaysia, South Africa and Turkey – as well as new additions Cambodia, Vietnam and Peru. Working together in groups of six, RCs completed mini consulting projects (minus the windowless team room in the back of a factory in Tulsa) – collaborating with local firms and multinationals like Marriott, Vodafone, ING and Burger King.
As far as we can tell, everyone had a good experience. Some RCs even got a bit of international press, with the Sirius Capital team popping up on GhanaWeb, and the iMoney team getting a pretty snazzy photo on Ventureburn. But just to make sure everyone learned something, we tracked down a handful of RCs and administered a pop quiz…
1. Where did you go for FIELD 2?
2. What was your project about?
3. What was the weirdest/most surprising/most amazing thing to happen to you while in country?
4. What did you learn about yourself [or your peers] while on FIELD 2
5. Whisper sweet nothings to us in your host country’s native tongue. (I.e., share with us one phrase you now know)
1. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
2. Working with a microfinance bank to develop a savings account for garment factory workers.
3. I was shocked by what people could fit on their motorbikes- a washing machine, a mattress, two dogs, or your entire family of five… Seeing fried tarantulas in the market was also a little jarring.
4. None of us are brave enough to try fried tarantula. See above.
5. A-cone (my best anglicized version of Khmer) means “thank you”. Also, in the villages, it’s a great joke to refer to a tractor as a “Japanese cow”.
1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2. Developing a new, innovative in-store element that will appeal to the Malaysian consumer for a luxury skincare brand planning to open a store in KL (their first store in Southeast Asia)
3. The most surprising thing that happened to me while in country was discovering durian. For those that haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing durian, it is literally the world’s stinkiest fruit. I had the dual-experience of tasting one in an open air market (pretty awesome if you hold your nose) and then also getting in a cab late at night that REEKED of durian. Weird, unpleasant, and surprising all at once.
4. On FIELD 2, I learned how inspiring my peers are! I was truthfully blown away by the quality of ideas that my peers in my cohort generated for their global partners, and by the thoughtfulness of the feedback and insight I received. I also LOVED the process of learning how to ideate and brainstorm, and I learned that no idea is a bad idea (although some ideas, like robot monks, are not entirely commercially viable).
5. Terima kasih banyak untuk minuman (thank you so much for the drink).
1. Johannesburg, South Africa
2. Launching a skincare line targeted toward the growing population of middle-to-high income black women.
3. During a customer interview, we were asked if there were any products on the market that could prevent underarm odor. And it wasn’t just because Daniel Kim was on our team. The interviewee had really never heard of deodorant. It was eye-opening for us to recognize that a lot of the products we take for granted in our everyday lives are not used or known about in parts of South Africa, particularly in the more impoverished areas.
4. The sum of the team is greater than its individual parts. Shout out to Megan Yagoda, Daniel Kim, Daniel Fischer, Ryan Fox, Anja Jaksic for a great time!
5. Sawubona! (Hello!); Ngidinga ukuzijwayeza isiZulu sami (I need to practice my Zulu).
1. Sao Paolo, Brazil
2. We had to create a product or service that would encourage families to travel more with TAM Viagens (the vacation arm of the TAM Airline).
3. Our team had the chance to meet Claudia Sender (HBS 2002), who is now the CEO of TAM. Claudia shared stories about how she got to where she is and also gave us advice about making the most of the HBS experience.
4. That 3 of my peers aren’t that good at swimming – they had to be rescued by lifeguards after getting caught in a rip.
5. Mais uma caipirinha, por favor.
1. Sao Paolo, Brazil
2. Our global partner was Natura Cosmeticos. Given the terrible traffic in Brazil, they asked us to come up with ideas for a product that would help women between the ages of 25-35 feel more relaxed in the car during their daily commute.
3. The operations and payment systems in clubs, grocery stores, etc. surprised us all I think. For example, when you enter a club you get a sheet of paper or a plastic card. On it the bartender records what drinks you order throughout the night, and you have to get in line to pay for everything (including cover) right before you leave the club.
4. People are people no matter where they come from or where they live, and everyone has a story. We should try to find out what it is.
5. “Orgulho de ser Brasileiro,” which means “proud to be Brazilian.”