A Day in DC

Baltimore is a cultural hub filled with things to do and see. But, what’s also great about this city is location, location, location. Philly is a short drive, New York City is a bus ride away, and our nation’s capital is a little down the road. So, if you ever want to explore another city’s hustle and bustle there are many options!

This week, I crossed DC off my to do list. I have been to the city a few times before, but not as often as I have hoped while living in Baltimore. So, taking advantage of a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, a friend and I took a day to explore.

While we strolled around the monuments my friend had the great idea to ride bikes to our next destination; the Newseum. We found the closest bike share which is located all around the city and pedaled our way down the streets of DC. In no time we were at the Newseum which has an amazing collection of news and journalism. As a journalism student, I was in awe of what filled the walls of the gallery and could have stayed the entire afternoon!

But, back on the bikes we went. Our next stop was Dupont circle where we walked around and did a little window shopping. After working up an appetite we grabbed a quick bite to eat and made our way back on the Metro to head home.

We only scratched the surface of what DC has to offer. The city is filled with art, music, and museums that can keep you busy for days. So if the weather keeps us on our toes like it has, take advantage of the next sunny day and explore!

*Bolt Bus and Mega Bus offer cheap tickets to some great cities.

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Chile Study Tour, Day 6 and 7 – Adventure

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in so let’s go straight into it shall we?

Day 6 and 7 were definitely tightly packed days with insightful site visits and discussion with presenters.  On Day 6, both of our classes were together for the entire day, so it was nice to have that cohesion with our group.  We abandoned our coach for that day and made our way to the site visits via metro and good ol’ fashioned walking.  We started the first few hours of the day with Telefonica, the primary telecommunications firm in the country.  The first half of the presentation went into their overall branding strategy – BRAVO! – they were undertaking.  They had different products, market segments, and they talked about the need to brand themselves as one company in order to propel themselves into the global spotlight.  As expected, fixed line communications has been on the decline for years and the mobile market is precipitiously on the rise.  Also, packaged deals like Comcast’s Triple Play were experiencing growth in recent years.  For the employees, it is a really great time to be a part of the organization, because there were so many growth opportunities for the company to explore.  Not to mention, their approach to human resources and company culture, is enthralling.  People who work for Telefonica really enjoy coming to work because of their approach to talent management, development, and innovation.  Above all, the highlight from this visit was walking to the top of the stairs and stepping out on top to the company helipad – talk about adventure!

After the adrenaline rush of being Leonardo Dicaprio and “THE KING OF THE WORLD!” and safely making our way to solid ground, we marched towards our next company visit, Codelco.  Codelco is a state owned mining company, which mainly produces copper.  Yes, I know there are ethical considerations and controversy about mining, but still  learning about operations and market opportunity is exciting!  You walk into the building and the decorations, signage, walls are coated in copper – go figure!  After an hour long presentation and learning about the copperization of products, China as a growth market,  and their efforts related to corporate social responsibility, I had the opportunity to, as a team liaison, walk up and offer a token of appreciation on behalf of Loyola University MD to the presenter.  Of course, there were many highlights on this trip, but this for me was a big ADVENTURE – see where I’m going with this here? 

Day 7 commenced with a site visit to Black and Decker, well, technically, Stanley Black and Decker.  I’m not a real, toolsy, handyman kinda guy, so it was slightly difficult to get super excited about this one, but learning about a merger in a foreign market is different than other B&D presentations I’ve heard over the course of my MBA career.  The countdown to leave Santiago for Vina Del Mar was in full swing after the site visit.  We all checked out like perfect soldiers by 12:30 and were on our way to Vina, but of course, lunch at Vina Indomita.  Indomita, located about an hour away from Santiago, was prominently located along the highway, and as were driving along the dirt road to the restaurant, I just had to pinch myself.  We walked up a ramp and all around us was picturesque scenery that you wish you could eloquently capture like Ansel Adams.  As we sat family style, all we could see through the glass windows were mountains, clear blue skies, a wide vineyard growing delicious grapes, and ultimate serenity. 

Gobbling up a delicious meal with family was only half the fun – another 45 minute drive away and we ended up in Vina Del Mar.  All of us were in awe of the waterfront hotel, greenery, and clear skies.  As soon as we got our room keys, we raced to our rooms, laid out on our balconies; a few hours later, we made our way to the terrace for some good ol’ fashioned family time.  Solid onversation, delicious wine, quality people with a side of breathtaking sunset was the perfect way to spend our first night in Vina.

Lessons learned for the day:  Adventures come in the form of choices; as graduate/professional students. we’re learning to balance our personal and professional ones at the same time.  The success of your adventures comes from what you as an individual put into them.  If you’re going to sit on the sideline, walk along the beaten path, then your adventure will be one note.  If you raise your hand, ask questions, soak up the sun, and bask in the opportunity in front of you, then well you have a memorable adventure on your hands 🙂

I’ll wrap up the last couple of days of the trip very soon with a nice reflection – trust me the last couple of days were a doozy!  

For now,  this is Ankur….

Signing off…

Day 4 and 5 Study Tour – Passion

Hello there!

Sorry to be out of touch, but honestly it’s been a hectic couple of days in between site visits, networking, dinners, and well plain fun.  Anyways, the theme that encompasses the past couple of days is passion.

Bright and early on Monday morning, my classmates and I headed out to the Johnson and Johnson office for a few hours to learn about the Ethicon-Endo Surgery, a subsidiary of J&J.  We spent a couple of hours learning about global marketing efforts and brand management and how critical it is to have that infrastructure in place to sustain a brand/company in the  long-term.  Despite being an American company, I thought it was interesting how 50% of revenue coming into Johnson and Johnson was international.  One of the key things that stuck out during the presentation is the strength and PASSION (uh huh, see where I’m going with this!) for their credo which emphasized taking care of your customers,stakeholders, employees, community, and working for the betterment of the healthcare industry.  To J&J, this isn’t just a fluffy document that isn’t taken seriously, the presence of the credo is felt and engrained everywhere – on their website, with their employees, on physical spaces in the hallways.  Our presenter noted that if you take care of your community, employees, customers, the money will come in – that was my favorite sentence in the presentation.

Later that evening, all of my classmates went to Hogardel Cristo which is a nonpofit catered to helping the poorest of the poor in Chile.  They are the largest nonprofit in Chile with a vast footprint across the country helping those who less advantaged, with mental and physical disabilies, hospice services, and students who need a little extra push to make it through school.  One of the main initiatives they are proud of is their microcredits initiative, where they give small loans to rising entrepreneurs to help them get off their feet, which ironically made me think about the nonprofit organization Back On My Feet.  Probably the hardest part of the evening was walking through the hospice and seeing people who needed a comfortable resting place, so they could die with dignity.  The nursing staff that tended to their patients were incredibly sweet and were delivering the best care possible to their patients.  There was one nurse who has been there for almost twenty years and even though her responsibilities are emotionally and physically taxing, she said she wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.  All this great work is carried out due to the infuence and leadership from the organization’s founder Albert Hurtado, who you need to just Google.  He was a phenomenal man with the desire to foster spirituality in the community and provide an equal opportunity for everyone to succeed.

Fast forwarding to yesterday where we went to Undurraga vineyards about an hour away from Santiago, Chile where we spent the day learning about grapes, the winemaking process, taste testing, and even making our own personal blend 🙂  The knowledge and history our tour guides and executive leadership shared with us was out of this world and every word that came out of their mouth was spoken with conviction and a passion for their products. 

To end of the night, several of us went out with some more MBA alums to get to know them better but also to eat a traditional Chilean meal and see traditional Chilean dancing.  The meals here – lunch or dinner – are honestly a big event!  In our culture, we tend to be too consumed with deadlines and rushing through our meals and we miss out on the opportunity to spend time with our families, reflect on our days, and be forward thinkers.  The food, as always, was fabuloso and of course the night ended with some dancing.  We saw one of the most popular dances, the cueca, a little salsa/samba, and some dancing from Easter Island (which let’s just say I got to participate in!).  One of the highlights of the event was when we were rallying as a restaurant for the soccer game taking place tonight.  The crowd, at the top of their lungs, screamed “WE WE WE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE!  WE LOVE CHILE!”  I’ve noticed, not only yesterday, but over the past several days that Chileans are proud to be who they are which comes through their actions and the way they walk (always saying MY COUNTRY!)

So with these examples, I hope you can see passion manifests in different forms – whether it’s in your work, food, family, love, or where you came from – it’s very healthy and refreshing, and above all inspiring, to see people with passion oozing out of their pores.  Alright, well it’s time to head out for the day.  Sorry, I know this posting was long, but hey I’m passionate…what can I say?  HAHA.

For now, this is Ankur…

Signing off!

Day 3 Chile Study Tour – Parallelism

Hello!

Well I’m back to talk about Day 3 of the study tour that I’m currently on with Loyola’s MBA program.  After recapping today’s events in my head, I figured the ideal theme for Day 3 is parallelism (which you will see below!)

We’re a group of 28 individuals and today we broke off into different groups to go on different excursions before the experiential component of our trip officially begins.  Some chose to go to a ski resort, others elected to participate in a 10 KM hike, while I along with 11 others decided to go on a city bike tour.  It wasn’t physically aggressive but it was definitely enough to get the blood flowing and feel you got a nice little workout in. 

One of our first stops on the bike tour was Pablo Neruda’s house.  Neruda was a popular poet  in Chile and won a Nobel Prize in Literature.   Outside his house, there was an ampitheater-esque seating arrangement where my friends and I sat there listening to our amazing tour guide talking about Neruda’s influence on Chilean culture.  Some of his works were displayed right outside his house (not gonna lie – Google translate would have been hella helpful!)  From there, we travelled to this bustling indoor market with a plethora of vendors selling fruits, veggies meats, fish, cheeses, household products – you name it.  Sunday is a really popular shopping day and you saw lots of locals carrying huge carts with large bags with substantial amounts of groceries.  We took a quick break at the market and this delicious sweet tea, barley, and peach drink.  Yeah, it sounds like an odd combination, but honestly it tastes delicious!

In between stops, our tour guide also informed us about the different hotspots in the area.  He  mentioned a couple of neighborhoods which had some great nightlife.  There was a street that separates the “old” and “modern” neighboorhoods – meaning the older one wasn’t as “glam”  and more affordble, while the newly developed neighboorhood had more European inflence with modern discotheques and bars, ergo slightly pricier. 

After the bike tour, we made a quick round through an art museum which had amazing contemporary photography to look at.  By the way, museums in Chile on Sundays tend to be free :).  Move forward a few hours after a nice trek through an outdoor shopping market, exhilirating ride on their well-developed metro system, and siesta to offset the excitement from the previous nights’ festivities, we headed on over to our dinner with Loyola MBA alums. 

The restaurant was surrounded by beautiful greenery and a breathtaking view of the Santiago.  Inside it got even bettter with the serenity of a fountain dead center of the ballroom.  Highlight of the evening was having the pleasure of sitting at the same table as Andre Sougarret, the brains behind the mine rescue back in October.  Andre is actually an alum of the Loyola’s MBA program that was once held in Chile (betcha didn’t know that…bam!)  Quality conversation with good company along with delicious red and white wine were flowing all night along.  The last two hours were spent singing karaoke to Abba, Journey, the Beatles, and my personal fave Johnny Cash.

Now, how does this all tie into the theme for today?  Plain and simple.  Despite being a continent away experiencing a different culture, I kept thinking about the PARALLELS  Santiago shares with Baltimore.  Riding through the city and looking at all the beautiful architecture made me feel like at home and think about the beautiful edifices we have in our city.  Neruda’ influence on Chile made me think about Poe’s influece on Baltimore and the legacy he left behind.  Hearing about neighborhood disparities made me think about Baltimore where in one instance you can be in a well-developed neighborhood surrounded by patrons and the next block or two an older development with minimal foot traffic.  Going into the museum, a part of me felt like I was in the Walters Art Museum touring one of the many special exhibits they host throughout the year.  Dinner tonight, proved once again that pride in one’s country and city can be a motivating force for the betterment, which is the passion (along with many others) I share for Baltimore.

Yes, it is true, as states and nations we have physical borders, but honestly we are a globalized world where the lines of national distinction are slowly blurring.  I am a continent away with different people, language, etc, but regardless I feel Baltimore is still with me.  Anyways, that’s all I got for now….stay tuned for Day 4!

For now, this is Ankur…

Signing offf…