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International Trip to Lima Blog: We're Not In Canada Anymore

The 38 members of the Class of 2015 is in Lima, Republic of Peru this week. Teams are conducting business meetings with their Peruvian counterparts on behalf of seven Canadian client organizations as a part of their International Business Consulting Project & Trip.


Read the Candidate Blogs:


Members of Team three will be writing a brief each day of their experiences while in Peru. 

Photograph of Michelle DennehyDay 1 in Lima: The First Look at Lima
By Michelle Dennehy

It is hard to believe that after more than 20 months of studies our International Business Consulting Trip to Lima, Peru has finally arrived. We are culminating the end of our Executive MBA which has been a series of long days and short weeks, months and now almost two years.

The travel to Peru itself was a relatively long commute but was made shorter by the many friendly faces in the airport and on the airplane making it easy to strike up a conversation and this made the time go by that much faster.

Our 3 a.m. arrival to the hotel was under the cover of darkness which made waking up later that morning to the ocean-front view from our room on the 15th floor that much more spectacular.

The amazing hotel breakfast buffet was following by a fun and interesting half-day tour of the city.The tour started in Miraflores, which in English translates to “look at flowers”, and is aptly named for all the diverse and colourful blossoms speckled throughout the neighborhood. On the tour we learned about the city’s history and beauty by travelling through many different communities within Lima each built and displaying the characteristics from different periods of history.

The most memorable part of the tour was a visit to an almost 600 year old Franciscan Monastery near the city center that contained a surreal Harry Potter-like library. This library was full of two levels of old leather-back books archived on dark hardwood bookshelves. The second level was a balcony made of the same hard-wood with sprial stairs leading down to the first level. Following the library we moved into the basement under the church. It was a cavernous space, of brick design with low ceilings making up the musty bone-filled catacombs. The catacombs also served as a maze of tunnels that was used to protect the monks from raiding pirates by providing a safe passage for horse drawn carriages all the way to the ocean which is 9 km away.

Our first day in Lima was topped off with our Opening Banquet attended by the Canadian Ambassador, Her Excellency Patricia Fortier, who spoke eloquently about the opportunities and challenges facing the Peruvian economy in the future. The Telfer Executive MBA program extended invitations to many of the seven teams' connections within Lima adding more than 20 people to the guest list.  Our team was happy to finally meet our Peruvian contact in person, who has been extremely helpful in setting up business connections in Lima. The group brought the celebrations to a close later in the night after continuing the celebration together in the 2nd floor hotel lounge.

Photograph of Keri DunningDay 2 in Lima: The Power of Relationships and Collaboration
By Keri Dunning

Monday was a day that our team continued to reach out to Peruvian connections in an attempt to arrange further meetings and perform research for our client.

Our main contact here in Peru is Rolo who works with INDECI which is the Peruvian equivalent to Emergency Preparedness Canada. He was in touch throughout the day helping us with making arrangements for further meetings.

Doing business in Peru is truly about who you know and building a personal relationship. Our attempts to connect through emails and phone calls, without an introduction, netted almost nothing for us. However, chatting with Rolo in the lounge on Sunday evening while drinking Chilchanas – (a VERY refreshing drink with Pisco and various juices - passion fruit for the ladies only) about family, home life, and connecting on a more personal level face-to-face, helped solidify our team's personal relationship with him.

Leveraging the synergies of other Executive MBA team meetings this week as their own agenda’s unfold, is another important element for the team. One team's meetings have ended up including members of government from the sector where our product's market resides, and they very quickly brought us in to the dialogue which has proven very beneficial to our project. Again, going back to the ‘it matters who you know’ learning, theses further introductions from the other teams have been a gold mine for us.

We ended the first official working day with a wonderful extended team dinner at Tanta's, a restaurant across from our hotel. It was a relaxing meal, sitting outside, enjoying the warm coastal breezes of an evening in Lima.

Photograph of Joanne ReadMid-Week in Lima: A Typical Day for the Team and the Importance of Flexibility
By Joanne Read

It is hard to believe it is the middle of the week already. In just two days’ time our 21 month Telfer Executive MBA journey will be over when we submit the final report to our project supervisor at 6 p.m. on Friday. After submitting our final deliverable of the Program we will follow it up with a celebration of our time together and our many accomplishments we have had as the Class of 2013-15. It is a bittersweet moment of knowing you are finally done and then dampening realization that your time together as a Class of 2015 is also over as well.

Our Typical Day:

We have been staying at the wonderful JW Marriott Lima Hotel sitting atop the cliffs lining the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the panoramic views it is providing a great meeting space for teams. Our mornings begin with the team gathering for a buffet breakfast. Over coffee and your usual breakfast options the team prepare for the meetings of the day; who is going where; what the topics are; assigning roles for meetings. We then head out for our day of meetings and gathering research. The evening begins with a debrief in the spacious and open lounge on the second floor. With our project supervisor in attendance, we review our learnings from the day and the opportunities that are coming to life for our clients. What is great about working in the open space is the collaboration not only among your own team but the shared learnings and opportunities across the teams and through our discussions with project supervisors Peter, Jonathan, Dana and Sophia.

Flexibility is Important:

My team member Ron made a comment regarding flexibility. You really need to be flexible when working on making connections in a foreign market and you can really see the evidence of this among the teams this week. Whether it be meeting times and/or locations changing, determining if an interpreter is required, having meetings cancelled to adding new meetings to our schedule to having different people joining the meetings, the flexibility to adjust is just par for the course. You can adjust as it happens most of the time with a smile. As the week progresses it is evident that some of my peers are tiring but the excitement still exists for the teams despite all of these unexpected changes because of the great value they are providing for their clients.

One of our group’s had an interesting experience earlier this week which shows the value flexibility and determination play in international business. On Monday this team arrived at the location of their meeting only to be informed that the office had moved locations the previous week. The team then proceeded to the new location of the office to be informed yet again of another challenge. The person whom they were to meet with for their meeting was out of the country and was indeed in Montreal at the time – a 2 hour drive from where we came from. The team was persistent and the organization contacted that person in Montreal and he was able to make room in his schedule for a 30 minute conversation only. My colleague Nancy was able to flag and quickly negotiate a quick trip back to the hotel in order to connect via skype. Thankfully due to the team’s flexibility and ability to adapt to the change, they were able to connect via skype and have a fruitful discussion which extended to an hour and half in length due to the interest of their counterpart in Montreal.

My Time in Lima:

Now traveling in Peru is an experience in itself. We have been able to practice our negotiation skills on many occasions whether it is negotiating the cab ride - which I believe the best negotiation yet goes to our peer Nancy – or buying a souvenir at the local market.

It is a Telfer Executive MBA tradition, which began with the Class of 1994, that each class chooses and presents a gift to the Program representing the international trip’s destination and the class. Our gift committee experienced a six hour shopping spree throughout the city and multiple markets of Lima in search of finding that perfect gift to remember our trip by. A special thanks goes to the committee with mention to Suzanne, Zeyad and Michel.

Overall, the residents of Lima have been great and very friendly to us and the food has been absolutely amazing. A lesson to be learned for my next trip to Lima is that when they say you should make reservations prior to leaving Ottawa, they were indeed right.

All in all this trip is evolving into an awesome experience for every one of the Class of 2015 and each of us is looking forward driving through the next couple of days and completing not only our client reports but this wonderful two year journey.

Photograph of ZeyadOur Last Day: Crunch Time and Celebrating the Journey 
By Zeyad El-Saadi

With the final report due at 6:00 PM this evening, the teams came together to finish strong on this final stretch of the Program. Some team member were conducting research while others are filling the gaps in their reports this afternoon as we moved into the final hours of the trip. You could see the stress levels of individuals were rising as the clock ticked closer to the deadline – but they held it together.

Once 6:00 PM hit, you could see the sense of relief on everyone's face. There were high fives, cheers, hugs and kisses shared amongst the cohort of Telfer Executive MBA Class of 2015 as each team submitted their reports.

It is now time for us to reflect through the peaks and valleys of this journey while looking out at the beautiful ocean from Miraflores - remembering the fun times and the stressful times. Most of us are looking forward to having our weekends back to spend time with our families, travel, focus on our careers and taking care of ourselves.

Lima has been an amazing experience. The culture, food, environment & weather combined with the consulting engagements - a combination of experiences some of us may never have the chance to do again.

Tonight is a night that we celebrate our victory - a two year journey of accomplishments. The Telfer Executive MBA welcomes 38 new graduates to the world – and the opportunities ahead of us are endless. Cheers!


The Telfer Executive MBA Program opened doors to business leaders that are otherwise inaccessible to me. That is of tremendous value.
Marlene Thicke, EMBA 2003, Founder, Marlene-Ink Inc.
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