Entering the second week in Peru, the Symantec Service Corps (SSC) team has settled into their business projects as well as their home for the month, Hotel Casa Di Me Abuela, which translates to "My Grandmother's House."
While each morning the 10 team members head out to three different locations, they return at the end of the day and sit in the garden outside of their hotel, debriefing on what they learned and establishing a plan for the next day. We're keeping in close contact with them through their blogs, and are compiling weekly updates on their progress. Here's an update from Week Two!
A taste of Peru
Traveling to a foreign country is always an experience. It can be a challenge to acclimate -- everything from food to lifestyle -- not to mention conducting business meetings in a new language. The SSC has interpreters at each job assignment to help them communicate with their clients. Outside of the work environment, the team is fortunate to have a few members that are fluent in Spanish, who help guide their way.
As the team gets to know the Peruvian culture, here are a few things they've learned:
- Time: In Peru, things are typically less urgent and locals are very time-relaxed. It is not unusual for people to take two or three hour lunches, or for taxis to arrive plus or minus 30 minutes from the time requested.
- Food: Peruvian food features lot of flavorful spices, fresh fruits, root vegetables, cheese, desserts and fruit juices. Traditional meals are larger than most of the team members are accustomed to and include a range of meats such as alpaca and cuy cuy (guinea pig).
"I was very surprised by the Peruvian cuisine. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I expected the cuisine to be closer to traditional Mexican cuisine. It is not at all. It has deep spices and is beautifully cooked, with a range of meats, vegetables, amazing Arequipenan mangos and other fruits. I have not seen a tortilla since I left the United States," said Claire Dean.
- Shops: Owner-operated Peruvian shops can exist anywhere -- in an alley, a doorway, a cart, a traditional mall, a small flea markets or an upmarket boutique.
- Attire: A large number of Peruvians wear the traditional Andes dress day-to-day.
- Greetings: The locals are extremely friendly. Each morning co-workers great the team with a kiss and a hug.
"Everyone has been incredibly nice and helpful. The organizations are ecstatic that we are here, and the locals have been incredibly understanding of our inability to speak Spanish or Quechua, and have gone out of their way to help us out," said Kamal LaBreche.
Helping an 85-year-old farmer pack feed on his donkey
Making an impact: client projects underway
The SSC team is diving into the challenges of their three client organizations since kicking things off more than a week ago. Here are the latest updates directly from the teams on the ground in Peru.
Paz Peru update
Claire Dean, Alicia Pereira Pimintel, Ashley Savageau and Joseph Ferrar are working with Paz Peru to create a marketing plan to help increase revenue for the organization's textile business.
So far they have met with the director, head of sales, graphic designer and the former head of the Arequipa Chamber of Commerce to learn more about their positioning in the market and goals. They also have interviews planned with prospective and current customers and the textile factory supervisor to further research their ideas. They are working towards the creation of a positioning document, a sales playbook, and a demand-generation plan.
While the team is working solely on the textile business, Paz Peru also has various lines of business including a domestic violence shelter for girls, organic farm, medical and dental clinic, job skills training, as well as administrative offices.
"We're getting more and more excited about the project by the day. We intend to bring the Paz Peru team along on this journey so that they can replicate the process for their other lines of business after our departure," said Ashley Savageau.
For more, read the: Paz Peru Project Update.
Chris Brown, Craig Chan and Kamal LaBreche are in the process of assessing Descosur's accounting system and will ultimately make recommendations to improve availability, security, functionality and efficiency. They've spent the past week meeting with individuals throughout the organization ranging from senior executives and department managers to those who enter financial information into the system on a daily basis.
This week they are working to understand the organization's goals, challenges and requirements, as well as the specific capabilities available within the current accounting systems.
"Next week will be critical to our success as we meet with the programmer who created the accounting software system utilized by Descosur, as well as the head accountant from Lima," said Craig Chan.
For more, read the: Descosur Project Update.
Allyson Gomez, Marq Bauman, and Prakash Pappachan are working with the Center of Research, Education, and Development (CIED) to help with an organizational restructuring. Over the past week they gathered information about the current organizational structure, employee roles and tasks, and how CIED functions. They are now creating a framework for their deliverables.
"Even though Symantec and CIED operate in vastly different markets and locations, there are similarities. One fascinating example of the commonalities was seen when the national director mentioned how his staff doesn't have a "north" to guide them. This comment resonated with us instantly (as with any Symantec employee). Some concepts such as doing good and "True North" translate across borders. We immediately felt a connection between CIED's goals and Symantec's strategy," said Allyson Gomez.
For more, read the: CIED Project Update.
Behind the scenes: How Service Corps came together
Launching a program like Symantec Service Corps is no easy task. The Symantec Corporate Responsibility team has been working on this program for nearly a year. Curious about how it all came together? Read: A journey of 4,956 miles begins with a single step ...
Continue to follow the team
Week two is almost over but there is much more in store. Continue the journey with the Symantec Service Corps team by following along on their blog, their Twitter feed or watch this space for regular updates.
For more information about Symantec's Corporate Responsibility strategy, visit the Corporate Responsibility website.
Lora Phillips is Symantec's Senior Manager, Global Corporate Responsibility.