Written By: Alec Carrier, Becca Neteler, Brooke Tannehill, and Josh Singh

Week 1 – Getting to Know UY

Our first week in Montevideo was filled with learning about our client and the work they do – we met with several different employee groups to hear their thoughts on the project, as well as their challenges and opportunities they faced. Our first day was especially busy – we arrived bright and early on Monday to meet our host for our stay, Silvana, and then toured the office, meeting most of our key stakeholders.

One of our main workstreams while in-country was to run workshops with a few teams, with the goal of identifying any assumptions or biases that might be at play for the client’s growth plans as well as start to brainstorm some potential mitigation measures. We loved hearing each team’s perspective on the pain points and growth areas, and to get to know them better through an interactive workshop.

We also found time to squeeze in some fun things, too – our incredible host Silvana introduced us to the Uruguayan culture and was kind enough to take us out to lunch and dinner a few times, in addition to giving us recommendations on things to do and restaurants to eat at. One day that week, we had merienda, a late afternoon/early evening pre-dinner snack that includes both savory sandwiches and sweet treats. Most Uruguayans eat dinner at 8-9pm or later – much too late for us, used to eating dinner between 6-7pm in America! Luckily, our Uruguayan clients took pity on us and scheduled dinner reservations at 8pm, which is early by Uruguayan standards (and we were often the first ones in the restaurants anyways), though we still needed that merienda snack to tide us over.

Some other highlights from our first week include eating chivitos for the first time – a traditional Uruguayan dish that is like an American hamburger, except the meat is a very thin slice of beef (it was incredibly tasty). Our office was close to the center of Montevideo, and we also spent some time walking around the square that held not only our favorite lunch spot (shout out to Franca) but also the Uruguayan Supreme Court!

Breaking Out of the City 

After a busy Friday filled with two key presentations to the CSI Global CEO, including a draft pitch deck revision and an investor landscape overview, we quickly grabbed a rental car and drove east. After stopping at our hotel for a quick merienda, of course.

Our weekend plans took us to the well known beach town of Punta del Este, which some (cough, cough, Alec) claim is the “Monaco of South America.” It’s a questionable comparison, but beautiful nonetheless. In the morning we ate at an awesome waterfront cafe, drinking cappuccinos and watching a handful of surfers wrestle some wild waves before heading on a long beach walk in the sun. Next, we continued our drive east to eat empanadas and drive over a curvy bridge, guaranteed to make your stomach drop… unless you drive as slow as Brooke!

Since it is late fall in Uruguay, the beach vibes weren’t in full force, so we drove into the countryside. Uruguay is a country of 3.4 million people, in which nearly 2M million live in Montevideo, so arriving in pastoral lands happens fast! We soon arrived at a horse farm, fit with 5 little cabins and a main lodge. We all quickly changed into comfy clothes and posted up by the roaring fireplace for the next 5 hours reading and fully embracing the relaxing pace, until a home cooked meal was served. We woke up the next morning, hiked all around the property, and then made our way back to Montevideo feeling chilled out and refreshed. The day ended with ice cream, which Josh thoroughly enjoyed!

Week 2 – The Beginning of the End

Our week started by trying to see the Uruguayan president at what is supposedly his favorite lunch cafe. No luck, but our team successfully executed the last of the assumptions workshops, which proved a valuable exercise for both us and the different business departments. Our focus then shifted to the main event of our work – the Mock Pitch.

Essentially, our project’s main deliverable has been to build an investor pitch deck to aid in CSI’s expansion strategy. This Mock Pitch, consisting of a panel of industry and investor experts sourced through the Berkeley network, was to test the effectiveness of the new pitch product. Overall, it went well. Assumptions were challenged, strategic questions surfaced, and ultimately our team and the CSI executives walked away with a refined sense of how to adjust their strategy and the product in order to move in the direction they hoped. Success! So, we celebrated by eating a lot of pizza. Surprisingly, really, really good pizza. With potatoes on it. We got seconds.

The Final Days! 

With the mock pitch complete, our team incorporated the feedback into two final deliverables. In order to successfully complete such a task, we fueled up on incredible fried chicken sandwiches at Republica. In order to keep our dessert stats up, since we were averaging about two a day, we headed to a cafe-bookstore combo for some cheesecake, chocolate tart, and brownie before heading back to the office. This evening, we also celebrated Silvana’s birthday with a wonderful dinner. Big thanks to CSI for taking care of the bill!

And, on our final day, we all tried the omnipresent Yerba Mate drink out of the traditional “calabash” cup. Properly caffeinated, we buttoned up our work, hit submit, and headed to the soccer museum to celebrate (which features Silvana’s great uncle as a player for the Uruguayan national team in the 1930s!).. In classic Uruguayan fashion, we concluded our entire IBD class adventure stuffing our faces on sweet and salty morcilla sausage, picanha, and cordero al asador from a “parrilla,” a traditional open fire grill.

 

 

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