Un-boli-vable Experience – CEOLI

Through this experience, one of the key lessons that I learned is the importance of clarity and cultural awareness in any type of client interaction. I think a big reason why my team can successfully conduct work towards our deliverables is because we spent a lot of time trying to clarify our scope of work and expectations. When we first started working on the project, we had a lot of questions for the client and what their expectations of us are. During this time, we also spent a lot of time trying to catch up to the work of previous teams. From Professor Johnson’s lecture about the importance of the discovery process, we honed in on our research and made sure that we prepared extensively to conduct productive work. Through our scope of work, we established our responsibilities and deliverables. We also created a timeline for ourselves to ensure that we are making incremental progress toward our final presentation. What made a big difference was our first client meeting with CEOLI. We got to learn what their expectations are and what their side of the story is. It provided great insight and perspective into our work and played a huge role in our success. Throughout our time working together as a team, we also got to learn about the culture of Bolivia through an engaging dance workshop. It was a great pleasure to be able to learn about another culture and see the enthusiasm and energy in the Bolivian dance culture. On top of our previous research about Bolivia, it only further consolidated our cultural understanding of the client, and what is important to them. Learning about their culture gave us context, and a foundation to work off of. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to come up with the brilliant ideas that we had. To summarize, throughout my experience working in my team and with the client, I learned the significance of clarity in conducting work because it directly affects motivation and focus. I also learned that having cultural awareness when working with an international client is critical to success. Understanding the culture provides context and perspective into what the client wants and how we can make the highest level of contribution to their work.

A transferrable skill that I have developed during this course is teamwork. Although we weren’t able to travel to meet our client, teamwork was crucial to staying together as a group and keeping each other accountable. What’s more, is that all of my team members are in different places across the United States. One of my teammates is in Texas, another is in Pittsburgh, and I am in California. We are all in different locations, yet, we all put in the effort to find the best meeting time to get together as a team. I also don’t know a lot of my team members before doing work together. The challenging part was to find a way to make our team dynamic work in the virtual setting. I think what held us together was our ambition and drive to learn. We are all business students with the same goal: to learn and make new connections. With that as our common ground, we were able to contribute and make our voices and perspectives heard. I think what made my team more special was the fact that we are all talented in different fields. We have individuals who specialize in accounting, creative digital media, and leadership. We have two team members who are fluent in our client’s language: Spanish. All of the various talents only made our team more unique and interesting to work with. I think in my future professional life, I will be working with teams more often, all of which will have their dynamics and challenges. I think this project gave me a glimpse into how to handle teamwork and create relationships with our colleagues. I believe every team that I will be working in in the future will have its challenges, and that learning how to work with different people will never stop. As Professor Johnson pointed out, the fun thing about working in teams is that you can expect yourself to be working with a wide variety of people, including people you like and people you don’t like. All in all, it is the diversity that makes the experience that much more rewarding and engaging.

I think relationships are critical in the process of conducting work towards deliverables. In my experience working with CEOLI, I was able to learn a lot about the Bolivian culture, and the people at CEOLI were very enthusiastic about sharing that knowledge with my team. I believe that the enthusiasm originates from the existing relationship that Pitt has established with CEOLI. This is our fifth year working with CEOLI and I am sure that we had a strong foundation to work off of, and that made all the difference. After working with Pitt for the past four years, CEOLI is not foreign to the work that we produce, and I am confident that they are happy with the help that we can provide. From Pitt Business’s point of view, we are excited to offer support and help to organizations that have a great cause. From CEOLI’s point of view, they are excited to see what new perspectives we can offer to them to help further their mission and organization. With the 10-year plan with CEOLI in place, I see it as a win-win situation for both sides. The continuous support and relationship-building over the past years only made the project more engaging and meaningful. In my opinion, to be able to see the progress that the previous groups have been able to put out, I am inspired to continue the effort and carry on the momentum. To be able to maintain an international relationship is inherently hard in and of itself, therefore, what we have going on with CEOLI is truly special and amazing.

I think this project will come in handy in a professional interview because it speaks to a variety of traits such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and more importantly, cultural awareness. When the world today is becoming more and more interconnected via social media and telecommunication platforms such as Zoom and Skype, having the ability to work cross-culturally is essential. This project helps reinforce my competency as a global business student working in the global business industry. As Pitt Business places great emphasis on global cultural awareness, this project is a great example to illustrate this competency. During the interview, I would utilize the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) framework to pitch this experience. Whether the question is about situations where I had to work in teams, or overcome a challenge, or work with an international client, this project applies. This project can also be pitched during an interview to highlight my experience with working with international organizations and conducting consulting work. I am sure that working in teams will become even more relevant in the workplace, so this experience can help capture my skills and experience in the area.

One of the most important things that future groups should know is that it is highly recommended that you carve out time to work with your team during the weekend or anytime outside of the classroom. I think that is a great way to ensure your team is making progress on the project, and it is also a great way for your team members to bond with each other. One of the key aspects of this international consulting project is making new connections. I also think that putting in the effort to make time for this project outside of the classroom is important because it keeps you accountable for the duration of the project. At times, when your team leaves the project untouched for a week or so, it can quickly lose momentum, and that is where creative ideas can be lost. Therefore, one piece of advice that I would give to future groups is to carve out time outside of the classroom to work on the project. It can enhance team dynamics, and ensure that your team is making progress.

Another piece of advice that I would give to future groups is to try your best to be encouraging of all ideas. I understand that there are professional aspects of the project, but it is important that when working in a team, everyone has the opportunity to voice their opinions and perspectives. In my opinion, great ideas can be lost in team settings sometimes because of the peer pressure that is placed on individuals to “sound” professional and only offer solutions that are deemed appropriate. I am a huge advocate of trying to bring the best of others through encouragement, and I think this value can be lost especially in the hyper-competitive environment that we live in today. I think as a team, it is important to acknowledge that everyone is on even grounds and that we are all here trying to learn and make new connections. When everyone on the team is willing to be encouraging and inclusive of others, team morale would go up as well as motivation and focus. Team members would feel included in the project, and everyone would have the opportunity to make genuine connections with others.

My last piece of advice would be to please enjoy the whole process of learning through the project. This is an opportunity that not a lot of students get, so it is only right and proper that you cherish all the moments you spent with your teammates, your clients, and Pitt faculty. This is truly a unique experience not only to learn but to open your eyes to other cultures around the world. Make sure to treat every aspect of the project with diligence and professionalism. Make sure to make the most out of the project, and take this time to further yourself as well as to further others. This is one of the most unique experiences during my second year of college, and I absolutely recommend this project to any business student who has a passion for learning and making new connections.