Here is a video on our first Symantec Service Corps team and the 3 projects completed in Arequipa, Peru!
Here is a video on our first Symantec Service Corps team and the 3 projects completed in Arequipa, Peru!
It’s been almost five days since we concluded our projects in Arequipa. After we finished, five of the Symantec Service Corps traveled to Cusco, Perú to visit Machu Picchu. Three days later, I’m the only SSC team member left in Perú—all have traveled home or are on vacation in other countries—and I’m sitting at a Starbucks overlooking the Plaza de Armas reflecting back on our project work at Paz Perú.
First, I have to give great credit to the Symantec Service Corps team that worked on the Paz Perú project—Joe Ferrar from EMEA, Alicia Pereira Pimentel from BDA (living in Brussels), and Ashley Savageau from Corporate Responsibility who led the Symantec Service Corps project. I’ve worked with many talented people in my career and I have no hesitation in saying that these three are some of the best—incredibly sharp marketers, committed, passionate, responsible, and a lot of fun to be with. We often ate our breakfast at the hotel early before being picked up at 8:30am. In Perú, most eat lunch at 1pm. We were typically starving by 11am. Joe started a trend of making a sandwich at breakfast and bringing it to Paz Perú. We all took his lead and began a tradition of “sandwich time” at 11am (which Joe referred to as “elevensies”). We often asked ourselves “is it 11am yet?” To give our brains a break, we started watching various comedy clips on YouTube during sandwich time—like Eddie Izzard’s Death Star Canteen (“this one’s wet; this one’s wet; did you dry these in a rain forest?”). We often had to shut the door as our laughter got fairly loud and we didn’t want to disturb the office workers. I will very much miss our “elevensies.”
Our client at Paz Perú openly accepted us as part of their family, which made us feel even more committed to them and we readily got information to define a clear scope and deliver strong results. Paz Perú is a complex organization—they have multiple services that help at-risk children of Arequipa including a shelter for girls who have been physically and psychologically abused (“Casa Isabella”), a low-cost healthcare clinic (“Policlínico”), low-cost orthodontry (“Clinica Odontológico”), low-cost housing (“Sonrisos”), solar water heaters (“SwissSol”) and a clothing manufacturing division (“Confeccionnes Suiza Perú Textile Paz Perú). Paz Perú is a self-sustaining NGO, meaning they take profits from their businesses and use them to help the local community. They receive low-cost loans from a Swiss Federation to help maintain their services but they pay those loans back. Paz Perú is in the process of opening a new factory that would enable them to increase capacity of their clothing manufacturing business by three times. It was our job to produce a marketing strategy and plan to help them drive new business to this new factory.
In our first week, we discovered that a local consultant created a business strategy for Paz Perú that included marketing strategies. We reviewed it in detail and realized it was quite strong, but very high level. Unless you were an experienced marketer, you wouldn’t really know where to begin.
We shifted our focus to transforming that high-level strategy into a marketing execution plan. In order for that plan to work, Paz Perú had to hire a marketer who would be 100% focused on executing the plan. We learned that they were going to hire two more sales people and we advised them to focus one sales person on only getting new customers and allow the second sales person to focus on nurturing the existing customers. We felt immediate success when the CEO of Paz Perú told us that they planned to do exactly that. I’m not sure whether it was “cause and effect” or just “great minds” but we were excited to hear the news as it meant there was hope our execution plan would actually be executed.
Marketing Execution Plan with a full year of marketing programs
Our first deliverable was a concise and very actionable marketing plan. We defined four objectives and set criteria for success—how would Paz Perú know that they successfully achieved that objective?
As we looked into the primary position and messaging around the clothing manufacturing business, we found complete confusion—multiple different logos, different ways of talking about the business, and a lengthy name (6 words in the name: Confeccionnes Suiza Perú Textile Paz Perú). We decided to propose a simplification and after doing a competitive analysis and talking with current customers, we recommended that Paz Perú focus only on the clothing business first and foremost with potential clients, simplify the name, and simplify the division’s logo. We delivered a positioning recommendation and key messages.
“How To…” documentation
From the start, the Paz Peru team told us that they wanted to learn how to do specific marketing processes so that they could apply them to their other businesses.
In that light and to make sure they could execute the plan we outlined, we created a few “how to” documents for the team and walked them through each one:
Program briefs for selected critical programs
There were several programs that were critically important to execute—those that took advantage of the Peruvian culture of a “word of mouth” way of doing business (referrals and case studies), customer engagement (awards program) and those that were not good investments at this stage of the clothing manufacturing business (in our opinion). We decided to formally write program briefs for these programs so that Paz Perú had a clear idea of what we meant by these programs and how they fit within the overall plan:
Created collateral and tools to get them started
As a team, we also felt very strongly that we should develop some collateral pieces and sales tools to get them started on execution. For sales tools, Joe redesigned their introductory letter with the key messages we outlined in our messaging document. He also created a Sales presentation for a first-time meeting. Ashley wrote their first customer reference case study on their biggest client (Ricco Pollo). Alicia created a presence for Paz Perú on LinkedIn and Facebook. Together, Joe and Alicia created a basic web page—all of which is based on the new name we suggested: simply “Confecciones Paz Perú”.
And one of the best parts was presenting all of this completely translated and collated into three binders—thanks to our interpreter (Dylan Anderson-Berens) and his wife Susel who spent a long weekend translating everything. We also had Alicia who speaks fluent Spanish and she translated the marketing plan, Funnel Man’s final document, and created all the digital presence in Spanish from the start.
I am so proud of this team and what we were able to accomplish and deliver for Paz Peru. I truly believe we’ve made a big impact—we created a strong marketing plan that’s on-strategy and actionable, and we gave them everything they need to simply execute it. All they really need to do at this point is just start executing.
We are very optimistic that the Paz Perú clothing manufacturing business will grow significantly in the coming year, and I believe part of their growth will be due to our work for them as part of the Symantec Service Corps.
My colleagues here in Perú tell me I should write a second blog posting about Peruvian Cuisine because there is so much I left out of the first blog post. It’s nearly impossible to write a single blog post about all the food we’ve tasted here in Arequipa. Here are a few more dishes that we’ve come to love (well, almost love in the case of cuy or guinea pig).
Peruvian soups are incredibly deep in taste and with the high altitude (and slower digestion), we often eat them as the only course in the evening. A traditional soup is Cauche—a base of condensed milk, peppers, garlic, and onion served with a potato in the center, covered in melted cheese.
The same base is used in Sopa Criolla which is served with minced meat, an egg, and angel hair pasta.
Another traditional dish is called “Ocopa” and is served with potatoes and fried cheese. Some say Ocopa evolved from ancient Inca messengers’ travel rations.
What makes this dish so amazing is the Ocopa sauce. It’s blended combination of nuts, cheese, milk, onions, garlic, and aji peppers. When I get home, I plan on making this sauce and putting it over grilled chicken. Yum.
Soltero de Queso is a salad of salty cheese, fava beans, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. When my stomach wasn’t 100%, I ordered this salad. While the cheese was really salty, it was a bit of freshness for a troubled stomach.
In the last post I wrote about a traditional dish called Loma Saltado (basically stir fried beef with onions and peppers.
The sauce is what makes it fantastic). Loma Saltado then finds itself recreated into other dishes—my favorite was risotto of Loma Saltado. The creaminess of the risotto combined with the flavors of the Lomo Saltado was a great combination. I think I’ve eaten this dish about three times so far. Never disappointed.
Avocados here are incredible and since everything (it seems) is served with potatoes, an avocado stuffed with potatoes and vegetables would make absolute sense. My colleague Alicia (our lone vegetarian) ordered this dish and I was amazed at the plating. I have an avocado tree in my yard in California and now I want to play with stuffing avocados and trying to make them as beautiful as this one.
Corn is another staple and we’ve had it in all kinds of forms. Typically a restaurant will give you corn when you first sit down—almost like chips and salsa in Mexican restaurants in California.
The dried corn is Cancha Serrana and it’s made from Chulpe corn. I have to confess I am not a fan. As soon as you bite down on it, it turns into dust into your mouth. Sometimes served with salsa, we started coating it in salsa before eating it.
The second form is not dried, served on a full cob.
You pick the kernels off the cob and dip it into the salsa. The salsa we had with this corn is Chimichurri, which for Peruvians is made from oregano, garlic and aji peppers.
Finally, the team tasted Cuy, or guinea pig. The CEO of Paz Perú insisted that she take us to eat Cuy at the best place in town—Cuyeria Sonia.
Since she knew I was nervous about eating it, she told the waiter to bring me one “sin cabeza” (without the head). My colleague Joe Ferrar got his “con cabeza”.
“It tastes like chicken” but not really. It tasted like dark meat of a turkey. My issue was the cuy didn’t have a lot of meat on it so it was a lot of work to get at it. In Arequipa, the cuy is flattened with a weight and then deep fried. In Cusco, it’s roasted. I have my colleague Joe Ferrar and the CEO of Paz Peru to thank for this experience. Off my bucket list and not likely to eat it again.
A final word on drinks…while we were at the Cuyeria, we tasted “Scottish Kola”—smelled like cherry cough syrup and tasted like sweet cherry drink. Inka Kola is also super super sweet.
Some wines we tasted from Peru were also really sweet. I’m now on PTO and headed to Ica, the wine region of Perú. I hope to taste some great wines before heading back to California.
Our projects are over and we’ve all gone our separate ways. I am still in Cusco and will be taking a cooking class here. We’ll tour the local open air market and then return to the kitchen to cook Alpaca Saltado. Very excited!
I am not at all surprised that Peruvian cuisine is starting to really take off across the globe. It’s just fantastic.
Share a little bit about your experience working with CIED?
“To be honest, I did not know what to expect in Peru or when working with people at CIED. I have traveled many times outside India before but this was my first time in Latin America. To my surprise, I slowly discovered that in terms of work culture, Peru was not very different from India. I was able to relate to the CIED employees almost immediately and this really helped. I was also amazed at the passion they had for the work they did and I believe that this a key factor that has helped them sustain for over 40 years.” -Prakash PP
“I saw a lot of similarities between Symantec and CIED in regards to both needing and going through a change initiative. For our final presentation, we focused on the following 5 areas:
We included suggestions around mission and vision, organizational chart, job descriptions, communication and trust training, process flow, SOPs, and technology recommendations. With a background in Human Resources and Organizational Development, I believe people are the most important aspect in any organization. For a change implementation to be successful, you need everyone on board. It was a lot of fun applying my skillset and experience to this consulting opportunity. I hope CIED puts our recommendations into action. As for our core team, it was great working with Symantec employees from other regions and departments. Prakash, Marq, and I put our heads together and created an action plan for CIED in less than a month. This is an experience I won’t forget.” -Allyson Gomez
“As our team winds down our mission to Peru, I have taken a few moments to reflect on all of the things that I have personally learned. The one concept that stands out to me the most is how similar Symantec and CIED are in terms of needing to make a change. We may be vastly different in terms of size and scope of our products and functions, but the core needs of a functional organization remain the same regardless of size. Both organizations have had past successes but recently have experienced challenges that required them to transform their identity for a better future. In fact, we are so similar that when the CIED National Director met with us to describe the state of his organization he actually said his staff doesn’t have a “North” to guide them. My teammates and I were instantly reminded of similar words from our own leadership. The recommendations we made to CIED can be applied at home at Symantec, just as we have adapted Symantec concepts to assist CIED in their road to improvement. I am excited about the possibilities for both organizations and feel fortunate to be able to be a part of the solutions for both as well.” -Marq Bauman
It’s official!! We have had cuy.
…and read our reviews…
Navigating through the city of Arequipa is quite an adventure. Our hotel is located in the historic district, so walking the streets between the hotel and the main town square, La Plaza de Armas, is very easy to do. There are a number of shops, restaurants, bars, dance clubs in the area, so it would be very simple to never leave the confines of this neighborhood. But, if you want to get the true flavor of a city you have to get out to the other neighborhoods and move about like the locals do. Normally that means public transportation, and that’s where the options become really interesting.
Usually when I travel the first thing I try to do is find out what public transportation is available. In most cities there is a central transportation agency that has schedules, fares, etc. But that has proven very difficult to determine here in Arequipa. There is no major option like subway, light-rail or street car, so that basically leaves bus, taxi and private driver.
For work, the NGOs have coordinated private drivers for us. They show up outside our hotel every morning at an appointed time, usually 8:30am, and then again outside the office of our NGO at the end of the work day. The drivers have all been safe, courteous and willing to change the pre-scheduled times if we need them to. I’m not sure what this type of service costs, but it is a great way to travel the city.
(a couple of the private drivers waiting for us in the morning)
Buses, on the other hand, have been quite a challenge. There appears to be two main types of buses that run through the city and surrounding areas. The first type appears to be nothing more than a large mini-van. People hop on and off, but there doesn’t seem to be any number or other markings on the outside of the vehicle to inform you of the destination. The second type is a bit larger and looks like a city bus, but again no external markings to determine the route. However, most of the larger type buses do have a person hanging off the door calling out the destination. Since I am unfamiliar with many of the names of the surrounding neighborhoods, it’s quite difficult to guess which direction I would be headed. And the really fun part is that both of the bus options don’t always seem to stop along the side of the road. Part of this is due to the way traffic behaves around here, which I will describe a bit further below, but suffice it to say that if you want to get on a specific bus, you sometimes have to run into the middle of traffic and jump on board while it is slowly rolling. I liken this to the concept of “hoboing” on a train, except I’m sure somewhere along the way you have to pay a fare, which after 3 weeks I have yet determine the exact amount.
(mini-van like bus in the front, and more full size bus in the rear)
Now, the taxis on the other hand I have figured out. Most of the cars are marked as you would expect a taxi to be, but there are some very distinct differences in what you get for your money. We were warned that not all taxi companies are safe, and I guess I initially took that to mean that there were some unscrupulous drivers out there that would either charge you too much or maybe take the “scenic route”. What I have learned is that the dangerous situation is that they may drive you down an alley where some of their friends are waiting to jump in the car and extort money or credit cards from you. Now, I haven’t seen this first-hand, but there are many reports of such from the people who live here.
My taxi experience comes more in the form of selecting the right type of vehicle. And by that I mean you have to look for the car model, how new it is, the condition of the exterior and the tires. By far the highest volume of cabs are these little yellow ones that appear to be made by either Yugo or Daewoo. These cabs are everywhere and the locals take them without concern. But in my observations, if there is a car broken down on the side of the road it will inevitably be of this make. And I have yet to see one of these cars with anything appearing to be a safe amount of tire tread on the wheels. Now, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t ridden in one of these cabs, but I really do my best to avoid it.
(stay out of these cabs!)
Finding a newer model vehicle with newer tires seems to be the best bet. But that doesn’t mean you’re safe just yet. In fact, I’m not sure there is anything resembling safe driving in this town. Now I should pause here to say that I grew up in Los Angeles California, and learned to drive on those streets and freeways. Navigating those streets always felt like a challenge, but nothing insurmountable. However, that was before I ever began to travel. The streets of Arequipa remind me more of Rome than anywhere else. But life moves at a slightly slower pace here than in Rome. Which would seem like a good thing when it comes to traffic, but oddly I think it makes it a bit more dangerous. The drivers here seem to take more risk since they aren’t moving at such a rapid pace.
(more of the sketchy yellow cabs, the “ok” red cabs, and another mini-van bus)
Frankly, I’m not sure why they have painted the roadways with lane lines, or why they even bother to have stop signs. No one uses either, and I believe it to be a national sport to see how often you can avoid the guidance provided by the state with these traffic controls. What I have learned is that there is a group mentality to driving around here, very similar to the way schools of fish move about. Have you ever swam with a school of fish? If you have, and have been surrounded by them, you probably thought to yourself that if you moved quick enough you could touch a few of them. Then you try and they all seem to know that you were about to make that move and they stayed just outside your reach. That’s basically how the cars operate here.
However, I do think I have learned a bit of the cabbie language. It all comes down to using your mirrors, headlights and horn. Drivers here spend at least as much time looking in their mirrors as they do in front of them. At first this is a little disconcerting considering you are tailgating the car ahead of you with no more than 12-18 inches of space, regardless of the speed. But you soon realize that since no one follows the lane assignments, the drivers have to be aware of what is behind and to the side of them equally as much as the car in front. At night, headlights are used to fly through blind intersections without stopping. Flashing the brights acts as a signal to others that you are on your way through the intersection even if they can’t see you. So far this has worked, but I’m not exactly sure how. The real study though comes in the form of “the language of the horn”. After 3 weeks here I think I have decoded the meaning, more or less:
If I ever hear five beeps I’m pretty sure that would be the signal for someone to call an ambulance. Fortunately, I have yet to hear five beeps, and I hope I never do.
One last bit for my friends into alternative modes of transportation. Motorcycles and scooters are in use in this town, but they seem to be a pretty risky option, so it is mostly younger males that I see riding them. Bicycles are almost invisible. I have seen a couple, but only on the weekends, so that doesn’t seem to be a viable commuting option. As and for skateboards, the streets and sidewalks are so torn up that it would be impossible to ride for more than a block at a time. There is at least one skatepark that I have seen, with both street elements and what i suppose you could call a half-pipe, but I haven’t seen it in use. I have seen 3 different teenagers with skateboards, 2 street boards and 1 longboard, but none of them were being ridden at the time. They were probably more of a fashion statement than anything else.
This past weekend Chris Brown, our interpreter and I had the distinct pleasure of attending a professional futbol game at Unsa stadium in downtown Arequipa. The game took place on a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon. People were showing up from about 12:30 and were visibly excited for the game.
At precisely 1:15 PM the game started with a bang. Confetti rained down and fireworks filled the air. The ball was dropped and with a flurry of fancy footwork the game had begun. Both teams were hungry and the action was fierce. The Arequipan fans were very enthusiastic. They had brought decorations including banners, stadium sized ribbons and they filled the air with songs accompanied by a raft of musical instruments.
One of the most interesting differences between attending a game in Canada and a game in Peru was that the Peruvians focused on internal security rather than perimeter security. In Canada, even before you get to the ticket takers, a spectator is subject to a search of his/her person and their things. The stadium personnel are looking for contraband (alcohol, drugs, weapons) as well as anything that could be thrown at players/officials (and affect stadium concession sales) such as water bottles, coke cans etc. These items are confiscated before you can enter the stadium. However, in Arequiepa, this was a foreign concept. Spectators are actually expected to bring in their own drinks and snacks, meaning that there was only an incredibly limited selection of concessions available. This was a disappointment as I was looking forward to purchasing a team jersey.
One of the other strange developments that came from this security environment is that certain fans were lighting off fireworks in the stands. These were large pyrotechnics and after about the 5th one, riot police showed up in the section where they were going off to stop the explosions. (note the police in the wings)
The riot police also showed up about 5 minutes before both half time and full time. This was to escort the much-abused referees out of the stadium without them being assaulted by the fans.
Our group ended up getting seated in the same area as the players wives, which ended up being a pretty boring section. It looked as though they were more interested in their phones than the game. But the cool thing was, that when the players were heading off the pitch, they all came by our area to wave and preen.
The game was fairly exciting with Arequipa taking an early lead. Then in the second half, we noticed a condor circling the field. It looked as though the bird was watching the game. Our interpreter Adriana, said that when this happens it’s a good omen for the team. As she told Chris and I the story, we missed the tying goal. Lima had come back!
However, about 3 minutes later, the bird came back around and Arequipa was awarded a penalty kick. The forward took it and …. GOAL!!!!!
The score remained 2-1 Arequipa until full time so I guess the bird legend stands…. for now :)