Monday, August 21, 2006

Top Secret news from Paediatric AIDS Team

Nothing to see here, move it along folks... Actually, not being cheeky at all, there is not much to say about our project because our sponsor wants us to keep it on the down-low. Pharma is a funny industry, rife with secrets and outmaneuvering and half-information, so we are trying to play the game, too. But I did sign up to blog so I am contributing...with 9 working days to go.

From the outside, this looks like a pretty tame project. Lots of desk research, lots of skype use, lots of learning how to say things like tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and viral load testing until it sounds like you know what you're talking about, and wake up at night with the phrases running through your head.

I'm based in London, along with Josh (most of the time), whilst Marty and Rebecca are mostly in Oxford, except for their glamorous tour of Toronto for the world's largest HIV/AIDS conference. My day consists of a lot of confusion, stress, and worry that we don't know what we're doing, plus excitement about working on something as important as getting treatment to the 2million+ kids in the world with HIV (half of whom will die before their 2nd birthday). Josh and I are bunkered in borrowed office space at the Young Foundation in Bethnal Green, east London... a neighborhood that is half gentrified, half not, so you get a mix of yuppies and women in burqas on the street. It is a great neighborhood.

And that is pretty much it, I think, in order to stay kosher with our client's wishes. On a personal note, I am very much enjoying living with my husband, in all 290 square feet of splendour (30 square metres) in Notting Hill. All are welcome, but only two at a time, due to space constraints. If you do come to visit, you will be invited to play a thrilling game of "find the shower"--a game which is challenging because the ingenious/hilarious placement of the shower in our flat bewilders most guests for minutes on end. See you then.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Foreigners seized - Aug 14, 2006

More foreigners were seized in Nigeria but none from the Oxford team. We've seen a little of everything in Nigeria but fortunately no kidnappings. We've actually felt safe most of the trip. You definitely can't go walking around at night alone but all in all everything has been great. We have 11 days left in Lagos and then we're on a flight back to the UK. Of course, if you read it doesn't sound like flying into Heathrow will be much different than a night stroll in Lagos.

In the picture you can see the team in their traditional Nigerian clothes. We'll see you all back at the ranch in a few weeks.

The Access Bank Team.

For more stories on our trip click here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Malaria strikes Nigeria team

Welp, we had our first Malaria incident in Lagos. Jayne wasn't feeling to hot on Friday and Saturday and it wasn't because of the Star Beer or spicy chicken. On Sunday she went to the clinic and sure enough she was diagnosed with malaria. Fortunately she went in soon enough that all she needs to do is take her medicine and rest and she should be back to normal in a few days. That's the big news from this side of the world.

I guess there is one more important bit of news: Mike found a golf course in Lagos and played on Saturday AND then again on Sunday. More to come on his blog this week.

Over and out,
Access Bank Team

Monsoon Wedding & Monsoon Package in Goa

Two more exciting weeks lie behind us. And this is how we spent them (if we were not working HARD on our project).
Two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to attend a traditional Indian wedding ceremony. We went to see the "reception" on Saturday night and the "ceremony", including "the seven steps" and all, on Sunday morning. All of us were dressed in traditional Indian clothes (other than the male Indian we got even more stares than usual...). Sarees for the girls and Kurtas for the guys. We had a wonderful time despite the fact that the reception buffet was purely "veg" with no alcohol available AT ALL.
Oh well.
Indian wedding.
What can you say?
Later that Sunday, we met up with a couple of next year's SBS MBAs: Ravi and his wife, Deb, as well as Sumit and his wife. Deb offered me a ride on the back of his motorcycle through Bangalore's heavy traffic - a unique experience, let me tell you!
By the way, it seems as if next year's batch will, again, consist of a very amiable and smart bunch of people!
This last weekend we - Rachael, Leslie and Alex - went to Goa while Shawn stayed back in Bangalore to relax (and do some work on the the way dude, you're working too hard!!).
We stayed in a beautiful 5-star beach ressort in South Goa, went golfing, hung out at the pool and the beach, visited the bars a couple of times, enjoyed massages as well as the delicious food, did Karaoke ("Take me home country roads") - - - and never left the ressort's grounds...;-)
But we also came to understand why the hotel offered us a so-called "Monsoon Package": it was raining more often than in Bangalore. Not too bad, but more than we would have expected.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Camels and Elephants and Monkeys – Oh My

We cannot believe it is already week four of the SCP. Needless to say, our stay in India has been nothing short of an adventure. Some of our favorite highlights from the last four weeks include: riding elephants and camels in Rajasthan, visiting Asia’s largest mosque and the world’s largest sun dial, meeting the cricket super star M.S. Dhoni in Ranchi, learning to eat a full meal with one hand and no utensils, celebrating Vishal and Aman’s birthdays, salsa dancing in Delhi, encountering wild monkeys, enjoying a five-star dinner in Gurgaon and dancing with adorable Jaipur children. Oh yeah. And then there’s work.

Our team is in the process of analyzing India’s current infrastructure (transport) agreement
and providing strategic policy recommendations. You can understand why we
never leave the office before 5pm! All and all, it has been an incredible learning experience –

not just about infrastructure financing but about working with the Indian federal government in general. We’ve been privileged to meet and interview a variety of stakeholders and participate in national policy meetings. Now if only we can stop eating long enough to get some work done!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Furthest from Oxford? Ahem... the southern half of the world takes offense.

Oxford to Wellington, New Zealand = 18,850 km
Oxford to Urubamba, Peru = 10,064 km
Oxford to San Francisco, US = 8,612 km

On behalf of ProWorld and Formway.

(this blog's too tame, let's spice things up...)

Do you Yahoo!

It's been a while since the team that is furthest away from Oxford made a post that we thought that the time had come for an update.

New team name
First of all, we have decided to rename our team to team LICWTOIIN!, after our remit to refer to the company that we work with as the large internet company with two O's in it's name! Needless to say, we're thrilled to be here and have been treated very well (and yes, they have bribed us to say that).

And what bribes they have been!

Batter up
From company backpacks to free travel, a week in a very nice hotel to the latest freebie which was tickets at a Giants ballgame in the home ground in San Francisco. These weren't just any old tickets, these were for the luxury Diamond suite which was located behind the pitch and right next to the box where all the journalists sit. Talk about good seats! Naturally there was free food, beer and wine and as much Cracker Jacks as you could shake a stick at, not to mention programs and a baseball cap. Who knew that baseball could be so much fun?

Oink oink
Every year LICWTOIIN! hosts a Summer Picnic for all their employees at each site. This year in Sunnyvale and Mission, the picnic was at Blackberry Farm. It was a fun day, especially for the kids but there was lots of beer for the adults too...

BBQ's and swimming pools
This is California after all, and what do you do in the evening after a long day's work? Why, you have a barbeque by the pool and solve the world's (internet) over a beer and slab of beef with several generations of Oxford MBA graduates working at the same firm...

Overall, it's been a good week, with several other things that I haven't mentioned like having the band "Raining Jane" play for us during our lunch hour by the campus caffiteria, going to talks given by top execs in the company and having an honest Q&A session afterwards. A very worthwhile experience.