Global Challenge – GSK Procurement internship, Costa Rica: Blog 3

I’m now in my penultimate week here at GSK Costa Rica and we’re in the final stages of the catalog project. During the last couple of weeks I’ve managed to upload 25 new catalogs to the purchasing system. After all the catalogs were uploaded I needed to test each one individually to make sure that they were working properly and show whoever would be using it how it works. In order to do this I first needed to find out who does the purchase orders for each supplier, as these are the only people who have access to the purchasing programme and therefore the catalog. This ended up taking longer than I originally thought, as it was a different person for almost every catalog and sometimes I had to speak to various people before I found the person I needed. Once I had all the information, I had another meeting with the procurement manager in Argentina who explained how to test the catalog works and how to use the catalogs in general.  This was really useful as it meant that I could then test the other catalogs and explain to the other users how the catalogs worked by myself. I then had separate meetings with each of the users to test the catalogs and all but two were working fine, which was good. I then had to get in contact with the IT department to help me fix the problems with the two catalogs that weren’t working.

Another vital thing I had to do was check that all the rates for each of the catalogs were correct. Once the catalog is in the system and has been tested it is then ready to be used. With catalogs, the purchase order goes directly to the supplier who then receives payment once the order is complete, so it would obviously cause problems if people started using the catalogs to purchase items or services and the prices were wrong.

This week I had a meeting with the managers and buyers in the procurement department to discuss which suppliers now have catalogs and also to show them how the catalogs work. This information was then forwarded to the Director of Procurement for Latin America who seemed happy with the progress I’d made. Overall the catalogs now cover 25% of total spend in CARICAM (Central America and the Caribbean) and 11% of total transactions. To put this in context, when I began the project CARICAM had less than 1% of its total transaction through catalogs, whilst countries such as Brazil had over 70%, Mexico 50-55%, and Argentina 45%.

After the meeting it was decided that I needed to teach the interns in the office how to create the catalogs so that they are able to continue creating them after I leave. I also need to make a document that can be distributed throughout the procurement department with an explanation on how to create catalogs and how to use them.  I’m now at the point where I’m conversing almost all the time in Spanish and as a result I think I’ve improved a lot since I arrived. Some of the skills I think I´m developing on a daily basis here are: analytical, multilingual, presentational and communication skills, along with the ability to work independently and use my initiative.

I’ve also been able to see a lot of Costa Rica on the weekends. Recently I went to Arenal volcano, which is one of the largest active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Unfortunately this time of year is not the best time to do a lot of the tourist stuff as it’s rainy season and so it’s often cloudy and therefore you don’t get the best view. In the town near the volcano there are hot springs which are heated geothermally by the volcano and are a great place to go and relax after a long day.

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Last weekend it was someone from work’s birthday so a group of us went to Manuel Antonio, which is a small town on the Pacific coast that has some of the nicest beaches in Costa Rica. Luckily we had good weather so we were able to spend all day on the beach which was great. I now only have one week left here, so I’m going to try and make the most of it both in work and outside of work.

Manuel Antonio Beach

Manuel Antonio Beach


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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