I have finished my fourth week here and things are going very well. Work has picked up considerably and we have been given the full list of purchases made by GSK Argentina over the past two years and have been tasked with cataloguing them. This means making a sort of ´menu´ of repeated purchases, which will make future payments and processes faster and more efficient. This is done in Excel by using special formatting. The end product is uploaded in a program called JD Edwards, through which users can buy whatever they need, without having to contact the buyer and negotiate a price. We are making progress, I believe the harder part will be to train employees how to use the catalogue and convince them that it is a better way of doing things, rather than buying items separately every time. Using a catalogue to make a purchase allows the transaction to go through in 2 hours, compared to a couple of weeks if done manually through procurement. The amount of time saved is massive and the prices are pre-negotiated by GSK, thus users know they are not overpaying.
We are also going to attend an Excel course after our initial level was determined with a quick test. The ability of people here with the program, especially senior staff is incredible, they are able to perform a flurry of complex operations in a matter of seconds, switching between panes, commands and spreadsheets like magicians. We have also met Ricardo, who is the Procurement Director and he will do a face-to-face session with us the following week. He will introduce some new concepts and is very interested in hearing how our experience has been so far. We will also do a presentation in front of the Latin American Directors in the following weeks, which again will revolve around what we’ve learned and how we have made a difference to GSK. We have been also given a new task revolving around anti bribery and corruption, but are still in the early stages, Harriet will talk more about it in her next entry. As usual, all the colleagues, both interns and senior staff, have been incredibly helpful.
Outside of work we have been to Plaza de Mayo, one of the most famous spots in Buenos Aires, where daily life mingles with a tense political situation and troubled history. There are daily protests, the most famous of which on Thursdays by the ´Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo´, the grandmothers of disappeared intellectuals during the crackdown of the Dirty War who demand to know what happened to their relatives. We also visited Buenos Aires Cathedral, whose previous head was the current pope and the dock area, full of modern high rises, pricey nightclubs, expensive hotels and restaurants. It feels very different to the rest of the city as it lacks the same warmth. The best place we’ve seen so far is La Boca, considered one of the rougher neighborhoods of town, but still a tourist hotspot, as tango was invented there. It´s most famous part is a block full of colorful houses, painted in rainbow colors. Most restaurants also have a tango show going on while diners enjoy meals. More exciting however is the rest of the neighborhood. It´s quite crammed, lacks the big boulevards and glamorous buildings of central Buenos Aires and has an incredible charm and feels distinctly Argentinean. On the 9th of July, a national holiday, we went to a bar to watch Argentina V Holland and the streets and squares filled up with thousands of people after their victory. Even though they lost in the final, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were that Argentina made it all the way when we happen to be here. As half German, Harriet on the other hand supported the other side… She had been jokingly threatened she wouldn’t be let into work if Germany wins and she comes to the office with a smile.
Another very Argentinean thing we have encountered is performers in the metro. They range from the incredibly talented to the outright silly, but all are absolutely amazing and light up your day. Harriet´s favorite is a small boy who juggles half full water bottles and spends most time picking up dropped ones than actually juggling them. He always gets a roaring applause. My personal favorite is a young man, who always plays the same two songs on an old, worn out guitar. His raspy voice is great and more than makes up for the fact both his songs sound exactly the same, as they rely on the same 4 chords and strumming pattern. The guitar has seen better days and is in dire need of new strings, but somehow it all fits in so well and he creates a unique atmosphere.
All in all things are going very well, every day is exciting and time is flying! We spend all day at work, evenings cooking, at the gym, watching and weekends travelling. Life back home feels like a distant memory, the occasional email and Skype session is the only reminder. I am really enjoying everything about being here and feel like I won´t want to go home 5 weeks from now.