My first week at Clausen

Posted on October 15, 2008


It is about time that I write about the work that I am doing in Uruguay, the whole purpose of my trip. As described in an earlier entry, I am part of an Ernst & Young program called the Corporate Responsibility Fellows Program. Each Fellow is assigned to an entrepreneur in a South American country to assist them in developing and growing.

The street view outside Clausen

I was assigned to Gabriel, one of the founders of the modern Clausen Laboratorios. Clausen is a pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor based in Montevideo, Uruguay. Gabriel purchased Clausen in 1995 with a partner and has been modernizing and growing the business since that time. Clausen has recently constructed a manufacturing facility and is now starting to export products outside of Uruguay. They expect within the next few years to reach the EU and perhaps eventually the United States.

The new Clausen company headquarters.

As with any small business, rapid growth is forcing changes in the internal operations of the company. Life is hard for any small business, even harder for a small business based in a place like Uruguay. Raw materials, supplies, machinery, and technical know-how are all in short supply and often must be imported. On the other hand, they have an educated and motivated work force, support of the government, and a state of the art facility.

My fancy office at Clausen, it is so nice I may just decide to stay

Of course there are lots of the usual problems you would expect from a company going through this sort of transition. Decision making is still by consensus and usually filtered to the head of the company. Many people miss the old, family style of the company and are afraid of what it is coming. There is not enough transparency and insufficient internal reporting. Order deadlines are tough to meet.

Overall, the company is a place full of happy employees. There is a serious dedication to quality that starts with a new facility that is the most advanced in Uruguay and perhaps equal to the best in South America. This tiny little company from a country most people can’t locate on a map is getting ready to play in the big leagues.

There are many challenges but it is great to feel like I can offer them some solutions. They treat me like a rock star. For me personally it has already been an incredible learning experience. I feel like if I can make this work, I can get through pretty much anything. Add in culture, new city, and language barriers and it makes things very interesting.

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