Second week at Clausen – Workin Hard – Trusha’s Birthday

Posted on October 19, 2008


I have now completed my second week of work at Clausen. I am feeling good about what I have accomplished to date, but am worried about having my project completed in time. I have nine more weeks to finish a huge amount of work and to not only come up with solutions to many problems, but also to create documentation and implementation plans.

Sunrise over Montevideo, Uruguay
As I have had to tell a couple people, I am not here on vacation. This is hard work! I am working 10 hour days and maintaining a very high level of focus. At the same time I am trying to remember that an important part of this trip is to pass on knowledge and experience I have to other people at Clausen. Many employees want to talk to me to practice their English and to understand what my life is like at home. They are very good people and this is one of my favorite parts of each day.

I started this week with a presentation to the top management of Clausen. I covered the work that I had already done, some initial thoughts, and a proposal for how I will spend the remaining ten weeks. The proposal went over very well and it is clear that I will be actively supported.

The EY CR Fellows discussing our projects and ideas on how to proceed in the Executive Lounge at the Sheraton. The only complementary items are water (gas or no gas) and mellon balls on a stick.

I am following a fairly standard way of identifying where the issues are by conducting individual, confidential interviews with employees from all over the company. I have completed about 20 interviews so far and have six remaining. The interviews are intense and I can only complete a few each day so I can maintain my disposition. It is so important that I can remain neutral and calm throughout the process. I am good at this, but it can be challenging to have problem after problem put upon my shoulders. This is what I volunteered for though, and it has been so interesting. It is amazing how many people can be talking about the same problem and not realize it. My job is to draw those links and propose some solutions.

I had the great fortune this week of being led on tours of the Clausen manufacturing plants. The intense focus on high quality, extremely cleanliness, and standardized procedures makes for an unusual tour. A pharmaceutical manufacturer is so different from the manufacturers of chemicals, bus doors, ketchup, and rail cars that I have seen in the past. It was very interesting and will help me to understand the manufacturing process for my project.

In the plant you need to wear protective clothing both to keep the product clean and to keep the workers safe and isolated from the active ingredients.

Overall, I am still in high spirits. I am having fun in Montevideo and I am being treated so well by the people I work with. They inspire me and make me want to work harder for them. Eleven weeks is a long time to be away from home and the familiar, but this challenge is still keeping me excited and focused. Keeping the weekends busy with activities and new experiences is important. I am told at the four week point that keeping up this enthusiasm gets harder, and I will be keeping an eye out for that. Having ready access to friends, family, and co-workers through email, chat, and VOIP makes me feel still connected. I love the supportive emails I am getting from people who are reading my blog. Now if only I could find a way to still watch the Steelers pound the Browns…..

Enjoying dinner at the Restaurant Tandory. The chef took pity on us and made us a wonderful dinner of vegan indian food. It was a fantastic dinner and we left so full. We enjoyed a very nice Uruguayan white wine with dinner (sauvignon blanc?).

Happy Birthday to Trusha! We were happy to celebrate her Birthday with her even though she did not tell us until is was too late to buy her a gift. I hope you enjoyed the nice Indian meal (with some hot sauce).

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