Ishita here. Meetings and more meetings seem to be the theme for the STFC team. The four meeting warriors – Ananta, Sara, Karthik and I set out this morning to attend the skype calls (a dreaded technology for us here at UW after our maiden debacle) with our contacts from Pakistan and Nepal. Thankfully after initial hiccups and recurring drops the technology co-operated with us for most part. The calls were intense marathon interview sessions with Mr. Saad from Pakistan and Mr. Robin from Nepal. Our focus was to glean as much contextual, cultural & product related information in the little time we had and we prevailed! After the calls we did a de-brief with our project director Monica-ben (every woman/girl here is referred to as ben which means ‘sister’). We thought we were done for the day to find out we could optimize our time with one more meeting with a contact that could shed some light on the strengths and challenges faced by Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It was an interesting meeting to say the least where we learned about donkey bags, jute products and the curious case of a Nepali hat being turned into a cute little wristlet (sheer creativity at play!) We ended our day with a fun exercise of trying to convince representatives at big hotels to accept our “An Afternoon at Hansiba” posters and spread the word to their customers. We managed to convince folks at the Marriot, House of MG (a heritage hotel) and a contact at the main desk for the IIM -A food festival “Sattvik”. All-in-all a busy but productive day.
I wanted to share a few lessons that have been a part of learning given our experience here in India & that our team is trying to internalize:
• Share Context. Repeat in every meeting if needed. Don’t Assume.
• Check for understanding. Give examples to confirm.
• Prep Prep Prep for every meeting
• Don’t stress over the lack of an organized plan. Take lead in developing a schedule that will work for everyone.
• Know that even after organizing as best as you can things will likely change. Don’t fret.
• Smile. You are in the land of contrasts
Signing off now..