Inside the Internship: Erycka in Colombia

Hello Readers,

I’m finally in Colombia! It’s been about three weeks now. I am in Bogota which is very much a city. It’s got a New York feel only the buildings aren’t as tall, some people go home for lunch, and taxis and manicures are much cheaper. But the hustle and bustle are very much alive. People walk a lot and there’s traffic. I’d like to think that most of the traffic is a result of half of the city being under construction in order to expand the TransMilenio transportation system. In the meantime there is a lot of traffic and a lot of riding on the breaks.

Colombia, as well as several other South American nations, just celebrated their Bicentennial Independence Day. I was lucky enough to arrive just in time for the festivities, where one of the main and very anticipated events was the opening of an urn which served essentially as a time capsule, as it had been buried a hundred years ago with instructions to be opened on Independence Day, July 20th (note that the vase stories are not true).

Also in a few days there will be a new President. Some of you may have heard that relations between Colombia and Venezuela have been strained (further). This is a result of allegations made by the current and outgoing government claiming that Venezuela’s government was knowingly harboring rebel groups.

I got pretty lucky with my living situation. I live in what is considered a nice bohemian area, La Macarena, and it’s right next to la Plaza de Toros (where bull runs happen). I know Mara, poor bunnies. In fact there’s a big debate about whether the practice should continue. Animal Right activists vs. those who believe that the practice is part of the Colombian culture and heritage.

So I’m in my third week at PlanES Consultores (the link may still be under construction but they’re working on it now). On my first week I attended a presentation by Bogota’s Chamber of Commerce on the GEM report – another international business environment monitoring measurement.

Last week hydrology and recycling were the issues at hand as we put together some offers for how Coca Cola Company in Colombia can become an inclusive market. It was personally challenging for me to contribute to how Coca Cola could grow (albeit sustainably and while creating opportunities to the Base of the Pyramid) to become part of the market (think Amartya Sen– article that we read in Econ, and Shiva’s counterargument)

As I write now, my next tasks are to create a glossary of environmental terms in Spanish – yikes! This means reviewing all the lectures and some articles and come up with mechanisms of compensating externalities here in Colombia (notice there’s no “u” in Colombia)
The areas of expertise in the office are Law and Economics so I’m here to add the Environmental spin.

Furthermore, I’m getting a crash course in various business elements and re-inforcing project management skills.

- Erycka Montoya, MS ’11