It was a busy, incredible day from my (Reid’s) perspective.
6 presentations with
5 students per team over
4 hours at
3 bodegas attended by
2 faculty means
1 incredible day for my colleague, Stefano, and me.
The work presented collectively led to:
- 4 custom-designed (from scratch) tools for operating, tracking and/or measuring aspects of tourism at different bodegas
- a completely redesigned website for a client – refocusing the bodega as a place where food and wine come together
- an implementations of MailChimp to stay connected with people after they visit a bodega
- an implementation of Trello to manage internal processes used to fulfill commercial wine orders
- development of a strategy (and implementation of aspects of that strategy) for using tourism to initiate and deepen customers’ brand loyalty
And generated direct business value for the three bodegas with whom we worked via:
- 100’s of hours per year saved,
- 100’s of thousands of opportunities for inaccurate data entry per year eliminated,
- better alignment of communications with a bodegas’ desired brand image, and
- completely new functionalities like the ability to measure the performance of a tourism department.
8:30 AM – No Sleep til… Kaiken!
After limited sleep over the past several days as we pushed to finish the projects, we depart for the three wineries… and the work doesn’t stop.
9:30 AM – Kaiken arrival
Teams set up to present to the director of tourism, the manager of tourism, and three of the tour guides.
9:35 AM – “The Button”
Kaiken Tourism Information team presents. Very strong during the dry run on Thursday. Even stronger today. Awesome demo of the new tool. Clients were very engaged – and happy – as they saw “The Button.” Press it, and all of the reports for measuring the tourism department are generated automatically – a process that used to be all manual.
10:00 AM- #goosebumps
Kaiken Customer Loyalty team presents. I got #goosebumps (for real) to see how well they were presenting, as their dry run had a lot of rough edges. John Henry’s journey to being a more loyal customer connected it all – told the story – it was perfect.
10:30 AM – “You will change the world.”
The Kaiken director of tourism to the students: “it is smart people like you that are going to change the world.” Students work with clients after presentations to install software and walk them through social media recommendations.
10:35 AM: An Old tradition, Una Nueva Bandera
For the first of 4 times today, I pull out the UVA in Argentina program flag – which we all sign as a tradition. We started a new flag for this, our 11th program, and our Kaiken points of contact placed the first signatures on it.
11:15 AM – Todo Español, Todo El Tiempo
After a quick drive, Stefano, Jose, and I arrive at La Madrid Durigutti and the Tourism Information System team presents. Two of the owners, the general manager, and 5+ staff members attend. The tool they designed was just what the client needed — simple, clean, to the point.
11: 45 AM – “The most impressively orchestrated demo ever”
No exaggeration. It was like when a snowboarder puts down a never-before-seen trick in the halfpipe. “The most impressively orchestrated demo ever” was pulled off by the “Order to Cash” (OTC) team- who were working on improving the process between a commercial order being placed and shipped. Four team members simultaneously started videos on their laptops that walked through how 4 staff at Durigutti can use Trello (an online tool that the team customized for their client). Most importantly, the demo powerfully communicated how Durigutti could use Trello to better manage OTC.
12:15 AM – A Part of the Family
The two owners in attendance – brothers Hector and Paolo Durigutti – are famous Mendocinian winemakers. Hector concluded his remarks by telling us we are now a part of this bodega’s family… and that is exactly how we felt when La Madrid Durigutti staff gave us a most amazing gift. Baseball caps with not only their bodegas’ names on it, but the UVA sabre logo on front. I did a double take when they pulled those out. Wow.
12:45 PM – LaGarde Web
Stefano, Jose, and I arrive at Bodega LaGarde and the Website team is presenting shortly thereafter. The team had made changes to their briefing after the dry-run yesterday – and those changes were key as they engaged the clients more deeply in the discussion that followed the students’ presentation.
1:15 PM -“Hello, this is Carolyn – I’d like to set up a tour on January 14 …”
Tay-Jota took the floor, leading off as the tourism reporting and reservations system team presented their work. They nailed a super clever demo as Carolyn (our Mendoza tourism expert who has supported both Lagarde teams for the whole program) pretended to call Hannah M to make a reservation at La Garde – allowing the team to show many features of their Google Sheets-based reservation system.
1:40 PM – The Other Tay-Jota
As we shared a few gifts of gratitude with our clients at La Garde, Stefano told the story behind the Jefferson cup as only he can. It’s an exceptional story behind what UVA folks know as a symbol of sharing, of “making do with what you have from where you are,” and, of course, of drinking wine.
2:00 PM – Real solutions that are used by our clients = post-presentation handoffs
As at both other wineries, work continued after the presentations as the teams met with LaGarde tourism staff to finish the hand-off of newly developed software tools and associated processes.
6:00 PM – Durable Organs
We had the 3rd of our three cultural discussion before dinner – and it was a joy. The students were engaged and insightful with their observations and comments about what it takes to adapt and cope when working internationally. Apparently having “durable organs” is just one of many important characteristics needed when adapting to a new country and culture as we have been doing in Mendoza 😉
8:30 PM – “One last steak…” (isn’t that a song from Hamilton?)
Dinner was great – at an old winery – 6 courses. Wine pairings. Great company.
11:30 PM Did you let the program change you?
A highlighting the day for me, though, was after dinner when we moved outside and shared our reflections on the program. After I had a bit of fun teasing the students about how their dance moves (or lack thereof) strangely aligned with their project teams, I gave a shout out to Michael Ledwith – the then-undergraduate systems engineering student who envisioned this program. Through UVA in Argentina, Michael has changed my life and, as I told the students on our first night in Mendoza, this program can change their lives, too, if they let it.
We closed the evening with each student, Stefano, and myself taking the floor to share how our experiences in Mendoza had affected us, after which we ceremonially signed the program flag.
1:00 AM – An end … or a beginning?
Just as this day may have been the ending (of the program), for many the return to the hotel was the beginning of their night out with new friends.
And so it is as this program comes to an end. But, this day is as much about a beginning as it is an end. A beginning of taking lessons learned in Mendoza forward into the rest of our lives.
We had tons of great times and plenty of laughs in Mendoza. And I couldn’t have been prouder of the students on this program and of the work represented by their presentations today. Tears welled-up in my eyes multiple times while typing this blog entry.
To harken back to a quote (from Jimmy Valvano) that I read at dinner, “It was a full day… a heck of a day.”