High-Impact Entrepreneurship

eMBA Field Report: Dos semanas en Colombia

By Justine Lelchuck

Justine graduated from Harvard Business School in May 2011 and is spending her summer as an eMBA with EcoFlora in Colombia. Justine was honored with the prestigious Dean’s Award for service to school and society at her commencement on May 26th.

As the plane descended, the speckles of light detailed to me the basin I would soon be absorbed in for the summer – Medellin. Immediately upon arrival it was as if some invisible hand had pressed the Staples’ “easy button” for me. My bags won the lottery and weren’t searched in depth by the Colombian Police, Adrían, EcoFlora’s VP, was able to spot me immediately upon exiting customs, and the hotel we arrived at (my home for the summer) was pristine and the people who worked there so helpful. I don’t think I’ve ever had an international trip to a new country, with a language I’m not completely fluent in, go so smoothly.

The past two weeks have been one version or another of that “easy button” constantly being pushed. Day one of EcoFlora was helpful and set me on the right path for the summer. My main project is determining which US Personal Care companies are best suited to partner with for a specific organic, natural blue dye EcoFlora has created. Each individual in this 37-person company is well informed, and when they are not, know exactly who I am supposed to look to in order to obtain the answer.

Outside of work I’ve attempted to enwrap myself into the Medellin culture. My colleagues have been generous with their time, patience (given my mediocre Spanish skills) and friendships. I’ve been able to explore the heat and passion of a salsa night life, the simultaneous liberation and stimulation of cumbia music while sipping on Aguardiente, the mayhem and noise of a football game gone into overtime and the quiet tranquility of the botanical gardens while reading for pleasure, an activity long forgotten.

I’ve only been here for dos semanas, but I think I’m falling in love with this city.

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