Written by Shaun Hundle, MBA ’19
Upon arriving in Mexico City, we knew we had big shoes to fill and a reputation to uphold as the third Haas team that has worked with Citibanamex. We were tasked with determining how we could make the online user experience easier for Citibanamex’s potential credit card customers. It sounded like a simple task on first read but we would quickly realize that the project had many stakeholders and puzzle pieces.
Mexico City itself is a sprawling metropolis with long traffic delays, particularly during rush hour in the rainy summer season. Luckily, we stayed at a hotel relatively close to Citibanamex’s HQ, and those of us who were brave enough to cross the busy roads on foot even walked to the office every day.
Working hours in Mexico City are quite long. Employees are usually at their office from 9AM to 7PM, but that includes a longer lunch break that can be up to two hours. We were fortunate enough to have our client join us for a couple lunches, so we got a good sense for what the typical elaborate Mexican working lunch is like.
During our first week at our client site, we were surprised by how complex the HQ operations were, being spread across three different buildings and multiple cross functional teams working on the same assignments and issues. Although intimidating at first, we quickly realized that everyone who had a stake in the project was very interested in speaking with us and saw the problem in their own unique perspective. This made our job as neutral fact finders even more interesting and layered.
We also developed a great relationship with our client sponsor. We were able to check in with him frequently enough in order to manage expectations and get his early buy-in on the project direction and, eventually, conclusions. This allowed for a great final report, where we were able to provide some great insights to all the project stakeholders without any major surprises. Long hours of client interviews, data analysis, research paper reviews, internal brainstorming and slide writing paid off with a successful client presentation.
When we reached Mexico, we had known each other for about a month while we worked at Haas to prepare for the project at Citibanamex. The familiarity grew into friendship during the two weeks spent in Mexico City. We learned about each other’s quirks, understood everyone’s preferences and limitations, we even had our own inside jokes. Most importantly, we learned to contribute to the team goal by bringing our individual unique strengths. At first, we diverged – each of us focusing on the problem from different angles – and then we converged – combining all the findings into a cohesive and constructive recommendation for the client.
During our time off, we were able to eat tacos al pastor from many different taquerias, as well as eat at some of finest restaurants in the world, like Pujol. Getting to visit the Pyramids at Teotihuacan and ride our bikes alongside a main boulevard in Mexico City were also some great highlights from our time in Mexico City. All of us agreed that Mexico City feels like a hidden gem – so close to us in the U.S. with lots to offer and see, and yet it feels like you’re worlds away from home when you’re actually there. We’re all eager to visit again!