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Malorie, Anastasiya, and I arrived in Piura after a 23-hour journey in which we transferred twice in Mexico and arrived in Lima at 5:30 am. After going through customs we boarded a plane on the final leg of our journey to Piura. Descending through the clouds, the desert scrub terrain transitioned briefly to fairly lush greenery before meeting the ocean.

Piura’s unique situation of being the recipient of both the cold Humboldt Current and the warm El Niño Current make it both tropical and arid at the same time. It makes for a great climate for agriculture most of the time, but also makes it highly susceptible to climate change that effects the balance of the currents, resulting in massive flooding every 2 to 7 years. As the region is due for another El Niño occurrence, it is on everyone ’s minds. We found out later at our initial meeting that there were a number of important El Niño related infrastructure projects that the government has and is currently pursuing aimed at mitigating the risk and funneling seasonal rains into productive ends in the form of reservoirs and irrigation canals. As our focus is on economic development in the agriculture and fishing industries, this is highly relevant.

Overview of commercial activity and the Procompite initiative in the region:

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First Contact

After the wheels touched down on the tarmac and then we slowed down to a safe speed, the plane erupted with applause from passengers. Much to our dismay they were not welcoming us, but merely celebrating a safe landing. Apparently it is a common phenomenon for planes travelling to more remote areas throughout South America. After picking up our bags from the only baggage carousel, Solange warmly greeted us with the one word question, “Thunderbird?”, and we crammed into taxis to what would be our home for the next five weeks. In arriving at our apartment, we were happy to find the place fully equipped with reliable internet, hot water, a full kitchen, and some good places to work. With a friendly landlord who also happened to live right next door, what more could we ask for?

Meeting the Client

We had our first meeting this morning, and with it came our first challenge. What do you do when you arrive on your first day to meet a primary stakeholder and he wants to deviate significantly from the scope that the preceding team had worked so hard to define and establish? Although on our first day in the field, we are still in the discovery and relationship building phase of our consulting project, our understanding gathered from the first team and subsequent research has led us to believe that deviating from our current trajectory would be a big impediment to the continuity of our initiative. As such, we decided it would be best to not rock the boat at the beginning before we have established sufficient rapport to assert ourselves, but rather rely on the support of another stakeholder who we believe to be more aligned with our strategic plan to influence him. Essentially, we want a second opinion. As both stakeholders are very important to the success of our project and the future success of the teams that will proceed us, we will have to tread carefully. We will let you know how it goes in the posts that follow…