Today was the big day: our first day in the office and our initial presentation to the CEO, CFO, and other executive team members. The pressure was on. The morning was spent back in our home office building, also referred to as our condo building. As was the case yesterday, we worked from Caribou, this time to allow housekeeping to come in and clean our place. While we have tried to keep things relatively tidy, without cleaning products, a mop, or even a sponge, this has been challenging. In that regards, it’s been like the Real World Dubai. 6 students coming together to work on a project and spend virtually every second of a 3 week trip together, without any way to keep things clean. Despite this, we’ve had a great experience living together and nobody has been thrown off our 15 story balcony yet.
The clients offices are located about 6 miles away, right next to the Burj Khalifa. We wanted to make sure we didn’t have any issues getting to the office, so we left a couple hours early to do lunch in the Dubai Mall before our meeting which as you may remember is essentially attached to the Burj Khalifa. As we left the building to head to the Metro and up towards that area of town, the sun almost immediately knocked us down. I checked tonight and the high today was 99 degrees. The Metro station is across the Marina and down the street. I would guess it’s slightly less than a mile to get there, but when you are walking in the sun here, it’s virtually unbearable, especially given that we were in business professional. Even carrying our suit jackets, by the time we were halfway there, we decided we will never be doing that again. Cabs are crazy cheap here (a 15 minute ride is only $5), so lesson learned. Regardless, when we finally arrived in the Metro station, we took a second (or 10 minutes) to breath in the air conditioning.
After riding up the Metro, we finally made it to the right stop, but we still had a ways to go. To give you a better lay of the land, Dubai Mall is attached to the Metro, so you don’t have to walk outside. However, the Metro is (also) close to a mile from the mall. Why is everything a mile or so away? Anyway, the connector is an airport style tunnel complete with moving walkways that wind back and forth through at least three major construction sites (I believe two are 40+ story developments and the other is the Dubai Opera building). Even with the walkways, its 10 minutes before getting to the mall corridor that attaches the walkway to the mall itself – that’s another 400 yards. We thought the clients office was halfway between the actual mall and the Metro station, right off the walkway. Now that you understand why we decided to leave way early…. we were completely exhausted when we got to the mall food court for lunch.
Following lunch, we left the food court 40 minutes before the meeting to navigate to the clients office. Well, after hiking through the mall and the walkway corridors, we finally arrived where we thought the meeting was. We walked into the lobby to check in and …. they had never heard of the client name we mention. Momentary confusion set in before they finally directed us to another building, or two (?) – there were two twin towers located across the way perched on top of a parking garage. But, how could we get into the garage and then make our way to the top to get in? Seems easy… yet, it wasn’t. There were no readily accessible entrances we could find. Finally after circling around the building, we found a way in and literally walked through the garage to an elevator bank. We rode to the top but couldn’t get the button on the elevator to work for the plaza level lobby. So we used the stairs, but we had to circle the building to find doors to get in (why are there no doors??). Remember, it was blazing hot.
When we finally found the doors, there was momentary relief … until we realized nobody was on that floor and it was completely under construction. At this point, time was getting tight. We circled back around the building, back to the stairs, back to the elevator and all the way down to floor level to explore further. Most of you probably think the logical entrance would have been the first floor and it ended up that way, but we were told by the last building we had to go to the plaza to get in since the lower levels were a parking garage and just by looking at it from the outside this appeared to be true. Despite the challenges, we made it into the building with minutes to spare.
The office was spectacular and as we looked out the window, the tallest building in the world was the next building over. The meeting itself ended up going great. While the CEO added a lot of input and challenged us with tough questions, at the end, he told us he was impressed and it was a great start. Exactly the feedback we hoped for, and a major relief at least for the moment.
After work, I met up with an old friend from my Miami days for dinner. We went for Cuban, again, there are so few local places in most of the areas we have been. He also told me only 12% of the people that live here are Emirati, and people are from all over the world (as we had been noticing), which explains the diversity of food options. Anyway, he’s working for J&J and was just relocated here this winter. While it had been years since we talked, it was great to catch up and hear about how things were going for him, life in Dubai, and sharing MBA war stories.
Miami just never leaves you, hopefully OSU will be the same.