Andrea is a marketing associate working for an FMCG company in Montevideo, Uruguay.
7:00 a.m.: You've just finished dressing for work when Clara, your cleaning lady, walks in. Your company-provided apartment, while not that big, is nonetheless pleasantly situated and comes with cleaning service included. Hey, why not? You say good morning and finish your coffee, and get ready to leave.
7:10 a.m.: The office is only a 10-minute walk away from your apartment. You'll be just in time for the early morning meeting with the finance department. The day seems to start earlier here, but luckily it finishes earlier too.
9:00 a.m.: Two meetings later and it's only 9 a.m.! And you've got a busy morning ahead of you. As well as Uruguay, a small but relatively affluent country in South America, your office covers territory in Paraguay and Bolivia - small countries nearby that don't have large enough markets to support their own offices. This afternoon you have a conference call scheduled with the Category Manager for all of Southern South America. She's based in Argentina, and wants to know your budget figures for a proposed line extension for all three countries.
11:10 a.m.: A couple of calls come in from Headquarters in the States. Luckily there's no time difference between Uruguay and Minnesota, so communication is easy - but becomes all too frequent! You talk to the Media, Budgeting and Product Development people about the latest figures you sent off for a badly performing product here in your three countries. Though you never worked for this company in the States, you get the impression that you're doing a whole lot more down here by yourself: in a smaller office, a lot more falls onto your plate. It's frustrating, too - you often feel as though your colleagues and managers in the States don't really understand what's going on down here.
12:00 p.m.: You grab a quick lunch in the office cafeteria with two Uruguayan colleagues.
1:30 p.m.: You direct all calls through to your answering machine and hunker down with the spreadsheet. The big conference call is at 4 p.m.
2:00 p.m.: Right in the middle of a spreadsheet analysis, with the presentation to create for tomorrow, the office computer system crashes yet again. You squeeze your head, and then try to relax - there's nothing you can do. It's all in the hands of the technicians now. You talk with a colleague and listen as she talks about her weekend at the beach. You're tired after the hectic morning, and reflect ruefully that Uruguay is one of the only Latin American countries that doesn't believe in siesta. One would be good right now - if you didn't have the conference call coming up, of course.
3:35 p.m.: The computers are back up, and the numbers are looking good. Though the three countries are similar in size, their economies and demographics are vastly different. You reflect, not for the first time, that you're probably doing the job of three people.
3:45 p.m.: Your assistant and travel coordinator comes in to talk about your trip to Paraguay and Bolivia next week. You'll be meeting with merchandisers, sales reps and a couple of local advertising agencies there. You ask her to come back after the call - you need to clear your head.
4:30 p.m.: The call has gone well, and the Category Manager liked your numbers. There's still a lot of work to be done, and all-important decisions to come from the States, but it looks like the line extension will be launched in your territory over the next three months. You take a quick tea break, then start making phone calls for your trip next week.
6:00 p.m.: You finish up for the day and catch a cab to the French Embassy. It's Bastille Day, July 14th, and the French Embassy is holding a garden party to celebrate. Free wine and cheese! You know a couple of expats from the French community - in a small city like Montevideo, all the foreigners tend to know each other.
7:15 p.m.: The French national anthem has been sung, and the reception is in full swing. After a full day working in Spanish you're happy to chat in English with some American friends. You drink wine and talk, all the time thinking about your telephone call and the decisions this afternoon: is it too early to enter the Bolivian market?