The first 48 hours in Lima

A 14 hour journey later (which I’m told was actually one of the shortest amongst my other peers!) I arrived in Lima, Peru from Vancouver ready to start my Social Sabbatical.

Being an SAP employee, I feel very fortunate to work for an organization that values experiential learning and offers such a unique opportunity for us SAPers to come together from different locations, backgrounds and skills to work on short-term consulting projects with social enterprises.

I arrived in Lima around 1am on Sunday, April 2 and after a few hours of rest, woke up eager to meet the others whom I’d interacted with on the phone, but finally had the opportunity to meet in-person. We set-out for a day of team building at the hotel and a walking tour of the area around our hotel in Miraflores.

A typical street vendor selling magazines and refreshments.

We walked to Larcomar for lunch, which is a fancier mall overlooking the ocean. This is the posher side of Lima with high-rises, restaurants and branded stores. What a stunning view!

From revisiting CSR to MBTI and conversations to get to know my team members, we also played a game called Engineers and Architects which I found an insightful reminder before starting our projects.


Can you spot the difference?

One of the structures was what the team of architects had to get the team of engineers to create while the other was what our team of engineers actually built.

You see, architects may have a vision of the end result they want, but engineers are the ones that build the product and if there are challenges in the communication, then the results can differ. The same analogy applied to our projects and working with our client organizations. But more importantly what stood out for me was that sometimes it’s even important to challenge the vision and solution to see if the solution proposed is actually what is needed to solve the challenge.

Challenging the Deliverable

The 12 of us are split into sub-teams of 3 where each group is working with a different social enterprise to help solve a business challenge. I am working with Nuno,who is based in Ireland and Marianne, who is based in Germany with an organization called Prisma. Prisma’s vision is changing lives, we change the world. The goal of our project is to help people with disabilities (PwD) increase their chances of gaining employment. The deliverable defined for us is to co-design an IT Training program for people with disabilities, so to increase the technical skills of those with disabilities to find employment. We spent some time discussing our approach and strategy only to come back to challenge the solution proposed and deliverable.

Would the creation of a training program actually lead to an increase in employment opportunities for PwD?

There were multiple questions we had such as: What are the barriers for PwD? From a prospective employee and employer perspective? What social support is provided by the state? What are the job opportunities/ target sectors/ industries? What is the target population and what types of disabilities were we looking at? What are the skill/ knowledge gaps?

It all came down to us for the need to do a validation analysis to understand the current challenges, ideal future state and barriers for PwD. Unfortunately, due to flooding situation in Peru, we were unable to connect with our organization before the sabbatical. We were clear about one thing, we had to talk to Prisma and ensure that if were to deliver something, it had to be something of value that could actual achieve this goal. We were looking forward to meeting the Prisma team the next day.

Day 2

Official kick-off of the Social Sabbatical at the SAP office in Lima, Peru- joined together with representatives of the social enterprises

We spent the morning travelling 12km to the SAP Peru office which took us an hour and 15 minutes to get to. Experiencing the Peruvian roads, traffic and honking explained why the concept of time is very relative to traffic condition and modes of transport here.

I left feeling inspired after hearing about each of the four organizations, the people working for them and their perseverance to make a difference with the challenges they faced.

Meeting the Prisma Team

Definitely an awaited moment. The members of the Prisma team were very warm, gracious and knowledgeable. We spent the afternoon bonding over lunch discussing current affairs, how good Peruvian food is and yes, even US politics. We ate at a beautiful restaurant called Huaca Pucllana overlooking some ruins.

After lunch, we went to the Prisma office, where we saw our office space for the next month. The next couple of hours were spent in conversation getting to know the organization, challenges and planning the research we had to do. This journey has just begun.

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