Red Cobalt to RED IMPREZA!

As much as I loved the red Cobalt, my love for it was extremely superficial; I loved its red color, its leather seats, its speakers and satellite radio. My love for my new car, however, is more complete. My red Suburu Impreza with sport mode and tiptronic shifting can only be described as a beast. The handling is perfect (my first 4 wheel drive car,) the acceleration is phenomenal, and the turning radius is amazing; think toy HotWheels car turning radius! Everything in New Hampshire is absurdly beautiful. Every time I move between my office and the brewery and look around at the beautiful trees, flowers, and fields, and smile at the tourists, I can’t help but think I am working in adult Disneyland. My apartment is incredible and I am only few yards away from a swimming pool, tennis court, basketball court, and a Borders. My two fellow New England GMTs live in the same complex in the building next to mine. We decided right away that our weeknights would be dedicated to working out and becoming epic guitar legends and the weekends would be dedicated to hiking and eventually skiing; enjoying nature as much as possible. The workout plan we have chosen is P90x which is incredibly challenging and the reason for my extreme soreness as I type this. I bought an awesome acoustic guitar after my first day of work. I have a vision of myself sitting on a rock on top of a hill playing my guitar that I really hope to make a reality soon.  People in the Merrimack Brewery are extremely nice, answering every question I have, offering to let me join their hiking group, and giving me advice on P90x recovery. My training here is in Brewing and I love it. The brewing process is incredibly fascinating and challenging and I am trying really hard to wrap my head around the entire process. I am starting to pick up on the terminology and understand important metrics and key steps in the process.

Skills

Over the course of my training I have had the chance to develop some awesome skills. I am now dangerous with Excel and have a white belt to prove it! I can extract useful data and generate relevant charts from any monster spreadsheet.  I also took a Presentation Skills class where I learned that “and uhh” is my filler phrase of choice. I have since being trying to curb that, and had a chance to see my progress in a presentation I made to some of the senior-most leaders in the company! My team and I worked really hard over our five weeks in St. Louis to put together an awesome presentation on what we hope is a great idea.

I very skeptically read an Insights profile on myself and was blown away when I discovered that it described me perfectly. To test out the “horoscope effect,” I traded with a fellow trainee and read his profile pretending it was mine and didn’t relate at all. I learned that I can best be described as a “Motivating Director.” We spent a day playing an interactive finance game that was surprisingly effective. Having taken several finance courses in college I didn’t expect to learn too much, but ended up learning a lot about the importance of the Statement of Cash Flows and liquidity; my team was forced to take an emergency loan as we waited for our receivables to turn into cash.

I am now on my way to becoming an expert in beer. I have tried essentially all of the major and minor styles of beer and have been taught how to identify the key attributes and qualities that define the beer. I attended an amazing beer pairing dinner, where the beer enhanced every aspect of the delicious food. There are so many subtle qualities to distinguish, it will take years for me to develop a refined enough palate to be a consistent taster, but I am definitely up for that challenge!

Global Induction

Global induction was the second week in our program. GMTs from across the globe came together in St. Louis and stayed at the Chase. Unfortunately this meant that the red Cobalt was garaged for most of the week.  We had a number of events ranging from presentations by senior leaders of the company, to courses on zythology; learning about beer, its styles and pairing it with food.  A highlight of the week was handling all of the concessions for an Arizona Cardinals game.  Unfortunately the game was a blow out and the worst Cardinals loss in quite a few years, but until people started leaving, everyone seemed to want a beer! Over the course of the week we worked in international teams on a competition with a presentation due at the end of the week.  This is where we had a chance to really get to know and work with GMTs from other countries to make a presentation we were very proud to present.  The most interesting part of the experience was seeing the different perspectives of the trainees from other parts of the world, most of who had never been to the United States before. Some of things that I take for granted, like the accessibility of certain technologies and pretzels were really brand new to others. In China they have heavily restricted internet access and can’t use websites like facebook and youtube, so the methods of trying to communicate with the younger generations there are very different.  Everyone on my team bought two iPads to take back to their respective home countries, apparently selling the extra back home will more than cover the price they paid for their iPad.

Week One Fun

The American Way in-flight magazine for the month of August lists Zachary’s in Berkeley as one of the top 10 pizza places in the United States!  That article, a Sudoku, a Crossword Puzzle and a thought kept me entertained on a flight from California to St. Louis. The article was short, the Sudoku was easy, the crossword puzzle was predictable, but the thought was confusing; I was in the middle of a paradigm shift. I was completely conscious of the fact that I was on a one-way flight leaving everything familiar for the complete unknown, but I had absolutely no idea how I was supposed to feel about this. This whole internal debate was a little too dramatic and pretty impractical so I decided being excited would probably yield the most happiness.

Excitement really was the common theme of week one. Checking into the hotel, when I was let into my two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite with amazing living room, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was that I would be staying here for the next five weeks… and this was before I learned about the swimming pool that changes colors, one of the nicest gyms in the area, a movie theater and one of the most happening nightspots in St. Louis, all a 15 second sprint away from my bed. Contributing to the awesomeness of the situation, my roommate is amazing! In any living situation you just hope you can survive living with the other person, I really couldn’t have dreamed of forming such a great friendship with my roommate so quickly.

Monday, my roommate and I hopped into our bright red Cobalt with XM Satellite Radio (90s on 9 has significantly improved my appreciation for life.) We drove down to AB Headquarters and I had a great first day of my professional career learning about all the incredible things we would be doing in the next 10 months.  I had really high expectations for the GMT program and the agenda that has been put together for us completely blew me away. The day ended with a happy hour with extremely senior level executives in the company.  Wednesday, I flew to Chicago and spent the day in a huge consulting firm doing exactly the kind of amazing, exciting stuff you would imagine would go on in a day-long session at a consulting firm. It was really cool seeing a consulting firm from the client perspective, certainly a lot more fun than from the perspective of the consultants.  Considering that many people in the program considered careers in consulting and turned down offers, this was even more validation that we made the right career choice.  Thursday I met with my mentor who is a senior level executive in the company and quite honestly one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, which is why it is so mind-blowing how cool and easy to get along with he is. Getting exposure to such high profile people in the company immediately from the get go is definitely something that blew away all of our expectations.  Friday after work I went out with my fellow GMTs, exploring St. Louis and celebrating a birthday. The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the Central West End which is an incredible collection of everything awesome and the Chase (my hotel) happens to be at the center of it!

Coming Soon!

Get ready!