Sunday, January 8, 2012

DAY 7– Banco General, Industrias Panama Boston & Farewell Dinner

If there was one thing about time, it was that it flies by unmercifully when you’re just having the time of your life. In the blink of an eye, we have came to the end of our short yet happening trip.

Last day was basically company visits – first to Industrias Panama Boston, then Banco General & ending with a blast at the Miraflores Restaurant overlooking the locks at the Canal.

Industrias Panama Boston

From afar the bus, Panama Boston Industrias (PABO) was unrecognizable, blending in well with other factories, making it hard to tell them apart. Only on a closer inspection did we find the slightly rusted signboard hidden behind some parked cars, written in Spanish. We strolled through the rather worn out tarmac road of the front, avoiding puddles of water formed in some of the depressions. There, standing at the front gate, was a young man who introduced himself as Eduardo, our contact for PABO.


Despite the worn out appearance of the building, one ought to not shallowly judge the company as we later learnt - by the overwhelming kind hospitality of the company. Sure, the temperature inside the factory was soaring to above bearable levels, and the noise and smell wasn’t at all pleasant to begin with, but just seeing the passion and pride in which Eduardo presented the manufacturing process made everything so much more bearable.

2011-12-15_09-59-07_912                       The young and curious engineers of the day with Mr. Eduardo on the right


The company’s two main products – Margarine (above) and detergent (below). A rather odd combination if you’d ask me.



Ironic almost, seeing that a month ago before the trip, my team had difficulties soliciting simple answers from Eduardo – which took a long time before he got back to us with almost irrelevant answers. This, was essentially a different Eduardo that we would have envisioned. He made sure that everyone of us heard him, occasionally even repeating himself twice since the group was rather large. He gladly took questions, answered them with an air of confidence and meticulously explained some technical processes to the core, even when he really needn’t to. Later, we were even given a box of detergent and provided with decent refreshments and snacks – a pleasant surprise.In less than a week, Eduardo sent us the promised materials during his presentation.

                                            Cathy & Aaron, future engineers

IMG_2135         We even got free detergent. Thankfully no one got stopped at the customs, just imagine
                      the complexity that would arise simply trying to explain what is in the box.


We were pleasantly anticipating the visit to the Bank – for despite the great hospitality at Panama Industrias Boston, we simply needed a break away from the heat and lingering odor of sweat, chemicals and margarine. The Bank would also be our very last ‘formal’ visit, after which we are technically allowed to let our hairs down.

We were given a presentation on what the bank does, where it stands in the international market, its main industry clients etc. Ross, a finance major, wasted no time in asking smart questions. Before we left, the manager of the bank, a long time liaison, commented on the great impression Fisher students make every visit with our sleek dressing and professionalism.


A point that is interesting to note that out of the three representatives who presented, two were educated in the U.S. Even Mr. Edwin and Ms. Shirley from the Panama Canal and Copa Airlines respectively received their degrees in the states. Seeing that these people who were educated from the states are currently in important leadership roles, the question that arises here is: Does being educated abroad, specifically the U.S. gives these people a hiring advantage? Does it imply that the education system in Panama is somewhat lacking in competitiveness?

Cultural Dinner at Miraflores Restaurant

Later at night, we had dinner at the balcony of the Miraflores restaurant, overseeing the locks. Having seen the magnificent canal in the day light, its night view wasn’t any less charming – the dimly lit lamp post casted silhouettes of weird figures on the sparkling waters. The highlight however, must have been the lavish spread of food, eat-all-you-can style. As we sink our teeth into tender juicy seafood and meat, some performers came from nowhere and started putting a spectacular display of cultural dances.

Vocabulary constipated, I’ll let the pictures and video do the talking.

IMG_2145Our table – note the canal at the background


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