Ian Bromage - General Business Projects in Mongolia
Mongolia is a remote country, but as a volunteer with Projects Abroad I never felt isolated. Oko the country manager ensured that volunteers were introduced to each other and often took us for group picnics in the countryside.
One quickly discovered that Mongolian picnics did not consist of dainty cucumber sandwiches, but instead involved vast mountains of food, so before coming to Mongolia ensure you pack a hearty appetite. It seems a Mongolian can consume an entire sheep in one sitting.
My first impression of Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia's capital, was of a dreary city that sat uneasily in the natural splendour of the steppe. But the harsh exterior masks the warmest of hearts and exuberant character as the people of Mongolia always extend the traditional hospitality of the nomads to visitors.
It is perhaps the vastness of the countryside that is the most awe inspiring feature of the Mongolian landscape. It is rare to have the opportunity to experience such pristine wilderness and your mode of transport may range from jeep to kayak, horse to camel.
Mongolia is a place where the winters may be cold but the welcome is always warm and where your skills will always be appreciated.
For me, the challenge was to assess a young software development company and make recommendations to improve the management processes and increase market share. Previously I had worked in a large multinational, but now I had to operate without the vast resources that I had become accustomed to. However, what I could depend upon was the enthusiasm and hospitality of my Mongolian colleagues. Their willingness to learn, accept change and take risks to grow their business should serve as an inspiration to many Western managers.