Meeting with da boss

June 11, 2011 at 10:44 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I think this organisation is full of Indian Chiefs… I met with another top management, whom I supposed is the Managing Director.

My actual organisation supervisor is an Indian as well, but she claim herself to be a born-and-bred African… there’s a Sales Manager, and 2 other ppl with the title of “Business Manager” who is also an Indian as well.

…The typical Indians whom we classify as foreign talents in Singapore… all here as top management.
So… we just gotta learn to live with it…

It was a good introduction chat… da boss told me to know more about Africa, the region, and the country…

Also, I’m on the same page with him with regards to finding a focus for this internship, rather than going all around trying to cover all bases 😉

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Friday happenings…a rude awakening

June 11, 2011 at 09:32 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Determined to make today a productive day, I thought through all that have happened over the past 3 weeks and came up with a list of targeted questions for the users.

The main objective was to address the problem of data error coming from the measurement of oil in storage tanks. What the people at production would do is a process called tank sounding to measure the volume of oil. Then they would measure the temperature. Using this 2 data, they would perform some calculation to determine the tonnage of oil in tank.

I thought that since errors are coming from data collection, perhaps it could be the manual calculation and entering of data that could possibly go wrong…and the solution would be to build the formula into the system to do the calculation.
Turn out that it was already being done, with the exception of 3 tanks without calibration data in place… so for that, the user will still have to perform manual calculation.

In conclusion, there wasn’t a real problem.

Towards the end of the day, my pseudo-supervisor came into the office and asked me what I’ve done.
Happily, I reported the above and she retorted rudely ” so what have you done? what are you going to do about it?”
“Could you come up with an Excel chart to help the user do away with manual calculation?”
I was too shocked to formulate a reply… so I simply kept quiet.

Sure I can… the Excel formula would be simple: Mass = Density x Volume
But does it help solve the problem?
…and most likely it would be wrong, because the data is with reference to a calibration data for the tank, and the density table for the particular oil concerned… i.e. I will have to make assumption that the oil tank is a perfect cylinder and the oil expands linearly with temperature increase…
…and I could do all these since I’m so free, but would it be “busy work”?

Must change be necessary?

Must “something” visible need to be done?

Perhaps this is my rude awakening… people out there wants to see something tangible (an Excel chart, a report, etc) done & would not accept the recommendation for things to remain status quo…
Imagine if a company hires a consultant, and the consultant simply diagnose that nothing is wrong with the company, it should remain as it is, would the client be able to accept it?
It would be like a patient who is down with a minor infection going to a doctor… the doctor, with the right diagnosis, simply tell the patient to go home and rest, drink more water etc., without prescribing any medication, would the patient accept it?

Hmm, some food for thought for me…

…and for a funny link very applicable to me, uncanny resemblance of a lifeguard part-time job: http://www.pointsincase.com/articles/internships_paid_for_nothing.htm

Ghana… so far

June 8, 2011 at 13:06 | Posted in Ghana | Leave a comment
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3rd week into PA… got stuck in a rut… not good
So it’s time for some reflection…

Tema
My current location is in Tema.

Tema is to Ghana, like how Kaohsiung is to Taiwan. It is an industrial estate and a harbour town, so you will see a constant layer of smog in the air.
Of course, one cannot compare the infrastructure here in Ghana to Taiwan… asphalt roads are a luxury, even with it, it is dotted with pot holes are high humps (so high that your car needs to come to a complete stop) that makes travelling around here a bumpy experience. You can also see the amount of effort they put into city planning by conveniently putting a roundabout at every cross junctions… vehicles coming from all directions just have to work their way out themselves, instead of having traffic lights to control the flow of vehicles.

There is a huge Chinese community here…what I heard is that most are here for construction projects. Due to high inflation, some Chinese are also here to bring in their Made-in-China products that are cheaper than those produced in Ghana. With Chinese, comes social vices like gambling and lup-sup KTVs which is quite prevalent around here.

But all-in-all, Tema is generally a safe place … perhaps even comparable to Singapore.

Golden Cocoa Guest House
It is a bungalow-turned-staff accommodation rented by the company for their staff from mainly Indonesia & Malaysia working in Ghana. Food, laundry, and room cleaning services are all provided for, so there’s little to worry about here. There’s a gym where all equipment are not usable, so it’s only the good old free weights that I use for training. Plus lots of protein coming in from the fried chicken I eat for lunch & dinner almost daily, I’m sure I could put on some muscle bulk when I return to Singapore …LOL

There’s a small swimming pool that gets spurts of algae growth and debris floating all over… so when the pool is cleaned, I would jump in for a quick swim.

On Sunday mornings, it will be long runs. The flat dirt trail roads make good running surfaces.

Food isn’t fantastic, but I don’t pay for it, so I shouldn’t complain.
The chef seems to know only a few methods of cooking, so it’s either fried chicken or chicken in some unknown gravy… can I have a day of steam chicken? haha
But breakfast of barley porridge or oat porridge is awesome… full of fiber to help with digestion

Entertainment are few… but thanks to satellite TV provider that the guesthouse subscribed to, I get my daily dose of Al Jazeera news in the morning during breakfast, documentary/movies/football during dinner. Visited a lup sup bar called Manila Bar and a casino called Easy Win Casino, nothing great really…

Having foreign staff staying in the one place is a good idea, it provides good opportunity for bonding. Quite interesting to hear stories of “refugees” who worked in neighbouring Ivory Coast but got relocated to Ghana due to conflict, and people who worked in Africa for some time and observed the quirks of an African worker.

Work
And finally work…

My job is to help simplify the process of SAP entry, by coming up with a sort of “cheat-sheet” for users to follow when they do their entry. Upon further interaction with the users, they seem to know what they are supposed to do… and how what they are doing will affect other users.

Then my organisation supervisor wants me to come up with an Excel chart which users could use for reporting & uploading to SAP…
Then she wanted me to identify the sources of error that cause the accounts not being able to reconcile…

In other words, I’m being pointed in all directions without really knowing what I’m supposed to do… so now I’m actually quite lost.

I tried to exercise initiative by following the SAP team when they go around helping staff post entries, but I find myself sitting beside the SAP person watching her send emails to request authorisation for users…not helping at all & simply a waste of time!
And like I said, the users know what they are doing.

I also went to the production site to try to find out possible sources of error… really trying to do something I could…

I know that problems are not always what it seems… what we see is always a tip of an iceberg, or like a blind man feeling an elephant… the problem is always bigger than it seems.

I need to take a step back to see clearly so that I can provide a long-term solution to the real issue.

So now I’m here going through all reports again, hoping to see some light… hoping for a more enlightened tomorrow 😐

Professional Attachment 2011

June 8, 2011 at 10:25 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m pretty confident I could have gotten a good grade for my previous internship, but since it’s an unofficial one, I still have to do my Professional Attachment (PA) as part of my course requirement… but still, that internship was a good one and provided me a valuable learning experience!

I’m in Ghana now doing my PA. First week was spent travelling & trying to settle down; second week was the understanding of job scope and learning the operations of the company, very productive I must say; now in the third week, there seem to be a break in the momentum, getting stuck in the rut & not making any progress in work, reading the same report & reviewing the same process flow chart over & over again… no progress means no progress 😦

So I guess it’s time now to get into the reflective mood, and reviving this blog seems like a good idea… the only issue is the erratic Internet connection here that makes web-surfing a frustrating experience… oh well …

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