Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A quick business trip to Bogotá, Colombia (2018)

Part of the "welcoming committee" at Andrés DC Restaurant in Bogotá

In 38 years of traveling to Colombia, I had never taken a strictly business trip there, but an opportunity arose this year (2018) as I was hired by a consultant to do research on pharmaceutical manufacturing. (I have probably not mentioned here that I have worked in the pharmaceutical industry in one capacity or another for over 30 years, and now I do consulting independently under the name TrainReach Consulting, LLC ( One occasion to learn more about the manufacturing and distribution side of the industry came at the GS1 Healthcare Conference in Bogotá, Colombia in April. The timing was wonderful, and aside from the informative topics on the use of barcodes in healthcare, our hosts made every effort to expose us to Colombian culture. The attendees came from several areas of healthcare, from Pharma companies to hospitals and pharmacies, and from every inhabited continent except Africa, which would have its own convention in May.

There were two instances where the culture was celebrated: first, with a reception at the hotel featuring a band that played music from the Barranquilla carnival; and second, a dinner at one of the Andrés chain of restaurants that have become so popular. The first of these was Andrés Carne de Res in the nearby town of Cota, which became popular not only for its food, especially the steak (hence the name "Carne de Res"), but also for its quirky design and a plethora of touches, with a Disney-like precision but definitely Colombian style. There is jovial entertainment or interaction of one form or another almost constantly, and you see it from the time you walk in the door, such as in the photo above from when we arrived.

While we were there, I had the chance to chat with a gentleman from Belgium who was visiting Colombia for the first time, and as he was not going to be able to do any additional touring in the country, I shared with him what I knew and tried to give him some perspective. I've learned that one has to be really careful sharing anything that is negative, because of the danger of possibly reinforcing stereotypes. Of course, there were plenty of positive things to share, such as Colombia's incredible biodiversity and cultural diversity, and he could see the legendary Colombian hospitality for himself.

The weekend gave me the chance to relax in Bogotá before returning home. The week had already been packed!