Student - June 27, 2013

'It's all very hierarchical'

Text:
Suzanne Overbeek


Who? Tom de Leeuw, MSc Food Technology
What? Final internship at dairy company Gloria S.A.
Where? Lima, Peru

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28-HEW-Tom-de-Leeuw.jpg

photo: .

Gloria is a very big company, but not particularly innovative: they mainly imitate Nestlé and Danone. The Research & Development department is highly pragmatic and spends much of its time solving problems in the factories. The research department for South America is largely based in Lima. It consists of six people clustered together in a small cubicle with their computers. I only got access to a computer when one of the six permanent employees was away. It's all very hierarchical. Every email I sent had to be CC'd to the head of R&D, a kindly man of 70 who was the elder statesman of the company. I worked on six or seven small projects, including the quality of their light yoghurt and the further development of probiotics in yoghurt.
I was really amazed by the city; it was all so new and different. The self-built houses, for instance, which had steel pylons sticking out the top in case another floor needed to be added. The traffic in Lima is awful: an endless maelstrom of honking and countless busses, big and small, all with a driver and an assistant who shouts out its destination. I experienced lots of near misses where the bus driver would slam on the breaks and everyone would shoot forward in their seat.
In the weekends I'd often go out in Lima. If you want meet up with people to go out you really have to plan it ahead of time. You can't just call them up spontaneously when the bar is an hour away. The nightlife is a lot of fun; when a good song comes on everyone puts down their drinks and starts salsa dancing and then they sit down and start drinking again when it's over. They don't stand around stamping and spilling beer like the Dutch. I did occasionally join in the salsa dancing, but unfortunately I never really learned how to. I did learn Spanish from my girlfriend, who I met on a night out. Together we'd go to the city centre, or the beach to soak up some sun. Or we'd go out for dinner: a favourite Peruvian evening activity. There are eateries everywhere, and you can even buy food from street vendors. In my opinion, Peruvian cuisine offers the tastiest and most varied food in all South America. 

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