In the month of April 2013, I was in the process of finalizing my summer internship at either an international brand consultancy firm in Bombay or a beverage company in Hong Kong. That’s when I met Frontier LLC during their recruitment visit to the HKUST campus. Rather than take the tried & tested road, I decided to take a leap of faith and spend my summer in Ulaanbaatar with Frontier – and I’m glad I did!
On reaching Ulaanbaatar, I was given a brief induction about the company and the conference that I would be in charge of, and by the second day, was thrown into the deep end – and was made aware that there would be no handholding.
The harsh economic climate surrounding Mongolia at the moment did not make things easy. There was a definite air of negativity around about the state of the economy and certain investment policies, which were driving people out of the country. This made my experience a lot more challenging, and also taught me a lot about economic cycles that frontier economies go through. Working at Frontier opened a lot of doors easily and gave me the opportunity to meet with key policy makers from the Government, CEO’s of large Mongolian companies and also senior representatives from international organizations such as General Electric, World Bank, IMF, etc. Aside from this, working at Frontier was very different from any other internship - entrepreneurial spirit is highly encouraged at Frontier. I was given a project with deliverables that mattered, and not just an assignment that could be passed on to the next intern.
To live in, Ulaanbaatar is a bustling city with an incredible number of Range Rovers, Lexus 570’s and terrible traffic! There are several good restaurants, bars and nightclubs spread around the Central area of the city, with something for everyone. But Mongolia is not just about Ulaanbaatar, there is also the countryside, which is where the real beauty of this country lies. I was fortunate to go camping to the countryside on a couple of occasions and stay with nomadic families in their gers, drink homemade airag and trek through the vast open plains.
My three months in Mongolia were an absolute surreal experience. They opened my eyes to the concept of global frontier markets and have had a huge impact on my post-MBA plans. Taking myself out of my comfort zone has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. However, like any rapidly developing country, Mongolia has its fair share of social issues, but these should not be a deterrent for anyone to come here. I will take back fond memories and hope I get a chance to come back at a later point.