“Ghormeh Sabzi is my favourite Iranian dish. It’s a highlands dish, a cold weather dish made of lamb or goat with local green herbs, preserved lemons and lots of spices. Not many Westerners like it, but Tony tried it and he loved it!”
This is Brett Morgan, Business Development Consultant at Mipac, telling me about the most surprising part of his recent business development trip to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Germany with Tony Mathison, Mipac’s Strategy Manager.
“Have you tried making it at home?” I ask.
“Oh, no, no, no,” says Brett. “I don’t want to spoil it. It’s hard to get the ingredients here, and I prefer to leave it with the romance of visiting this mine site at three and half thousand meters.”
“…Which is not romantic at all!” argues Tony. “I don’t think there are any romantic mine sites in the world. (laughs)”
It’s the first time these two have travelled together – something which is not unusual for Mipac. Often, our business development trips bring together sales team members and technical experts – a combination which helps to both establish and manage relationships and also showcase the breadth of our team’s expertise and experience.
“I’m a relationship guy, but Tony is much more technical, so he could see the way the companies we met with were structured and provide suggestions on how we approach certain conversations,” explains Brett.
He goes on to explain that growing new business opportunities – particularly greenfield projects which can bring in $20+ million in value for the Mipac business – is always a long-term game involving repeated site visits and a dedication to building and maintaining good relationships over time.
“I always pack a carton of Tim Tam packets, so when I meet someone who has a wife and kids, I can give them some to take home,” Brett says. “I’ve never met anyone in Iran or Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan not like Tim Tams. They’re the world’s best biscuits! Of course, Tony would then explain that there are two types of people – those that keep them in the fridge, and those that keep them in the cupboard…”
“There’s the people who like them in the fridge and the people who are wrong,” Tony interjects, laughing.
After a good 10 minutes discussing the delicious delicacies of the places Brett and Tony have visited over the years and whether either of them have ever gotten sick from the food (answer: no), I ask how they’d rate each other as travel companions on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being awful, 10 being the best imaginable).
“Good, 9-10,” says Brett. “it’s not Tony’s first rodeo and it wasn’t mine either, so I don’t think were any surprises on our behalf. Though Tony, with his technical mindset and systems reading barcodes really struggles with my suitcase because it’s got the little barcode stickers [for luggage tracking] everywhere.”
“How does the system know what barcode to read?!” Tony asks.
It’s a valid question, though more applicable to Tony’s own suitcase in the end – which seemingly wasn’t quite ready to leave Kazakhstan.
“I finally got it back once I got back to Australia, but I had to buy clothes for our client dinner in Duesseldorf and for the flight home en route,” Tony sighs. “My jeans were almost standing up by themselves!”
Despite lost luggage, both Tony and Brett are looking forward to continuing the relationships that they’re establishing in this part of the world.
“A lot of people, when you mention a country with ‘stan’ on the end of it, think of places like Afghanistan in horror,” Tony explains. “But if somebody blindfolded you and you didn’t know where you were, [Tashkent] could be another big city anywhere.”
“I love different cultures,” adds Brett. “This region is one of my favourites.”
For more insights into where our Mipac team travel, stay tuned for more stories!
P.S. In case you’re wondering – Tony also rated his travel companion as a 9-10 / 10. This may have been because I asked them together. We will never really know.