You Decide….

So, is this an example of

A.)  Australian dry sense of humor,

B.)  Poor calculations of bicycle stopping distance ???  !!!



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Art, food, and wildlife

We are already in our third week in Melbourne, and I think it is fair to say we have definitely used any time off we have had to explore the city. This is such a walkable city; our feet have taken us all over the CBD (Central Business District) to try new things and explore. I feel like I have been making personal connections with the city itself, reflected in three main areas that have made my short visit special: art, food, and wildlife.


Before I came, I didn’t quite understand what street art really meant. After seeing various parts of the city throughout our “walk-abouts”, I am beginning to get an inkling. The street art in Melbourne is not only for others to view; it also expresses the very core of the individual who has left it there. It is an ongoing story of the city and its residents, one which I have really grown to appreciate!


Art along South Bank


Images are everywhere!


Someone told us today that if we were to eat at one Melbourne restaurant each day, starting when we were very young, we still wouldn’t get through them all by the time we leave this planet – and I believe it! We are definitely spoilt for choice here, with cuisine available from any country. We can eat at a cute sidewalk table in one of Melbourne’s many lanes, at a nice restaurant, or on the go (“take-away”) – seemingly any time of day. This city seems even more vibrant than many other cities I have traveled to around the world. Foodies, you have to put Melbourne on your bucket list! I wonder how many more places I can get to in our last week here, between work and sleep?


Queen Victoria Market – a treasure trove!


Enjoying a gelato after a long day…










We had the pleasure of venturing outside the CBD and visiting beautiful Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary today! Among the wildlife we saw were wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian devils, emus, and koalas. Some of us had the privilege of feeding the kangaroos as well! I got to know Kiki the kangaroo; she greatly enjoyed the goodies I was given to feed her. A very memorable experience indeed. I am so grateful to be able to see such wonderful creatures in one spot; the Sanctuary is doing great work! Thank you!

Kangaroo feeding Melbourne

Feeding time at the Healesville Sanctuary

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Week 2 in Melbourne

After a very intense week of work (including Saturday!) we have been really fortunate to have had two truly unique experiences!

This morning, we had the great opportunity to visit the Front Yard Youth Services – part of the Melbourne City Mission.  MCM has been helping the citizens of Melbourne for over 150 years.  Front Yard is a one-of-a-kind integrated services facility that addresses the physical, social and emotional needs of young people aged between 12 and 25 years.  Over 7,000 youth visited Front Yard last year, and the MCM team helped another 10,000 by phone – primarily homeless kids.  We were all genuinely touched by the powerful impact the MCM team has had on the youth and tough job they do every day.

The team gave us a tour of their facility (within a couple blocks of our hotel) and we had a roundtable discussion with the staff covering a wide range of IT, social media, and business model transformation topics.  We left with a renewed spirit, and a special place in our hearts for this fantastic work.

Friday evening, a couple of us were able to attend the Australian Football League match between #1 North Melbourne Kangaroos and #2 Western Bulldogs.  The scene in Etihad Stadium was incredibly exciting.  As this was our first ever “footy” experience, we were thoroughly impressed with the intense, fast paced nature of the game!  I’ve already told my American friends that these footy players are tougher and play a harder game than both soccer and American football!!

Sadly, we had to leave before the match was over to get back to work (we all got back together in our team room from 10pm to 12:30am!) – but returned with a deeper appreciation for the Australian athlete!


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Smarter Cities Challenge Melbourne


Front row: Elaine Murphy, Waya Araos-Wijangco (Australian Business Volunteers), Sandeep Goel.  Back row:  Jon Birdsall, Liz Hampton (New Zealand CC&CA manager), Becky Carroll, Chris Molloy, Mahesh Ramanayake.

It is hard to believe that we have completed a full week in our assignment here in Melbourne!  It is even more difficult to believe that in this group of six over achieving IBMers, it is the Finance guy who is the first to pick up the blog pen !!  Must be a sign of how busy we have been and how much there is here to distract us…..

Our task is to help the City of Melbourne minimize the impact of emergency events on health, safety, infrastructure, and economic activity – focusing on communications to the city’s inhabitants, before, during, and after a disruptive event.

After starting the week with a welcome session hosted by the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, the City CEO Ben Rimmer, and 70 invited guests, we toured the State of Victoria’s Emergency Management control center.  Without much of a pause, the rest of the week was spent conducting over 25 interview sessions with more than 40 City of Melbourne and State of Victoria officials, professionals, and community leaders.  It’s amazing to see how quickly six IBMers from different countries, backgrounds, and professions came together effectively and efficiently.


Melbourne City Town Hall, our base of operations for Week 1.

More importantly, we discovered what an amazing city Melbourne is – full of youth and diversity, friendly people, beautiful weather, and endless food and entertainment options.


Yummy ???


Street art all over town.       

We have explored parks and river fronts, alleyways and museums, concerts and shopping, the ocean and even one of us found herself diving with sharks!


View of City of Melbourne at night – people always out, enjoying the city.


View of Port Phillip from St. Kilda Beach, a 15 minute trolly ride from Melbourne city center.


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Reflections on San Isidro

When traveling to a new place, you have all sorts of preconceived ideas – good or bad – about it.   For the six of us IBMers, coming to Peru was no different.  None of us had ever been here, and we did our fair share of research.  But there’s only so much you can find out from the pages of your web browser or Lonely Planet guide book.

We quickly began to learn about the area and our project through our many meetings with government officials, private companies, development banks, etc.  But we also interacted and engaged with many citizens in our daily travels and learned more about Peru and its people.

Our time went a little like this.  In week one, we conducted a series of interviews with the various stakeholders.  Week two, we finished up meetings and began to collect our findings and data.  Based on those, we brainstormed on recommendations.  Then, in week three, we developed our presentation and report.  We met regularly with the Mayor along the way to ensure we were on track for a successful final presentation.


The IBM team finalizing their work and enjoying some Inca Kola.

We concluded at a public event on Friday with media and city leaders; there was an interactive question and answer session that followed our presentation, and we believe it was well received by the public, the Mayor and his staff.

The three key messages were:

  1. Data as a platform.  A “data platform” is a building block of data sources that provides a current, reliable and secure source of information for decision makers and application developers to make better decisions and build relevant application solutions that support San Isidro’s priorities such as Sustainable Mobility.
  2. Interconnected, intermodal and integrated.  This crosses technology, infrastructure and modes of transport, as well as cross-organization interaction.
  3. Culture change. San Isidro must address culture change by building an awareness communications campaign that engages residents in the sustainable mobility movement.

Mayor Velarde along with Team IBM, including IBM Peru General Manager Alvaro Merino Reyna and our IBM Peru Host Sophie Perdriset.

While three weeks may seem like a long time, it really just allowed us to scratch the surface on understanding the challenges and opportunities facing our client.  We are hopeful that our recommendations provide San Isidro with validation of the progressive ideas they are promoting, while offering them new ideas that they can incorporate into their Sustainable Mobility strategy.

We learned a lot about  Lima and its challenges and opportunities, and we also sampled a few of its many treasures.  Here are a few highlights: Peruvian food is delicious and meals are to be enjoyed and used as time to build relationships – not rushed through; there is tremendous respect for Pachamama (Mother Earth); and finally, Peruvians are kind, helpful and appreciative. They boast an incredibly rich and diverse history.

We’ve all grown both personally and professionally through the experience, and made some lifelong friends along the way.   One team member summed it up well when he said, “In the first week, we were colleagues.  In the second week, we turned into friends.  In the third week, we became family.”  We accomplished great work like colleagues, we toured, dined and connected like friends, and we argued, made up and grew stronger like family.

From Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and the United States,

Team San Isidro

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Our Last Week in San Isidro


Over the past week, we’ve been working hard to develop a plan that we hope will help the Muncipalidad de San Isidro with its sustainable mobility efforts.  We’ve also continued to experience the full range of local transportation modes.

There are a lot of factors we’ve considered as we finalized our set of recommendations – from the key findings that could impact execution to the time to value.  We’ll first share our work with the Mayor and his staff on Thursday, and then, on Friday (and likely after some tweaks), we have the opportunity to present our plan at a public meeting.
Being able to share the plan in a public way should prove to be especially rewarding to our team, as we built that plan based on the findings of our meetings with many stakeholders who will be in attendance.  


Last week, we also had the opportunity to meet with students and young professionals as part of a mentoring program that San Isidro runsWe shared our career stories and some personal lessons learned  and so did they  then, we had an engaged question and answer session.  It was an extremely rewarding experience for us to meet such an energetic group.


 Of course, in between all that hard work, we’ve been busy exploring Peruvian cuisine, culture and history.

Over the past weekend, we attended a cooking class at the Urban Kitchen, where we learned to make ceviche, causas, lomo saltado, aji de gallina, and, of course, the famous pisco sour.  Afterwards, we headed to the Inca Market to shop for our friends and loved ones who have supported our three-week journey away.

pachacamac-teamOn Sunday, we traveled about an hour out of town to the archaeological site Pachacamac, which was first occupied around 200 AD. There are a number huacas (or pyramids) on site, including the Temple of the Sun.  This Temple overlooks the Andes mountains from one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other; it’s dedicated to their sun god Inti.


Some of us also experienced the ‘Ciclovia,‘ which opens some of the main avenues in San Isidro and Miraflores for nonmotorized traffic only.

ciclodiaIt was a haven for cyclists, rollerbladers and walkers, with bicycles for hire and information booths related to activity and health.


To close out our final week, our days and nights will be filled with finalizing our presentation and report.  We will meet each day in our hotel conference room and review, discuss, update and refine – and on Friday, after we present to the public, we will celebrate our time and work together.


From Peru,

Team San Isidro


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One week to go

As the summer starts to shine into former cold Memphis – some south-Americans could call it frozen Memphis! brrrr…. – IBM Team starts to develop its final report. After a hard-working week full of interviews, team storming and team performing we have a good and sunny sky over our heads, with the team ready for divide and conquer.

The issue we are trying to solve is rather engaging. Trying to help other people to enhance their possibilities towards a more appropriate health care is not something we usually do on our daily jobs – what is more close to help our clients to be more successful on their objectives and to increase their return. Some of them may also reflect, down the line, in better life quality for normal citizens (I’ve done myself a project on a major Brazilian Oil&Gas company that addressed improvements on their Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) area!) – but this is different. Although our SCC main product is a recommendation list, all of us know that even our smallest piece of recommendation would make a direct change in improving someone else’s lives, and this is driving our excitement in getting it done, and to make it as easy as possible for the city to roll it out right away.

Moreover, it has been a real pleasure to work along with Memphis Fire Department team, seeing in every contact how much they care for their population and, on the other side, how much the city respect them for that. Engaged stakeholders are critical for any project, and knowing that those guys – along with city’s officials, like Mayor Jim Strickland, CEO Doug McGowen and Innovation Memphis head Justin Entzminger – will hold responsibility to implement it after we leave town is nothing but everything we would want. Mayor Strickland use to say that he is glad MFD Director Gina Sweat didn’t run for mayor cause she is far more popular than he is … and we are delighted to have her on board, as well as Chief Andrew Hart – our main MFD contact – always willing to help us relentlessly. Oh come on… The truth is that we couldn’t find no one stakeholder that is not supportive! And this is amazing, something reeeeeally hard to experience.

So, here we go for our last week. Although it’s non-stopping work (that could easily lasts for another 3 months), there are no clouds in the sky, and we have a beautiful sightseen of what lies ahead.

Top of Pyramid light

Hugo, Aliza, Kathi, Masharn, Keith and Tina on top of Memphis Pyramid


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