Back home… Porto Alegre, keep in touch!

Yesterday I landed back home in Haifa, Israel, after spending a few days in Madrid on my way back from Porto Alegre.  I promised the team that I would have a “concluding” blog, so here it is…  and who knows… as we try to keep the ball rolling, I hope to have good reasons to continue blogging.

Let me start with some thanks…  First to the ESC (Executive Services Corps) team to which I had the privilege to be a member of: Derek, Julie, Kent, Lisa, Mark, Patrick and Paul…  what a great team.  Looking back at the final presentation, I do think we have a lot to be proud of.  Being part of the first Citigroup/IBM team made it also very special.

Second, to the CDC team who was always there for us: Fernanda, Rodrigo, Vanessa…

Third to the local IBM team that supported us all along… and I know we managed to get them nervous (will we be able to reach some meaningful recommendations???): Alcely, Bruno, Juliana, and the local IBM team headed by Luis Toledo…

To Porto Alegre and its great citizens that made us feel welcome everywhere.  They are too many to mention, but still, a special thanks goes to Daniely Votto and Cesar Busatto…  Their passion for Porto Alegre had, without doubt, a tremendous influence in our work.

Many others contributed to our work, some knowingly, others less.  Rafael, our relentless translator that did not cease to amaze us with his ability to translate simultaneously, albeit struggling sometimes to understand…. Portuguese 🙂 !  The many taxi drivers that shared with us their point of view.  And many, many others!

Finally, to IBM for creating this fantastic program, and allowing us to be part of it!

As I see the blogs of new team coming on board, I can only be jealous…  You are all about to live a life-changing experience.

Here are a few random thoughts I would like to share:

  1. Brazil is an amazing country, loaded with positive energy, and it is no wonder that it is growing the way it is…  Don’t let the fast growth pace change the unique spirit of Brazil!
  2. Within Brazil, Porto Alegre is a unique gem.  I have to admit: I had not heard about Porto Alegre before my assignment, and the initial messages were, well, not the most exciting. However, I did discover a wonderful gaucho country that, as they say, borders with Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil!
  3. POA citizens care… maybe the most remarkable impression I carry out of Porto Alegre is the strong social involvement of its citizens.  It is definitely not surprising that Orçamento Participativo (Participatory Budgeting) was born in Porto Alegre.  The visit to the Marista center (either in person, or through our colleagues that were there) definitely left a mark on us.
  4. IBM is a technology company, and during my career, I do always get excited about technology.  But this assignment allowed us to understand how Technology can help, and how it can sometimes get in the way.  I definitely came out much smarter (no pun intended) about how technology can (or cannot) be applied to help in our day to day life.
  5. We all got to appreciate what it takes to run a city…  and how citizens need to be placed at the center of anything a city does.

To summarize, let me  add some selected pictures that will summarize everything we went through.  Given the focus on the individual, these will not be scenery pictures, but about the people:

The visit to IBM:


Our reception dinner at Jose Cezar Martins’ house:


Social activity:


Visiting the city:


Kick off meeting with Cesar Busatto:


A short video of our meeting with the COP…

Here is the link!

Visiting the kinder garden:








Matita pere, Samba!

Associacao Software Livre:


Centro Marista:


Dinner (again):


Final presentation!

P1090725 P1090735

Farewell party:

P1090799 P1090782



And with a touch of humor, this is the napkin where all started…


See you soon Porto Alegre!



Filed under Alumni reflections, Porto Alegre, Brazil

2 responses to “Back home… Porto Alegre, keep in touch!

  1. Lisa Johnson

    Alain – thank you for doing such a great job documenting our ESC experience. You did a fabulous job capturing all of the aspects from the problem and project to the wonderful people, places and food that filled our three weeks.