From the moment I stepped off the plane in Abuja, Nigeria I sensed there was something very special about this city and the people who live here. The warmth of Nigerians, plus the extraordinary welcome we’ve been given have made us feel less like visitors and more like extended family members. In Nigeria, extended families are still the norm and the backbone of the social system. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers and in-laws all work as a unit through life – similar to how our 5-member IBM team will be working together over the next 3 weeks as part of IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge.I’m honored to have been selected to participate in IBM Smarter Cities Challenge! This is IBM’s largest philanthropic initiative that contributes the skills and expertise of top-talent IBMers to address key challenges facing cities around the world. Over the past 3 years, 100 cities have been selected to receive grants based on having a critical issue to resolve, coupled with a desire to take action and drive change.
Our IBM Nigeria Smarter Cities Challenge team comes from all parts of the globe: Philippines, Dubai and the United States. We are a small but mighty group – with over 130 years of diverse experience among us in areas ranging from business strategy, consulting and marketing management, to Information Technology expertise. But we all share a common purpose: a passion for putting clients first and a “get it done” attitude.What’s in store for us over the next several weeks? Well, our team will be working in Abuja with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) on behalf of the Minister, tackling economic development and revenue recovery issues.
We’ll hear all about their challenges through interviewing government officials from 9 agencies. In fact, after 3 days, we’ve already spoken to well over 50 people from 5 agencies spread out across the city – observing common threads and stories that weave throughout. Our team navigates these fact-finding interviews together, as if we’ve worked together for years – already skilled at taking cues from each other, as well as from our clients.
Mid-way through Week 1 of our challenge, we’ve seen a lot of the Abuja city sites so far, and shared some laughs (and impromptu karaoke!) along the way. Stay tuned here to see how our journey unfolds!