The project kickoff was the first item on our agenda for Monday, Day 1 of Week 1. Behind the scenes leading up to the kickoff, unbeknownst to us, a frenzy of planning and coordination activity had been going on. The IBM team on the ground in Abuja and our able logistics support providers, Pyxera, coordinated all of the minutiae involved with their counterparts from the FCTA administration. For the team itself, the day before the kickoff was dedicated to preparing our brief introduction speeches and explaining our teams’ objectives to the dignitaries who would be in the audience.
Monday morning, we head to the FCTA Minister’s personal conference room. The room is packed with senior officials from the FCTA administration and the heads of the various departments that we would be working with. From the IBM side, in addition to our team, the delegation included Dipo, the Country General Manager for Nigeria, Remi from Corporate Citizenship and Judy from Government Relations.
The Permanent Secretary, FCT Abuja welcomed the IBM team. His warm welcome, encouragement and evident dedication to the cause of improving revenue generation and collection was both motivational as well as a preview of how the department heads and their teams would engage with us.
From IBM’s side, Dipo, the country GM, introduced our activities in Nigeria. I learned that IBM Nigeria was running an internship program aimed at providing opportunities for technology students and graduates. Remi, our Corporate Citizenship Manager for West Africa, then introduced the Smarter Cities Challenge and our objectives in Abuja. Then it was our turn to introduce ourselves –I’m impressed at both the diversity of life and professional experiences we brought and the team’s commitment to bettering the world in whatever small way we could.
For the second half of the kickoff session, we had the Directors of each of the ten departments we would be working with talk about their agencies, covering the current revenue generation and collection situation, key challenges and their thoughts on how to improve revenue collection. Each of them also answered our questions about their departments’ workings.
We left the kickoff session far more educated on what we were up against. Rarely in my professional life have I been “caught up to speed“ so rapidly on a project – all thanks to Remi’s meticulous preparation. She had provided clear instructions and templates to help the departments understand what the team would be looking for and helped them prepare accordingly.
The kickoff finished at 4 PM – and then it was time for refreshments and group pictures. We go off happy with Day 1, for a well-earned “lunch” at 5 PM (late or missed lunches were going to be a recurring theme over the coming week).