Tag Archives: smartercities

Thessaloniki: Many Stories, One Heart

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Team Thessaloniki completed week three, the final stretch, of our assignment to help the city further its Open Data initiative.  One of the key outcomes for the city will be a prototype dashboard, a hub for a variety of stakeholders to share and use data, and the roadmap for ensuring its effectiveness.

We think an important success factor will be populating the dashboard with a large cross section of data within a particular domain. One that is critical to the city and its economic competitiveness.

Tourism is one of great resonance to the city and could be a good place to start.

In collaboration with the Deputy Mayor Spiros Pengas we hosted a Design Thinking workshop that brought together over 40 stakeholders in the city’s tourism ecosystem.

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IBM’s Tim Coates kicks off the workshop

It became clear quickly to the IBM team that tourism would uncover vast opportunities for data sharing. The City of Thessaloniki is awash in rich culture. Often referred to as the “co-capital” of Greece, the city is renowned for its vast architectural and religious heritage where in, and around the municipality, there are numerous and notable historical treasures. The Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, the tomb of Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish architectural structures.

In addition to history, there is a vibrant arts community that has helped the city receive the European Capital of Culture designation, as well as named a best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle. Throughout the year numerous annual events are hosted including the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, and the Thessaloniki Song Festival.

Mayor Boutaris, who has been named ‘the best mayor of the world’ by the City Mayors Foundation, has led a transformation of Thessaloniki to strengthen its reputation as a tourist destination. His belief in public and private partnerships is widely credited with increasing visitors to the city (in turn generating revenues without the need for expensive investments). For example, collaborations with neighboring Turkey and Israel, have increased tourists to the city due to its strong historical and cultural ties with both countries.

Our workshop was organized to uncover and seek out solutions to some of the challenges in the tourism sector. We used Design Thinking in order to uncover the key data sets that would be of most value to open and share – and also because the methodology is ideally suited to fostering strong collaboration.

Like so many public services, a diverse mix of travel agents, hotel owners, entrepreneurs, convention organizations and others all share an interest in promoting the city. But data is held by different organizations or not at all. The lack of a central tourism organization to collect and share needed data makes bringing these constituents together complicated.

By asking participants to explore the travel experience through four ‘personas,’ characters facing experiences we heard in our interviews, we were able to identify and prioritize a range of data sets for the municipality. These ranged from segmentation information of visitors by age, nationality and interest; mobile phone usage; an event calendar; conversations on social media and a breakdown of leisure vs business tourists.

The excitement and energy in the room was validation that Thessaloniki will gain significant benefit from an open data dashboard, it also stands to gain from more closely connected and collaborative stakeholder communities across all policy areas.

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Thessaloniki’s Tourism Ecosystem, including Thessaloniki Convention Bureau, Thessaloniki Tourism Organization, Thessaloniki’s Hotel Association, the Chamber of Commerce, city employees, entrepreneurs, and independent travel agents who took part in a Design Workshop with IBM’s Rahul Chenny, Xenia Zoppas, Georgios Pakos and Tim Coates.

Now we work to weave in key outcomes from the workshop into the final recommendations for the city. We do this having also experienced Thessaloniki as active tourists ourselves. If we could figure out a way to remain here for several more weeks we would. The opportunity to immerse ourselves in all that this great city has to offer has been an experience of a lifetime!

More on IBM’s Smarter Cities Team Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki Smarter Cities Team // Week One
The Universal Language of Post-it Notes
Team Salonika Heads Back to School

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Team Salonika Heads Back to School

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-11-11-35-amWe’re off to a strong finish as we begin the final week of our Smarter Cities Challenge project in Greece. We’ve met with 40-plus municipality officials, members of the technology community, and private organizations who have all been extremely gracious with their time and willingness to share knowledge.

A highlight has been meeting with the local academic communities. We were honored to be invited to the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to give a guest lecture to students. The university is the sixth oldest and among the most highly ranked academic institutions in Greece. Named after the philosopher Aristotle, who was born about 30 minutes east of Thessaloniki, it is the largest university in the country and the Balkans with more than 80,000 students.

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The team was hosted by the school’s Urban & Regional Information Research Lab and attendees included graduate and post graduate students studying urban planning, civil architecture, engineering and computer science. The lab conducts research and offers scientific and technological services in the field of innovation systems and intelligent cities. We were asked to speak on four topics:

  • Background on the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge initiative, including the grant awarded to Thessaloniki and the work underway to help the municipality with their open data efforts.
  • Introduce the Design Thinking concept and the ways IBM is using this approach to foster innovation.
  • Share details on IBM’s approach to Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing with an understanding of the history of Watson and commercial progress.
  • An understanding of IBM’s open platform for developers, Bluemix, with a demonstration of how student developers can experiment and build with the technology today.

The 50-plus students and faculty who joined the interactive discussion shared terrific and insightful views. Many probed further regarding sustainable approaches for improving cities, raised issues related to data privacy, and also the unique cultural challenges Greek cities face. A group of coders were especially eager to learn more about building apps with Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive. Others asked about real-world examples of how these new technologies are benefiting society today and the ways they’ll collaborate with these technologies in their respective professions in the future.

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IBM’s Georgios Pakos, Lia Davis, Priscilla Parodi, and Rahul Chenny speak to students and faculty during a guest lecture at Aristotle University

Our sincere thanks to the university’s Rector, Pericles A. Metkas, the head of the Urenio Lab Dr. Nicos Komninos, and all the students and faculty who warmly welcomed us to the university.

It reaffirmed our belief that the city is overflowing with bright minds who have the know-how and skills to make a positive impact for Thessaloniki.

More on IBM’s Smarter Cities Team Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki Smarter Cities Team // Week One
The Universal Language of Post-it Notes
Thessaloniki: Many Stories, One Heart

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The Universal Language of Post-it Notes

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It’s Saturday night and the Post-it notes are flying as the team conducts an impromptu design thinking session to outline key issues identified during our discovery sessions over the first five days.

After 20 plus stakeholder meetings with organizations spanning government, academia, private sector, start-ups, and NGOs, the team appreciates the complexity of the landscape and multitude of challenges.

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A few trends are coming into focus and we’re eager to plot out potential solutions and a framework for the recommendations report. Especially since the local media has already begun to report on our presence and expectations are high to deliver.  The meetings last week were far from speed dating sessions, quite the opposite.  Many ran about two hours in duration, some even longer, as the various participants in the local ecosystem have much to offer in the way of insights and knowledge sharing. Thankfully these meetings included espresso and κουλουρακι to keep the team laser focused (thanks to our hosts’ Nespresso machines were located at all meeting sites!).

Though Sunday for most of the team is traditionally a day of rest, a unanimous decision over lunch today was that we will do an additional stakeholder meeting tomorrow and skip our tourist excursion in order to ensure we’re prepared for the week ahead.

Still, we’re making time to fulfill our civic duty and assist the local economy.

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We were able to squeeze in a fun Friday evening visiting an amazing restaurant just outside of the city, Duck Private Cheffing, for an open kitchen dining experience. And today we visited the Ancient City of Vergina to tour the tomb of King Philip II. We all agree that if we had the power of King Phillip we could get this project done much sooner!

More on IBM’s Smarter Cities Team Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki Smarter Cities Team // Week One
Team Salonika Heads Back to School
Thessaloniki: Many Stories, One Heart

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Thessaloniki Smarter Cities Team // Week One

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Our philanthropic assignment to spread the gospel of ‘open data’ has officially begun with the Smarter Cities Challenge team arriving in Thessaloniki, Greece. The city, the second largest in the country, features more than a million citizens, an exceptional university community with more than 100,000 students, a rich history with multi cultural experiences attracting local and international tourism, and a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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Thessaloniki was selected from more than 100 cities with a grant of service from IBM’s Corporate Citizenship. City leaders want to foster a broad environment for data sharing in order to improve the city and increase economic competitiveness. Over the next three weeks we’ll establish a well defined road map that can be used by the city to implement an open data platform designed to fuel local innovation, enhance city insights, decision making, and transparency, and improve services for residents and visitors.

As we’re working from the country where the Olympics were born, we learned quickly that our project will be a record-breaking three week sprint, including a few hurdles. While the city has a wealth of intellectual talent and a progressive outlook towards data and technology, the community has faced intense pressures. A massive recession is underway throughout Greece, there is an ongoing issue with brain drain as young professionals seek opportunities in other markets, and the region is managing a significant refuge crisis. As a result, the city is dealing with budget and resourcing limitations as they work to modernize.

The first three days have been dedicated to meeting with Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, his leadership team including Lina Liakou and Babis Tsitlakidis, and third party stakeholders — more than a dozen fact finding sessions have occurred thus far — to align with the goals of the municipality. Our team was asked to present to the Mayor and key constituents to detail our approach and now we’re working quickly to ensure there is a consistent and unified view of what ‘open data’ is and an understanding of where the domains of data reside.

These meetings have been inspiring. While facing many challenges, the people of the city are eternally optimistic and creative in finding solutions to ensure they’re providing quality services to their citizens and those new to the community.

As we dive in, we’re guided by a highly engaged IBM General Manager, Spyros Poulidas. A respected European business leader, Mr. Poulidas has provided a great deal of insight on the micro and macro economic environment our team must be sensitive to as we collaborate with local officials. Xenia Zoppas, who leads Marketing, Communications and Citizenship for IBM Greece, has also helped us with her strong client and influencer relationships to quickly immerse ourselves in the local ecosystem.

It will be an exciting and intense three weeks and our IBM team is fortunate to include individuals with very diverse skills. An executive architect and member of the IBM Academy of Technology from Bangalore, a Bluemix developer specializing in Watson from São Paulo, a communications and marketing professional from Washington with a background in public sector and cognitive computing, from New York a finance and planning expert and a serial entrepreneur experienced with start-up cultures, and a government and public sector industry advisor from Germany who is fluent in Greek!

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The IBM Smarter Cities team (L to R) including Xenia Zoppas, Rahul Chenny, Priscilla Parodi, Anil Arora, IBM Greece General Manager Spyros Poulidas and Deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki Lina Liakou, Lia Davis, Georgios Pakos and Tim Coates.

Demonstrating our commitment to agile, the team has already overcome missed flights, lost luggage, and little sleep, to hit the ground running. And we’ve embraced the culture, relying on strong espresso and a little Mastica to keep the ideas flowing.

More on our efforts to come … μέχρι την επόμενη φορά (till the next time)!

More on IBM’s Smarter Cities Team Thessaloniki
The Universal Language of Post-it Notes
Team Salonika Heads Back to School
Thessaloniki: Many Stories, One Heart

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Final Thoughts…

As I sit here in Denver, just 2 shorts weeks after having returned from Pyeongchang, I’m still in awe of my experience! It seems like forever ago that we were all together as a team…Antonio, Sunny, Souvik, Stephanie, Justin and Ji-Hyun…my new friends!

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I can’t help but remember all the amazing experiences we shared with each other and with our lifelong friends in Pyeongchang. Such an amazing and life changing journey! From day 1 when we met at a rest stop in the middle of Korea, heading east on the Yeongdong Expressway, to our final goodbyes in Seoul before we all ventured back to our homes…every moment was special…every moment will stay with me until we meet again….

Thank you to Pyeongchang for giving us this unique opportunity. Thank you to IBM for bringing us all together to make an impact. Thank you to my husband for letting me leave you alone for 3+ weeks with our two children (under 5) to let me go on this journey.

Thank you Sunny for your smiles.

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Thank you Justin for your stories.

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Thank you Antonio for your humility.

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Thank you Souvik for your knowledge.

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Thank you Stephanie for your leadership.

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Thank you Ji-Hyun for your laughter.

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It’s impossible to highlight everything from our experience, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from our journey…

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Time to Say Goodbye!!

Today was our last day together as a team. I truly can’t capture in words all the things I was feeling today. To think…just 3 short weeks ago we were strangers…and now we’re friends…really good friends! It’s like we’ve known each other for years.

It truly is amazing how well you get to know each other when you spend every waking minute together. Even with all work we did, there was still time for “real” life discussions. And we had a lot of them…I equate it to those first few weeks of college, but for grown-ups. 🙂

We’re all equals on this journey…no one knows one from the other and we all have to get to know each other…asking the basic questions like “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “How many kids do you have?” In 3 weeks we moved from the basics…to deep conversations. Conversations that you have over strolls through a mountain path, or quiet moments over dessert in the middle of the night (after you’ve been working hard all day), or chats and laughs over coffee in the woods. These are the moments I’ll remember most fondly. The closeness…the laughter…the tears…and there were many today.

I must say…the past couple of days have been a mix of excitement and anticipation…coupled with sadness. Excitement and anticipation for the final presentation of our project recommendations and for our final day in Seoul…and sadness for knowing it’s all about to end. Today was the first step towards our adventure coming to an end.

Don’t get me wrong…we had an AMAZING day!! As we met for breakfast bright and early…our journey at Phoenix Park ended where it all began…our last breakfast at the same table in Castle Pines restaurant where we had our first dinner together as a team.

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This time we dined with our new friends from Pyeongchang, Mr. Lee.

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And Mr. Jeon.

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We have all made a lasting impact on each other and it was apparent by our final interaction.

Mr. Jeon was the resident photographer during our trip. He graciously donated his photos to the creation of a photo book for all of us, documenting our journey. What a spectacular memento. Each of us signed the books…so we will always have a piece of each other and this amazing experience.

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Following breakfast we said our first round of goodbyes. I’ve become quite fond of our interpreters Juhee and Hayan. They are truly the sweetest, most hard working girls. They knew nothing of our project but dove right in, helping us interpret as well as doing research on our behalf and prepping us for our interviews and meetings. They took copious notes all along the way (of course it is part of the translation process) but we were able to leverage their work several times during our project. Saying goodbye to them was hard.

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I cried when I said goodbye to Mr. Lee. He’s an amazingly nice man, with a great sense of humor. We all enjoyed many a meal and many a drink together. He will be greatly missed.

The drive into Seoul allowed me to sit in the front seat. What a crazy experience that was. I’m so used to sitting in the back of the BatMobile with it’s tinted windows and ghetto party lights. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself up front…so I took photos.

The tunnels are unique…there are colored lights that I swear match the colors of Pyeongchang County and Happy700.

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There are of course the random trees and police vehicles. This one says “Stay awake while driving”…I’m guessing you won’t see if it you fall asleep behind the wheel.

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I must admit, once we left the comforts of Pyeongchang County it was almost like we were transported to another world. I didn’t realize how closed off we had been from the rest of the world and when we surfaced…on the highway…among the busy hustle and bustle of Seoul, reality set in. We were no longer in the quiet, calm peacefulness of Pyeongchang. I honestly didn’t realize how quiet and serene our lives have been the last three weeks…even with all of the hard work…we’ve been pretty sheltered from the rest of the world. We’ve been in our own little bubble, working hard, eating, sleeping and drinking in this entire project. I’ve barely turned on the TV and when I did it was only a handful of times and I usually ended up watching some cheesy American movie with Korean subtitles. I can honestly say I haven’t missed any of it!

Being back in the big city was a smack in the face of reality. It meant our journey was coming to an end and we have to go back to our real lives. 🙂

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We were able to make the very best of our last day however. Our first stop took us to N (Namsan) Seoul Tower. The tower is located on Namsan Mountain, at 236m and is the highest point in Seoul.

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Prior to going up into the tower we took the cable car up to the base. I had to hold on to our concierges, Mr. Park and Mr. Lee.

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The place was packed. It’s Friday and there were a ton of school groups visiting. There are so many beautiful sites and attractions.

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There are quaint little attractions like locks all over the property. The “Locks of Love”, or so it is called, is a popular location for people to hang locks that symbolize eternal love.

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We took the elevator to the 5th floor where we dined at the N Grill, a French restaurant inside the tower. The restaurant rotates around the tower giving you a 365 degree view of Seoul.

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Ji-Hyun spoiled us yet again!! Guess it was worth it to starve ourselves a few evenings so we could enjoy an amazingly yummy lunch “around” the city of Seoul.

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Following lunch we headed to Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). DDP is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. Located at the center of the Dongdaemun area, it is a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other events and gatherings.

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It’s a pretty spectacular building. It was designed by world renowned architect, Zaha Hadid. The DDP is compromised of five halls: Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. What an interesting place. We visited the Kansong Art Museum, where we viewed several works of art by Jeong Seon (1667-1759), one of the most famous Korean painters.

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The landscape paintings that he produced reflect most of the geographical features of Korea. My favorite was the ‘Panoramic View of Inner Pungak’. This painting draws a scenic view of Geumgansan Mountain and depicts yin and yang. I even picked up a copy to bring home.

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He painted the most amazing images on silk with ink colored by rocks. It seems most of his paintings have some hidden figure in them. Some of the stories about the paintings were pretty interesting…like the “high class female workers” (the real term used was altered for the under 18 audience) luring the men in for supper…this one is called Jukseoru. Interesting stuff!

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The neat thing about the museum is its shape as well as the design store held inside one of the buildings. It is here where local artisans display their goods for sale. I secured some great finds! 🙂

Our next stop took us to Insadong. Insadong Street is one of the most memorable attractions in Seoul and represents the focal point of Korean traditional culture and crafts. Stores in Insadong specialize in a wide variety of goods that can only be purchased or appreciated in Korea: hanbok (traditional clothing), hanji (traditional paper), traditional teas, pottery, and folk crafts. I picked up a few things here as well. 🙂

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After a craze of shopping we were whisked into a back alley for dinner.

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HOLY COW…we literally had at least 17 different dishes…and I know I missed taking photos of a few of them. OYE!!

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Following dinner…and a food coma…we went to see Miso at the Jeongdong Theatre in Seoul. Miso means “beautiful smile” and is the #1 Korean traditional arts performance. It highlights Pansori (traditional Korean narrative song), Samulnori (traditional Korean percussion quartet) and the beautiful Korean Buchaechum (fan dance).

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The story of the show is of General who is quite the ladies man…fraught with infidelities. His friends (or maybe not such good friends) teach him a lesson by luring him into a trap to seduce a woman (who happens to be married). As he goes to her he is captured and put into a box where he is “tossed” into the ocean. Well he’s not really tossed in…he’s merely sprinkled with water and the box is thrown around to make it seem like he’s being tossed into the ocean. Needless to say the joke is on him as he repents and his friends eventually open the box bringing him back to reality. After the incident his friends throw him a great party…with lots of singing, dancing and big drums.   It’s a great show! The singing, the beautiful costumes, the grace with which the dancers frolic on the stage and the drums…oh my the DRUMS! It’s all a spectacle to be seen!!

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Then in typical IBM Pyeongchang team fashion we were famous yet again. After the show we were meandering about, watching everyone go crazy over the actors/dancers/singers who posed for a photo shoot, when Antonio and I were approached by a spritely gentleman asking if he could interview us. Well, it’s not like we haven’t had a ton of interviews in the past three weeks…we thought why not! This one was not quite the formal interview we were used to. The guy was dressed in quite the outfit…apparently he was putting together an advertisement for Korea for the Malaysian audience. I’d love to get my hands on that performance! Alas…it was a classic and the absolute perfect ending to our last day together as a team in Korea.

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Following the show we headed to my hotel…The Plaza…to say our goodbyes. BOO HOO! I knew this time was coming…and I’d been dreading it all day…and obviously the emotions had been on display all day…why not put them out there for the world to see. The goodbyes began…the hardest ones were the new friends I know I won’t see for a long time….Sunny…Ji-Hyun….Souvik. 😦 I at least know I have a pretty good chance to see Justin (Vancouver) at some point in the near future as work takes me up that way from time to time….Stephanie (NJ) as I always head back east…and Antonio (Spain) as we may catch up in Europe sooner rather than later. Alas….I hate goodbyes!

It truly is amazing how close we’ve all become in just three short weeks. I’m going to miss everyone so incredibly much! It was all a dream and now we’re headed back to reality very soon. Until then…I have one more day in Seoul!!!

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It’s “That” Day!!

The day when you realize the project is about done…the day when you realize you’re no longer going to see your new friends every day of the week. The day when you realize it’s time to go home!

It’s bittersweet really! I’m ready to go home but I’m not ready to leave here. The last three weeks have been something I can’t truly describe…an experience…a journey…a life changing moment in time!

We will leave each other tomorrow evening following a fun filled day in Seoul. We will depart as we came…heading our separate ways…but we will take something with us…

We have all touched each other in some way…from heartfelt embraces, to laughter beyond measure…to frustration when we were all stressed, to excitement and pride after we delivered our final presentation to the Mayor and the County today.

We came here as 6 individuals…on a mission to improve tourism for Pyeongchang County…and we are leaving as partners, comrades…beloved friends! I will miss all of them completely!

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Antonio with his “goorggeous” accent. Justin with his crazy stories. Souvik with his knowledge and serenity. Stephanie with her calm composure and camaraderie. Sunny with her sweet smile and “sunny” disposition. And our fearless leader Ji-Hyun…with her determination, her dedication and her desperation to make us successful on this project. 🙂

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I will miss all of you dearly! You have truly touched me and I will hold a special place for you in my heart forever!

Now on to our day today…we had our final presentation with the County. And it was a beautiful day for it!

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Pyeongchang welcomed us with open arms as they stated “Pyeongchang will never forget your passion.” They told us our passion for Pyeongchang and our passion for the success of this project were beyond measure. We were so touched by this.

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We shed blood, sweat and tears to come to this point. We interviewed over 60 people, we toiled for 3 weeks investigating and building recommendations, and we vetted and practiced our recommendations for days preparing for “this” day.

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We began at 9:00 AM with a warm welcome from the Mayor. Our presentation went off without a hitch (not that I’m surprised!). I struggled off and on all morning holding back tears. Every “thank you”, every warm speech, every toast held meaning and touched me…reminding me of what we have accomplished and the relationships we have built in such a short period of time.

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Our excellence was apparent when we came together as a team following our presentation and the first thing we did was hug each other. What an amazing feeling of satisfaction AND relief! We came all this way and we delivered! We put together the most amazing presentation I have ever seen (and yes I’m biased) and we presented it as one team, almost as if we were one person. Our delivery was seamless…our recommendations were delivered in one voice. We were at the top of our game! And it feels great!

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We nailed everything, from the timing – to the delivery, to the translations, to the real meaning! The satisfaction we feel as a team right now is indescribable.

I honestly can’t say how AMAZING it feels to see your charts up on a screen in front of 30+ people (who don’t speak English), and to watch your colleagues deliver with such style and grace. We were experts on that stage today. The pride I feel in what we have accomplished and what we have recommended is beyond anything I’ve felt in a very long time.

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In this day and age I’m so used to delivering and executing on my own that I seem to have forgotten what it’s like to be a part of a team of equals…a team who without one another would not have been able to accomplish what we accomplished. I am SO proud of this team…I am SO proud of my friends…Sunny, Justin, Antonio, Souvik and Stephanie! You all make me proud to be an IBMer and even prouder to call you friends!

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After our presentation we dined with the Mayor and several Directors. We took a nice long drive through southern Pyeongchang County to the restaurant. What beauty to behold!

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Sunny even enjoyed relaxing a bit!

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So many people joined us for lunch, the County had to bring a bus.

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We took over the entire restaurant.

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The relationships we have built with our customer are beyond any I have ever built in my 18 years at IBM. There’s something about the Korean culture that welcomes you with open arms. Our gracious hosts, Pyeongchang County, made us feel more welcome than I have ever felt in my life. They delighted in our presence, they went out of their way to make us feel welcome and they made a lasting impact on us that made me feel beyond ecstatic that we have truly made an impact on the lives of the people in this place.

It was Mr. Jang’s 60th birthday. What better way to celebrate than together with our new friends. His son is also expecting a baby in August. Such great things to be thankful for.

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Mr. Mayor Sim and Mr. Mayor Antonio did a final toast…to our project, to our health and to our new friends!!!

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Lunch was fantastic as usual.

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And more strawberries!!  We just can’t get enough of them!

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There is an opportunity here to help build up a community, to improve a society and to build something great! That is gratifying! I honestly can’t articulate what this experience has meant to me….and I’m not sure I will ever be able to do so.

The tears today were flowing…I seemed to have kept them mostly at bay (although the team now knows that I was an emotional basket-case today – but it’s not like that will surprise them). They seem to know we well enough now….

Following lunch we had a few more close-out meetings and we enjoyed our last meal with our new friends in Pyeongchang.   We dined together, we drank together and we laughed together. It was the perfect ending to a perfect 3 weeks!

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Then we ended up at karaoke! HAHA! And we thought we were a close team before…it’s amazing what some bad singing (not all of us…Ji-Hyun rocks!!!) and a small room will do for relationships. All singing comments aside, it was fantastic and just what we needed to end our journey.

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We thought about some snacks, then thought better of taking them into Karaoke with us.

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One more group photo for the camera…

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We have one more full day together as we venture into Seoul tomorrow and I know it will be an emotional roller coaster. But with that I say another Ahnyeonghi jumuseyo (goodnight)…until we meet again!

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