by Jiten Patel

On the Road, yes yet again …

Oct 30, 20085 mins
IT Leadership

Over the past few weeks I have been crisscrossing the globe to manage two projects, between Mexico and India, and throw in a stop-over in Uganda and Morocco to get an update on other projects.

Was in Mexico beginning of October, to a beautiful place called Cuernavaca, to get an update on the completion of the Gap analysis phase of the project, for the implementation of a banking software. Our Mexico operations are very well run, and the project team of both IT and Operations folks has done a very good job to-date.

When you visit such places, there is no time to go sightseeing. The only sightseeing one gets is in the morning, at the small beautiful family run hotel, Hotel Vista Hermosa in Cuernavaca, the taxi ride in the morning – watching kids ambling, gravitating, laughing and making their way towards school grudgingly, reluctantly, and whilst the adults with not a smile to show scurry towards their work place; maybe a walk outside at lunch time affords one the time to take in the aromas and flavours of the lunchtime fares, and in the evening to see silhouettes and shadows as the taxi whizzes across town … back to the hotel, with little enthusiasm for dinner but just wanting to hit the sack.

Headed back home from Mexico on a Friday, and then off to India on a Sunday evening. It is wonderful to be back home albeit for a day and a half, to see the Missus, the kids (they are no longer kids but wonderful adults – they and the missus really keep me honest and anchored, and to whom I owe a humongous (a huge, huge, huge) amt of gratitude for their patience and perseverance for putting up with my absences; and  with barely enough time to get clothes washed and ironed, and having to pack before it’s too late … to get back on the road. 

Mumbai the city is both beautiful and vexing for one sees the progress and the problems, the prosperity and the poverty, the potential and the pitfalls, and above all the people are wonderful and full of humanity. It is not news to see humanity from those who have it all, but it really is awe inspiring to see that from those who do not have much. It is a real lesson for me and one I make sure to keep front and center in my mind.

Ahh, yes the project … have a team of approx 14 from Azerbaijan temporarily located in Mumbai for a period of two months. We are working with IFlex, an ORACLE company, with whom we have contracted to use their very good banking software. For most of the team the trip to Mumbai is a rare journey to a far distant land, but one they have handled very well despite the challenges … it speaks volumes about their commitment to the project.

After a week in Mumbai, I am back home on Saturday afternoon, scampering to get my laundry completed before I catch my flight to Mexico on Monday evening, and onto Cuernavaca by bus on early Tuesday morning. Have to be there to meet with the team to review the Gaps, to discuss and prioritize them, and to discuss other aspects of the project.         

After a week in Mexico, I was headed back home on Friday evening. On Saturday evening I catch my BA flight to Uganda, via London, arriving in Entebbe, Uganda at approx 8:00am Monday morning local time (7 hrs ahead of EDT).  The service offered by BA is usually very good, and this was no exception. However from London to Uganda, the service provided by the cabin crew led by the cabin crew director, Donna Jackson, was not just excellent but offered with warmth and caring one does not normally find.    

I was in Kampala, the capital of Uganda to meet with the Africa team, specifically for the Board meeting of our Africa IT Services entity. We have created an IT entity to service all of our affiliates (operations) across five countries in the region. This centralized approach, creating an IT Center of Excellence in the region, enables us to provide excellent , timely service at a fraction of a cost to all of the operations, and where they focus on the business with not having to worry about the IT side of the house. I was in Kampala for two days, before scheduled to head back on Wednesday morning.

Kampala has seen a whole bunch of new hotels come into being over the course of the past 15 months, largely due to the Commonwealth meeting of the Heads of State last Nov (2007), with the Queen of England in attendance. The hotel I was staying at the Golf Course hotel in Kampala the rooms were nicely decorated and with lots of room; although they could have done a much better job of planning for how and where they would serve breakfast each morning.

On Wed morning I was headed back to London, and fortunately for me seeing the same BA crew on-board they were generous and kind enough to bump me forward, from the cattle class to the sumptuous Club World … savoured every minute of it.

From London the same evening (on Wed) was on my way to Fez, Morocco (via Casablanca) … arriving in Fez at midnight. Fez is a beautiful city, a cultural center in Morocco.  I stayed at the Grand Mirage, which was okay. Met with a software customer on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday evening I ventured out to the souks (the local market … of narrow alleyways with small stalls and shops on both sides, with meandering alleys and side streets) which was bustling with people despite the light drizzle.

I departed from Fez very early on Saturday morning, arriving back home at approx 2:00am on a Sunday morning, and happy and ecstatic to be back home.