Seeing the world as ORTEC’s Implementation Consultant (2)

Only four days after arriving in Rio, I am back at the airport and ready to leave the city. With a group of five we fly to Fortaleza to meet with the customer of our project. After a quick lunch at one of the food court places, we get in line and board the airplane. Although we stay within the borders of Brazil, it still takes up to three hours to get there. The distances within Brazil are huge, and it is still something I have to get used to. For the customer it means that deliveries can take up to five days after departure at their depot, something for us to keep in mind during the setup of the software.

After a surprisingly comfortably flight (yeah, in-flight entertainment on a domestic flight) we arrive in Fortaleza, a city mainly known for its pretty beaches and long boulevards with hotels. For us it feels a bit like being on a holiday, especially when we are having dinner in the evening at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The next day however it is back to reality, meeting at breakfast at seven in the morning and spending an hour leaving the city and reaching the outskirts where the steel factory is located. Working in a heavy industrial environment means wearing steel-toe boots, a helmet, and ear protection. After we are all geared up, we are ready to go to the planning office. This is located right in the middle of the factory, next to the loading docks of the trucks. Talking about a 180-degree change in window view…

Working in Brazil means having to face all kind of differences compared to working in the office in Zoetermeer. To start, a ham and cheese sandwich with some milk is not considered as a proper lunch by any Brazilian. A typical lunch consists of rice, beans, vegetables, and some form of meat. Another difference became clear right during the kickoff meeting. A lot of Brazilians do not speak English, which is quite hard if you are the lead consultant and need to ask all the questions. For your information, I do not speak Portuguese either. This means that the coming two weeks I will have to ask all the questions through a fellow (Brazilian) colleague of mine. At first it is a bit frustrating, but it actually makes this first project for me much easier to handle. This because it slows down the whole communication process, it gives me more time to think about the questions I want to ask and to think about the answers I get. In the meantime, my colleague however has to work double time, having to speak both with the customer and me.

After two weeks I fly back to Rio and spend the remaining ten weeks at the ORTEC office. Hopefully I gathered all the information I need to make this project a success. Totally enjoying this adventure so far!

Mathijs Waegemakers