Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Time Irado Finale.

It was been two weeks since I returned back to the United States from my participation in the 2011 Ernst & Young Corporate Responsibility Fellowship (CR Fellows), I wanted to summarize my experiences and thoughts on the program. Similar to my posts during my fellowship, I am writing this post from a hotel room, except this time I am in Memphis, Tennessee working on a client rather than spending seven weeks in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When I first heard of the CR Fellows program, I was a staff person at Ernst & Young, and was immediately drawn to the concept of skill based volunteering in Latin America. Entrepreneurship is my true passion even though I am not creative enough to invent the next iPhone, iPod, or iEtc. So you can imagine the excitement that I experienced when I was selected for the very competitive 2011 CR Fellows program and learned I would be spending seven weeks in Sao Paulo. As the time to leave the United States grew closer, the more excited I became to jump in and help out a wonderful company such as Tecno Logys. But never in my wildest dreams would I have imaged that what I was about to experience would be so rewarding both from a professional and personal level.

"Celebrating Success"
(L-R Valerio Dornelles, Founder and CEO of Tecno Logys and E&Y CR Fellow Tyler Schleich)
The entire program, but most notably the first few weeks, were all about discovery and experimentation. Pushing both the boundaries of what I knew and what I could only know through living in a different culture and helping a business with a creative mastermind such as Valerio Dornelles, Founder and CEO of Tecno Logys. Working with the company on a wide range of projects that mattered so much to a medium sized company provided me with a great sense of accomplishment. After presentations to external consultants and business associates I could tell that what I was doing actually made a difference to this fast growing company. This sense of accomplishment can sometimes get lost when you are working on our billion dollar multinational corporate clients back in the United States. It was great to be able to initiate conversations and exchange ideas in an effort to position the company for continued long term success. The hardest part, other than the language barrier of English and Portuguese, was manging my time throughout the remainder of the project. I wanted to help the company with anything and everything I felt would help because I began to feel a sense of ownership and pride in not just my project but also the company.

I visited manufacturing facilities and several high rise building sites which gave me perspective of what the company was trying to accomplish and that was to provide an innovative construction solution to the Brazilian residential marketplace while "Respecting the Resources". My final deliverables (which were spectacular if I do say so myself!) comprised of charts, Excel spreadsheets, graphs, PowerPoint presentations, and a final bound hardcopy report consisting of over 150 pages are not what I will remember most about my experience. What I will remember most about my experience at Tecno Logys are the people that I shared each day with at the company. Day in and day out I learned something about Brazilian culture and indirectly about myself as a result of my interactions. Over lunches, dinners, and drinks, I became a part of Tecno Logys and a part of Brazil, or as the locals say "Becoming a Paulista". I do not have enough time to name them all and explain why each one is important (including the cleaning lady who I will give a shout out to, Ms. Dona Vera!) but want them all to know how important it was to me that they treated me not just as a colleague but also as a friend. I will also remember the Endeavor CEO Summit and the Annual Gala where I was able to network with many of the young and intelligent Endeavor staff members as well as prominent Entrepreneurs in the Sao Paulo area. And of course, I will also remember my famous office chair that made the news!

I also had many experiences within the culture that I will never forget that I shared with my fellow Ernst & Young Fellows and one tag along fiance (Hi Ryan!). We experienced the horrendous Sao Paulo traffic jams, revisited 80's American Music we had not heard in years, ate wonderful food, drank delicious cocktails including the Caipirinha, watched soccer matches, and had crazy taxi adventures. We all became detached from our Blackberry devices together and functioned as a support group for our withdrawal symptoms. We vacationed together in Rio de Janerio, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina taking in yet more culture and perspective to draw upon. We shared Brazilian holidays and also McDonalds which somehow is even better 5,000 miles away from home. When I look back on our time in Brazil, "Time Irado" or "Team Awesome", which consisted of Katie Duggan from New York, Jamie Schafer from Detroit, and Ryan Kyle (Katie's Fiance), I realize that just we lived a story that is a once in a lifetime. It was also a story which I tried to tell to you with my blog posts which were read more than 6,000 times in just about two months. I could have never imagine it would have received that much attention, but then again, I could not have imaged how rewarding my participation in the 2011 Ernst & Young Corporate Responsibility Fellowship Program could have been either.

This is the 130th and final post of Time Irado (unless of course something else comes up and I want to blog about it) and I thank you all for following it so closely. If you have a chance to revisit some of my blogs I invite you to share with me which was your favorite and I encourage all of you to find your "Time Irado" opportunity. I end with a quote that I feel is fitting for a my blog and embodies the spirit of the 2011 Ernst & Young Corporate Responsibility Program.
"Don't go into business to get rich. Do it to enrich people. It will come back to you." - Leonard

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