For more information on Eisenhower Fellowships, visit www.efworld.org
Monday, October 17, 2011

The Countdown begins....Eisenhower Fellowship to India!


I can’t believe that day is almost here! This time last year I was just learning that I received an Eisenhower Fellowship and now I am less than 7 days away from embarking on an adventure of a lifetime! Wow!

On October 23rd, at exactly 8:30pm I will heading to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore,  to explore new opportunities, new partnerships, and new technologies for my company and for the marketplace I serve in Philadelphia.  Never did I ever imagine that I would be able to travel to East Asia in such a prestigious way and look at ways to take my company to another level on a global scale.  Usually as a small business owner we are consumed by day to day operations, ensuring that everyone (creditors, vendors, as well as employees) are paid in a timely manner, and pounding the pavement to turn over any and all stones for new business opportunities.   We are rarely offered the opportunity to reach outside the scope of our immediate universe and engage the larger global community in business and and/or partnerships.

So how amazing is it that I was offered an Eisenhower Fellowship at this time.  We are currently working very hard to maintain my company’s place in a very competitive industry, while at the same time, working very closely with the community we serve to ensure that their needs are met.  The timing couldn’t have been better. 

So after a year of preparations, meetings, emails, partnerships, late nights, and long days, the time is here.  Where does time go??  I think the panic and stress has been palpable for the last month, but in the last few days, it has been manic.  Not a lot of sleep. A desire to cram every meeting, conversation, conference call in before I make my exodus to the Orient, has left me exhausted, and even a bit sick.  But, pure adrenaline is pushing me along now. 

For the most part, everything is almost done.  Need to still pack and clean office, schedule a few meetings, and transfer specific operational controls to my managers. Through the graciousness of the City of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, (GPTMC), http://www.visitphilly.com, I was able to receive great souvenirs and gifts to hand out to executives and individuals at organizations that I will be visiting.  Very excited to represent the City in this way.

With all that aside,  I have some very interesting meetings and opportunities ahead of me. I first start out in New Delhi, India. I will actually be there for the Diwali festival, which is the festival of lights. A very celebrated holiday in India.  I was told its compared to our Christmas holiday. Very excited to be there for such a special occasion.  Apparently, shop owners, homes, buildings, all hang these beautiful paper lanterns out on their properties.  It is supposed to be a beautiful sight.  http://www.diwali2011.in/

The following week I head out on my appointments in Delhi and will be meeting with many prominent officials /executives, that include,  the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Innovation, Sam Pitroda, Dr. jai Mohan, Director of Global Innovation and IT, Bharti Airtel, Mr. Nalin Kohli, of the International School of Media and Entertainment Studies, and Dr. Vijay Kumar, Vice President of Tech Mahindra.

After I leave from Delhi, I will head to Bangalore. Bangalore is considered the silicon valley of India.  Many meetings scheduled in Bangalore. Some of them include meeting with Mr. Sathyananda Bhandry, Vice President of Oracle, Ed Cutrell, Microsoft Research India, Dr. Srinivasan Seshadra, Founder of Boltell InfoMedika, and Sean Blagesveldt, CEO of Babajobs.com.  In Bangalore I will have the pleasure of attending the NASSCOM conference.   (http://www.nasscom.in/Nasscom/Templates/EventMasterLanding.aspx?id=15020).
I look forward to meet other technologists at the conference and get a chance to test emerging products coming into the marketplace.  

While in Bangalore, I will also make a presentation at the India Institute of Business Management. I will be share what broadband initiatives are taking place in Philadelphia and discuss some of the initiatives that Wilco as done for our low income marketplace as it pertains to technology, broadband deployment, and partnerships that we are apart of to broaden the scope of access for underserved communities in Philadelphia. 

From Delhi, I head to Bombay aka…Mumbai, the “New York and financial capital” of India.  I am excited about Bombay because I get the chance to see my dear friend Sajid Chogle and meet with some special people as well. 

My last destination in India, will be visiting the wonderful State called Hyderabad, which is also considered a “tech city” in India.  While In Hyderabad I will meet with Mr. Sudarshan Chakrapani, head of customer experience in Mahindra Satyam.  I also get the chance to reconnect with my fellow Eisenhower Fellow Mr. Rajsekhar Budithi, who is the Director of the Society for Elimination of Poverty.  Can’t wait to see Raj and his wife and finally visit his very impressive organizations of women. 

After Hyderabad, I will be heading to Sri Lanka.  I will actually be the first USA Eisenhower Fellow to travel to Sri Lanka as part of the Eisenhower program.  I will be hosted by my dear friend and Eisenhower Fellow, Harsha DeSilva. Harsha is a member of Parliament in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.  Very excited to see what technological innovations are coming out of this beautiful country.  Just below India, Sri Lanka is a place where the culture is very different but still there are many commonalities with India.

After Sri Lanka, I will travel to Singapore for just a few days and visit technology hubs, foundations, institutions, and communications agencies.  I have heard that Singapore is a very impressive Country.  Looking forward to my whirlwind of meetings and for my 3 day trip.

My Fellowship ends in Malaysia.  I will be visiting several cultural institutions,  technology organizations, and again meeting other Eisenhower Fellows who a technologists and communications executive

I will update in more detail as I travel throughout the States, but I wanted to give a brief overview of the program and the wonderful places I will be visiting.  Still can not believe that I will be in India in less than a week.  Surreal. 

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