A sporting chance


The first time I visited Rio de Janeiro some five years ago, I quickly discovered two of the things the Brazilian city is famous for: its gorgeous people and its spectacular urban layout. Brazilians call it the Cidade Maravilhosa, that is, the “Marvelous City.” Around the world, Rio has a reputation for its beaches and favelas (shanty towns), but once you get to know the city, you realize it's much more than that. Built around the mountains, it has two beautiful bays and very well-maintained historic buildings. It's obvious the Cariocas (as inhabitants of Rio are called) and the city government have made a great effort to maintain and enhance the city.

Though São Paulo—the country's biggest city and business powerhouse—is vibrant and impressive, Rio is the quintessential Brazilian icon. This is the place where you more clearly see the obsession Brazilians have with sports and physical fitness.

It's no surprise then that as its economy grew to become one of the biggest in the world, Brazil carefully and diligently pursued the right to host the world's two biggest sporting events: the World Cup and the Olympic Games. It worked. Brazil will host the 2014 Fédération Internationale de Football Association tournament in 12 cities across the country and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Ready for Action

Nowadays everybody in Brazil talks about these two major events. You hear about them in the media, politicians' speeches, public officials' reports and even in street conversations. Everyone seems engaged in long disquisitions about how their country will perform and the fact that the whole world is watching them with a keen eye—and sometimes with skepticism. The official philosophy seems to be “We will be ready” and “Our strong economy will guarantee enough funds for all the infrastructure projects needed.”

What may be the most interesting discussion, though, is the one happening among Brazilian project managers.

Last November, I had the opportunity to participate in the 4th Brazilian Project Management Congress held in Belo Horizonte, one of the cities hosting World Cup matches. A sense of pride and joy for the Olympic nomination was in the air, and the projects already underway for the World Cup were the topic of choice for attendees.

There's a sincere desire to apply the knowledge of the Brazilian project management community for the common good of their people and country.

Everybody seemed to be waiting for the call of duty, ready to fight for the common goal: astonishing success in both events.

Yet I also perceived among all of them a sense of urgency and anxiety about demonstrating to the world that Brazil can manage big infrastructure projects and major events using state-of-the-art project management standards. The local project management community also seems to have a deep concern about communicating to the government, business and engineering communities of Brazil that project management best practices can secure success on the challenges ahead.

There's a sincere desire to apply the knowledge of the Brazilian project management community for the common good of their people and country. This was truly the biggest takeaway of my visit to Brazil. We project managers have a definite responsibility to spread the word on the benefits of project management—especially when our organizations, companies or countries face big challenges. By doing so, both we and the organizations we serve win. PM

Roberto Toledo, MBA, PMP, is managing director of Alpha Consultoría and a trainer and consultant who works across Latin America. He can be reached at [email protected].





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