Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bloody Forgotten Iraq…

I wonder what’s going on in the minds of the world leaders right now when they see the news coming out of Iraq. I personally can not stand anymore watching, reading and seeing everyday news from Iraq where an average of 50 people dies in violence daily.

America has opened the door of hell in Iraq granted! but it seems like its much more complex than a mere invasion or regime change.

No question what’s going on right now is nothing short of a CIVIL WAR, that everybody keeps denying. I personally could not understand how this civil war is being carried on; attempting to do so will either lead me to error or confusion. There are 100s of stakeholders and parties involved in this chaos, ranging from foreign troops to local militias & intelligence agencies as well as politicians.

Should we bring back Saddam? Or better yet Al-Hajjaj Ibn Youssef...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Business > Tough Selling Ahead...

During my vacation I had the opportunity to meet with folks from the Foreign Investment Agency, the Techno-Pole El-Ghazala as well as few CEOs from major IT Corporation (they call themselves S2II or TIC). This was within the context of the project I’m working on which consists of transferring part of IT activities from the US to Tunisia.

The outcome was as follows:

Tunisia is still competitive in terms of human resources and setup costs, but not as competitive as the Asian market. Cost of living in Tunisia has increased dramatically recently and that will prove difficult to sell.

The impression that we have about séance-unique in the summer and a lax working hours or low productivity is partly wrong. As a matter of fact, during the summer, many High Tech companies work up to 5pm daily and sometimes adjust their work habits to the pace of their deliverables. The technical folks seem also very keen to learning and polishing the quality of their work.

Surprisingly, there were a lot of North American educated CEO and technical managers in Tunisia. It was very easy connecting with them as we spoke the same language, and shared the same concepts…that was quite comforting and re-assuring for future prospects.

On the downside, the Tunisian export market is still clustered & small and there is no interest expressed by corporate execs to move beyond the local or the French/German market. I got the impression that the majority of CEOs are content with the size of their organization and their revenue streams and have no interest in expanding…they do not realize that stalemate and inaction are synonyms of going backward and loosing ground…to the risk of shutting down. There is also a high turn-over among IT staff, since Tunisian engineers have limited understanding of loyalty & commitment and their career plans do not exceed 12months. The compensation question tends also to surface very often during their employment even if some are paid in excess of 3000 gross / month or declared as 'key players' in their positions.

Had it not been for a strong written recommendation by a high ranking official in the government, I would never have set foot in some of offices of those CEO or motivate them to work with me. Here also, seems to me that there is a disconnect between, on one hand the political decision makers, which are working very hard to promote quality investment and on the other hand, the operational staff which ...well.., are living day by day.

Anyhow, now that I have compiled all the data I need, secured the backing of the public, and some private/technology sector, I shall move to the next phase and convince my superiors of the viability of transferring some business to Tunisia….hummm, Tunisia you said? Where is that??? That’s I guess the first question I’ll be asked! to which I have no answer yet.

At stake, close to a million dollar/year of off-shore business and hiring of 20+ local technical and support staff..mostly senior S/W engineers.

It will be extrememly tough...but i'll make the case for it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Business > Dress Code

I can’t be more thankful to the work habits here in north America. Since I’ve joined the small company some 5 plus years ago, I never had to wear a neck tie, dress pants or a suit.

In the summer, I wake up; have breakfast, put any shorts I see in front of me, any descent shirt and head to work in sandals. When I got promoted to manager few years ago, I thought dressing down has come to an end, yet realized that my superior was no better than me, so I kept wearing the same old style, to the joy of wifie who never had to iron a shirt or a pant for the purpose of work since we were married.

Needless to say, that when it comes to interviewing a new candidate or meeting senior management, I head to the cleaners and prep the suit, the super white shirt and the Armani pants…..stuff that’s been sitting in the closet for ages, but still in style mind you.

I think also the fact that I work in the S/W and High Tech field helps a lot, different culture than banking or retail sector for instance.

One fun thing worth mentioning, is that when I dress up during a regular day, say to attend a function at the embassy or wife’s graduation, my colleagues thinks that I’m going to an interview, seeking a career change…

These days, I’m wearing a combination of clothes that does not exceed 100$

Monday, August 07, 2006

Summer 2006 > Epis 1: Executive Summary

So that’s it, vacation is over, back to Canada with wifie and baby….the trip was long…12hours including a connection at Charles de Gaulle. Service at Air France was as usual impeccable but baby could not stand the long haul and ended up being too fussy at the end…at the expense of mommy (I didn’t help her and i feel bad about it, need to catch up soon)

I’ll talk about vacation later in detail (time permitting), but in a nutshell I did accomplish many things on the US/Canada-TN cooperation venture. I met some officials from the public and private sectior who were very keen and enthusiast about the proposal I’m putting forward to bring some high-tech business to TN.

On a personal note, I did have lots of fun with wifie, baby, family and the in-laws in Hammamet. The weather was extremely cooperative, the sea was calm and the breeze abundant...especially at night.

I managed - out of curiosity - to meet 2 bloggers individually and get some feedback about the local blogsphere. As I figured it out, the blogsphere is a mere social & gossip group, at best, a meet (& meat) market or a web version of the defunct IRC channels (for the tech savvy). This is not necessarily bad, but i was hoping that something may come out of this group, which - worth mentioning - features quite few talented folks.

Tunis overall remains a great location, but its people are very special…they’re not bad, they’re not wonderful either…just special and I like it.

to be continued...