It has been four weeks already since I arrived in Maputo, Mozambique, yet it feels like a week. There is a contrast between the dynamic at work and that in the city – the pace at work is fast, while that in the city is slow. So, I find myself in this paradox whereby I feel properly adjusted at work, but still need to readjust to the pace of the city and country. Work feels like it did back in the United States. Everyday life, on the other hand, runs a lot slower than it does in the United States. Incidentally, time also seems to move slower. In the United States, every glance at my watch revealed an hour gone by. In Maputo, every glance at my watch reveals five minutes gone by. To be fair, I have had the same impression in every other African country that I have been to.
I spent my first month at work acclimatizing myself to the work environment, my colleagues, the company’s operations, and its clients and partners. I also designed and drafted a five-year strategy document for the company, which should be presented to the Board of Directors at the next Board Meeting. For that assignment, I collaborated with the Managing Director and Investment Manager. The experience gave me insight on how they work, think, and structure their deliverables. I have been attending a number of meetings, related to various projects, during which my opinions were sought and I was prompted to present certain arguments that I held convictions about. Such experiences are valuable because they reveal that there exists multiple approaches to issues and that opting for a particular approach is not an implicit rejection of other options.
My most valuable experience of the month has been establishing a foundation of trust with my colleagues. With the management team, this implies ensuring as candid and effective communication with the managers as is possible. With the rest of the team, this means regular conversations about their personal backgrounds, interests, sports, and sharing lunch during lunch-breaks. The effort has been beyond worthwhile. I am confident that I am already forging solid understandings with my colleagues, especially those who are not in management. The reason I decided to do this is that I learned from my previous professional experiences that the most important thing in human relations is effective and constructive communication. This enhances the level of trust and understanding between individuals. Trust and understanding typically make for mutual progress.
I am all about mutual progress.