Americas Expo 2015: Giselle Bündchen, economic development and mofongo
This year, Flamingo New York and Sao Paulo held our inaugural Americas Expo in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A long-standing Flamingo tradition, our expos are a time for us to come together as a community, celebrate our accomplishments, and look ahead to the year to come. This year, inspired by the close partnership between our American offices, we also decided to set ourselves a challenge: In today’s globalized, fragmented, constantly interconnected world, how can and should we think about the ‘Americas’ as a whole?
Our co-CEOs Kirsty Fuller and Maggie Collier kicked things off by looking at the Americas from a business lens, tracing the evolution of our industry and reflecting on Flamingo’s growth throughout the Americas over the past year. In 2015, we built new relationships with incredible clients, explored new industries, traveled around the Americas (and the world)…and managed to spend a few summer days on the beach together as well. And the year isn’t even over! In 2016, we’ll look forward to building on these successes, exploring and experimenting along the way.
After coming together as a group, we dove into a discussion about the Americas through a panel discussion moderated by Sam Hornsby, one of the Managing Partners at Flamingo New York. Our panelists came from a wide range of backgrounds and professions, bring a mix of experiences and perspectives to the table. We heard from:
Raul Vidal – Former Assistant Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce under Governor Luis Fortuno, Raul was responsible for all foreign direct investment strategies for Puerto Rico. Now, he works as a senior partner at Omnia Economic Solutions, assisting investors in their market entry strategies in Latin America.
Dyanis de Jesus – Dyanis is a founding member and Co-Director of the Puerto Rico Creative Economy Initiative, building awareness around the importance of creative and cultural industries as keys to economic development for the country. She splits her time between NY and San Juan, working at the intersection of culture, creativity and commerce.
Pablo Lopez – Founder of Polsense, Puerto Rico’s leading mobile development company, Pablo focused on the international expansion of Campodata, a fast growing startup using mobile technology to help global brands improve and monitor their execution across stores in Latin America.
Throughout the panel, our discussions spanned Puerto Rico’s economic challenges to its emergent, vibrant art scene. Raul shared his experiences in government and explained part of Puerto Rico’s economic and political history, leading to the country’s unique place as a bridge between the US and the rest of Latin America. Pablo spoke about his experiences as an entrepreneur, and described the challenges and opportunities in Puerto Rico’s start-up scene – heightened by the recent ‘brain drain’ to other parts of the Americas. Dyanis offered a creative, culturally grounded perspective to the mix, highlighting the growth of creative movements throughout Puerto Rico, and the economic power of culture, creativity, and ideas. Each panelist brought to life a unique side of Puerto Rican culture, and gave us new ways to frame our broader questions and thoughts around the Americas today.
The next morning, we continued our exploration of the Americas through a series of pechakucka presentations given by our fellow Flamingos. Pechakucha (in case you didn’t know) is the Japanese word for ‘chit chat,’ and describes a specific type of presentation, consisting of 20 slides, with just 20 seconds spent on each slide. In a series of fast-paced talks, we learned about topics from religious syncretism in the Church of Our Lady of Death to the spread of American football throughout South America…and how the relationship between Tom Brady and Giselle Bündchen is a metaphor for the political and social relations between the US and Brazil!
Still discussing the implications of Tom and Giselle’s marriage, we took to the streets for a walking tour of Old San Juan. Our tour guides introduced us to the ins and outs of the city, giving us their take on the politics, history, and daily life in Puerto Rico. We also learned why the city has so many cats (they were brought in to take care of a mice problem), and heard about how the streets of Old San Juan were originally paved with blue cobblestones. We ended our tour with a cooking class, where we made mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish with mashed plantain and chicken.
Heading home on the plane, we felt lucky to have had the chance to experience some of Puerto Rico’s rich culture. Over the course of just a few days, we explored the Americas from many different perspectives, heard from wonderful speakers, and most importantly, spent time celebrating with our close-knit Flamingo community. It was a wonderful expo, and we’re looking forward to coming together again next year.
Article by Eliana Ritts