Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Participation for everyone

Those of us who value the opinions of others, and who like to be taken into account, have a reason to celebrate: now we have eVote, a tool that makes participation available to everyone.

eVote is an innovative platform developed by SGO that lets people voice their opinions about matters which concern them and to raise their level of influence.

eVote facilitates participation in decision making at all levels, whether creating petitions to reform legislation, surveying citizens on relevant issues, or simply asking people to vote on everyday matters.

At Smartmatic, eVote has contributed to improve the communication between employees, for a more democratic decision-making process.  For instance, the HR department in our Venezuelan office carried out a survey in October where employees chose the most colourful Halloween decoration for the office.  Global Services, another department of Smartmatic, carried out a survey in July to find out the employeesopinion on our SmartU training workshops. 

Following this idea, Communications will use eVote in 2017 to know how our employees are using the materials produced by the department, which are hosted in our Corporate File Sharing service.  

This consultation will let us improve our content, and the way it is designed and shared.  Its worth noting that not all uses for eVote need to be corporate; for example, our HR co-worker Chilia Rodríguez made a survey to know if people thought the baby she was expecting was going to be a boy or a girl. 

eVote will strengthen communication between departments, and between all of us who work at Smartmatic. 

We encourage all of you to download and use this App store or visiting

Monday, October 03, 2016

Working in the Philippines: Passion and pride in what we do

The May 9 elections in the Philippines set before and after checkpoints for Smartmatic. 

This deployment, which involved thousands of workers, has become a source of pride and a collection of unforgettable experiences for the employees who left their usual workplaces for a few months, in order to travel to this island nation and leave a mark in its electoral history. 

Rosa Vento, Global Procurement and Supply Chain Director and Franklin Mendoza, PMO Project Manager, traded their offices in Panama and Venezuela for the Philippines, contributing their tireless efforts for this election’s success.  

“Teamwork that made for an unforgettable experience”

Rosa Vento travelled from Panama to the Philippines to take part in the May 9 elections.  This country represented “a new challenge, a new chance to overcome obstacles. This was great, interesting, different teamwork”. Such teamwork made the largest voting machine deployment in history possible. 

This archipelago of over 7,000 islands impressed Rosa, as did the kindness of its people, and the beauty of the few landmarks she could visit while she was working to accomplish the project’s goals. 

Rosa worked for months, day and night, having experiences that created tight bonds with her team and drove them to success.  “It was an unforgettable experience. We laughed, we cried, we got mad, but above all, we came together in good times and bad times, and bonds of friendship were made that go beyond professional ties, which is priceless”. 

This spirit of comradery has been with her during every trip she has taken for Smartmatic.  For her, every one of the HQ she has visited (Venezuela, Belgium, Panama, Boca Raton and the Philippines) is different, but they all share the same Smartmatic atmosphere of cooperation and teamwork she has always liked.  

Her greatest satisfactions is having been part of a project in which she faced “every challenge with passion and dedication” to make these elections the best the Philippines had had. “It was my pleasure and my pride to do so. I’d do it again as many times as necessary”.  

“Improving times and breaking records”. 

Franklin Mendoza had the chance to travel from Venezuela to the Philippines to work on the control processes for ballot printing.  His work team was active 24/7 to meet their daily goals, and break a record in the process: 56 million single ballots printed in 45 days

After contributing to this task, Franklin was present at the call centre.  “I worked at the call centre, dealing with incidents in the voting process at Filipino embassies in different countries. This was also a 24 hours a day operation”. 
During his visit to the Philippines (the only Smartmatic office he has known besides Venezuela) he was impressed by the level of development the country is experiencing and the high level of activity in its cities. 

“Any time during the night you could see people working, the traffic on the roads was incredible, which shows the people’s level of activity”, he remembers. Franklin was also impressed by the growth of the real estate sector, which is active “24/7, building skyscrapers and other buildings.” 

His trip to the Philippines leaves him with the satisfaction of “having contributed to the execution of a successful project, improving on the delivery times and breaking the ballot printing records to that date.” 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Democracy Day: Encouraging citizen participation

Carin Talero, Business Product Associate Manager at Smartmatic, played a key role during the “Tu Barrio Gana” initiative, where the company provided an e-voting solution on Chile.  
As a member of the team, Carin coordinated the activities of the management and operative teams.  She was also in charge of interacting directly with the client.
As we celebrate Democracy Day, we had a chance to ask Carin about this milestone.

How did you think the Chilean public received this technology?
The reception was very positive especially among senior voters who found that it was really easy to mark their choices directly on the screen. They told me that it was very convenient to validate their vote both on the screen and against the printed voucher the machines generate. 

How do you think Smartmatic promotes changes and improvements in democracies?
A project like this is a clear example of how technology can strengthen democracies. 
With “Tu Barrio Gana”, citizens were able to let the government know which things are really important to them.  The government, in turn, uses the citizen’s inputs to make the budget.  By including citizens in the crucial act of resource allocation, governance is made more inclusive.

Democracy is not just about electing a president every 4 or 5 years. Public consultation  is every bit as important in governance, and our technology is enabling all this to take place.

Another important contribution of technology is the generation of trust among the electors and the public at large.  Our technology guarantees to the voter and all other parties involved that the people’s will is respected. 

Personally, what do you take from this project?
I was pleasantly surprised that in Chile the population is consulted frequently about their budgetary priorities.  Ultimately, they are the ones who really know their needs.
Also, the level of organization shown by the population in this Chilean commune impressed me.  Different citizen organizations, social, sporting and educational ones, made proposals to give the population a voice.  This level of citizen empowerment speaks highly of Chilean democracy. 

Any anecdote you would like to share?
Our coworkers Larissa, Ivan and Mariana remember very fondly that in one of the poll stations at the end of the day, the municipal staff was ready with pencils and notebooks to count the votes and tally results, as they saw the machines generating and printing results immediately.  They were really, really surprised.  The representative of the organization that proposed the project which got the most votes was so happy that he hugged the machine, and told our coworkers that he wanted to congratulate the inventor. “Please say thanks to the creator”, he said. He didn’t think the count would be over so quickly, and he beamed while his people started celebrating with horns and whistles.

Carin Talero

Business Product Associate Manager

Friday, September 09, 2016

Health Month at Smartmatic Venezuela

I would like to use this space to share some fresh information with the members of the Smartmatic family about the activities taking place at our Venezuelan offices this September.  I am sure the schedule we have prepared will be beneficial to most, and will strengthen the values that we in HR try to instill into the whole company. 

It is important to highlight that we understand health from a holistically definition, comprising physical, mental and societal well-being, and not restricted to the absence of illnesses or health conditions. 

To cultivate a kind of integral health which covers these three dimensions, we will be carrying out the following activities during “Health Month”:

·         Lab tests and medical checkups Free lab tests and checkupswill be held in our offices, available to all employees.  This convenience will  spare us the trouble of booking appointments and having to leave the office. saving time and money to all of us. 

·         Safety and Emergency Procedures Workshops will prepare us to better face an emergency or an unexpected situation, which can save lives.  This is why we are setting up basic talks on workplace security, and workshops on emergency procedures and natural disasters.  

·         Sporting activities Everyone knows that exercising is key for physical health.  However, sporting activities such as Yoga, Pilates, Samba lessons,  Street Soccer and Kicking Ball matches go even further since they promote staff integration.  Spending time with colleagues out of the office is key to cultivating high-performing teams. 

We would like to finish by saying we are a family, and we can all contribute every day toward each other’s well-being, not only by spending time with our colleagues but also by participating in activities that will surely be good to our bodies, minds, and workplace relationships. 

Chila Rodríguez

Human Resources Lead

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Elections in the Philippines: the challenge of working away from home for the first time

Liski Ortega, Technology Deployment Applications Sr. Engineer and José Gregorio Camargo, Technology Deployment Applications Analyst, travelled for the first time to the Philippines from our office in Venezuela to be a part of  the largest elections with an electronic vote count in history

For both of them, the experience of working in the project represented a professional and personal challenge, in every way: working far away from home, hand in hand with a quality team to guarantee that voters could exercise their rights without any incidents. 

“A great personal and professional experience”

Lisk travelled to our office in the Philippines to be a part of the team in the National Technical Support Centre (NTSC), which provided support to the field staff deployed in the May 9th elections. 

Liski’s experience in the Accra office was a normal one. About her daily life, she tells us she “had the chance of going to Bonifacio Global City, especially to Bonifacio High Street, a boulevard with many places of interest”.

Of those days, she remembers the times spent with her Filipino colleagues, “a team of great human quality and highly trained” to make sure this election, which saw over 55 million voters, was successful.

Thanks to her labour at the NTSC, Liski also got to meet the Venezuelan ambassador in the Philippines, Capaya Rodríguez González. “We spent an afternoon with a person of good qualities and good energy. We spoke about Smartmatic’s experience in elections while we ate typical Venezuelan dishes halfway around the globe: dulce de leche, papelón con limón and tequeños”.

As to which Smartmatic HQ she prefers, Liski states that she likes Venezuela the most, although this experience of working in the Philippines was a “great personal and professional satisfaction, in every way”.  

Adapting to make an election successful
José Gregorio travelled for the first time to work at the NTSC for two months. The opportunity gave him the chance of meeting members of the Smartmatic family who “came from other HQs, full time employees and some hired in Manila”.

This time had to work tirelessly to conform to the project’s deadlines.  However, the day-to-day was “satisfactory, [although] there were times where we slept less than 8 hours so we could successfully meet all the stages in the timeline.  

Although the work was hectic, he had the chance to explore places near the office.  “I had the challenge of communicating in a different language and adapting to the customs of the language.  In a few weeks I explored their gastronomy and saw some places of interest”.  

After returning to Venezuela, José Gregorio has the pride of having participated in the third automated FIlipino election, knowing that “everyone could exercise their right to vote, with no incidents whatsoever”. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

“With every proposal delivered we plant the seeds of a future ripe with recognition and success”

“We are planting seeds that will soon sprout, grow, and bear us the fruits of important [market] presence, recognition and success”. These are the words our Sales Support Sr. Manager, Edgar Fino, uses to describe all the travels he has embarked on, publicising our labour as the best elections company worldwide. 

With over 7 years in our family, Edgar has visited Smartmatic offices in Manila, São Paulo, Boca Raton, Panama and Amsterdam to help with presentations of our projects and products.  “Every proposal we deliver gives us satisfaction— firstly, because we won a bid or it was a successful operation, and secondly because we know we are helping to make our experience and our contributions to democracy and societies to be better recognized around the globe”.

His most recent experience outside Venezuela (where he usually works) was a visit to Smartmatic’s HQ in Amsterdam. Edgar brought work proposals for the United Kingdom (G-Cloud), Egypt, Ghana, Oman, Armenia, and other countries. 

“The day-to-day pace in Holland is very hectic. EMEA is a region that covers many countries, which means there is a lot of work being done in presales to drum up business for the company”, Edgar said about the work pace.  His daily tasks included interacting and spending time with sales representatives assigned to different markets: Dubai, Egypt, Lebanon, France, England and Bulgaria.

Edgar describes Amsterdam as a city “where everything seems to be in place” and where there is absolute punctuality, combined with a high level of professionalism in any public or private institution, from healthcare to transportation, which generates harmony between the citizens and the environment they are in. 

In this visit to the Dutch capital, he was able to spend time with coworkers and get to know the locals from this multicultural city —from up close. 

Although he has visited over six Smartmatic sites all over the globe, Edgar does not prefer any in particular.  “I like all the offices I’ve visited. In all of them you can feel the spirits and the drive of every member of the Smartmatic family.  You feel how the locals imprint the local culture onto the place. This variety in cooperation enriches the experience, and it adds technical and business prowess to what we do every day”.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Dragon to recognize heroism and professionalism

Since Smartmatic was founded in 2000, it has based its success on the commitment, dedication and excellence of each one of its employees. The company’s history has been written, day after day, by those who have led by their example and high professionalism. 

Aware of how crucial the commitment of its workforce is for success, Smartmatic awards “Smartmatic Dragons” to those who go above and beyond their duties, making great, even heroic efforts to achieve our shared goals. This heroism has made it possible for the company to keep a flawless record in the deployment of mission critical projects, such as elections.

This year Smartmatic awarded a Dragon to Denver Morales, one of our colleagues from the Electoral Business Unit, who works from our Panama office.

During the awards ceremony, which took place in our Panama office on July 15, Eduardo Correia (VP of our Electoral Business Unit) spoke of Denver’s great capacity for problem solving, his interest in going beyond his responsibilities, his contribution of fresh ideas to address common problems, and his willingness to collaborate with peers. 

Upon receiving his Dragon, Denver commented: “I am very thankful for seeing my commitment and professional efforts recognized. I am proud to belong to the Electoral Business Unit. Getting this Dragon is a great motivation to keep giving the best of me. I value the opportunity to contribute in each one of the projects I have worked on.”
We are sure that this Dragon will be encouraging for Denver and his team; a team filled with stamina and talent. It will also inspire his colleagues to continue striving to make Smartmatic the leading company of the electoral technology market. 

The Dragon statue was crafted by the renowned Venezuelan artist Hermann Mejía. To read more about the Smartmatic Dragon and its origins, read here

Monday, June 27, 2016

Workspaces and productivity

Defining a “workspace” in Smartmatic is a complicated task. Why? Because it can mean many different things. Which is to say, it means something different to each employee.

Although we have engineers and salespeople who seek new clients or support projects in the field, those of us who spend most of the time at a desk know that fulfilling certain daily tasks can be hard. 
Thankfully, there are several strategies to deal with boredom and increase office productivity. 
Having adequate lighting, a plant, a well-placed and orderly desk, background music during stressful moments, and photos of our favourite places can all be  details that bolster creativity and energy in the workplace. 

In addition to these details, experts recommend the following tactics to increase your productivity:

Surround yourself with things that make you happy When you spend over 8 hours in the office it is necessary to surround yourself with objects that energize you.  HR specialists recommend adorning your desk with pictures of trips you have taken, family photos (to remind you who you are working for), your kids’ toys or even a plant you can care for during stressful periods. 

Look through the window Although sometimes it can be complicated, it is advised to have your desk set next to a window.  That way you will get sunlight, which is beneficial to your health, you will have the chance of relaxing your eyesight by staring into something beyond your computer screen, and be able to take in your surroundings. 

Have a daily planner at hand Having a space near your desk to place important information, a calendar or a daily planner, can be very useful.  The important thing is knowing how to combine work with activities that relax you, like reciting a mantra or any motivational phrase; try also to incorporate the colour blue in your office space, since according to studies it projects calm and tranquillity. 

Music to focus In time when the office fills with chatter noise, activities and distractions, you can  listen to your favourite music to focus  on the tasks at hand.  A good rhythm will increase your creativity and energy, which at the end of the day will be rewarded with better work results. 

With this initial suggestions you will be able to turn around your work environment so you feel more at ease, and be more productive during your daily tasks.  The goal is to try different things over time and see which give you the most energy and creativity.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Social media in the office

Social media has transformed all the spheres of our daily lives. As expected, the workplace has also been affected. 

According to an Ipsos study, half of Microsoft employees consider that they would be more productive if they accessed social media at work.
Those who are in favour consider that, by keeping the staff spirits up and increasing their disposition to do perform daily tasks, social media has a positive impact on work performance. 

However, this opinion is shared only by a third of Microsoft’s supervisors.  The other two thirds consider that these sites have a negative effect on efficiency and productivity.  Therefore, several companies explicitly forbid the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

At the margin of this debate, companies have discovered that social media are an important tool for strategic workplace communication.  For instance, our CEO Antonio Mugica has increased his online presence in 2016. From his twitter @AntonioMugica and his Facebook profile, he has been a spokesman for our recent projects and accomplishments.

He has invited all members of the Smartmatic family to spread the news on our recent successful deployments.

Sharing the success, we have reaped is a very effective way to make employees identify with the company, and the workday more pleasant and productive. 

There are pros and cons to social networking.  It’s up to the individuals to gauge the quantity and quality of time they devote to these sites and to their work obligations. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Productivity in the office: Tips to make the most out of meetings

In a tech company, it is important to define work schemes so that projects can be adequately followed through. Teams need daily feedback on what is being developed.

While working at Smartmatic, the leading technology in electoral technology and elections development in all 5 continents, we must invest a certain amount of time in meetings that often take up time without apparent results.

However, there are habits that can be applied to make these meetings more productive.  

First, it is important to define the agenda to understand the goals for the meeting, and see whether it is absolutely indispensable. One can even write up a list to assign the proper time to individual steps, such as taking actions in the project, voting on a decision, etc.  What is important is having a plan before going into the meeting.

After doing this, one needs to take into account the time allotted for the meeting. Some specialists consider 15 mins to be the right length, so that employees don’t burn out, and decisions aren’t made only to end the meeting.  Every minute can result in greater workplace productivity, if it is well managed. 

With the time and the agenda already defined, one needs to call in the attendees.  It’s advisable to keep the numbers under 10, although this varies from company to company.  Once the number of attendees is known, it’s easier to control the points in the agenda.  If you bring only the most interested parties, the meeting will be more productive. 

Having an agenda, a defined duration and an attendance list, the only thing missing is the content. Although sometimes it is necessary to make meetings more dynamic with animated, attractive presentations, these can sometimes turn into a distraction. If you need more focus, a precise, concise summary of the agenda should be made available to all to debate and discuss. 

The above are just some tips that can be applied to improve our daily office meetings.   Dynamism, focus and organization can be key when it comes to increasing productivity in meetings, which are fundamental for teams to communicate with one another, in order to guarantee successful projects that meet the company’s global objectives.