Optical Networking, Redefined.
September 28, 2023

Project Connect: How We’re Shaping Connectivity Through Cultural Immersion

Founded in 2023, a corporate cultural immersion program named Project Connect was established between US-headquartered Precision Optical Technologies and Brazilian-based FonNet Networks. Project Connect was designed to foster cross-cultural collaboration between the partner companies and enhance the global perspective of both organizations. The inaugural participant in this program, Victor Mesquita of FonNet Networks, embarked on a transformative journey by spending several months in the United States, where he had the opportunity to work alongside  the Precision OT team at their corporate headquarters in Rochester, NY. 

We sat down with Victor to discuss his experiences through Project Connect: 

Victor Project Connect Visit 1

What motivated you to participate in Project Connect?

Victor:  I had several motivations to participate in Project Connect. On the professional side, I had the opportunity to deep dive into the new trends and technologies the company is working towards, to know better about the best practices and processes used in many different areas of the business, and to strengthen relationships/communication bridges between FonNet and Precision OT. On the personal side, I love to travel and know different places and cultures, so Project Connect gave me the chance to do that in way I never had before and, for sure, the opportunity to improve my English as a second language was an important motivation point.

What were the most significant cultural differences that you observed during your time in the USA? 

Victor:  There are a lot of cultural differences between Brazil and the United States, particularly concerning food and meal times. In my experience, the main meal appears to be dinner, whereas in Brazil, our heaviest meal is lunch. This is when we typically consume some form of protein alongside rice or noodles, complemented by beans or salad. In terms of lunch, in Brazil, it’s common to share this meal with coworkers, which serves as a kind of off-line team-building, which can create friendships beyond the office. While I’m aware that some people do this in the USA, my impression was that it’s more common there to use the lunch hour for a quick meal, attempting to address personal matters or expedite work, often opting for sandwiches or salads.

Victor Project Connect Visit 2

Additionally, Brazilians seem to be more open and expressive, with a propensity for touch and hugs, compared to Americans. I’m not suggesting that these points are better or worse, but they are just different. Other distinctions are more general, such as neighborhoods with wooden houses with spacious yards and no dividing fences from the sidewalk, in contrast to the prevalence of buildings in Brazil. The most popular sports differ too, with basketball, baseball, and American football reigning in the US, while soccer and volleyball take the lead in Brazil. Likewise, there are various car manufacturers and a wide range of models. The list is quite big, but I can’t forget the unique plate from Rochester: the garbage plate!

Did you make any lasting friendships or connections with employees during your time here?

Victor: Yes! I already had connections with some people before coming to headquarters, but it was a great experience making new friends and strengthening existing friendships. Everyone was amazing to me, very kind, and made me feel like I was at home. I miss you all!

Project Connect Victor 5

How do you think this cultural immersion experience will positively impact your personal and professional life in the future?

Victor: Well, I learned a lot, especially relating to the cultural differences. I think it will open my mind even more to respect, discretion, behavior, equality, justice, work-life balance, and several other things. It’s always great to interact with different people, perspectives, cultures, foods, music, lifestyles, to observe, taste, hear from, and live together. These are some of the best experiences we can have, it’s very enriching, and I thank FonNet and Precision OT for providing this.

What did you learn (industry-related) during your time with Precision Optical Technologies?

Victor: I had the opportunity to follow the work in progress for the 400Gbps ZR (400ZR) and ZRP (OpenZR+) transceivers with some of the best Engineers in this industry. I’m glad to have had a chance to collaborate with that, being part of on-field tests at one of our most important customers. Those transceivers are about to be released, and we’re very excited to start implementing them in our customers’ networks globally. Besides that, I had a chance to learn about Optical Line Systems, getting to know some new equipment that we’re working on in development. I can’t forget to mention the importance of the SCTE fixed broadband networks training and all the PON knowledge I gained from important moments during this amazing experience. Now it’s time to share all the knowledge with the Brazilian team.

What types of things (employee events, hobbies, work tasks, etc.) did you take part in during your time here in the US? 

Victor: I learned about various functions of the business and its departments, learning from the people that make up the teams, being part of the workforce, attending meetings, or just learning the processes for each department. So, I could contribute to Production, assisting with most tasks such as receiving, printing, labeling, programming, testing, quality control, and shipping. I also made some contributions with Quality, Solutions and Systems Engineering, and PLM.

Project Connect Victor 6Outside the office, I was able to participate in some employee events promoted by the Employee Engagement Team, such as the Rochester Redwings baseball match, the Kickball game, a Company Happy Hour, the Bills Training Camp, and the Family Picnic. Inside the office, we also had nice moments like an Ice Cream Truck and Snack Cart! Besides that, my wife and I could enjoy a lot of fun stuff like music concerts, summer events, do some tours around Rochester, check out restaurants, public markets, lakes, wineries, and also go on some trips for sure! It was amazing!

Victor Project Connect Visit 4

What was your favorite part about Project Connect?

Victor: Being a social creature, undoubtedly my favorite part was the connections I established in the USA. I love socializing, and I will never forget even the shortest moment I had with each one member of the team. The conversations, the patience, and the attention to understand a non-native English speaker from Brazil. I’ve mentioned it before, but everyone was amazing with me, and I hope I could be at least 80% of that to them. And, of course, the learning, knowledge, the technical and professional aspects, all the improvements I could gain, including enhancing my English language skills. It was all truly awesome.

Would you recommend Project Connect to a coworker? Why? 

Victor: Absolutely, I would recommend it! This is a unique experience that offers a substantial enrichment for both professional and personal aspects of life. It was an honor to be the inaugural participant in that, and I hope the Project Connect endures forever. The connection between individuals from different countries can yield advantages for the company and its people on various perspectives, which can contribute to the global dissemination of the One Precision Culture.