The Glue that keeps the Team Running
Interview with IdeaConnection Problem Solver Gustavo Figueira de Paula
Gustavo Figueira de Paula has a bachelor’s and master’s in Materials Engineering with emphasis on polymeric materials, and a PhD on Materials Science and Engineering with emphasis in technology development.
He also has a strong background in software engineering although no formal education in this area; it’s a hobby as well as a source of some money.
For several years he worked as freelance programmer and as a teacher in introductory courses on informatics while developing his main professional career at the Federal University of Sao Carlos, Sao Paulo State, Brazil. After receiving his PhD degree, he was hired by a chemical company to manage its industrial facility.
His main hobbies are learning about everything, and walking in wild fields, jungles and places where people don’t usually like to go. He loves to be near wild plants, animals and rocks.
In this interview with IdeaConnection he talks about his experiences of working on a successful challenge.
I was attracted to IdeaConnection by the possibility to earn some money while working on diverse challenges, not only those related to my field of expertise. Also, the opportunity to break barriers using knowledge, expand the frontiers of science and engineering, and contribute to the world's evolution in some way.
I worked on a successful challenge that was about obtaining a proof of safety of a given product regarding human health following several processing steps, and to help establish legal frameworks around this product.
Teamwork and Arriving at a Solution
With regards to the successful challenge that was selected by the seeker, it took us two months to arrive at the solution. The other team members were highly skilled and the final proposal was really a great piece of engineering.
I found the different mix of cultures and disciplines to be always positive. Not everyone could handle some of the difficulties that arose, but for me it was OK. The majority of team members I met were American/English. Being Brazilian, I'm from the minority group – non-native in English – and so the language was the first barrier.
But after some adjustments, the work flowed well. Sometimes problems occurred, principally due to conflict of ideas, and the experience can either be positive or negative, depending on how each team member handles the conflict.
For me it was always an opportunity to learn something about working with multicultural groups. For some members, it was difficult to a point that leaving the group was a better option. It is part of the game.
The worst part of team work was the overwork needed to convince some team members about the best ideas. Although this step was a positive aspect of the process, it took a lot of time, and time is something the members don't have much of, as all members work part-time on challenges.
Testing Ideas and Winning
The best part was the opportunity to test ideas and lines of thought against others who have distinct experiences and approaches.
If any idea is really good the others will adopt it, because the whole team will harvest the benefits. It the idea is bad, or if a team member is not able to present it in a good way, it will be rejected. Every idea accepted or rejected is a window to observe and learn how to be successful in a multicultural, competitive world. Everyone knows that they are working side by side with us – and only the best team will win.
Of course the money is also a motivation, but the award offered in almost all challenges is not enough, alone, to keep the team working. The intellectual challenge, the will to win is the springboard and the glue that keeps the team running.