John, a Director with Mythics, shares his experience of managing a project in Iraq for the past two years.
Working in Iraq has definitely been one of the most unique and challenging experiences of my life. This week marks my second year working as an IT Advisor/Consultant for the Iraq Ministry of Interior (MoI)—an organization that consists of 670,000 employees—the largest organization in the country of Iraq, consisting of all law enforcement agencies in the country. I spent the first 17 months as the Senior IT Advisor to the CIO of the MoI and the last 7 months working for Mythics—leading the Oracle EBS HR/PR/GL implementation for the MoI (in Arabic)—which started last summer. The fully developed Pilot System went live in May and was fully accepted by the MoI. The remainder of the year will be spent collecting, validating, and loading the remaining HR data. According to Oracle, when complete, this will be the second largest Oracle HR and Payroll system (running on a single instance) in the world.
As if an ERP implementation of this magnitude were not demanding enough, we face the additional challenges of delivering this project in a hostile, post-war environment with harsh living conditions in a military camp. Even as software consultants, we are armed and wear bullet proof vests and helmets when we go to the MoI each day. We also periodically endure mortar and rocket attacks on our base; and just last week, an “improvised explosive device” (IED) was detonated just outside the gate of our small base—severely wounding an American advisor and killing a translator.
I actually live in a 20’ x 8’ shipping container that has been converted into a one-room living space with a very small bathroom—similar to living in a very small camper/trailer. We call them “CHU’s” (containerized housing units). The temperature is now getting up 135 degrees Fahrenheit each day (during July & August) and power outages are frequent. Additionally, the sand here has the consistency of baby powder and gets into everything, as it pervades the air much worse than dust back home.
Yet, my job satisfaction has never been higher. Our team has consisted of people from 9 different countries and various cultures—and as a result, we rarely have a dull moment.