TAIPEI, Taiwan — Mixed greens, chunks of chicken, a few Roma tomatoes and a nice balsamic dressing — on a bus trip in Seoul, South Korea. And all because there was a concern that the 60-or-so delegates she was overseeing on a nine-day tour through East Asia might need an afternoon snack.
It’s hard to quantify the attention to detail that Choose New Jersey Events Manager Dora Figueiredo and the entire Choose staff put into every aspect of the 2023 New Jersey East Asia Economic Mission trip that concluded Saturday night, but the fact that Figueiredo thought to get the group a quick meal before a long trip to the airport speaks volumes.
The logistics of a lengthy mission trip such as this — one in which hotels, meals and transportation had to be arranged in multiple cities — can only be appreciated by those who were there. But, trust us, the trip went off without a major misstep. Figueiredo was a big reason why.
Of course, that was only one aspect of the planning that went into the trip.
Arriving in cities ahead of the pack to ensure that everything is set, waking up before the group to plan for the day — and meeting late at night (while many of the delegates are enjoying the nightlife) is another.
The Choose team of Anastasia Blasi, Chris DeCotiis, Ryan Fox and Danielle Rexrode took the lead on that. They made sure the events ran smoothly — taking care of everything from the audio and slide presentations to ensuring there were always a few thousand copies of the ubiquitous 2023 scorecard of state success available for distribution.
Then there was Chief Strategy Officer Tim Crouch and Chief Business Development Officer Bill Noonan, who took the lead on the dozens of interactions with potential New Jersey business leaders.
And then there’s the indefatigable chief of staff Brady O’Connor, who got married a week before taking off to East Asia, led fundraising efforts in the months leading up to the trip, helped choreograph the team on the ground and kept all the senior leaders on the trip, including Gov. Phil Murphy, apprised of event changes.
Of course, all of this came under the direction of CEO Wes Mathews, who led a more than yearlong planning effort — including site visits, vetting of potential event partners and careful coordination with host country governments and U.S. embassies and outposts.
Mathews would be the first to tell you that a vision means little without execution. And he led a team that executed better than anyone could have expected.
Mathews was overwhelmingly thrilled by the effort of the Choose team.
“An incredible amount of work went into making this trip possible,” he said. “This was the largest — and most expansive — mission trip the state has ever undertaken.
“I’m so appreciative of all the hard work that our team did to pull this off. It was absolutely amazing.”
And greatly appreciated by all who went.
Where is the governor — and what day/time is it?
If you’re reading this in New Jersey on Saturday or Sunday, there is a good chance that the governor and the delegates are in their air on their return flight. The United Airlines flight is scheduled to arrive in late afternoon Sunday, New Jersey time.
What happened on Day 8 (Saturday in Taiwan)
- A biotech event at Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park (the semiconductor capital of the world and a model for New Jersey — and the U.S. — when it comes to a public-private partnership for economic imperatives);
- A Memorandum of Understanding signing at National Tsing Hua University with New Jersey Institute of Technology on a collaboration that will include artificial intelligence initiatives;
- An amazing end-of-tour dinner, hosted by CDIB Capital Group;
- A farewell evening reception — where the governor and first lady helped close the evening with a rousing sing-a-long to “Born to Run.” Hard to get more Jersey than that.
What happened on Day 9 (Sunday in Taiwan)
- A 12-hour flight to San Francisco — followed by a five-hour flight to Newark Liberty International Airport.
Perhaps a mission trip to Canada or Latin America (or both).
Quick stat of day
The entire trip was funded by the sponsors of Choose New Jersey — which did not take a penny of state money to pull it off.
Quote of the day
“Make sure you put up the right finger.” — Murphy during a photo ceremony in which delegates were asked to make the No. 1 symbol.