Suzi Pegg
“Most Livable” Lisbon, Portugal

Leaving Spain, I’ve landed in Lisbon, a “most livable” city – just like Pittsburgh – per the Economist Intelligence Unit. This lovely city represents a brand new market for the Pittsburgh region – one that found its way onto our radar screen because of Carnegie Mellon University. In Lisbon, CMU has an agreement with the Portuguese government – through its Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education – for a long-term collaboration to significantly expand research and education in the area of information and communications technology. The latter also happens to be one of the key sectors and economic drivers in the Pittsburgh region. I continue to be amazed to discover Pittsburgh’s mark in so many places worldwide.  Our region is more influential than many people may realize. Here in Portugal, where fishing is a major industry, the Pittsburgh region is not so much a “small fish.”

Lori Spears, CMU Portugal

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting representatives from some Portugal-based companies brought to Pittsburgh for a visit by the CMU Portugal Program team. While these company representatives were in town, we talked about a number of ideas for collaborating, including joining forces when I travel to Europe with the PSO on its tour.  My “sister in success-building” is Lori Spears from CMU Portugal. We began exploring ideas, and soon it was clear that collaborating to further introduce the Pittsburgh region to Portugal as a North American business partner or destination for foreign direct investment had lots of potential. Mind you, we were aware that this was charting new territory, but that wasn’t going to stop two intrepid ladies who are especially keen on Pittsburgh. Our “Portugal, Meet Pittsburgh” presentation was a success. I was pleased to see familiar faces – including some business types who were part of the delegation I met earlier this year in Pittsburgh.  One gentleman, in fact, happily provided an impromptu testimonial about Pittsburgh to the group. As they say, there’s nothing like third-party validation. The program, Lori and I agreed, could not have gone better.

The support of a regional asset, such as Carnegie Mellon University, makes this type of success possible, as do other regional assets, such as Mike Matesic, CEO at Idea Foundry. Mike supported us with briefing notes on entrepreneurship for the presentation, and he has the distinction of being one of the founding partners of the CMU Portugal Program. He’s a mover and a shaker.

As I’ve said earlier, Pittsburgh’s mark truly is everywhere, and I couldn’t be prouder to be promoting the region’s amazing assets and people.

Stay tuned for more missives from across The Pond.  Until then, cheers!

Frog decided to get in on the act at the business seminar in Lisbon, offered in cooperation with CMU and its partners in Portugal. He’s brushed up so that he wasn’t ‘green behind the ears’ on the finer points of business investment in Pittsburgh


Suzi Pegg
Stained Glass in Barcelona

Barcelona is simply beautiful, and the culture and the arts are deep-seated in this seaside city. Amazing architecture abounds, as does some of the most awe-inspiring stained glass I have ever seen. The latter is somewhat obscured by vast amount of dominating architecture all around, but when you happen upon it, the stained glass takes your breath away.

I’m thinking that in some ways, Barcelona’s stained glass might be a metaphor for the arts and culture – a real, but sometimes hidden, gem tucked away amidst the bricks, mortar, steel and concrete of the infrastructure of a metropolis – the “hardware” that literally gives a city or region its shape and form. The “hardware” is critical, but by itself – devoid of the stained glass, the arts and culture and the similar wonders that soften edges and add sparkle – a city or region can come up short on personality. I think that both Barcelona and Pittsburgh recognize the need to balance both in order to achieve a quality of place that attracts people and business investment. Thousands of miles apart, we might be more like-minded than we realize.

Suzi Pegg and Mikel Burazko, at “their” table, Hotel de las Artes, Barcelona

My home-away-from-home is the Hotel de las Artes, one of Barcelona’s twin tallest buildings at 505 feet. It ties for this rank with Torre Mapfre, a neighboring skyrise. Hotel de las Artes was designed by the famous architects Bruce Graham and Frank O. Gehry, and was completed in 1994, although its dramatic design under construction was made famous by the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona. In this tallest of buildings, Mikel Burazko, Pennsylvania’s man in Spain and Portugal and one of my key partners, often meet to plan our lofty strategies for marketing the our home state. We’ve gathered here so often that the staff has actually started to reserve us our “usual” table.

Pittsburgh and Barcelona are similar with regard to economic sectors and strengths such as information and communications technology, cyber security, energy, life sciences and manufacturing. Our similarities have made it easier for us to hold productive meetings with several motivated agencies to discuss the bilateral opportunities between our regions, with the terms “innovation” and “collaboration” common to our business vocabularies. I am feeling positive that that there are some key opportunities here, and I’ll look forward to reporting more as these develop.

To get from meeting to meeting, I sometimes take a cab. On a recent ride, my driver was an overly enthusiastic man who had just returned from a trip to the UK where, among other things, he had gone to learn English. He seemed delighted to practice his English with me and was thrilled to share all he loved about my native England – especially football matches and pubs. In fact, he was so thrilled that he found it impossible to not show me his many travel photos – while driving the cab! Needless to say, it was quite a ride, and I felt like I spent more time watching the road for him rather than admiring his photos.

The Pittsburgh Symphony concert was held in the historic and sumptuous Palau de la Musica. The hall – the “Palace of Catalan Music” – was designed in the modernista style by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and was constructed between 1905 and 1908. Not unlike Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall, it was built with important financial contributions from by Barcelona’s wealthy industrialists. The PSO musician played Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 – the Resurrection Symphony – exquisitely. It was a moving performance and yet another testimonial to the quality associated with our Pittsburgh region and embodied in the PSO. Our Spanish business guests were taken aback by how exceptional the orchestra is.

On that high note, we are poised to continue a conversation about how Pittsburgh and Barcelona – places that prize quality and embrace innovation and collaboration – can perhaps develop mutually beneficial business partnerships. To that, I exclaim bravo !

Suzi Pegg
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Embarking on the 2012 Tour of Europe with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) reminded me a bit of an old movie directed by David Wolper. It’s called If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium – a comedy about a group of tourists on a whirlwind tour of seven countries in 18 days. If you saw my itinerary for the tour with the PSO, you’d know why I can relate.

Just reading our trip itinerary is exhausting. Not unlike the tourists in that 1969 comedy, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) President Dewitt Peart and I will are zipping through several western European countries over the next three and half weeks. All the while, we’ll be leveraging the PSO tour to once again market our impressive Pittsburgh region to potential investors and influencers. This is a great platform because Europeans really relate to the PSO – one of the world’s elite orchestras. The PSO has rock star status in Europe, and this status opens doors for the PRA to introduce the region, using our musical ambassador as a “calling card” and one example of the quality that’s synonymous with Pittsburgh – in the concert hall, the board room and beyond.

To begin the trip, I took advantage of one of this season’s last nonstop flights between Pittsburgh and Paris. Fear not, that service is only going on winter hiatus; it returns in full force next May. I was thrilled to see a full flight, including a number of travelers using connecting to other global destinations in India, the Middle East and elsewhere. The more that business and leisure travelers from the region use this flight, the greater the likelihood that it will remain an option. Beyond convenience, it’s a critical asset for Pittsburgh to have in order to compete as a global business destination.

My first stop is Bilbao – Pittsburgh’s sister city in Spain. The similarities are almost eerie, including a tunnel that opens onto a spectacular view of the city, surrounded by rivers. The Guggenheim Museum sits majestically on the banks of the Nervión River, and visitors mingle all around the charming city.

Alfonso Martinez Cearra, director of BM30

My first meeting on the tour is with my good friend Alfonso Martinez Cearra, director of BM30.  This organization is similar to our Allegheny Conference on Community Development,  and Alfonso’s position is akin to that of Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky. Alfonso is a big supporter of Pittsburgh and has visited our region quite a few times to explore collaborative opportunities and best practices between the two cities. I asked him about his impressions of the region.  Our work ethic, he says, is memorable. It’s very similar to that of people in Bilbao – dedicated, hard-working and eager to create success. And he loves our rivers — certainly common ties that uniquely bind Pittsburgh and Bilbao as sister cities.

After a series of other meetings during the day, I caught up over dinner with Eloy Alvarez, the chair and secretary general of an organization called Orkestra.Eloy visited Pittsburgh earlier this year and is keen to work with our region on energy initiatives – especially those related to our universities and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in the South Hills. He is quite an engaging man and well respected in Spain. He’s also very pro-Pittsburgh.

Now we’re in San Sebastian, along the coastline of the beautiful Basque Country. Our first visit is with an organization called Vicomtech where we meet with project managers who are working on technology projects. Several of these individuals are huge fans of Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, another of our regional assets that make us attractive in the global market.

The gang from Sempere and Mikel Burzako (right), Pennsylvania’s investment representative in Spain and Portugal

While there I was pleased to have lunch with my friends from Sempere Componentes, a marketer and distributor of railway parts and components. They have been working in the Pittsburgh region for several years and count the Port Authority of Pittsburgh as one of their key clients.

Just before lunch, they found out that I carry a small soft toy around with me as a mascot. I call it European Frog. Yes, I have a very silly side. Frog has been around the world with me – a companion when I’m traveling for business without my husband. In fact, Frog has more air miles than my husband does. Once my friends from Sempere Componentes saw that I had Frog with me, he was invited to la comida.  However, he’s not used to a Spanish business lunch and took a siesta in the back of the car all the way back to Bilbao.

I love working with these guys, and they love Pittsburgh. I hope to see them back in our region soon to discuss next steps.

So ends my visit to the Basque Country. It’s always a great pleasure to visit and work with the people here. The region is doing well compared to other parts of Spain, and I strongly encourage Pittsburgh region companies that are looking at opportunities across the pond to give the Basque Country a second look. The PRA has made inroads here and can make the necessary introductions. Just ask.

I’ll check back in again with further updates. Until then, cheers!

For previous updates from “where in the world” Suzi Pegg may be, click here.

“European Frog” at rest post-lunch
Phil Cynar
Suzi Pegg, PRA Vice President of Global Marketing

Classical music and global marketing:  the two really can strike a harmonious chord. And that’s what is about to happen across the pond – in such western European countries as Spain, France, Germany and more. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance are taking the region’s artistic and business investment assets on tour, Oct. 22 – Nov. 11. The tour marks the seventh year that the two organizations have embarked on this unique collaboration. The music of one of the world’s elite orchestras helps open doors for introducing the Pittsburgh region to international business investors and influencers. The PRA then further engages with them to discuss foreign direct investment in southwestern Pennsylvania – a place that’s already home to 385 firms based abroad that employ 53,000-plus people in the region.

Leading the charge and leveraging the orchestra as a symbol of the region’s quality – relative to living, working and doing business – is PRA Global Marketing Vice President Suzi Pegg. An expat Brit and a native of Sheffield, England – ironically a sister city of Pittsburgh – Pegg is also leveraging her continental roots vis a vis the decision to personally invest in Pittsburgh in 2000 as a place to live and work, American style. Today, in addition to being a proud Pittsburgher, Pegg is on her way to becoming a U.S. citizen.

Watch the video below to hear from Pegg – in her delightful British accent, which hasn’t faded in Pittsburgh – about what she’s up to in Europe with the PSO; what she’s doing independent of the PSO in strategic places such as the U.K., Portugal and Luxembourg; and what she hopes to accomplish for the region.

And keep watching and our other social media – Twitter and Facebook – where we’ll answer the question “Where in the world?” with updates about Pegg’s global efforts to promote her picture-perfect Pittsburgh.

(You can also read posts about previous PRA-PSO partnerships here.)


Phil Cynar

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) will be taking its world-class musicians and sterling symphonic sound abroad this fall.  When it does, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) will once again partner with the PSO to showcase what’s “world best” about the region and will promote the opportunities for international business investment here.  The PSO’s 2012 European Tour includes 12 concerts in eight cities from Oct. 25 – Nov. 10.

PRA President Dewitt Peart had this to say about a unique partnership between his organization and the PSO – one that strikes a chord on both sides of the Atlantic. “Pittsburgh is internationally recognized for collaboration.  We work together like no place else.  Here, organizations such as a symphony orchestra and an economic development agency partner to promote our region, which National Geographic Traveler has called a ‘must-see, best-of-the-world destination’ in 2012.  The region has a world of opportunity to offer, and its people make Pittsburgh experiences – from visits to significant business ventures – authentic and successful.  The ‘Power of Pittsburgh’ is its people,  and we’re delighted to personally showcase the region through its musicians, business leaders and other partners who are passionate about Pittsburgh – when the PRA tours Europe alongside the PSO.”

The partnership between the PSO and the PRA marks its seventh anniversary with the 2012 tour.

Read more about the tour plans in Andrew Druckenbrod’s Feb. 26 Post-Gazette article.

Phil Cynar

Last week, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra gave Silent Spring – a new composition for orchestra inspired by the book of the same name – its world premiere at Heinz Hall.  This weekend, the PSO takes Silent Spring to Lincoln Center for a special matinee performance in the Big Apple.

Commissioned by the PSO and the Rachel Carson Institute, the composition is a part of a year-long celebration of the golden anniversary of the publication of the bestseller by Springdale native (and Chatham University alumna) Rachel Carson. Her writings are credited with setting the stage for the environmental movement in the U.S. and around the globe.

We recently featured a blog post about the world premiere and a video interview with Steven Stucky, the composer of the piece as well as the PSO’s Composer of the Year.  Revisit it here.