When preparation meets opportunity

Today I want to talk about what it means to be given a chance against all odds and the how important it is to find in life people who believe in you and are willing to give you a shot.

Struggle

Back in 2010 I was working in Portugal, my country was going through one of the worse economical crisis in recent memory. It was bad, not poverty bad, but it was a real struggle. Every single month was a battle to pay rent, pay the bills, get food on the table, no matter who you were or how good your job was, everyone was affected. 

Source: https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2018/04/04/2199417/whats-up-with-portugal/

We were operating in a mind set of scarcity; business was slow, rents were high, taxes were unsustainable, young people were trying desperately to survive in order to sustain an economy that was very much reliant on a fraction of the population that was active and supporting the country. In 2012 our Prime Minister went to the extreme of recommending young people to just leave the country, migrate

I just knew it was time to go, I began preparations to move out of the country with no real plan in place on how to do it, all I knew is that staying was not an option. 

When preparation meets opportunity

During the worse of times I was lucky enough to work for a great company that gave me the support I needed to grow as a professional,  believed in me and stood by their staff throughout the worse circumstances imaginable. Obrigado Ricardo! The company was employing hundreds of professionals that were adding value to a very fragile economy. Its because of companies like this that the country managed to pull through. 

In 2011 something unexpected happened, a friend of mine forwarded me an opportunity that he felt was suitable for my profile, it was a technical management role for a company in the UK that was looking for a technical programme manager to help run the technology for their Asian Brand Asiarooms.com. I had lived a large part of my life in Asia (Macau) so Asia was not a foreign continent to me. While my focus wold be in the AEAN market my job location was in the heart of Manchester. 

I had all the technical skills required for the job, I could code, I had a proven track record of managing both large and small scale projects, and I had cultural exposure to the market the company operated in. 

On paper it looked like a good fit, only problem was that I had no experience whatsoever working for an international company and at the time living in Portugal meant that I would be up against local candidates that were vastly more qualified than I was. 

In truth I had very little to lose, the worse thing that could happen was rejection, something that I was more than familiar with as an entrepreneur. 

Focusing on the experience 

As with everything, when a person focuses on the experience versus obsessing with the end-state, wonderful and unexpected things tend to happen, in my case life put in front of me someone that would become very significant, this person was Jonathan Potter

Jonathan was managing the recruitment process on behalf of Laterooms and he saw something that I was not prepared to see myself, he looked beyond all of my limitations or what I perceived them to be and focused on the value he felt that I could provide to the company. 

In truth, it was more than that, this person had faith in me and after having done a full due diligence on me as a candidate, he was truly convinced I was the right person for the job. Jon made sure that I could help his customer and that I was the right fit, and once he did, he backed me up with everything he had. 

My hiring manager and future boss was Dr. Christopher Burtcher. Jon held Christoph in the highest regard, "Christop was like a Swiss clock" he said, always precise, always on time, very technical. 

My first interview was a skype call in the an early Tuesday afternoon. Christoph was on time, precisely on time. He began the call by asking deliberate specific questions, there was nothing ambiguous about the process, every question was technical, to the point, structured, logical, with no space given for broad answers, it felt like I was being tested and stretched to see how much I would bend and if I would break.  

The interview ended as concisely as it began, I had no idea if I had done well but I knew I did the best I could. A few days later I heard from Jon that I had moved onto the next stage of the process. I was thrilled! 

In the next 2 weeks I had 6 subsequent interviews with other stakeholders and few more with Christoph. By the end, I reached the final stage of the recruitment process and it was all down between me and another candidate. 

The day everything changed

It was a rainy cold day, my phone rang, it was Jon, what followed will stay with me forever;

  • Jonathan: Pedro, are you sitting down?
  • Pedro: .... yes? (I could sense Jon's excitement) 
  • Jonathan: Would you like to take a job as the next Programme Manager for the Laterooms Group?
  • Pedro: ...
  • I remember literally fighting off the tears, it just felt that everything was about to change, a chance for things to be better.  
I didn't hesitate and took the job, the rest they say, is history. 

I went on to have a wonderful career at Laterooms where I made a lot of mistakes, learned along the way and became a better person at the end of it. 

What happened , didn't just "happen" to me, there are no coincidences or lucky moments. Everything in life comes down to preparation, hard work and the willingness to step towards something that you want, every day, even if you are unlikely to get it. 

In the process of doing this you will make mistakes, fall, stumble, find out things about yourself that you have been avoiding for a long time. You will meet people that want you to fail, that will applaud every-time you miss-step, but in the midst of all this you will also regain your faith in Humans when you realise that there are people that will stand by you and help you along the way, even when the odds are stacked against you. 


I like to think that their faith in me was not miss-placed.