Recently I was privileged and delighted to be chosen to visit Lisbon – the capital of Portugal and home to many of our full-stack developers and consultants. This was through a program that Pomerol launched last year called “Global Employee Exchange”, which aims at exposing team members to new cultures within our main global offices located in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe. It was so exciting to be given the opportunity to travel abroad and get to meet one of the Partners along with our Portuguese consulting team face to face! One of my goals during this trip was to better understand their stronghold within the company and how they positively impact our business.
Traveling overseas is always fun, and after 20 some hours of plane rides from CO > NJ > Lisbon, I arrived. The airport was undergoing renovations; however, it is awesome, tons of attractive shops and architecture welcoming me into Lisbon.
The city center is gorgeous! It’s a combination of modern high rises, older buildings undergoing reconstruction, and storied architecture of long ago. The sidewalks are all cobblestone – and I mean completely composed of 2×2 inch blocks, layered over rolling hills of all sizes – getting around in sneakers is a must.
The night of my arrival, Benfica (one of the major local football clubs) had just tied their latest match. The next game was played Thursday and a Benfica win would secure the Portuguese championship – which I was told would garner a massive celebration about 100 meters from my hotel in Marquis de Pombal. Benfica won and the celebrations began in earnest, as I watched a 4-lane roundabout fill with thousands of fans who celebrated the victory for their team. It was a massively memorable experience.
I could go on at length (and will if you call me lol) about the intricacies of the city, but here’s what stood out:
• The people are very friendly everywhere! While there is a sense of focus and determination, as soon as you open a conversation, they are more than happy to chat about anything. They would also lend a helping hand if I had gotten myself properly lost.
• The city is quite dense and filled to the brim with different shops and restaurants. I welcomed the ubiquitous presence of espresso as the main coffee drink – common in Europe, but not found as often in the US when not mixed into a Stanley full of milk and ice. Also, commonplace are pastelarias (the Portuguese do not mess around on the snack and pastry front) and a croissant or Pastel de Nata Pastel de Belem can be found every few hundred meters.
• I saw so many awesome sights just within Lisbon. The Castelo de S. Jorge (an enormous castle, boasting a hilltop overlooking the city in every direction. The Tower of Belem is much smaller but has some amazing architecture and carvings. The Oceanarium has 1 giant aquarium with 4 regional surrounding environments hosting hundreds of different animals.
Working out of the Portugal office was excellent, not too far from my hotel. It’s spacious and boasts modern furnishings and a very open concept. I found collaborating and chatting with my colleague Rute and the rest of the team was quite easy and fluid.
One of my favorite aspects was the focus of the PT team. Portuguese is a fascinating language – having Latin roots, there are some pieces which can be figured out but some of the vernacular – and the common manner of speaking is quite hard to track and sounds incredible. Luckily, English is also fairly common. When working on a task, they had a prominent sense of “head down” determination on getting the next task done. The day was nicely split up with some trips to the espresso machine to mentally reset and freshen up for the next sprint.
I am so deeply thankful for the opportunity Pomerol Partners offers with the Employee Exchange Program. This seamless method to connect in person with team members, learn about new projects, and be welcomingly immersed in a different culture is top notch and one of my best experiences as an employee ever.
Please feel free to reach out if you want to hear more about the trip or what we do at Pomerol!