san jorge caceresBorn in south-western Spain a few years ago, my life has been mainly about computers and music, leaving some space for books, travels and friends. After attending for fourteen years to a traditional catholic, boarding school (although I was not boarding myself) it was clear to me that the next step was to enroll in the computer science master degree program at the local university. It did not take long for me to stopping attending to classes and start visiting with other busy bees in the university labs. While completing my studies I spent my time there supporting myself as a research assistant, getting to know the academic world and wondering whether to devote my career to this field, or rather trying luck in the private sector, to finally choose on the later.

Not knowing really where to start with, and being painfully conscious of my poor spoken english, I spent the rest of the year in London, trying to improve those weak skills. Of course it did not help much, but I must admit I never enjoyed so much being out of my natural environment. It was also my first experience as an expat (and a pretty hard one I must admit) but definitively made everything from there on, to this day and when compared, easy as pie.

angel-caido-parque-retiroFeeling the urge to finally start working in the industry, I moved to Madrid to sadly discover that the outburst of the dot-com bubble had left a plethora of not-so-nice job opportunities for a beginner, with little more experience than the academy. After struggling more than I ever expected, a friend of mine introduced me to a company that was developing custom hardware and software in collaboration with a local university. My experience developing both during my studies was helping me for the first time, finding myself doing what I always wanted to, in what became my favorite city ever. During this time I also was lucky to find some of my best friends till today.

Now comfortable with my newly acquired professional skills, a new challenge was presented to me just by chance, in what I did not know at the time was called a garage start up. The company was founded by a team of former university assistants, just like myself, and was able to find some foreign venture capital to develop hardware and software supporting the new wave of wireless protocols. It was sadly my first experience in a failed company as well, and even though the team was extremely talented and seriously hard working, the particular wireless standard they were investing in never took off and the company starved and closed.

Having enjoyed the challenging and demanding start up environment for the first time, I did not even think twice about enrolling in the next one. This time the company was a well founded, wonderfully organised from the bottom up, formed as a result of a bigger one being merged and split. Some of the former employees were quick to recruit the best talented to create their own company. Being myself the one of the two, out of thirty employees which was not a former college made my incorporation surprisingly easier and pleasant. The company was really successful and several projects, including the one I was leading, made possible the company being bought out as the software development department of a mayor multinational company from Norway. My role was generously recognised and I got my first promotion ever.

As I would discover again later on, switching cultures to a multi-tiered multinational organisation from a start up presents a series of insurmountable challenges that usually result in a extremely difficult to contain stampede. It was not my case though, but my partner at the time moving abroad what impelled me out of the company. The place was The Netherlands, a country that I happened to visit a couple of times before and that caused me a very positive impression.

Beelden aan Zee

After putting myself in the hands of one of the most wonderful head hunters I’ve ever known I was incredible lucky to dock in a mildly successful by then start up that was trying to build up a social network. The company achieved with flying colours every single aim they could ever had and basically tripled the number of employees during my time there.

At the time and due to some circumstances I was commuting around twenty hours a week, and it was really killing me. The sudden acquisition and the urge to work nearby my place stop me from sending to the trash every job offer I was being sent. One evening, out of curiosity I checked upon the most recent one to discover it was a company established roughly ten minutes away walking from home. I could not help but checking the place, and after a pleasant meeting with the director and the back then lead developer I gave the proper notice to my becoming the most popular site in the country, bragging an incredible market share that I doubt I’d ever see again. The company was acquired by one of the most important media groups in Europe and suddenly everything changed. Most developers started to receive offers from mayor companies all around the world and the development team became a flock of bird migrating for warmer places.

The new place was a classical garage start up, founded again with the same name after a not so successful product in the form of a software development agency. Joining as a the new lead developer was easier this time, and applying my previous experience in similar companies had the desired result of bringing the company up from less than ten to more than thirty employees in less than two years, and moving from red numbers to the healthy and profitable black. In the meantime I was promoted to technical director, the first management position for me to have.

After a little less than five years in the country, my wife and I decided it was time for us to leave the country to warmer rather than greener pastures. In the decision was involved my newly born son future and the desire for new challenges. This time it was about crossing the pond and moving for the first time to a different continent.