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Started as a Trainee and now I’m a Partner. How?
Tempo de leitura: 4 minutos

Started as a Trainee and now I’m a Partner. How?

by Francisco Costa, Partner & Enterprise Solutions Lead @ Xpand IT

After finishing our academic training, I think we all go through the same thing: so, what will I do now? In my case, while I was in college, I was being prepared mainly to be receptive to learning what would be the basic knowledge — but the day-to-day life of a professional is much more than that.

There is another set of rules, principles, paths, and functions that weren’t explained to us at the time. However, we had to make a decision. In our area, we always have the advantage of having a lot of demand, which helps us “correct” any less informed decision, but today there seems to be more information available.

When I got out of Técnico back in 2008, I followed the normal process of sending resumes to some of the better-known and some lesser-known companies. One of them, much less known at the time, was Xpand IT. It was a company of about 30 people at the time (today we’re more than 300), but it was a place where I had several friends who had graduated early, which gave me an advantage in understanding how the work was around there. Right in the interview process, I noticed a difference to the others. At the time, I thought that maybe for being smaller, they had a bigger concern in understanding how I thought and who I was, and not just what I (didn’t) know how to do (yet). Over the years, I realized that there was a real effort to ensure that this did not change after this growth and that it was always part of the company’s culture.

It was therefore no easy decision to choose Xpand IT at the time. Spoiler alert: I’m still here.

I started my path like any other junior: getting to know the company, the team, the rules, the tools, configuring the PC, studying for the project I was going to join, and off I went.

I joined a much more experienced team, but things went smoothly. I started to realize that just knowing the tools I needed to use wasn’t enough, but I also had to understand the business of the client I was working with. That, and dealing with the people on the same client’s teams, were always going to be key factors in making a difference. And that was essential, because — in reality — we are in a service company. We do consulting. And that involves people.

I ended up being in this team for 10 years. From 2008 until 2018, when I was proposed the challenge to become a Partner in Xpand IT and lead the Enterprise Solutions business unit. Of course that, during those 10 years, a lot of things happened. My attitude was always the same from day one: understand what was expected of me and deliver more. Not because at the time I already had a clear vision of my path, or even of what would benefit me, but because I thought it was the best way to convince myself that I had value, that I was in the right place, and that I could make a difference compared to, perhaps, colleagues who I thought were better than me in their technical roles.

My way of delivering more was always to understand where there was a need and offer to solve it. Whether it was the proximity of the company to the team, or understanding the structure and needs of the client, I was there and offered my help. It usually was simple things, but that made a big difference in the relationships (between client and team). From there I grew up, passing through 2 or 3 team leaders, until that, with time, I became one.

I always kept a strong focus on the goals of the company as a whole, not just those of my team or business unit. I always had the purpose to increase our presence at the customer, to deliver better, with more quality, and to have a transparent attitude. I think what happened next was not that I was a super-brilliant person in all things technology or that I could convince everyone to work with us, but that I realized early on what my strengths and weaknesses were, as well as what could differentiate me from my colleagues. Not to be superior, but to show me that I could do it.

Career developments have always happened in a natural way. Many of them often came as a surprise to me, as happened in 2018 at the challenge to manage a business unit. I didn’t expect it, not by a long shot, but the path I was taking was creating confidence in me that I could be the right person for the challenge. I have never thought about asking first and doing it later. That’s not the way I had been taught, and even today I believe that’s the right way. And looking back at my path and what I have achieved, I think I took the right path.

It may seem, from the way I’m telling it, that it may have been an easy road, but it wasn’t. It never is. There are always problems along the way, better decisions and worse ones, and lots of mistakes. But that’s always how we learn, isn’t it? By making mistakes, recognizing them, and evolving. And by realizing who is around us, who can also help us because they are different from us, and even better than us in some things, or worse in others.

Team spirit and collaboration, believing we can do better, understanding our strengths and weaknesses, being available to sometimes step out of our comfort zone to make mistakes and learn, evolve, always with commitment. These are some of the relevant points of this story, and of most stories that go well. And beware because we will never know everything, we won’t always be right, and there are better people than us. That’s part of it. Even today, after all this time since 2008, I feel that I have a lot to learn. Fortunately, I am surrounded by very valid, hardworking people who help me every day to make better decisions — because it is in a team and with the humility to learn that we achieve great results and go further.

Do you want to grow and evolve? I have 5 tips for you:

  • Don’t reject a challenge that is thrown at you just because you don’t feel ready, or you think that it isn’t your path. All challenges are opportunities to grow and evolve.
  • Work, showing commitment, willingness and diligence, and opportunities will come naturally.
  • Don’t demand before doing. Be proactive, get out of your comfort zone and make a difference. If the opportunity is there, go after it and show your ability. The rest will come naturally.
  • Work in a team, support your colleagues, and you will always have something to learn from each of them.
  • Recognize your strengths, but also those areas in which you must improve to grow along your path.