Global careers: moving from Montevideo to Berlin, a change in perspective
In our series ‘Global Careers’ we talk to employees who have moved between different offices at Delivery Hero. We operate in over 40 markets, and that’s a great starting point for having a truly global career. In our first edition, meet Mathias Fonseca.
Mathias works as Senior Manager, Software Engineering in our Berlin HQ and manages a team of seven people. Originally from Montevideo, Mathias worked in Delivery Hero’s Uruguayan team for seven years. In spring 2019, Mathias felt ready for a new challenge, new experiences, and a new country – and he decided to change jobs (and country!) within the Delivery Hero Group.
Read on to find out why a tour through Montevideo brought him to Berlin, how moving continents accelerated his career, why he’s particularly excited about Berlin winter.
Mathias, you moved from PedidosYa* to Delivery Hero’s central team one year ago. How did this opportunity come up, and were you hesitant to grab it?
At PedidosYa I was working in the payments team and, as all teams across the globe, we were in touch with the central team in Berlin on a regular basis. One day, a colleague from Berlin visited us to work on a joint project, and I offered to show him around in Montevideo. I didn’t know back then that this trip would change my life! During our tour he was talking about how much he likes Berlin, and I said that I’d like to go there at some point (what I meant was: as a tourist).
A couple of weeks later he called me to ask whether I was serious. They were looking for an experienced engineer in the central payments team, and the profile was quite a match for me. So I just said: “Sure, why not?” It was an easy decision to make, because I’ve always been open for an opportunity to go abroad. I lived and worked in Brazil before, and when I moved back home, I had the feeling I’d move again. So, this time I already knew what it meant to change countries, and I wasn’t hesitant to take this step.
What did moving countries mean for your career?
I grew a lot since I moved here. It was a challenging time and I was forced to leave my comfort zone – and these are exactly the things that make you stronger. At PedidosYa, I was one of the first engineers that joined the company seven years ago. I had the opportunity to build something almost from scratch, and I knew the product and company inside out. When we had a discussion about how to approach a topic, I would often say “let’s do it like that,” and people would agree.
Then I came to the central team in Berlin, and I also said “let’s do it like that,” but suddenly people asked “Why?” There is such a mix of backgrounds here, it’s an incredibly diverse city and workplace, and I learned that there are multiple solutions for one problem. Working in the central team means not only taking care of, for example, our brand in Uruguay. It means being part of a truly global team, and you have to take into account all of our 40+ markets.
What’s your favourite thing about Berlin?
I have many favourite things; one of them is that the city is always changing. Every season in Berlin is quite unique, and it comes with unique experiences: what you do in summer is completely different from how you spend your time in winter.
Another thing that I really like is that the city continues to surprise you: You always can find something new that you didn’t even know existed before. (Usually, when I see a lot of people, sometimes dressed weirdly, walking in the same direction – this is how I discover all these things going on, from cool bars to concerts and nineties parties.)
What would you say is the biggest difference between Berlin and Montevideo?
Winter! This year I saw and touched snow for the first time, and it was just amazing. The entire concept of winter is new to me (in Uruguay, it’s on average 15 degrees during winter). So now I love everything related to snow (and hence just went on vacation to Switzerland).
What’s also quite different are the people. In Berlin there are so many people from so many cultures living together in one place, and I think this can teach us a lot: We may come from different countries or have different outlooks on life, but somehow we’re all living in the same city, enjoying the same music, having a drink at the same bar. I think it’s amazing how much we can learn from each other, respect each other, ask each other questions, be open – I never thought that such a place excited.
How we work and how we think really is driven by our culture. Leaving your comfort zone and changing perspectives will teach you new ways to approach things.
Is there anything you really miss from home?
Food! More specifically: Dulce de leche (google it if you don’t know it!). This is a typical Latin American ingredient for a lot of pastries or cakes. When I eat a piece of cake in Germany, I always feel like there’s something missing. That’s why every time a friend from Uruguay visits me I charge them a tax for showing them Berlin: bring Dulce de leche!
Of course, what I miss most are my friends and family. But we’re in touch a lot, and with some of my friends I communicate even more now than I did before. When you’re home you just take things for granted, but now you really appreciate your time together, make plans, and share more about your everyday life. I would say that once you move abroad you really realise who’s a good friend.
What was the biggest challenge along the way?
There are many things in everyday life that are quite challenging. First and foremost the language, and that everything is just a bit different from home. For example, when you have a cold, how should you know which medicine to take? Another example is that my driver’s license is not valid in Germany. And, of course, time difference is always a challenge: I can only call my family and friends on the weekend or during my lunch break.
What do you think are the benefits of going abroad for work?
I would encourage everyone to work in a different country at least for once in their life, it’s a great experience and it helps you grow professionally (and personally!). Leaving your comfort zone and changing perspectives will teach you new ways to approach things. How we work and how we think really is driven by our culture. When different cultures come together, everyone needs to take a step towards each other, and this is how you learn and grow. For me, coming here was not just changing jobs or moving cities – it was like moving from one world to another.
*PedidosYa is part of the Delivery Hero family and operates in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay.