Leandro Antunes Rodrigues is Delivery Director at GFT. In this role, his main responsibility is to assist the pre-sales process and to assure we can deliver what is being promised to our clients, and later perform what was promised on time, quality and budget. Apart from keeping teams motivated and working closely with them to control attrition, his daily routine consists of something spectacular: Living abroad in a different culture. In this interview, Leandro tells us everything about moving from Brazil to the US.
You live many kilometers away from your homeland Brazil. Can you give us some background information?
Leandro: Yes, Sao Paulo is 7,681 KM from New York City. I joined GFT Brazil in October 2014, so just completing five years at the company now. I joined GFT USA in June 2017, so two of the five years I spent in the United States. I have around 20 years in this industry and have worked in other multinational IT companies such as Capgemini (Brazil and Mexico) and Cognizant (Brazil) in the 10 years before GFT.
How did you prepare for the move to New York?
Leandro: I am single so that made things a little bit easier. When I got the invitation from Chris Ortiz and Gabi Ferrate to join the US Delivery Team I had three months to prepare for the move.
The first big challenge came up when I put my apartment up for rent in Sao Paulo expecting it to take months to get it rented, but it was off the market within one week, so I thought: what now? Where will I live? Besides that, all the usual list of things when you are moving abroad… what city, district, area to live in? How safe is that selected place? How different from Sao Paulo is the cost of living in NY. At the end, you just come and decide things later. That is the beauty of the experience.
What were your experiences, especially at the beginning? What were the biggest challenges?
Leandro: Moving from GFT Brazil to GFT USA and dealing with new clients was very challenging in the beginning. I joined to manage the delivery for one specific client in the US, an account that was reducing month over month due to their strategy to move to offshore where GFT was not present.
This uncertainty was very complicated in the initial year. After that, I added other clients to my portfolio, so the risk to not have clients and projects was mitigated. Working with the Boston team in Asset Management was great because we could transform the client unit together.
What do you like best about NY and what do you like less?
Leandro: NYC is a super cosmopolitan place, so even if you have been here many times already, you always have something new to see. You always have new restaurants, bars, museums and parks to visit. I do like this endless discovery phase here.
The part that is hard is to be away from family and friends, actually, that is the only negative aspect of being here.
Have you ever regretted your decision?
Leandro: Absolutely not! I have experienced in the past that ‘burning my ships’ made me stronger and much more prepared to adverse situations.
What do you miss most when you think back to your time and job in Brazil?
Leandro: The thing that I most miss from my days at GFT Brazil is my team. We were very effectively connected as a team. In 2014 when I joined GFT, we were 80 people working in the Delivery team for local Brazilian clients, and when I left to go to GFT US we were around 300 talents. I then ‘rescued’ 50 from the Brazilian accounts for our US projects and teams in Brazil. J Besides that, we now have a very strong team in Costa Rica working with us too.
Living in Sao Paulo I could drive to the beach every single Friday, not anymore. This is also a point that I do miss.
What advice would you give to a colleague who wants to take the step to live and work abroad?
Leandro: I would say prepare yourself with a good time dedicated to the idiom. Having fluency in the language is critical for your success. Be on top of what that specific market is buying and work hard.
Last question: When it comes to our five values, which one fits best to you as a member of #teamGFT and why?
Leandro: I believe collaborative. I am always trying to support people to reach their objectives and to assist in as many projects as I can. Actually, last year I got the collaborative appraisal in the GFT USA year-end party.
Great job, Leandro, congratulations! Thank you very much for the interview and all the best for the future.