Early years and where you came from?
I’m originally from the south of Portugal. I moved to Lisbon to study Psychology at ISCTE and started my career in the tech industry in a Portuguese agency. A couple of companies later, I had the chance to help scale-up an amazing startup from day one. This experience led me to move to the North of Europe and join a payments tech unicorn.
How were you introduced to the world of the Portuguese tech industry?
I was always curious about engineering topics: understanding what all those terms meant, how they would interact with each other, and how they would materialize in reality. I was also always drawn to people’s complexity and ways of thinking, so when I graduated, the natural step was to get closer to the tech industry and join an engineering-focused recruitment agency in Lisbon.
Walk me through your work and what you are doing now in the tech industry.
My role at TransferWise is to scale and grow our biggest engineering hub in Tallinn and further drive our hyper-growth as a company. I lead this global initiative when it comes to our backend and full-stack teams in Tallinn. By scaling our technical teams, I’m ultimately helping our 7+ million customers to move and manage their money across borders and save money compared to using a bank.
I am deeply involved in the strategy, the end-to-end process, searching globally for the best talent to join TransferWise, constantly partnering with different stakeholders, identifying trends and making data-driven decisions along the way, while elevating candidate experience to high standards. Besides this, I am involved in cross-team projects to improve the recruitment function as a whole.
What part of what you do, you love the most?
I am fortunate to be able to work closely with my teams and see the impact of my work. A great example of this was this March when we launched Apple Pay for Europe. In the team update, it was very rewarding seeing mine and my colleague’s names in there for “hiring all the right people into the teams” that made this new feature possible.
How do you think that your background and knowledge impact the way you approach your work in the Portuguese tech industry?
My technical curiosity in engineering and recruitment has been crucial to navigate the tech industry. Aligned to this, the international exposure, having experienced both agency and in-house work cultures, having the opportunity to build a company and a function from scratch, and being always immersed in fast-paced environments allow me to: see the big picture; put things into perspective; question the status quo when needed; be prepared for different challenges; and be more insightful regarding tech, hiring, markets, cultures and people related topics.
What advice do you have for young women that want to get into tech and don’t know where to start?
Tech is very broad, and it can mean a lot of things for different professionals. If you are starting:
Discover, structure, focus, be patient, achieve and have fun in the process.
Discover what your passion within tech is and try to combine it with your skills;
Structure your progression to get solid foundations in terms of knowledge (with courses, boot camps, internships, hackathons, meetups, etc);
Focus on what is most important. Knowing what to prioritize is key as you don’t want to feel overwhelmed and give up;
Be patient and kind to yourself. Rome wasn’t built in one day, so won’t be all the knowledge you want/need;
Achieve! Most of the time is a result of being consistent and your attitude when faced with challenges.
Have fun, as none of it really matters if you’re not enjoying and (or) developing yourself.
Walk me through a day in your life as a Portuguese women in tech.
My days are very structured. However, I have a lot of flexibility to pivot the initial structure if something comes up. I start my day having my coffee and planning the day ahead. On the first half of my day, I have 1:1s, I go through my emails, LinkedIn messages, Greenhouse (our ATS) applications and sourcing. After lunch, the second half of my day is dedicated to interviewing, team meetings with all offices, offer calls, project work, and, in between those, aligning with my teams on our strategy. When I finish, I am ready to go to the gym or draw as it helps me to recharge for the next day.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Know how to do something manually before you automate it.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
The productivity planner, Youtube, Google, Greenhouse, Slack, Atlassian tools. My recently new favorite — Miro.
👉Find Rafaela on LinkedIn