Dear future colleague, value is a concept that can take many different shapes

Portrait of the author Duarte Mechas
April 14, 2022

Read time 4 min

We are building a new office in Lisbon with the desire to bring in people who want to grow (as individuals and as a team), who are willing to stick together, and really care about building something new. Curious? Check out our open positions

Dear future colleague,

I’m from Portugal. I’ve lived just outside of Lisbon nearly my whole life, aside from some years up in the north of the country. I went to elementary school, high-school, and university here. And it’s where I’ve been working as a software engineer since I graduated from university as a telecommunications and informatics engineer in 2011. Lisbon is also the city where I’ve joined a newly born office for the first time. And where, as a result, I’ve recently come to discover an entirely new work culture.

From carpenter to computer engineer

A little background on myself. As a child, I wanted to be a carpenter because I liked assembling “Ikea-like” furniture with my dad, but I probably didn’t have a particularly strong understanding of what carpenters do in reality. Later, my interests revolved more around arts and architecture. I even applied to study architecture in university, but didn’t get in. I then started looking at programs in computer science, with the criteria of where it was not mandatory to study physics (a subject that didn’t agree with me in high-school). That’s how I ended up at Instituto Superior Técnico.

As a software engineer you never stop learning

Becoming a software engineer for me was thrilling mainly because of how steep and fast the learning curve was (and still is). I started my first job in 2011 at a startup where we were the only two engineers. Myself, and one much more senior to me. It was an incredible start to my career. With just the two of us, the range of what we got to do (and as a result what I got to learn) was wide and vast — I owe a lot to this guy for his mentorship. Since then, my career has taken me to different orgs for different reasons. Whether it was because I was craving to socialize and interact with colleagues more, work on different technical challenges, work with international clients, or shift from engineering more towards DevOps. I’ve always felt that happiness at work can be materialized in many different ways, and needs can change over time.

How I ended up building up a new Reaktor office in Lisbon

Like most of my previous moves, the decision to join Reaktor was made based on what I felt I was lacking in my previous roles. The opportunity Reaktor presented felt like just the right combination: connecting with people in-person, working with folks from all over the world, and being a part of building an entirely new office committed to personal and collective development. All that has come to meet my expectations in the last couple of months I’ve been here. 

What became a positive surprise for me were the values and ideology the company operates within on a day-to-day basis. There are a few elements that make this place feel truly unique and mature. For example, Reaktor always measures ROI or some quantified benefit of any given decision. They don’t reject any proposals or expenses without thoroughly evaluating the potential impact of it. This really creates a feeling of possibility and expansiveness within the team.

At Reaktor, you need to be comfortable with the amount of freedom

Yet given all of that, I would have to say the most extraordinary quality of Reaktor’s culture is how it defines value. Here, value is a concept that can take many different shapes. It’s vague — it doesn’t just equal money or billable time. Reaktor truly trusts you. Perhaps it’s because we operate in autonomous teams where no one tells you what to do, there are no middle managers, and you are free to make your own choices for what to spend your time on. This is completely different from Portuguese companies and it’s important to note that with more freedom also comes more responsibility.

Here you will have the possibility to do whatever you want. No one will tell you to jump in to help another team, to prepare a presentation, or develop an internal tool (all of which you are also more than welcome to do if you so wish!). You need to be comfortable with this freedom. Or at least be comfortable with knowing you’re not comfortable. And always be humble enough to be able to ask for help.

Dear future colleague: A series of letters written by Reaktorians. Come join us, as you are.


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