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Ending my Austrian Experience

My Austrian experience is coming to an end. On Thursday I’ll move to Madrid with my wife, and we plan to stay in Spain until July, when we’ll fly to the US. I am really exited already!

Yesterday night we finished packaging most of our stuff. We have shipped several boxes to Spain and now our house is really empty. There’s no better signal than living at an empty house to remind us that big changes are about to come into our lives.

It’s amazing how fast time has passed. It feels like yesterday when, back in August 2012, we drove from Madrid to Vorarlberg to start my job as Project Manager at a software company. We drove via Innsbruck, and from the first moment we were amazed by the beauty of the place. Last weekend we went to Venice and we drove by the same place, and it still impressed us.

Sundown near Innsbruck, Austria

Sundown near Innsbruck

The last 8 months have been amazing and very rewarding, both personally and professionally. Both my wife and I have loved our stay in Austria, and even though there were positive and negative sides, the positive totally make up for the negatives, and have made our stay in Austria totally worth it.

First, we have done a lot of traveling! Last weekend for instance, we went to Venice, which is located 5 hours drive from where we live. We visited a future classmate and his wife, who will also move to Durham in July. We had so much fun! We also visited Verona, a small and beautiful city near Venice, and Bassano del Grapa, a small charming town where I had one of the best pizzas ever!

Venice - Landscape from the Rialto Bridge

Venice – Landscape from the Rialto Bridge

St. Mark's Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica and its golden ceiling

Venice_landscape

Venice’s Gondoliers

We have also visited Germany, Switzerland, several Austrian cities, Liechtenstein and drove through France several times -I specially liked the Cote d’Azur. We have met a different culture such as the Saxon, and specially my wife has learned a lot of German -at work I speak English, which I improved over the last months.

And speaking about work, I must say that overall I learned a lot, and I have become familiar with a new role: Product Management. Even though I was hired as a Project Manager, I worked with the Product Management team as part of my training, to become proficient with my company’s software, a Transportation Management System. I have been in a really interesting position, as I had to work as a Product Manager, but from a Project Management perspective.

For instance, I have been in charge of a project in which we had to integrate a new carrier into our application, enabling one of our customers save several hundred of thousand of dollars per year in shipments. As project manager, I was responsible for meeting and working with sales to get our client’s approval, participating in the sale of the project, dealing with customers and the carrier’s employees, planning the project, coordinating my team, etc. But at the same time I also was responsible for defining the solution, taking of requirements, identifying risks and areas of improvement for our software… I’ve had to manage a geographically distributed team, as we have an office in Thailand. Handling time difference and coordinating with our customer and external carrier, which are based in the US -11 hours difference with Thailand- has been quite a challenge.

I also worked developing the roadmap and strategy of a new solution, analysing the market, competitors and meeting with other departments such as sales and marketing. I had never done something like this before, and it was very useful to learn how a new IT product is born and starts getting shape.

Summarizing, eight months ago, I took myself out of my comfort zone -4 years working in the same company and living in my home country- and decided to explore another kind of job, meet different people, learn to behave with other cultures and improve and learn new languages. I also left family, friends and most of my belongings behind. I must say that it was definitely worth it, I have loved the experience.

I am sure I’ll come back to Austria someday, I really like the country and there are still many places to visit!

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