The Interview Interview: Guilherme Degasperi

On my last day working at Tiqets, my colleagues and I were invited to a mysterious virtual event. At 5 pm, the whole Content team gathered to play a… « Faugeroux trivia quiz », with questions on Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings (am I a nerd? Yes.), all curated by my former direct manager and head of department, Guilherme « Guil » Degasperi.

This is one of the many anecdotes that illustrate Guil’s personality: deeply committed, caring, witty, and humble (don’t worry, the man has his flaws: he hasn’t watched New Amsterdam on Netflix). After catching up on LinkedIn a few weeks ago, I decided it was high time for recruiters and the blogosphere to find out about Mr. Degasperi. So, I asked him about management and building a great team, discipline in challenging times, the stigma around job seekers, and his projects. Scroll down to discover the third episode of The Interview Interview, carried out (partly) at a 9,577km-distance (if that’s not Corona-friendly, I don’t know what is). 

“Tell us a bit about yourself”, Guil! 

I was born and raised in São Paulo, which is also where I graduated in Journalism. Brazil never felt like home to me, though, so I left for greener and cooler pastures in 2007. 

Sure, it doesn’t get any greener and cooler than Ireland. There I studied (Irish) English, worked a lot, partied way too hard, travelled as much as I could, and finally met the love of my life. Then we got married, flew to Amsterdam for our honeymoon, became infatuated with it, kept coming back, and eventually decided to pack our things and try our luck here.

When I’m not busy I enjoy reading, writing, walking, listening to classical music, and listing hobbies from the 19th century.

Two things stand out when I read your LinkedIn resume. Your ability to grow into a role and within a company, and to build teams. In your opinion, what makes a good manager, and what are the ingredients to a great team?

A good manager is someone who knows the challenges faced by their team, provides them with the right tools and the right work environment to perform, and gets out of their way. I’ve been lucky enough to have my fair share of good managers, and hope to become one myself when I grow up.

Credits: Claire Faugeroux.

Luck also plays a part when it comes to great teams, as you need the right people at the right place and at the right time. Then you need ‘clear-mindedness’ to see beyond an okay cover letter, a couple of typos on a CV, or nervousness during the interview. Looking back at the fantastic people I had the opportunity to hire at Tiqets, it was always more about their ability and willingness to learn, as well as the cultural fit, than “do they have a Master’s?” or “do they know software X and Y?”.

None of that matters if the company, the team, or the role is uninteresting. That wasn’t the case at Tiqets, as you know, and I happened to be standing on the shoulders of giants. So it was more about preserving the greatness that had already been achieved and making sure that the newcomers fit the bill. 

As long as I remain disciplined, lack of motivation won’t affect my performance.

You told me that discipline helped you navigate the job-search-Coronavirus situation. Can you tell me more about that? 

One of the few genuinely interesting ‘About Us’ pages I read recently said something like: “Motivation comes and goes, it can’t be trusted. Discipline ensures consistent performance, regardless of motivation.” It struck a chord with me.

Discipline and caffeine are two things I need in my life, no challenge is insurmountable when I have them. So I make sure to get up early, eat reasonably well, read the news, go through LinkedIn and my inbox, show Duolingo who’s boss, and study.

I also have a couple of weekly goals, such as exercising enough to keep the old immune system in shape, doing some writing, and applying for at least ten jobs. As long as I remain disciplined, lack of motivation won’t affect my performance.

We both agree that there is (still) a stigma around job seekers. Why do you think that is, and have you experienced it yourself?

I’m still not sure why that’s the case, but it’s certainly something I’ve experienced. Perhaps it’s a mix of feeling sorry for those who are jobless and fear of being in the same position. There’s also the view that if you’re unemployed you’re a burden to society.

The truth is that some folks do take advantage of whatever safety net is in place, that is if their country has one. But I’d argue that most human beings feel the urge to work, to contribute to something they believe in. I certainly do. The satisfaction I get from getting work done is unique.

Was it you who commented on how important it is to proudly wear the #OpenToWork badge on LinkedIn? I reckon so. Not only to make it clear to your network and to recruiters that you’re indeed looking for a new opportunity, but also to normalise the status. And if we can’t have this conversation now, right in the middle of a job-wrecking pandemic, when can we?

Most human beings feel the urge to work, to contribute to something they believe in.

A few months ago, you started sharing posts and resources on sustainability on LinkedIn. Can you tell me a little bit more about the Greenwhile project? 

Greenwhile was born out of a combination of many things: interesting people in my network (including your very self); frustration with the current state of the Internet Cookienet; the need for a portfolio; a bit more spare time than I’m historically used to; and, of course, good old self-preservation.

At first, it read like the kind of newsletter you get from a newspaper, but soon I realised that tackling different aspects of a single topic was more interesting. Greenwhile’s goal is to inform and educate, without assuming that its readers enjoy the subject as much as I do or shaming folks who believe that the rainforest belongs to them.

There’s enough doom and gloom these days, so I try to keep it positive, focus on solutions, and, as a friend said, add a little bit of humour and snark. Soon I’ll move it from LinkedIn to a platform that provides me with more flexibility, there’s just a thing or two to sort out before I can get that done. Stay tuned!

Last one: What kind of role and work environment are you currently looking for? How can we help*?

Normally I pick a skill I’d like to work on, see what kind of job requires it, reorganise my CV to highlight whatever relevant experience I have, and start searching.

Some of the skills I’d like to develop next are technical writing, recruiting, communicating, and publishing. Pretty much any job related to the circular economy would be great too, I find it fascinating. And if we do get a taste of normalcy sooner than later, the hospitality sector could be very interesting – there’s plenty of room for positive change within it.

Update: on the day I met with Guil to take pictures for this blog post, he was just about to start a new job as Technical Writer at ChannelEngine 🙂 If you want to know more (and you should!) about Guil and the Greenwhile project, check out his LinkedIn profile here.

 *And that’s how I found out the shocking truth: not everyone has watched New Amsterdam.

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