On Moving From Brazil to Estonia (By Way of Australia)

by Gonzalo November 17, 2016

From the urban sprawl of Belo Horizonte to cozy Tallinn

When I met Diogo Costa, an inside sales consultant at Pipedrive, it was snowing heavily outside on the streets of Tallinn. It was only the third time in his entire life that he’d seen snow.

Seeking refuge from the cold inside a charming cafe in the Kalamaja district, we discussed what his move from the warmer climates of Brazil and Australia to the cold country of Estonia has been like, and how he’s enjoying his new job.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what you were doing before joining Pipedrive?

I was born and raised in a city called Belo Horizonte in Brazil, which is the third biggest in the country. I lived there my whole life besides the time I went to Australia as an exchange student. I recently graduated in international relations, and I was about to complete two years working in a tech company called Samba Tech back home, doing marketing and sales.

Great Barrier Reef

How long did you live in Australia?

I was in Melbourne for seven months, but I was quite young. My goal there was to have fun and I had no big ambitions. So I deferred university for a semester and took an English course in a language school.

What did you take away from that experience?

I think it strengthened my passion for traveling and being in international environments. When I came back home, I felt like I wanted to stay longer so I’ve always had that feeling that I want to go abroad again, but at least for one year.

So I started thinking, how can I get a job overseas?

I really wanted to work in Spain. I knew a company there that works with city branding and that was my final thesis for graduation. So I went to Spain and got a chance to visit the company, but they only offered me a volunteer internship with no visa. And then one day I was going through LinkedIn and saw a post from Fundação Estudar, a foundation of Jorge Paulo Lemann, the richest man in Brazil. It said there was this new platform that helps you find jobs abroad. It was Jobbatical.

With the Brazilian Ambassador to Estonia, Roberto Colin.

So you signed up and applied. What was the interview process like?

I was quite impressed with the quality of the process, because they were interviewing me through Skype and they had to make me feel comfortable with the position. But I had to make them feel comfortable as well because they were picking a person from the other side of the Atlantic.

The first interview was just breaking the ice, and the second interview was when I felt like okay, if I get this job, I’m going to go to Estonia because these people are actually interesting. So it was seven interviews on Skype over 3 weeks. The first was with Kristiine from HR and the last was with Timo, who is one of the founders.

They really try to prepare us for the winter, especially for us Latin Americans, because everything is new for us. This is the third day of my life I’m seeing snow. They want to make sure they’re not going to pick a person who is going to give up at the first opportunity because of the weather.

What did they say in the second interview that convinced you to come here?

To be very honest, he shared with me the salary range. At this point of my life, a job cannot be just cool or interesting. It has to be something I can afford a life with. So I could already see it was a good company, but it had to be with a visa and enough money to pay the bills and do the things I wanted to do.

After you accepted the offer, how long did it take for you to actually move?

Less than two months. I told my former job I was leaving six weeks in advance. In Brazil you need to tell four weeks in advance so it was quite an easy process. They were very proud. When you leave for the company next door it’s one thing, but when you leave for a company they know for an opportunity overseas, they could only be proud.

View over Tallinn

What do you do for Pipedrive now?

I work in sales. When I was first hired, the main thing I did was to talk to Brazilian customers. Now we are participating in a marketing research project where we talk to American and European customers. This is something I’m finding extremely nice to do because it’s an opportunity to practice English and also deal with another culture while working.

So what kind of differences have you noticed between the customers?

British and American customers are more straight to the point. Brazilians tend to create artificial relationships with the sales guy. So it’s hard to tell if the guy is a buyer or if he’s just being friendly and wants to share all his problems with me.

How are you adjusting to life in Tallinn so far?

The whole adjustment process has been quite smooth, considering the huge change I went through. The company has been quite worried about us. Every week I have a meeting with someone where I just talk about how I’m feeling. Definitely the most difficult thing is to actually connect to Estonians.

Why is that?

It’s a cultural thing. I’m Latin American so we tend to be very open and loud and touchy and [like to] hug, and they have a more different way of being. But that was something I came here prepared to face. It wasn’t a surprise for me, and I feel like I’m exploring here. I’m just looking at people and places and observing. So it’s an interesting game to play.

If you had to sum up Tallinn in one sentence, how would you describe it?

It’s cozy, it’s quiet, and it’s charming. This is one of the things that me and other Brazilians are finding really good about here. We all come from big urban centers in Brazil so the speed of life here is different.

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