ThoughtWorks Brazil: Oink

In the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together a few posts that tell a little bit about the stories behind the scenes of opening the ThoughtWorks Brazil office. They’re entirely from my point of view, might contain an embarrassing moment or two and are absolutely not to be taken as the official voice of ThoughtWorks on any of these matters. I’m not a PR person ;)

- Hi Carlos!
- Hi Suzi! (Edwards, head of recruiting recruiters and big fan of otters)
- How many emails to the ThoughtWorks Brazil info address did we get so far?
- Too many! I’m swamped at the moment, but looks like we have some good candidates!
- Cool! What do we do now?
- For now, sit tight and wait for me there - I’ll be in Porto Alegre in a couple of weeks.
- Good old short notice, short term travel?
- Exciting, isn’t it? I’ll be over for a month.
- Yay!

Two weeks went by in a blink, and I find myself sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Porto Alegre giving Suzi a big hug for being such a trooper; YYC to POA is not an easy flight, but she didn’t care. The weather lost that minus sign next to the centigrades and really, that’s all she wanted to know. Calgary was hovering around -30 C, and summer in Porto Alegre had just started to kick in, with 28-32 C at lunch time, big tropical showers in the afternoon.

She got to work as soon as the jet leg went away, and soon enough we had invited enough people to join us for a day of breakfast, some presentations about ThoughtWorks and interviews. Honestly, I don’t know how that happened: Suzi landed on a foreign country, didn’t speak a word of Portuguese and yet, a few days later, we had an event with 80 people keen to hear about us.

I was flying back and forth from São Paulo, working at the client during the weekdays and helping out with recruiting and some of the random things that can get thrown at a company trying to establish an office in Brazil. And taking Suzi to the dentist to replace a filling… but that’s another story. I became more and more familiar with the recruiting process, still a good part of the secret sauce of ThoughtWorks. I did so many code reviews I can now recite the Mars Rovers code review problem statement with my eyes closed.

We decided on the first few hires and Suzi asked me to review their offer letters, just in case there was something culturally weird.

- Well, offer letters themselves are culturally weird. It’s usually just a phone call and a “when can you start?” kinda thing.
- Oh, that I’m not doing. I want letters, printed and signed… culturally weird as that might be!
- There’s one more thing about them that’s really weird, too.
- Uh oh…
- We are called ThoughtWorks Brasil Software Ltda, Formerly Known As Oink Participações Ltda!?
- The lawyers had me put that in there. Apparently, we have to use the full name of the company. Which we’re going to change, of course… but that hasn’t been fully approved yet.
- So all the offer letters we’re sending out to this first batch of hires are going to come from ThoughtWorks, Formerly Oink?
- Yes.

Histerical laughter ensued. Fast forward a couple of weeks.

Suzi and I are talking about how exciting having the new hires start all at once and how we’d put a big ribbon in the office door for them to cut, or something silly like that. I remembered this really cool photo set she did with the folks in Calgary, and thought it’d be great to do something like that here, too.

Maybe not with the bear hats, though.
Photo: Suzi stares at a chart, for no reason