Sergio Nascimento is a professor and a consultant with 25 years of project management experience. He currently resides in São Paulo, and shares how speaking four languages has opened doors for him to work in many nations around the world.
What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
I am consultant and professor at University SENAC in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. I hold a degree in Electronic Engineering, with 25 years of experience in the field of telecommunication, data networks, and software engineering.
Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
My day-to-day activities include reading my e-mails, researching on the internet, and preparing my classes. Additionally I devote time each week to writing my book, in addition to my position as an IT consultant.
What is your ethnicity? How has it hurt or helped you?
I am Latin American (Brazilian) and I have found my ethnicity has always helped me in my career. I worked several years outside Brazil (Germany, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, USA, Colombia,) and have never been hurt or distrusted because of my ethnicity in other countries. In contrast, it seems that Brazilians are seen by other countries as friendly and warm companions on the job.
If you’ve experienced discrimination, in what ways have you responded and what response worked best?
I never experienced discrimination, but I would suggest for the ones that experienced it to respond as Jesus, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”
What languages do you speak? How has speaking another language helped you?
I speak English, German, Spanish and Portuguese fluently, and this helped me to communicate with people in many places.
What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
I have heard this many times in some companies, “Our team is the most important unit in this company.” However, when it comes down to it, what is important is politics and cutting costs. The value added to a company is an asset, and the business of politics is a liability. It is very frustrating to hear important executives say they are moving a business in a forward direction, when their actions and the way they run the company are backwards.
What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
Warfare psychology, project management, accounting and finance in high school would be very helpful, not only for me but for the next generations of executives.
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I got started in software project management. If I could go back, I would try to change my boss. Seriously, good communication on all levels is what matters.
On a good day, when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
Cost and schedule requirements have been fulfilled.
When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
The bad thing is when the people you work with (teammates and partners,) do not fulfill the schedule and you have to give the bad news of increased costs.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
Depending on the day, it can be very pleasing or stressful, but a healthy work-life balance is a must for me and my team.
What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
I have been working for a long time overseas and that has given me a very good view of different cultures.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
Communication skills would be very helpful.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
Communicate all of the time with everyone; try to speak their languages.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
2 months a year is more than enough.
Are there any common myths you want to correct about what you do?
Your secretary is your best friend – That is not always true, but she can lead you.
Your boss is your leader – That is not always true too, but he can be your best friend.
If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I would want to be a very good professor with some of my books in the bookstore.
Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
Plan your life for the future because one day you will retire.