Kelvin Bianchi joined us in January as a Frontend Engineer after a rocambolesque adventure amidst Covid restrictions, visa delays, and the fear of the unknown.
From the small village of Gaspar to Blumenau, a town with German heritage in Santa Catarina, Brazil, known for the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, Kelvin's recent move to Berlin has a somewhat fated flavor.
Like many before, he left his country for the first time in his life with a pocket full of dreams. But unlike many before, he also had a plan: if you have a goal, he says, go for it, but bring your success back to your people.
Intrigued by his story, we had a chance to sit down with Kelvin to learn more about his journey across the ocean and the reason behind his leap of faith.
Q: What is your role at UP42?
A: I'm a Frontend Engineer on the tasking team, which is responsible for integrating the task flow into the platform. This process enables customers to order brand new imagery.
Q: How did you land in this field?
A: I have a background in software development. When I was 14, I took a software development course, and at 15 I joined "Entra21" – a social program sponsored by private IT companies. I was only 16 when I had an opportunity to intern with one of Brazil's biggest management software companies and worked there for about ten years while pursuing my BA in Computer Science at Universidade Cruzeiro do Sul. After such a long time working with HR software, admin and payroll, it was clearly time for a change. When I started exploring other opportunities, UP42 caught my eye. I've always been passionate about aerospace and geospatial, and this job had it all: a new exciting field where I could still use my experience.
Q: And where does this passion come from?
A: When my parents were teenagers, they used to collect science magazines. One day, I found this box full of papers about biology, astronauts and spaceships. They became my research reference whenever I had a school project. I remember spending hours and hours imagining what it would be like to be an astronaut. For me, joining UP42 is a bit of a dream come true. Thinking back on my choice, moving to Berlin wasn't about launching a new beginning but finally connecting the dots in my life.
Q: Was flying to Berlin your first time traveling abroad?
A: Yes, and at first, I was terrified. I'd never had to buy a plane ticket or choose a suitcase. I've gone to the airport to pick up friends, but I was never the one getting on the plane. Luckily, I had a lot of people around me willing to help me plan my trip. With all these new "firsts", it was like my personal and professional experiences were converging. First time abroad. First time living alone. First time in a geospatial field.
Q: How did you adjust to your new life in Berlin?
A: When I decided to move, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I'd be fine, but a few days in, I realized I was far, really far away from anything or anyone familiar to me. I couldn't just hop on the bus and go home. Plus, the time difference made it tough to talk to my family. But when I started going to the office, I realized there were many other people in my same situation, dealing with the same sense of unfamiliarity. We began to talk and share experiences. Slowly but surely, I found a routine, new hobbies, and new friends. Coming from a small town with only 70,000 people, I had to find my way around taking the U-Bahn or simply adjusting to the rhythm of a big city.
Q: What do you think of UP42's hybrid working mode?
A: For people like me, it was great to be able to make these connections on the very first day at a new company. Now that I live closer to the office, I can come whenever I want. The environment is just awesome! When we have to solve complex issues, we just sit together, which makes things much more fluid than remotely. You have all the tools and the equipment you need to operate fast. And if you need to focus on your own, you can just stay home, put your headphones on and work away.
Q: Besides the work environment, what do you like the most at UP42?
A: There are essentially two factors. On the one hand, my work is about solving real-world problems. It's a new field, and we have enough freedom to offer suggestions, make improvements, hear everyone's opinions, and make them available. Secondly, it's the people. There are so many colleagues from every corner of the world. I thought I would have been a bit afraid of how to behave in an international company, but to my surprise, it's like we've known each other for a long time. It's great to be in a place where you don't have to be afraid of speaking or being yourself.
Q: Can you share an example of a successful collaboration?
A: It was challenging to migrate the platform from an old technology to a newer one. I didn't have much experience with it, but it was nice to see how I could quickly adapt and work with my teammates. Everyone was responsible for some specific aspects of the process; we plugged it in, and it magically fell into place. We synced with each other because we worked passionately toward the same goal. And I was able to learn new things all along. When everyone contributes a small piece to the big picture, success is guaranteed.
Q: What do you expect to see in the future at UP42?
A: I expect the company to grow and develop new big ideas. I'm excited to see the next project I can put my hands on! I want to continue learning and developing my skills and one day be in the position to help my teammates the way they helped me. I want to know I've made an impact with something meaningful.
Q: Any words of advice for new joiners with a similar experience?
A: It will be hard. Even just making that decision. You'll be overwhelmed, but if this is what you want, go for it! And don't be afraid to ask for help. In 6 months, I've probably learned the same amount of things I did in 26 years. It could be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Q: What did you learn from this experience?
A: You know, I have a very good friend who took me to the airport and gave me courage. He also dreams of coming to Europe and living abroad. All my school friends dream the same. Brazil is a country of contrasts, where you are either poor or rich. Not everyone has the opportunity to study, and there is a massive amount of lost potential. My dream with UP42 is that with this data being accessible to everyone, people with passion and knowledge can do something for their country. From the Amazon rainforest to the regular summer floods in my region, there are numerous challenges geospatial data can help solve, impacting the lives of millions. I want to bring this dream back home. If I can do it, everybody can.