Campus and Community

“I knew I wanted to study at Técnico long before I have chosen a university course”

These are the words of João Soares, Computer Science and Engineering alumnus and currently Program Manager at Google.

João Soares has always been a good student. Mathematics was always one of his favorite subjects. “I knew I wanted to study at Técnico long before I have chosen a university course” , says the Técnico alumnus. “The excellence of teaching and faculty at national and international level” and “testimonies from older friends”, were behind his decision.

Choosing a university was easy. However, choosing a course was more difficult. Still, João Soares always knew that he wanted to work in the technological area and, for this reason, he ended up choosing Computer Science and Engineering, at Taguspark campus.

The alumnus shares several memories: “the first Differential and Integral Calculus theoretical classes in a full amphitheatre, the afternoons and evenings studying in the Taguspark library, the doubt clearing sessions”. I also remember the true friendships I made and the mutual aid among students”.

“The sense of accomplishment” when he finished the course is also very present in his memory. “I remember that, on the day of my thesis defense, I felt that an important stage of my training was complete”, he says. “I also remember feeling that all the effort, rigour and dedication had been worth it,” he adds.

João Soares choose to start his professional career at one of the Big 4 consulting: KPMG. “KPMG was a great school because it allowed me to experience multiple realities, industries, projects and teams,” he says. “At KPMG, I had the opportunity to work in contexts clearly different from those in the western business world, such as a Business Intelligence project in an Iraq telecom – it was unforgettable”, he recalls.

The alumnus tried to reconcile his career in the industry field with his interest in research. “Unfortunately, I was unable to reconcile the two, and I opted for consulting,” he recalls. Even so, from his brief experience as a researcher at INESC, he learned “multiple learnings”: “the scientific method for defining a problem, formulating hypotheses, developing a solution and finally testing”.

After participated in international projects at KPMG, he started to feel “the need to get to know other cultures and to leave Portugal”. A few months after sending his resume to startups and big tech companies, he got a job offer from Google.

“I draw energy and motivation from the teams I am responsible for, and with whom I work directly”

Almost 7 years after this adventure began, João Soares keeps his enthusiasm: “Google is a huge company with several business areas and different cultures”. “The main challenge is to adapt to a less top-down leadership style, in which decisions and priorities are formulated in broader consensus, and where each opinion is valued”. “This type of culture has very positive aspects, but it can generate concern for those who are used to a more direct leadership style”, he adds.

After more than 4 years working in the Irish office, the Técnico alumnus headed for New York, where he works in Google’s search engine. “I am a Program Manager and I am in charge of managing the entire portfolio of Search projects in the Health area”, he says.

“I draw energy and motivation from the teams I am responsible for, and with whom I work directly. I make a point of keeping myself constantly updated regarding technologies, project management methods and team productivity”, he adds.

Although the alumnus is passionate about his job, returning to Portugal is part of his plans. In fact, it has been that way since the day he decided to leave. “I miss the obvious things like being close to my friends and family, food, the sun and the beaches, but I also miss other things maybe less obvious, such as crossing the 25 de Abril bridge at sunset”, he shares.

When we asked João Soares what he would like to be doing 10 years from now, he says: “I would like to be back in Portugal and work in a smaller company, in the area of product development, and I would love to contribute to the consolidation of an engineering and product team made in Portugal”, he says.

The alumnus encourages the finalists students to pursue “a spirit of constant learning”. After all, “each situation – whether positive or negative – is a vital source of knowledge that can be applied later”.

The importance of choosing “a first job that offers job possibilities in various contexts, such as different types of projects, teams, geographies, etc.”, is one good advice that the Técnico alumnus leaves for the future Técnico graduates. Finally, João Soares highlights the importance of “staying connected to the University through research or other contact groups”. “Innovation in Academia is a source of individual and collective prestige, for the University and for the country”.