Otto Wald – is it possible to develop your career while working from home?

January 9, 2020

If you decide to work from home, what are your career prospects? By working from home, will you become “invisible”? How can you impress your team and team leader and get good performance reviews and promotions?

This month’s Employee of the Month, Otto Federico Wald from Argentina, is successfully building a promising career with the company. He has been working with OnTheGoSystems in the WPML support team since 2015.

Otto, would you say you are the ambitious type?

An open class at theirs football “school’ (with Juan and Mateo)

Ambitious?  Well, when I was a young kid, three or four years old, I said that I wanted to be a “magnate”. It’s a Spanish word that has the same meaning in English (I just looked it up ;) My parents’ friends used to call me “the magnate”, which is a funny nickname for such a young kid.  But our childhood dreams and life’s reality are not the same things.

I went through stages of being unemployed and even near depression.  It was and is not easy. I wanted to make a success of my life, to build a meaningful career.  In my quest for a career, I tried various avenues. The most unusual job I tried was being a taxi driver. I did it for a few months. It was a beginning,  but not an experience that I enjoyed.

I was looking for something more interesting.  I found this when I was working in a research institute doing bibliometrics and “patent metrics”, which are statistical studies about technological and scientific publications in order to make decisions about public policies about science and technology. 

From the research institute to OTGS – that was quite a career leap!

I got here by chance :) At a later time, I was working with a colleague building WordPress sites. One of the projects involved WPML, and so she bought the license. Soon after, she received a recruiting mail and sent it over to me. It looked interesting and I really wanted to try out my skills with the aim of improving my career.  I met Laura de Figueiredo, the HR Manager first. Then I was asked to take a technical interview. I must have made a good impression because I managed to get in ;)

How has OTGS helped you in your career development?

 Waiting with my older son (Mateo) for a rock concert to start

When I first started working with websites I was an ordinary WP power user. I copy/pasted some functions and changed some styles, but in those days, I didn’t truly understand what I was doing. 

I was more the “impostor syndrome” type, so I was waiting to be caught. But after almost five years I am starting to think that I must be doing something right!

I spent the first 3 years doing first-tier support, helping clients make their WordPress sites multilingual. The experience I gained was invaluable.   I learned a lot about support, the various processes and working with others remotely.

I am still working with the WPML Support team but now in the capacity of 2nd tier support, a step up in my career. This means when a ticket can’t be solved by a supporter, I take a look.  I focus on compatibility issues with themes and plugins that have not been tested yet. This may involve debugging our own code using some advanced tools and also debugging the code developed by others. In addition, I provide support to our Language Service Providers partners and their clients.

I am particularly proud of the WPSandbox a tool that I helped to implement and which helped a lot in our compatibility testing workflow. Grasping my career in my own hands, I have taken the initiative to work on its replacement. 

I used to interact mostly within the Support team, but recently I have been asked to work with the Compatibility team, ICanLocalize, Toolset Support, and the ATE/Proxy team – another milestone in my career  My close colleagues come from diverse countries (Argentina, Spain, Chile, Russia, Egypt, India and Cyprus). They are all great, no misunderstandings nor personality clashes so far :) 

I have to say that OTGS has changed a lot since I joined the company.  It has grown fast and now we are almost double the people… But the essence is intact. It is still a caring company and that, I believe, is the key for developing my career. The company and my teammates always show respect and appreciation for my work. It’s truly rewarding, and a huge pleasure working with such a great team.

It is great to hear how your career has developed while at the same time you work from your home. What about other opportunities?

Working at OTGS pushed me and gave me the opportunity to speak in two WordCamps: Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. It was a challenge and lots of work and I was nervous, but now it looks really nice in my CV :)

I also gave talks at meetups and participated actively in the WP Argentina community. I have co-founded the WordPress meetups of La Plata and assist regularly to WP Buenos Aires’ monthly meetups.

Working from home at OnTheGoSystems has actually boosted my career expectations. At last, I have moved on from the days of unemployment and depressions. I found strength and, along with other sources of help, inner peace with Vipassana meditation.

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