How Sandra de Pablo Lopez stays organized while leaving space for spontaneity

May 24, 2021

May’s Star of the Month is Sandra de Pablo Lopez, the Project Manager on our Systems team! She joined OntheGoSystems in September 2020, and in those eight months, she is already well known in the company for her positivity, organization skills, and fearlessness in taking on complex initiatives.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I was born in Madrid, and I currently live here in Madrid.

I met my husband, Jose Manuel, when I was 21 working as a receptionist at my first job. We used to take the same subway everyday and would talk a lot. I thought, “This guy is really nice.” He eventually decided to look for a new job, and on his last day, we exchanged numbers to go out someday.

We have two cats named Wendy & Morfy. When I lived in London, I rented a room, and my very nice landlady had a cat. I really like dogs, but it turned out I really liked cats, too! So when I moved back to Spain, I got Wendy first, and then Morfy later. I still like dogs, but cats are also really funny, and they keep me good company when working from home

Sandra and her husband, Jose Manuel, at the Roman Theatre of Mérida

What kinds of things do you do for fun?

We like hiking a lot, especially during the pandemic. I like going to the mountains much more than the beach. We live on the outskirts of Madrid, and it’s easy to go to some nice parks or mountains because they’re nearby.

We also really like traveling. Now that we don’t have a lockdown anymore, we plan to book a rural hotel in a small mountain village to do some hiking, eat good food, get some sun, and breathe without a mask! We try to escape for a weekend about every month and a half. Then, maybe once a year we travel to a European country.

You lived in London for a while. How did you decide to do that?

I always wanted to live abroad. I was already married at the time, and my husband was in Madrid with me. I told him, “Jose, I would like to live abroad. I like London, I would like to experience it, get a job, meet people. He thought I was crazy! He chose to stay in Madrid because he liked his job there, so I quit my job and got another job with a Spanish company that sent me to London.

I was there for 2 years and had a great experience. People were like, “Your husband is in Spain, and you’re over there?” But it wasn’t a problem! It was only a 2 hour flight between the two, and I learned a lot there. The market in London is super dynamic. I started learning ecommerce, data marketing…it was really interesting.

What were you doing before joining OntheGoSystems and how did you decide to work here?

After two years in London, I decided it was time to go back. The company I was working with let me move back to Spain and continue working as a freelancer, which was great.

Later, I got another job at an ecommerce company and was there for 3 years. It was similar to the work I do here at OntheGoSystems. I learned a lot about project management and working with IT and developers.

I came to OTGS because I was interested in working remotely. It gives you a lot of freedom, and you can work wherever you want. In my last job, I commuted for two hours per day. It was a nightmare…I was really tired. I started checking various channels about working remotely, companies, types of jobs, and that’s when I found OTGS. I read the blog – everyone seemed so happy here, and I thought, “Yeah!”

Sandra in Bath, England

What do you do now at OTGS?

I work as a Project Manager and my main responsibility is to make sure that the scope and direction of each project is on schedule.  I work closely with developers, UI, design, and documentation to build and improve our internal systems. I focus on the successful initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of the projects.

I work mainly with the Systems and the Support team. However I have to interact with many other colleagues across many other teams.

What’s the most challenging part of your job, and how do you overcome it?

Ensuring that their projects deliver the agreed objectives within time, cost and to the agreed quality. These factors must be balanced in relation to the overall scope of the project.

Sometimes I schedule a project to be 2 weeks, and then maybe something comes up and they cannot finish and I have to reschedule everything again.

I think the key is good communication with all the departments involved in the project. For instance, making sure developers have the correct requirements, documentation has the correct information and deadlines, making sure the UI designs are what’s expected, etc.

What’s your favorite part about working remotely?

By commuting like I did in my last job, I was losing 10 hours a week, 40 hours a month. With the time I save now, I get to do more exercise, make time for yoga, read more. I even eat healthier because I don’t have to prepare my lunchbox, or have the stress of forgetting my lunchbox and having to go out somewhere unhealthy instead. My life has definitely changed for the better since I started working here.

Some of the common feedback about you is that you’re so organized, and you’ve already taken on some really important projects. What are some of your secrets for staying organized?

My whole life I’ve always been planning, planning, planning and organizing, and it’s something I’ve done in all my previous jobs.

I’m also very organized in my private life, but I make an effort to separate my private life and my job, because otherwise it would be a nightmare.

For work, I use Notion, and I keep everything there and organized. And for my private life I keep a bullet journal, and write everything by hand. I like using a lot of colors and stickers – it’s fun, and I feel like a kid sometimes! It helps to keep everything work-related in a digital format, and then I get to have fun with colors for my personal life.

Not everything in my life is super organized, because you need to relax about some stuff. I’m normally very organized, but for example, I don’t like cooking too much, so sometimes I don’t prepare a shopping list because sometimes it’s just too tedious. I like being spontaneous with planning small trips and things like that.

Sandra and her cats, Wendy and Morfy

Any hopes and plans for the future (personal or professional)?

Of course, I’m interested in improving my project management skills. I’d also like to move into a house with a garden, maybe in a village. I like my house, but there’s no garden. If we had a garden, maybe we could get a dog, too.

Someday, it might be fun to have a farm! But it’s a lot of hard work, so I think I’ll start with a garden first :)

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