We talked to Fabio Oliveira, Managing Director at YLD, about software design and consultancy, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Fabio Oliveira: Everything is fine, thanks for asking. Right from the start, back in March 2020, we’ve managed to strike the right balance between taking care of work and our mental and physical well-being, and although it had its ups-and-downs, we’ve managed to remain healthy both mentally and physically throughout lockdown.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded YLD.
Fabio Oliveira: IT and computer science have long been an interest as well as a passion for me, starting with STEM subjects I took while studying at high school. Later at university, I gained an Engineering Degree in Computer Science with a final course project focused on developing an augmented reality platform for mobile devices. In fact, this project was developed together with a company that I eventually worked for, so actually gave me my first professional steps into the tech industry! In 2010, I took a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering, and although I didn’t have a clear idea of what was awaiting me in my career, I knew that creating digital solutions was something that excited me and so something I would lean towards.
My first contact with YLD happened through one of my university colleagues who were working there at the time and mentioned to me they were hiring. I contacted them and within a couple of days, I was working there as a Senior Software Engineer Consultant. For almost three years consultancy was my main focus at the company before jumping into management. From there, starting in January 2020 I took the role of Managing Director for the whole organization, just in time for COVID-19!
How does YLD innovate?
Fabio Oliveira: Innovation is at the core of who YLD is and what YLD does. When asked what sets us apart from the other companies our CEO, Nuno Job, once said ‘Our professional behavior in having the capacity, to tell the truth as we see it – and this is something that is still upheld to this day.
In the past few years, our innovation has been driven by:
- A talent pool of the highest quality
- A track record and reputation in the industry
- Augmentation while building capabilities for clients
- Contribution to the engineering community
YLD provides business and technology insights, based on real-world expertise, that inform and inspire allowing them to create, transform and optimize solutions to fit any company’s specific digital needs. We innovate by being what others need to succeed.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Fabio Oliveira: At the beginning of 2020, we at YLD decided to undergo internal transformation to reinforce our focus on both engineering and design consulting. We knew that for us, it was going to be a challenging year, although at the time no one could predict quite how challenging it was going to be. Last March, when the pandemic hit across the globe, our initial plans had to be paused – not because they would not be effective, but mainly due to a pressing need to deal with the new pressures that affected every sector. Towards the end of 2020, we saw the industry starting to move forward again and so we are now setting our plans in motion once more. I believe the biggest test set upon us by the pandemic was to lead by example – support our client base throughout this period of uncertainty, strengthen our partnerships whilst providing our teams with the best tools to achieve successful results. Our goal for 2021 is to keep delivering growing results, support our team’s development, nurture YLD’s culture and strengthen the company’s growth.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Fabio Oliveira: A time of crisis requires great effort from leaders as people rely on their guidance. As a leader myself, the beginning of the pandemic was a scary period for all of us, and having no map to navigate it created huge pressure for all businesses. Without having clear answers to the questions and problems that have kept emerging, many leaders have certainly started to doubt their skills. Having no safety net, it was important to remember that it’s okay not to have answers to every question; we had to learn on the go and rely on our experience and knowledge. Empathy was a key ingredient that helped to guide us through this storm and also reminding ourselves that as much as we want to make things right we must keep in mind it’s nigh on impossible. Learning from your mistakes, as much as allowing yourself to make them, is a virtue every leader needs to embody.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Fabio Oliveira: When it came to dealing with the pandemic our people came first. They are what makes YLD what it is, they are what makes it a success and they are, first and foremost, what the pandemic affected. When we realized we were going to have to move to a remote-first working environment we made a home office fund available to all our employees to use as they wished; their ability to work comfortably and productively was a top priority. Hand in hand with this we ramped up our efforts to support them with their mental health. We enrolled with a company called Spill which gave them easy access to therapy, access to their choice of Calm or Headspace for meditation and mindfulness as well as offering them a SAD Lamp for light therapy as we were all going to be getting out less. Our managers are all given a course in how to spot the signs of mental health deterioration and talks were given throughout the year from external providers as well as our HR team. Software-wise we were already geared up to collaborate online effectively as we are an international company so looking after our people was, and still is our priority.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Fabio Oliveira: So there are quite a few software engineering and design consultancies out there as you will know. In terms of this, the parity point would simply be that we are in the same field: software engineering and design consulting. The differentiation, however, would be that at YLD we are doing delivery alongside the clients as partners, building capability with training, and providing exceptional engineering and design expertise level. We have a 100% success rate with all our projects, meaning all projects we work on live and that is not something every consultancy can say.
Your final thoughts?
Fabio Oliveira: The ongoing pandemic took us all by surprise and we are yet to witness all the changes and implications it will bring, affecting both our professional and personal lives. It certainly was, and still is a hard period for everyone out there; full of doubts and uncertainties. However, I truly believe that once it is over we will all be much stronger and resilient because of it. The ability to learn on the go, be agile and be adaptive are some lessons we will carry for many years to come, and I could not be more excited to see what the future holds.
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