cloudTALKS with Rui: “Without trust in your leader, you will eventually leave.”
We’re here today to chat with Rui Pereira, our Senior Engineering Manager. With a primary focus on coaching and mentoring his team, Rui is committed to fostering their personal and professional growth. He takes full responsibility for his team’s performance, working closely with the product team to ensure their agility and ability to meet market demands.
In this interview, he shares his experiences and insights, particularly his perspective on the vital role trust plays in effective leadership. As the manager of 2 teams of 11 talented software engineers, he had plenty to share with us.
From Software Engineer to Senior Engineering Manager…
Hey Rui, how did you get into management, and what motivated you to pursue this path?
I started out as a Software Engineer after my graduation, but I always had a strong interest in people management.
I’ve had bad leadership examples in the past, and I wanted to right that wrong, so to speak. That’s why I decided to pursue a career in Project Management, starting at my previous company, Celfocus. I quickly discovered, though, that that particular position was more focused on processes and delivery rather than people themselves. With this new knowledge in hand, I decided to transition to Engineering Management, which I’ve been very happy with. As a Senior Engineering Manager at CloudTalk, I’ve been able to increase my overall impact, not only on the 11 software engineers that report to me but on my organization as a whole. It’s been very fulfilling.
For me, people are crucial because they are the ones who deliver the work. It’s essential to take care of every member of the team and coach them to perform well and grow. I actually just attended a leadership conference in the USA to improve my skills in this area — it was incredibly inspiring and motivating.
Insights and Learnings on Engineering Leadership and Innovation…
Tell us more about this conference. What was it all about and what were the main takeaways for you?
I attended the LeadDev NYC conference. LeadDev is one of the best references for engineering leadership training and learning that I’ve come across. I’m always using their content to improve my skills as an engineering leader.
At the conference I had the opportunity to listen to amazing speakers on a wide range of topics like Engineering Management, Talent Acquisition, Infrastructure/DevOps, Product Management, and more. It was really interesting. Moreover, I was able to get to know some SaaS products that can accelerate our engineering performance, which was a great value not only for me but for Cloudtalk. I’ll follow up with some Demos to see which ones can add value to our development process.
In summary, I learned that US-based companies have a different mindset when compared with European companies. It’s always good to enrich our experience with different perspectives. And it is always a good excuse to travel. I took the chance that I was in the US to visit New York, Washington DC and attend a music festival in Miami.
The Power of Personal Time and Travel…
How did your team take it when you told them you were taking a month off?
I made sure to communicate clearly with them beforehand and ensure that everything was in place for a smooth transition while I was away. I believe that it’s important for leaders to set an example by prioritizing their own well-being and taking time off when needed.
I want my team to know that it’s okay to take time for themselves and that they don’t need to be afraid to do so. Additionally, I firmly believe that traveling and taking time for my personal growth can ultimately make me a better leader, as it allows me to be more empathetic and understanding towards others.
How exactly does travel help you become a better leader?
Traveling allows you to experience different cultures and ways of life, which can broaden your perspective and help you understand and appreciate diversity. This can help you become more understanding towards team members who come from different backgrounds. It also teaches you to be more patient, flexible, and adaptable to change.
I can say that traveling helps me to better develop my communication skills as it forces me to navigate language barriers and cultural differences. This can translate into better communication and stronger relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.
Navigating Cultural Differences…
Your team is mostly made up of Slovaks. Do you notice any significant cultural differences in leading them?
Yes, there are some differences, but it’s also something that I was looking for. One of the most significant challenges in leadership is making decisions without being swayed by emotions. I find that Portuguese people are more emotionally oriented, and it can be challenging to put emotions aside when making tough decisions. But, leading an international team has helped to become more objective and rational in my decision-making.
Also, in my experience, Slovaks generally do not take negative feedback as personally as Portuguese individuals do. Being part of CloudTalk, a Slovak startup, I have noticed that people here are more conscious of the fact that negative feedback is crucial for personal and professional growth, and they tend not to take it personally. Although I had difficulty with this initially, I have learned to recognize the value of constructive feedback, even if it is negative in tone.
Trust, Transparency, and Flexibility…
What are you most proud of in your leadership so far?
I’m proud of how much my team has grown and matured since I joined CloudTalk. We’ve become more autonomous, and we work better together. This year I took a month off and last year, I took three weeks off and the team continued delivering at a high level, which is a significant achievement. It’s not just about the results but also the team’s mood and energy, which have improved. We trust in each other which is the most important.
The leadership in general is what I like the most about CloudTalk. I find our leaders to be transparent, friendly, and approachable. Trust is crucial in leadership, and it’s something that we cultivate here at CloudTalk. Without trust in your leader, you will eventually leave. I also appreciate the benefits we have such as flexible working hours or unlimited paid time off. They all reflect the trust that the leadership team has in us.
The Power of Planning…
If you had to say one interesting thing about yourself, what would it be?
I like to plan 3 months ahead. Plans are part of my life both professional and personal. To avoid feeling overwhelmed with the Planning, I plan my travels only 3 months ahead. That gives it space and flexibility to accommodate plans more close to the present.
So what are your plans for the next 3 months?
In April I’m going to be in Portugal, partially in Porto, visiting my family and friends and partially in Lisbon. In May, I’ll move to Albania and work from there for a month — pursuing the dream of a Digital Nomad. June is in the planning phase right now, after the US trip.
That sounds great. You’ve inspired me to plan to visit some new destinations now.
Glad to hear that, I highly recommend it. 🙂