Eñaut Sarriegi, Expatriate of ULMA Handling Systems in Brazil — ULMA Begira

Ulma Handling Systems

Eñaut Sarriegi, Expatriate of ULMA Handling Systems in Brazil

Brazil, the country of the samba and the caipirinha, of kilometric beaches, of the variety of fauna and flora, of racial mixture, country of contrasts, with short but relevant history. São Paulo, “terra da garoa”, the economic nucleus of Brazil, city of chaos regarding transport and mobility, with high crime indexes, the city that does not stop.
Eñaut Sarriegi, Expatriate of ULMA Handling Systems in Brazil
Dec 27, 2013

That is how I can describe in few words the land that adopted me nearly a year ago when loaded with motivation and trying to leave nostalgia to the side, I started my adventure in Brazil. I landed on 22 January 2013 at the International Airport of Cumbica (name of the district of Guarulhos city where I am, and according to the locals it means fog in the Tupi language) with intentions of starting out on this new adventure. I knew the country from previous trips I made and another stay I had in 2012 to get customised. This times the sensations were different. The goodbyes lasted longer, they were harder and the tears were more present above all in those who love me and that remained behind at home looking at the calendar and counting down to the next visit.

I arrived with tasks divided between two fields. On one hand with a management plan recently out of the oven which we will have to implement step by step to discover the results, and on the other hand, in the personal field, the legalisation of my stay in the country. Personally, legalising my situation has been a very hard task. A job that without professionals dedicated one hundred percent to the subject is complicated to carry out and even bad for your health.

You move along parallel roads, on one side the visa and employment regulation, on the other side finding a place to live... The first freedom you feel is when you have your own space in São Paulo. The moment they give you the keys of what will be your house for the coming years, a strange sensation covers your whole body. You have not yet psychology situated yourself in the country, you know the reality but you still do not believe it. But at that moment, when you enter home for the first time you start to believe and you think, Well it seems this is getting to be serious!.

I had never left my beloved Beasain for anything that was not a business trip or tourism. I had never lived away from home. Therefore, I found myself in a completely unknown situation. Up to the date, I had never lived alone, first at my parent’s home and after with my spouse, but never alone. Bit by bit I was getting to know the positive and negative parts of the city and of the country. And although there are negative things that sometimes surprise me as absurd, the truth is that it is a place where after having captured the essence, it gives you an optimistic outlook that makes you briefly forget the negative points.

São Paulo is a city famous for its traffic jams and very expensive.

On weekdays, São Paulo is for patient people, who do not get irritated to see how the clock of life advances while they are in a traffic jam. That is well known by all that have been here. Besides that, it is an expensive city and with some vey inflated prices due to the taxes. The effect of these taxes is not seen in the country. The country is very much behind regarding education, healthcare, public infrastructures, security, etc. These are reasons for which a normal medium-high intellectual Brazilian is ashamed and demands an answer from the government. A sample of this are the protests that started when they were holding the Football Confederations Cup 2013 due to the price of a bus ticket and that turned into a public demonstration demanding all types of changes to improve the current situation and quality of life in the country.

Contrary to all the negative points, Brazil gives you the Brazilian people, affable, friendly, chatty... and the happiness and activity at any time of the day and of the night. Among other things that São Paulo offers I can highlight the gastronomic variety (highlighting this point is not strange coming from a Basque person). Because although you cannot eat baked monkfish like that prepared by my father (or anything like it...) anywhere in the world, the range of restaurants is immense. For those that have a fine taste it is the perfect city.

In an employment viewpoint, ULMA Handling already had an affiliate established a few years ago. I arrived with the mission of developing the Supply Chain Software and Pick to Light Systems businesses in Brazil, small-size logistic solutions that are perfect for emerging markets like this one. It is a difficult market due to different reasons. The lack of facilities when doing things due to tax complexities, the monstrosity of the geographical area, the difficulty in obtaining the feeling from the clients of a project or proposal due to the warmth of the Latin character, changes in strategies due to circumstantial decisions, the volatility of the employment market...

Personally, this last point has attracted my attention. It is very common to find people that change employment every 6 months. It directly affects the period of maturity of a project and also the development, because you can find in this situation that your interlocutors leave the company without warning and without informing anyone about the task, and having to start the entire process from 0. Both in professional life as outside of it, I have known many people and thanks to that, I can and should say that I have never felt as a foreigner. Right from the beginning, they have accepted me as if I was another of the 21 million Brazilians inhabiting Greater São Paulo.

My mission is to develop the Supply Chain Software and Pick to Light Systems logistic solutions in Brazil.

The first they ask you is your name. Right from the start. Explain that your name is Eñaut. In the end, you end up by adopting a Brazilian name, like Ronaldo. That is what they call me in the Starbucks next to my house. Those that do learn my name, have two further problems, pronounce it correctly and write it correctly. When they pronounce it, they say something like Enautxi with an exotic sound. When they write it, they give way to the French influence and the Renault make of cars and they write Enault. The best is the business meetings, when they remain looking at my business card. Eñaut Sarriegi Gorrotxategi! Take that!.

Among anecdotes, adventures, problems and other things, in all this time I have been lucky to count on people in the affiliate of ULMA Handling and on the unconditional support of Oñati that have helped me and Gorka, my expatriated brother, in the good and not so good moments, as well as in all the necessary steps to legalise my situation. Also, I have to say that we took a little loner in establishing our group of friends that fulfil the role of gang in the good times and of family in the bad ones. Without all of them, this "trip" would be much more difficult and the memories of what is for now the most important professional challenge of my life, would probably have a bitter touch.

It is 7 o'clock in the morning, another day starts. I am going to see if, miraculously, I do not get caught in a jam...

"Saudações desde São Paulo, meu lar, longe dom lar”.