Cristiano’s 10,000 Km Learning Journey Has Only Just Begun

Leaving your home country to study and work abroad can become hard if you don't have contacts or speak the language. Meet Cristiano, who came to Hyper Island from Brazil and has since gone on to work at one of Sweden’s fastest-growing tech companies.

Cristiano was born in Belo Horizonte, a small city in southeastern Brazil. After graduating in Visual Arts, he worked for eight years in the advertising world before switching to the tech industry. Three years later, he got itchy feet again and decided to make a bolder move – this time all the way to Sweden to study Design Lead (formerly known as Interactive Art Director). We spoke to Cristiano to share some of his experiences…

Q: What made you consider changing jobs?

“I’d been working for a long time in the advertising industry, but I just got sick of it. I wanted something more challenging that would have a greater impact on peoples lives. I was ready for change and for the next step in my career.”

Cristiano decided to move to the tech industry and got an offer from a new startup in his hometown. Immediately, he felt meaningful solving real people’s problems and designing things that actually matters and that thousands of people are using everyday. He felt happy working as the lead product designer, helping to shape the brand, product and the culture in the company. 

Q: What made you want to study again?

“I’m always eager to learn something new, every four years I try to burst my comfort zone bubble and go out in a learning adventure. It might sound cheesy, but I believe that ‘smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’. I wanted to challenge myself to learn more about design leadership and new ways of working. Even new companies can get stuck in old ways with strict hierarchies. Also I’ve experienced in Brazil that a lot of companies don’t value design as they should, and I wanted to get the skills necessary to lead the change in this subject. I heard about Hyper Island from a friend, then I found that the design lead program was the perfect match for what I was looking for. I already had the hard skills from working in the industry for several years and I was interested in learning more about leadership, how to create effective teams and business transformation.”

Design Lead 2017 Class

Q: How did it feel to make the leap and move abroad?

“You really only realize you made a big move once you’re on the plane. I was really excited to get to Sweden and meet people from all over the world, with different experiences, at Hyper Island. I am interested in other cultures, and the mix at Hyper Island created a whole new understanding of people and the world for me. I work with designing things for people everyday, so that’s a great experience to have.”

Cristiano got to love the Hyper Island methodology and had the opportunity to connect with people, reflect about his skills, his work and even his personal life. He discovered just how important it is to understand yourself better, recognize your needs, be able to learn more, and grow.

Before arriving in Sweden, Cristiano had expected to learn more about the things he would create, but the best thing about the Design Lead course for him was the people he met: sixty people from many different countries. “Hyper Island uses some mind-blowing methods,” he adds. “We learn how to create the best process where people can collaborate and solve complex problems together. It’s not just about what you are going to create, it’s the process that makes the difference”.

Q: Did you experience any culture clashes?
“It’s a lot different to anything I’ve experienced before. You learn in a kind of immersive environment like a bubble, a global bubble, but with influences from Swedish culture. The toughest for me part was the weather as it was cold and dark. I am from a sunny country!”

During the year Cristiano spent at Hyper Island, he found himself networking with people from the industry. He met a lot of interesting people from Google, Hello Monday NYC, Moving Brands, and others. He got to collaborate with these companies during the course and that, together with his Hyper Island diploma, made his CV stand out.

Companies like search service Yelp, digital agency R/GA, payments newcomer Klarna and music streaming service Spotify were among the most attractive employers to him when he left Hyper Island. He was especially excited about Klarna, as he shared their vision, and Klarna had already employed people from Hyper Island. So, he applied for a position there and the process went very smoothly – they were impressed by his skills he’d learned at Hyper Island.

Q: Where are you working now?
“I am working at Klarna, a fintech company based in Stockholm, Sweden! I am a Product Designer. Right now, I am focused on creating the new Klarna app and its experience. It’s a very cool company and I learn new things every day. The company is growing insanely fast and I’m working with wonderful people. It’s a big company, which is sometimes challenging as there are so many stakeholders. What I learned at Hyper Island helps me navigate such a large company. It’s easier to do that when you know how to work in a team, present what you’re working on, and get everyone on board. I find it much easier to organize workshops and things like that than before I studied at Hyper Island. Today, I am creating real things for real people. I can make a real impact compared to my previous jobs.”

Klarna Design Team

Q: What is your best advice for getting a dream job?
“The first thing you need to do is to find your passion. A dream job is based on what you are passionate about. The challenge is to find what you really want to do then focus on that. It’s also about learning and connecting with people. Then, the dream job will happen as a result. But, it’s a process to find out what your passion is. Once you know that, you’ll have more chances of finding your dream job.”

Q: Did you gain most personally or professionally from moving abroad?
“Work-wise, I feel much more prepared with the leadership skills I learned at Hyper Island. I learned how to facilitate collaboration between people to solve complex problems. Hyper Island helped me become more open and less introverted. I am more mindful now of creating the world that I want to live in. This demands a lot of self-leadership. I learned how to reflect on my personal and work lives and how to improve them.”

Brazilian minister visiting Hyper Island

Q: What’s does the future hold for you?
“I am still in the learning process, adapting to a new culture, and learning a lot of things about working and living abroad. In the future, I want to be able to give back more of what I know about design and working in the design industry. I want to help out people who are just getting into this industry and give them what I wish people would have told me when I started out. I want to keep learning and avoiding the comfort zone. Life is all about moving!”

Q: Could you share some of the projects you have worked on with us?
“Sure! My favorite project is the podcast I did with my friend Izabela de Fatima in Brazil. We have been incredibly lucky to talk about UX Design & Research with some of the best Brazilian designers in the industry. Unfortunately it’s only in Portuguese for now.” 

Movimento podcast

“Another project that I’m proud of is the product ‘Hotmart Club’ that I have created with an amazing team at Hotmart, a startup from Brasil.”

Hotmart Commercial

Thank you for sharing your story, Cristiano! And for those of you who want to see more of Cristiano’s work you can find it on his webpage on his website.