How I Got Into Fintech, part 1


written by TIAGO MARQUES

In 2008 I had what you’d probably call a quarter-life crisis.

I had been lucky enough to get a job quickly after graduation, just three years earlier, in a time when Portugal’s economy was already quite slow, and many of my former University colleagues still struggled to find jobs as designers. But my career had reached a stalemate. I had learned from DLC all that they could teach me, and contributed to our team and clients to the maximum of my abilities. I needed to move on.

Switching to another company and continuing my professional learnings felt like the logical choice, but when I thought about joining some other business in Portugal, I did not feel a “hell yeah” excitement about it. Partly because I knew it was quite difficult to find work locally as an UX Designer, partly because I suspected that the business culture would still be too similar, and the change of environment likely to be a purely cosmetic one.

In truth, I was experiencing chronic disenchantment on all areas of my life: I felt absent-minded from my work, from my friends and social circles, my romantic relationship at the time, my family, even from myself. My growing feeling of misalignment with my surroundings was becoming overwhelming. I was starving for stimulation.

2008 was the tipping point for me, and when things suddenly began to change. I started wondering if leaving Portugal and living abroad for a few years could be just the experience I needed. During my University years I often fantasised about working overseas and travelling the world, something I had only mildly achieved with the occasional holiday trip and volunteering at international events.

The whole idea felt genuinely exciting and scary at the same time, so much I even went on a life purpose and goal setting weekend workshop, to try to beat the bullsh%t out of my system and man up. It worked: I suddenly became more uncomfortable with the idea of staying than of leaving. Funny enough, if years earlier a friend of mine had mentioned to me something like “life purpose” or anything new age or whoo-whoo like that, I would’ve laughed it off. (Yeah, I was that cynical.)

The following step was to research online and contact some designers and studios, and find out where I needed to be. Where in Europe could I thrive vocationally and personally?… Amsterdam? Berlin? Charming, but no. All roads seemed to point to London. I was even lucky enough to meet a Portuguese designer in his final months in the UK, who was kind enough to mentor me into the London market. I don’t think Bruno will ever understand how truly grateful I am for his help.

As if by serendipity, the right people and resources were making their way into my life and helping me make the jump to London. My outlook on life was becoming more positive and engaged, and I felt increasingly curious on what adventures may lie ahead.

I used my paid holidays that year to make several visits to London and have some interviews, and even had a few of them remotely in Portugal over the phone. When I finally became confident that I understood the London market well enough to get a job relatively quickly, I gave my colleagues at DLC a grateful farewell, packed my things and moved to London.

Within two weeks I found a job with a smartphone start-up, INQ Mobile. And the following years did turn out to be quite the adventure.

But I’ll tell you more about that next week.

Read the whole series!
☞ Part 1 – Prelude
☞ Part 2 – The London Experience
☞ Part 3 –
World Tour
☞ Part 4 –
New Life Foundation
☞ Part 5 –
Dreamers and Doers
☞ Part 6 –
So Much to Learn