Meet Pedro de Souza Winkler, a software developer at WiseTech Global, Switzerland. Pedro began his career as an apprentice at SISA around five years ago, before moving into the development team at WiseTech and is currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Science.
With parents from diverse cultural backgrounds, Pedro had a unique upbringing which he says has given him an awareness and appreciation of different cultures and perspectives.
We sat down with Pedro to talk about his multicultural upbringing, how it shaped him into the person he is today and how this influenced his career path.
Your mother is Brazilian, and your father is Swiss. What was it like growing up with parents from two different cultures, and how did this shape you?
For me it's quite normal, I don't know anything other than being between two cultures. This is already obvious in my name, because I have two surnames which is unusual in Switzerland unless you're married. I'm actually connected to both families on my mother's side and also on my father's side.
Honestly, I'm really grateful for that, because it’s given me the opportunity to grow up and experience two completely different worlds. I am equally at home in both. It’s also extremely advantageous for the next World Cup when Switzerland and Brazil have to play against each other during the group round, because - I always win!
Before starting your career, you spent a lot of your life moving around with your family. Can you share a bit about what that experience was like?
Since I was born my parents moved more often than normal because of my father’s job. I was born in Brazil, but after a few months my parents moved to France. The first couple of years of my childhood I spent in France where I attended kindergarten and the first years of elementary school. From there we moved to Switzerland before we went back to Brazil and then back again to Switzerland.
Even within Switzerland we moved a lot from one region to another. In fact, it was quite difficult for me to constantly familiarize myself with a new place, especially moving schools so often. The biggest challenge was the language. The first year of elementary school I went to a French school and I spoke mainly in French. Then we came to Switzerland and thus everything was in German. Thanks to my father I could also speak German, so at least making new friends wasn’t that much of a problem.
I would say it made me more open to other peoples’ perspectives and ideas, because during my life I have met so many people from different places and all walks of life.
How did your upbringing influence your career path?
Since I was always moving schools, language-based subjects were pretty difficult for me. However, I was able to improve my mathematical and logical skills by changing schools, because numbers are international. This certainly had an impact on my decision to go into software engineering development.
After moving to Basel and while finishing my secondary level school I started to apply for a developer apprenticeship. This is how I came to work at SISA where I completed my apprenticeship. At the same time I visited a professional baccalaureate school which gave me the opportunity to study at the University of Applied Sciences where I am now studying part-time.
What I like most about the tech industry is that it’s always evolving, and you have to keep up with the latest developments. You have to keep learning, which I really enjoy because I'm always learning something new.
My advice to someone considering a career in tech would be to get really good with numbers, enjoy learning and most importantly be patient because software development is not always easy-going!
What’s an achievement you’re most proud of?
When I was new at elementary school after my parents moved to Switzerland, the teachers told me and my parents that I was not fit for the school and that I had some learning difficulties. They said that I had problems following the lessons and that my mental level was below the class average. And that I have now made it so far that I work part-time as a developer and attend University of Applied Sciences in addition, that's something I'm really proud of. That I can show the people who criticised me at that time that they were wrong about me and that I am capable of achieving my goals.
What motivates you every day?
Knowing that every day there is a challenge to face motivates me. I like going into an adventure. But what is also important for me is my family and the people who are close to me. I also get motivated by them. I’m also really excited to see more of the world, and to be able to study an exchange semester in Australia later this year.