Mauro Andrea of Cucumber | Argentina to Tauranga
Mauro Andrea wonders if it was destiny that brought him to Tauranga.
After years of running a successful local IT business in Rosario, Argentina he had widened his career horizons by working with global IT companies from the comfort of his home city.
But in March 2017, Mauro was scrolling through Facebook when a LookSee campaign promising the ‘ultimate career trip’ to New Zealand caught his attention. Before he knew it, Mauro was one of 100 professionals selected to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Wellington.
After this trip, Mauro was approached by Cucumber – one of Tauranga’s most visionary tech companies – who invited him to join their team as a Senior Developer. A quick google search of Tauranga was all it took to convince him that this was the career and lifestyle move he wanted to make.
Mauro, can you tell us your career story?
I started working in the IT industry around 1997 when I was still in high school. It was a rough time for our family. There was not enough money to pay for my studies, so my principal offered me a deal: I could help other students with their assignments in automation, robotics, and programming, in exchange for the monthly school fee. After completing high school, I continued working there.
In 2005, I started my own small business, in partnership with three other friends. We provided networking, programming, and consulting services and managed to get some important customers.
By the end of 2011, I sold my shares and started to work as a freelancer. But after a year and a half, I decided that the best option for my career was to try to get more international exposure. I worked first at Globant, an Argentinean company with branches around the world, and then, in 2015, I moved to Accenture to work as a technical leader for the DevOps team.
How did New Zealand end up on your radar?
Some former co-workers traveled to New Zealand on a working holiday visa several years ago. They saw the career opportunities that existed with a growing IT industry and decided to stay. I was really curious about this so I started investigating New Zealand and its lifestyle. It took me just a few clicks and a few pictures to fall in love!
What I saw was a safe country – politically and economically stable and with plenty of opportunities. It seemed the perfect place to improve our quality of life, especially for our daughter.
In March 2017, I saw a campaign on Facebook called LookSee Wellington. They were inviting IT professionals from all over the world who were interested in moving to Wellington to set up a profile and go through multiple stages to win the ultimate career trip. After two months I was selected to be one of 100 people to come to New Zealand, all expenses covered. It was the most amazing experience of my whole career.
How did Tauranga end up on your radar?
Destiny maybe? When I was thinking about moving to New Zealand to work in the IT industry, the obvious options to me were Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. I had never even heard of Tauranga.
But when the Cucumber opportunity came my way I started to investigate Tauranga and it felt too good to be true: a vibrant city, with beautiful beaches, great outdoors, and all the key shops you find in bigger cities. I was like… “how have I never heard about this city before?”
What was your perception of Tauranga as a place to develop a tech career?
My initial perception was that there was not much in Tauranga other than a handful of small businesses, but I was looking for a place with a good life-work balance, so that was not much of a worry to me.
Having been here for two years now I can see that there are more companies than I thought and some bigger companies are showing interest in Tauranga as an alternative to Auckland. However, IT work is not just tied to software companies. There are plenty of industries that require IT services and lots of them are based in Tauranga.
Can you describe your role as a Senior Developer at Cucumber?
My role includes writing code, analyzing data, and contributing to the design and implementation of software solutions. I also work with other developers. We are all responsible for the quality of code we write, which translates directly into the quality of the software we produce.
I enjoy working with different projects, customers, and technologies.
What is Cucumber like as a company to work for?
Cucumber is a great place to work.
Professionally speaking, you have the opportunity to work with different technologies. We always aim to provide the best solution possible to our customers, instead of forcing them to adopt a particular product, platform, or toolset. Some good examples are that we work with different cloud providers, offer different CMS products, and develop products in different programming languages, which gives us plenty of flexibility.
Personally speaking, I really like that they encourage team-building activities and that they are flexible enough to accommodate your personal matters if needed. The human factor is really important and everyone is friendly and supportive. This means a lot when you move from another country.
What is your take on the tech scene in Tauranga?
It is still young but with a lot of potentials. Local companies are expanding, more jobs are becoming available, the study opportunities are growing and the professional community is doing great job organizing conferences and meet-ups. A great example was the success of the STEM Festival last year.
What advice would you give to other tech professionals considering moving to Tauranga?
If you have the opportunity, do not hesitate! It’s a wonderful city, the commute times are great, and once you settle you’ll realize that there’s more here than you initially thought. Additionally, I’m positive that your work-life balance will improve.
What do you love about living in Tauranga?
I just simply love Tauranga. It’s a relaxed city with plenty of options and great outdoors that we really enjoy. During these two years, we have been traveling all over the North Island and after each trip, we re-confirm that this is one of the greatest cities we have seen.
How easy has it been for your family to settle into Tauranga?
It couldn’t have been easier, considering that we moved from another country. We have met a lot of people from different nationalities. We met our neighbors, we met people through work, and also by just spending time at the park while our daughter played with other children. My wife, Sabrina, managed to meet people in study groups and playgroups. I’m proud of her for all the efforts and sacrifices she has made so I can pursue my career.
What do you do to have fun/relax here?
During summer we spend as much time as we can at the beach and in the woods. We like camping (more like ‘glamping’ to be fair), snorkeling, mountain biking, walking, and hiking. Our favourite places are Mount Maunganui, McLaren Falls Park, Karangahake Gorge, and the Redwoods in Rotorua. During winter we go to the hot pools around Tauranga and still walk and hike, weather permitting of course.
What has surprised you about Tauranga?
Two things: the fact that you can find anything you need, as all major shops are here, and the outdoor lifestyle. Having lived in an apartment in a big city in Argentina, having a house and easy access to nature is a life-changer!
What has moving to Tauranga meant:
For your career? A huge improvement in my technical and communicational skills.
For your wellbeing? Achieving a lifestyle that I could only have dreamed of.
For your relationships? Being away from our relatives is always challenging, although we think that we are managing it well. We are motivated to make it work as we are convinced that this is the best environment we can give to our daughter.