Our Senior Creative Designer Rafael Martins de Almeida, known as Rafa, is a true hybrid talent. With a strong background in both design and technical support, he landed in the Ad Tech world after responding to an incorrectly titled job posting on Twitter. From wanting to lessen his two-hour commute in college to now working in a whole other country, Brazilian native Rafa talks to us this week about his career path and why he doesn’t eat lunch at his desk.
Let’s start from the beginning, where are you from?
I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, but lived most of my life in Osasco, a city with 700,000 inhabitants in the Greater São Paulo area. I started studying Design at the Brazilian Academy of Arts when I was 16, then graduated in Multimedia Production at SENAC-SP years later.
I also studied music for a few years at the Villa Lobos Conservatory of Music in São Paulo, but I didn’t finish the course. Right now, I’m studying Product Management at the Product School in New York.
How did you start your career?
This is a funny story. In college, I worked as a web designer at a small agency. But my commute was two hours each day, so I decided to look for a new job, closer to campus.
I saw a Twitter post: “Yahoo is hiring a web designer”.
I applied and passed, but realized they posted the wrong job title on Twitter. They were looking for someone with web design skills, but to do something else… That’s where my journey into the ad tech world began.
At Yahoo, I was in charge of the interactive ad formats for branding campaigns in Brazil and LatAm. I had a hybrid role: Creative consulting and execution of the ads. I learned all the technical parts behind the beautiful and intrusive rich media campaigns that were popular just a few years ago.
This expertise brought me to Criteo, as a Technical Solutions Engineer.
How has your role changed since you started?
I went from a technical/support job into a design role into corporate marketing. My role changed little by little. But the interesting part is that my challenges are still very similar. I used to be in a position where I was in charge of providing technical support to the clients by phone.
I had to be able to explain really complex technical concepts in a way they could understand and execute. Today, this is still part of my job. As a creative designer, I must visually translate those complex ideas into something simple so it’s easy to understand.
Tell us how you made the jump from Operations to Corporate Marketing.
I believe that people are better doing what they like, and when they do, success is just a matter of time. Even though I really liked the challenges of a technical solutions role, I’m a creative soul and I knew I’d be better using all my skills. So, I applied for a design role in the Product Marketing team, which I could use my design background and my technical knowledge. It was a perfect match for my career.
Criteo gave me the opportunity to apply to a new role in a different country, which is amazing, but what it really means is that this company allows its people to explore their full potential, by supporting this kind of initiative.
Criteo gave me the chance to meet incredible, very talented people.
How is Criteo different from other companies you’ve worked at?
Is having the opportunity to perform at the company Summit in front of 3,000 people not different enough?
Criteo is the first truly global company that I worked on. Processes and tools are the same across the globe, people are really connected no matter which office/time zone. This is simply amazing.
Biggest differences between Criteo Brazil and Criteo New York?
Here’s a short list:
1. Brazilians don’t know what cold is. In New York you HAVE to check the weather forecast every morning. In Brazil, if you look to the window and it’s sunny, you’re good to go. If not, a jacket will be enough.
2. Most people here in NY eat lunch at their desks. The multitasking excuse doesn’t make sense to me. People only have two hands. If I’m eating I can’t work at the same time.
3. In Brazil we clap while singing “Happy birthday”. I figured this out in the most embarrassing way.
4. Brazilians party harder no matter the occasion.
What’s the goal of your position now?
We recently launched the brand refresh, so we’re working hard to get all of our materials into the new brand, including the website. We also need to train everyone to use the new templates we provided. On top of, my team and I have to be able to handle all the global marketing design requests including presentations, documents, events, videos, etc… This is a big challenge.
What projects at Criteo are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of the brand refresh we did as a team. We worked very hard brainstorming and prototyping a lot of different versions to get it right.
I’m also proud to have built the Sales Portal, working together with the Product Marketing team. This was a cool project where I could use some of my technical skills again, even being part of the design team.
Any advice for newcomers?
I’m a huge fan of Ayrton Senna (one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time) who said: “On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit. Then something happens, and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind’s power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.”
I have this mindset every day in my life for everything I do. And my only advice for any person is to be passionate and challenge yourself to get better, because success is a consequence of that.
Thank you Rafa!