How ‘pulkka’ came to be an important word in my vocabulary

My name is Rafael Pinto Sperafico and I moved from Brazil to Hämeenlinna. In November.

To understand the joke you need to know that November is not the most beautiful or welcoming month in Finland. But I have liked it here – and Finns have a very hard time trying to understand why. See, I very much prefer the cold weather to having over 40 degrees Celsius for 2–3 months in the summer. So I like it here. But how did I end up here?

The story begins in the college

I was studying general computer science in college in Brazil when I had the opportunity to do an exchange semester in Canada. So I moved to Canada and while studying there I also did some social work. When I returned back to Brazil I wanted to continue doing social work and I started to work for PEI – Integrated School Program supported by the Ayrton Senna Foundation. It is an organisation that wants to help children be children but also to go to school for the right reasons. In Brazil not all kids go to school or if they do, they may go there just to have a meal.

I worked with these children bringing them the perspective of IT and teaching them that they can follow some other path than the path of their parents’ if they want to. It was so rewarding to see the impact we had on those children’s lives. Then it was time to get back to the studies and I ended my work with PEI – Integrated School Program. I also changed the main subject in college from computer science to game development.

When it came time to do the thesis I still wanted to combine it to social work somehow and to do something for the impaired. Several projects had already been done for the blind community so I choose those who were impaired in hearing instead. I started studying sign language and having weekly conversations with a group of deaf teenagers. It was so interesting and insightful to learn what their life was like. They helped me understand their culture and at the same time they helped me with my project and I graduated.

From development to support

After college I moved to Dublin, Ireland and continued working in the IT field. I went from one company to another to gather more information about software development and programming. Building, maintaining, developing in various languages helped me to understand how the computational thinking or the ability to break down problems can be as just as valuable than the baseline technical skills required for the job. I spent 5 years or so in Dublin before returning to Brazil. I had learned so much about programming but I wanted to do something different.

Up until then I had found it very difficult to communicate with people and to understand what the customers think. Instead of just doing assignments and closing a ticket after another I wanted to fully understand why the tickets were created in the first place. I wanted to understand what customers think, feel and what problems do they actually have. And what better way to learn than to work in the support? This is when I joined Atlassian support team.

As part of Atlassian support I learned Atlassian products – especially DevTool products such as Bamboo and Bitbucket Server – inside out. I learned to ask ”why” to fully understand what the customer is really struggling with.  While working in support I noticed that all the knowledge I had of programming and of customers was a lot and I was very good at what I was doing but it wasn’t enough. The knowledge was staying with me. I realised that in order to succeed as a team we needed to share our knowledge somehow.

This is what drives me even today – I don’t want to hold the knowledge I have and I want to keep learning more. This can best be done by communication. Be it a blog post, a message or talking out loud with customers and colleagues. It is important that we as a part of an organisation or even society talk more and listen to one another.

From Atlassian to Ambientia

After working some time in Atlassian support and knowing the development tools inside-out it was again time to change, to learn something new. I searched through Atlassian partners and found Ambientia. I got to know Ambientia and got used to the idea of working in Finland. Then I applied and here I am now: working as a consultant (Atlassian Expert) for Ambientia. As I have the behind the scenes knowledge about programming and the understanding of customer needs from the support side I can help Ambientia’s customers to achieve what they’re aiming for.

So I moved to Finland and my family came with me. I have a two-years-old daughter who has never seen snow. Even if we do get below zero temperatures in South Brazil we still don’t get snow. She has loved every second of it and just wants to play and play. And most of all she wants to play with pulkka.

So that’s how pulkka came to be an important word in my vocabulary. I’m looking forward to get to know Finland better and to be able to share the knowledge I have gathered during my journey here.


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Rafael Pinto Sperafico

Published 20.2.2019.

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