Justina's Cloudflare Journey: Singapore, Lisbon & Working Remotely
For the first segment focused on Lisbon, the Recruiting Team will chat with Justina Wong, Technical Support Team Lead and Site Lead for Lisbon, about her experience working at various Cloudflare offices, becoming a Site Lead, moving to Lisbon, and keeping the team engaged while working fully remote.
Hi everyone, welcome. My name is Daniela. I am a recruiting coordinator with Cloudflare and I'm here with Justina.
Justina, could you please introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Justina. I am a part of the technical support team in Cloudflare.
I have been in the company for three years now and worked in three different offices.
I think for me, I have lived in eight different countries in the world and three of them because of my job here.
So you've been to three different Cloudflare offices, right?
Could you please tell us which? That's correct. So I was first hired in the London office and after a year I moved to the Singapore office and now I am a part of the Lisbon office.
And I want to talk with you today a little bit more about your experience moving to Lisbon and so I would love to start with you telling me a little bit more about Singapore.
How was your experience over there both personally and professionally with Cloudflare?
Sure. Singapore is a very unique country.
So to give people a bit of background, I'm actually from Hong Kong so we are very close to Singapore in terms of the culture and in terms of the language we use, even the food.
We share a lot of like different traditions and like people will think that, okay, if I move to Singapore, I could just fit in very easily.
But the truth is like Singapore is actually very, very, very, very different from Hong Kong and from what I'm used to.
So I think being in Singapore is fun because it's in the middle of like the whole APEC world so you could travel easily, you could go around and it is a cultural hub that there's people from different backgrounds, like from Chinese descent, Malay, Indian, and there is a lot of different things going on all the time throughout the year.
So that is the cool part.
And I think on the work front, as we all know, a lot of the tech company actually has APEC headquarters in Singapore.
So there's a lot of meetup events, there is a lot of like different tech events going on in Singapore.
So if you are someone who's interested in learning more about technologies and learning about all these other tech companies, it's a very good place to be.
And they also value a lot of the tech talent. So yeah, there's a lot of opportunities out there.
Sounds super fun. Do you have any fun facts from Singapore for us?
I do. Actually, when I moved to Singapore, I'm like, okay, everything seems normal, it's very safe, and it's very clean, like everybody has said.
But when we move office, so previously, we are, I think we are on the 12th floor.
Actually, I can't remember anymore.
Like we were in the middle part of the building.
So like, it's cool. You get to see, like, you get to see the street nicely.
But when we moved to the new office, we are on the 35th floor, we're on the top of the building.
And when you actually look over the other buildings, you will notice there's a lot of swimming pools, and a lot of sky garden on like different buildings.
And I start to notice like almost every building has their own little sky garden going on, or their own little swimming pool going on.
And this is for all buildings, almost like both residential buildings and office buildings.
So we actually have our own as well in the building we're in. And we do, I don't know, host some events, like there's some internal happy hour that we invite all the employees, and sometimes we have customer events as well.
So it's super fun.
So if you go to Singapore, go check it out, like randomly go to the top of a building.
I've never been to a building that tall. And it sounds so dreamy to look down and to see so many gardens and pools.
I mean, I can only imagine.
I hope you took some pictures because I'm going to be asking you for those.
I can share with you later. Like you would imagine it's like a cement jungle, like we say in Hong Kong.
But it's actually, yeah, it's actually very interesting.
Oh, great. So I guess you had a lot of fun in Singapore. What made you move to Lisbon?
It's actually for Cloudflare. So when I was thinking about moving, yes, I'm always thinking about moving.
We actually opened a new office in Lisbon.
Actually, no, we were thinking about opening a new office. So internally in the company, we're asking for volunteers to move from our existing office to help build up the Lisbon office.
So we are asking for volunteers from the US, from London, from Singapore, and people from all the teams possible.
For the Lisbon office, we want it to be the new tech hub.
So we want to move a lot of engineers here.
Because I work in a support team, it was our plan to have one of our biggest support team based in Lisbon.
So naturally, they would need a support engineer.
And I was very lucky. I got selected to be a part of it. So here I am.
Do you find any resemblance between Singapore and Lisbon? Well, if we're talking about the company culture, of course, it's very similar, because we try to build up the same working environment for everybody.
But if you're talking about personal life and about living in Singapore and Lisbon, it's actually very far from each other, I would say.
But one of the fun things is if you all know Macau, Macau used to be one of the colonies of Portugal.
And I used to go to Macau a lot, because it's like one hour ferry away from Hong Kong.
And being in Lisbon is funny, because it actually reminds me a lot about Macau.
Back in the days, when I was younger, my family would actually go to Macau to eat some Portuguese food.
We would be eating sardines. And we're doing the same here in Lisbon.
So I find it really funny. Amazing.
And so how was your experience moving to Lisbon, either from a personal side or a bureaucratic side?
How was it? Was it easy? I wouldn't call it easy. Like I said, I have lived in eight different countries in the world now.
And every time when I move, it requires to go through a visa process.
I think one of the most challenging aspects of moving to Lisbon is the language, because they will require a lot of documents in Portuguese.
And this is not something I'm familiar with. So a lot of times I will need help from either our relocation team or from immigration lawyer to help me make sense of what they're asking.
Because even though we translate the same word to English, it doesn't make sense to me.
I don't have this thing in Hong Kong.
I don't have a text number, for example. And so it actually might be something else back in my home country.
And yeah, so that was the biggest thing, I think.
But moving to Lisbon has been a fun experience. With what I did, I actually come here first to explore the city, to get myself set up.
So I've been looking for apartments and everything before I go back to Singapore to run the visa process.
So I did have a little bit of gap in between the months before pandemic hit.
So I was here to enjoy Christmas for the first time. It was super fun hanging out with other colleagues that also moved here around the same time.
And at the end of the day, I did went back to Singapore. And the whole process took, I think, almost half a year, more than what we expected to be.
But that's fine.
I mean, I'm here after all. And you would think that pandemic is actually destroying the visa process, which is yes.
But also at the same time, there are a lot of process that got cut out or they are moving online.
So it actually make it easier for me.
I remember when I start the process, they told me I have to fly to Bangkok to run one part of the visa process.
But because of all the border has closed, even the embassy themselves has closed.
So I didn't need to fly out to be there physically.
And everything was done online. And it make it easier in a way.
Yeah, you got to see the silver lining in these kinds of situations, I guess.
It's better to do it online than have to travel all the way to Bangkok, for example.
Exactly. Yeah, I would like to have a trip to Bangkok and go explore the city too.
But yeah, when I can do everything online, why not?
Yeah. So I'm curious. You mentioned looking for an apartment while we were here for the first time in your reconnaissance mission.
I'm very curious because I know it's something that people worry about quite a bit, finding places to live here in Lisbon.
Was it easy? How was this process for you specifically?
I was very lucky. So the apartment that I'm staying in right now is actually the first apartment that I looked at.
It was a tiny bit daunting because if you go check out the websites, they're all in Portuguese.
And you will find very little options that are, they also have an English description.
But we do have a lot of help from our relocation team because we do have a vendor that you could talk to.
And they know our office, and they know where it is, and they know the needs of us.
So they can help us to look for places. And they could give us some recommendation of, OK, these are the area that you can look at.
Or what is your price range? What do you want? Do you want to be closer to a park?
Or do you want to be closer to transportation? So they could advise based on what you want.
And I also have my friend here who moved from the London office from the same team.
He's Brazilian, so he already speaks the language. So I did get a lot of help trying to sort out, OK, these are the options.
And I was also asking for a lot of recommendation from the team as well because they moved a few weeks before me.
And a lot of them has already picked the area. And I naturally go for the same area, and it's been great so far.
Yeah, of course. I guess it's easier to move when you're moving with colleagues and friends.
Exactly. And actually, my landlord, he used to work in Macau a lot.
So he is familiar with Hong Kong.
He's familiar with Macau. He speaks fluent English. So it makes my life very easy.
Great. Great. I guess you had a good experience with that part. Yeah, totally. I know that you obviously had a good experience considering that.
But do you wish you were told something when you were considering moving?
What do you wish you knew back then?
My move is very swift and easy. I move alone, so I didn't have any family that I need to take care of or any dependents.
I don't even have a pet. So I only have my three suitcase.
So I just need to pack them and fly with them. And it's a very swift experience.
What I would wish, though, is that no one told me beforehand that Lisbon is very English -friendly.
Because when they tell me that, I'm like, OK, fine.
I could just go around speaking English, and I don't need to learn Portuguese, which is still the case.
So my Portuguese is stopped at hello and obrigada.
And I think that's all I have so far, which is not ideal. Can you not tell anybody it's English-friendly, please?
But you'll get there, I'm sure. We're working very hard amongst ourselves.
So it'll be fun teaching you Portuguese. And what advice could you give to people that are considering to move to another country, for example?
I think if you want to move, well, on a very practical front, when you move, always carry some official documents that has your name and your address on it.
Something from your utility bills or from the government.
Carry them with you in the carry-on.
We have people that just pack everything and ship them, and they arrive three months later.
And you don't want that, because when you come here, you have to open up your bank account.
You have to set up your utilities. You have to set up your Internet and everything.
And they always require something official with your name and anything that they could check yourself against something else that is official paper.
So that is the one biggest practical thing that I would suggest anybody to think about it.
But otherwise, I think if you want to move, you always need to plan ahead.
It's not like you could just move tomorrow. There is a visa process you need to run.
You have to book your ticket. And there is many, many steps you have to do before you arrive to a new country.
But the main thing is, even when you plan ahead, you have to keep an open mind, because anything could happen.
And I could promise you that something unplanned will happen. I didn't plan for the pandemic to happen when I'm moving, and I just need to embrace it with an open arm.
And actually, I do have a little story from my previous move that is not related to Cloudflare.
So 10 years ago, I moved to Japan and started working there.
And on this very day, 10 years ago, we had the earthquake, which impacted a lot of lives.
And I was in the east coast of Japan as well. So my apartment building was impacted.
I actually literally just moved in, and I just set up my whole furniture and everything.
And I was planning to live in Japan forever.
But because of the earthquake, I actually had to move back to Hong Kong, and I had to give up everything in Japan.
So, well, it wasn't going as planned.
But you know, sometimes life is full of surprises. So that's just something that we have to keep in mind.
And it's okay, maybe one day I'll go back to Japan.
We have a Tokyo office now, so who knows? And yeah, I guess you just have to smile in the face of adversity and understand that some things are out of your control.
But that's good advice. Solid advice, definitely. I hope it helps people who are willing to move.
And I think like a lot of times, I don't know if you are thinking about moving yourself, Danella, but I do talk to a lot of friends that they would say, hey, I want to move too.
And three years later, we talk again, and they're still saying, oh, I want to move, but they're still in the same city.
So if you want to move, you have to take the matter in your own hands.
If you want to move, make it happen.
You're the person who wants it, not the others. So if you don't care, no one would, and you would still be in the same city, which is not something you want, right?
Thank you for your advice, Justyna. That's great. I'm sure a lot of people learned with you or from you.
And so now I want to focus a little bit more on your professional experience here in Lisbon.
And how exactly did you become a site lead for the Lisbon office?
So in Cloudflare, for every office that we have, we have a site lead as well.
And we wanted to be someone who has been with a company for an extended amount of time already, like someone who has been here for, say, at least a year.
So when we opened a new office, everybody is new. So naturally, only the people who are transferred from other office has been in the company for over a year.
So I was one of the 12 people, 15 people. I can't remember the number.
So to be selected to be a part of the site lead and being someone who has worked in three different offices, so I have made some connection in different teams, whether they are from engineering teams or from administrative teams or even from the sales team, it actually make it very easy for me to learn from them and to make the connection and to get help when we set up the new office here in Lisbon.
So I feel like this is the time that I need to repay back for all the move that the company has given me as well.
So and then I take up the site lead role to help build this office here.
And obviously, it's very different. The context is very different from what you would normally have with the pandemic.
The office is currently closed.
So how do you make sure the team is engaged, even though we're all working remotely?
So when someone joined the office, we always set up a little five minutes hello session with all of them.
So just to introduce myself.
And so I get to have a quick understanding of what they want from the office or like if they have anything in mind or something that we could learn from from the previous job or from like the cultural background.
So that is something we try to keep doing.
And I think we are very lucky to have a very engaging Lisbon team.
So far, everybody who joined Lisbon is very outspoken. So when they have an idea or when they have something that they want to do, they would just come to me and tell me.
So it. Yeah, it's very, it's very good for me. And I was very lucky that I don't need to like do a lot of pushing on like, oh, let's do this.
And no one would respond.
Actually, every time we ask a question, everybody would jump in and respond, which is fun.
And on the company level, we do have several things that we want to keep doing in all the offices.
For example, on Wednesday lunchtime, we have a Wednesday team talk that we try to maintain.
Every week, we will have a beer meeting, which is a time that we share about all the company updates or any upcoming release that we're going to have or any events that we're hosting.
So we try to keep those up.
And at the same time, we have ERGs, which is our employee resource group that it's something that is beyond your office and beyond your own team that you could connect with other people across all offices.
One of them that is very active this month is the Women's Flare group to celebrate our empowerment month.
So this is one group that is connecting all the female employees and our allies in all the offices possible.
So those are all the fun stuff. And if I look at just Lisbon in particular, we do have people like yourself, like you're willing to share your ideas.
And we start having our little late noon show that we engage different people in a game style.
We get to learn more about each other. We get to know about the fun fact that we won't talk about during our work hours.
So I think those are all really good things to have.
And our CTO, John, started a random coffee hour as well.
This is something that we take away from the engineering meeting. So they used to pair up random engineers to talk to each other.
And so they could get to meet people from other teams.
And we rolled it out for a whole email. I myself, I was actually meeting someone from London team I have never talked to before, even though we both have been in the company for some time already.
So which is great. Yeah, I like this impromptu coffee meetings for sure.
It gives you the opportunity to meet with colleagues from other offices that you've never even talked to before.
And it's great to get to know your colleagues, especially since we're in lockdown.
Justine, I'm not sure if you feel this, but at least this is my impression.
Everyone is needing a little bit of social interaction. And so I feel like people really like you said, are on board with initiatives and throwing ideas.
I'm very excited for the cooking class that we're going to have next week.
So all fun stuff that people come up with.
So I guess the pandemic in that way, in that sense, it kind of pulled us apart, but we're making our way back to be together again, right?
Yeah, totally. I don't know how you feel for your team, because I think most of you are on board after we started the pandemic and we built up the team from scratch in Lisbon.
So maybe you'll have some ideas you could share about how you keep the team closer together.
Like my own team, we have an all day hangout.
So anybody can drop into the call at any time of the day. They could ask any questions about work or they could have any other topics that they want to talk about.
So this is something that is interesting for us because previously, Lisbon is their own team, and London is their own team.
We talk to each other, but not as much.
So with the pandemic, we actually talk more. So that was great. We got a little closer.
Yeah. I don't have any experience pre-pandemic at Cloudflare. I did join while the pandemic was going on.
And so my onboarding was fully remote. I've never been in a room with the rest of my team, not physically, but we do talk every day.
And we sometimes have fun initiatives, team building initiatives. We are just in constant discussions.
We have fun. We have an happy hour every Friday. And so it's just a great way to talk with them about things other than work, which sometimes while we're at home, it's very easy to do, I think, to just focus strictly on work-related subjects.
And you kind of don't have that social interaction you would at the office with small talk at the coffee machine or stuff like that.
So I find that it's very good that we have come up with these initiatives.
And not only company-wide, but office-wide or team -wide, it's been great.
Yeah, totally. I think we need to do another Cloudflare TV interviewing you about your onboarding process.
That would be interesting. Definitely. I'm very excited to go to the office whenever we can.
It's going to be good. Yeah, totally. And so I guess I also wanted to know, since we're in lockdown, what are some of the things that you look forward to doing the most when we're out of lockdown in Lisbon?
I know that you've been here before.
Have you had a chance to travel, to sightsee, see some monuments? Tell me about it.
Actually, I haven't left my house more than five times since the beginning of this year.
And it's March now, so it has been like over 60 days and I haven't barely left my house because I think we have been in full lockdown since the first week of January.
So I think just going out to meet my friends would be a very important thing for me.
I haven't seen them forever. And we're all very conscious about the situation as well because one of our friend's wife actually worked in the lab that helped do some COVID testing.
So we do notice that their workload get a lot more after the Christmas holidays because there's a lot of people who might have spread it to one another.
So we don't want to add to the burden, especially our friend is involved in a job like that.
And I think the other main thing for me that I really can't wait to use the office.
And I can't wait to go and meet everybody in the office for a first time.
For us in the Lisbon team, we have moved three offices for the past year.
So we have used the first office. This is a very small space where we could host 20 people around that number.
And quickly the team grow out of the size.
So we have moved to our second place which we use for a few weeks.
And then we have our current place that we have, well, we have officially been moving to this address for over a year now.
But we have never used this space officially.
So I think it will be very exciting if we could have a opening party and have everybody in there together.
I don't know if you have been to the current office, have you?
Only on the outside. Okay. So I did have a chance to visit the office because I have to pick up some of my personal items and my work accessories.
So I was like entering the space and it was with a balcony all around.
It is in the area called Marques de Pombal. And when you go to the balcony, you can actually see the whole city view for Lisbon.
So you could see it all the way until the George Castle.
So I feel like it would be a very good place to work in.
I mean, I agree. I can't wait to go there. And the team keeps growing. We have so many roles open right now for the Lisbon team.
So who knows that maybe by the time we open the office, we'll have doubled the number of people we have currently.
It's possible. Yeah. I mean, we grow from 12 people to, I think we are close to 80 now.
We might have surpassed that already. So it is a huge growth in number.
And I think it's really fun. I haven't seen most of the team in person ever.
So I think it will be really interesting to transform this visual image to like a real person and we could shake hands and yeah, maybe eat together and actually grab a real coffee.
Yeah, that would be great. And pastelmato, of course, in Portuguese fashion.
I think you might have been like starting another fight or another discussion here because we do have very strong opinions towards Pasto de Nata.
Well, yes, that is a very serious topic, to be honest. And so it's understandable that we have very serious opinions on it.
True, true. Actually, we did have a little random initiative when you used to have an office.
So every Friday, someone will bring Pasto de Nata for the whole office from a random brand or from a random bakery.
So every Friday, we have been trying different Pasto de Nata.
And I could tell you, I have picked my favorite now. But I wouldn't reveal it here.
We could talk after the session. The secret, yes. Sounds very good. Exactly. So Justyna, we're about to finish our segment.
I just wanted to ask you if you have any roles currently open in your team that you would like to advertise in ClusterTV.
Yes, totally. Thank you. We do. We do still hire a technical support engineer and technical support agent.
We are seeking people who could speak multilingual, something, I don't know, any language indeed.
Like if you are someone from Asian language background or European language background, we want to welcome all of you.
We do look for people who are actually interested in learning. So you don't need to come from a background that already know everything about Cloudflare.
But if you're willing to learn, then I think you should apply.
Good. Thank you very much, everyone, for joining us today.
Have a great day and see you next time. Thank you.