Taking risks, growing, looking for the best people, and having fun eating – Lucas Gabriel and his cross-continental GSG journey.
Tell us about yourself and why you chose GSG in the first place.
I joined GSG seven years ago, but my career path wasn’t as straightforward as one might assume. I majored in production engineering during my undergrad studies, with the first internship in an e-commerce startup. After that, I moved between finance and operations roles in different companies until I landed a job at Leroy Merlin Brazil. It was an exciting experience, but I wanted more flexibility and growth opportunities. Specifically, my interest was in startups and their environment. I wanted a place to grow with and that’s when the former Brazil COO, Milton Gazzano, found me on LinkedIn. It was exactly what I wanted, and soon enough, I was in our then small 15 square metres office with other six enthusiasts working as an Operations Manager. Sitting there, I knew that I was one of the people building and developing this company. It was a challenge where I knew I could really make a difference.
Can you outline your career path and mark the three most important things you’ve learnt along the way?
It started in 2015 when I joined as a Savings Manager at Cuponation. Back then, Savings, or Operations as we call it now, and SEO were separate teams. Eventually, my duties expanded to dealing with SEO topics and growing the operations team and the number of domains. I even attended an SEO conference in Munich. Eventually, I proposed merging the topics and bringing the concept of an “Editorial team” to life. Meaning that the entire team is responsible for creating all content on our pages and ensuring that the available discounts are curated, live, and ready for use.
The Sao Paulo Editorial team was continuously growing. After three years, I was offered a position in our Global Operations team based in Munich. It meant that I was changing from a People Manager role to developing an Individual Growth path. I gradually started getting more responsibilities that included contact with global team members and operations, which directly reflected my career growth.
For example, my tasks included:
- Mapping the processes.
- Implementing standards.
- Consulting global and regional teams.
- Introducing new tools and workflow with the product team.
GSG was growing too. Now we offer our consumers loyalty products and commerce content. I can say we went beyond discounting and can help people throughout their decision journey by saving in a smarter way. We recently restructured Connect (former O&P) tribe, and GSG as a company went through rapid growth and acquired Pouch, iGraal, and Shoop, our Loyalty tribe. I also got the opportunity to lead the EU Hub Operations team, moving back to a People Manager path and responsible for more than 70 people.
Was it a difficult decision to make a move from Sao Paulo to Munich, and what helped you make it? Any differences in office culture?
Knowing that I am joining a global startup, moving abroad was actually on my career bucket list. However, the decision had to be made quickly when it came to it. I only had four months to decide, get my visa, and eventually move. My wife and I were only dating back then, and that’s when we decided to get married too so both could move.
Initially, I had to improve my English skills for all the business communications within the company. I guess it’s evident that GSG is very diverse, and I had to learn how to interact with people from all over the world.
The best part of moving to Munich was meeting with people in real life and meeting my new and old colleagues in person.
In terms of office culture, I needed some adjustments. In Brazil, we would usually have a long lunch in big groups and enjoy a full meal. There was always so much variety of food to choose from. In Munich it’s a bit different, everyone’s very time focused and perhaps a little bit more independent, you see people having a quick sandwich for lunch and jumping back to work! I was amazed by that. The Fridays at Five compensate lunches, though.
The good part of the Munich office is that it is huge. It’s so international, and with time, you learn from each other, accept each other’s cultures and then end up going for lunches with Stefanos and Luca to a Greek restaurant or grabbing some grilled chicken from the “Chicken guy” food truck. I can also move quickly between the countries because I manage Europe, and Munich is ideally located for that. By visiting other hubs, I see how different GSG can be and how many cultures we all can learn from.
Tell us about your day to day work life and how different it is during the “busy season.” In what ways does it empower our consumers to make smarter choices?
It was a learning curve for sure. For example, Black Friday is one of the biggest days for our business, and we are fully prepared with our team optimised in its total capacity. We pay very close attention to the technical aspects by closely monitoring Google search updates, for example.
On the other hand, I don’t think that seasonality is the main factor in my job. I work with so many countries, and it is a huge responsibility. I have to know what’s going on in my teams and what is happening in those countries, whether it’s a public holiday or an important event. This is how I make sure that our consumers get the smartest offers out there.
Since your work essentially entails managing people and building teams, what qualities are you looking for in potential employees?
I firmly believe that my team members should have good “soft skills.” Communication is key. You can have years of education and many degrees behind your back. Still, it doesn’t really matter if you’re not a good team player and if you can’t make your knowledge accessible to people. See, anyone can learn “hard skills” with enough effort, whereas soft skills make working more human.
Tell us more about yourself from an everyday perspective. What are your hobbies? How do you spend your free time?
I’m a person that doesn’t know how to do anything alone, so, whenever I have some free time I try to meet people and do things together, especially BBQs or anything related to food really. 😛
Despite being addicted to food (especially meat), I also love Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu. Unfortunately, since I moved to Munich, I didn’t manage to find a gym where I could practice it. With these two things being activities that I spent most of my free time on it means that now I spend all my free time eating.
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