Monday, June 20, 2011

My new life in Panama

Being part of a multinational company like Smartmatic can lead to several opportunities and lifestyle changes. Those of us who belong to this family have gone through several experiences, from learning new languages and knowing new cultures, to more definitive ones such as relocating abroad.

I had to move to Panama and I wanted to share with you (in a casual way, the way we do it in this blog) how I feel in this new stage with Smartmatic and in my life. These are some F.A.Q. and here are my answers.    

1) What’s the biggest difference between the offices?  
The offices change only in their architecture… although the offices in Panama have a more modern flair, with more open spaces, we’re still the same people, the work rhythm is the same, the cordial atmosphere between coworkers is the same, lots of warmth as usual. Smartmatic is Smartmatic, be it here or in China. As long as we keep the essence of being a youthful company, without neglecting our responsibilities and the respect to other people’s work, we’ll keep being successful.   

2) What do you like best about Panama so far?
I enjoy the open spaces very much; that and not having to drive my car for everything.  Among my favourite activities there’s walking along the Cinta Costera (Balboa Av.), going to Amador Cause Way to walk or ride my bike, parking my car somewhere in the Casco Histórico (the historic city center, where you have to be careful not to park on the sideways, because you’ll be getting a CITATION on the windshield if you do), walking in the narrow streets of the beautiful Casco and having a coffee on a little terrace. I love that.   

3) You have been in Smartmatic since its beginning. What’s your perception of it nowadays?
Well, I’ve seen us go from 20 employees to 500 in over 20 countries after 8 years. That sort of growth is phenomenal! Whenever I think about it I feel proud, and I still love to see the faces of those who’ve been here since the start.  The comradeship we’ve always had, and the respect and interest on each other, are things I wouldn’t trade for the world. Feeling like a family has been one of our strengths, from my perspective; it’s not a fluke that many of us have married within Smartmatic J 

Smartmatic is a company that’s been around for a while.  This globalization has been extremely positive for our growth: the fact that Smartmatic is known in several countries worldwide is priceless.  

4) How are Panamanians and Venezuelans alike?
One thing about Panama is that for us Venezuelans there is no adaptation period, since everything is so similar: the food, the lifestyle, the people… we’re very alike, we’re Latinos and we think very similarly.

5) Tell us a place in Panama you really like.  
Panama Viejo, I love it. It was the first city founded by the Spanish in Panama, in 1519. Today it’s in ruins because of a fire that took place in 1671, which forced the citizens to relocate and start building Panama City (what is today the city’s “Old Quarter”). I love seeing how Panamanians preserve their history and keep it alive by inviting us to visit these places. It’s a really lovely place.  

6) How does your family feel about your change of location?
 They’re happy even though they miss us very much. The good thing is that a Caracas-Panama flight is less than two hours, so most of our relatives have already visited.   

7) What do you miss about Venezuela?
My friends and family, el Ávila, la Gran Sabana, the weather, heheh…
Liliana Sáenz