Pythian Postcards: Toulouse, France … by way of Mexico
Welcome to post number one in our new “Pythian Postcards” series! These posts will spotlight Pythian employees living all over the world, to let Pythian employees learn more about each other and showcase the diversity of the Pythian workforce.
We appreciate Alejandro Gonzalez stepping forward to be our first “postcard writer.” We hope you’ll enjoy his story as much as we did when we first read it.
Q: Where are you located?
A: I live in Toulouse, France which is an attractive city in the southeast part of the country, not so far away from Bordeaux which is very famous worldwide for the wine that’s made there. Toulouse itself is known as a major hub for the construction of Airbus planes.
Q: How did you end up there?
A: I’m a Mexican and before coming here lived in Mexico my whole life. In 2014, my partner was invited to work for a scientific project in a research facility for the University of Marseille, France. We came for the project “for just one year,” then “for three years” and after over six years it looks like I’ll stick around here (but I do miss Mexico and try to go back as often as possible).
Q: What do you do at Pythian, and what path brought you here?
A: I’m working as a Site Reliability Consultant on the SRE practice for Team 9. Although my title has changed a few times while at Pythian, I like to call myself “Systems Administrator” because at the end of the day that’s what I do, no matter what fancy titles I might acquire.
I’ve been working in this area for over 25 years now and I often like to say that I feel too old to still be doing this kind of work, but … hey! This is my passion and this is what I know how to do.
My good friend, Dan, invited me to work for Pythian — he also brought a few others to the company. It’s nice to know some people here, but it’s also been very nice to make new acquaintances over the years in the company. I just celebrated my seventh Pythianniversary!
Q: What kind of accommodation do you live in?
A: I live in a small house with a back garden because it was very important to have space for my family … that is, my four-pawed family! I have four dachshund dogs (the ones that are commonly called “sausage dogs”) who came all the way from Mexico when we came to France.
The family is made up of Matteo (the father), Ambar (the mother), Leah (one of the daughters) and Ruth (the second daughter). They all love being together and I miss them so very much when I don’t get to spend time with them. Working from home is great in this regard! Although, they can be a bit noisy sometimes when playing, which is not so great for online meetings ;).
Q: What is your workspace like?
A: I am lucky to have a separate room for my office. Because my desk is a bit cluttered right now I’ll share a picture of a corner of the room I really like.
Q: What are your hobbies / non-work pastimes?
A: I love running! Although I haven’t been running as much as I’d like in the last year or so, I want to get back on track soon. I got very serious about running around eight years ago, when I was very overweight and having health issues. Running helped me to lose 24 kg! When I run, I always feel like I’m free and it’s a great method of relaxing and putting my mind at ease.
I participated in the 2014 Mexico City marathon. I enjoyed the challenge, but in general I prefer half-marathons. Other than running, I am an avid video game player (you might have guessed this from the Pokemon poster in my office!).
I also love traveling, and studying and practicing languages. I was able to learn French and Italian by myself using Duolingo, and am now finishing up Catalan and Portuguese.
Q: What’s the best thing about living and working where you do?
A: Coming to Europe enabled me to develop my passion for going to different countries with exotic languages, foods and especially people. In Europe it can be very affordable to take a plane and be in a whole different country in an hour or two; even for a long weekend or a week away from home. I hope to resume my travels after the pandemic is over.
Working in France is also very different from working in Mexico because of the quantity of holidays that people have here – nothing to complain about!
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: I’m not a morning person, so I try to sleep until right before I need to begin work. While I try to stay as focused as I can for eight hours during the day, I appreciate the flexibility that lets me walk the dogs, or go for a quick run. I can then put in a bit of work in the evenings when most Pythian clients in North America are still in their offices.
In the evenings I relax by playing video games or watching a series. The weekends are more entertaining, although I do sleep as late as I can!
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest achievement to date – professional or personal?
A: I usually don’t like to measure achievements because I just try to appreciate what happens every day as much as possible – no matter how big or small the accomplishments are.
Personally, I would say doing what I think or feel is the right thing keeps me motivated and happy, and professionally, having been in this field of work for over a quarter of a century is a pretty big achievement for me.
Q: If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: If I had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of my life I would certainly pass away very soon because some of the food I love is not the healthiest. Seriously, I do consider myself a “foodie” and one of the reasons I also love traveling is to try the local food and (almost always) keep an open mind to taste new things.
I don’t want to sound obnoxious or pretentious, but it is true that Mexican food only tastes great while in Mexico, the same way as pasta or pizza tends to only be really good in Italy. There, I guess I said it even if I didn’t want to! Then again, when you’re away from your homeland for so long, you tend to enjoy whatever food you can that reminds you of “the real deal,” even if it isn’t perfect.
We hope you enjoyed our inaugural Pythian Postcards blog post. Don’t forget to sign up for the next one.