CX Profiles: Tiago Magalhães
Living in a suburb outside of Lisbon meant Tiago’s parents needed to make a choice. He could go to a school close by or sit on a bus sometimes for two hours each way, shuttling back and forth between his home and a school in the city center that could offer him more educational opportunities. To them, the choice was clear:
“My parents always made it a point to have me attend school in Lisbon proper. I had access to a better education than I would have had if I had stayed where I lived.”
Those hours spent on the bus sparked a curiosity in him for different types of literature. From comic books like Spider-Man to lugging a giant illustrated book of world religions and mythology around, Tiago’s childhood was spent absorbing far-off lands through reading. Without question, this set him up for his interest in journalism, support and storytelling — fields he would pursue later in life.
The Origin Story of this Tech Support Hero
Early in his education, Tiago was enrolled in a program to learn English.
“While still in kindergarten I had this really lucky break where since I studied in the center of Lisbon, for some reason, the government at the time decided to start this pilot program to see how kids would react to having a second language taught early on.”
For more than two hours each day instruction was completed in English. Tiago estimates he was almost bilingual by grade school. Writing in English was slightly more complicated for him than speaking (phonics and all that), but he excelled once he figured it out.
I noticed that when he speaks about learning English, Tiago is very casual about becoming bilingual at such a young age. Especially as English wasn’t spoken at home. He picked up the language very quickly, allowing him to read even more and check out the original versions of the comics he had come to love.
While his education was always a priority, Tiago found he needed to step away at one point.
“In high school my grades dropped a bit, and I was held back for one year while my friends went off to college. I didn’t drop out of high school because I didn’t like it. At the time things were kind of rough in terms of money, so most days I would only get one meal. I didn’t have the headspace to attend classes while being hungry. Eventually, that led to a lot of problems with the curriculum. In some classes, I would have really high grades. The other ones, math, for instance, I just couldn’t cope with paying attention to the classes. Those things compounded and so I dropped out that year.”
To make ends meet, Tiago found employment throughout the city.
“I held odd jobs along the way. I tried working for a full day at a warehouse for a local grocery chain near home. The warehouse was underground — you would never see the light of day. Everything and everyone was just super depressing. I went in for orientation and did some work on the first day. I came back the next day, handed them everything back, and quit.”
After two years of working odd jobs, Tiago went back to night school to earn his diploma. One teacher took note of his potential:
“I was able to graduate with the help of this really cool teacher at the school I attended. She would put in a lot of extra time when she saw students were motivated.”
While the teacher retired not long after working with Tiago, her efforts still stay with him.
The Tiger Files
After getting his high school diploma Tiago went to university to study Communications and Journalism.
“I was enjoying it. The third year of the degree had a mandatory internship. They would give you a list of all of the major newspapers, and you could take your pick, so I was really excited for that third year. Unfortunately, around the beginning of the second year the 2008 financial crisis hit, and the government assistance that I was getting to pay tuition got cut along with a lot of other peoples’. I had to leave university. Basically, that killed my educational pursuits.”
From there he jumped into retail, working for the first Tiger store in Portugal. He was at Tiger initially as a part-timer stocking shelves and stayed for nearly two years. While at Tiger, he always found a way to expand his role and help other parts of the business:
“Whenever they would need some small copy for the Portuguese website, I would always volunteer.”
Along the way, he got promoted but knew it would not be his forever career. Tiago’s passion for journalism and technology was too strong. Plus, while he liked the Tiger team, he felt the commute and physical demands weren’t worth a long-term commitment.
As his second anniversary with Tiger approached, he realized it was time to step away. If he stayed past that, Tiago would have had to give a long notice period before leaving, which would have made it difficult to pounce on better opportunities that came his way.
Once Tiago left Tiger, he started looking into certifications and training for IT.
“I’ve always been IT-oriented. My dad has always been working as an IT tech for one of the Ministries in the government. I’ve always been around tech. I was there when they started moving over from typewriters to computers. I remember that transition very clearly.”
Origin of the Technical Support Representative
He landed a job in tech support pretty quickly but found out that it was not what he was looking for. As he puts it:
“It was for the UK market, and it was just killer.”
Initially, the workload itself wasn’t too bad. But after a month of training, the company got a directive from above stating they needed to have a certain number of senior agents on staff.
“They looked at my stats, and they said, ‘Oh, we don’t have enough bodies to put in the chairs. So hey — guess what! You’re a new Senior Agent.’”
Talk about a workload shift. He went from simple requests like “How do I reset my password?” to much more serious ones like, “The phone exploded in my face and I’m in Egypt, what do I do?”
It was stressful, to say the least. And the € 70 pay bump didn’t make up for it. Tiago ended up burning out in a matter of weeks.
“I have this policy of never saying no off the bat. I will always give everything a try. Also, if I see that something’s not working out and I don’t see how it could change or get better, then I don’t have any problem saying, ‘Ok, let’s try something else.’”
He told his manager he was burnt out and asked what they could do about it. Finding their response lacking, he decided to take his talent elsewhere.
In the market for something more balanced, Tiago moved to a startup called Wimdu.
“For the first time I was doing some sort of application support. Most of the work centered around the company’s services, but very quickly I started looking into how the applications were behaving. I took an interest in that, so basically, we had no resources in tech because they’d say, ‘Just leave the application to the engineers.’ I had to piece together how to get information in SQL. So I had to teach myself that to do my job a bit better. At the same time, I was looking into making something out of HTML and CSS. I built some very rough pages to kick off my work stuff, but I never formalized anything.”
Essentially, he developed his own pathway to provide better tech support.
Sadly, Wimdu went under.
“At some point, the company ended up being bought and sold by other companies. The last one was a massive US-based conglomerate for the hotel industry. We knew they were too big for not having redundancies.” Instead of jumping ship, Tiago stuck around to watch the process. He was there on the very last day.
“I’d never seen a company go down. I thought it would be interesting to observe.”
After Wimdu closed, a former coworker who had moved to TalkDesk told Tiago about the company. The pitch worked, and Tiago decided to apply. He was hired in support and enjoyed learning on the job as he worked closely with the engineering team so he could ask questions and get answers in real-time.
The Tymeshift Years
While he liked the work he was doing, Tiago couldn’t help but notice an ad for Tymeshift on LinkedIn. It turned out that the same friend who had recommended TalkDesk moved to Tymeshift and encouraged Tiago to apply.
“One of the main reasons I came to Tymeshift is because I felt the project was still fairly young and that there was still a lot of stuff to do. I wanted to be a part of it and see with all of the things I already knew how to do — what I could do there and also what I could learn from that experience.”
Lucky for us, Tiago has been with Tymeshift for just over a year.
“Now I feel comfortable with most everything that comes in. But I’m always looking for new challenges.”
His manager, Paule, has been incredibly supportive whenever he comes with an idea or suggestion.
“Right now, things are pretty great. I’m smack in the middle of the city. I’m 15min walking distance from everywhere. I bought the house I’m in a few months ago.”
After speaking with Tiago about his career journey, I couldn’t wait to ask him to collaborate on a blog series focused on Tech Support. Having a specialist who just so happens also to be a journalist is such a rare opportunity — and one I never would have discovered if he hadn’t agreed to be interviewed. It goes to show all of the rich talent hiding on teams that you can tap into if you just ask. So to Tiago and all of the other amazing multi-talented tech support people out there, share your hidden talents more!
Trust me; your coworkers will be delighted.
Interested in asking Tiago about jumping into tech support?
Ask in the comments below or reach out to him here.
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