Diversity. A delicate subject. That’s why we made it our theme for March. We like poking at pain points because that’s how progress is made. You think that Martin Luther King sat cosily in his chair eating popcorn or Gandhi passed his time watching videos of cats pouncing on Poptarts? Nope. They stood up and got to the bottom of their burning desires to improve our world. We’re not comparing ourselves to any of these guys, we’re simply trying to mirror their qualities in our own circle of influence.
In our efforts to explore diversity in the workplace, we reached out to Sharmila Sapkota. She’s a Landing.jobs promoter (she got a tech job through us) with a difficult past and came to Portugal from Nepal after the terrible earthquake in April 2015. Below you’ll find the most interesting bits of our interview.
Hi Sharmila, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
No problem, I am very grateful to your company, you have made it possible for me to come to Portugal to work!
Can you first tell us about your life trajectory, growing up and your move to Portugal?
I came to Portugal about 1.5 years ago. Before I was working in Nepal for a great IT company. Things were well up until the earthquake . The shock of the earthquake was terrible, I saw people die in front of me, houses burning down, dirty water. I was so scared. So I decided to come live with my husband here in Portugal. Finding a job was next to impossible because I did not feel confident. I was applying to very few jobs and I was scared that I would not find something in my field of interest.
I started working at a restaurant as a waiter, raising some money to help my family back home. Every morning when I woke up I would feel I was missing something, as it wasn’t the field of work I was interested in. I would cry and then go to work. I was continuously suffering. After time passed, my confidence built up and I became more accustomed to the new environment.
The first time I applied it was through Landing.jobs.
So Landing.jobs was the first place you applied too? That’s pretty amazing.
Yes! I had heard of a few other places but only applied to Landing.jobs because it was on the top of my mind. I got the interview and soon found a job through a company that I care about!
Awesome! So in Nepal are there a lot of women who study IT?
Nepal is a male dominated country. It’s definitely changed a bit compared to in the past, but still. In my family, I’m the only girl who completed a bachelor in IT. Otherwise, if the girls are over 20 years old they have to get married and start a family.
Is the newer generation thinking more like you?
Not all, but most families are starting to treat their sons and daughters equally. It really depends on the family’s level of education and wealth.
Would you say in Portugal people are more advanced in that sense?
Well, I have not been too acquainted with the culture, but from what I can see the girls here are freer. They are allowed to make their own decisions, they can walk at night, they can do whatever they want. There’s more freedom for the women.
Do you believe having a diverse work environment can improve company productivity, and if so in what ways?
Yes I believe it plays a very vital role. Having gender diversity and different backgrounds brings about different ideas, leading to better decisions. On the other side, it’s very difficult for management to build such a diverse work environment. But overall the advantage definitely outweighs the difficulties. In the end, it benefits the company. And the employees. Before the people I worked with had no knowledge about Nepal, but now they do!
Would you have any words of advice for other people coming here from a different background like you did?
The advice I would give is that you can never give up. Just focus on doing, don’t distract yourself. There is always a way for those who work hard. You will find your own way.
Wow. Thank you so much for the great advice. It’s clear you worked very hard to get to where you are now, so your words mean a lot.
Yes, I am just focusing on learning and bettering myself, and by doing this I think my final goals will come to me.
Well thank you so much for your time and I can’t wait to meet you in person when you come to the office. Have a great day and thanks again.
The pleasure was all mine, and can’t wait to meet everyone at the office too!
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