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A Day in the Life of a US Expat Living in Spain: Meet Andrea

Without the diverse, hardworking, intelligent, and kind people who make up our team, Shield wouldn’t be able to offer the level of service we do. At Shield, we love our team and know that our unique perspectives and backgrounds make us stronger while our common values connect us. That’s why each month, we love sharing our team’s stories through our A Day in the Life series, where we hope you can get to know our team a little better.

This month, we’re profiling one of our Account Managers, Andrea Hernandez, based in Madrid, Spain. 

Meet Andrea 

Exploring Madrid in January 2020 pre-pandemic

Andrea is originally from Miami in the US, but after traveling throughout University and marrying her Argentina-based husband, they decided to move somewhere new. 

“We were looking for a place to start our life,” she says. “We wanted to live abroad somewhere, and he has his EU passport, so he had the option to come somewhere in Europe. We both speak Spanish, so we felt like, well, Spain makes sense.”

Andrea moved to Madrid in January 2020, just before Spain entered strict lockdowns to combat the COVID-19 virus. 

“It was rough because Spain was really, really strict. So we couldn’t even go out for walks. You could only go to the pharmacy or go to the grocery store and only one person at a time,” Andrea says. “So it was a little hard adjusting.” 

As restrictions eased, Andrea found herself exploring the city more and meeting new people. 

“I feel like I’m slowly starting to see what Madrid is actually like for people who live here, and I really enjoy it. I like Spain. I like the pace of life here, and people are really friendly,” she says. 

Andrea joined Shield in October 2020 after reaching out to one of our Customer Success Manager’s, Asia, also living in Madrid. 

“I was looking on LinkedIn for people to just connect with because I had spent many, many months, just stuck at home and hadn’t had a chance to really meet any friends here. And I actually found Asia,” she says. 

“We have both done a similar scholarship program in the US through our colleges. So, we had that one thing tying us together. I reached out to her, and I was like, ‘hey, I would love to chat with you or meet up’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go out for a drink.'”

When the two met up, naturally, the talk went to Asia’s role with Shield. 

“I didn’t really meet up with her to talk about jobs and stuff. I just was looking for some connection after the [lockdown],” Andrea says. “But just hearing her talk about the culture of the company, and all the things that she gets to do, you know, she’s working, but she’s also traveling, and she’s meeting new people, and she’s visiting her friends who are based in other places. And I was like, ‘Well, that sounds really cool!'” 

Shield Madrid meet up with Karla and Asia

Andrea was working at a local University but wasn’t enjoying it throughout the lockdown situation. 

“It was a little bit chaotic. It was nobody’s fault, except just the circumstances,” she says. 

So that evening, after getting home from meeting Asia, Andrea looked up Shield GEO and saw that there were open positions. 

“So I reached out to her, and I was like, ‘Do you think this would be a good fit?’ And yeah, I guess the rest is history!” 

She started as an associate that October and moved up to her current Account Manager position in April this year. 

A Day in the Life of Andrea

9:00 am

Wake up and start getting ready for my day.

9:30 am

Virtually greet my APAC and EMEA colleagues on Skype, read through and categorize the emails that came in overnight, check Slack.

10:00 am

My husband makes my morning cup of coffee and I get started with my tasks. Invoicing takes priority from around the 25th to the 10th of the following month, so I’ll action those items first. Outside of invoicing, I’ll use this time to respond to client and employee emails and update cases.

11:00 am

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’m doing full case reviews. This involves following up with our local teams and subject matter experts, making sure my case notes are all up to date, and checking in with clients and employees about any questions they’ve raised.

1:30 to 3:00 pm

Depending on my workload or meetings for the day, this is when I tend to pause for a lunch break.

2:30 to 3:30 pm

Every other week, we’ll have our whole team meeting. We’ll go over any updates to our processes or major changes to local legislation, get feedback, and do some catching up.

3:30 to 6:00 pm

My inbox tends to pick up after lunch when my U.S. colleagues and clients come online. On most days, I’ll get the bulk of my emails in the afternoon and will have new cases to raise, so it’s a busy time!

6:00 pm

I use the end of my workday to take another look through Salesforce and my inbox and note down any action items for the next day.

6:30 pm

I aim to be offline by this time. I’ll usually have an afternoon snack and do some chores or errands.

8:00 pm

Shower, make or order dinner, and watch TV.

12:00 am

Bedtime!

Changing industries while working remotely

While Andrea had customer service experience, she hadn’t worked in Human Resources before her role with Shield. 

“My previous role was very international focused, but more towards education at first, and then it shifted a little bit more to travel and what they would call citizen diplomacy,” she says. “So I think I’ve always had that international aspect of it, but the Human Resources part was new to me.”

Andrea’s home office setup

Andrea says the shift felt natural for her as she feels it drew on a lot of her previous skills. 

“At the end of the day, I feel like it’s all customer service,” she says. “No matter who you’re talking to, whether it’s a student, or at one point, it was program participants, now it’s clients and employees, I feel like it’s just about understanding them, having some empathy, and trying to get to know them better.”

It helps that Andrea finds the industry fascinating. 

Andrea and her husband in San Francisco, California

“I find it really interesting. And I feel like I’m learning something new every single day about a lot of very specific things that I never thought I would need to know for work,” she says.

“Human resources affects people in very personal ways. The things that we do impact people in very personal ways, a lot of time. So having some sensitivity to that, and empathy, and just treating everyone with kindness and also like working as diligently as possible to solve their problems [is so essential].” 

Working remotely has also been a huge help, particularly over the last year. 

“I really like that my work is on my laptop, and I can move with it. So last week, Rosalyn was in town and staying at Karla’s house [another teammate living in Madrid]. And so I was able to work with them all week because I just picked up my laptop and went,” she says. 

“Most days I am at home, but if an opportunity comes up, I know that I can just pick up and go and work somewhere else.”

This flexibility meant Andrea was able to spend last Christmas with her family in Miami, and when travel is more stable again, she hopes to spend some time traveling throughout Europe while working. 

— Bree Caggiati

 

Read more about our team and how we enjoy working remotely!

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