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A Day in the Life of an Expat Isolating in Spain: Meet Karla from Shield GEO

We’re lucky enough to work alongside brilliant, talented, and diverse people at Shield, and we want to help you get to know them. Through our profile series, “A Day in the Life”, we showcase what’s important to our teammates and how they choose to structure their days to prioritize that. 

This month we’re profiling Karla Olivero, one of our talented and compassionate Account Managers. 

Meet Karla 

Karla and Asia on their way to meet up with Rosalyn

Like many of our Shield team, Karla has spent much of her adult life traveling the world. 

“I just love to travel,” she says. “I have spoken different languages since I was a kid. So whenever people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would always say, ‘I just want to do something that would allow me to speak different languages, because I’m not learning these for nothing!'”

In 2007 she left her home in Venezuela and has more or less been hopping countries ever since. 

“First, I went to Canada, then I went to the US, I moved around the US quite a lot, and then I went to Paris and San Sebastian,” Karla says. 

Along the way, she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Paris with a Diploma of Chef de Cuisine, followed by a Diploma in Operations Management at IESA. 

“I really believe each new country has something to teach me and when I’ve learned that new thing, it’s time to move on again.”

Her parents had purchased a vacation apartment in Madrid, and Spanish visas were relatively easy to come by, so after a short trip home to Venezuela, the move to Spain made sense. 

After four years, a career change, more travel, and a global pandemic, Karla’s now a Spanish resident and in the process of gaining a Spanish passport — which she hopes will grant her more freedom to travel in the future. 

Karla and her family exploring St. Petersburg

“The situation in Venezuela is just so bad. I was always pro going back to Venezuela. I did go back for a few months. But if you ask me right now if I want to go back. It’s just No, I don’t think so,” she says. “I still have family there, and I would love to see them, obviously, but I just wouldn’t stay there long-term anymore.”

After being locked down in Spain alone, Karla hopes to spend more time in the US with her sisters once travel is possible again.

“I haven’t seen them for about two years. With the current political situation in Venezuela, it’s quite hard for us to apply for any new visas for the US. So staying with them through the pandemic wasn’t really an option for me,” she says.”They are doing their own processing in the US, so they can’t leave. And I was doing my process here, so I couldn’t leave either. We’ve never spent this amount of time apart.”

When asked if she’ll try to settle in the US with her sisters once this is all over, Karla shrugs. 

“I just want to go see them. And then who knows? Maybe I’ll see where else I can go on and pack my bags and move again.”

In Tuscany with her mum, aunt, sisters and cousins

This love of cultures, languages, and people makes Karla’s work with Shield so impactful. 

She can speak Spanish, English, French, and Italian. Even when most of her client interactions are in English, Karla can offer an extra element of connection by speaking with her clients and their employees in their native language. 

“I have a client here in Spain, and they like for all their communication to be in Spanish,” Karla says. “So you know, I might be reaching out to the Local Partner in English, but then I’ll get to translate whatever information they need to know into Spanish.” 

A Day in the Life of Karla

6 am Since I wake up around 4:30-5 am, by 6-6:30 I’ve already logged in and organized my inbox, this is also when I action as many quick/easy tasks as possible
7 – 7:30 am If I have anything urgent, this is time to action before leaving for my morning run at 8, I also take this time to have calls with clients/employees that are in time zones ahead of me
9:45 – 10 am Back to work after showering and having breakfast and a much needed coffee
12 – 2 pm Depending on whether I have meetings or family plans, I have lunch sometime between 12-2 pm
3 pm Back to work with another cup of coffee or tea depending on how I’m feeling
5 pm Around this time I’m usually ready to log off and might log in later if I have any scheduled meetings with teammates/clients that are in time zones behind me
6 – 7 pm If I don’t need to leave the house to run errands, I take a nice relaxing shower and have something light like a cup of consome for dinner
9 pm This is when I do my night skincare routine and get ready to curl up in bed. During weekdays, I get a cup of tea and whatever book I’m currently reading (right now is Exploring the Now by Eugenio Garibay (my awesome brother in law), and Cleanse to Heal by Anthony William). If it’s the weekend, you can probably find me either drinking some wine with my neighbors or binge watching something on Netflix/HBO
11:30 pm By 11:30-12 I’m ready to get some sleep

Working from home through COVID-19

When Karla joined Shield in Summer 2019, she was doing most of her work at a co-working space (alongside Shield’s other Madrid resident, Asia). 

“I live by myself, so I didn’t think I was going to be happy working from home,” she says. “Even though I’m liking the remote working thing, I still want to see people.” 

Her baby cousin who kept her company during her first week at Shield

Heading out gave her routine and structure to her days too.

“It was really nice because it was an excuse to get dressed and get out of the house,” she says. “I still get dressed every day, but you know what I mean.” 

Unfortunately, as we know, this stint in a co-working space was short-lived as Madrid embraced hard lockdowns to combat COVID-19 in 2020. Karla was isolating alone for months before her parents came to stay with her. 

“I could at least see my neighbors who I’ve known forever,” she says. “They’re from Venezuela too, and they’re kind of like family. So, that was nice that we could at least have dinner together or just a break to have coffee.”

But the isolation wasn’t the only significant change for Karla during this time.

“It was quite hard for me to be motivated,” she admits. “I’m a pretty calm person, and I was feeling anxious every day.”

Some of her friends and family members were getting sick, and sadly there was a family loss due to COVID. 

Brunch with Asia and Andrea (her very awesome associate for the past months)

“I’m really thankful to be here at Shield and with the GM team because everyone was really helpful and very supportive and understanding,” she says. “They helped me get through it.”

These days she’s settled into a new routine with her parents, which she says makes her laugh every day. 

“Every day it’s a different story with the ‘Karlashians!’ They want me to find a husband and give them grandchildren,” she says, laughing. 

— Bree Caggiati, February 2021

Want to know more about Karla? Visit her profile on Our Team page!

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