2020 was planned to be another pivotal year for Jolera on its quest to build through the channel and enhance the as-a-service message to the marketplace. Company leaders from Jolera had a pathway in place for the year that was nothing short of ambitious – a path that would have led to overall company and market growth.
On a moment’s notice, our Jolera CEO, Alex Shan, was faced with a business challenge that was like no other – one that every leader had to deal with during this time.
Under Shan’s leadership, Jolera’s growth path was clear. When the COVID-19 pandemic became an undeniable reality for governments and companies, leaders had to think fast on how to best approach the solutions as information evolved. The world was now looking at a prolonged lockdown. Alex Shan was now facing a fork in the road that would decide his leadership as Jolera’s CEO.
Equipped with decades of market data and industry knowledge, Shan decided to take the path less chosen and venture into Europe and moved himself and his family to Porto, Portugal.
Five years prior, Jolera had acquired a company in Porto to be its base of operation in Europe. Now, it would be used to lead Jolera’s expansion efforts.
Setting up in Porto was not the easiest of transitions for Shan. For more than two decades in IT, Shan was comfortable and talented in handling a certain North American pace of play in business. While North America tends to be high strung and fast-moving, Europe was nothing like that.
“Anyone who knows me understands I’m a high-strung guy,” Shan said during the Jolera Interview Series. “I started working with partners, customers, and the staff over there, so I’m used to working at a particular pace. For the first six months, I was pulling out whatever hair I had left on my head, trying to figure out how to get everyone to work at my pace and behave like me. This became a frustrating experience.”
Shan admitted to struggling at first, but that it was only after he did further self-reflection as a leader that he would change his cadence and start to adopt European work customs.
Shan points to this change in himself as the leading cause of success for Jolera in Europe. Since then, Jolera has grown significantly overall in Western Europe, now expanding new business in the U.K., Italy, and Spain. In April of 2022, Jolera cut the ribbon on a new office in Madrid.
“As an executive, I have grown because of this experience. You cannot operate in a high-performance, 24/7 pace in Europe. Something will break. I have learned to change gears. Jolera will now have two gears and be successful”, he said.
But it wasn’t all just a changing mindset for Shan. European success was also attributed to the new executive team game plan.
“My mission when I went over there was to take the time explain the new direction. Once we explained the plan, my primary job there was to create a sense of confidence and show them that Jolera worldwide is behind them to support them. I really did not do too much. We had a plan and we executed it. I just wanted to provide the strength of confidence and the team did the rest”, Shan added.
The Jolera Porto team was crucial in building the success in Europe, and it still is today. Jolera’s European expansion plans could have started in many other better-known cities, but Porto was chosen because it is special.
“The truth of the matter is I fell in love with Portugal and with Porto the first time I went there. The food, the culture, the people, the land, the sea, the air, the river– everything about Porto was spiritually kin to me. It only became evident to me after we made investments there that the culture of the talent pool, and the quality of the talent pool available there was top-notch”, Shan confesses.
Also, during the Jolera Interview Series, Shan offered a special invitation to visit Jolera in Porto to find out for yourself how special this region of Europe is. Shan also speaks to the many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and why Jolera needed to shift direction during that time.
Contact us today to learn more about how you can join us in Portugal and experience Jolera Porto together.
By Paolo Del Nibletto