Getting Ahead

How Living Abroad and Launching a Startup Impacted This Salesperson’s Life and Career

Javier Vidal, a senior solutions engineer at Atlassian
Javier Vidal, a senior solutions engineer at Atlassian.
| Courtesy of Atlassian

Javier Vidal spent almost 15 years in Germany and nine years in Spain before settling into his current home in Austin, TX—a move he made to take on a sales role at the software company Atlassian

The senior solutions engineer says his experience working abroad has had a profound impact on his life and helped him develop skills such as navigating different work styles. (And who knows where he’ll go next: Thanks to Atlassian’s TEAM Anywhere program, anything is possible.)

But living in various countries isn’t the only thing that influenced his career trajectory. In his early 20s, Vidal and a couple of friends launched a startup after spending some time in the corporate world. “That experience helped me to move into managing larger teams and bigger projects,” he says.

Here, Vidal shares more about his path to Atlassian, what makes the company ideal for sales talent, and why he’d invite Jerry Seinfeld to dinner.

What initially attracted you to apply for a position at Atlassian?

I enjoy working closely with customers and I have extensive experience in engineering pre-sales positions. I had also used the Atlassian products in my previous roles as project manager, so I felt that the job description was a perfect fit for me. Even more importantly, all the feedback I got about working at Atlassian was immensely positive.

How did being a user/customer upon starting at Atlassian help you as an employee?

It helped me quite a lot. I could better relate to the customer experiences and needs and come up with advice and good practices.

What are your core responsibilities as a senior solutions engineer?

I assist potential and current Atlassian customers in evaluating our products and create adoption and integration strategies. I also investigate and assess technical questions. Another important part of my job is to deliver presentations, demos, and training directly to the clients and at events. I work daily with the sales team and provide feedback to our product and marketing teams about areas of opportunity to advance Atlassian's products. I am also in constant contact with the rest of the Solutions Engineering team through knowledge sharing and internal projects.

What do you remember from your interview with Atlassian?

A crucial part of the interview was about the five Atlassian values—including building with heart and being a team player—and how well I would fit in the team. I reflected on these values and found personal experiences that I could use in the interview. I also had to do a presentation about an Atlassian product, and I am especially proud of it because it was a good example of how I can think outside the box and find new uses for Atlassian products.

Tell us about a project you’re most proud of.

I work very closely with our partner network in the LATAM region. They were very affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic recession there. We created a sales and technical program to support our partners and promote our cloud products to new and existing clients to quickly facilitate remote teamwork. That initiative was very successful, to the point that LATAM is now one of the regions with highest cloud acceptance.

Do you have a mantra or North Star that helps you stay focused in this role?

Take time to listen to your customers and put yourself in their shoes, and they will be more willing to work with you.

What makes Atlassian a great place to work?

I felt truly welcomed from the first day, and I have lots of autonomy, flexibility, and support from my managers. For a tech professional, there are excellent Atlassian engineers to learn from. Most engineering managers come from within the company, and they are willing to mentor you. There are opportunities for internal relocation, either to another team or another country. Finally, during our quarterly ShipIt days, we get 24 hours to work with members of different teams on our own ideas.

Tell us about your experience living in different countries. How do you think your career has benefitted from that kind of exposure?

I have lived and worked in four countries and am so grateful for the experience, from creating lasting friendships and meeting my wife to facing different working styles and developing confidence when met with challenges. These are skills that most employers value and they have helped me to expand my career in this interconnected world we live in.

Can you recall a “tipping point” in your career, where you did something that gave your trajectory renewed momentum?

At the end of my 20s and after a few years of corporate positions, two friends and I decided to launch a tech startup in Germany. Those were fast-paced times and provided me with new insights into the online world and the importance of motivation and perseverance within a team. That experience helped me to move into managing larger teams and bigger projects.

How do you practice work-life balance? Are there any related benefits or perks that you take advantage of at Atlassian?

Atlassian offers some fantastic benefits and perks to make your life easier, including flexible working options, unlimited vacation, an annual allowance for education and fitness, and—one of my favorites—the ability to participate in volunteer days for my favorite causes and get a match from Atlassian for my donations. This really provides me with an additional sense of purpose and community.

What’s one positive change you’ve made to your workday routine since COVID?

I have become better at evaluating my daily schedule, minimizing multitasking, and taking some personal reflection time. On a personal note, we adopted a dog at the beginning of the pandemic, and that has allowed me to make many more friends in my neighborhood.

You’re organizing a dinner party with your biggest role models. Who’s invited and what will you talk about?

They might not be my biggest role models, but we all can need some comedy these days, so I would invite Jerry Seinfeld and his crew and talk about living and working in New York in the 90s.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I gravitate toward people who challenge themselves and want to learn new things. One of my first managers was extraordinary in that respect, and he advised and motivated me to evaluate and challenge myself on a quarterly basis.