Episode #8 of the Humans of Kiwi.com series features Quality Specialist Irene. Irene has told us stories about her childhood, her job, and her travels to places she has visited, but also places she has yet to visit. Read between the lines, and you will find a lot of enthusiasm, joy, and… life. Enjoy!
What is your current state of mind?
Aha. I think today I’m a bit… tired. I don’t know if tired is the correct word. You know, we’d arranged the interview for today because I thought I’d be mostly free the whole day, but then things started to pop up. So I’ve had a thousand meetings already, which weren’t supposed to happen today! [Laughs]
That is why I’m not sure “tired” is the right word. Maybe I’m just a little overwhelmed.
When did you join Kiwi.com and what brought you here?
I started in March 2017 as a CS agent. I found Kiwi.com — or maybe Kiwi.com found me — in a very weird way.
I was in Berlin with my family at the time. The new year had just started, and I wanted to try something new, so I joined some of those Facebook groups that help you find jobs. One recruiter contacted me. She asked me some questions, there were several Skype meetings, and then I was offered the position.
That was between January and February 2017. I was living in České Budějovice by then, so I had to move to Brno, and… here I am.
Name one thing you really like about your position
One thing I really like is that you get to know people just by listening to them. You listen to a call, and you know what the person will say, and when they will say it. It’s weird: it feels like knowing people without talking to them, which sounds a little mind-blowing, but it’s great.
Of course, you then get to know the people better when you meet them, and hang out with them. It gets a bit funny when they tell you something and, because you’ve been listening to them, you kind of know which pattern of conversation they will follow. It’s nice, maybe a bit creepy [laughs], but nice.
Name one thing you dislike or struggle with in your position
I think it’s hard to “judge” people. If an agent does their job really well, but there is still something that causes a zero in the evaluation, then for me it’s really not easy to give the zero. I don’t think that the mistake is ever that serious, or that the case cannot be fixed by sending it back to the floor.
And you also know that it’s tough for the agent to see the zero. I think it’s one of the things I would like to try approaching in a different way, for example, when giving a zero I’d like to speak to the agent, and explain the whole thing a bit more, or, if we can prevent it, do it in a different way. But hey, it really is not easy, however, you approach it.
What department or position at Kiwi.com would you apply to if you weren’t in your current department or position?
I’d really like to try Internal Communications, because I think what they do with the emails and updates they send out is really cool. Since I started working at Kiwi.com, a lot has changed about that. The emails themselves are like little pieces of art, what with the layout and the pictures they add. And I have studied architecture, so I feel a connection with that kind of design work.
I say travel, you say… ? Three things maximum
Pictures, food and sleepless nights. I love to see what cities look like at night, with the lights on and everything. It’s very postcard-like.
What’s one thing you love and one thing you hate about your country?
I’m from Venezuela, and I really like the people there. I miss it a lot. One thing I hate is the government. I think that if we hadn’t chosen that president in 1998–99, then today would be a very different story, and maybe I would still be there.
One place (city or country) you’ve visited, which blew your mind
The first time I travelled alone I went to Madrid, and it blew my mind. Then I changed the perspective of my trips, and I started looking for places most people wouldn’t travel to.
I’ve recently been to Kos, a little Greek island close to Turkey, and I fell in love with that place. When you get to know it, it makes you feel like you’ve been there the whole time. It has everything you can expect, everything is close to everything, and you have both sandy and rocky beaches. It’s not very crowded, and I really liked it because I felt I could get to know the place, take it at my own pace. When the time to leave came, I kept asking my boyfriend: “Can we go back? Can we extend our stay? Can we change our flight?”
I don’t know, maybe the feeling would have changed later, because we wanted to travel to other islands in Greece. My Mum loves Greece — she says her ancestors are from there! [Laughs] I would really love to travel to one of those small islands with her.
I could see myself retiring in a place like that — or just spending my adult life there. Everything is so relaxed, laid-back. Even if you have a job, when you go out, you find yourself next to the beach, and the sunsets… ahh! [Sighs]
Name one place you haven’t visited (city or country) you believe / expect / know will blow your mind when you go there
Okay, let me think. [Thinks about it] I’ve never been there, though I was very close. In Venezuela, there’s this protected area where the highest waterfall in the world is located. It’s called Salto Ángel [Angel Falls] and, if you’re familiar with the Disney film Up, it’s the one that appears in the film.
I’d really love to go there. A lot of my friends have been there, and it’s a place where you go and camp. There is nothing else in the area, so you go there, you camp, and that’s it. It would be such a weird experience, because I’ve never done it, but I also think that, if I saw it, I would really enjoy it, and I would cry my eyes out!
Name a trip / travel you loved
I went on a trip with my parents last year. We went from České Budějovice to Bratislava. It was really nice, we were stopping in several small villages along the way, having breaks, some drinks, and then resuming the trip.
It was nice because in those days I wouldn’t see my parents very often, as busy as I was with work and other things. So I got some vacation days, and I spent one week in České Budějovice with them. Then they travelled back toward Brno with me, but we stopped in Bratislava. The whole trip was so nice, it reminded me of the trips you take with your parents when you are young, and you ask your Dad if you can stop at a McDonald’s along the way. You know, that kind of thing! [Laughs]
Name one thing you couldn’t leave out of your luggage when travelling
[Thinks about it for a while] I don’t think there is something specific… if I have the basics, it’s all right. Of course, you need clothes, but if I lost my baggage, I don’t think I would panic. I’d think: “Well, they’ll bring it back at some point.” I would go shopping and I would enjoy it. I have to wear something anyway, so I’ll just buy it!
Do you remember the first time you travelled by plane?
Oh yes. Well, the very first time I was a baby, I was around six months old, so I don’t really remember it. But then I travelled again when I was 13. We were flying from my hometown, Maracaibo, to Toronto. The journey was Maracaibo–Caracas, Caracas–Toronto. The whole trip was super crazy. My Dad was going on a business trip, and we were going with him to visit some friends there.
The first flight was on a super small plane, and it was shaking a lot during the flight. My brother and I were crying: “Oh my God, we’re going to die!” Then we took a bigger plane from the capital to Toronto. It had the screens on the back of the seats, and it was comfortable.
On the way back, though, there was heavy turbulence on the first flight. My Mum started praying, and my Dad was crying. I’d never seen my Dad cry. He tried pretending that he wasn’t, but he was super nervous, he was grabbing the seat armrests so hard! And we were like: “It’s not going to be fine!” But we survived. [Laughs] And then we had to take the small plane again, but that time it was better.
Name one thing that annoys you when you travel
It’s going to sound horrible, but… old ladies that always want to skip the queue, be it in airports, at the bus stop, in the tram… Ladies, just stop! I’ve seen people trip over and fall as they ran to make sure they’d be first in the queue. Why?! Everyone will give you a seat anyway, just be patient. They are so impatient. And they push you!
If you could wake up anywhere else tomorrow morning, where would you choose to wake up?
I think I would choose Peru because I have family there, and they’re going through a hard time at the moment. I’d love to be there with my aunt, because it’s tough. It’s the same for everyone. When we all moved out of the country [Venezuela], we didn’t have anyone to rely on, and I would really like to be there for her because I know it’s not easy.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Oh my God, this is a horrible question! [Laughs] I am super embarrassed, because when I was growing up, the coolest thing in Venezuela was to run for Miss Venezuela. So in my family, too, everyone said “oh, what a nice baby! You are so pretty”. But it didn’t last long. As I grew up, I said no, it’s not for me.
I always wanted to do something that had to do with art and design, because I was drawing and painting all the time, be it a cartoon on TV or what I saw outside, like our neighbours’ house. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a psychologist, until I had psychology as a school subject, and I really didn’t like the teacher, so I changed my mind about it.
Then I was choosing between civil engineering and architecture. I wasn’t bad at maths, but I didn’t enjoy it, so I went for architecture, which still had a lot of maths, but not as much as engineering. I spent four sleepless years, but they were the best years. I made the best friends at university, and I loved what I did. When I saw the result of my work, it felt great. I almost wanted to hug it, but I couldn’t, or I’d have destroyed it!
Where would you go if you could time-travel?
I was watching this series on Netflix — Dark — which also deals with travelling to the past or the future. I think I would go to the past, because at least I’d know what to expect. If you go to the future, you don’t know whether it’s chaos, or whether there’s still enough oxygen for everyone…!
So I think I’d go back to the time when I was born, the 90s, you know, the Tamagotchi era, just to play again.
What superpower would you choose to have?
I was talking about this with my friends. At the beginning, I thought I wanted to read minds, but then the conversation got a bit scary, so I changed my mind. I think I’d prefer to be invisible whenever I want!
Name one thing you like and one thing you don’t like about yourself
[Thinks about it] It’s hard to say, I’ve never thought about it. I think I like that I really think things over when I have to make a decision. And this can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I think about the pros and cons, I map things in my head.
It’s good because it means I care about something, and I’m interested in what I’m doing. It’s bad because it can be exhausting if I get to the point where I’m tired of thinking, and I only want to disconnect, sleep and stop thinking about it. But I can’t.
Say I have a trip planned in two weeks. I start thinking about it two months before. I get to the point where I feel I need something to happen as soon as possible, so I can start forgetting about it!
What’s your favourite place in Brno?
[Thinks about it for a while] There’s a small café on top of Špilberk. You can see the whole city from up there, I really like it.
What else? Let me think, I don’t know. [Thinks about it a little longer] I used to live near Dětská nemocnice before I moved to my current flat, and that area is really nice, too. If you go behind the hospital, then up the street, you’re near Villa Tugendhat, and that area is always so quiet. Even going for a walk around there is really nice.
What’s your favourite question from this questionnaire?
The one where you asked what I like and don’t like about my country, because, you know, it’s home.