App Maker Spotlight: Rodrigo Valentim
[Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles about app makers, highlighting ArcTouch’s talented team members. The app makers we feature crave getting their hands on the latest products and finding creative new ways to apply technology to their projects.]
At ArcTouch, we talk a lot about what it takes to create lovable experiences — and the technology and user experience design required to build award-winning digital products on behalf of our clients.
But there’s another key ingredient that underlies a lovable app: having a lovable workplace. The kind of work environment where people are inspired to innovate, be their best and true selves, and engaged with one another to build awesome products… together.
Creating that lovable workplace — virtual and physical — is now a big part of Rodrigo Valentim’s job. Originally a software engineer, Rodrigo was hired by ArcTouch five years ago and is now the executive responsible for managing ArcTouch Brasil. Married and a father of a 3-year-old son, Rodrigo leads a team of 300-plus strategists, developers, designers, and operational staff based in Brazil.
Of course, it’s one thing to create and maintain a lovable workplace during normal times. However, Rodrigo’s rise to general director of ArcTouch Brasil overlapped with a pandemic and a tumultuous global economy. There’s no question the pandemic has shaped his tenure, from the beginning when his team members were “scared for their lives,” to today when many put a much higher value on remote and flexible work. He and his leadership team have responded to challenging circumstances with a combination of compassion and strategic programs.
We sat down with him to discuss his role, the difficulties of the past few years, and how ArcTouch has become well-known in Brasil as a Great Place to Work.
What’s your background?
I am a computer scientist by education. I used to be a developer. Then I became a project manager, then a product person, and then I worked my way into management. So, it was a mix of a lot of different experiences and challenges.
How did you get hired at ArcTouch?
Well, that’s kind of a funny story. My wife, who works in healthcare, and I were living in the state of Sao Paulo, where I was born. And we had an agreement that we wouldn’t move unless we went to a region with plenty of career opportunities for both of us. In 2017, she took an exam to become pre-approved as a professor for the University of Santa Catarina. She passed, so I started looking for opportunities in Florianópolis. I identified a dozen or so companies in the area, and ArcTouch was on top of that list.
So, I applied for a position and a few months later, I received an offer to join the leadership team. On that very same day, my wife received a formal offer to teach at the university. So, I think that was the universe telling us it was time to move to Florianópolis.
What was it about ArcTouch that put us at the top of your list?
ArcTouch was the type of company where I could build a career, and stay for the long term. I was never the kind of person who liked to jump from one company to another. I started my career at IBM. I spent five years there, and then I moved to another company and spent three years there. So I wanted to find a place where I could be for a long time, have plenty of opportunities, and be able to make a difference.
Congrats on your promotion to general director of ArcTouch Brasil. What’s the biggest challenge in that role?
Probably the global shortage of technology talent. It’s always been a challenge, but it’s intensified during the pandemic. During the pandemic, other companies realized they could hire great talent regardless of their location, which created more opportunities for workers. Especially for people who speak English. All of our team members have strong English skills, so we’ve worked hard on retention initiatives.
And meanwhile, our business has been growing, so our talent needs have only been increasing. To succeed in that environment, we’ve had to be very creative. We’ve substantially increased our Great Place to Work scores in the last two years, which is quite an accomplishment considering the global scenario. At the start of 2021, we reaffirmed our company mission to be a lovable workplace — and added strategic programs to make it even more desirable than it already was.
What are some examples of programs that have helped make ArcTouch an even more lovable workplace?
To start, we completely restructured our compensation strategy to ensure our talented team members are being paid an extremely competitive salary. We also redefined our organizational structure, emphasizing people development and continuous learning. We want to make sure people have continuous opportunities for growth and the resources to develop their skills.
We also worked hard to reshape our communications strategy so that we’re more supportive and sensitive to team members of different generations and needs. We have intensified our investments in diversity and inclusion — which have always been strong — boosting that commitment with some new initiatives.
And, we recently added another benefit to our package — a mental health program in which employees can gain access to leading therapists and mental health professionals. This is part of a broader program to ensure ArcTouch provides a great work-life balance for all employees.
How have these changes been received by the team?
Very well! As a result of these changes and our ongoing work, we have been able to hire and retain the best talent — and in turn, build the lovable digital products that our clients want.
How has the pandemic affected the ArcTouch culture?
It’s interesting because the most impactful part of it for us was not necessarily the fact that people have been working from home. Distributed teams and work-from-home Fridays have always been part of our DNA, from the very start when we were founded in 2009. When the pandemic hit, we already had the tools, systems, and culture in place to thrive in a remote work environment. So, from a logistics perspective, it was not a big adjustment.
The most painful part early on was all of the uncertainty, especially from a health perspective. People were scared and worried about their families. Nobody knew what was going on.
Most of our people are still working from home. The office is not officially open, but it’s available for those who want to come. And we have some people that come every day. Of course, we’ve felt a little loss of community because we had a very strong culture at the ArcTouch Brasil office.
Overall, things have improved a lot in the past year. People are vaccinated and their kids are going to school again. They’re not scared for their health. When you remove this fear, we are able to focus again on work culture — and how the office fits into that.
We know the model has changed — and we’ve moved to a flexible working model. If an employee wants to work in the office full time, that’s great. If they want to work from home 100% of the time, that’s OK, too. We previously knew (and remote work during the pandemic confirmed this) that you don’t physically need to be in the same place to collaborate and succeed.
We also know that our status as a “Great Place to Work” remains strong. In the current survey, our internal NPS score was 95 — meaning that the vast majority of our staff said they would recommend working at ArcTouch to a friend. That’s an incredible result — the highest it’s ever been in our 14-year history — and something our team is very proud of.
So, how would you very simply describe the culture of ArcTouch Brasil?
I would say it’s partly about excellence and commitment. There is also a very strong sense of community and fellowship. The ArcTouch culture offers a safe space for you to be yourself. We provide the support you need to be excellent at what you do, and you can absolutely be your true self while you are owning your responsibilities.
We see a lot of other companies talking about that — but with many, you can see employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor that contradict that talk. But at ArcTouch, it’s very true. And that’s something we’re proud of.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s like being an entrepreneur who needs to be ready to tackle five or six different challenges a day. But it’s a fun journey.
On one side, I work with our U.S. leadership team on the overall business strategy — and how we go about managing our business. Then, I’m responsible for the management and operations of ArcTouch Brasil. I’m constantly reflecting upon important questions like: Are we keeping an intentional and healthy culture? Are we building a strong leadership team and structure to support our growth? Are we creating an environment that fosters the growth and development of our team and keeps us innovating for our clients? Do we have the right initiatives in place to achieve our goals? Are we delivering lovable products? Are people happy?
There are also other aspects of the job that are equally important, like the legal aspects of ArcTouch Brasil, compliance, facilities management, and more. I am very fortunate to have a leadership dream team of talented people working with me in many different areas.
It’s a pleasure to be in this position because I really can make a difference for our company, our clients, and our people.
Last question. What is the favorite part of your job?
Probably when an employee comes to us and says that what we do for them makes a huge difference in their lives.
One employee told us that they worked for many companies before ArcTouch. And that they always thought work was something that just needs to be done to earn a salary. They said, “When I joined ArcTouch, I learned that I can work and be happy at the same time.”
That’s the best part for me. When I hear these types of things from employees, I know we are doing the right things.