Graduating from Economics and after a 6-month internship in São Paulo, Susana joined the market intelligence giant International Data Corporation (IDC). This was 8 years ago. Some might consider her a “mobile phone expert”, she mentions. But she is too humble for this self-entitlement.
Susana wasn’t the only one starting her career with the help of the Portuguese government, through a training program for young graduates working abroad, called INOV Contacto. Most of her current team at IDC started through this graduate programme and ended up staying in London permanently. They are endearingly nicknamed by their colleagues as “the Portuguese Mafia”.
What is now familiar and comfortable, was a hurdle at first. Susana remembers not mingling much with the other communities, as her English wasn’t improving much at the time. She has taken many fellow Portuguese under her wing, who are part of her close group of friends, including Susana João, who also joined us for this conversation (pictured below).
Susana Gifford lives in South Acton, west of London, but even when she was flat-sharing in Chiswick, she would lend her room to newcomers. This is also where she met her now husband, Craig, from Australia, who left home 13 years ago to backpack around Europe. 20 months ago, they had baby boy Eliot.
They are keen on staying in London for now, as Craig doesn’t speak Portuguese and Australia “is simply too far”. They mention a few cultural differences, but mostly funny ones and food-related.
“Craig always finds it really strange that I have burgers without the bread on top, and with pasta or rice instead, for example. And he almost ruined one of our movie dates by getting me salty popcorn, instead of sweet.”
Susana João, is a multi-talented and motivated PE teacher, who in her spare time is also a personal trainer and swimming coach. “I get bored easily”, she claims, smiling timidly. When she finds a spare moment, she is on her motorbike: riding from the UK to Belgium was her last adventure. Coincidently, she met her boyfriend at a driving lesson, and they now peruse the rest of the country, Bath and the Cotswolds as their favourites.
The exercise class is about to start, and we leave them to it, with a sense that this is certainly a hub of the Portuguese community, which is fairer than “the Portuguese Mafia”.
Inspired by Susana’s story? We would love you to hear from you. Get in touch here.