The Power of Adaptability in times of Change

Don’t you love Dinosaurs? I do. As I kid, I was fascinated by those animals, so I read countless books about them. Even on my 6th birthday, when my dad asked me what I wanted as a present, I asked for an encyclopedia about Dinosaurs! (needless to say, my dad was quite surprised that I didn’t ask for a fire truck or something else…). So you can image my frustration when I learned that those stunning animals went extinct because they could not adapt to the conditions after a meteor impact. In fact, rats, or some of their ancestors, were the most adaptable animals during that period, and that end up paving the way for the mammals, to evolve and dominate the world millions of years later.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

So what’s the point of all this, you ask? Well, clearly the better equipped, larger, stronger or faster animal is not the one that will survive in the long term, but the odds are on the one that’s most adaptable to change. And today the most adaptable animals, ladies and gentleman, are rats. Not humans.

This simple story has helped me to guide me through the years, both personally and professionally. Life will throw curve balls at you all the time. It’s our job to find ways to work around them and use them to our advantage. There’s no point in complaining or falling victim of destiny.

a·dapt·a·ble
/əˈdaptəb(ə)l/
– adjective
able to adjust to new conditions.
able to be modified for a new use or purpose.

My professional life has been filled with big, bold changes. When I was in my mid-twenties, I already had a very successful career in Barcelona, Spain. I regularly appeared on national media, was an opinion leader on Building Automation topics, and even co-authored the official national building automation textbook! Not bad for a young, ambitious professional, eh? But over time I realized I was simply flying too high, too fast. I didn’t really know what I talked about, even when I taught master degrees on major Spanish Universities. I needed to ‘get to the ground’, and learn real business. So I quit, took some time off, and joined a fairly unknown Building Automation firm, Merten, to take them to new heights in Spain. Soon after I found myself working from a home-office, building a team from scratch, setting partnerships and a network of system integrators, defining the strategy, etc. Within 3 years we transformed Merten into one of the leading firms in the industry with a large market share and even larger profits.

Then, the news hit on Bloomberg. Schneider Electric had acquired Merten! Suddenly, the ground shifted and the project me and my colleagues were so eager to work towards had just disappeared. At that same time, I married my wife Anna, and during our honeymoon trip to Vancouver, Canada, we fell in love with the country. My wife applied to UBC’s Sauder School of Business to complete an MBA, and she got accepted. Within 6 months, we had already relocated to an unknown land, new culture, language and empty field in terms of industry or business connections. I left behind lucrative business opportunities for an opportunity to take on the biggest challenge of my life: start from scratch.

I consider myself a lucky person. Within a month of landing in Canada (with no working visa), Eaton Corporation had already reached out and made me an offer to lead their Capital Projects in Western Canada. A month later, the working visa had already been issued, and I was already managing the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel project among other large projects. The challenge was massive. New regulatory framework, new cultural working environment, new language and managing a very large team of people. And I wasn’t even on my 30’s!

A few years passed, 80+ large projects completed across the country, and my wife and I decided that we should get closer to our families for the good of our daughter, Noa, born in Vancouver. So Eaton offered me an incredible opportunity in their EMEA HQ based near Geneva, Switzerland. Dream job, dream location. Within a few months we relocated, I started my new role leading strategic initiatives across the region, and we had our second daughter, Iris. Shortly after, we became Canadian citizens.

Despite the incredible life we had in Switzerland, my wife and I grew “home-sick” from our previous life in Vancouver. We pondered over months what we should do, what would be best for us, our daughters, and our careers. We ended up deciding to take time off, travel the world with our young family, and during the trip, decide our next move. So I gave my resignation letter, packed and stored all our belongings, and took off from Geneva with an unknown destination. That was a big move. And scary. But necessary.

For months we traveled some great countries with our young daughters, 3 and 1 years old. Incredible memories built, and strong bonds were formed. We reconnected as a couple, as a family and clarified our goals in life. We set sail towards our loved Vancouver and spent a few more months of simply enjoying life while I explored the local market again until I found a good job opportunity. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been honored to lead the Sales & Marketing activities for an amazing battery technology company, and today I provide strategic counsel to organizations on business-related matters as well as capital projects for a strategic consultancy firm.

This is some of my story, full of change, forcing me and my family to adapt to new circumstances. Despite all the challenges, I am grateful for the opportunities life has given me to explore the world, learn, meet incredible people. I see these big life changes as opportunities to prove yourself, be stronger, leaner, and although not sexy, let’s all be rats, not dinosaurs, and embrace and adapt to change!

Do you have a story of a big change in your life? Please share; I’d love to hear from you.

“Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision and change.” – Richard Branson