In 2017 Alessandro travelled to the Nordic countries on holiday with his girlfriend. The couple fell in love with the vibrant city Stockholm in Sweden and set a goal to move there one day. There is a saying, be careful what you wish for, because it may come true -and this is just what happened. Today the couple lives in the heart of the city within a few minutes walk to the office. They are learning the culture as well as the language, and enjoying the Nordic way of life.
Pioneering Shopify in the Italian ecommerce market
Alessandro has a BA in Computer Sciences from Rome. He first worked as an intern in a local ICT company, and at the end of his internship he was hired full time. The company worked on eCommerce, specializing in fashion brands. The first year, Alessandro worked with Magento, but he was following Shopify closely out of interest. Before Shopify was really known in Italy, he already started to build the first web stores. For the next four years he mastered Shopify, focusing mostly on front-end development, but also a bit of backend. He also mentored junior developers, something he enjoyed very much, and took their team forward.
Then Covid-19 hit and work was transferred from the office to home. The stressful lockdowns continued, life was restricted and there was time to think about the future. The dream of building a life in Sweden awoke, and the couple had serious discussions about moving. They had a strong feeling that their values and the quality of life were met in the Nordic culture. In 2020, they began to act to make their dream come true.
“I used to get up at 6.30 every morning to study Swedish by reading websites and watching YouTube videos to learn some basics of Swedish. It kept my spirits going, because the morning was dedicated to my future and the day for the present”.
Search for Shopify agency in Sweden and Scandinavia
At first, they had an idea of “downshifting” and they considered moving to Malmö, where the living costs are smaller. Alessandro had a job interview with a local agency, but that didn’t go further. Quite soon after this they decided to “think big, life is short” and Stockholm, their initial dream became the goal. Since he enjoyed working with Shopify, he searched “Shopify Stockholm” and found Woolman. First he felt a connection to the brand, then Woolman being the largest Shopify Plus agency in Europe, raised his interest further. He studied Woolman and got the feeling that he would be a good match for Woolman, so he reached out and sent his CV. This was in April 2021.
The journey from the first job interview to the funniest interview ever
Within two days he was invited for an online interview. He was excited about the opportunity but also very nervous, for this was his second job interview in english. The discussion was a success and another one followed soon after. The second time he got to meet with the lead designer Joonas and founder/CTO Tero. Both were impressed with the quality and quantity of work he had to show, and a lot of mutual learning already happened in this meeting. It was clear for everyone that they would like to work together. In a few more days he met with Petteri (COO), and this meeting confirmed his cultural match.
“ This was the funniest interview ever. Besides a very warm and humorous meeting, Petteri introduced me to the Woolman culture. What really touched me was Petteri telling me this: At Woolman we don’t speak about resources, we speak about people.” This human side of Woolman convinced me that I want to be part of this.”
Petteri too remembers the meeting well. People always leave a mark and Alessando made a special print.
“Right from the beginning we found a common interest, we both enjoy wine from Primitivo grapes. I shared my love for Rome and Alessandro gave me a behind the scenes understanding of the city. What really convinced me about Alessandro, was his personality and professional manner. He is humble and yet, very brave to change his whole life around. We both understood that there are risks but made a pact -When a Finn and an Italian agree on a move to Sweden, together we will make it work.” Petteri Mustalahti.
Travel to Stockholm to meet the team
In June 2021 Alessandro and his girlfriend travelled to Stockholm to meet with the local Woolman team. He had four interviews with local colleagues and was happy to meet another foreigner, Clementine with French-Spanish origins. The team took him in with open arms and extended their welcome to lunch to his girlfriend. Another heart-warming gesture.
After all the virtual and physical meetings with colleagues, his feeling was “Ok, I really hope this is my future! I want to be part of this team.” Back in Italy he had his final discussion with Woolman, and his answer was “Yes, I’d love to join you.” In two days, the contract was signed.
“I was so proud of myself. I got a job I love doing, and I had the chance to work in my dream country. To top it all, I had mastered the interviews in English.”
Emotional rollercoaster of leaving home
When the decision to make their dream come true was made in 2020, the couple immediately shared their plans with their families. Even before they knew exactly when and what, they wanted their loved ones to have time to adjust to their plans and to understand their reasons. Grateful for all he had learnt, Alessandro also informed his company about his plans a year prior to leaving. During the year he had time to mentor the team to take over his responsibilities.
When finally in June 2021 the decision was made and the move in September was set, the plan became a reality for all. This was an emotional time with work, family and packing up a life in Italy. The couple stayed with Alessandro’s parents after they let go of their own home, and this was a bittersweet time of reunion and goodbyes. In September, they flew out of Bologna with just suitcases to make a new start.
Getting settled in Stockholm and Woolman
The first week when they arrived in Stockholm, they dedicated themselves to a short break. They browsed the city and got their heads around to the fact that they were now in their dream destination. At first, they stayed in a hotel, but after a month were fortunate enough to find an apartment within a few minutes walk from the Woolman office. Eventually, pay cheques found their way to a local bank, when they had their Swedish social security ID’s. The next dream is to buy a house in Sweden.
“I am so thankful. I have had such a warm welcome to Woolman. I work with our global team with colleagues from different countries, and with customers alike. Every day is different, and my language skills develop fast. I am now working on front-end, but in the future I hope to learn more backend skills as well. My goal professionally at this point is to become a technical lead, and I would love to help others develop.
My Swedish colleagues have been great, and they are really helping us understand the culture and way of living. They have welcomed us warmly. We go out weekly exploring new restaurants at lunch, always testing different cuisine from other countries. It’s not just Italian cuisine that is great, the Scandinavian food is great too.”
Did Woolman turn out as you expected?
“Yes. When Petteri told me it is not about resources, it is about people, this is true. I have never heard of a “wellness nurse” in-house. This is one amazing example of the human side of Woolman, and this must be a Finnish way. These kinds of things must be reasons why Finland is the happiest country in the world year-on-year. One Woolman means that we share these great things regardless of our location.”
Read more talent stories to learn about out people.
Mareena Löfgrén, Brand manager, Woolman