Pedro, 35, Field Operations Lead, Google Indoor Maps

pedro viana google

When Sara told me about her friend Pedro who works for Google Maps, I was expecting something like this. Pedro’s job is more of an insider job, so read on!

What is your job, exactly? I am Field Operations Lead for Google Indoor Maps. I lead a team of field operatives as we travel around Europe creating maps of public buildings (airports, universities, museums, etc.). We are responsible for getting all the information confirmed and corrected (in loco) for publication on Google Maps, as well as for gathering all the technical requirements to ensure that the indoor positioning service is active and accurate.

How long have you done it for and what were you doing before? I’ve done it for the last two years. Before I was working as a project manager architect in an office in Lisbon, managing and designing mostly commercial interior projects (especially restaurants). In addition, I had my own architectural business running on the side, which focused more on private commission: small projects for houses/flat renovations. We were also active participants in architectural competitions, and even gathered a few awards!

What was your first job? I worked in a wood-mill for a couple of weeks when I was 17 to earn money for a summer music festival. It got me in touch with the industry of construction, but mainly I learned the hardships of labour and the importance of fighting for a job that fulfills you and that you can actually enjoy doing.

What did you study? Did you do internships? I studied architecture, specialized in urbanism. I did my internship in Amsterdam, where I learned how a big company operates, and after that a second one in Lisbon, where I learned how a small one does.

What did you want to be when you were a kid? A detective, but not like Sherlock Holmes, rather the smart action-packed ones you’d see on TV!

Is there a piece of advice you would give your former self? Don’t get so involved in work to the point that you cannot rationally evaluate the importance of whatever it is you are actually doing anymore.

Is there someone in particular whose career you admire? I admire Ayrton Senna’s career as an Formula 1 racer, and the Beatles as a band, because both were flawless in constantly improving, and they produced something extraordinary. But fundamentally, I am fascinated by anyone who solves a problem in the world and is able through work and personal investment to share it or sell it in a creative way.

Do you know what you want to do later? Do you have a specific goal you have in mind? I would like to be one of those people.

Are you good friends with your coworkers? With some of them. And it’s good that it is this way, because we travel together and we spend most of the time in each other’s company.

What is your work schedule? Do you stay late/work weekends a lot? As we are working almost everyday in a different location, the schedule is not fixed, it depends on what is programmed. On average, I work more than the usual 8 hours/day, some days until 4pm and other days until 11pm. Occasionally it is necessary to work on weekends to get everything done, but I try to avoid it as much as possible.

What do you wear to work? Do you think it matters? Nothing fancy, practical and comfortable clothes with low maintenance demands (t-shirts, shorts, etc.), suitable for travelling, and a special concern for the shoes: a pair of light, running trainers, as we are constantly on the move.

Do you have a secret pick-me-up thing that you do? Because my job is at times very repetitive, when I feel faded I put on my headphones and listen to radio podcasts, usually to This American Life podcast, which is full of interesting and amazing stories. If I’m really tired I’ll play techno music, and that will keep me going.

Do you have any side projects? I do, back home in Portugal, related to sustainable development. It is still not a project though, it needs to become one and only then I will be able to talk about it.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done at a job? I had just moved to Barcelona, and without knowing the city or mastering the language I got this job that would assign me as a tour guide, or a receptionist, or a service counter clerk, so everytime I got called it was always a surprise, and a bit crazy overall!

Who should I speak to next? My friend Mia, a fashion wizard in Delhi (Ed. note: coming soon!).