by Sofia S. 09 Aug, 2017

Today, 9th of August 2017, marks ten years since the beginning of the financial crisis which had devastating effects in the life of thousands and thousands of people around the world and filled the pockets (even more) of a few privileged people.

Back in 2007 I was about to become a freshman at University as classes were about to start in a few weeks’ time. I was 23 years old, determined to give my absolute best, focused and motivated.

I went to University a bit later than most people do but life happened that way for me and that’s fine. What matters is that despite all the adversity, I went and I graduated.

In July 2007 I was partying hard in Ibiza with three of my friends and we had the best time together. Memories I will cherish forever. 

However, I don’t recall having heard anything about a financial crisis, all I knew was something about a Wall Street crash back in 1920-something and obviously, that subject was completely outside of my radar. Investments? Banks? Nah. Not a subject for me. It wasn't until Lehman Brothers collapsed that I remember the general panic and that things really started to look bad. Or maybe I was just not paying attention before.

I completed High School with a Diploma in Pottery and Ceramics. At University, studied Marketing, Advertising and PR because at 23 years old I finally decided I wanted to be a copywriter.

I wanted to be the person that writes ads and creates content; I wanted to surrender myself to my artistic vein, to allow for my creativity to fully blossom and develop. I had come to the conclusion that my path was an artistic one and it was time to embrace my future. I had it all figured out. Even when I got pregnant with my daughter during the second semester at Uni, I carried on.

I took a gap year (school year of 2008/2009) because birth was scheduled for December so I couldn’t attend the January exams relating to courses beginning in September. It was the wise thing to do.

When I returned to Uni for my second year (2009/2010) my motivation was stronger than ever. I now had the cutest tiny little human who would be looking up to me and to everything I’d do, she depended on me and it was my duty to ensure all her needs were taken care of. I started to do everything with her in mind and solely having her best interests at heart. And that’s when things changed.

Things were not good at home and that’s as far as I will go in relation to exposing that part of my life. The only thing I’ll say is this: the worst things got, the stronger my motivation to succeed would get.

As part of my course, I needed to attend a Business class. It was only one semester but that Professor gave us two separate classes so in some ways they were linked. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say I had two business classes the same semester.

A few lessons into the class and I felt like I had seen God. What on Earth had I been doing studying arts all my life because that was so not the right path for me.

I landed a job at a Bank shortly after that and from there on, I became determined to learn as much as I could on my own because switching courses to Business or Economics was not an option. I didn’t had the funds and didn’t want to feel like I’ve wasted two years of my life. Especially when I had to take into consideration that I went to Uni later than usual.

I did countless online courses on platforms like Coursera and some of them were so daunting and full of jargon – not to mention the fact they were all in English – so I actually had to repeat a few of them until I could grasp what they were on about.

I started reading the Financial Times so I could understand what was happening in the financial world. I took advantage of a few colleagues that were much more knowledgeable than me to ask questions and learn from them. I became an avid reader of a Portuguese Business newspaper and slowly things started to fall into place and words I had no idea what they meant before, I now recognized and understand them.

I did all of this while looking after a new born, whilst working and whilst attending University. Talk about will power. Looking back, I have no idea where I got the strength from but I did it nonetheless.

I have been working in this industry for nearly 10 years now. I have seen people come and people go. I am blessed to be able to work in an industry that I genuinely love. There is not a single day that goes like the previous one. Everything changes at an incredible pace and if you stop, you become obsolete.

Ten years on since the beginning of the financial crisis, have we learned anything?

I hope so. I see firms committed to give the example from the top; there is more regulation; there is more awareness.

Do I believe that it will happen again? Unfortunately yes but maybe not as the ones we’ve seen before. The financial services industry business is the money business and the goal is to make even more money using someone else’s money. It’s called an “investment” and it can go right or wrong. You risk what you can afford to lose.

The problem with that statement is that the majority of people that cannot afford to lose are usually the ones that end up losing everything even though they have never placed a penny in an investment.

It starts with a family member losing its job. Then, one bill gets left behind, then another and by the time you realise you’re receiving a letter from the Bank saying you’re facing your home is being repossessed.

It’s scary to witness how the financial crisis has long been forgotten by the industry and yet it’s the complete opposite for consumers. People  that ten years on, on a daily basis still worry about a new potential crash and what effect will it have – again – on their families and how will they cope.

It’s a cruel business the money business so I guess it’s totally legitimate for people to ask me why am I in it? How can I associate myself with such practices? The answer is simple. I genuinely believe I can make a difference. No matter how small. I believe in fairness and in righteousness. I believe in doing the right thing so I don’t mind being associated with such industry because if more of us believe in the same thing as me, maybe one day, thinking about a financial crisis where people are left to starve and homeless for no fault of their own will sound surreal and impossible.  

Thankfully, I know I'm not alone in this. I have met so many great people, so many professionals that are a tribute to this industry and profession.

I act in a way I know I will never have to bow my head in shame and in a way that it won’t disappoint my family and have their values judged by others due to my actions. I will never act in a way that will make Diana ashamed of being my daughter. I will always do what my heart tells me is the right thing to do. 

One can dream and, so far, all my dreams have come true.

Like I said. Motivation.

 

More posts

Francisca

  • by Sofia S.
  • 23 Feb, 2014
Vi hoje um vídeo que se chama “Cuerdas”.
É uma curta-metragem em Espanhol que ganhou o Prémio Goya 2014 e deixou-me varrida em lágrimas desde o início porque me lembrei da Francisca.

A minha Mãe trabalhou para a EDP durante muitos anos. Por esse motivo, eu (e o meu irmão) tínhamos direito às Colónias de Férias que eram desde os 6 aos 16 anos. Tenho a sorte de ter ido todos os anos. Eram duas semanas sempre vividas ao máximo! Algumas vezes íamos com amigos dos anos anteriores e com quem trocávamos cartas durante o ano e combinava-se o turno e o Campo para onde queríamos ir no ano seguinte.

Havia vários Campos espalhados por todo o País, Castelo de Bode foi sem dúvida o meu favorito e que repeti por 3 ou 4 anos. Castelo de Bode tinha a característica de podermos repetir e (consoante a idade), podíamos ir para a zona das tendas ou para as vivendas.

As vivendas eram para os do último ano e foi inesquecível por todos os motivos. Porque sabia que era a última vez que iria ter aquela experiência e os meus Verões nunca mais seriam os mesmos, porque tínhamos mais liberdade, porque o recolher era sempre mais tarde, porque havia forma de nos escapulirmos e irmos fumar às escondidas.
Eu tinha acabado de fazer 16 anos (faço anos em Julho), estava de férias do meu 1º ano na António Arroio (que tinha sido bastante intenso em todos os sentidos) e estava a começar a conhecer o Mundo.

Mas esta entrada no meu blog não é por isso e estou a desviar-me um bocado. Acontece muita vez quando estou a escrever dar voltas e mais voltas por outros assuntos e depois tenho que me focar para voltar ao início. Faz sempre sentido mas quando escrevo, há algo que toma conta de mim e falo de tudo e mais alguma coisa.

Bem, voltando à Francisca. Num dos Verões em que estive na Colónia de Férias (não me lembro se foi em Castelo de Bode ou em Árvore), um dos projectos para aquele dia era fazer trabalho voluntário. Havia de tudo um pouco mas eu escolhi ir para o Hospital para os recém-nascidos ajudar as enfermeiras. Eu e outra rapariga que também se chamava Sofia.

Não me lembro a que horas chegámos, não me lembro como é que fomos apresentadas às enfermeiras, não me lembro rigorosamente de nada! É uma névoa na minha memória. Lembro-me sim que conheci uma bebé recém-nascida chamada Francisca que havia sido abandonada pelos pais no Hospital e que tinha paralisia cerebral. Havia tubos por todo o lado e um deles era por onde a Francisca era alimentada.

A minha Mãe sempre me tentou proteger de certas coisas. Eu era (e continuo a ser) facilmente impressionável. Há coisas que me chocam demasiado e eu fico a matutar naquilo e não saio dali. É um traço da minha personalidade. Esta foi uma dessas situações.

Eu tinha (se não estou em erro) cerca de 13 anos. Nunca tinha visto nada deste género. E ver uma bebé tão pequenina, tão indefesa, naquela caminha e saber que havia sido abandonada foi ser confrontada com uma realidade dolorosa de mais para ser verdade. Resultado? Já não arredei pé dali.

Não consegui afastar-me por um único segundo e passei o dia a fazer festinhas à Francisca, a olhar para ela, a garantir que a fralda estava limpa, quando ouvia um bip estranho das máquinas, entrava em pânico e chamava logo uma enfermeira. Chamaram-me para o almoço, não quis comer. Sabia que o meu tempo era limitado e não o podia desperdiçar com comida. E no fundo, eu tinha a secreta esperança que os pais da Francisca aparecessem arrependidos e que vissem nela a beleza que eu e a Sofia vimos. Não queria perder esse momento que, infelizmente, não chegou. Esse dia terminou com lágrimas. Eu não queria ir embora, não queria deixar a Francisca e rapidamente essa história se espalhou pelo campo. Estávamos divididos por equipas e a minha foi especialmente cuidadosa comigo nessa fase porque eu não estava a conseguir lidar emocionalmente com a situação. A Sofia era a única pessoa que conseguia perceber!

É curioso que tenha visto este filme hoje porque ultimamente tenho pensado imenso na Francisca. Na verdade, pensei nela ontem à noite e fiz contas. Eu tenho 30 anos. A Francisca terá 17 ou 18. E eu não sei de nada dela.
No final do turno nesse Verão, era-nos dado um livro com o nome e a morada dos participantes e onde podíamos escrever dedicatórias uns aos outros. Não sei onde está o meu desse ano mas o que a Sofia me escreveu nunca me esqueci “Nunca te esqueças: A Francisca será sempre nossa!”

Eu sei o quanto amo a minha filha, e o quanto eu amei a Francisca naquele dia e durante a minha vida até hoje. Mesmo longe, mesmo não sabendo nada e mesmo não tendo contribuído com nada para a vida dela. Não julgo ninguém mas não consigo compreender como é que alguém pode ter optado por não ter aquele anjo nas vidas deles.

Este vídeo fez-me chorar e fez-me desejar que espero que a Francisca tenha tido a sorte de ter tido uma Maria na vida dela e que onde quer que ela esteja, que seja amada e que sorria.

Vejam o vídeo, são 8 minutos bem investidos e mostram o que de melhor há no ser humano. Podem encontra-lo no Youtube.
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