Making a Difference With Manuel
Besides contributing to the Open Source community, we also strive to give back to society in general and the man who helps us do this has quite a few stories to share. Meet Manuel Delgado, our in-house Community Engagement Specialist.
Life at trivago: Hi Manuel, thanks for taking the time to chat! So, what’s your story? How did you end up working for trivago here in Düsseldorf?
Manuel Delgado: I was doing solo travel for one year around Southeast Asia having the time of my life. I taught English in a public and rural school in Thailand, lived in a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar, worked in an elephant sanctuary in Laos, and in an orangutan rehabilitation center in Borneo, among many other stories. Therefore, I was not really seeking a job. However, a colleague from my previous job in Mexico contacted me and told me that her niece posted a job offer at trivago in Germany that could be interesting to me. I applied with lots of uncertainty. For instance, I did my online interviews looking like a castaway as I hadn’t cut my hair or trimmed my beard for months. Nevertheless, the stories were what got their attention and broke the ice.
For the first interview I was living in a hostel room shared with ten other people. The owner offered me a single room to do the first video call, but the problem was that the air conditioner was broken and the temperature was around 40º C. Luckily, no one saw that I was submerging my feet in cold water to avoid sweating. During the second interview I was on an isolated island in the Philippines and the only place with a proper network connection was in an internet cafe. The setbacks included that the guy sitting to my left was breaking up with his girlfriend and the owner of the shop was a happy guy who loved dancing behind me and in front of the camera. Obviously, I had to be serious and pretend that nothing awkward was going on. Luckily it turned out that all of these factors were not impediments, but matched with trivago’s identity and spirit. Eventually I got the job offer when I was flying back home and some time after that I moved to Düsseldorf.
LAT: Wow, what an interview experience! So, tell us a little bit about your role at trivago and what it involves.
MD: My main responsibilities at trivago involve organizing charity activities where our colleagues volunteer and connect with local communities. For instance, we support refugees with an IT background by connecting them with our talents who share their expertise with them through workshops or hackathons. For talents with different interests, we also provide the opportunity to engage through other activities. For example, we sponsor excursion days to amusement parks for refugee children and our colleagues love spending their time with them. We also cover other topics such as sustainability ─ we invite the whole company to participate in World Clean-Up Day and contribute in the city we live in.
There is also a shelter for homeless people that we support proactively with food and winter clothes drives, accompanied with visits from our peers. Children are also important to us and we regularly invite volunteers to activities such as gardening in kindergartens, bringing them to the zoo or simply reading books to them. Elderly people also receive special attention as they love our company and we love them, especially when we bake cakes for them and spend time with them.
At trivago, we have more than 70 nationalities working here, and for a large number of talents, it is their first time visiting Germany and they are not able to speak the language. However, for many of us, this diversity is also united by the shared passion of community labour. That is why we are organizing these charity activities in order to engage our talents with local communities, while having our core values as the main drivers. The topic of Ethics and Responsibility is an important topic that shapes our unique culture.
LAT: It sounds like you have had some pretty interesting experiences. What has been your most memorable moment from taking part in these initiatives?
MD: We support a shelter for homeless people and during one of the volunteer activities that we had with them, we met a person with a master’s degree who became homeless by choice, and who actually serves as a volunteer to support other members from the local community. We went there thinking that they will need our support, and we ended up being supported by them. The universe is full of interesting individuals that will teach us so much as long as we give ourselves the opportunity to accept and respect others.
LAT: Amazing! So, what does 2019 hold for you and trivago’s charity efforts?
MD: Our colleagues in trivago will keep having the opportunity to volunteer in multiple charity activities throughout the year, but will also have the opportunity to propose their own charity initiatives through trivago Footprint. This is a program that welcomes any charitable project empowered by our own peers, locally or abroad, and which will be financially supported by the company. In a personal matter and during my free time, I will combine my two passions, photography and charity, to work with an NGO to visually document one of the major current social projects in Africa. New Baraka is a new and modern district that is being built up in order to improve the life quality of 30,000 people who are living under difficult conditions in Dakar, Senegal.
Thanks for inspiring us, Manuel! We look forward to seeing how we can further make an impact with your help in 2019 ─ watch this space!