Becoming the person you want to be

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Becoming the person you want to be. My own experience of becoming the person that I want to be was influenced by my father, he has always been a great source of inspiration to me. He started a business when I was very young and I have seen the struggles and sacrifices he has had to make along the way but I have also seen the positive impact he’s had on other people’s lives. It taught me that any one of us can make a difference and change the way things are. It’s that core belief in the possibilities that life can hold, if you are brave enough to reach out and grab it, that has ultimately led me to where I am today, following my dreams and having co-founded a successful international tech school. 

As a young adult, I travelled from my native Spain to study an MBA in the US and with my father’s curious spirit and thirst for learning firmly in my mind, I fully immersed myself into everything that was happening in tech at the time. It was then that I came across the tech skills gap, the projected job vacancies in tech in the UK, wider Europe and across the world were staggering. 

At the same time, there was structural youth unemployment and underemployment in Europe and an education system that was not adapting to company’s needs. This made my co-founder and I realise we had found a problem that was worth trying to solve. The potential to impact hundreds of thousands of students really drove us to pursue the opportunity. It was our chance to make a change for the better that would impact people’s lives. 

From that point on, we’ve been absolutely dedicated to closing the tech skills gaps by working closely with our students, corporates, and our Ironhack industry leading course leaders. This is because technology is one of the most important value creators for companies and individuals alike. 

I’ve done quite a lot of introspection since founding Ironhack back in 2013 and have had lots of people approach me for advice. One thing that comes up a lot is whether only risk takers are cut out to start companies? In short, I think not really. There are many ways to start a company that cater to different risk profiles and personality types. Not everyone is designed to start a ‘winner takes all tech startup’, and that is totally fine!

In my case, I was ready to take the leap, but I would have never been comfortable with starting a hyper growth, money losing business, without solid unit economics and a viable business model in place first. 

So in essence, it really does come back to the whole essence of the article, working out who you want to be, what fits with your true self and how to become it. In order to do that authentically, I believe that everyone should have options. Such as options to choose your sector, I don’t believe that just because you started in a certain line of work you must stick to it for the rest of your life. 

To become who you really want to be, you have to dare to believe that it is possible to change careers several times during your professional life, for example. 

Also, I believe we must have options to choose our education. University is no longer the only option to get a high paying job. There are online courses, apprenticeships, tech bootcamps and more. Different options cater to different learning preferences and circumstances. Personally, I studied civil engineering and spent the first five years of my professional life building bridges across Europe. At that point, if I did not have my father’s example, that it is possible to be whoever you want to be, I may not even have started Ironhack in the first place!

Another part of becoming the person you want to be is always being willing to evolve and adapt. Your ideal version of yourself doesn’t have to be one static endpoint, there is always more that can be done to work on yourself. I have changed a lot over the years, I’m always trying to learn and improve, I’m driven and impact seeking. It is essential to keep your core values and the way you conduct yourself consistent. Some of the qualities I strive to show are: empathy, humility and extreme transparency. Its really important to me to lead by example, especially as I am extremely family oriented. 

Equally, in business I believe we have enabled Ironhack students to ‘be the person they want to be’ and follow their dreams, largely due to our culture. One of the first and most important values of our company is, “Love people and their stories”. This reflects a ‘people first’ culture that shows in every aspect of the business and of the student experience. Our students are able to enjoy the support and passion that comes from our incredible team, making their experience pretty unique and enabling them to shape and develop their tech career how they want to. 

We have a strong focus on being close to the biggest hiring companies in tech, understanding their needs and helping them navigate through a digital transformation, which helps us provide our students with unique job opportunities and walk into a career that is ideally matched to their interests, a career that allows them to be the person that they want to be professionally. As we all know, your career is a big part of your life and we find that by supporting our students to find jobs they love, we have the knock on effect of helping them lead more fulfilling lives, make more money, and generally be happier through their employment opportunities. 

So to summarise – to become who you want to be? First, work out what that is and draw inspiration from the people you admire. Next, don’t limit your beliefs, mind set or options, you can be who you want to be if you believe in it and make the leap to go for it. Finally, always stick to your core values, because that will keep you true to yourself and it will never steer you too far away from the person you want to be.

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Gonzalo Manrique
Gonzalo Manrique is the co-founder and co-CEO of Ironhack, the leading tech bootcamp outside of the USA. With over 11000 grads, 9 campuses and over 125 employees, Ironhack’s ambition is to close the tech skill gap in Europe and Latam through immersive in demand courses. Gonzalo was born and raised in Spain. He majored in Civil Engineering as an undergraduate at Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio, before working his way up at Sacyr, a global construction and infrastructure company headquartered in Madrid. He went on to study and MBA at Wharton, where he simultaneously obtained his Masters in International Studies from UPenn’s Lauder Institute. Gonzalo met Ariel, Ironhack’s co-founder and co-CEO, during their MBA years at Wharton. Upon meeting they discovered a shared desire to stray from the corporate world and create an impact on the world’s failing education system. After graduation, Gonzalo and Ariel began with market research. They spoke to Europe-based employers, recent graduates, and tech thought leaders to better understand the mismatch between job market requirements and existing educational curriculums. They found 700K job vacancies in Europe’s IT field, yet an unparalleled youth unemployment rate. The tech sector was struggling to fill openings, while recent graduates were struggling to find jobs. Determined to fill this gap, they hired an expert software engineer to help develop a blueprint web development curriculum. In 2013 they launched their first official Ironhack course (9-weeks) with a class of 12 students, and the inaugural program’s success gave way to rapid expansion.