Joaquin (Jack) Bravo is the Lead of Innovation at Wizeline. He has been at Wizeline for five years, initially performing software development and engineering management tasks prior to starting in his current role, where he coordinates and supervises all innovation initiatives within Wizeline. In this interview, he tells us about his career progression, his passion for open-source software, and how this passion continues to shape his career.
Joaquin is a native of Guadalajara, Mexico. He has two younger siblings: one brother and one sister. He had a very happy childhood and received an unconventional education at a primary school called Pierre Faure, which uses the Montessori method of teaching students how to learn in a hands-on manner and make creative choices.
Little Joaquín (right) and his brother (left).
Joaquin wasn’t sure what career path he wanted to pursue as a teenager, but his mother, who studied electronic engineering, inspired him from an early age. He proudly recalls that his mother was the only woman in her graduating class, as illustrated by a graduation photo of her surrounded by all men.
Since Joaquin’s mother worked at Hewlett Packard, the family had access to the internet, which was not common at the time. This high-tech atmosphere at home, combined with his love for computers and video games, played a major role in Joaquin’s eventual decision to study computer science at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, even though he still defines his career choice as a “happy accident.”
Upon starting the major, he struggled a bit to find his place. For instance, he remembers attending a computer programming course with a very traditional teacher. “I felt like I was being asked to type out incantations. I didn’t understand where the concepts were coming from.”
His confusion would disappear in the second semester when he enrolled in a course with Ken Bauer, who he cited as his “best teacher ever.” Professor Bauer used a more innovative approach with his students, teaching them where to search for the information to explain it later and practice with it. Joaquin enjoyed learning this way; it reminded him of how he had learned at Pierre Faure.
Joaquin started his professional journey as an intern for Hewlett-Packard in his last year of university. His manager then was Hector Rodriguez, Head of Research and Development. During this internship, he learned a lot about Linux and Emacs in his free time while working on very cool projects developed by his manager. He grew so enthusiastic about Linux that he, with help from two of his friends, created a Linux User Group at the school.
Upon graduating, Joaquin found himself searching for a different opportunity. But, he couldn’t find one immediately in an industry dominated by electronics and hardware, with companies such as Intel, Hewlett Packard, and IBM leading the market. “I didn’t want a job where I couldn’t use the tools I’d discovered — particularly open-source software.”
He and three friends decided to found a company called Open Gate, which relied on open source to create programs for clients. This experience enabled him to follow his passion for open-source software, which he truly believes in because of its possibilities for genuine collaboration and value creation through a more generous approach not focused on profit generation.
After a successful two-year period, Joaquin decided to go in a different direction again, so he teamed up with some other friends and attended a conference focused on an open-source software called Drupal. It was Joaquin’s first time attending a conference of this kind, and he fondly recalls the impression it made on him: “I fell in love with everything, as all the people there were able to contribute to an open-source product, telling others how to use it and do cool things with it.”
Joaquín at Machu Pichu, Peru, during one of the Drupal conferences he attended.
Along with his friends, Joaquin helped the community organize Drupal conferences in Latin America, and they even got the privilege of organizing a Drupal Summit Latino in Guadalajara. Joaquin speaks nostalgically about this project: “That’s how we found clients, and we continued doing so for ten years, which was nice. We did websites for Harvard University and even some Bolivia newspapers.”
Eventually, Joaquin had kids and new responsibilities demanded more of his time, leading Joaquin and his colleagues to move on to different pursuits. This was the moment in Joaquin’s story when he learned about Wizeline for the first time. Eduardo Romero and Isela Borroel, both Wizeliners at the time, invited Joaquin to join the company, highlighting all the innovative things happening and all the knowledge and experience they had acquired.
Joaquin’s plans at the time pulled him in a different direction, as he wanted to create a nonprofit organization that would train people in Drupal, afterward connecting them to employment opportunities in the U.S. However, as he was already working with Wizeline via the project of an American documentary TV channel, he decided to try it for one year. The rest is history.
“The project extended a bit, and I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot. The projects at Wizeline were very different from what I was used to. I had already had some big clients, although not at the same scale.”
Joaquin’s Wizeline journey started with a software engineering position working with the documentary channel. Then it progressed to a leading media company account, where he was involved in challenging projects such as broadcasting the Super Bowl.
His ambitions grew when he reached an engineering management position: “I was very interested in helping Wizeline solve its own problems related to innovation and exploring how we could benefit from the usage of open-source software.”
He found that he could freely propose and possibly even implement just about any idea he came up with, thanks to the very welcoming and friendly environment: “I quickly learned that people were eager to share, help, and become involved in other things, apart from just their client work. I also discovered that if you wanted to change something or get involved, you could do it, which gave me a great feeling of ownership.” In this way, Joaquin started to live Wizeline’s values. He even participated in organizing the first Wizeline conference: Rewire.
Eventually, Joaquin was given the opportunity to develop all of his ideas by evolving into his current role as Lead of Innovation, in which he supports all internal projects and innovation initiatives at the company. He has some sage advice for the Wizeliners who want to grow and work their way up the ladder: “Become ‘yes’ people.”
Inspired by Jim Carrey’s movie “Yes Man,” he highlights that a great way to grow is to be curious, investigate, and stay open to embarking on new journeys where you can learn and meet new people. Even though it is important not to overload yourself with activities and to maintain a good work-life balance, his advice is to get involved in communities and initiatives that will enrich your knowledge and help you stay motivated and energized. He also emphasizes that getting involved is a great way to learn more about your company’s values and put them into practice every day.
Joquín enjoying time with his family
Joaquin acknowledges that one big challenge is preserving work-life balance to be able to enjoy life with his family and friends. He likes to spend time with his wife, Liz, and his two little ones, Amelie and Felix. He is thankful to Wizeline for giving him the opportunity to work in his native city that he loves and where his beloved ones are, including his childhood friends.
Looking to the future, Joaquin still cherishes creating a nonprofit organization (potentially in partnership with Wizeline) that would train people to use open-source software. He dreams of opening doors for people who have faced challenges in life and didn’t have the opportunity to attend university, for example. He is excited that the same kinds of dreams inspire many people at Wizeline and are already making a difference with similar projects.
To close, Joaquin reminds us: “It is important to uphold and instill our Wizeline values — innovation, community, and ownership — in everything we do and say. We need to keep fostering these values to overcome the challenges that the future will bring us.”