John James Freer, an English-language CX specialist at Airbnb, left Dublin for Barcelona in 2010, seeking new experiences and hoping to learn a second language. With the Spanish economy in a tailspin, Freer saw the opportunities inherent in the success of the Irish tech industry and returned to Ireland.
Where are you from?
Dublin city centre.
Can you tell us about your background?
My background is in the customer satisfaction field. I’ve always enjoyed helping others out any way I can, be it with the knowledge I have, or finding the information that is needed. I spent my earlier years working in fashion for H&M as a sales adviser, and then as a visual merchandiser.
Then I went to live in Barcelona, which was difficult because, at that time (2010), the economic situation was horrible, and it took me nine months to find work.
I joined the technical support team for HP Printers, where I focused more on my technical and communication skills. I stayed there for a little over a year, and then moved back to Ireland because I simply couldn’t support myself.
Little did I know that it wouldn’t be much easier in Ireland.
I was lucky to find a job with Arvato, where I worked for more than a year reviewing contractual agreements on the enterprise team. As it was a non-client facing job, I began to search once again for something that would give me the opportunity to help people. That led me to my current position here at Airbnb.
When did you decide to emigrate and why?
I decided to move for a new experience and to learn a second language! It happened during 2009, when I met my ex-boyfriend who was from Barcelona. We decided to go together and see where it would take us.
Where did you emigrate to and how long were you gone for?
I emigrated to Barcelona for a year and nine months.
What made you want to/decide to come back?
The economic situation in Barcelona was really bad, and I thought there would be more opportunities in Ireland since the big tech companies were starting to hire.
How did your current role come about?
I actually discovered the role from a colleague of mine at the time at Arvato. She had applied and got an interview. It was the role I was looking for, so for the next nine months I kept an eye on the Airbnb jobs page. Eventually a job popped up!
What work do you do?
I’m a customer experience (CX) specialist. I mostly serve the Airbnb community, ensuring people have a great experience. This is done through phone, email and chat. I also help a colleague of mine run the monthly LGBT Newsletter we send out to everyone in the company.
What do you like most about your job?
I always say the people… Everyone here is so nice. We have a really strong culture, as well. It’s important to be inspired by the company you work for, and Airbnb inspires me every day.
How did your time working abroad make you better suited for your job, if at all?
It reminded me that I love working with people and helping people. It also helped me learn how to put myself in other people’s shoes and be more hospitable, which is a major part of my job at here at Airbnb.
What is the best thing about being back in Ireland?
Just about everything. I love our fresh milk, sunny days by the canal, my family, walking and cycling everywhere.
Ireland recently went through a dark time. Things aren’t perfect yet, but I truly believe the future is looking brighter than ever – figuratively speaking, of course, but hopefully literally speaking as well.