Iranian industrial designer Afrooz dreamt of living abroad – at least for a while. After some years of working in her home country, she felt it was ‘now or never’. She quit her job and moved to Spain to get her master’s degree. Not in English, as was her original plan, but in Spanish. Through hard work, an eagerness to learn and perseverance she obtained her degree and eventually became an employeneur at TMC Spain. ‘Industrial design is the ideal combination of technology and art.’
Afrooz comes from a country of paradoxes. Iran is rather isolated in the world and inaccessible to foreigners. At the same time, Iran is a technologically modern country with a reputable educational system. And although women have fewer rights than men, relatively many women get higher education. According to Afrooz, this might be because men must perform military service. And because they start working at an earlier age to provide for their wives and children, as is expected of them in Iran’s traditional and religious society.
Whether women go to university depends largely on their families. Afrooz: "I would like to emphasize that this is my story. Other women of the same age and from the same city may have very different experiences. Thankfully, I come from a very open-minded family. My parents have been pushing my sister and me to study, maybe even more than my brother."
Like father, like daughter
Like her father, Afrooz became an engineer. In high school, she did good in science and mathematics. At university, she enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in industrial design. "I really enjoyed the course. To me, it was the ideal combination of technology and art. According to my mom, even before I could speak, I was already drawing. I have a graphical mind. When I see something, a story immediately comes to mind. In Iran I also did illustrations for children’s books. I still draw today, but just for fun."
New country, new language
The idea to do a master’s degree abroad was born during her bachelor studies. "I got accepted at three universities in the UK, Italy and Spain. Sadly, I didn’t manage to get my visa for either of these countries.’ Instead, Afrooz started working in Iran. First at an advertising company, then at a packaging design studio and finally at a consulting engineering company. ‘Meanwhile, I was still dreaming about leaving Iran for a while. Five years after my graduation I said to myself: "it’s now or never." So, I dropped everything, quit my job, and started preparing for the master. This time I did get my visa."
I got accepted at three European universities, but sadly I didn’t get my visa.
When she arrived in Spain, there was one hick-up. Too few candidates applied for the master’s program in English that Afrooz had selected. So instead, she enrolled in a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering which was entirely in Spanish. "I had to learn a new language in a very short time. I managed well, but especially understanding different accents was a challenge. Luckily, I have always felt at home in Spain. Due to the weather, the people, and the culture."
Afrooz obtained her master’s degree during the COVID-pandemic. A tough time, which she mostly spent unemployed. "I did many interviews, but since I didn’t have a working permit, it would mean an additional time investment for companies to hire me. None of the organizations I spoke to wanted to start up the process of applying for a working visa." To keep herself busy, Afrooz followed online courses and did several small research projects.
Until she found an internship at the Dutch startup company inPhocal. The company is working on cutting edge laser technology for printing and cutting in production environments, among other things. inPhocal wanted Afrooz to join the team after her internship. This is where TMC came in. "I guess the way I joined TMC is upside down compared to many others. I was already involved in a project, and then signed at TMC, instead of TMC matching me with a project. The thing is: inPhocal couldn’t give a Dutch contract to someone with the Iranian nationality living in Spain. inPhocal’s CEO knew TMC well, and informed whether TMC Spain could hire me and then join inPhocal."
The best part of my job is finding ways for constant improvement.
This construction worked out, and Afrooz is happy it did. "I get to continue working in the context of a startup, which I like very much. I love not knowing what challenges the day will bring and trying to overcome them. And being involved in the entire process from brainstorm to design and redesign. I'm the only one working on mechanical design so I always must align with the rest of the team. I enjoy this responsibility. And the best part of my job is finding ways for constant improvement."
Stability and professionalism
Being a TMC employeneur helps her in doing so. "Next to being part of the inPhocal team, I am happy to also be part of a bigger, stable, and professional organization, where employees come first. TMC feels like a family who cares about me and helps me when I need it. Whenever I struggle with a technical or a software issue, I can ask my fellow employeneurs for help. We have a chat group where we help each other out with the things we come across. It’s funny, when I go to the TMC-office for a pizza session or a new year’s gathering, I put faces on the people that I've been chatting and emailing with, without ever having met them in person before."
In a similar way, Afrooz only rarely meets face to face with her colleagues at inPhocal. Luckily for her, most inPhocal employees also work from home. This makes it easy for Afrooz to feel just as connected to the company as her colleagues in the Netherlands, while staying in Spain. Still, she might someday move to another country again. "I’m happy in Spain, but I don’t see myself here forever. Going back to Iran is always an option, but I will need some more time to create the right conditions before I do."
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CEO TMC Spain / France Regions, Spain
Tel: +34 91 515 439 2