🏛🎂 Coding from Athens: the Annual Team Meeting and my 30th birthday.
byAndrea M.October 6, 2017

🏛🎂 Coding from Athens: the Annual Team Meeting and my 30th birthday.


My name is Andrea Mangano and I’m a passionate web developer from Sicily. Just a few months ago I decided to change my life becoming a remote coder. Surely it was a crucial step for achieving a good life-work balance but also the occasion to make a new challenging work experience.

If you missed the previous episodes of my story, you can read them at the following links:

Kalimera! Today I’m writing from a nice coffee shop in Athens. I believe it is the right place to start telling about the best moments I spent with my team during our annual meeting and about my thoughts and feelings of these days.

The annual meeting is the main occasion where the whole team is engaged in funny activities aiming to improve the teamwork abilities and to get to know each other better.

Many of us are 100% remote and there are very few opportunities to meet face to face. For this reason, once for year, the company chooses a location and book the tickets for everyone! 😎 ✈️

This year Athens was chosen as location. It is one of the world’s oldest cities which I studied for many years in history and geography books but one I never had the chance to visit.

Athens was the landscape for three intense days where we enjoyed moments of leisure and group activities like the presentation of annual projects, the photo contest and the company dinner!

Credits @ Tom M. Schenkenberg, the company founder - aka Boss

Projects presentation.

In the hotel’s conference room where we stayed, every project team presented a summary of the performed activities for a given project or client, the greatest pitfalls they faced with and the technical / managerial solutions adopted.

Despite reports were mostly made by developers (famous for their complex technical explanations!), some of them were visually nice, creative and (hard to believe) with no code! 🤓

So let’s give the awards! I suppose for a moment to be the presenter of the Oscars night: “Ladies and gentlemen, the winner is…”

🏆🎬 The UX team as “Best Directing” for the great narration, the expressiveness, the aesthetics and the techniques of the presentation making!

the unicorns team

🏆🖼 The technical team led by Federico as “Best Picture” for presenting their projects and their development stages by building a fantasy story with Super Mario and the princess Peach!

super mario projects presentation

…and finally:

🏆👨🏻 Our colleague Francesco as “Best Actor in a leading role”. In particular, Francesco created a short film where he first played the role of a father who told his son the project he worked on. An ironic and entertaining video made with the least necessary to achieve its goal: engage and make everyone laugh!

Don’t hold it against me for my choices, all presentations deserve a big round of applause! 👏👏

the company meeting

The photo contest.

Other unforgettable moments happened during the group activities. The day after our arrival to Greece, we all split into six battle teams (by draw) and we got our mission: to take a group selfies in some places marked on the Athens city map.

We received some instructions about the way we had to take the pictures: for example, we had to represent through our “beautiful” poses and our “very funny” expressions some abstract concepts as the victory, the challenge or particular moods as the suffering and the happiness. All feelings you experience (almost every day) in a typical working team! 😅

The team that would first reach the last place marked on the map (with all selfies as prove!) and the team that would have taken the best selfies, would have won the contest.

selfie team 1

Regardless of the competitive side, the contest was the reason for visiting some of the city’s most distinctive places and capturing souvenir memories.

selfie team 4
selfie team 2

The last (and the most important) stop was the Acropolis where all teams have met again. This way we had the chance to visit the temples in the last hours of light and to take the ritual group photo (the whole team) before we arranged to meet for the company dinner.

selfie team 6
selfie team 5
selfie team 3

The company dinner.

Everything was getting magical with the evening comin’ up. The Acropolis, illuminated by floodlights, overlooked the whole city.

We had dinner in a rooftop restaurant at the foot of Acropolis with some famous Greek dishes mostly based different varieties for local cheese and lamb.

the company dinner location

We spent a nice and funny evening. For the umpteenth time, I got confirmation that we always make good team building around a table of food! Also thanks to Mr. Red Wine that helped us to stay cheerful (not sober, unfortunately) for a long time! 🍷

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria. — Benjamin Franklin

the company dinner

My 30th birthday.

Last but not least point in Agenda (mostly in my personal one) was to celebrate my 30th birthday. 🎂 So after the dinner we moved around the city looking for a local where we could have a drink while waiting for the midnight!

Although I was very tired I could not be overcome by fatigue. As a good captain I had to leave the ship last and so I dit it! 💪🏼

my 30th birthday night athens

Several glasses later along with the last “survivors”, I moved in an another small pub where a live band was performing! We enjoyed the rest of night there entertained by a great deal of specially composed music as long as we decided it was time to go back to the hotel.

Someone tells a tale where some of us got lost during the hard and epic return trip (Odyssey) but these protagonists reiterate that it was an excuse to enjoy the “dark beauty” of Athens, unlike those who too quickly has been led by common sense!

Only two sailors never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar! 😂😂

last survivors

That’s almost the end of my daily logbook page. Finally I’m writing this final section from my sweet home in Sicily. What else to tell?

The time has passed so fast. Most of the team left the city the morning after the dinner, except me and our colleague Luigi. Our destination was the south of Italy and our flight would leave in the evening.

I’m extremely grateful for having done this experience and to be part of this young remote team. I met the new hires and had the chance to appreciate even more the colleagues with whom I work every day from my home.

I’m sorry I can’t see them face-to-face often, but that’s part of the “remote work” game!

P.S. The surprise.

While I was coming back to home, my only regret was I couldn’t have celebrate my 30 years old with my family because there was no time before the day of my birthday passed.

I didn’t know yet that a great surprise would have been waiting for me at the airport! My girlfriend and my family were there to wish me a good birthday!

See you next time!

the surprise
From:AthensOctober 6, 2017
— Andrea M.

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Andrea Mangano

UI/Web Developer, food lover, romantic and visionary man, curious about life. Co-founder of Fullstack Bulletin