Hi Ana! Before you joined Infraspeak’s team as Portugal’s Country Manager, you founded a number of startups in different sectors. Tell us a little about your path.
Hi. My path has been pretty irregular and I easily fall in love with the things I do!
I’ve worked in several startups that, in one way or another, had their own time and place in my life. I also worked in various different sectors. I started in the health industry, with a solution for digital prescriptions that became somewhat successful. Afterwards, I got involved in another project that allowed anyone with a paper catalogue to reproduce it digitally. Finally, I worked in a solution for the hospitality industry focused on employee retention, that enabled hotel’s HR departments, among other things, to easily recognise their staff’s (good) work. That is still, coincidentally, one of Infraspeak’s objectives.
Doing new things has always been incredibly exciting for me and that was one of the main reasons why I worked in consultancy for 15 years. Consultancy allows you the opportunity to work on different projects and understand how organizations work and how different their challenges are. Each project is a new challenge. Throughout your career, you can decide to become an expert in a certain area, skill set, or even industry, but for me, that was always hard because I enjoy new challenges too much.
As for my entrepreneurial mindset, that came up naturally and following all of the projects I worked on. Whenever I had the chance to do something new, I would think “I haven’t done this before, I can do this now…I want to do it!”
And now… facilities and maintenance management. How well did you adapt? Was it exciting to have the chance to work on something completely different?
I think the last question made that pretty clear… new things come naturally to me and I don’t enjoy the idea of not being able to do something or being out of my comfort zone.
When I had the chance to work with Infraspeak, the mindset was the same as before: “this is new and now I have the opportunity to work on it, so I want to do it”.
What I used to do for my startups after designing, testing and launching the product in the market, even when all we had was an MVP (minimum value project), was to find new customers. I learned a lot doing that, starting with my experience as a consultant but it was while working for my startups that I was able to really gain a lot of experience in sales. I have no doubts about that. Today, I apply everything I’ve learned to my day to day and obviously, I keep perfecting it at Infraspeak.
Infraspeak also offered me the opportunity to face new challenges at a personal level. It gave me (and still does) the chance to participate in the development of a startup, from startup to grownup. That was something I had not done before and that would allow me to finally use many of the skills I had gained before.
Recently, you became the host to one of Infraspeak’s most successful multimedia projects – Stay In(fraspeak) webinars. How has the experience been so far and what has surprised you the most?
I confess I’m not a huge fan of public speaking and every time I have to go up on a stage or pitch something I get super anxious. The funny thing is that when I’m actually doing it, I always feel immense satisfaction.
During the webinars I also get nervous and anxious but the format allows me to be a little more relaxed. Firstly, because I can take notes during the broadcast which allows me to organise my ideas before I get to speak again. Secondly, because the whole webinar isn’t any more than a conversation with other people watching. The “trick” is to create empathy with the guests and the audience, and just let the conversation flow…
Among other things, COVID-19 brought some pretty drastic changes to several sectors in Portugal. Based on your own experience of the market, how impactful was the pandemic?
I think I brought this up during one of the webinars – I believe COVID-19 was so impactful that we’ll see a pre-covid era and a post-covid one.
We have the tendency to look negatively at what happens to us but those who can see the opportunities when everyone else is worrying are those who get to reap the benefits. We have a saying in Portugal that means – freely translating – “if you’re worrying, you won’t get anything done”.
Take this as an example. Before COVID-19, cleaning and maintenance teams at hotels had to be invisible to the guest. Now, the paradigm has shifted completely and the biggest challenges is how to make sure the work those teams do is transparent to everyone.
There are plenty of market opportunities and any organization that manages to quickly adapt will manage to overcome this challenge.
And finally…we saw your LinkedIn cover picture and have to ask! We know you’re a huge fan of the great outdoors. How was quarantine for you?
To be completely honest, I got a little worried at first…at least until I realised that nothing (not even a pandemic!) can keep me away from nature.
It’s true I can’t travel but this gave me the chance to explore nearby places like Parque Florestal de Monsanto. I hiked every day and found so many places, streets, gardens…places that I never had the chance to explore in 8 years.
On top of really enjoying being out in nature, I’m particularly fond of mountain ranges. Every time I get a chance I “escape” there. There’s just some peace and tranquility to it that I can’t find anywhere else. And I mean real mountains! Above 3,000 meters! If possible, 4000, 5000, 6000… I never been that high but 5750 is my personal best. It’s a challenge. A kind of battle inside of you. Something clearly introspective to me.
I want to travel again since it’s one of my biggest passions but nature is deep within me and not necessarily at the place I’m at.
Ana Ventura is Infraspeak’s Country Manager for Portugal. Thank you Ana!