Hi Lili! Before joining Infraspeak, you were already working at Founders Founders. Tell us a little about your background, what you used to do and how you started your journey into branding.
I was always that girl from Social Sciences. I especially loved History. The problem was that I didn’t really enjoy any of the options available to me after I was done with school. I wanted to be a nurse! I actually tried to make that happen but one of my teachers recommended journalism to me and even though I had never thought about it, I had a go at it.
Since I wasn’t really sure on what I wanted to do once I graduated, I picked the option that would allow me to work in the most sectors. I even thought about studying Event Planning but I ended up falling in love with Journalism. The problem was AFTER I started working. The magic simply went away and it happened around the time I got to meet the amazing world of startups and entrepreneurs. I found myself staying up late working on marketing strategies or finding new ways of generating interest in a product. I loved it!
I ended up loving it so much that I decided to get a Masters’ Degree in Management so that I could specialise in Marketing, even if I curse the day I decided to enroll in any subject that involved Math or Finance.
Once I was done with my Masters and after an internship in Germany, I came back to Porto where I worked in product management in the Tourism sector before joining Codavel (at Founders Founders). I spent two years working in marketing and communication gaining experience in public relations and event planning. My biggest learning was that I love to understand how products or companies can make a difference in people’s lives and for that, you have to ask them. Since then, everything clicked and now I’m sure I want to work for tech startups.
You often bring the most anti-social dog in the world to the office and yet, you’re constantly talking to people. Is this something that comes natural to you? What are the main challenges and what potential do you see in a solid public relations strategy?
Spending most of my time on the phone is amazing and I love some of the jokes I get for it at Infraspeak’s marketing department. I love getting to know people, understand the impact we’re having and how our customers use our platform. Our case studies made me spend time with some of our customers and that was an incredible experience that allowed me to see for myself how people perceive our brand.
Naturally, having to constantly receive feedback and input often forces me to stop and process all that information. That’s one of the main challenges I find in my day to day. When it comes to events, for example, I have to think and strategize on how to get there and extract the most value out of the venue, our booth or our speakers, without exceeding our budget. For that to happen I have to find the right people for the right feedback, depending on the situation.
Regarding public relations, I think people simply associate it to media but it goes way beyond that. Our goal is to create the recognition that Infraspeak is an important player in our industry and make sure people organically associate our brand with facility and maintenance management, or Infraspeak with our founders… I believe that the main goal of any public relations strategy is to create a reputation that exists throughout different segments or sectors and that people remember us and our brand. Ideally, we want PR to be made by those that already know us so that we can show the world how we grow and the impact we cause.
Recently you were involved in a few parallel projects such as Place Checkup or #tech4COVID. What were the key learnings you took from this, specially after working with such a vast number of volunteers and being constantly in contact with so many people.
Even tho I only have a few months of Infraspeak, being involved in different projects made me grow a lot, both personally and professionally. Being in contact with different people and different visions made me learn a very clear concept of “mission”.
When you manage to build a team that is perfectly aware of the impact of the product they work on every day and is completely united around that one goal, anything is possible. It doesn’t matter if there’s 2 of you or 5000. When I “came back” to Infraspeak, I came back with the distinct feeling that the entire team needs to be well aligned in order to reach its goals and I think that was good for our team.
Sometimes I believe teams lack the capacity to discuss ideas and find common ground. That goes beyond simply launching a campaign or seeing a project through. That’s just your everyday work. You also need to understand how that project will impact its users. More than numbers, the goal is to generate a positive impact. Sometimes, marketing a product too much removes its purpose.
If there’s anything I can take from #tech4COVID is that when everyone is clearly looking for the same thing, things happen. I believe this can happen in companies too.
For those who do not know you yet, you’re a self-proclaimed “nature lover on sunny days” and you’re constantly occupied with something…be it ballet or boxing. Is that related in any way with your day to day? How did that happen?
I admit I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic. I’m very keen on building a solid career, developing myself and constantly evolving. I don’t want to see good opportunities pass by and when they show up, I grab them. With that said, life can’t only be about work so I’ve created a few mechanisms that stop me from spending too much time working.
I’ve also always loved sport and nature (when it’s sunny!). I love the competitive nature of activities such as boxing. It’s much more than just another training session at the gym. Regardless, I still lacked a “passion”. Something that would turn me into a completely different person while it was happening. I tried a number of things, from surf to wall climbing but I couldn’t quite get it right. At least until I found something called “ballet for adults” while browsing the web. I told myself I was probably crazy but somehow, that made sense and when things make sense to me… I absolutely loved my first class and it wasn’t long until I found myself saying I loved ballet.
Now I find myself performing at the occasional Christmas Gala!
Finally, our usual question about remote working. How did you adapt to it and what was your reaction to having a lot of the events we had planned for this year cancelled?
The truth is remote working comes very natural to me. I had been working fully-remotely while living in Lisbon working for a company in Porto, and while living in Germany working for a company in Portugal, so it wasn’t really news for me.
I miss exchanging ideas and having people close to me, that human contact. However, at Infraspeak we managed to replace that pat on the shoulder with a quick workplace call. We’ve all found a perfect synergy and that made remote working extremely easy.
In practical terms, my life didn’t change too much either but I was sad for our events strategy after the pandemic hit. I love events, going on a roadtrip with my team, the feedback we get at the venue, you name it. Thankfully we managed to turn it around brilliantly within a month by creating new initiatives that replaced some of our plans. COVID-19 didn’t help at all but it was very gratifying to know that I was working with a team that could quickly create new projects and make them happen.
I think that once this is all said and done, we’ll see new approaches when it comes to events. Firstly, because they’re expensive but also because COVID-19 changed the way people connect in person. Being present and face to face with customers and potential new stakeholders is still very important but I think we’ll start complementing it in new ways.
Liliana Pinho is one of Infraspeak’s Branding Executives. Thank you Lili!