A stronger collaboration between universities and industry can help unlock the untapped business potential in Portugal and positively impact the economy, says a senior entrepreneurial executive.

“I think creating more candidates, more talent, and more opportunities for that talent to interact with the business community prior to completing their studies is a big piece of the equation,” Rance Hesketh, who has had the experience of teaching at Copenhagen Business School, told Via News in a recent exclusive interview.

Rance has founded or co-founded four companies and has years of experience in strategy and product development, sales, marketing, branding, mergers and acquisitions, capital formation, restructuring, and corporate turnaround.

His career highlights include working as the head of business development at the Kraft Heinz Company, serving as the CEO of Workshop Cafe, holding the role of senior vice president at Burger King, and working as a consultant at McKinsey & Company.

Rance says the gap between academic education and industry requirements is not unique to Portugal and is an issue that other countries in the world are also grappling with.

“In many countries…, the educational environment is one environment and the business environment is another environment and they meet at a certain point. But there’s no reason they shouldn’t be meeting earlier, and the earlier they can meet, the better.”

This way, students would leave the university with a better understanding of what is waiting for them and what expectations they should be able to fulfill in the business world, he added.

“Businesses would also start to get a better understanding of what candidates want and what will keep them interested.”

Pushing the Positives

Asked about his experience of living in Lisbon, Rance said he is a “huge fan” of the city and believes that it offers a very good quality of life.

“It is very manageable and easy to get around. I’ve lived in cities like London, Copenhagen, San Francisco, and São Paulo. Lisbon has all of the good characteristics,” he said, citing the low cost of living and Lisbon’s welcoming attitude as other advantages of the city.  

“There are a lot of positives, and the key here is to push those positives and continue to advance them, not just to rest on your laurels… If Lisbon does that, I think the future is very very bright.”

On the ease of doing business in the Portuguese capital, he said setting up a business is “fairly straightforward” but the unnecessary bureaucracy involved in “physically establishing” business should be further reduced.

A more streamlined process can help Lisbon attract a larger number of entrepreneurs and investors, Rance added.

Portugal’s Ranking

Portugal is ranked 39 among 190 economies in terms of ease of doing business, according to Doing Business 2020, the latest annual ratings published by the World Bank.

“[Portugal’s] aggregate ease of doing business score is 76.5. It scores 90.9 for starting a business and 100.0 for trading across borders, but only 62.0 for protecting minority investors and 45.0 for getting credit,” the report said, pointing out the rooms for improvement in the country.

Expat Insider, one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on life abroad, said in its 2019 report that Portugal is “the country where respondents are most likely to recommend expat life.”

“An impressive 83% agree it is easy to settle down in Portugal—good news for the 51% who plan to stay possibly forever. Expats rank Portugal first for feeling at home and third for friendliness,” the report added about Portugal, which joined the top 3 in 2019 after two years in the top 10.

“Close to nine in ten (87%) describe the local attitude toward foreign residents as friendly, and the majority (57%) even regards it as very good—compared to 65% and 27% worldwide… Nearly a quarter (24%) relocated to Portugal for a better quality of life,” Expat Insider said.

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