Coimbra: Breeding Ground for Talent Panels 1 and 2

Find out more about the panelists here!

Join us on February 22 in Coimbra, a city steeped in history, as the Ireland Portugal Business Network hosts an insightful event delving into the challenges and prospects of talent development, acquisition, and retention in Portugal and Ireland. The "Breeding Ground for Talent" event is part of the IPBN's mission to strengthen the ties between Ireland and Portugal and to create new opportunities for collaboration. The event will provide an opportunity for businesses to network with other organizations and learn about the latest trends in talent development, acquisition, and retention from speakers and the following two panel discussions. Registration is still open here

Panel Discussion 1: Fostering the Talent of the Future

Under the guidance of moderator John Paul Prior (IPBN Board Member), this panel dives into exploring fresh approaches to cultivating future talent pipelines in both Portugal and Ireland. It gathers diverse perspectives from Filipa dos Santos Cunha (TUMO Coimbra), showcasing the strengths of non-formal education and digital skills development; Vanessa Zdanowski (Escola 42), representing the unique value of project-based learning models; and Ph.D. Cristina Albuquerque (University of Coimbra), highlighting how universities can adapt to the evolving needs of the workforce. Together, they’ll tackle critical questions like: how effective are different approaches in preparing the future workforce, how can we bridge the gap between academic and industry needs, how do we foster creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in young minds, and how technology can enhance learning experiences while ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all.

Filipa Cunha is an organizational psychologist with a focus on people and project management in the social impact sector. In 2013, she co-founded the Inspiring Future educational project, which is now in more than 300 schools nationally. At Teach For Portugal, she led the setting up of the departments of communication, career, and Alumni, as well as carrying out organizational management responsibilities. She is currently the director of TUMO Coimbra, where she leads a team of 32 people who inspire young people in technology and creativity.

Vanessa Zdanowski has been the Executive Director of Escola 42 in Portugal since October 2023, after over two decades as a consultant at the multinational Korn Ferry, where she was a senior partner. She has executive responsibility for both the 42Lisbon and 42Porto campuses, where over 1250 students have already passed through since its foundation in Portugal in 2021. Graduated in Management and Business Administration from the Portuguese Catholic University, Vanessa Zdanowski is the author of books, management articles, and working papers. She began her career in Lisbon and later embraced an international career in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Barcelona.

Professor Cristina Albuquerque holds a Ph.D. in Letters from the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and completed her post-doctoral studies in Social and Political Philosophy at the University Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Cité. Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the University of Coimbra, excelling in research in public policies, ethics, human rights, and entrepreneurship. Her experience includes leadership positions, notably as Vice-Rector of the University of Coimbra for Teaching and Attractiveness (since 2019). Additionally, she is a researcher at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the University of Coimbra (CEIS20) and coordinates the Specialized Commission for Teaching and Academic Affairs of the Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities.

John Paul Prior is the General Manager at Musicmaker Dublin, Ireland's award-winning independent Musical Instrument Retailer with expertise in Distribution, Logistics, and Event Management ("Ireland's Best Specialist Retailer"-Irish Times) Co-Founder of the renowned '21 Drums' Immersive, International Drum Education Camp (Tuscany, Italy). Co-founder & Strategy Director at Farmony Europe – shaping a global network of advanced vertical farms in controlled environments. A fervent advocate for tech and IoT with a keen eye on harnessing data for system optimization via machine learning & AI. Proud Chair of the Irish-Portugal Business Network in Northern Portugal. Recognized marketer, emphasizing creative distinction through unparalleled customer experiences. Streak 5K runner since 2021-01-23.

Panel Discussion 2: Talent and the IT Industry

This conversation will be moderated by Miguel Antunes (Nest Collective), shifting the focus to examine the present challenges and opportunities surrounding talent acquisition, retention, and development within the context of rapidly changing industries. Gonçalo Quadros (Critical Software) offers valuable insights from a successful tech company operating for more than 25 years and currently represents one of the big techs in the Portuguese tech scene, while Rachael Milne (Ardanis) brings her expertise in IT training and skills development for the modern job market and António Dias de Figueiredo. Together, they’ll delve into topics like the impact of AI and automation on job roles and skills needs, strategies for attracting and retaining top talent in a competitive market, the importance of fostering a culture of continuous learning and development, adapting talent management practices to the green and digital transitions, and building strong collaborative partnerships between businesses and educational institutions for mutual benefit.

Gonçalo Quadros is co-founder and Chairman of Critical Software SA, a software engineering company headquartered in Coimbra, Portugal, with offices in Lisbon, Porto, Viseu, Vila Real, Tomar and subsidiaries in the US, UK, and Germany. He graduated in 1987 in Electrical Engineering (Computer Science), worked in industry, and taught at the University of Aveiro and the University of Coimbra before obtaining his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Coimbra in 2002 and founding Critical Software.

Miguel Antunes is an entrepreneur at his core. Having graduated in Computer Science in Coimbra in 2006, Miguel is the co-founder of the Nest Collective, a software-centric tech hub located in Downtown Coimbra, and RedLight Software, a software product development company with a focus on Healthcare with customers across Europe and North America, that has built products that reach over half a million users worldwide.

Rachael Milne is a PMP® qualified Project Manager with experience in consulting and training services for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and established businesses. Her latest project was to establish an IT Nearshore business for Ardanis, who was awarded the IPBN Business Success Award 2022 based on Innovation, sustainability, job creation, and trade between Ireland and Portugal. With over 20 years of experience, has incredible knowledge and expertise to improve business efficiency and effectiveness.

Antonio Dias de Figueiredo is an educator, author, researcher, and consultant on Strategy & Quality in Higher Education and on IT in Learning & Education. He was a Full Professor of Information Systems at the University of Coimbra for 23 years, where he created the research Center for Informatics and Systems (CISUC) the Department of Informatics Engineering. He was also Vice-President for Western Europe of the Intergovernmental Informatics Program of UNESCO, Paris, and also integrated the NATO Special Program Panel on Advanced Educational Technology of the NATO Science Committee, Brussels and, among other elite positions, awards, and consultancies, was awarded a Honoris Causa by the Portuguese Open University, and the Sigillum Magnum by the University of Bologna, Italy. He is the author and co-author of over three hundred papers and books and is a member of the editorial boards of various international and national journals.

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