Moderated by Invest Lisboa's Project Manager Diogo Ivo Cruz, the final conversation of the IPBN's Hiring and Investing in Portugal's webinar series looked at tech team building and why Portugal is becoming a global leader when it comes to talent, startups, and remote offices with Founder and CEO of Bridge In, Pedro Henriques. His long background in software and development took him all over the globe, so when he decided to found his own company that helps businesses find talent outside their immediate circles, his hometown of Portugal was the obvious choice.
"Companies need to go where the talent is," says Henriques, "The company should provide local assistance and support and that's how you build a great company culture." Henriques stressed, however, that employees don’t need to be in the office all day every day. This concept was already being explored by companies in many countries even before the pandemic hit. Whether you call them distributed, decentralized, or remote teams, they were growing in number. Bridging that with his own experience in the Portuguese market, Pedro was hitting a wall in terms of career progression as there wasn’t the same interest in Portugal as there is today, but that all changed. “When you see that companies want to be more distributed and you look at Portugal’s talent…the companies need to know how to manage the setup…the knowledge of knowing how to do that in a predictable and scalable way…is a great opportunity and an interesting challenge.”
Companies are now choosing Portugal, according to Henriques, because tech talent is significant in the country, and for a variety of other reasons specific to each country. For the USA and UK, for example, Portugal has a close if not the same time zone (depending), the English skills in Portugal are very high. Henriques said, "And culturally speaking, we are very close. “For a lot of fast-growing tech projects, this is very relevant…”
Additionally, most people find the climate, food, and lifestyle desirable in Portugal, so it’s easy to find talent across the globe who are likely to make the move here to set up shop, according to Henriques. This makes finding and retaining employees easier to do, because it is easier to keep them happy in the Portuguese market as the cost of living and the cost of doing business is cheaper in comparison to the US and the UK, and the climate is far superior.
“Over the last years we’ve been building a community of ex-pats that love living in the country. With the increase of nomadic workers who can work anywhere with a laptop…many of them are discovering Portugal.” And Henriques sees Portugal’s ability to attract digital nomads and tech talent is through safety, language skills, climate, location, education, political stability, and more — the things that set Portugal apart.
Companies that want to run pilots in a more controlled environment are also drawn to Portugal because the Portuguese adopt technology relatively quickly and it’s a forgiving country in which to fail. Having a rollout in this small environment is obviously an enticing proposition, especially considering that the talent pool is made up of about 100-120K professional developers, and many more are trained in STEM (science, engineering, technology, and math), ranking Portugal 6th in Europe for STEM graduates per capita.
Henriques went on to share his opinion on whether the salary in Portugal corresponds to the high level of talented tech employees, the flow of talent across Europe, the lack of cohesion in tech and, remote talent working effectively, and more.