Name: Pedro Vicente
Country of birth: Portugal
Country/City of residence: Lisbon
Let's start our conversation by getting to know Pedro Vicente's story/path a little better: childhood, youth, first steps in his professional career, first dreams...
I was born in Leiria and travelled through several cities until I arrived in Lisbon in 1993. I dreamed of being a veterinary doctor. I ended up as a law graduate and doing my legal traineeship. I started working in a law firm. I soon realised that I wanted to work in companies, so I ended up working in several, in the areas of car rental, cinema and golf, as commercial director, legal director and administrator. It was only in 2003 that real estate arrived, with Empresa Pública de Urbanização de Lisboa, to which I was invited to work as legal director. Later, I was invited to perform the functions of marketing and asset management director (360m€), taking over the management of the extinct Imohifen.
How did you become interested in the property sector?
Precisely at EPUL. It was an excellent school, unduly liquidated by the current prime minister, while president of CML. It was the hope of many young people (EPUL JOVEM programme), and also the promoter of the first family home of those who put an end to it.
What are the main challenges faced by a property developer? What influence does the macroeconomic context of our country have and how has the environment influenced the sector?
A property developer's main challenge is bureaucracy and erratic, unpredictable decisions by public authorities. Licensing has been mortgaging this industry for decades, which has meant a permanent invitation to corruption. Either this panorama is drastically changed, or Portugal will not "get off the ground". The country needs a project, it needs horizons and goals. It does not have one.
In macroeconomic terms, Portugal has been benefiting from two very relevant factors: tourism and the property sector. The attractiveness of the country and the excellent work done in tourism have changed the scenario. Not so much because of the modernisation of the country and, in particular, the eradication of bureaucracy. Portugal needs efficiency and aggressiveness in business. But, unfortunately, economic activity is often confused with speculation. And so we are all condemned to the poverty in which we still find ourselves.
"...Portugal has been benefiting from two very relevant factors: tourism and real estate."
How do you deal with competition in this market? Or do you prefer to consider that there are no competitors, only partners?
I like to talk about partners, about professional colleagues. And I think that our country is unique in this respect. As a result of the excellent work done at APPII by its president, Hugo Santos Ferreira, the actors are close and help each other if necessary. This is very positive.
What is your market research process like before investing in a new property project? How wide is your network of partners?
We have a vast network of partners, built over time on relationships of trust. They are the source of our product.
What are the main factors you consider before developing a new property project? Pure profitability or do factors such as the appreciation of a given geography also have an influence?
Geography is key, particularly in risk mitigation. Then, the business plan indicators are key.
We know you are a constant presence on social media. What is your approach to property marketing and how important do you consider it to be in the company's performance?
Sharing our knowledge and learning from those who do the same is key. The Portuguese really need to talk to each other more. Social media presence has become an indispensable tool for the levels of information we cannot do without.
What are your long-term plans for your career in property? Do you see yourself in the sector for many years to come? Do you see this context of constant uncertainty as a problem or an opportunity?
I see myself ending my professional life in the sector. OVERSEAS is about that. I want it to be more than mine - and my partners' - institution that lasts. And that I help it to become a benchmark, which is the goal.
The context of uncertainty will be replaced by one of certainty, and vice versa. Economics teaches that. Living expecting the worst is not mine.
How do you approach environmental sustainability in property projects? Do you think it is just a "fad" or is it something that is here to stay and will permanently influence the future of the sector?
Anyone who hasn't realised that it's crucial to start there has hardly realised anything. The net will tighten. Those who adapt most quickly will survive.
OVERSEAS products will have a strong environmental DNA, focused on sustainability. That is where we are starting.
What was the most challenging property project you have ever worked on and why? Is there anything specific you would like to share about that challenge?
AlcântaraLofts, by Habitat Invest. I was, with great joy, administrator of the developer, partner of the project and buyer of the final product. It was a laboratory of experiences, which fortunately ended well. It is disruptive and, I would say, daring. It worried me a lot, but today it fills me with pride at its small size. It is a property product that invites non-conformism and evolution. It messes with standards, it provokes. It is rebellious. It must be "read" carefully.
What is your approach to dealing with uncontrolled delays in a property project? How do you manage customer expectations?
My approach with delays is to end them. We must eradicate unpredictability from our sector, as far as possible. And to do that, we must end the resistance of public authorities, which is unacceptable and which has sacrificed the sector, particularly in Lisbon, where the pressure is greatest, to poor performance.
Do you want to leave a message for property stakeholders?
I want to. In particular for women and young people. That they see this property development sector as a career for the future. That they take an interest in it. And that they challenge themselves to take charge of companies and institutions, to do much better.