Fernando Lopes

Executive Leadership Program - Lisbon Class 07

Fernando Lopes
My experience and deep interests:
I am based in: Portugal

Life is made up of choices...or, should I say, decisions.

My first decision, in high school, was on what subject I should study as I liked several different disciplines, from math to history, architecture, science, and economics.

My left hemisphere pushed me to Business Management and I graduated in 1992 – the year when Portugal joined EEC (now EU), so it was a time full of opportunities ahead.

The next decision was where to work and start my career. After a couple of internships during university, two clear options emerged: investment banking or consumer goods. I decided to join P&G as the more tangible and colorful world of marketing and research was more appealing to me. P&G was an excellent school where I had to change assignments very often and cope with the fast pace and global challenges of a truly multinational company that was still a startup in Portugal at that time.

After six enjoyable years, another decision: at the age of 28, I was already one of the most senior local managers and I wanted to keep learning while applying my knowledge. So, I decided to become a consultant at McKinsey & Co. in 1998 and I had the opportunity to broaden my horizons and meet the most diverse challenges and people across several different sectors in just three years. The "clean (yellow) sheet approach" to a problem seemed almost magical to me and compensated for the long hours required. Yet, after some years and a promotion, I had to decide whether that was the life I wanted, to join a more operational corporate role again.

From there, in the last 20 years, I worked mostly for multinational companies (or at least with an international/global culture) facing different challenges and having bosses from over 12 different nationalities in sectors as different as media, publishing, direct marketing, telecom, and consulting, in positions ranging from business development manager to senior marketing/sales manager or country managing director. Those experiences included both painful and tough experiences – when we needed to recover or save the company – as well as impactful launches and campaigns for new brands and businesses and even some small investments as shareholder and manager. The best part of it was to realize what very different people can accomplish, even in a stressful context, when they are properly motivated and entrusted and work together for a common goal.

Now, at 50 years old but feeling younger than ever, with large and diverse experience, it is time for another critical decision: what do I want to do with my life for the next phase, both personally and professionally? I feel that my analytical background is not enough at this point, and thus, I need to test, grow, and understand my skills (and my personality) in more creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial ways than I am used to, and that is why doing THNK was a perfect fit for me now. I did not change but the way I think, see the world, and interact with people seems different (and better) now.