Hi Luís! You’re part of LGC Consulting administration, Infraspeak’s partner in Angola. Tell us a little bit about yourself and about living and working in Angola.
I moved back to Angola around 7 years ago. I’m originally from here and I was born in Luanda, less than 500 meters from the place I’m currently residing so that connection was there from the very start.
I used to own a renewable energies company in Portugal and when the crisis started, the sector went into decline. At the time, things started getting a little worse so I thought it’d be a good idea to come to Angola. I took an opportunity in an industrial cold company but shortly after, I moved to building management and construction. A year ago. I decided it was time to start a new entrepreneurial adventure and I started LGC Consulting.
The initial periods are always the most difficult ones and there’s a cultural shock between Portugal and Angola. With time, you grow used to it and eventually you start overlooking some of the aspects you enjoy the least for the greater good, like life and family.
And at what point does the Infraspeak partnership come into play?
Infraspeak’s partnership happened exactly around the time I started thinking about creating an engineering consultancy firm. With the network I had already established in Angola, I wanted to work in maintenance and project management and provide support to other companies, even more so than working directly with maintenance and construction. There was a company I already knew here that worked with Infraspeak so I became curious. I spoke to Ana Ventura, at the time, Infraspeak’s Country Manager for Portugal and PALOP and I understood there was a window of opportunity to become a local partner. That’s how we initiated negotiations.
Do you consider Infraspeak is a good fit for the Angolan market?
So far, the response we’ve been getting from local companies has been great. Everyone sees the software and the way it answers maintenance management challenges in a very positive light.
The main challenges we’ve been facing, even though we’ve already solved most of them, is that we always have to give quotes in euros and the continuous devaluation of the ‘Kwanza’, especially in the last two years, brings down the purchasing potential of many companies here.
We started working with Infraspeak in August, 2019. Until February, we had a pretty good ramp up period with some customers and a few other companies in the pipeline but, from the moment the COVID-19 pandemic started, the sector, which was already very frail from previous crises, took another hit.
With that said, last month we felt that the decision makers we work with, regained the need to take back control of the sector. We’ve had some positive developments this month, including a confirmation and two more we’re working on for the last couple of months of this year, as well as early 2021.
Is there any particular way Infraspeak stands out?
Where Infraspeak truly stands out is in its mobile application. It’s extremely simply to use and usually, in these kinds of software, there’s a very large resistance to change.
Even though managers know that implementing new software is often necessary, technicians feel it’s just more added work for them to do. Frankly, the feedback we get from technicians about Infraspeak is extremely positive. They learn how to work with the application extremely quickly which makes implementation a lot easier.
On top of that, Infraspeak is also very user friendly, even for managers.
How was it for you to spend this pandemic in Angola? How did you adapt, both professionally and personally?
I had a trip scheduled so that I could spend my Easter in Portugal but borders were closed so I was unable to take it. Travelling to Portugal was possible but I wouldn’t be able to tell when I could come back.
It’s still challenging for a number of expats to get back home. If I left, I’d be unable to return for up to 6 months and that could cause some problems. Even though our team in Angola is perfectly organized and capable of delivering what our customers expect from us and even if I’d be able to work remotely, some in-person meetings would have to be skipped and that could harm our operations slightly.
Our confinement here, in March and April, was perhaps a little aggressive. You could only leave the house to go to the supermarket, the pharmacy of the doctor. In terms of our own operations, we were unable to have employees working on site for a while as well. Even staff with the right credentials for priority maintenance or cleaning and disinfection work had issues travelling around. There were no taxis and public transportation got a little messy, which had us all leave the house very early to be where we wanted to be on time.
When it comes to remote working, I didn’t feel that many changes. There’s not much difference between a home-office and an actual office. I think I actually have a harder time working when I’m at the office (laughs). I’m talking to someone and listening to someone else!
When it comes to the future and evolution of the market, what are your expectations?
My expectations for Angola when it comes to LGC Consulting and Infraspeak are mostly focused in governmental sectors. That’s where we’ve been heading. Government doesn’t work as quickly as the private sector but it’s also where things reach interesting volumes.
I think we’ve done solid work with some of the main public entities and we’ve learned that some government sectors only now realise their own needs for facility management and a lot of it comes from our own initiatives and presentations. That’s what I consider the future of our operation in Angola.
From the moment we set foot in government sectors and a Ministry starts using Infraspeak, the main service providers will also need to adapt and use our platform so I believe things will happen naturally.
Finally, how do you spend your free time?
Usually, I play sports.
I used to do kitesurf in Ilha de Luanda, but unfortunately, that’s no longer allowed! Until this pandemic is over and the state of calamity is no longer in place, you can’t go back to the beaches in Luanda.
In the meantime, until this is all over, I’ve restored my guitar and I’m now attempting to go back to my youth and turn to music (laughs).
I used to have a grunge band when I was younger… SLAMO, but when I started university, I wasn’t able to keep up and they kept going without me. Many of them are still musicians but I chose to pursue engineering and left that part of me behind.
Good luck with your career as a musician (laughs)! Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Not that much. In terms of vision, I’d like it if Infraspeak became the main maintenance management software in Angola. Given its quality, it’s not at all a far-fetched goal and I believe it’s only a matter of continuing the commercial work we’ve been doing and customer success with our clients.
When it comes to LGC Consulting, the goal is that the company consolidates itself in the market with credibility because, for a consultant, the goal is always to become more credible and solid so that existing players and potential clients learn they can count on us and on the work we do.