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#LFC Contest: Interview with Professor Daniel Traça

22/08/2013 10:22:03

#LFC Contest: Interview with Professor Daniel Traça

Professor Daniel Traça is currently the Deputy Dean and Masters’ courses Professor at Nova School of Business and Economics (Nova SBE). After several years studying and working abroad he returned to Nova in 2009. He is responsible for all kind of issues playing a great role among students´ life while defining and developing the academic programs Nova SBE offers as well as looking for the school´s internal and external strategy.


José Miguel Filipe (JMF): Professor, you studied and worked abroad for several years. Why did you decide to come back to Portugal? Was it an easy choice? Were there other options?

Prof. Daniel Traça (Prof.): I did live abroad for a long period of time: I was away from Portugal for, all together, about 19 years. I spent time studying in New York, in the US, then I was in Paris, France, for a while, after which I lived in Singapore for three years and finally I was in Brussels, Belgium - so in nineteen years I lived in four different countries. And the time came, when I was in Brussels and after being away for so long, when I realized that Portugal and my own family were very important, so my family, my children were one of the main reasons I decided to come back. I was also convinced that even though I had been away, Portugal was still my home and never ceased being my home and so it was also and always an opportunity. Then finally, Nova gave me that opportunity to come back and I decided that it would be very interesting, given all that I had learned and all the experiences that I had lived, to try to come to Nova and maybe change things a little bit making Nova more the sort of school that I would like it to be and contribute to the country by contributing to the school. So I think these were the two main reasons, the opportunity that Nova gave me to do something that I wanted to do, and the opportunity to be back in Portugal with my family.


JMF: You started working at Nova SBE by January 2009. Do you think Nova has changed in the past five years?

Prof.: Well, I think that is up to the students to tell: to make up their minds and say, but I´ve made an effort to change the school. When I came I had a clear vision of the way I would like the school to be and I´ve certainly worked hard in that direction. I think that one of the main things that characterizes Nova nowadays is that we are a school which is made by the students and for the students. And those students are at the same time our greatest asset and the reason why we do exist. So something that really distinguishes Nova from all other schools in Portugal and from many schools in Europe and around the world is that our strength comes from the quality, dedication and commitment of our students and we basically exist to help these students and to set them on a path for a life of fulfillment and of achievement. In Nova, we see ourselves simply as the facilitators of the students’ struggle to achieve all their potential and to fulfill all their desires.


JMF: Do you feel like Nova’s students have something to teach foreign students and vice-versa? What could others learn from us and what can we learn from others?

Prof.: You know, in the end every single human being has a lot to teach, a lot to learn and that´s the way I go through my life and I think others should too. I think that what defines students at Nova, what sort of tells them apart is the commitment and the dedication to their cause, their cause being their school, their cause being the things they believe in. There are two points I would like to emphasize: one is the fact that when they set their minds in something, they really are committed to it and to the things they believe in and the other one is the work ethic: they have a strong work ethic and work very hard to achieve their objectives. So commitment to their goals, hard work, and also a very global perspective, I think, which means being very open to working with students from other schools, from other countries: a great international environment. Summing up I consider these to be the three key factors at Nova: strong commitment to the things we believe in, a strong commitment to hard work, and a strong commitment to a very international and diverse environment. I think that in the context of higher education in Portugal, Nova is clearly a very different school, especially thanks to these three key pillars. I believe there is a relationship between our students that allows them to work as a body in achieving their individual and group goals. So, when you ask me if Nova students have things to teach and learn I would say yes, because in these three dimensions I think they are as good and as much of achievers as any other student around the world, but there are certainly other important things they can learn from other schools - there´s always something else you can learn.


JMF: Professor, recently Nova SBE was once again recognized with the Equis certificate, it is launching in September the International Masters in Finance (IMF) and in a few years it is going to have a great new campus. All this is a clear sign of growth. Where do you want the school to be at? Is this the finish line or is there more to do? What is the school´s vision?

Prof.: I don’t think this is the finish line. Yes, we are launching a new program – the International Masters in Finance starting this September, we have plans to build a new campus near Lisbon by the sea shore, which is going to be a very exciting campus because it is going to be an European campus with a very Californian field to it, near the beach. But I think there is a third dimension there, which is a very strong investment that we have in the international picture: we have recently – about 2 years ago – opened a school in Angola, we have an operation now running in Brazil, and we have one other operation running that is starting this year in Maputo, Mozambique. For now these activities are mostly related to executive education but we believe that in time these are going to be full fashion schools. So, what is the vision? I think the vision is a time when Nova will be the the global business school for the countries that share the Portuguese language (well I think we already are) and we want to be the school in business that forms the leadership in a network, the leadership of all these communities. By then it will no longer be just a Portuguese school but a Portuguese school, a Brazilian school, an Angolan school and a Mozambican school - all at the same time. I think if I look ahead fifteen years this is what I would like the school to become.


JMF: Do you find it hard to conciliate all your work here in the university, your speeches abroad and your work in the Bank with a personal and family life?

Prof.: No. I love what I do so it is not hard. It is what life is all about: loving what you do. If I did not love it, I would not do it.


JMF: Thank you for your time Professor, it was a pleasure to have this opportunity.


This interview was held on the 21st of August, 2013 by reporter José Miguel Filipe, who would like to thank Professor Daniel Traça for his time and Tomás d´Elvas Leitão for his help in reviewing this article.

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