AF: Do you think this is one of the problems that we are experiencing in society today? The know-how that is produced in Portugal is going abroad?
LMA: I am not worried that young people who graduate in Portugal go abroad in a first phase, the question I ask is whether the country is able to attract them, in a second phase, to return to Portugal. Because if they first go abroad to work and get to know the world, if we get them to return to Portugal, they come back with another view of the world, another capacity and another international competence that is very useful in the development of Portuguese companies in the global economy. I don't care at all that they initially go abroad, what worries me is that afterwards the country does not have companies or opportunities to make them return and retain them in Portugal in a second phase.
AF: (...) I would like to tell you, or ask you, about Porter's famous report. I am a big fan of Michael Porter and I know that, during your exercise in the government of Cavaco Silva, you commissioned this report on how we could, strategically, boost some Portuguese clusters. I know that there is now an intention to revise this report. (...) What does Portugal need at an industrial level to be more competitive?
LMA: (...) when Professor Porter comes to Portugal and, at my request, the Porter report was prepared, we had some industrial sectors that could not be forgotten, which are the traditional industrial sectors, such as textiles, clothing and footwear. There was an idea that this tradition was obsolete, it was meant to disappear, and they only cared about electronics or Silicon Valey models. Professor Porter came to help me. It came to say in English what I said in Portuguese, which is that the traditional industrial sector is not an obsolete sector, it is a sector that is part of our tradition and we have to reconcile the tradition of these sectors with their capacity for innovation. (...) fortunately, the country has evolved and is much better than it was 30 years ago when I brought [Professor] Porter to Portugal. For me, it makes perfect sense to revisit Porter's project to continue supporting not only the traditional clusters, but also these technological clusters that already exist today (...).
AF: And, as you know, Motofil is a family business, and there is a very strong cultural dimension here. Do you see that same dimension in other companies or even applied to the Portuguese business fabric as something that can reduce the speed of clustering in Portugal or something that could even help clustering in Portugal?
LMA: In today's world we cannot have an individualistic view (...) the very notion of cluster, implies a collaboration between companies and institutions in a given region that work together, that cooperate to develop, and therefore the model today, we often have to cooperate in a pre-competitive stage to then compete in the final stage. It is essential that even family businesses have a vision of cooperation and collaboration with each other, in order to be able to develop (...) Family businesse, have a culture, a set of values, which is instilled by the family, which are very useful for business development.
AF: What are your prospects for the future?
LMA: Well, I already told you that there are two major trends here that the Portuguese companies have to follow. Global trends that are irreversible, like the issue of digital transformation, with the industry 4.0 model, and the problem of ecological transition that obviously must be reflected in energy investments and concern for the circular economy. Then, more and more, there’s a need for qualified people, highly qualified staff, in order for companies to develop. As we, unfortunately, have very small companies, there is a whole movement of concentration and digital cooperation here that is absolutely necessary. We already know that we do not have the Portuguese market, we often have the Iberian market, or the world market. Therefore, our competition is on an Iberian, European or worldwide scale and is no longer on a purely Portuguese scale.
“Pontos por Soldar” is a podcast produced by Motofil that aims to discuss the various topics related to the Portuguese industry, more specifically the metalworking industry.
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