Tomás Alves holds a master’s degree in Information Systems and Computer Engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa. He is currently taking an Advanced Studies Diploma at the same university focusing on the relevance of personality on human-computer interaction.
He is also acting as head of the managing team at Studentlab PT and as a Junior Researcher at INESC-ID.
When he has free time, he is either a foodie searching for the best restaurants or a photographer looking for the perfect shots.
What do you consider that you gained, on a personal level, with your experience as CEO at Studentlab Portugal?
One of the hardest behaviours for an engineer is to stop doing something and wonder why or what is the result of doing that thing. We are happy if we have something to do and often we do not ask ourselves why we are doing it. That is not the case when you are leading a company. You need to project the aims and scope of the company, you need to delegate tasks and empower your colleagues, and you need to manage your clients’ expectations. Addressing clients is probably the most exotic skill you have to learn, since you are used to be told what to do and follow that lead. When we deal with clients, one of the main challenges is right on the conceptual model where you have to meet and fulfil your clients’ needs and expectations. I think that is one of the strongest points that Studentlab PT allowed me to develop.
What was your biggest challenge until this moment?
I think the biggest challenge so far is still ongoing: to create a solid infrastructure in which Studentlab PT can thrive. We are almost there, and I think that within the next year we will have a stable infrastructure that can autonomously run the company without so much support from our partners Serwise and Infra Support Ibéria Lda.
What do you hope to accomplish within the next year in the organization?
Our main focus is to penetrate the Portuguese market and start to make a name of our own here. It is very important to have local clients as we want not only to help the Portuguese economy, but to also show that there is a future for our engineers in Portugal without having to think to go abroad. Therefore, we are going to sell our products here in Portugal and aim to have at least five Portuguese clients by the end of the year.
What do you value most about the culture and vision of Studentlab?
The thing I value the most is the fact that we can bring any student with ambition and desire to learn and apply their theoretical knowledge in a project. Just by doing so, we are empowering students and giving them something to be proud of when they leave their university. Another topic that I really like is the mix of personalities you can find within our organization. I find it gratifying to work with all my colleagues as we are all aiming for the same target and we can constantly learn something from the others.
Where do you see Studentlab Portugal in 5 years?
Hopefully, Studentlab PT will be registered at Finanças as a company and we will have a lot of interesting projects to work on. Moreover, we are already being mentioned among students of Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, which is extremely positive. I also hope that Studentlab PT can be seen as a professional reference for students so that our company can support young Portuguese talent.
Fun Fact – On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you?
To be very honest, good or bad fortune are just points of view regarding what happens to you from external events. I prefer to follow a simple motto: a man makes his own luck. I believe that if you prepare yourself and plan ahead the future you expect to happen, that future will most likely happen and bring a positive reward. With this in mind, I try to follow that particular line of thought and I am happy in the present, so I think you can call me “lucky”.