In the late 1990’s the world was undergoing major shifts. The Soviet Union was about to collapse and Maria and José, a young working class couple from Viana do Castelo, a small surf northern city of Portugal, half way between Porto and the border with Spain (Galicia region), has decided to commit to one another. Two years after, in 14 August 1989, their love turned into the birth of two twins brothers, José and I, Tiago.
Mother – Maria Aurora Cunha Martins
In 1996, perhaps propelled by the eager to explore the nature, climb trees, swim in the river and hiking in Viana’s mountains, my brother and I entered Escoteiros de Portugal (Boys’ Scouts). There I’ve learn useful values to my future: respect the nature, care about others and the importance of teamwork to achieve personal and common goals.
In 1997, after have pretty much broken all my mother’s kitchen tools imaging I was a rockstar drummer, I’ve started attending music classes at Fundação Musical Maestro José Pedro.
And then a new millennial has started… and luckily it wasn’t the chaos and the end of the world as some predicted 🙂
In the summer, after a disappointing experience in football, because of the lack cooperation and healthy competitiveness, I was wondering which sport could I do next to spent all the energy accumulated! Eventually, a friend of my invited me to a Basketball practice, at Escola Desportiva de Viana. In the beginning it was just for fun, but after some years and despite being far from a Michael Jordan of Kobe Bryant, I’ve started to take Basketball more seriously.
Music had already been an important part of my life, and in my first teenage years I couldn’t wait anymore to star learning my favorite instrument, Drums.
Whenever I’ve seen a live concert or on the TV I was amazed with the capabilities of the drums… it looked so cool!..
At school, despite being addicted to sports and playing drums, I can say I had an interesting high-school experience. In my senior year (12th grade) at Santa Maria High School, I “threw my hat in the ring” for the first time. Seen as the “underdogs”, our list won the Students Associations elections and I become President of the Fiscal Council. It was a great experience, to learn how to campaign and what it means to represent a body of people
In my final year at the University I’ve entered the organization that changed my life, at least the career path I’ve envisioned for myself, AIESEC, the world’s biggest student-led Organization. As Vice-President of External Relations of AIESEC at Portuguese Catholic University (1st Business School in Portugal – FT), my main responsibilities were to lead the Business Development team and manage Relations with Stakeholders. On a daily basis I’ve had to recruit, train, monitor and lead a team of 11 colleagues, expanding operations all around the North Region.
At AIESEC we are inspired to become “the change we want to see in the World”! For this reason, I’ve driven my interest in management and develop economic projects to engage in as much civil and human rights projects as possible.
As a first full time job after college, I’ve accepted an interesting officer, to become Project Director of an EU co-founded project on Gender Equality, with the aim of Raising awareness in the Region of Alto Minho at ADSL Cerveira – Local Development NGO. There, I also ran the Women Entrepreneurship Support Office as well as in charge of Corporate Communications.
Personally, it was a quite interesting experience. I was coming from an kind-of-exact economic science and to start off my career of being exposed to certain realities I’ve never came across before, such as wage inequalities between men and women. The experience of working in the Social Economy on Human Rights definitely shaped my social consciousness and influenced my decisions in the years to come.
As an active player in the entrepreneurship and innovation support network in the region, I also began to collaborate with the Inter-municipal Community of Alto Minho, being part of the coordination team in its efforts to bring different stakeholders and join programs, and also voicing up the main challenges and opportunities within the region’s economy.
Triggered by the eager to do more and help young qualified professionals that wanted to return back to the region after their studies, as it was my case, to overcame a harsh reality. Portugal was under an Assistance bailout program, controlled by the so-called Troika, and the economy was in a very bad shape.
The regions that suffered the most were the ones far from the big cities, including the 10 municipalities that composes Alto Minho’s region. After an op-ed written to the Mayor of Viana do Castelo, about the importance to take as much attention to the youth as it was being paid to a major shipbuilding public company, I’ve decided it was time to raise my voice and take a further action.
Considering a previous reflection, while studying Economics, I’ve had an understanding that macro-changes will only be leveraged if the key players were considering as a priority. Therefore, while discussing ideas and possibilities with a group of friends, we realized a possible way to have an impact was by creating a political youth movement, as mean to reach an end. That end was to shape the public debate on the urgency to fight against that 50% of young unemployment rate.
So, after we read the different Foundation charters and ideologies, we ended up deciding to found the local chapter of Young Socialists. We were aware of the challenges that this type of organizations have and the polemics and controversies they have been involved. Maybe it was naïve, but we truly believe we could do something different and show an example that it is possible to be active in the public debate while being “on the ground” with an “hands-on approach”.
Above all, it was a School of Citizenship that gave to young active people a place to raise their voice and participate in innovative actions to change the status quo.
After an invitation to become part of the list, I ran successfully to become member of the Board of Directors of Juventude de Viana Sports Club, considered the 10th best roller hockey club in the whole world that year.
I was entrusted to design and implement the Marketing and Communications’ Department, as well as develop of innovation projects. One of this projects was the club’s Digital Transformation Plan, including a new website and a sports management application, in partnership with the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo (IPVC).
During the 2 years of the term, the club double is sponsorship revenues and won the 2nd division of the National Championship (2013) and participated in the Champions League (2014).
Later on the year, between September and November 2013, I put my hat in the ring in different elections. I was elected Member of the Municipality Council of Viana do Castelo. Two months later, I was one of the two candidates to the Federal regional Leadership of Young Socialists. Surprisingly, the outsiders bid won the elections and during the 2-years term, membership increased by 20%, structural changes were implemented, such as changing the organization’s name (from “Viana do Castelo” to “Alto Minho”), the implementation of various sectorial structures, in particular ANJAS Alto Minho – District Delegation of Young Socialists local elected members, and the NES IPVC, the university students arm in the region.
In 2013, I volunteered in the inaugural edition of TEDx FicaNoCoração, a TED event with an independent organization held in Viana do Castelo.
More info here
When I got back to my hometown, right after finish my undergraduate studies in Oporto, I faced a reality-check: the lack of opportunities in the region for young qualified professionals. That made me realize something had to be done. Instead of criticizing or complaint about my status, I’ve got together with a group of dynamics minds and developed a Conference concept to promote jobs and entrepreneurship job opportunities.
A context for high school students. Students submit a paper on a topic related to the European Union and had the opportunity to present it. After an eliminatory round, there was a ground final. The winners received as an award a high-level masterclass with MEP Maria João Rodrigues and trip Brussels, in order to visit the European Parliament and the European Commission.
Perhaps because it was the year with my lucky number, in 2014 I’ve finally decided to create my own business. Looking back to which were my biggest skills and there was one standing out from the rest: event organization. After search for a reliable partner, we created VianaLive, a cultural startup. In the summer VianaLive organized Viana do Castelo Summer Festival. The event gather a dozens of local, national and international artists, attracting more than 10.000 attendees.
Pushed by an old eager to explore the world and the fact I couldn’t go on a Erasmus+ university mobility, which delayed my great curiosity to know more about Italy, I’ve started an quite interesting cultural journey.. Erasmus Youth Exchanges.. it all begun in the sunny and laidback Spanish island of Tenerife.
In September 2016 he is chosen as the Portuguese candidate to participate in the Francis Vals Fund (scholarship), having worked in the European Parliament in the International Trade Policy Committee (INTA). In addition to being a member
of the organizing team of more than 10 events, it elaborates a document “Contribution of International Trade Agreements to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Joining up forces with Microsoft EU Policy office, we organized an event on Digital Policy for young professionals and parliamentarian staff. In the NGO sector, I’ve also joined Rainbow Rose, a LGBTI network that brings together people from Socialist, Labour and Social Democratic parties across Europe, working for the advancement of LGBTI rights and against discrimination and exclusion across Europe.
From the beginning of the year he began to ponder his next steps, emerging an increasing desire to make a volunteer period. Motivated by the vertiginous approach of the 30, it begins to make efforts to find a challenge that fulfills its need of humanitarian support. So, I quit my job and in June I joined an NGO for cultural promotion and environmental preservation based in Nicosia, Cyprus.
I was already thinking on taking some time off from European Union & Public Affairs to explore in more depth the Information Technology industry. After considering options, I’ve decided for a job in the Central Eastern Europe, because I was also looking for new experiences and new a different region of Europe.
My destination was Budapest, the capital of Hungary! I joined Cognizant, an American Tech Giant, with the goal of deepening knowledge in the area of Digital Transformation and Support to Infrastructure Networks of large organizations.