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Porto’s IT team – the making of the beating heart of the company

When it comes to technology and IT careers, young people are advised to be bold, hardworking, and to use all their creative juices in pursuit of new ideas and solutions. Of course, anyone wanting a ticket to an international career will have to move countries whenever and wherever the job requires.

Raquel Ribeiro, IT Business Intelligence Solution Specialist based in COFCO International’s Porto Centre of Excellence, had always wanted to use her tech passion to help companies achieve their goals and full potential.

But while she wanted to engage on a global level and mix with an international crowd, she wasn’t ready to leave Portugal.

“I wanted to take my job to the next stage, manage complex processes and help teams around the world,” she says. “But I felt happy here in Portugal where I have the sun, dancing, delicious food and the beach.”

Since her graduation from Minho University in 2011, she has held various roles, all focused on the domestic market, including Accenture and Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa.

The breakthrough came in 2019 when she successfully applied for a job at COFCO International’s newly opened Porto office.

“I found a job in Portugal’s best city, working on some of the world’s most pressing issues,” she says.

Based in a newly converted fabric factory, Raquel’s growing team of around 30 IT specialists, plays a vital role at the heart of COFCO’s global operations.

“With a base in Portugal our team delivers solutions and ideas around the world,” Raquel says.

A diverse ecosystem

Sometimes, Raquel explains, even small improvements can transform the way a team works or help an individual make a difficult decision.

“We look at how people work and then help them to do it easier, better and ultimately more profitable,” she says. “Just presenting data in a different way, or from another angle, can help someone to solve problems faster and to build their positions even better.”

Raquel recalls the time that her team helped Treasury colleagues to digitalise their work. Instead of using a cumbersome manual process to collect and analyse essential data.

“The treasury team is pretty happy,” Raquel says with a smile. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see how their work efficiency increased.”

The agricultural commodities business is a diverse and complex ecosystem in a constant state of change. Working here requires an open mind, flexibility, and the ability to adapt very fast.

“We are expected to be creative and innovative,” Raquel says. “There is definitely an atmosphere that encourages us to get out of our comfort zone, to bring ideas and solutions.”

To help stimulate these solutions, and to recharge any weary batteries, the Porto office is equipped with comfy breakout spaces as well as yoga classes.

“Everybody understands that we need to refresh and replenish,” Raquel says. “I had never done yoga until I joined COFCO but now I go as often as I can.”

COFCO’s fast-growing hub in Porto includes a healthy mix of talent, both Portuguese and foreign, experienced professionals and young graduates, who collaborate on IT, management, finance and sustainability.

As the hub grows, Porto’s IT operations is expected to become even more central to the company.

What would Raquel say to anybody considering a job here? “Come for the beauty, fun and Portuguese spirit. Stay for the ambitious and demanding job.”

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