Life in Porto: mixing beaches, wine and work

It’s 9.30 am in the Porto office of COFCO International. Like most finance experts working for international companies, João Cordeiro is busy connecting with teams of accountants, tax experts and managers around the world.

He has already been up for several hours. “For good reason,” he laughs. Whenever possible, João, COFCO International’s Tax Manager for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, rises early to watch the sun rise over the Encosta do Vale Galego, a vineyard which he runs with his father and siblings.

It’s here, at the foot of Serra D’Aire of the Tejo region, one of Portugal’s most renown wine producing areas, where he loads up with energy and strength for the day.

“To enjoy the sun rise over the vineyard hill, animals crossing the road, and birds singing makes the time before starting work simply perfect,” he says. “It’s worth the effort to get up early.”

Whenever possible, João spends time with his father at the vineyard to see the evolution of the grapes and his investments. Often he visits the vineyard cellar after work too. “I catch up on paperwork and any outstanding business issues.”

The world of wine and finance

Wine and finances seem like opposite ends of the spectrum but João seems to marry the worlds seamlessly. After growing up in a small village in central Portugal, he studied finance and economics in Lisbon. Full of energy and ambition, he then began his international career, rising through the ranks of multinational companies in Barcelona, London, and Geneva.

“I was energised by the fast-paced, play hard, work hard culture in big cities,” he recalls. “On any given day, I was talking with people from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America. It was amazing.”

But questions lingered in João’s head. “I loved my work but I was longing for a simpler way of life, closer if possible to my family in Portugal.”

Porto Centre of Excellence

The job at COFCO International’s Porto hub made it possible to live in both worlds. In 2018, Joao applied for a role at the company’s growing hub in Portugal’s second largest city, Porto. Taking the job meant he could keep his international career and submit to his passion for making wine too. At that time, he was already involved with his father’s vineyard. Moving to Porto meant the best of both worlds.

The Porto Centre of Excellence does not yet compare with the offices in London and Geneva of big international companies, where João was previously based. But with a diverse, young and ambitious team, for João it is a very attractive work place.

Based in a converted warehouse, the Centre of Excellence, is the heartbeat of the company, hiring accountants, IT, finance and sustainability experts from Portugal and around the world.

“I am based in one of the most beautiful countries in the world and am able to maintain an international career,” João says. “This office is expanding and attracting more and more talented young people and I hope it will grow even more.”

A gap in the market

The skills João acquired as an accountant and wine producer are complementary too. The simplicity of solving practical problems of the farm and growing something from scratch provide good perspective for an office job.

“Being close to nature and learning to produce from scratch, I look at problems and solutions in a more holistic way,” João says.

His business and accounting skills are also useful to keep the family finances in order.

João’s international outlook sets a high bar for both jobs too. He would like to see the Porto hub grow more. He also wants to take his family wine business to the next level, building a presence on international markets.

With Chinese wine demand projected to reach $17.3 billion by 2021, João’s experience with the country may be handy too.

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