“If only there were a chemical formula for leadership, that might make it easier”

Fernando Bártolo, Head of BI & Analytics at the Siemens Lisbon Tech Hub

With a degree in Chemical Engineering and experience as a chess player, Fernando Bártolo’s analytical spirit determined his professional path. He still recalls the moment which got him where he is today. “I was finishing my degree when I got a call from a consultancy firm. I spent two weeks doing logistics training and someone told me: ‘You’re a very analytical person, we think you’ll fit really well in the analytics area’. That’s how he got started in analytics. “I discovered a field which I really enjoy, and things have been going pretty well”, he admits. In 2014, he was hired to work in the Business Intelligence (BI) department of the Lisbon Tech Hub, and after six months someone commented ‘maybe we should hire more Fernandos’. In February 2015, the first four or five people joined the team, and “since then we haven’t stopped growing”, he says. Today, aged 38, he leads a team with more than 150 people, divided into several sub-teams. This context makes leadership even more important..

When we build a product that solves a real problem, something that makes people say, ‘this really makes my life easier’, that’s what really drives me.”
Fernando Bártolo, Head of BI & Analytics at the Siemens Lisbon Tech Hub

Empowerment and communication

“If only there were a chemical formula, things might be easier”, Fernando jokes when asked about his leadership role, only to recognize immediately afterwards that he has some guiding principles. “One of them is empowerment. I don’t like micro-management; I like to empower people and give them room to deal with their own initiatives”. The proof of this lies in his team’s middle managers. “I have a great structure within the team which supports me, the team leaders know what to do, which helps a lot to keep things running smoothly.”

 

The second pillar of his leadership is communication: “This is very important when you have a big team., I make an effort to have close communication with most of the team”. Every week Fernando meets with a group of people from his various sub-teams for at least half an hour. “Which means that every eight weeks I speak to the whole team”. This is one way to overcome the difficulty inherent in bringing the whole team together. “It’s not easy to gather over 150 people at the same time, not even once every three months”, he says.

All things data

What is equally challenging is the mission that the team is faced with. “We take enormous volumes of data and transform them into actionable insights, in order to enable people to make informed decisions”, he explains. His team is part of the Siemens Lisbon Tech Hub nearshore center, which works mainly for the headquarters company: “We run a data lake where we keep all of Siemens’ worldwide information, mostly from SAP, which amounts to more than 70 systems used to manage the financial and logistics business areas, among others. Based on this information, we develop a large portfolio of applications that cover almost all the business areas.” There is also a data science side to this. “Our data science team creates mathematical models which predict certain situations based on the information history. For example, we have a predictive application which gives a daily revenue forecast using machine learning. We also explore technology trends, like blockchain and others”, he explains.

We take enormous volumes of data and transform them into actionable insights, in order to enable people to make informed decisions.”
Fernando Bártolo, Head of BI & Analytics at the Siemens Lisbon Tech Hub

People first

Fernando is usually in the office before 8 am every day. “In the morning is when I get the most overlap with the time zones we work with, and it’s usually my most productive time of the day – we also have smaller teams in India, China, and the USA.”, he says. Before coming into the office, two or three times a week, he goes to the gym to work out. “In my old job I rarely had time to go to the gym. I’d never be in at 8 am, because I would usually leave work already late. My former manager might call me up when he reads this quote, but it’s true”, he laughs. He is being honest when he talks about how his life has changed, though. “Siemens represented a major difference for me in terms of balancing my personal and professional life. The consultancy sector in Portugal is very complicated, sometimes it can be very difficult to have the right balance. I had very little time off. Siemens definitely puts people first, there is no doubt about that.”

I am a very hands-on person; I like to build real and concrete products.”
Fernando Bártolo, Head of BI & Analytics at the Siemens Lisbon Tech Hub

More to explore

He doesn’t complain about lack of time off anymore. “This year, I was going to return to Japan during the cherry blossom season but because of the Pandemic situation I had to postpone this travel for next year.” His enthusiasm betrays a passion for travelling, which goes together with a love for food. “When I was growing up, I only knew how to cook one dish – pork with mushrooms and cream – and I never tried anything else until I went to live by myself”, he laughs. “That was when I started to explore some more and discovered that I actually like it. Now I really enjoy cooking, and when I am deciding on a destination to travel to, I always investigate what is the typical, local food”.

 

Another of his passions is chess. “I’ve always been interested in chess, and when I was 11 there was an initiative that I was a part of called ‘Chess at School’. I was invited to have classes at a local cultural association and spent the next three years competing around the country, in tournaments. Then I stopped playing for a few years until I registered on Chess.com. I met people at Siemens who also enjoy it and we play online quite frequently”.

I have this intrinsic need to do things well, I love to solve problems, and to make sure that things are running smoothly”
Fernando Bártolo, Head of BI & Analytics at the Siemens Lisbon Tech Hub

A question of scale

The products built by his team are used by around 35.000 people at Siemens, in a range of different contexts and situations. “For example, we have applications purposely built for factories, which are typically installed in smaller cities in Germany where a lot of our Siemens colleagues barely speak any English, and that’s sometimes a challenge.” Scale comes with challenges, but that is one of the highlights of the job. For someone who has a genuine interest in working with data, working for Siemens provides a huge scale and volume that would be hard to match when looking at the average company operating in the Portuguese market.

 

Speaking of genuine interest, the wider impact of what he does is also part of Fernando’s motivation. “I am a very hands-on person; I like to build real and concrete products. When we build a product, which gets great feedback from the Siemens world and solves a real problem, something that makes people say, ‘this really makes my life easier’, that’s what really drives me. Besides that, I have this intrinsic need to do things well, I love to solve problems, and to make sure that things are running smoothly”.