Alumni Profile – Miguel de Almeida (Class of 2011)

Miguel“The concept of a “Module 7” is probably in the head of almost every student…. They don’t want the programme to end” , Class of 2011 alumni Miguel de Almeida says of his original motivations for launching the module designed to give TRIUM alumni the opportunity to continue their experience beyond graduation. Launched in 2012, Module 7 remains a key part of the alumni calendar, offering the opportunity to re-connect and attend an additional module in a different global location each year.

Aside from playing a key role in the TRIUM alumni community, Miguel currently heads up Gávea North, a new business in wealth management designed to help high net worth families protect their wealth for future generations by developing long term strategies. His busy schedule also includes being a Partner in a real estate consulting company, Blue Buffalo Capital, that helps investors enter the Portuguese market; a Board Member at a family-owned real estate development company; and a Partner in a boutique business consulting company called Clover Venture Partners. With prior experience across several industries, from shipping and banking to renewable energy and real estate Miguel notes “I haven’t had a traditional career by any stretch of the imagination … I am not one to stay put for long and thoroughly enjoy changing environments and challenges”

Miguel’s motivations for pursuing TRIUM stemmed from his time as managing director of a family-owned Real Estate Development company in Lisbon, a time which he describes as “a growth curve and incredibly enriching experience”. When faced with the financial crisis, Miguel was forced to rethink his position in the business, prompting him to use the period of instability to explore other opportunities. “I think TRIUM really helped me in making that decision, as I discovered other paths, realities and possibilities that I would otherwise not have been able to identify. In effect, TRIUM opened my horizons.”

Recognising the ongoing benefits of the TRIUM experience, Miguel has remained a key part of the alumni community, taking part in competitive TRIUM sporting teams, acting as a Capstone Project panel member, as well as founding and delivering the first Module 7. As we countdown to the upcoming Module 7 in South Africa, we caught up with Miguel to discover his inspiration for launching the module and to reflect on what he has learnt from his TRIUM experience so far:

Tell us about Module 7 and what inspired you to kick-start it?

The diversity and richness of TRIUM was something that really struck a chord with me and I felt it was a shame it all had to end after 18 incredibly enriching months. By the end of Module 6 in New York, I had put together a small presentation that pointed to an event, called “Module 7”, in Lisbon in 2012. My classmates loved the idea and were behind it from day one. Needless to say, a year later I was hosting the first Module 7 in Cascais, with about 75 people from all classes!

I had my wife, a friend and Todd Wade (Class of 2009) helping with the logistics and TRIUM was great in getting the word out and with having Professors Mick Cox and Saul Estrin attend as speakers. I was processing payments, booking restaurants, contacting speakers, receiving presentations, etc. It was a huge amount of work that really paid off in the end.

My classmate Reuven Hahn jumped on the band wagon after Lisbon and really helped to push the concept forward. He has been an active part of the organisation since the 2nd edition in Istanbul. Today, Module 7 is on its 6th edition in South Africa, 2017. Last year’s Module 7 had over 100 participants in Moscow. The idea is that each graduating year will now take on the mantle of organizing the event. This year’s event in South Africa is being completely organised by Class of 2016 and I’m already curious as to the location Class of 2017 will come up with.

In your opinion what makes Module 7 so special?

It’s a combination of factors and not only about having fun – which is also important.

Firstly, the possibility to be in a classroom again, listening to some world-class speakers in a TRIUM setting, where there is intellectual stimulation without the weight of assignments.

Secondly, the social interaction of being with other alumni that went through the same programme and know the hard work, long hours and stress that went into it. There is an unspoken bond that already exists and inevitably brings everyone together.

Thirdly, the diversity of the locations. We get to know and experience different cultures, people and realities all across the globe.

Finally, I think there is something about being with your classmates and other alumni that just brings out the mischievous, fun side of you!

What is your top advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in TRIUM?

Never give up. When you are knocked down again, have the strength to get up and carry on. I often evoke a famous phrase from Winston Churchill who said: ”Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”. Quite true!

Make the most of the contacts made at TRIUM. Networking is an immensely powerful tool – especially for entrepreneurs – and the TRIUM alumni network is incredibly rich.

I would say that people are the most important asset. This means you have to surround yourself not only by people you trust, but who will also challenge you (no ‘yes men or women’ on the team…) and find constructive solutions to the hundreds of problems that will undoubtedly appear.

What are your fondest memories of TRIUM?

The people. The diversity. The modules. The lectures. The friendships. It’s impossible to pick as the whole experience was unique and unforgettable.

There is one day that sticks out, among others. I organised a ‘rally-paper’, in Jouy-en-Josas, with clues followed by a quiz. I split everyone into teams and had t-shirts made with different colours. I have to say there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm at first, but when everyone got going they really got into the spirit of the event and were soon driving around the countryside like crazy looking for clues and picking up bits and pieces, like golf balls from a local golf club or strawberries from a nearby producer. The competitiveness that came up was incredible!

It was great fun, but most importantly it really helped bring the class together and cement the already existing friendships.

What would you say are the key benefits of being part of the TRIUM community?

I think it’s the possibility of being able to reach out to any corner of the world with the knowledge that someone from the TRIUM community will welcome you with open arms, whatever the reason may be. Whether it’s a cry for help, a business opportunity or just as a tourist, you are guaranteed to be well looked after.

What did you learn on TRIUM that has helped you the most in your career?

The whole programme has been extremely beneficial in several aspects, both technical and otherwise and I constantly consult notes and slides on various topics. One thing that did stand out was the diversity of opinions on any one subject. Due to different backgrounds and experience, 65 people could look at the same problem and come up with 65 different answers. This taught me two very important lessons: (1) there is no one right answer to any problem; and (2) each problem has to be viewed from different angles and all possibilities have to be taken into account before deciding on the most viable solution.