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A glance of Swedish presence in Portugal from the '70s until today, by Jorge Cifuentes!

22 December 2019

Jorge Cifuentes, former General Manager at Atlas Copco, with the Swedish-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce (CLS) as Vice-president since 2001, shares his experience, history and development of Swedish industry and CLS from the '70s until today. Enjoy!

Jorge Cifuentes, Manager at Atlas Copco in Iran during -75

It is a great privilege to share with you some of my experiences in the December Newsletter.

I am a Portuguese citizen, graduated as Mechanical Engineer at Instituto Superior Técnico, a leading school of Lisbon Technical University (today merged with Lisbon University).

Started to work in Sorefame, a big metal-mechanic factory that built the Lisbon Bridge as well as trains in stainless steel, but 2 years later I joined ATLAS COPCO in Portugal as Service Manager. Further I moved to Iran, then Mexico for a couple of years with short missions in Peru and Argentina and returned to Portugal in the eighties as Marketing Manager. Finally I was positioned as General Manager for 17 years, including the implementation of ATLAS COPCO ANGOLA. After leaving I had as consultant short missions in Spain, Switzerland, Finland and Bangladesh.

Jorge Cifuentes, Vice-President CLS

There is an Atlas Copco aim that is “First in Mind” in the perception of our customers.

That fits very well to Sweden that is “First in Mind” on Portuguese perception regarding to Quality, Organization, Innovation, Integrity. And that links to Swedish companies in Portugal since ever.

In my time in the University and Sorefame (trains) when we thought in ball bearings, that meant SKF.

My recalls from the '70s, Sweden was strongly present in the Industry. Thinking in Electric Motors, “First in Mind” was ASEA, Fixed Telephones and Centrals was ERICSSON, Pulp and Paper was CELBI, that time CELULOSE BILERUD. In Ship Repairing we had Lisnave (with Kockums- Malmoe and Eriksberg-Gothenburg as shareholders), Compressors and Mining meant ATLAS COPCO, Reliable and Quality Cars meant VOLVO and SAAB. Quality and Strong Trucks meant SAAB-SCANIA, Safety meant SECURITAS.

Swedish businessmen even established good textile manufacturing units around great Lisbon area.

Things changed a lot all over the years as Portugal and Europe suffered cycle crises around the years “3” -1973 (revolution 1974), 1983, 1993, 2003 and 2013, so the importance of Swedish companies changed from manufacturing to services, also through mergers and acquisitions.

CLS was since I remember from the '80s the “hub” for the Swedish business community to meet and link with related Portuguese side. We also suffered with the crises but resilience was a key factor and we always left the crises stronger. Cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden was fundamental to develop the concept of “the Swedish Way”.

In recent years we have redefined our Strategy, refreshed the Board with new active younger members, achieving a gender parity, including a new young President, blending with most senior experience. The future looks bright!

I take the opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2020!

 Jorge Cifuentes

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