Welcome back to the “Life at SAPI” series! We’re excited to continue sharing the experiences of our amazing team members, who bring their unique perspectives and skills to help drive our company’s success.
In this edition, we’re thrilled to feature Afonso Ribeiro, one of our Strategy and Business Development Associates. Currently doing his MBA at INSEAD and with an amazing background at big consulting firms, Afonso has been essential at SAPI in developing new materials and exploring new markets. Get ready to learn more about Afonso’s life at SAPI.
What’s your name and what’s your job title?
My name is Afonso Ribeiro and I’m a Strategy and Business Development Associate at SAPI. Most of my work is focused on creating compelling presentations to showcase SAPI’s products to potential partners. I also work with the Sales team in lead generation and market research.
Where in the world do you work?
Since I’m doing an MBA at Insead, I spend most of my time in the little town of Fontainebleau, 1 hour away from Paris. However, since I cannot bear to stay away from my hometown, Lisbon, for too long, I fly back and forth quite often and frequently work from my actual home in Lisbon.
How long have you worked at SAPI?
I’ve been at SAPI for 2.5 months, although I’m already not the newest addition to the team!
What is a typical day for you in your role? Can you walk us through your daily routine?
I certainly do not have a “typical” day! Since I am working and studying at the same time, no two days are the same. Work at SAPI is incredibly flexible, so, if you come to Insead (where I’m studying), you might see me leave a lecture room with my laptop already half-open as I move to a private room to have a meeting or build some slides. I tend to use short breaks from class to answer emails or book meetings, leaving the more intense work (e.g., market research) for the evening or for the weekend.
What are some challenges you face in your role, and how do you overcome them?
Doing Business Development in a small but fast-growing company presents an interesting challenge – you need to convince potential clients to work with you despite not having tons of testimonials and past examples to show. For me, this translates into having to come up with compelling ways to present our products in a way that makes potential partners willing to invest their time and resources into a partnership with SAPI. I’ve been able to overcome this in 2 ways – first, by leveraging on the team’s significant expertise regarding what our potential partners look for in a partnership; secondly, by ensuring that I leverage any piece of insight we have into the specific need we are trying to solve and weave that into the materials I prepare to be shared with the potential partner, making sure that they understand how SAPI can help them.
What makes you proud to work at SAPI?
I am most proud of the pace of growth at SAPI. It’s extremely rewarding to see how far SAPI has come in under 3 months! Everyone is clearly motivated to drive growth and make things happen as fast as possible, without creating an aggressive and do-or-die company culture, maintaining a lot of respect for our schedules, commitments, and work-life balance.
In what ways have you experienced personal and professional growth since joining SAPI?
Autonomy and independence are clearly the skills I have been working the most on. Working in a small company, I really feel like I am both given space (and am expected) to be a self-starter. Given a task, I am encouraged to come up with the best possible solution, not necessarily following any “guidebook” but rather coming up with what I think is the best way to proceed.
What do you look forward to most in SAPI’s future?
I would love to get a glimpse of what SAPI will look like 1 year from now. I feel like we are only scratching the surface of what SAPI can do – if we maintain the growth momentum, there is a vast opportunity set in terms of where we can take our technology and how far we can disrupt the lending space. I am particularly excited about SAPI’s role as a catalyst for the growth of thousands of small businesses, that, especially now, are finding it increasingly hard to get access to much-needed credit.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in your field?
Several years ago, still in high school, I had a chance to have lunch with a very senior executive. His answer to a similar question was that I should never underestimate the power of “good sense” (Portuguese expression, see it as an enhanced version of common sense). At the time, I found it a bit silly, but now I could not agree more. I have come to learn that it is sometimes better to do first and apologise later (within reason) than to constantly ask for permission before doing anything – the proactivity will be valued and an honest mistake is most of the time preferable to no action at all.
If you’re interested in joining our talented team and being a part of our company’s mission to make a difference, we invite you to explore our open positions. At SAPI, we value diversity, collaboration, and creativity, and we’re always looking for passionate and driven individuals to help us drive our company forward. Thank you for following our “Life at SAPI” series, and stay tuned for our next instalment featuring another one of our amazing team members.