Campus and Community

“Técnico teaches us two fundamental things: problem solving and systems thinking”

Pedro Afonso, Técnico alumnus and CEO of Axians

Pedro Afonso was only 13 years old when he chose his professional career. Interestingly, his difficulties in mathematics led him to engineering. “My maths tutor was an economist whose brother was an electrical engineer, graduated from Técnico. I found his work very interesting”, he says. His interest became even more acute when he became aware of an engineer’s salary: €200/month. “In 1988-89 it was a large number … people lived, at that time, with less means than today”, says the Técnico alumnus. Pedro Afonso chose Computer Science and Engineering at Técnico. “Studying at Técnico was a clear and obvious choice”. “Maybe because of my friends and my colleagues from Colégio Militar, who told me about the school, and also because Técnico was – and still is – the best engineering school in Portugal”, stresses Pedro Afonso.

“We studied what we liked, so the course was more arduous than difficult”, he adds. The ability to “think, to design and to build machines” that he learnt at Técnico remained until today.

After finishing his course successfully he started his career as a computer engineer at Octal, Engenharia de Sistemas, a company with a link to Técnico. Two years later the company was acquired by Novabase, where Pedro Afonso ends up staying almost 17 years, assuming several leadership roles from an early age, namely as Managing Director of Novabase IMS and member of the Executive Committee of Novabase SGPS. VINCI Energies acquires Novabase IMS and, as a result, Axians is created. The Técnico alumnus becomes CEO of Axians. “Axians addresses two major challenges today: Digital Transformation and Energy Transition”, he says. “I do not know of any other group capable of responding to both revolutions simultaneously”, he adds.

Although he has an extremely busy life, the alumnus has found time to visit Técnico. “Nowadays, young people are a good example of the symbiosis between the physical and the digital world. The starting point is different from the one we had 20 years ago at Técnico”. “I am one of those who believe a lot in the new generations”, he points out. Pedro Afonso believes in the cohabiting relationships between the youngest and the oldest, in the successful combination of innovation and experience, in the individuality of each worker as a secret of motivation for success. He is also a professional who values happinness very much.

Even though he followed a management career, the Técnico alumnus does not regret his past choices: “I am sure it was the best school I could have chosen”. “Técnico teaches us two fundamental things: problem solving and systems thinking”. “There are good engineering schools in Portugal. But Técnico provides a set of conditions that promote university-business relationships, as well as the positioning of thousands of alumni”, he concludes.