Ricardo CostaCEO of Bernardo da Costa Group
Considered one of the best managers with less than 40 years in Portugal, Ricardo Costa is CEO of the Bernardo Costa Group and director of several companies of the group, such as IBD Global Portugal, IBD Global España, A-Touch Winwel, AVPro, Bernardo da Costa Academy, Global America and SGC Cameroon.
With a degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Universidade Lusíada of Vila Nova de Famalicão and an International MBA from Católica Porto Business School, Ricardo Costa was a pioneer when created a Happiness Department in the company in 2017.
Ricardo Costa, current president of the General Assembly of APSEI – Associação Portuguesa de Segurança (where he was president of the Board between 2016 and 2018) and of the Supervisory Board of Habitat for Humanity Portugal, is one of the special guests at Connecting Stories of PARTEAM & OEMKIOSKS.
1. You are CEO of a company founded over 60 years ago by your grandfather. Can you tell us a bit about your journey and your professional experience?
Despite having done some psychotechnical tests that indicated Medicine as the area where I would feel better in my professional activity, 24 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life: to apply for the course of Engineering and Industrial Management (EGI) at the Lusíada University of Vila Nova de Famalicão. Interestingly, we have recently learned that, in 2020, this was the degree with the highest entry grade in Portugal. Another important decision of my life was to run for president of the Academic Association of Lusíada University, in 1998, a position I held for three years and which coincided with the last years of the course. It was the way I could immediately put into practice a part of the theory I learned in class, mainly in the management component.
I started my professional career with an internship at ACO Shoes, in Famalicão, integrated in the last year of the EGI course. After finishing my degree, I continued at ACO for another four months and, in January 2002, I started my career at Bernardo da Costa & Filhos S.A., then the only company of what is today the Bernardo da Costa Group.
In 2004, I constituted Bernardo da Costa – Comércio de Equipamentos de Segurança, Lda (today IBD Global) and it is from this moment, and with the success of this project, that the Business Group of the creation or acquisition of new business units begins to be formed in the following years.
2009 is also an important year for me, as the international journey began with the constitution of Bernardo da Costa Mozambique. From there, projects in Republic of Cameroon, Brazil and Spain were born.
In 2011, in the midst of the economic crisis, I will assume the role of CEO of the Group, a position that I currently hold.
2. What are the main business areas of Bernardo Costa Group?
The main business area, which represents about 65% of invoicing, is the distribution of electronic security solutions. Everything related to video surveillance, intrusion detection, fire detection and access control.
The other areas concern electrical installations, training and consulting, home automation and intelligent houses, distribution of professional audio and video solutions.
3. As CEO, what challenges have you found over the years?
They are several and very diverse. In 2011, when I took over as CEO, the country was in the middle of an economic crisis and under the intervention of Troika. The circumstances were very difficult and it was necessary to carry out a deep restructuring at Bernardo da Costa & Filhos S.A. About 80% of the company's clients entered PER/Insolvency and failed to meet their payment commitments. Being a family owned company, it was even more complicated to manage the whole process. Fortunately, after nine years, this company is still active and growing.
The process of internationalization was another challenge that I highlight along my path. Managing business at a distance requires special attention and we have to be very careful in choosing the people who will be in our daily routine and in the responsibilities we assign.
To make each person who works in the Bernardo da Costa Group give their best and be happy is for me the biggest challenge. Having the Group around 170 people, it is necessary to realize that each one of them has their expectations, fears and ambitions. As CEO, I have to make sure that everyone is motivated to overcome the goals and find the best balance between personal and professional life.
4. You were considered one of the best managers under 40 in Portugal. What does this recognition mean to you?
I feel great pride and satisfaction for having received this award. On the one hand, the jury was made up of people I admire and some of them are a reference for me, such as the CEO of Lloyd's Bank, Antonio Horta Osório. On the other hand, I was competing with CEO's or directors of large companies, including multinationals such as Microsoft, Fujitsu, Galp, etc.
To have been in sixth place among more than 250 managers was very good and a recognition of the work that I have developed over the last years.
5. You are also president of the General Assembly of APSEI and of the Fiscal Council of Habitat for Humanity Portugal. What are these organizations and what are their objectives?
APSEI, established in 2006, represents companies and professionals in fire safety, electronic safety, occupational safety and hygiene and safety in the transportation of dangerous goods. It is the largest technical safety community and welcomes companies and individual professionals from the entire safety value chain, from design to operation and safety management.
Over the last 14 years, APSEI's work has been reflected in the improvement of the legal and regulatory framework of the sector and in the increase in the qualification of companies and the competence of technicians. To this extent, it is a partner of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security and the Ministry of Economy. It is also a recognized training entity and sector standardization body responsible for the coordination of three technical safety committees. I served as chairman of the Board between 2015 and 2018 and I am, currently, chairman of the General Assembly.
Habitat Portugal's main area of action is the construction or reconstruction of houses for families in need. In this way, it manages to put into practice the vision of the Association: "A world where everyone has a decent place to live". The issue of housing poverty is far from being solved. Every day there are new cases of families living in conditions that are far from dignified. Habitat considers that it also has the role of trying to make society aware of this problem, not only by spreading the word about the work done, but by drawing attention to the existence of unacceptable situations, where families live without the minimum of conditions. As part of the SerBC project (social responsibility area of the Bernardo da Costa Group), we have been collaborating with Habitat for Humanity since 2012, donating several materials and equipments. More significantly, every year, the employees get together and help themselves in the reconstruction of the houses intervened by Habitat.
6. How are all these responsibilities managed? Is there a secret?
I don't think there's exactly a secret. I have a fantastic team to whom I give full autonomy and delegate most of the responsibilities. On the other hand, and also very important, I have incredible family support, which gives me the necessary stability to manage all the projects I'm involved in.
7. You pioneered the creation of a Department of Happiness at Bernardo Costa Group in 2017. What was the purpose of this initiative?
The Department of Happiness that we created in 2017 was a consequence of a set of actions and benefits that throughout the history of the Bernardo da Costa Group we have made available to employees. Since the foundation of the Group, in 1957, there has been a culture of promoting the well-being and happiness of the people who work with us. Inspired by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Happiness, it seemed to me an excellent initiative to transpose the same concept to companies. To have a department/responsible that takes care of people's well-being and happiness. The goal is also to achieve the best balance between personal and professional life of each of them.
8. Is it possible to find out, in practice, if there is a relationship between the happiness of the employees, their productivity and the financial performance of the companies?
I have no measurable indicator that allows me to gauge a direct relationship between these parameters. However, the positive results we have been able to achieve, even in years of economic crisis, associated with the climate and environment in the Group's companies, are more than enough for me to realize that all the investment made in the happiness and well-being of our employees is more than justified. We are not a perfect company and we have our problems. However, there is in all people a predisposition to solve them and think about the common good.
9. What projects do you have in mind for the future?
In September 2020 we started a new project "BC Safety" in the area of representation and distribution of personal protective equipment, with a special focus on the hospital and industrial area. This project was already being idealized a few years ago and we thought it was time to put it into practice.
On the other hand, IBD Global continues its international expansion project and, in January 2021, we will start our activity in France. The expansion plan foresees that, by 2025, we will be in 10 countries.
We are also considering entering the areas of tourism and viticulture. I also hope, in the beginning of 2021, to have more news about this project.
10. As PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS is a leader in the development and export of digital billboards and multimedia kiosks to the international market, what is your opinion about PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS, its products and its internationalization strategy?
PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS is for me a reference. I am proud to be Miguel Soares' friend and share with him many ideas and ways of seeing business. The technological innovation associated to design makes PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS products a success case in Portugal. It is with great satisfaction that I have watched the company's growth, mainly at an international level.
Connecting Stories is a new editorial space led by PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS which consists of conducting exclusive interviews, directed at influential personalities who work in different sectors of activity.
The project, conceived by PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS, includes the publication of success stories, through small interviews with influencers who want to share details about their projects, opinions, plans for the future, among other subjects.
The idea is to connect stories, share knowledge, develop networking and generate content that can provide new visions, opportunities and ideas.
Founded in 2000, PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS is a world renowned Portuguese IT company, manufacturer of indoor and outdoor multimedia kiosks, self-service equipment, digital billboards, interactive tables and other digital solutions, for all types of sectors and industries. To know more about our story, click here.