Who is José Soares de Pina?
José Soares de Pina started off in sales and moved into the area of business strategy and development. He has worked in various different sectors and is now in corporate management and administration. He is a man of the world, and has worked on every continent and is now in charge of leading the Altri Group into the future.
He was born in Porto but lived in Vale de Cambra until the age of 18. The opportunity arose to study in the United States, on the East Coast near New York, and he graduated in Civil Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
He began his professional career working on architectural preservation projects, which took him into project management. It was an excellent experience, not only because of what he did in the USA, but also because it resulted in his being invited by the World Monuments Fund to coordinate the preparation of the conservation project for the Belém Tower in Lisbon.
It was the chance of a lifetime and a way of getting back to Portugal. He seized the opportunity, packed his bags and moved to Lisbon. Once the preliminary stage of the project was completed, he was faced with the choice of returning to the USA or staying in Portugal. He decided to stay.
He joined Dow Portugal, as a commercial manager for the construction and infrastructure solutions business. Dow is an American multinational which operates in various different business sectors. It has 109 factories in 31 countries and has around 36,500 employees. In 2019, Dow’s turnover was approximately 43 billion dollars.
It is in this giant of the chemical industry that José Soares de Pina spent 25 years of his career. Dow provided the environment in which he grew as a professional, gaining a range of skills in different positions, industries and locations.
The leap from marketing to management
Give the excellent results achieved at Dow Portugal, José Soares de Pina was given the opportunity to work in the German market, also in the field of construction and infrastructure. This was his ticket to embark on an international career. He spent four years in marketing management for Europe in Dow’s construction arm, before moving to a new field and country.
He swapped Germany for Switzerland, in a marketing management position in Dow’s packaging division for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). A new challenge arose three years later, with a more complex position involving more overarching management. His new role was to head up global business in Dow’s Health and Hygiene division. To pursue this post he had to leave Switzerland and go back to the USA, this time to Houston on the south coast, where he remained for almost three years. This has been the pattern throughout his professional career.
After three or four years a new opportunity comes up, with greater responsibilities and a change of location. He moved back across the Atlantic, to Switzerland, to Dow’s new material division, heading up business strategy and development. During this post, Dow merged with another US company, Rohm and Haas. This merging of two giants of the chemical industry was valued at 18 billion dollars. José Soares de Pina was put in charge of integrating a business division which resulted from the merger.
He coordinated the preparation of the conservation project for the Belém Tower in Lisbon
Experience in the agro-industrial market
Two years later he was presented with a new challenge which allowed him to leave Dow’s corporate culture to lead the business activity of a Rohm and Haas subsidiary, which had been part of Dow’s portfolio. When he began management duties at Agrofresh, he found a company offering solutions for the agriculture industry which had been on the market for 10 years and operating in over 40 countries, but whose culture was more like a start-up, despite its 200 employee headcount. He remained at Agrofesh until 2014.
But time never stands still. It was time for something different, including a new destination: Shanghai, China. His challenge? To head up Dow’s agro-industrial division in Asia.
He worked in eight different sectors of business activity at Dow, held several different positions and worked in various regions of the world
According to José Soares de Pina, it was “a very enriching and very diverse experience. It was fascinating to deal with that amalgam of cultures, especially considering that the agriculture industry is a strategic sector which competes with domestic interests”. Before leaving Dow, he witnessed another megamerger of two titans of the chemical industry: Dow and the American company DuPont.
It was like a marriage with a pre-nuptial agreement already in place. The move united the two companies, arranged their portfolio and split off into three, giving rise to the new Dow. His last major challenge at the American multinational was to lead the initial stages of this integration project, followed by Dow’s corporate strategy and business development in Asia and the Pacific.
He feels that “for most western countries Asia is the last frontier for development. It’s an area that represents over 50% of the world population and much of the future economy will be determined there”. José Soares de Pina’s last job was to find a way to improve Dow’s presence and business in the Asian market.
No easy task, considering the company’s position in the market. Around 20% of its annual revenue – over 10 billion dollars – was generated in Asia. In all, he worked in eight different sectors of business activity at Dow, held several different positions and worked in various regions of the world. It was this path and this experience which brought him to his latest challenge: CEO of the Altri Group.