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Mario Santos Named Head of New Lisbon Office

Mario Manuel Anastacio Dos Santos has been hired to head Hill International’s new office in Lisbon, Portugal.  The new office enables Hill to capitalize on Portugal’s current and anticipated economic growth over the next several years.

Santos, an architect and design and construction manager, has more than 20 years of experience.  A native of Portugal, he has led design teams and consulted on projects ranging from office buildings, to shopping centers, hotels, resorts, airports and master plans in cities around the world.

“I was born here in Lisbon, Portugal, and lived in Cape Verde, Africa, for a few years in my youth and, later, from 2007 to 2011, in Milan, Italy,” Santos said.  “My international experience—working in more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America—has allowed me to understand the specifics of each country’s market and culture, and apply my skills accordingly.”

“In the last 20-plus years, I have mostly worked on mixed-use projects and shopping centers, defining the vision and producing the necessary information for every project at the feasibility study level and, then, putting together a strong and motivated design team, leading it during all stages of the development, sustaining a strong vision and keeping the project to the budget, delivering a unique product,” Santos added.

Lisbon—and the whole of Portugal—are at a unique point in history, poised for extensive growth over the next several years.

“According to Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2016, a publication from PwC and the Urban Land Institute, Lisbon qualifies as the seventh most attractive European city for investment.  The Portuguese capital of Lisbon is on the radar of investors once again, fueled by Portugal’s recovered credibility,” Santos said.

Portugal’s government is working hard to lure businesses to country, and the port city of Lisbon, a picturesque city located on the shores of the Atlantic, is uniquely positioned to welcome them, Santos said.

“Lisbon is positioning itself as an Atlantic business hub and an Atlantic startup city, exploiting its geographic location as a gateway to the Americas, Africa and the European Union,” Santos added. “And, Lisbon was named a European Entrepreneurial Region in 2015 in recognition of its recovery and expected growth.”

Lisbon attracts more than four million visitors a year, with an estimated 40 percent of those arriving for business.  High-tech, start-ups, tourism, and service industries command the lion’s share of Portugal’s businesses.  International firms Fujitsu, Cisco, Nokia Networks and Solvay already have set up shop here.

Lisbon also is rehabilitating its aging city center and infrastructure, and the city’s award in 2015 as European Entrepreneurial Region of the Year, is proof things are heading in the right direction.

“The change has been dramatic,” Rui Coelho, executive director of InvestLisboa, the city’s investment promotion agency, told the BBC recently.  “We saw all time record investment in real estate, tourism, and entrepreneurship in 2015.”

While Portugal still has major hurdles, including a still-high unemployment rate and aging infrastructure, Santos is confident the country is on the upswing, and he is excited about the possibilities that upswing will create.

“Among other opportunities, more than one million buildings in the country need to be refurbished or renewed, and there are funds and initiatives at a national level towards urban renovation,” he said.  “As a result, there are many opportunities to provide our expertise, including project management, construction management and design management.”

Santos graduated with a degree in Architecture from the Escola Superior de Belas Artes de Lisboa—Lisbon’s school of architecture—and studied Design Management, Marketing, Strategy, and Finance at the European University in Lisbon, the University of Westminster in London, and the Centre for Management Development of the London Business School.

While he has traveled the world, Santos said he is happy to be back in Portugal, and he is eager to get started.

“I have the necessary skills and experience to understand and manage large multi-cultural and multi-disciplined teams, to identify and sustain a project owner’s vision, to identify the key factors in the success of that project, and to fight for them throughout the project to obtain an industry award-winning product,” he said.

Still, it is Santos’ love of the city in which he was born that really fuels him and his desire to see it take its place as an EU economic stronghold.

“Lisbon is the most beautiful city in the world,” he said.  “There is no place quite like it, and I am honored to be leading Hill’s efforts here.”

By Tricia McCunney