Cristina Almeida, Head of Platform at MAZE

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Early years and where you came from?

If I were to describe it one sentence: a place with a lot of women and sports. My initial dream was to work for the European Institutions. Then, I lived and studied in Strasbourg and realized it was too slow for me. I came back, finished my studies, and eventually joined a start-up and am now working at MAZE, an impact investing firm based in Lisbon.

How were you introduced to the world of the Portuguese tech industry?

MAZE is an impact organization so we are always attentive to initiatives such as this one. In my early days at MAZE, I met Liliana Castro and have been following her work ever since.

Walk me through your work and what you are doing now in the tech industry.

At MAZE, we accelerate and invest in solutions solving for social and environmental challenges. Our startup accelerator and our VC fund specifically target tech companies. Being a Head of Platform means being the main touchpoint for hiring, commercial introductions, fundraising for a pan-European portfolio of +30 technology companies. To do my work well, I have to understand the companies’ product and needs quite fast to help them achieve their goals and communicate their journey to our community of founders, investors and partners.

What part of what you do, you love the most?

Every founder that joins our community is intentionally committed to solving a social or environmental challenge. Helping them build their vision, attract the right talent and telling this story is a great privilege. I also get to learn a lot. So, double privilege.

How do you think that your background and knowledge impact the way you approach your work in the Portuguese tech industry?

Technology is meaningless in and of itself. We have lived to see the best and the worst of it. Technology is a tool, an enabler. Being part of an impact organization that supports 50+ winners in the impact ecosystem, means constantly being reminded of the power of building solutions that serve who is not currently being served and care for our planet.

What advice do you have for young women that want to get into tech and don’t know where to start?

If you don’t know what drives you, observe where your mind flows when you let it drift.
If you don’t know where to start, find a mentor you admire (have you heard of PWIT? :)
Remind yourself every day that “underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in. Overqualified and over-prepared, too many women still hold back.” (Kay and Shipman, The Confidence Code, 2014).
There are many ways to be a woman in tech, if you are curious about coding, visit this website (-18yo) and this one (+18yo).

Walk me through a day in your life as a Portuguese women in tech.

I belong to the engagement team that supports the three verticals at MAZE: acceleration, investment and government performance. So, there are hardly two days alike but the are some common denominators:

(1) Connect with the 15pax team members to sense how they are feeling, understand what is important to them and how we are living our culture every day.
(2) Participate in investment discussions and selection committees of MSM.
(3) Optimize the processes and tools we use to help our entrepreneurs achieve their goals and maximize their impact (eg. scouting for talent, PR, commercial introductions).
(4) Create content (mediums: written word, video, design; channels: newsletter, social media, website, events) to engage with our audiences (entrepreneurs, investors, public servants and officials) and get our shared story across the ecosystem.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

It’s better to apologize than to ask permission.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Slack, Outlook, Affinity, Sampani, Rundit, Sompani, Microsoft Planner, Adobe (photoshop, audition), Mailchimp, Facebook/Linkedin/Instagram, Spotify.

Anything else you want to share?

I am currently updating our website to better explain our work and provide insightful content on impact entrepreneurship. If you want to get notified, subscribe to our newsletter here

In times of uncertainty, follow the content creators that have the heart in the right place like Sérgio Cameira, from Porto, that designed our brands and just launched a comprehensive website about the COVID19 in Portugal.

👉Find Cristina on LinkedIn

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