May 14, 2024

Interview with Daniela Braga: “What I admire most about the USA is the culture of rewards”

Portuguese people who stand out abroad are helping to find out where business opportunities are and what kind of companies and activities the country can attract. An initiative that brings together Negócios and the Portuguese Diaspora Council.

1- What led you to leave Portugal?

The decision that led me to leave Portugal, a few years ago, was motivated by an irrefutable opportunity to add value to my professional career. This opportunity was provided to me by Microsoft, in China. This change in my life marked the beginning of an international journey that would take me to the United States of America, where I still find myself today.

Later, I completed an internal transfer at Microsoft, this time to the USA. At the time, I was based in Seattle, where I later founded my company,, in late 2015. More recently, I moved to Washington, D.C. to be closer to US government agencies.

2- What advantages or disadvantages does being Portuguese bring you?

I didn’t find any significant disadvantages in being Portuguese when I moved from Portugal to China or from China to the United States of America.

However, in the USA there is a feeling of mixed feelings regarding emigration, as the country only welcomes and accepts qualified emigrants. In this sense, my entry into the country was greatly facilitated, as I had the privilege of entering through a special status: internal transfer at Microsoft. Perhaps this was an advantage, but not because of the nationality factor.

Still, until I obtained American citizenship, I can say that I felt that there was some social discrimination. In the case of China, I simply felt like an “alien”, as there are not many foreign women going to China, living and working, who are highly qualified. Normally, this phenomenon is much more associated with executive men who, when working, take their wives and families with them – not the other way around.

3- What obstacles did you have to overcome and how did you do it?

The United States of America has always been known as a country full of interesting opportunities for those who work hard and have ambition and resilience. And, therefore, it also becomes a ruthless and unforgivable environment for those who do not integrate into this hardworking spirit.

I wouldn’t exactly call it an obstacle, but hard and continuous work are undoubtedly the ingredients for the ideal recipe for how to overcome this challenge that we face when entering the country. I would say it is more of a reality check than an obstacle in itself. It is perfectly surmountable if you dedicate yourself and firmly believe in the reason that made you want, above all, to enter the USA.

4- What do you admire most about the country where you are?

What I admire most about the United States of America is the culture of reward and recognition for hard work and, consequently, success. There is a certain competitive environment, promoted by this culture, which encourages innovation and makes it one of the most important pillars of American society. Without it, the country would not be the power it is today.

Furthermore, I also admire the fact that, even though it is a bipolar country in many areas, there is less prejudice towards difference. There is greater openness and acceptance towards diversity and plurality, even though it is a country divided in different aspects of society.

The USA continues to be, since its formation, the country where opportunities are abundant, remaining since then the most developed economic power in the world.

5- What do you most admire about the company or organization where you work?

As the founder of my own company,, I am very proud of our journey and our integrity. One of the factors that I admire most about my company is the fact that our vision, since 2015, will continue to be more relevant and current than ever, in 2024.

Most startups end up dying within the first few years of their existence. We have constantly fought against this: we are a true example of innovation, resilience and integrity of values that have been maintained since the beginning. Like any other technology company, we have undergone many transformations over time and I am very proud of the consistent path we have followed to date.

Looking at the competition, most of these companies have not survived to this day, some of them even with better financing than us, and continues to grow visibly in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector and become the most active voice of Ethical AI worldwide.

6- What recommendations would you give to Portugal and its businesspeople and managers?

The recommendations I would give to Portugal and its businesspeople and managers may seem quite simple, but they are truly effective when actually put into practice:

a) Be bolder! Don’t be afraid to take risks and even fail, as it’s all part of the professional growth process. Being fearless is really very important – it’s a differentiating factor. Don’t miss any opportunity due to lack of courage to move forward.

b) Always look at the market on a global scale. A strategy where Portuguese companies only look at the market on a national scale is always a big risk. Look for global opportunities.

c) Be constantly updated and prepared to change and adapt according to the needs of the market in which they operate. The need for rapid adaptation is fundamental to guarantee competitiveness and sustainability in the current scenario.

7- In which sectors of the country where you live could Portuguese companies find customers?

Portugal’s business fabric is almost entirely made up of small and medium-sized companies, with 96.1% being micro-enterprises (INE, PORDATA, 2022). This fact makes the possibility of global scalability even more difficult.

It would be very difficult to find customers in the United States of America without the company making a global and digital transition. When you see the business world on a global scale, there is a market for everyone. The American market can offer a wide range of opportunities for Portuguese companies, if they are prepared for this transition.

In the technological sector, the USA is the most advanced country in the world. Therefore, despite there being a lot of competition, there is still room to enter. You need to find a differentiating angle or present innovative solutions to be able to stand out among so many others.

8- In which sectors in Portugal might companies from the country where you live want to invest?

Portugal continues to be a country with very attractive talent for setting up a support operations center for technology companies – which is exactly what I did with my company. For these reasons, the technology sector would say.

The USA is very diverse: on the West Coast and in Seattle it is very common to create operations centers in Portugal. In Washington, D.C., where I recently moved, most companies provide services to the US Government and are required to recruit talent from the country.

9- What is the competitive advantage of the country you live in that could be replicated in Portugal?

The USA has a completely unique model in the world, where it makes a very strong separation between the private and public sectors. I consider this model a competitive advantage that could be replicated in Portugal.

The Portuguese and, consequently, their companies, continue to live dependent on the State and expect a lot of support. In the USA, there is a very clear separation in this sense, with the innovation environment, which is reflected throughout the country, clearly leveraged by the private sector.

10- Do you plan to return to Portugal? Why?

Not at the moment. I don’t plan on returning to Portugal because I still find myself growing my company more and more, and there is a lot to do and achieve. And it is here, in the United States of America, that’s business opportunities lie: 99% of our market continues to be American. Not being able to ignore this fact, I still can’t think about returning to Portugal at the moment.

Read the original article here.