The Meet The Aptoiders series rolls on, as we continue to feature members of the international Aptoide team who are leading change in their respective fields, and helping shape the future of Android and mobile technology.
Today we introduce you to Manuel Saraiva, a psychologist turned data scientist, who later became a business analyst to eventually be appointed as the head of the Aptoide office in China & a key player within Aptoide.
So we thought we’d pick his brain about some of the key features of his job, and his contribution to the growth and success of Aptoide. Read on to learn all about the ins and outs of Aptoide and what makes it one of the world’s largest mobile player in the Android industry.
1. Hi Manuel! In a nutshell, who is Manuel Saraiva? Tell us a bit about you and your background.
Hello! Not much to say - I’m Manuel, a Portuguese national working for Aptoide since October 2015 and currently heading our office in Shenzhen (China) as the General Manager. Before Aptoide I worked in the Management & Technology consulting department at PwC Lisbon (Portugal) and had a few personal projects in Android development. My academic background includes degrees in Psychology, Management and Data Science! On the more personal side, I enjoy sports a lot, especially racquet-based ones - I’m always up for a match of tennis, squash, badminton or ping pong, although I often play football as well. I’ll also spend my spare time searching for mind-bending books or movies, having just recently finished "Gödel, Escher, Bach” by Douglas Hofstadter which was quite the rollercoaster!
2. How does a Psychology graduate ends up managing a tech office in china?
Hah, good question. Actually the plan back then was enrolling in the Research Master in Neuroscience at the Maastricht University as I’ve always enjoyed studying the brain and had a fondness for statistics (I know). However, after a brief experience of what a life of research would be like, during which I dived into programming as a hobby, I decided to change paths and go for a master degree in Management instead. During this time I also went for a semester abroad in China, which was my first contact with this country and culture! I did miss the statistics however, which led me to the Data Science specialisation and Excel certification I got later. When I graduated, I think it was this mix of skills and interests that got me to join PwC Advisory, where in each project you needed to adapt to different service solutions and industries. I believe it was also this kind of multidimensional profile that Aptoide needed when opening the office in Shenzhen - someone who could not only see the business side and had previous interaction with the local culture, but also some technical affinity.
3. What was the biggest challenge you've been able to overcame in your 2 years at Aptoide?
During the visit of the Secretary of State of Industry to our office in Shenzhen, where we celebrated 1 million devices shipped from China with our app store, I spoke about some challenges during this past year and a half: 1) China is a relationship-driven market, where doesn’t really matter if you have the best product. If you want to succeed, you need to talk to the right people, at the right time and in the right way. Since we were basically starting from scratch, this was quite the hurdle at the beginning. 2) Market speed. In Shenzhen everything moves super fast and it’s difficult to keep up. The first consequence of this market characteristic is that we had to spend some time establishing and fine-tuning the communication flows with HQ teams. These flows have to be as close to efficient and lossless as possible in order to things work out smoothly. The second consequence is a pressure on the product chain as we’re always receiving suggestion improvements and insights where our solutions need to go if we want to adapt to the Chinese market demands and close partnerships. This was perhaps the biggest challenge and a lesson we learned. You can’t come to China and say “we have this, take it or leave it”; it’s actually more of a question such as “where should we be right now?”.
4. In your opinion, what are your most distinguished features of Aptoide that set us apart from other companies in our industry?
Aptoide has a proven track record of providing users and partners with a good experience and in different markets for quite some years now. We have accumulated expertise but also, and not less important, reliability. This communicates a trustworthiness that other companies with more volatile solutions have difficulty offering, even if they have far more resources than Aptoide. Further, we have always established close ties in the partnerships we create and we have dedicated teams helping to shape our products to the requirements we receive, thus showing the much needed flexibility and risk-taking culture that Shenzhen thrives on.
5. You've played a key role in the closing of several strategic partnerships. Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments working at Aptoide?
Well, the visit of the Secretary of State certainly counts as one of our proudest moments, but there was another particular moment that comes to mind. I remember it was when me and Junying visited Vivo headquarters for the first time. We had already become accustomed to skyscrapers or even whole tech parks just for one company but after we stepped out of the meeting and left the building, we just had to make a pause and voice the same thought we were both having - that it’s actually an honour being able to work with brands and manufacturers of such high status. We were meeting the decision-makers of projects upwards of 20 million smartphones per year, and their eagerness to work with us was just a great moment to experience as Aptoiders.