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Pleo’s going global. Next stop: Portugal

Here at Pleo, we’re on a mission. You could say we’re working towards world (European) domination. We know there’s a whole continent out there filled with bad expense management — it’s manual, it’s time-wasting, it’s tedious. 

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been launching Pleo in country, after country. So far, you can now find us in Finland, Austria, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. And we’ve just landed at our next destination: Portugal.

We caught up with Adi Sanches, our very own Senior Product Researcher, to learn more about what it's like digging into our product and identifying our customers' needs and why Portugal is ready for a new way of dealing with company spending. 

Tell us a little about yourself…

My name is Adi, I’m based in the Copenhagen office and I joined Pleo at the start of this year, so around six months ago now. But it already feels like I’ve been here over a year, in Pleo years anyway, which is pretty exciting and something I’ve never experienced at any other company before.

I work as a Senior Product Researcher within the User Research team which is part of the Design and Research competence. I work across the Admin Experience and Spending Journey domains, so right now I'm focusing on understanding the day-to-day challenges of teams managing company expenses.

So, what’s life like being a Product Researcher at Pleo?

As a Product Researcher at Pleo, more than anything I feel very supported. Everyone here at the company wants to intentionally develop need-based solutions — Pleo is all about customer-centricity at its core.

At the same time, there are so many talented people from different backgrounds, I always end up having great discussions about methodologies and processes of applied research within the product development life cycle. This is something fairly new because research has been used either before product development or after, typically this is more UX research. 

What we’re trying to do is expand those concepts and apply research within the entire product development lifecycle. So, it’s very interesting because it’s a new discipline in some sense.

What does your day-to-day look like at Pleo?

In a nutshell, my job is to challenge internal assumptions and ask critical questions regarding what products we’re developing. I usually work in a project-based format where I help various teams understand what the problem is that they’re trying to solve.

Before I start interviewing customers and moving into the ideation and testing phase, I focus on asking the teams why are we doing this? What’s the exact problem we’re trying to solve? Is developing something new the right way to solve this problem?

Can you give us a sneak peek of a problem you’ve been working on recently?

Just one example would be the persona work we’ve been developing. We talk about admin and admin teams, but who exactly are these people within the finance teams?

We’re working to get a deeper understanding of who these people are, and what their roles and responsibilities are. We’re looking to dig deep into what the dynamics look like, what their workflows look like, who does what, and who's responsible for bookkeeping and accounting.

All of these questions will hopefully give us a deeper understanding of who our users are and how can we support their individual needs.

How did your journey at Pleo begin?

I’ve been living in Denmark for six years, and I’ve been following Pleo for about five years after a friend of mine was interning at a company in the same co-working space as where Pleo was.

At the time, I considered applying for a Student Assistant position, but I ended up starting a job at the Copenhagen Business School. 

I've known Pleo since the logo and branding were a different shade of pink.

Why is now a great time for Pleo to enter the Portuguese market?

Portugal is a pretty traditional country, with a more traditional working culture compared to other European countries. At the same time, it’s currently going through a really big change.

After recovering from the financial crisis in 2008, there has been a lot of attention on Portugal and it’s turned into a hub for tech and innovation. For example, we have the Web Summit, which is one of the biggest startup events in the world. It was originally hosted in Lisbon and it went so well that there’s now a deal to host this event in Portugal for the next ten years.  

It’s becoming a place where so many ex-pats and tech experts are looking to move to. Not only for the good weather but because of the opportunities here too.

What does the typical company spending culture look like in Portugal?

This is where that ‘tradition’ and bureaucracy come into play because company spending in Portugal is not an easy process. Not only is it something that not everyone in a company is allowed to do, but it’s also a very tedious process compared to many other countries. For example, every time you buy something you need for work, you need to request the company’s NIF (fiscal identification number), from the restaurant, shop, or supplier. 

And you need to do this for whatever you buy. Whether you’re spending €3 or €3,000. 

But things are starting to move and evolve in Portugal at a faster pace, which means people don't have the time to spend on tedious processes like this. The market, the people, and the country are ready for something new that is still compliant with the local legislation.

Why should anyone in Portugal come to work at Pleo?

There are so many reasons, it’s hard to know where to even start. In Portugal, the younger generation relates more to the tech-driven, modern ways of working rather than the hierarchical ways that our parents are used to. Not sure if that means we’re more spoiled or more rebellious… 

But for me, one of the key reasons is that Pleo is an open, international company, it’s very vibrant with a very informal culture which comes from its Scandi roots and values.

Pleo is a place that puts a lot of emphasis on having a healthy work-life balance. What’s more important than that?

As you can tell, it’s a pretty exciting time for Pleo. And we couldn’t have put it better than Adi ourselves. Before you go, why not check out the roles we’re currently hiring for. Better still, why not join Adi’s team?

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