Lessons Had and Lessons Learnt — Leading in Times of the Pandemic


By Patricia Casaburi

CEO of Global Citizen Solutions, Patricia Casaburi, shares her trials and tribulations of leading her team through Portugal’s second lockdown to publish an ebook on the Portuguese property market.

It has long been documented that crises make or break leaders, and the COVID-19 pandemic surely qualifies, offering somewhat of a live experiment in leadership. The past year has brought tremendous challenges for business leaders worldwide, demanding them to step up in new, profound ways. In particular, qualities like empathy, collaboration, and authentic engagement with employees have been increasingly associated with women leaders.

As the CEO of Global Citizen Solutions— a boutique investment migration consultancy firm— the road to navigating the ripple effects of the pandemic has been fraught with challenges and, interestingly, opportunities for my team and me.

In January 2021, Portugal was hit with the world’s highest death rates related to COVID-19. As intensive care units filled up, the Portuguese government shut the country down for the second time in under a year. My company was back to operating online, and many of my staff were stuck in other countries like the United Kingdom, Serbia, Spain and Brazil. Yet my plans to launch our company book project on how to buy a property in Portugal went ahead.

The main challenge was to keep my team focused and motivated, especially since we were all trying to make sense of this pandemic. Sales and marketing strategies tried and tested in the past had to be reinvented, and our plans to showcase the book had to be done completely online. The team had to be always connected, collaborating and discussing the book process interactively.

But there is a silver lining in all of this. For me, the need to deliver on what my clients would find a hugely helpful resource on buying real estate in Portugal triumphed over the logistical challenges of delivering a book remotely. And I couldn’t have done it without my team. Despite all of us working remotely, we had an excellent and engaged team and a brilliant project manager who saw this book for what it was — a critical resource for our clients.

Essentially, the book is a practical guide that aims to empower and enable home buyers to make an informed purchase of their new home or investment property. Goldcrest, our on-the-ground real estate division, spearheaded the whole research, helping keep all the information updated and centralized. Considering we live in a time where there is an over-saturation of information out there, it can be hard to filter out and shut down background noise. That’s what this book aims to do, to provide a clear, constructive path to the Portuguese real estate market.

For me, the true challenge came down to promoting the book. How to pull off a virtual book launch when they’re traditionally done in person? Working with our Public Relations Manager, our marketing team had many creative strategy sessions, talking through all the logistical hurdles of executing a virtual book launch internationally.

Since our two key markets were the UK and USA, we invited key representatives of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce Organizations in the respective countries and other real estate partners in Portugal to promote the book with us. Through a joint collaborative effort, our book launch invite reached far and wide with over 200 subscribers.

The next challenge was how to make the online event exciting and not sound like just another webinar. We also wanted to keep the spirit of having a ‘live event’, so in the end, we did a hybrid mix between virtual and live. Five speakers who were actually based in Lisbon ended up hosting the event in a hotel conference room. There, we broadcasted the launch while respecting all COVID restriction guidelines. The moment we opened the chatroom during the launch, we were bombarded with questions from the audience, showing that the event was informative and entertaining at the same time.

It was a valuable lesson for us all, proving that awareness can be cultivated with an informative event that’s done both online and in-person. What’s more, joint promotional efforts can help with book sales, since two months from the launch, our partners are still recommending our book to their clients.

Looking back on the book endeavor, it was impressive how we managed to execute a project of this magnitude amidst Portugal’s worst pandemic crisis to date. While we’re very happy that the lockdown restrictions have been lifted for now, our team is still using some of the tried and tested ways of working remotely.

I would say the pandemic has taught us many things. For me, it made me reflect on the significance of leadership and how fluid that interpretation is. When I think of leaders, the word that automatically springs to mind is ‘inspiration’, which is true in some ways. A good leader works to keep people motivated by showing them what the future looks like and the purpose of the day-to-day grind. I would like to think I can be like that, at least sometimes, but it’s hard. For the most part, I see my team the same way I see my clients, and I try to be empathetic and pay attention to their motivations.

At the end of the day, irrespective of a crisis like this global pandemic, for instance, a good leader, in my eyes, is someone who isn’t fixated on getting something right the entire time. It’s a lot about adapting and surrounding yourself with competent people. It’s about listening and taking the time to process situations and act when the time is right. Mostly, for me, it’s always to listen to your gut, but mostly, to just go for it.

About Your Expert Guide to Buying Property in Portugal

Property in Portugal

While there is undoubtedly a wealth of information out there on the Portuguese real estate market, there is no one centralized place a buyer can go to for guidance. Our book combines people’s queries about buying a property in Portugal, providing a definitive, practical, and easy-to-digest guide that steers readers through the buying process in the country. The book includes a six-step guide to buying, sections on taxes and fees, financing your property, the most desirable locations, and even Portuguese culture. We also provide up-to-date information on the current real estate market and topical information relating to COVID-19, Brexit, and changes to the Golden Visa scheme to put current uncertainties to rest.

We hope our book continues to encourage buyers to discover that purchasing in Portugal is not so daunting — and to celebrate the diversity of the beautiful locations in which it’s possible to own a second home.

About the Author

Patricia Casaburi Patricia Casaburi has an LLB from the University of Law, in London and; her specialties include legal lead liaison in commercial law and immigration. With an added bonus of a bachelor degree in media studies and journalism, she built expert sales and operations teams, with knowledge of the best communication practices.

As a Brazilian national, with Italian and Lebanese grandparents Patricia knew from an early age what it meant to be global. Patricia worked in London in account management for an international group before before founding Global Citizen Solutions.

Patricia speaks Portuguese and English and has a good understanding of Spanish and French

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Political Anthropologist.