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7 Questions on Leadership with Paulo Pinheiro

Name: Paulo Pinheiro

Title: AIT Technician

Organisation: Beyond gravity

As a seasoned professional with a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and an extensive background in various leadership roles, I bring a wealth of expertise to the field of management and quality assurance

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Paulo's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

In my diverse leadership roles across various engineering and maritime sectors, the most challenging aspect has been striking the delicate balance between ensuring rigorous product quality and efficiency, especially in dynamic and multifaceted environments.

Specifically, overseeing quality assurance at Liebherr Machines Bulle S.A. required meticulous coordination of tests, audits, and inspections. Balancing these activities for problem identification and process improvement, while concurrently ensuring compliance with safety regulations, demanded a nuanced approach. The challenge lay in harmonizing robust quality standards with the need for operational efficiency and continuous improvement.

Additionally, my tenure as a Senior Team Leader at Nautical NMH presented challenges in achieving ambitious targets while maintaining a clean, safe, and efficient work environment. Juggling strategic decision-making, daily team meetings, and comprehensive feedback provision necessitated adept leadership skills to overcome hurdles efficiently.

This multifaceted challenge aligns with my commitment to uncompromising product quality, a key theme in my professional journey. It's a testament to the intricate balance required to navigate the complexities of quality control, process optimization, and team management successfully.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My journey toward leadership has been shaped by a combination of education, diverse experiences, and a commitment to excellence. Having earned a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from NOVA School of Science and Technology in Lisbon, Portugal, I laid the foundation for my technical expertise.

The pivotal point in my career came during my tenure as a Technical and Administrative Assistant at Tecnimarine et MC Yachts. Starting as a part-time job while studying, I managed detailed administrative processes, engaged in technical assistance, and contributed to engine repairs. This early exposure instilled a strong work ethic and a keen sense of responsibility.

The transition to roles like Internship and Master Thesis at Tecnimarine et MC Yachts and later Production Manager at Sevilla Shipyard marked a significant leap in responsibilities. In these positions, I oversaw intricate marine propulsion projects, collaborated on yacht design initiatives, and optimized production processes. As a Production Manager, I successfully led a team, monitored quality assurance, and implemented process improvement initiatives, showcasing my ability to navigate complex challenges.

My role as a Senior Team Leader at Nautical NMH in Granada, Spain, further solidified my leadership capabilities. I provided guidance, solved problems, and ensured team objectives were met. Organizing daily team meetings fostered effective communication, while maintaining a clean and safe work environment showcased my commitment to excellence.

Transitioning into the role of AIT Technician at Beyond Gravity in Zurich, Switzerland, I engaged in near-series production tests of space mechanisms, contributing to quality control and meticulous testing procedures.

Moreover, my extensive experience as a Marine Technician, Marine Engineer, and Certification and Compliance Engineer across various locations and industries has enriched my leadership journey. Over the years, I have honed my skills in managing teams, making strategic decisions, and maintaining a strong focus on quality compliance.

In summary, my leadership journey is a testament to continuous growth, adaptability, and a passion for achieving excellence in every role I undertake. I look forward to bringing these leadership experiences to new challenges and making meaningful contributions to the success of future endeavors.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Certainly! Based on your CV


5:00 am - 5:30 am: Morning Routine

- Wake up early to start the day with energy and focus.

- Engage in a brief morning routine, including activities like stretching, meditation, or a quick workout.

6:00 am - 7:30 am: Professional Development

Take the public transport to Zurich and Dedicate the early morning hours to continuous learning and professional development.

- Review industry updates, read relevant articles, or engage in online courses to stay informed and enhance my skills.

7:30 am - 16:30 pm: Work at Beyond Gravity

- As an AIT Technician, focus on conducting tests in near-series production of space mechanisms.

- Perform quality control, post-process test data, and ensure adherence to clean room conditions.

12:00 pm - 12:30 pm: Lunch Break

- Take a break to recharge and enjoy a nutritious lunch.

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm:

Transport public to Bern and take Language Practice and Communication

- Allocate time for language practice, focusing on English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

- Respond to emails, messages, and communicate with colleagues and partners.

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Fitness and Outdoor Activity

- Dedicate an hour to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

- Engage in fitness activities, such as a workout session or a run.

7:30 pm - 9:00 pm: Family and Personal Time

- Spend quality time with family and engage in personal activities to unwind.

9:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Reflect and Plan for the Next Day

- Reflect on the day's accomplishments and areas for improvement.

- Plan tasks and priorities for the following workday.

10:00 pm: Bedtime

- Ensure to get sufficient rest for a productive next day.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A recent leadership lesson I've been reminded of is the importance of adapting and leading through change. In my current role as an AIT Technician at Beyond Gravity, I have actively participated in the near-series production of space mechanisms, which often involves adapting to new testing technologies and methodologies. This experience has reinforced the need for flexible leadership to navigate uncertainties and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

Additionally, my tenure as a Senior Team Leader at Nautical NMH required effective problem-solving and strategic decision-making to ensure team targets were met. This emphasized the significance of maintaining a solution-oriented mindset in leadership, particularly when faced with challenges.

In summary, the ability to adapt, lead through change, and maintain a solution-oriented approach has been a valuable leadership lesson, especially in dynamic environments like the aerospace and marine industries.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One book that has profoundly influenced my approach to leadership is "Lean Thinking" by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones. This book provided me with valuable insights into optimizing processes, reducing waste, and enhancing overall efficiency principles that align seamlessly with my key skills and experiences.

As a versatile engineer with a background in ensuring uncompromising product quality and efficiency, "Lean Thinking" resonated with my commitment to continuous improvement. The book's emphasis on minimizing non-value-adding activities, which I have successfully implemented in roles such as Production Manager at Sevilla Shipyard, significantly contributed to streamlining production processes, reducing costs, and meeting production targets.

Moreover, the principles of Lean Thinking have been instrumental in my roles as a Senior Team Leader, where I led teams, made strategic decisions, and ensured efficient work areas. The book's teachings on problem-solving and strategic decision-making have consistently guided my leadership style, resulting in achieving company objectives and maintaining clean, safe, and efficient work environments.

In the dynamic environments of marine engineering and certification engineering, the principles learned from "Lean Thinking" have enhanced my ability to diagnose and resolve mechanical problems, optimize propulsion systems, and ensure compliance with safety regulations.

Overall, this book has been a cornerstone in shaping my leadership philosophy.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

My advice would be to cultivate a continuous learning mindset. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, seek feedback to refine your skills, and stay adaptable in the face of change. Building strong relationships and effective communication will be your pillars for success. Remember, leadership is a journey of self-improvement and empowerment.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One meaningful leadership experience that stands out in my career was during my tenure as a Senior Team Leader at Nautical NMH in Granada, Andalucia, Spain, from June 2016 to June 2019.

In this role, I faced a significant challenge when our team had to meet aggressive production targets amid unforeseen external disruptions. Instead of merely focusing on the targets, I initiated a team-building workshop to enhance collaboration and problem-solving skills. We collectively identified bottlenecks, streamlined communication channels, and established a more efficient workflow.

Despite the initial skepticism, the team embraced the changes, and within a short period, we not only met our production targets but exceeded them. This experience taught me the transformative power of effective leadership, fostering a collaborative and adaptive environment. It highlighted the importance of understanding the unique strengths of each team member and leveraging them to overcome challenges collectively.

This successful turnaround not only boosted team morale but also left a lasting impact on our overall productivity and efficiency. It reinforced my belief in the significance of strong leadership in navigating challenges and achieving collective success.

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