Miguel Amaral should have been a lawyer, at least that was the initial plan, but after a friend introduced him to the ZX Spectrum computer, he found a new passion. Long story short, the road led to the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Lisbon. Four years later, he started developing front ends mainly for banks and insurance building an impressive career in Portugal.
In October, Miguel joined Data Masters as a Manager, being the first international reinforcement from Portugal that will lead our finance & banking division. Read the interview to learn about his experience, his motivation for joining Data Masters, and how he sees the company’s future.
You have a very interesting professional story. You should have been as you say a person in the world of “laws and suits” but something changed. Tell us more about what made you change your mind about choosing a career.
Since high school, I chose the field of study that would one day lead me to be a lawyer. A few years later, a colleague invited me to play a football video game on the mythical ZX Spectrum computer. I was fascinated and also decided to buy one of those machines. Luckily, the magnetic support from which the program was loaded didn’t work, which made me, reacting to frustration, read the user manual. Between “print” and “goto”, I produced my first “Hello world!”.
It didn’t take long for me to leave “laws and suits” to apply for the Mathematics Applied to Computing course at the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Lisbon. Four years later, I started working at the first consultancy company, developing front-ends for banks and insurance.
But it was in the mid-1990s that I found what I most enjoy doing. As part of the billing project for Airports in Portugal, I developed the so-called CDA – Classified Data Archive that provided management information to end-users. I then made my first Data Warehouse.
With an impressive career such as yours, you undoubtedly have had many successes. What do you feel is your most outstanding professional achievement so far?
Fortunately, I have had several moments of professional fulfillment: each time I produce the algorithm that solves that complicated situation of the moment; when I notice the glow of enthusiasm and accomplishment in the eyes of the colleagues to whom I managed to teach something; after achieving good communication with my clients and getting their needs in a clear way; whenever I deliver the result of a project to my clients and see that the success of the return drastically improves their lives; after ensuring that the financial results have made the project a great deal and whenever I manage to sell a new project.
But my greatest professional achievement was when a few years ago I was able to successfully orchestrate my teams and achieve all of the stages I mentioned above.
Which domains are your specialty and what types of projects are part of your portfolio?
I have hands-on business experience in different service sectors, mainly Banking and Finance in various roles. After a few years in consultancy and banking, I consider having good skills in information strategy and architecture, business intelligence strategy and architecture, and data warehouse conceptualization, design, and implementation.
In my career, I have worked on several projects by assuming Business Analyst and Project Manager roles. I also have experience in Risk Management/Capital adequacy (prudential reporting – COREP, AQR, EBA Stress Test, IRB coverage Roll-out/PPU, Liquidity Risk (ALM), and Operational Risk domains.
You have a vast experience in the field of Business Intelligence which changed throughout the years. Can you make a quick comparison of how tools, technologies, and projects progressed throughout your career?
At the very beginning of my professional journey, I was gathering meetings with about a dozen business users to produce COBOL programs on the mainframe that launched queries to DB2 and presented the results in text files that were sent to the printer’s spooler.
A few years later, I used an RDBMS Oracle on a Unix server. The tables in a model carefully designed with less normalization were loaded by PL/SQL processes. Then I connected a Business Objects universe that mapped a star schema. This provided metrics and analysis dimensions that in turn were used in the reporting and analysis tool Business Objects. This tool allows the user to drag and drop business objects for report or analysis construction. In fact, a SQL query was being built as the user dragged those objects. Reports are made by business experts and sent or deployed to the end users.
Nowadays, one uses a solution in a cloud that contains databases with petabytes, ETL processes made by tools in a drag-and-drop fashion way, and a dashboard tool such as Power BI. All this evolution allows us to build solutions together with our client’s business users in multi-disciplinary teams and walk the walk with them.
Why have you chosen to join Data Masters and how do you perceive the company’s growth?
Since I chose to be a consultant, my main ambition has been to help people and companies to solve their challenges. The knowledge that we are able to extract from the data seems to me to be one of the most intelligent ways to do so. The advanced technology and its constant innovation make Data Masters the best company to put all this into practice.
At Data Masters one can feel the energy of the giants. So I have no doubt in strongly believing that it will very soon become a global company.
What are your responsibilities as a Manager at Data Masters?
As responsible for the Portugal branch, I will act by generating new business there and ensuring the successful execution of the various projects and activities. At Data Masters worldwide I will give all my contributions mainly in the areas of banking and finance.
How do you perceive Data Masters presence in the Portugal market? What’s our potential there?
Much of Data Masters DNA comes from Portugal, which makes its understanding and adaptation to the Portuguese market happen naturally. There are a bunch of people from the Data Masters team that have been educated and already worked in Portugal, which gives the company a great start and an awareness of the business climate and potential. The knowledge of the Portuguese business reality helped by international experience makes our potential there enormous.
What are Data Masters’ strongest suits and how do you see the company 5 years from now?
The strength with which Data Masters positions itself globally, the seriousness of dealing with its business partners, the passion for putting solutions, all the dedication to teaching the teams, and the friendly environment, make Data Masters the best place to work in. I have a vision that in the next five years, Data Masters will be a player not only in Europe but worldwide.