In the latest of our office profile series, we sat down with Senior Consultant Maïssane Lahmar-Savage, Consultant Joséphine Moreau and Executive Federico De Falco to find out more about Portland life in Brussels.
Tell us about the work you do in Brussels.
Joséphine opens our discussion saying they work with a “wide array of clients” in the Brussels office; “we have some in transport, new mobility sectors, sustainability and we work quite a bit on IP in various capacities. We also defend the interests of rights holders who want to fight against online counterfeiting.”
Federico adds to this list saying, “Also in new technologies like AI, telecommunications and digital policies in general.”
“We are generalists” Maïssane summarises. “We jump from one topic to another, from one service or task to another. We do policy and comms, media relations, we organise events, we do trainings, so it’s a very diverse offer, but it will always have this policy element!”
Maïssane goes on to say that this is what they call the ‘Brussels Bubble’, “At the end of the day everything links a little bit to policy…it’s very close to our heart, and personally that is also what I enjoy.”
Joséphine agrees and adds that the variety was something that appealed to her about the role. “I think it’s a really nice way, particularly for people who are curious and open to learning about different things to work on different topics.”
What do you enjoy about working in Brussels?
“What I really like about Brussels is how young it is”, Joséphine begins. “A lot of young people who studied politics across Europe will come to Brussels to get their first job, so you do have that really enthusiastic, optimistic vibe of young people who are starting to work in the city.”
Agreeing with Joséphine’s point Federico goes on to say, “it’s very network oriented, you can get to know a lot of people through work, and you can expand that beyond work. And that gives you the chance to have network lunch and dinners.”
They all agree that as a city, Brussels is one that grows on you.
“I feel like a lot of people when they arrive here from other countries are like ‘I’m only going to be here for a couple years’”, Maïssane explains. “But a lot of people stay and at some point, without even realising it becomes their hometown. So, it’s special.”
Maïssane goes on to say why she enjoys working at the Portland Brussels office in particular. “The life of the Brussels office is something very special. Obviously, the pandemic impacted us quite heavily, but I think we sort of kept the atmosphere that we had prior to the pandemic; this very friendly and nice atmosphere. And I think we all enjoy being with each other, we’re very close to be honest!”
Can you describe how the Brussels office encapsulates the Portland values? (Be Smart, Be Collaborative, Be Human, Grow)
Joséphine kicks off the discussion thinking about the Be Smart value. “I think intellectually what’s really interesting is how flexible you have to be and sometimes it might force you to open up to new sectors and to new ways of interacting with colleagues and doing these types of tasks. I think that maybe one way that Be Smart is applicable as we are constantly learning and adapting to changes.”
Federico agrees and moves on to the Be Collaborative value. “People are collaborative! Being the most junior one among the three of us, I’ve recently received a lot of steer, guidance and mentorship on a lot of things that helps you improve yourself.”
The opportunity for collaboration is something made possible by the arrangement of the office, Maïssane tells us. “The Partners and the Interns are sitting in the same room. You can be 22 coming from university and sit with a Senior Policy Advisor and that’s really what I enjoy, because this is something that helps you grow, develop your career and it shows a significant level of humanity.”
Joséphine agrees saying, “Be Collaborative and Be Human I see as going together – everything we do, we do in teams.”
“There’s a huge potential for growth”, she continues. “If you look at the Brussels office, I think people move up quite fast or young compared to other agencies. Sometimes you feel like you’re being thrown into the wild with a new client or new field, but it forces you to grow faster and take on responsibility. That’s an attractive part of the job.”