After Lisbon, Airbus Global Business Services (GBS) is preparing to open a satellite hub in Coimbra in the first quarter of next year. Recruitment for the new office will start “in the coming weeks”, and the first hires should be closed in early 2023. The aeronautical company, which already has 350 people in its Lisbon office, anticipates maintaining the same pace of hiring next year and has updated its goals: by 2025, it wants to employ 900 people. In March, it aimed for 850. In mid-October the move to the new office in Parque das Nações begins.
“Coimbra was chosen because of its strategic location, with the proximity to both Lisbon and Porto, but also for its dynamic ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship,” adds Charles Huguet, managing director of Airbus Global Business Services (GBS).
“The project should start with a first hiring campaign of up to 50 people. In the midterm, we want to reach up to 100 employees in our Coimbra office on a hybrid working model. The recruitment process will start in the coming weeks and we expect to have our first hires for the beginning of 2023,” says the managing director.
The opening, planned for the start of 2023, fulfils the plans announced in March by the company to have a second office for its growing Global Business Services hub in Lisbon. “The ram-up phase in Lisbon is going extremely well, with already over 300 employees, 200 of them recruited in the last 6 months. We expect to hire until the end of the year up to 100 employees, complying with our initial goal,” he assures.
In mid-October, employees from Lisbon start moving to the new office in Parque das Nações.
Charles Huguet does not reveal the amount of this investment. “We don’t communicate on investment figures. Opening the new office in Coimbra will require a facility to host up to 100 employees, and our focus will be on getting the best workplace for the best people to be part of Airbus GBS,” he says. “We confirm the recent news about the investment made by Airbus in Portugal, in which these projects were included.”
You are getting ready to open a second hub. What influenced the location decision?
Coimbra stood out as the most relevant city due to its great strategic location, transportation options and infrastructures available, mainly through the Polytechnics and University, where thousands of students choose to develop their education in various domains.
What motivated this expansion? Are the services or markets that this new hub will serve different from those of Lisbon?
Airbus GBS decided to open a satellite office to be closer to a new diverse talent pool. The ram-up phase in Lisbon is going extremely well and we decided to find more available talents in a mid-size city in the country. The thousands of students living in the Coimbra region have a great potential and training quality through the Polytechnics and the University, and Airbus GBS is looking for people willing to work for a key player in the aerospace industry and grow with the company.
We will have the same type of services provided to Airbus around the world from both our offices in Lisbon and Coimbra.
We want to reach up to 100 employees in our Coimbra office on a hybrid working model. The recruitment process will start in the coming weeks and we expect to have our first hires for the beginning of 2023.
How many people and what profiles will you need?
The project should start with a first hiring campaign of up to 50 people. In the midterm, we want to reach up to 100 employees in our Coimbra office on a hybrid working model. The recruitment process will start in the coming weeks and we expect to have our first hires for the beginning of 2023. We are looking for talents in the fields of Accounting, Procurement, IT Systems, Human Resources and Travel & Expenses.
Is being outside Lisbon an asset when hiring?
Coimbra was chosen because of its strategic location, with the proximity to both Lisbon and Porto, but also for its dynamic ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship. Being outside of these areas allows us to reach a new talent pool. With around eight thousand young graduates every year coming from the Polytechnics and University, we expect to be able to hire a new diverse and talented group of people who will be great assets to support our operations in Portugal.
Is the focus still on resident local talent or are there plans to open the range to other regions of the world?
At our home location in Lisbon, Airbus GBS is proud to be one of the most diverse companies in Portugal. Out of the more than 300 employees, we have 30 nationalities already working with us in Lisbon. Around 70% of our people are Portuguese, but our focus is to work with talented people, regardless of their nationality, age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. We really believe that diversity drives innovation, so we do not miss the chance to make it a reality.
Are you planning some sort of relocation support to make the hub more attractive to talent?
The hiring conditions for the new center are still under evaluation, but the principle is not to relocate people but rather to source the local talents giving them the opportunity to integrate a worldwide leader in their home city, closed to their families and friends.
Can the new visas for digital nomads help to raise the talent you need?
Again, many digital talents are available in Portugal but any kind of support helping us to attract very specific and scarce profiles from abroad are obviously welcome.
In Lisbon, the work model is hybrid, the same in the new hub. What assessment do you make of the adoption of this work model? Did it impact productivity in any way? Are there plans to switch to other working models?
Yes, our ways of working should remain the same both in Lisbon and Coimbra with 50% home office on average. The hybrid working model has many positive aspects. It gives people flexibility to choose when they want to stay at home. It also brings up the sense of belonging by being close to their teams when they come to the office. In my view, It’s a perfect balance between high productivity and great human relationships, which supports the key success factor for our people: a great work-life balance culture. Our plans are to maintain the current ways of working.
For Lisbon there were plans to move “to a new office in Parque das Nações in the 4th quarter of 2022”. What stage is this project in? When will the change of premises take place?
We are very close to having the first group of people working at this new location. The works are being finalized as we speak, meaning that in the second half of October, around 100 employees should be there already. We expect to have everyone working at the new office by the end of the year. We plan to make the official inauguration in Q1 2023.
“We have a growth plan of up to 800 people in 2025”, you told us in March. Does the plan hold? What is the current headcount?
Not only does it remain the target, but we have also extended our goal for almost up to 900 people. We currently employ close to 350 people. However, we are growing so fast that next week this number will be already out of date. We are extremely happy to be at the hiring rate that we targeted, and it’s even going better than we anticipated.
The competition for tech profiles is still there and we did not experience or do not expect any big changes in the next months.
Many technology companies, unicorns, startups have been carrying out lay-offs, froze hiring in an attitude of ‘brace for impact’. In your case, will the pace of hiring continue in 2023, will it slow down or stop in the face of the uncertainty generated by the economic situation, inflation, war in Ukraine…?
As mentioned previously, the ram-up phase in Lisbon is going extremely well, with already over 300 employees, 200 of them recruited in the last 6 months. We expect to hire until the end of the year up to 100 employees, complying with our initial goal. We will maintain the same hiring pace in 2023.
This ‘tech winter’ has somewhat lowered wage pressure. Do you consider that the scarcity of people in the sector or the ecosystem from that point of view remains ‘hot, hot’…?
The competition for tech profiles is still there and we did not experience or do not expect any big changes in the next months. Despite the scarcity you mentioned, we managed to hire many of those profiles directly from the market or through a close collaboration with the authorities to train motivated candidates on IT skills via the UPSKILL program.
Retaining people is another of the difficulties expressed by companies. More than half, says a Mercer study, have this challenge. What strategies/benefits are you proposing to your employees to avoid this exit movement?
We are aware that the market has been extremely competitive, and retention is in our top priorities to have a strong and healthy working culture. Airbus GBS offers an attractive salary package, and a full range of benefits for professional and personal wellbeing, including health insurance, success sharing and home office equipment. To help support the work/life balance, Airbus offers a flexible working policy. Airbus is an international company, and one of our great benefits is the chance to enroll in an international career in one of the aerospace leading companies in the world.
With the new space in Lisbon and the second hub, how much has the investment already made in the national market since your entry rises?
We confirm the recent news about the investment made by Airbus in Portugal, in which these projects were included. At Airbus GBS, our main assets are the 350 people who already joined us until now and the hundreds more yet to come, in which we invest a lot to help them grow.