EVP Global Partner at Yext and Siinda Board member
Luis Baptista-Coelho is EVP Global Partner at Yext and is focused on bringing the GeoMarketing Solution to International businesses. Prior to Yext, Luis was CEO of NDrive Navigation Systems, where he transformed the company into a global business in 30+ countries. Luis has spent close to 20 years in management in the IT industry across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Luis holds a European MBA (ESCP Europe: Paris-Oxford-Berlin) and Executive Education at Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School. He speaks four languages fluently and has lived in eleven different countries in the past twenty-one years.
Q. What is something you do every day; do you have a routine?
The short answer is that the word “routine” and my life are very incompatible. Part of it is being Portuguese, I guess, and part of it is my personality, there’s not something I do every day. I don’t really have a routine for anything. But now that I’m a little bit more at home, I try to play my tennis almost every day or every day I can. But other than that: no routine. Routine and I are largely incompatible.
Q. So one of your hobbies is tennis, can you tell us a little bit more about tennis?
A long time ago, I was a competitive tennis player, so I play enthusiastically and watch enthusiastically. As I usually tell my friends, I have completed my grand slam as a spectator, which is already something. The Australian Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros and US open are under my belt. Unfortunately, not as a player, but as a spectator. When I play, I take private lessons with a private coach because I am not disciplined enough, and it would not be fair to my friends, waiting on me to play, particularly because of my traveling schedule. It would essentially be a pain, right? I would never be there. I would always be late. So I play with a coach. With a coach, I only have to look at the previous night for the next day to play.
Q. Is there anything that you’ve done differently or any other hobbies that you’ve picked up during this lockdown?
No, not really, the biggest change for me has been not meeting as many people as before. I mean, I used to travel like a madman and now I don’t, so I am a lot more at home, which is such a welcome change. I obviously spend a lot more time with Réka and the kids, which is a welcome change. I have more time to do whatever with them, but no, I did not really pick-up new things. I just have more time to enjoy the things that I liked before, away from traveling.
Q. Is reading one of your hobbies?
I am an avid reader. I spend a lot of time reading actually, and that is one of the things that I do the most while traveling. Out of principle, I try not to work on planes. Traveling as much as I do means that I actually read a lot, and I’m a fairly eccentric reader. I have different areas of interest, but if I need to pick up a favorite I would clearly pick biographies. I’m a big biography buff. When we went on our honeymoon, I actually took two biographies with me: One was Nelson Mandela and the other one was Madonna, which tells you my range in terms of interests. Both were very interesting for very different reasons. I actually read a book called The Biography of a Bottle, and it talks about the development of the Absolut bottle, you know, the Absolut Vodka Bottle. It was fascinating. So, whether bottles, Madonna, or Mandela, I’m a very eccentric biography buff.
Q. If there was a biography about Luis, what would the title of it be?
I think that I would probably call it The Portuguese Guy or something similar. This is because wherever I go, I tend to be the only Portuguese person. As a student or now professionally, I have always been the Portuguese guy. It’s kind of funny actually because I did part of my studies internationally and then later on, in my professional life, I was in the international arena, but regardless if I am at my tennis club or an international social event, I am almost always the only Portuguese person. Therefore, I guess that this would be the right title for my biography.
Q. What was your first job?
I did a couple of internships, so let’s not count those. But my first job really, I think, was out of college when I worked for McCann-Ericson in their Interactive Division during the early days of Interactive Advertising and in Paris. It was McCann-Ericson Interactive, and it was a small team of people learning how we needed to communicate with digital technology and the emerging world of digital technologies. This was like 25-27 years ago. It was a direct consequence of my thesis because my thesis was titled: How do I talk to you! And it was all about the introduction of technology, in advertising and communication. It was only an emerging field at the time.
Q. What is your favorite cuisine or food, and do you cook at home?
I’m not cooking at home. My wife Réka is a phenomenal cook. We have mutual exclusivity in our marriage, she does not sell software, I don’t cook. I spend a lot of my time on the road in restaurants and entertain, inviting people out, etcetera. Therefore, I developed a phenomenal taste for Italian food, I will tell you why. I like a lot of Italian food, and it is probably my comfort food, no matter if it is pasta or Basil Pomodoro, I love it. But the thing about Italian food that is actually quite important is when you travel the world and meet so many different people. Italian food offers everything. There are a ton of options and it is very easy to please everyone. You have meat, pasta, fish, something everyone will like, a ton of options.
I’m a big fan of Indian food, and also Japanese food. But when you get into things like, Indian and Japanese, then you always have people that would, for one reason or the other, not enjoy it as much or not have the taste for it. It may be because of the raw fish, or because of spices and if you are eating with 6, 8, 10 people, it’s very difficult to choose these kinds of special cuisines. So that made me double down on Italian food over the years.
Now again, back to cooking—I like to eat, not cook. Although Yext had a phenomenal cooking program last year with our partners around the world. We even produced a cookbook, but my job was always more on the peeling potatoes side or making sure the setup was there. Cooking is a fascinating world, but I prefer to eat.
Q. If you had one message to give to our partners and our members today, what would that be?
There’s really two different messages: First, on a more personal level, I really miss being with people, with customers, with partners. I think our conferences are absolutely fantastic networking environments, and we are also a fantastic group of people. Being with them, it is something that I treasure, tremendously, and that I miss tremendously. Second, then on membership level or industry level, if I can advise people, but reflecting on my own experience and on my Siinda experience, and my Yext experience like many other environments, the more you give to it, the more you get out of it. I’m not necessarily talking about money, although that is part of it, but I’m also talking about time and I’m also talking about leaning in. That’s what I would really tell people, is that it is incredibly worthwhile to invest different types of resources into our community. People, time, money, invest into the environment, and the more you do the more you get back. This is probably true for relationships and also true for your professional and personal life and your family. When you contribute, the rewards of what you put in, will be given back to you several times over.