Daniel Mattos, who moved to Vienna in March, 2015, is a long way from his home in Brazil. Mattos is the only member of the Corporate Legal team at InterCement in Austria, where he is responsible for creating and implementing anti-corruption and anti-trust training and compliance programs. He is also responsible for key engineering, research and development, and innovation agreements and plays a key role in audits, monitoring, and creation/implementation of corporate standards across InterCement’s operations in Europe, Brazil, Egypt, South Africa, Argentina, and Portugal.
First, how did you get to Austria?
D.M. I’ve been working for my current company for a few years now. Before I came to Austria I was in an insane working rhythm – 12, 14, 16-hour shifts, mainly with strategic agreements and compliance. I had just gotten through a divorce, and work was my safe port. And you know what they say about work: the more involved you are, the more heart and soul you give, the more you receive in return. So in that context I’ve created an anti-corruption training to be implemented by the company. It worked, and in one year almost five thousand people were trained. It was so successful that we decided to implement it in all the countries where we were present, including Portugal and countries in Africa and South America.
Now getting to your question: Why Austria? Austria is very central in our business, because it is close to Africa, it’s in the middle of Europe, it is not that far from South America, so it makes sense to have the kind of work that I do, here. I need to always have in mind the different cultures that we deal with (not just the languages – it’s far more complex than that) and Austria gives me that. I love Austria, I would be here forever if it would depend solely on me. Here I found my heart.
Can you tell us a bit about your office?
D.M.: We are a multinational present in many countries. The main product that we produce is cement. Cement has to be sold very near to where it is produced – which is to say that we are always expanding, always looking to new markets and opportunities. Austria gives us that. So we concentrate our holding here.
How/why is a Brazilian lawyer advising a Brazilian company in Austria? Are you advising on Austrian law? What’s your role, exactly?
D.M.: I was sent here to carry on my duties from a more central position, looking to Africa, but also looking to Europe, looking to South America, but also looking to any new territory. My major is in law, but I also have two postgraduate degrees: one in corporate business and another in strategic agreements. Those were two of the qualities that were responsible for me being here.
When you work in a strategic agreement – involving, for instance, Egypt and Brazil – you have to keep in mind both the laws of both countries but also the international laws and cultural aspects. That is what I do. Also, as I’ve mentioned in the beginning, I am responsible for the compliance area, and compliance per se speaks an international language. In a multinational, you can’t impose the culture of one single country over the others.
How big is your legal team, both in Austria and around the world?
D.M.: In Austria I’m the only member of the corporate legal team, but of course we have a large team across our international structure.
Do you know any other Brazilian lawyers in Austria – or in CEE?
D.M.: Unfortunately, no.
Do you like Austria? Why/why not?
D.M.: I love Austria. I found my heart and soul here. I love the smell of bread on every corner, I love the architecture and the people, how organized and clean everything is. To be able to rely on public transportation and safety. Only people who come from countries that do not have these things will understand how fortunate Austrians are. You can tell me “yes, but we pay a lot for that,” and I will answer, “in most countries we also pay quite high (30, 40%) but we don’t get anything at all.” Austria, and especially Vienna, is a place where these experiences can be exchanged. I am constantly involved in discussion groups where we have these enriching experiences.
What elements of the culture do you find most challenging or frustrating? What’s most different?
D.M.: I think the most challenging aspect is the cultural differences. I come from a place where it is common to have hundreds of friends. A barbecue in your house, for instances, goes for 10-12 hours and can easily include 100 people, for no special occasion, only because we want to see each other. Is very common to have hugs, kisses, loud laughs, not much regard for personal space. Here it is a little different. To break this first barrier takes time and a lot of work. But once is done, it is worth it. I have great and amazing friends here.
How long will you stay in Vienna?
D.M.: I will be here until the executives at InterCement want to send me somewhere else – but if it depended solely on me, forever.
This Article was originally published in Issue 3.2. of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.