BIC’s Challenge-Seeking Team Members: Meet Francisco Lobato, Strategy & Business Development Director

What makes someone successful here at BIC? Our team members are innovative thinkers, challenge seekers, and natural problem solvers who think outside-the-box and aren’t afraid to take on new projects. Diverse perspectives, experiences, and new ways of thinking help our team members reimagine everyday essentials to propel our business forward. 

Introducing Francisco Lobato, Strategy & Business Development (SBD) Director, whose story and skillset exemplify what it means to be “Team BIC”. As a member of our SBD team, Francisco works on big-picture projects that help identify and implement growth opportunities for BIC. 

As we work to execute our Horizon Plan, members of the SBD team play an integral role in keeping our business future-focused and growth-oriented. To steer the business toward success, members of the SBD team have an aptitude for strategic thinking, an appetite for risk-taking, and the ability to remain agile and resilient. In his personal time, Francisco continues to embody these traits for success as an avid sailor.  

At age 23, Francisco sailed and won the Transatlantic “Transat 6.50” Solo Race, navigating from France to Brazil. His entrepreneurial spirit and ambition to pursue challenges allowed him to become the first Portuguese sailor to ever accomplish this. He has won countless national and international titles and has received prestigious awards from the Portuguese State Secretary of Sports and named “Athlete of the Year” by the Sports Journalist ́s Association.  

We recently caught up with Francisco to learn more about his sailing career and his role at BIC.

Question: What motivated you to embark on a sailing race across the Atlantic Ocean?   

Answer: "I started sailing with my family when I was around 1 year old and went to sailing school at 7—my dad and grandfather were sailors and shared their passion with me. I began competing at an early age, participating in my first world championship at age 11. I earned many national and international titles, and even a campaign to the Athens Olympics. Adventure and challenges have always enticed me, so when I heard about a Transatlantic Solo Race, it became my obsession. I thought, 'it's a risk that involves a race and an adventure in one,' which combined with my skill for sailing, I was ultimately inspired to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in a small boat alone.” 

Question: What were the most challenging and rewarding moments of your journey?  

Answer: “After putting so much effort into qualifying for the race, I wasn't sure if I could go due to financial strains. Emotionally managing this wasn't easy but I had to continue believing and pass on that positivity and motivation to my team. The most rewarding part, though, was winning the race because it was a great gift that I could give to all the people that supported me—It was a solo race but a win for my whole team.” 

Question: How did you plan and prepare for such a massive endeavor like sailing across an ocean?  

Answer: “It took almost three years of planning, campaigning, building a team, fundraising, and qualifying just to get to the race. You can have the best preparation but still be surprised—especially with no contact in a 21-foot (6.5 meter) boat in the middle of an ocean. This is similar to the business world—in an environment that’s very complex and always changing, preparation is crucial while remaining focused on what you can control.” 

Question: How did your sailing trip help you enhance your problem-solving abilities, and how have you applied those skills in your professional life?  

Answer: “Once you're alone at sea, there's no one else there, so you get used to rolling up your sleeves to get things done. This really spices up your curiosity to figure out how things work because you need to be able to solve problems literally. These skills of curiosity, getting things done, and big-picture thinking are important to succeed in any job, including mine in Strategy.” 

Question: How does BIC support your challenge-seeking mentality within the work you do for the company?  

Answer: “BIC’s founder, Marcel Bich, was an entrepreneur and sailor too, so when I found BIC, I found two things I love together in one place. I’ve always liked an environment that’s changing and transforming – it's what I love about the sea and my work in strategy. Trying to solve difficult challenges, while optimizing our business performance is like racing a boat offshore—you are constantly adjusting the sails to make the boat go faster, but also looking at weather patterns to anticipate changes. At BIC, the impact I make through my work is like making a boat go faster.” 

At BIC, we encourage our team members to seek challenges and unlock the power of their potential. Learn more about how you can make your mark with BIC here.

Photo Credit: © JOÃO FERRAND / JFF.