Celebrating twenty years at Sovereign, Marina Dutra from Portugal is very much at home in the Lagoa office where increasingly she is combining her official job as Head of Accounts (Clients) with a people facing business development role. We caught up with Marina on Teams at the start of another typically busy day.
A certified accountant, Marina has recently celebrated 22 years with the Group. We asked her about her job’s dual responsibilities. What does that involve and does it work in practice?
Marina’s client accounting role brings her into direct contact with clients. Over the years she has developed her experience concentrating on Portuguese property owning companies. The job includes general consultancy but it’s not all about tax, inheritance and legal issues; sometimes clients will call up just for peace of mind. As a completely fluent English speaker, it was natural for her to get more involved with Shelley Wren and Isobel Costa in business development. The mix works well and she is enjoying the new opportunities.
Apart from perfect English, Marina speaks French; this also led to benefits for Sovereign as she could handle queries from French-speaking property owners. This became particularly important when the rules for non-resident owners changed some time ago.
Marina enjoys meeting people which is her greatest strength although Covid meant that most of her contact became remote. This presented challenges to which she adapted quickly.
Marina is an economics graduate and studied at Faro’s University of the Algarve. Following this, she taught maths in a high school (whilst also teaching adult classes in the evening). She remembers those days fondly but finance was where her future lay. She spent some time working at Banco Nacional Ultramarino (now part of CGD Group) and when her contract ended at the bank, she joined Sovereign.
Marina married in November 1999. Her husband worked at the local tax office and he told her about an opening at Sovereign that had recently acquired an additional client portfolio. They needed an English speaker and Marina absolutely fitted the bill. She remembers her interview with Managing Director Nigel Anteney-Hoare and the late, sadly missed, Joaquim Fava who went on to become her mentor for many years.
Marina was attracted to Sovereign by the people and the interesting work on offer. She did not want to file accounts all day long and the learning opportunities offered from the start proved invaluable. She felt at the time that despite being a local company she was really joining an international group. Even in those days there were offices all over the world but how it has grown in those 22 years!
Marina is truly happy to be moving more into BDM as this way she continues to learn, using her linguistic skills and exploiting her two decades of relevant experience. She makes the point that the business development team has a family feel and they all get along famously. Rules and procedures are always changing but the team’s strength is that together “they all know so much about so many things”. It’s a sentiment that could be repeated by most Sovereign offices around the world.
Outside work, her passion is Zumba – a fitness programme that involves cardio and Latin-inspired dance. Not only does the dancing appeal but being similar to aerobics, it’s all about fitness too. The complex choreography is generally accompanied by Latin America music. She loves it so much that she took a course and now teaches one hour classes twice weekly. Open to all ages, most of her students are aged 40+ so it’s a very sociable activity too. Marina points out that her daughter Clara is not yet a Zumba convert, preferring English pop.
Marina is an accomplished pianist and enjoys singing opera too. Creativity runs in the family, as her daughter loves painting and hopes to one day enter The Sovereign Art Foundation Students Prize.
Thankfully for Sovereign, Marina chose finance over the arts. Hers is a rare combination – a hugely experienced accountant who loves dealing with people. And she is steeped in art and culture. It was a pleasure speaking to her as she looks forward to the next 22 years. Maybe Clara will have been converted to Zumba by then!