City Dispatch: Lisbon

City Dispatch: Lisbon

Situated on the far west of Europe clinging to the Atlantic coast, Lisbon overlooks the Tagus river (Rio Tejo to give it its name in Portuguese) and has a long and rich history: it was inhabited and used as a port by the Romans; subsequently it was invaded and conquered by the Moors; later it became the heart of Europe’s discovery of the world and then the core of a powerful Empire spanning the globe. It was largely destroyed by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 1755, but then the rebuilt city was spared the invading armies of Napoleon by Wellington’s troops; it was the fount of the Carnation Revolution which peacefully overthrew nearly fifty years of repressive dictatorship and today it has reinvented itself as a modern European capital city. Such a rich heritage clearly marked the city, most importantly with its multicultural and global outlook – a constant reminder is the outstanding foreign language skills of the locals at all levels of society – and the stunningly varied architectural panorama.




Tim Solomon

The city is Europe’s western most capital city and enjoys the most hours of sunshine per year of any European capital (in fact one of the first things that a visitor to Lisbon notices is the sublime quality of light, ideal for photographers and filmmakers). The city is home to over half a million inhabitants, the greater metropolitan area accounts for nearly 27% of the population of Portugal and about 40% of the country’s GDP. Lisbon enjoys an excellent quality of life – the mild climate, fine gastronomy, good transport links and the safety of the city go to make it a very desirable place to live – no wonder I have chosen to settle here!

"For me Lisbon has been a rewarding place to work, and to live."

Tourism is a major industry and the city has been rated the best short break destination in Europe but the last few years have seen serious efforts, led by the Lisbon Municipal Council, to reinvent the city as an attractive location to encourage inward business investment. One area that I find very exciting is the significant focus that has been placed on encouraging and providing comprehensive support for start-ups to get off the ground – and in fact in 2015, Lisbon was named European Entrepreneurial Region of the Year.

The Creative Industries – my area of focus – are a vibrant and exciting sector of the economy in Lisbon. Design, advertising, architecture or fashion; all enjoy a strong and visible presence. Good talent emerges from excellent creative universities such as IADE and today’s focus on all things digital is well served by a ‘smart’ population – mobile phone penetration is one of the highest in Europe and Lisbon enjoys high levels of international internet bandwidth and fibre optic network penetration.

For me Lisbon has been a rewarding place to work, and to live.

Tim Solomon was the CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Portugal (a member of the global Ogilvy & Mather network and part of WPP) for nine years, before moving to take the role of chairman.

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