Cesar Souza (MBA 07), Investment Director at InfraRed Capital Partners
InfraRed Capital Partners is a leading global investment manager focused on infrastructure and real estate, creating value for their investors, project partners, communities and end users. As Investment Director, Cesar Souza leads the asset management team in the Americas, where they currently have a stake in 17 assets located in 6 countries. They include transportation, social and energy assets.
-As Investment Director, what are your responsibilities?
My current role is focused on Asset Management, so I basically manage the assets after our investment origination team makes an acquisition. My primary function is to lead the asset management team in the Americas and to focus on our most important assets in the region. In the Americas we currently have a stake in 17 assets located in 6 countries, which total approximately 900 million across one listed and 3 private listed funds. They include transportation, social and energy assets. I am also a non-executive director on the board of directors of 10 of those assets. I also provide support to InfraRed’s investment teams in both the primary and secondary markets.
– Who is InfraRed?
InfraRed is an investment fund manager headquartered in London. We operate worldwide from offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and Seoul. With c.150 professionals we manage US$12bn of equity capital in multiple private and listed funds, primarily for institutional investors across the globe. InfraRed’s name comes from INFRAastructure and Real Estate Development, which are the assets class we invest.
-What are the greatest challenges for the Infrastructure Investment sector?
It really depends on the asset class, how regulated is the market where the asset is located at, and how the asset is structured. Let’s focus in what we call public private partnerships, commonly known as PPP, which are assets where governments usually grant concession rights for companies to design, build, finance, operate and maintain infrastructure such as roadways, airports, hospitals, etc. In those types of assets, the greatest challenges are political risks, as these are long-term investment assets and the political scenery changes quite often.
-What qualities do you value most in your team?
The diversity, integrity, drive and how complementary we are to each other.
-What experiences have influenced you most in your career?
Very early in my career I was asked to move to Orlando, FL and start our operations there. I was the first person to arrive, and although I had only been in the business for 6 months and was in my early 20s, the company relied on me to mobilize and start our operations. Having that responsibility with limited support forced me to basically run the business for a significant time until my boss moved with his family. The experience allowed to know the business inside out, and as first mover, it provided me with responsibilities and experiences I would not been exposed to or given had I been in a structured business. This provided me with opportunity to fast track my career.
-You have worked in the USA for 10 years. What does the international experience mean for you?
Actually, I have worked in the US for over 20 years. Currently I also work in Canada, Colombia, Aruba, Mexico and Turks and Caicos. International experience to me means adaptability and enriching experiences. By dealing with various cultures, I have learned to adapt faster. I think that is key in today’s world.
-What is it like to live and work in Miami/Fort Lauderdale?
It’s hot and everyone thinks you are having only fun and living the Miami Vice lifestyle. Not all true. I have lived in Miami for 13 years and enjoy working and living here. From a work perspective, it is quite a good fit as I cover the Americas and also travel to Europe; between the Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports I can go almost anywhere I need nonstop. From Miami it is the same travel time to go to Toronto than going to Bogota. Many of our current and potential partners have operations in Miami, further making the city attractive for my role. Miami also makes it easier to manage my work life balance. I work quite a lot and travel constantly, but once I am home the city offers many options to relax, allowing me to recharge during my weekends.
-Any advice for alumni who are thinking to start an international career?
Do it. It will enrich you beyond your career. Another advice is to go local. In many cases ex-pats end up only socializing with other ex-pats, while there is nothing wrong with other ex-pats, try to develop local roots as well.
-How has ESADE helped you on a personal and professional level?
Before attending ESADE, my experiences had been limited to working with people like me. At ESADE I was immediately exposed to schoolmates from various professional and personal backgrounds. Having contrasting and complementary perspectives in our ESADE work teams showed the importance of having diversity in building a high performing team. Additionally, at ESADE I received the education I needed to make a career change from engineering and construction to a developer and private equity investor. In Barcelona I met my wife and the experience at ESADE gave me an edge in getting a job immediately after the MBA with the leading infrastructure developer in the world.