At The Executive Centre, our Members are front and centre of everything we do. We aim to cultivate close relationships in our centres via our Engagement Teams who are responsive to the ongoing, day-to-day needs of all Members. We offer events, networking and community collaborations as a way of bringing the network together. This interview is a continuation of a series where we spotlight our relationship with Members, their achievements and their expertise. We are very proud to introduce Leonardo Freitas, entrepreneur, immigration specialist and Managing Business Partner with HAYMAN-WOODWARD who generously shared his rich and varied experience with us.
Can you tell us who you are and what you do?
I’m Leonardo Freitas. I’m an entrepreneur, behavioural scientist, musician, immigration specialist, former federal agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and for the U.S. Department of National Security.
During my time as a private citizen I realised that several companies wanted to expand their markets and businesses to different parts of the world, but they didn’t understand certain aspects of how to make businesses internationally successful, how to deal with complex immigration policies, local laws, foreign investments, etc. Because of that, I decided to launch acompany called Trade Smart, which was initially related to foreign export, but later evolved more into a consultancy and eventually became a law firm. HAYMAN-WOODWARD continues to evolve, and with every passing day we are becoming more and more a company focused on global mobility.
What are some of the challenges that come with the scope of your work?
Because our company works on a global scale, the biggest challenge we have is helping our clients understand the different cultures with whom they are dealing and doing business with, and finding ways to bridge the gaps between those borders. Usually people come to us with a preconception about certain cultures based on movies, books or simply based on a general perception. It is a big challenge to show them that, despite obvious nuances like religions, traditions, immigration policies, political views, etc. we are all much more similar as a human kind than we imagine. If we want to do business globally, we must understand how the world works and think globally.
How have your qualifications as a Behavioural Science expert impacted the way you work and build professional relationships?
It impacts both in a positive and in a negative way. Behavioural scientist is part of who I am. It’s something I don’t necessarily turn off when it comes to interacting with people. I instinctively analyse people’s behaviour when they are talking to me. It helps me to understand what their needs are, what they want and what they don’t want, what are their main goals when handling a business negotiation or a conversation, and it ultimately helps me to achieve mutual goals faster and more effectively. Being a FACS trainer really helps me in the business world a lot because it makes me a better negotiator.
What do you see for the future of your organisation and industry?
Global mobility will become the norm. In probably less than 10 years from now, we will no longer be talking about having passports as a means to travel. It will be a card or even perhaps a fingerprint or a DNA sample. It will eventually evolve to a situation in which either you are cleared to cross a border or you are not.
There are very young nations, like Singapore or the UAE, for example, with very high ranked passports which are visa free to more than 160 countries. Those nations learned from the “mistakes” of the “old world” in order for them to bring a new approach on how to form foreign relations, particularly when it comes to ease of travel for their citizens. That will be the norm. Today, as we rank passports on a scale of ease of travel and the ability of a person to move about freely, more and more people with low ranking passports are trying to obtain citizenship for high ranking passports to allow them to be more easily mobile. This will also allow them access to diversified business opportunities that they are excluded from with a lower ranked passport.
This is where a company like HAYMAN-WOODWARD can really help our clients. We provide more than simply immigration services, but the whole package that comes with providing global mobility. This includes taxation services, wealth management, financial consulting, banking services and other needs for individuals and their families when facing the challenge of moving and building a new life abroad.
What are some of the benefits for organisations that develop a multinational presence?
The benefits are obvious when maintain a physical presence like offices in different locations. This allow us to have different revenues streams from different areas of the world, and it diminishes the impact of the dependency on one economy or another. It allows us to be very plural and connected to what the future of the word is becoming, a multicultural and mobile society that will one day eventually be completely free of any borders.
What has been one of your most important achievements in your current role?
Being able to help families that were facing harsh and extremely difficult situations in their home countries by helping them to legally move to other countries with more opportunities, security and life quality is a definite highlight. Additionally, we are able to assist people and families to change what was potentially a terrible outcome; for instance, people who overstayed their visas or thought they would never be eligible to achieve legal immigration benefits. We helped them to achieve something better in their lives. It’s a very rewarding achievement for us as well.
How do you prefer to work?
There’s advantages and disadvantages that come with working either privately or collaboratively. I would say that whatever the project requires is where we need to be. The Executive Centre provides flexibility by offering excellent working space as well as private areas where we perform our work with complete confidence and privacy. I think the Executive Centre brings a unique perspective and opportunity for those who want to set up a new business in a different culture, and the ease of their service delivery makes it very appealing to people who are not used to bureaucracy. The Executive Centre has made it possible for HAYMAN-WOODWARD to have a physical presence in Shanghai, and consequently in China, which is a big market for our businesses.
What does your ideal workspace look like?
It looks like The Executive Centre in Shanghai.