Lourenco: He’s got ya covered with a Peri-Peri Pizza Pie in Prague
Before I first spoke with Paul Lourenco regarding the position of OCC Manager at Euro Jet, I had assumed he was born and raised in Portugal. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when someone with a perfect New Jersey-American accent greeted me on the other line.
Paul spent the first 11 years of his life in Northern New Jersey. When he told me this, my first reaction is he must a direct, no nonsense guy…with an affinity for leather jackets, good Italian food, and Jewish deli.
At the age of 11 when his family moved from the United States to Portugal, he was thrown into a new country; having to make new connections and learn a new language. Through it all, Paul had a never ending connection to the country he was born in and longed to go back.
And so in his mid 20s he ended up in Queens, New York working for American Airlines at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport.
Life is full of ironies as it was his fluency in Portuguese that provided him with this opportunity. At that time American Airlines needed staff fluent in both English and Portuguese to look after their Brazil flights.
After spending a few years at JFK Airport, he would head back to Portugal and spend the next 17 years working at NetJets Europe, ultimately becoming the head of their Flight Center and managing one of the largest fleets in Europe.
This gives him a very unique perspective as he has worked for both the world’s largest commercial airline and the largest private jet operator.
Anyone who has flown to and from Brazil and into JFK knows that this is a very difficult country for aviation, with lots of bad weather causing constant delays. As JFK is always so jam packed, there is just no room for error.
With NetJets you have a fleet of aircraft beholden to passengers’ schedule changes, where every minute counts. This therefore requires a team who are ready for anything and constantly adjusting the plane schedule, ground handling, crewing, catering, transportation, and hotel bookings around the clock.
At both companies, being on your toes all the time was not a requirement, but a necessity in order to survive.
Paul has chosen a lifestyle that deviates from working 9-5 at a bank in Northern Jersey and instead work at a place like…well…how about Sal’s Homemade Pizza?
You know, one of those pizza places that always seem to have a line out the door. Plus you have just a few minutes to get everything ready, make sure all the topping are put on correctly, the pizza is cooked just perfect, and get it to the customer nice and hot with everything seamlessly in place.
And if you don’t…well let's say that in New Jersey no one stays silent if they are not satisfied with something…
And now to the present day where Paul has been working at Euro Jet for several months, leaving his home in Lisbon and yet again making new roots in a strange land where he has to learn a new language and fit into a different culture.
Fortunately, the Czech language is about as easy as learning an ancient dialect of Mandarin Chinese, so he should be fine.
With Paul in charge, the changes are evident.
The first time I walked into operations since Paul took over and asked a question, the usually very reserved Czech dispatcher nonchalantly informed me, “What ya talking 'bout? I got ya covered. Not to worry.”
It looks like Northern Jersey has infiltrated Prague. All we need to do is open up a place that serves a stacked pastrami and corn beef sandwiches on rye bread and we will be in business.
But in all seriousness, procedures are changing fast. This includes a whole new and more technologically advanced way to track all requests, which should be rolled out shortly; a fairer and better structured shift schedule, and a more candid and open approach to dealing with problems and various issues that come up.
Paul has also hired Rui Costa, a longtime co-worker at NetJets who now works hand-in-hand with Paul in our operations center. A future blog about Rui is in the works.
On a personal note, I too spent the first 11 years of my life living in South Africa and at that tender age had to quickly adjust to a completely new environment and new friends when we moved to the United States. Though we do have a connection as the Portuguese did discover South Africa and we share the famous Portuguese Peri-Peri sauce, which plays a big part in South African food.
After spending a lot of time together in Prague over the Summer, we both realized that moving at a young age affected us in very similar ways.
What this does to you is it makes you much more willing in your later years to adjust to change, try new things, and be adventurous.
Most importantly you never want to give up on anything or ever tell the customer no unless you have run out of all reasonable options. Because you grew up having to figure out how to do things fast and never would tell yourself no.
This attitude is exactly what is needed when you work in private aviation.
Paul, it’s good to have you on board. Now get back to work and go get me that pizza before it gets cold!