Under the Radar with João Marques Lima

Louisa Cavell

This week I spoke with Data Economy's Editor-in-Chief, and PPA 30 Under 30 award-winner, João Marques Lima, about the surprising role Eurovision played in his career, the advantages of breaking up your day for maximum efficiency and almost landing a huge scoop during his first job...

Joao Marques Lima

What made you want to work in the publishing industry?

I’ve always enjoyed journalism, and funny thing, it actually started with Eurovision, in 2005. That’s how I broadly got interested in current affairs and politics, because of all the drama that happens there with boarders, flags and generally speaking, politics. As I looked deeper at the time, I found out that there was a song by Portugal in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest that was used as the alarm for the troops during the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, called E Depois do Adeus, on the day they brought down the dictatorship. I ended up writing about that during an internship at Channel 4 News in 2012.

However, originally, I did intend to study architecture with the dream of becoming a skyscraper designer. I came to London in 2011, and after not getting onto an Architecture course, I decided to pursue journalism, and completed my degree at London Met.  I enjoy it so much I still don’t really see it as a job! I’m fortunate to say that I still get out of bed every day and want to do my job, and it’s rare that a day drags for me.   

What have been your career highlights so far?

I'm a perfectionist, so I’m always looking for more and how to make things better. And I think that’s how you develop brands anyway. I really enjoyed doing an investigation for The Daily Mail while I was there on placement in 2015. A news story had been broken about five Portuguese jihadists who had gone to Syria. The Daily Mail asked me to look into it because I spoke Portuguese, so I did quite an in-depth investigation. While I was there, I got offered my first full-time position in – tech - journalism, but if I’d been there for two weeks, maybe a month more, I might have found Jihadi John, the Chief News Reporter at the time later commended me for my efforts.

Then, definitely launching Data Economy, which is now nearly three years old. At the stage that we’re reaching now, where we’re breaking records every month, revenues are going up and we’re proving that print is not dead; it proves that having the right mindset, the right niche and the support to do something can be successful.

Do you have a go-to work outfit?

Out in the field, for interviews and videos especially, it will be a suit and tie but if it’s a normal day in the office jeans and a t-shirt will do. I’m very easy, my wardrobe is organised so I can just put on a t-shirt and go. I don’t want to waste time in the morning looking for clothes.

How do you handle deadlines?

I’ve learned to relax more and manage my time much more efficiently. Instead of breaking my time into hour blocks, I now break it up into 5 and 15-minute blocks. That way, if a task takes 45 minutes, you aren’t wasting those extra 15 minutes you would have, had you allotted an hour. Managing the day, by writing a things down and utilising a couple online apps, helps to make it easier because you know how many slots you have. The key is to not panic. I’m also a fan of stress cleaning, as my workmates will tell you. If there’s a big deadline, I’ll often get out the vacuum cleaner!

What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in because of your job?

I accidentally walked onstage once during a presentation because I was looking at my phone and opened the wrong door! Other highlights have included the time I ripped my trousers in public or that other time I had a stalker…

What would people be surprised to know about your job?

The amount of work and time that I put into the role. To an outsider it might look glamorous, but they don’t see the other side. It’s a lot more work than it appears and social media definitely doesn’t show the whole story.

Walk me through your typical day.

If I’m working at the office, I usually get up between 5.00am and 5.20am, I check my emails (normally around 400 a day, so I don’t get round to replying to all of them or else I wouldn’t get anything else done!)

I head to the office and then I manage that day’s news and coverage, liaise with printers, designers, finance, managers, sit in several meetings, sort anything that needs solving (from editorial to managerial), competitor analysis, essentially making sure the brand is working and keeping up.

Usually there will be meetings for upcoming trips and events, of which we run between 12 and 15 currently, and ticking things off the to-do list. I don’t think I could get everything done in one single week, so it’s more about managing what I’m doing and what needs prioritising. I go through phase, but I normally work about 75 hours a week which can easily go to 145 hours plus for a few weeks throughout the year (I only sleep an average of 4 hours a night anyway…).

Some nights I’ll head to the gym. Then it’s home to read some more emails and check the news, prepare for next day which by that time is already in motion in APAC anyway.

How has being a member of the PPA helped you/added value to your brand?

Having our logo on the PPA website has given us an official status amongst the media sector and our readers. It was also nice to be recognised with a PPA 30 under 30 award earlier this year.

If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you use the remaining hours in the day? 

I’d keep working to try and get things done. That said, I’d probably try and go out more as well. The first eighteen months of this job, I was basically living it 24/7 for it so now I’d probably take some time out and reconnect with friends.

What is the last photo you took on your phone (at time of interview)? Why?

Niagara Falls, Toronto.

joao marques lima photo

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Sugary things like ice cream, Coca-Cola, those are my go-to things at the moment. Also shisha…which doubles as an excuse to go out.

Whose phone number do you wish you had?

Either The Obamas or Mark Zuckerberg.

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

To cut your wings and say that something can’t happen for you. If you dream big, you can achieve enough to be happy. You have to allow people to think and be free.

What/where is your happy place?

Being from Portugal, I love to be close to the water. A beach for instance, with the sun beating down and listening to the ocean is a pretty decent place to wind down from the busy media life.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That Eurovision inspired me to learn about politics and history which drove me into journalism and brand building.

What would be in your Room 101?

Bureaucracy, delays and wasting time. Just get on with it!

Introvert or extrovert?

Extrovert.

Optimist or pessimist?

50/50 balance.

Film or television? What are you binge-watching at the moment?

Television, I like What/if, Dead to Me, Lucifer and The Alienist, etc. I love Sci-Fi and horror especially, and a bit of cartoons doesn’t hurt... keeps the inner child happy!  

Sweet or savoury?

Sweet.

Morning person or night owl?

Night owl.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee.

Emojis – cool or cringey? Which emoji do you use the most?

Cool, if you know how to use them. I’m always using the facepalm.

Man facepalming

Get in touch