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José Roquette. Five escapes in business

retrato José Roquette

The adventurous spirit that led him to join the Pestana team remains undiminished. Responsible for analyzing and negotiating the group’s international locations, José Roquette has taken the Pestana name to 16 countries and three continents since 1996.

Having done bungee jumping in Zimbabwe and rafting in Norway, it’s fair to say that José Roquette still enjoys the adrenaline buzz. Saying that, his most radical act was professional and occurred 26 years ago, when he moved with his family to Mozambique to oversee Pestana’s first international project. Thanks to that leap of faith, he eventually became the group’s Chief Development Officer (CDO), and the person primarily responsible for expanding the Pestana brand to new international markets.

In 1996, José Roquette had a steady job with a venture capital company linked to Portugal’s Tourist Board. As the fund was looking to support Pestana’s investment in Mozambique, he travelled to Africa with Dionísio Pestana and became besotted with Maputo. He called his wife and told her that he wanted to apply for a position with the Pestana Hotel Group to run the new operation in the country, but also give his three children – aged one, three and five – a childhood in Africa.

Successful in his application, he soon forged a strong business and personal relationship with Dionísio Pestana, who saw him as the ideal person to identify new international markets. From Africa he moved to Rio de Janeiro, then back to Portugal, just before his children became completely carioca (name for Rio locals). Diversification continued at national level with three years overseeing Pousadas de Portugal.

Originally from the helter-skelter world of venture capital, José Roquette now gets his kicks from adventure sports and lunch-break surfing. When it comes to business, it’s the numbers that matter. He reads up on his next destination, studies the local competition and always patiently observes the block where the potential project is located, whether sitting at a pavement café or gleaning impressions on repeated walks. With each new hotel, the process is always unique and unrepeatable, which is why, even after 26 years, the job still feels like an adventure.