From musician to innovative project manager

Her career as a musician was replaced with the job as project manager in one of Denmark’s largest innovation competitions.

09 April 2019

Suzana Barboza was in the middle of a crisis, when her band separated in 2014. She then chose to relocate and start a new life as a student in Denmark. Today, she is the project manager of the competition University Startup World Cup, in which university students from around the world compete to win 15.000 Dollars.

Managing more than 150 participants

We meet Suzana in one of CBS’s offices near Porcelænshaven on Frederiksberg, where Venture Cup is located. The room is one big open space, filled with small tables and chairs. The walls are covered with pictures of sunsets and palm beaches and in the middle of it is a large foosball table. In the corner stands an old red telephone both from the UK.

Venture Cup was founded in 2000 and hosts two annual startup competitions, University Startup World Cup and National Startup Competition, in which university students from around the world participate. Suzana is responsible for the University Startup World Cup, where more than 65 startups and more than 150 participants from all over the world compete to win 15.000 Dollars.

"I sold all of my things without knowing whether I had been accepted or not"

Suzana tells us how she, after 16 years as a professional musician, had to start over and reinvent herself. She knew, however, that she wanted to work with creativity and people. A search online led her to Cphbusiness’ Innovation & Entrepreneur programme, which she immediately applied for admission to. Before she got her acceptance letter, she had already sold all of her belongings and moved to Europe.

Being a responsible creative

Moving to a new country is one thing, but it is quite another becoming a student there.

- There is a completely different approach to teaching and the teaching style at Cphbusiness compared to Canada, Suzana says.

- Everything is up to you as a student, and open, so to speak. We bounced so many ideas around in class and then it was your responsibility as a student to decide which ball you wanted to catch and run with. That approach and style is not for everyone, but it really teaches you how to be responsible and take charge, which is absolutely necessary if you want to start your own business, she says.

Innovation must supprt UN development goals

As project manager Suzana works with students from all over the world and her most important job is to help them understand how to best communicate their product or solution to the judges in the competition. These young entrepreneurs must therefore be able to explain what kind of problem they can help solve. That is also why, in order to participate in the competition, a product or solution must support one or more of the UN’s development goals.

Ability to identify sustainable ideas

Suzana also takes part in the selection of participants for the University Startup World Cup, which requires a good understanding of whether an idea that looks good on paper also actually works.

- Being able to identify a good idea for a project, a startup, and how to execute that idea means a great deal in my job and that is a skill I learned at Cphbusiness, Suzana says.

Airbnb for artists

With so much creativity and so many inspiring people around, it is no surprise that Suzana herself has launched her own startup.

- When I graduated from Cphbusiness my goal was to start on a project of my own and work with other creatives and business oriented people. That is why it is so exciting to be part of Venture Cup, because I get to make a lot contacts and test my own idea, she explains.

Suzana’s idea is clearly inspired from her time as an independent artist.

- At Cphbusiness I started thinking about and experimenting with a lot of ideas and through that, as well as a lot of mistakes, I arrived at the thought of doing a kind of AirBnB for artists. That has evolved into arthost, where I try to match artists with vacant residences around the world. So far, I have 24 residences worldwide, Suzana says.

Art as social activity

Suzana’s project is also a social project.

- One of my goals is to engage the local community and make sure that they also benefit from an artist’s stay. Maybe a musician can arrange a free concert or a painter can decorate a local building. That way art becomes a social act and can engage the community, she explains.

Creativity for the people

Though her dream of being a musician didn’t last, Suzana is happy to work creatively in a different way.

- I really want to spread creativity and art around the world. I especially want to show artists that there is so much to learn from entrepreneurship, she says.

Read more about Suzana’s work on her LinkedIn profile.