Vítor Paulo da Costa Sereno was the former Consul General of Portugal in Macau and Hong Kong since 2013. Previously, Sereno undertook several diplomatic positions and has lived on four continents. He speaks fluent Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. He has been the Ambassador of Portugal in Senegal since September 2018.
Born 2 December 1970 in Coimbra, Portugal, Sereno was raised in his homeland until 1995. Before embarking on his bachelor’s degree in Law at Coimbra University’s Faculty of Law (from 1988 to 1993), Sereno was undecided on whether to pursue a career as a judiciary police detective or a diplomat. Tipping the balance in favour of the latter led him to follow university with an internship at a Castanheira Neves Advogados in Coimbra, from where he later moved to Lisbon. He also attained a master’s degree in 2012 in Business Communication at the Instituto Superior de Comunicação Empresarial (ISCEM).
Sereno worked as a tax consultant at KPMG’s Lisbon office from 1995 to 1997. He playfully says that Lisbon was his “first experience living abroad.” His first true diplomatic opportunity arose in 1997, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal opened a public tender for Embassy Attaché of the Portuguese Embassy in Guinea-Bissau. Following a series of exams, he was approved with merit and started upon his career as a public servant.
Sereno admits that serving as a diplomatic representative in Guinea-Bissau was an intense and somewhat difficult experience. He even contracted malaria four times! However, he has no regrets and “would undoubtedly do it again.” Aside from his time in Guinea-Bissau (2000-2002), Sereno logged diplomatic experiences in Buenos Aires, Argentina, (2002–2006) and Rotterdam, Netherlands, (2006–2007). While in Rotterdam, Sereno was also Consul General in Stuttgart and Munich, Germany.
In 2007, Sereno was sent back to Lisbon to coordinate the presidency meetings for the European Union, which included drafting the Treaty of Lisbon. In 2008, he received an award for the execution and planning of the Signing Ceremony of the Treaty of Lisbon.
While still in Portugal, Sereno was in charge of two major secretary offices until 2011: Cabinet of the Secretary of State of the Portuguese Communities Abroad and Cabinet of the Secretary-General. He was also Chief of Cabinet of the Minister Assistant of the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Affairs from 2011 until 2013.
However, representing Portugal abroad is what ultimately gives Sereno his kicks, hence his current position in Macau. He began his Macau Special Administrative Region mission in March 2013. Sereno has created a remarkable connection with the local community here in Macau. “A diplomat with no social intelligence is against nature,” he counsels.
Sereno even started the first ever Consulate football team. “I find sports diplomacy to be one of the most effective connecting methods!” He is convinced that sports landed him some of his most important diplomatic bonds. “One time we were in Zhuhai, and suddenly, the city’s mayor was seated with me at the table chatting about football. I’m sure that I would have never been able to reach him this easily if we had met under diplomatic circumstances.”
Reading, running and playing football are Sereno’s main hobbies, with triathlons and marathons thrown in when time permits. He also appreciates some time alone to think and relax. He cherishes family, Portugal and Futebol Clube do Porto above all. Sereno playfully confesses to being addicted to adrenaline, running, and biting his nails while watching football.
As for Macau? He confesses this city will always be in his heart: “It was my debut as Chief of Mission, the place where my family was reunited and a city where, in spite of being miles away from home, somehow feels like it.”
Vitor Sereno left Macau in 2018 and was appointed Ambassador of Portugal in Senegal.