P.J. Pereira, Cyber President

Executive Creative Director, AKQA, San Francisco

P.J. Pereira got an early start in the tech business. The 32-year-old Brazilian, recently transplanted to San Francisco, started working at his uncle’s computer software company when he was only 14. Like many teenage endeavors, it was motivated by a girl. “I had a girlfriend and I wanted to pay [for] her movie tickets,” he says. “I didn’t want to ask for money from my parents. I was embarrassed, I wanted to work.”

The precocious teen turned an internship into a job as a programmer and published his first professional program in 1989.

It was the beginning of his career in the interactive business. He began working for DM9 in 1996 and in 1999 joined Midialog and created AgenciaClick, the first internet agency in Brazil. Most recently, Pereira relocated to San Francisco to join AKQA. “It was time for me to move,” says Periera, who first met AKQA co-founder James Hilton while judging the Cyber Lions seven years ago.

Returning to Cannes as jury president of the competition is quite an honor, he says. “It’s a very special experience,” he says.

As jury president, Pereira says his mission is to keep everyone respectful. “The most important thing is to go there very open minded,” he says. “I want the jury to open their minds and be open [to] things.”

He’s won many awards for his work over the years. At Cannes he’s won 13 Cyber Lions, including a Grand Prix in 2000 for an online ad for Sao Paulo Eye Bank, three gold, two silver and eight bronze Lions.

What does he expect for the Grand Prix? That’s easy. “It’s something you couldn’t even imagine,” he says, “Something that you curse three generations of the guy that invented the thing.”

—Eleftheria Parpis