Challenges in Brazil

Kathrin Pfeffer, Controlling Director at Mercedes-Benz Brazil

Multicultural Brazil that enchants Kathrin Pfeffer has been an inspiration to her career since 1999. Her opinion about the country is one of the highlights in this interview. She also represents women in today’s corporate environments, talks about the importance of intuition and planning in decision making and, above all, about respect towards others.

How do you define professional growth?

You realize you are a good professional when you have the respect of your coworkers - both those reporting to you and those you report to. Professional maturity is also achieved when you can create, advocate for, and share ideas and plans. However, in the end, turning these ideas and plans into reality is what matters the most.

Did you plan every aspect in your career or just didn’t miss any of the opportunities you had?

In my case, I didn’t miss any of the opportunities I had. Chance and luck also played their parts, of course. Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time. I’ve always wanted to work outside Germany and made that clear to my bosses and coworkers. I came to Brazil in 1999, when the first opportunity came. My bosses and I, we didn’t think twice. I did not refuse the invitation.

I knew absolutely nothing about Brazil, but I thought: ok, let’s face it. If I don’t take risks, if I don’t try, I’ll never know what it is like there. I came to Brazil to fulfill a wish I had - a wish to change - and it worked out!

You have been living in Brazil for some years now after having worked in several other countries. Which are the most fascinating aspects of a career that enabled you to go along so many different paths?

The nicest thing is to work with different people and cultures. I learn a lot, but I also have plenty of opportunities to teach. This two-way system, learning and teaching in such diverse environments, is what motivates and satisfies me the most. I have grown a great deal by handling different situations, both in my personal and professional lives.

What was your first impression about Brazil and our culture, and the first things you learned here?

My first impression had to do with the Brazilian way of life. People are very sociable and welcoming. They are always open and kind. I felt home from the moment I got to Brazil. This country has several different “selves” - I can’t talk about “one Brazil” or “one Brazilian person” - they are a multicultural society. I’ve also learned that in Brazil “in the end, everything will be fine!”. What I mean is that Brazilian people are always motivated and interested in learning and advancing despite the difficulties.

The country scenario is not always positive, but Brazilian people usually put in a great deal of effort to make things work.

“People are very sociable and welcoming. They are always open and kind. I felt home from the moment I got to Brazil.”