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INSPIRATION


Transforming challenges

Vanessa Lobato, Santander Vice-president of Human Resources


Vanessa Lobato, Santander Vice-president of Human Resources, reveals how everyday challenges have helped her become the person she is today: Brave, passionate about her job and always ready to do her best.

You have been working in the financial sector for more than 20 years now. How has this field helped you become the person you are today?
This is a challenging, dynamic and fast-paced sector. We face different everyday challenges and this has helped me overcome my fears and become the person I’m today—someone who loves her job and always does her best, wherever she is.

You have built a career in Santander retail banking, but you decided to hold a Human Resources position in the corporation. What—or who—motivated your decision?
Challenge did. I’m fueled by challenging experiences and this one seemed huge. I had already been invited to that position in the past, including in another bank, but I was always reluctant because I also liked my past job very much. Nevertheless, this last invitation was quite challenging—holding a leader position in Santander HR sector. The other invitations were related to positions inside the HR team. My comfort zone was nice and easy, I had everything under control, but I decided to change. At the time, I reported to José Paiva, Senior Executive Vice-President of the Bank, and this helped me because I knew I had someone I could count on, someone with great experience. Of course I was nervous, got butterflies in my stomach; it was a high-risk project for both parties. But I thought it over and decided it was time to make a leap in my career and today I’m very happy with the choice I made.

How do you handle fear and risks in general?
Fear ended up being a motivator to me. I always say that when I first started in HR, out of 10 questions people asked me about the sector, nine I did not have the answer and one I was unsure about. I was afraid it would not work out for me, but I’m brave and kept going. I turned fear into a friend. When I first came to this area, I was free to make questions. In fact, not knowing about things helped me. You have no vices and your new perspectives help you build what you want.

In your opinion, are we getting close to a time when we’ll be having more women in leadership roles in Brazil?

Yes, we are. There’s a global trend for having more women in leadership roles. Here at Santander, 60 percent of the employees are women, our global CEO is a woman. Our role now is to pay attention to women as leaders, this is where we will make the difference. We have plenty of women in the base of the pyramid, but in leadership roles, this number is lower. This is our role, HR can and should drive positive changes. We must be attentive and take action, without, however, compromising meritocracy.

"I turned fear into a friend. When I first came to this area, I was free to make questions. In fact, not knowing about things helped me. You have no vices and your new perspectives help you build what you want."