Women In Marketing 2021 Edition ft. Manuella Abelha Portes from Icatu Seguros

Joining us on this edition of Women In Marketing is Manuella Abelha Portes. She is a Digital Marketing Coordinator at Icatu Seguros and has bragging rights as our first candidate from the beautiful country of Brazil. Quite often, we feature candidates that share their love for fine art. Manuella on the other hand is an actual artist and expresses herself through her exquisite paintings. Please don’t forget us when you are famous Manuella! Let’s learn more about her 🇧🇷

LET’S GET PERSONAL

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, MANUELLA. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?

I was born in Brazil, in the city of Rio de Janeiro. I grew up playing on the beach, surfing and sailing. Every day my grandparents would drop by my house in the morning and we would enjoy the beach before getting ready for school. At that time, I studied in the afternoon whilst my mornings were for extracurricular activities such as sports, art, and languages.

My parents left very early to work, and my sister and I spent most of the time with them, which was great fun! After all, there is nothing better than a grandmother’s house!

WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?

I loved school.

Those were the best years and memories of my life. I loved my friends and teachers. Even today, I keep in touch with some of them. We were a group of 7 best friends who grew up together. Today, each of us has started our own independent families and careers. We are still very close. It is very nice to see our relationship and how we respect each other even though we are very different from each other.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!

My favourite food is a typical Brazilian dish and is very common in our day to day life. Rice, beans, steak, fried potatoes and farofa. If you ask any Brazilian, I am sure they will confirm! This dish comforts the soul. But the best of all is the one from my grandmother Marly’s house!

IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?

It would probably help the financial lives of several loved ones who I know need it very much. Besides that, I would allocate the money towards personal investments and continue helping some social causes that I already help. It’s not much, but I’m sure it already makes a difference. I want to have my own business, it would be a venture linked to women’s health and beauty, so part of this money would be to realize this dream.

WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!

Well, I am an art lover. In my spare time, especially during the pandemic, my artistic side came out a lot. I love to draw and paint, and I take a chance once in a while by painting some pictures. But as I am very critical, I don’t usually show it to people. Few people know about my artistic side. One day, my parents gave me some pictures I had painted that I didn’t remember. I ended up hanging them in my house.

From time to time, I risk posting some things on Instagram, but I’m a little shy and prefer to keep it a secret.

Manuella’s pieces

CAREER AND WORKPLACE

WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?

When I was a teenager, it was fashionable to chat and message. I spent hours with my high school friends exchanging messages on various sites such as Uol, Yahoo, Mirc, and Messenger. There were communities from various schools. At that time, nobody had cell phones. This was how we talked and arranged to go out to the movies, to the beach, and clubs.

With all the hours spent on the computer and using these platforms, I became interested in the area and decided to take some web design courses. I started making websites and blogs as a hobby and decided to study Social Communication. Throughout college, the marketing and management areas caught my attention and I decided to focus my course on these areas. I took several courses, postgraduate courses and MBAs in the area and I am passionate about the subject. Today I work directly with Digital Marketing.

GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!

My day starts with a nice strong cup of coffee and something sweet, a piece of cake or a cookie, for there is no better combination possible. After that, I can do anything! I usually exercise 3 times a week before I start work. I go for a run or walk around the pond in front of my house.

THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?

Since the pandemic started and I started working from home, something I had never done before in my life, the first thing I tried to maintain was a routine.

To have scheduled times for everything, to wake up, to exercise, to work, and to eat. I knew that if I didn’t maintain a routine I would have a hard time coping with the pandemic, the social withdrawal, and even keeping myself productive from work. It was difficult at first. There is always something at home that distracts you from other things. But with my husband’s help, we both kept ourselves disciplined and always motivated each other.

We went through ups and downs and learned a lot together. I have come to value the little things and moments in life that previously went unnoticed. I also started cooking like never before, almost a professional chef! (Cooking became one of my main hobbies)

YOU HAVE A MBA IN MARKETING FROM FGV. TERTIARY EDUCATION, AS WE KNOW IT, TOOK A DRAMATIC TURN DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW DO YOU FORESEE THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION CONSIDERING THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF ONLINE EDUCATIONAL SITES SUCH AS COURSERA AND GOOGLE SKILLSHOP THAT HAVE DISRUPTED THE TRADITIONAL MODEL OF LEARNING?

I think the pandemic came to show that there are no more barriers where education is concerned. Previously, we had many excuses: I don’t have time, it’s too far from my home or work, or I can’t afford to take this course. With the amount of affordable online opportunities available today, there are no more excuses for not studying or learning something new.

The best universities and professionals in the market offer excellent courses that can change the career and life of anyone who now has access to a computer and the Internet. Many people now have incredible opportunities. All it takes is the will!

WORKING FROM HOME/HYBRID MODEL OF WORKING MAY SOON BECOME A REALITY FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS GLOBALLY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON REMOTE WORK AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES AS WELL AS WAYS YOU’VE MITIGATED THESE?

As previously mentioned, the challenge of the pandemic is learning to work from home. Something new to me that never before had left the office for a single day to work from home. Culturally in Brazil, we were not used to working from home or even in a hybrid model, except for some multinationals present in the country. However, the biggest challenge was to create a routine so as not to drop productivity and to learn every day with some new situations.

As the manager of a marketing team, I had to learn how to manage people, how to organize myself, and at the same time continue with the same pace of delivery and quality in the projects. It was not easy in the beginning. However, with a lot of focus and study today we are getting through it. But I confess that I miss the live contact, the face-to-face meetings, and the fun lunches with my colleagues.

Although I have learned to work from home, I confess that I cannot wait to meet my colleagues again. Brazilians like contact, human warmth, staying at home is good to relax, but for work, I confess that I prefer the office.

ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AS WELL AS MOTHERS?

Unfortunately, it is a reality that many women still have two journeys: that of work and that of home. Many are responsible alone for taking care of the household chores without any help, after spending hours at work. Of course, this causes many problems besides exhaustion and worry about having to keep everything running. Instead of dedicating their free time to activities for their well-being such as reading, taking some training courses for the job, exercising, or anything else to relax, they have to worry about organizing the house and taking care of the children.

Not that this is a bad thing. But doing everything alone can have a negative effect, such as emotional and physical problems.

In my opinion, companies could conduct a survey with women and understand their main pains concerning this, and perhaps be more flexible with some schedules or even offer an allowance for those who are alone at home and can not count on anyone’s help, especially for single mothers.

2021 AND BEYOND

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?

Just before the pandemic, my husband and I had decided to become parents. However, with everything uncertain and the world upside down, we decided to wait and see what would happen. Then in March of this year came the news that I was pregnant. In the beginning, it was a shock, because we were waiting for all of this to pass. I was afraid that if I got sick, what would happen to me and the baby?

But after I realized it was the best thing that could have happened and there is no right time, the right time is the time that happens. Today I am 9 months pregnant and very anxious and happy waiting for Joaquim’s arrival!

Counting down the days for this moment to come. Of course, the care with health and hygiene has redoubled and we can’t wait to meet our son.

KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

I honestly don’t know.

I always loved what I did, so I was very dedicated to my career and very studious. Maybe a good piece of advice is to study and work on what you like to do, don’t do anything forced just to please someone. Please yourself.

ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?

I think I am facing a huge challenge: to be a good mother! I hope to be a great reference for my son both as a human and professionally.

WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?

The women in my life: my mother, my grandmother, and my sister! Independent women, of strength and who inspire me every day with their attitudes and their love. Without them, I would be nothing!

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I am currently dividing my reading time into two books: ‘Principles: Life and Work’ (Ray Dalio) and ‘Secrets of the Baby Whisperer’ (Tracy Hogg e Melinda Blau).

In addition, I am in the habit of following MIT reviews daily and on LinkedIn.

WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?

I have finished my series, and I’m waiting for the next season. Currently, I’m watching very random movies and cooking shows (my new hobby).

WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?

Probably an artist. I love to paint, listen to music, sing and dance. I have never dared to explore this side of myself for fear of it not working out and the shame of people.

Who knows, maybe one day I will wake up with this side of myself and decide to quit my current job and start from scratch as an artist? Laughs.

WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW FORBES CURATES THEIR MARKETING-CENTRIC CONTENT. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO READ THROUGH THEIR CMO NEXT 2021 FEATURE? WHILST ON THE TOPIC OF GREAT MARKETEERS, WHEN YOU RETIRE ONE DAY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A PROFESSIONAL?

Yes for sure, I always follow and have the habit of following all the professionals I admire on social networks. Certainly as a professional who made a difference and contributed with projects that somehow changed for the better the way society thinks and acts, either with some innovative product or service.

WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?

There are several people I haven’t talked to or seen in a long time because of social isolation. I had a busy social and professional life and was always in touch with many friends who are not so close. But, now at home, I have lost contact with many of them. I hope that as soon as possible, I can see these people again, both in my personal and professional circles. But from time to time, I send a little message on social networks, see some photos and follow up if everything is okay.

WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?

Ivana Alves. She is a great friend from college who became an excellent marketing professional that I am proud to be friends with.

A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY

Always try to keep up to date and keep an eye on the best ones, they can be a good reference to teach and inspire us.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME MANUELLA. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

It was an honour to share a little bit of my life with you, and I am available for further discussions, projects and conversations about marketing!

Here are my contacts:

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/manuellabelhaportes/

Email: manuellabelha@gmail.com

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The Women In Marketing series is our attempt of profiling female marketing executives from across the world and provide them with a platform to tell their story as they navigate issues related to gender equality especially in the modern workplace.

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