◆Ms. Tereza Kaneta
Career Background Summary
- Extensive experience in strategic planning, business development, finance, capital markets and investor relations, working in consulting and financial services.
- Proven track record in leading multiple and diverse teams and delivering results in rapidly changing business environment. Experience with M&As, start-ups/new business set up, turnaround/change management, restructuring, post-acquisition/merger integration and IPOs.
- International and cross-border experience. Japanese and Brazilian citizen, fluent in Japanese, English and Portuguese.
- Currently Director of Capital Markets Advisory Group at Brunswick. Prior to Brunswick, worked as CEO of MZ Consult Latin America, as investment banker at Deutsche Bank, as investor relations at Vivo (Telefonica Brasil) and as a research analyst at Banco Votorantim.
- Holds an MBA from Columbia Business School in New York and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of São Paulo (USP). Has been a guest lecturer at leading universities and colleges in Brazil, including University of São Paulo (USP), Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV), ESPM and ESAMC.
Interviewer, Makiko Tachimori Fukui
President of Harmony Residence, Inc.
■What was the biggest turning point in your whole career?
The biggest turning point in my career was when I joined a small consulting firm in Brazil after graduating from Columbia University MBA program. I received job offers from big firms after graduation including an offer from my previous work, which was a bank. But I did not choose such traditional career path and instead choose a start-up venture with only 30 people, an Investors Relations consulting firm which not many people would do.
■What was the background in making such unique decision? Why didn’t you choose a safe, stable, traditional career path?
I have chosen this small firm because I thought that I could learn and experience more in this firm. I have chosen to take the risk because I thought that if I would take on risks, I could gain more. I have learned from people’s negative experiences – I saw so many MBA graduates who took on traditional career paths, did not take the risks and became very disappointed about themselves. I learned from these people’s experiences that if you do not follow your true aspirations, you would be disappointed and eventually your career would fail.
■Following your true desire could be very difficult sometimes. Please tell us more how you became capable of following your true desire and succeed in your career.
When I first began my career in a bank it was already very challenging. I gave birth to my child during college and was a young mother. I was a mother, woman and just out of college and started working in a men-driven world, in a financial institution. I received a lot of criticism and questioning, such as “Why would you want to work when you are a mother?”, “How are you going to manage your career while raising a small child as a young mother?”. I believe that was the time when I started to build the base for my career. I wanted to succeed in both and learned not to hold back. Most women will hold back and compromise and will not follow their wishes.
I did not want to hold back because if you do so, you will not follow your true aspiration and eventually end up unhappy. I also wanted to show my child to believe in yourself and to follow what you think is right for yourself.
■Please tell us more on “How to discover what is right for you”.
I also did not know what was right for me in the beginning. However, if you keep moving forward, taking on risks and not holding back, you will always find a way to learn what is right for you. In my case, I will call this the “Elimination Process”. I first found out that I did not want to purse my career in engineering after graduating from an engineering degree, my first elimination point. My first job at a bank taught me that I did not enjoy such work that is much repetitive or involves similar processes, my second elimination. Then gradually I learned that I enjoy project-oriented work where I can continuously face new challenges. You do not know what is right for you from the beginning and it is a long journey sometimes, it is a soul searching process because you have to be really honest with yourself – but you will not know until you go ahead and take risks.
■I understand experience and time is necessary to discover what is right for you and sometimes you have to experience a failure too. What did you learn when you failed?
Failing is not the end of the world. It is better to fail than to regret something that you did not try.
Even when you fail, you will always learn a lesson and in fact it will provide you a new important criteria about what is not right for you. Whenever I failed, I put that fact in my “What is Not right for me List” and narrowed down my list of “What is right for me”. So my advice to women is “Do not hold back.”
“Do not be afraid of taking risks” and “Believe in yourself and keep on doing what is right for you.”
■Great advice to all women. Please tell us more about what you do when things are not working well.
When things are not working well it is time to start seeking more about yourself. You can’t always force a change in your surroundings such as how your parents think, about what society expects from you, etc. Everyone has their own opinion. It is easier to change yourself, how you think about yourself and your decisions. It is about you and not about others. Women need to think more of themselves rather than what the society thinks about you, your colleagues think about you and your parents think about you.
■You are such a positive thinker and therefore very successful. Please tell us some of your daily efforts to keep you positive.
I have two small things that I do continuously that helps me to keep my positive thinking.
One is that I try to do very slightly new things daily. For example, I am a coffee lover. Instead of trying a same type/brand of coffee every day, I try to find a slightly different new flavor or type of coffee. I keep this habit everyday so that I will not be holding back from trying new challenges.
Another thing is that – this could sound a little silly – but I try to do what I am uncomfortable once in a while. For example, I hate needles. What I do is to go out and donate blood every 3 months, so I put myself in an uncomfortable situation every now and then. Trying something uncomfortable will lead you to broaden your comfort zone and then make you less frightened of taking on new risks. This way I try to keep my positive thinking, nurturing my ‘I can do’ attitude.
Thank you very much for the great ideas and advice.