The motto of SĢ£o Paulo, “I am not led, I lead,” was on full display on the third day of the Global Ambassadors Program in Brazil, which brought together women leaders from industries across South America for a public forum featuring discussion of women’s leadership, the power of mentoring and women as drivers of economic growth.
Connecting business women in Brazil
The public forum showcased four panel discussions on topics ranging from the role of women as drivers of business and economic growth, the barriers women business owners face in Brazil, the importance of integrating women-owned businesses into global value chains, to strategies for building stronger networks among women across South America.
Networking is oxygen
The power and impact of professional networks for women was a recurring theme across panels.
“Successful networks have two components: First, access to people and perspectives; and, second, a shared commitment to skill building and personal development opportunities that keep people connected,” said Katie Morgan, human resources executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “
Ana Fontes, founder of Rede Mulher Empreendedora, added, “Networking is crucial to the success of entrepreneurs. It is our oxygen.”
Women a vital force for economic growth
Each of the panels pointed to the untapped potential of female leaders in Brazil and took strides to demonstrate how companies can leverage women’s increased labor force participation to expand business growth and economic opportunity.
Ana Paula Padrao, founder of Tempo de Mulher, delivered a keynote address focused on the critical role of young women emerging from the new middle class in Brazil who are poised to be a vital force in the national economy, working across both traditional workplaces and as entrepreneurs.
“We not only must teach the women who will follow in our footsteps, we must pave the way for them,” said Padrao.
Building a business women’s network
This was a familiar refrain during yesterday’s intensive mentoring and skill building sessions, kicked off by a lively discussion among mentors and mentees of a central question: How do you build a dynamic business women’s network in Brazil?
The participants shared ideas for how to design and sustain a network that would continue the work of this week’s Global Ambassadors Program mentoring forum. Its goal would be to help expand access to opportunities, information and services that enable business growth and leadership development for women business leaders.
Mentors and mentees joined with Bank of America and Vital Voices team members to discuss the opportunities that the network would present, as well as how to navigate the challenges of building a network, particularly given the size and diversity of Brazil.
On Saturday, before closing out the week and Global Ambassadors Program in Brazil, mentors and mentees will map out their future plans for maintaining a successful mentee/mentor relationship, including strategies for how to tackle immediate and longer-term goals.
Watch the Global Ambassadors Program YouTube playlist to see our programs in action in Haiti, South Africa, India and Singapore.
Top: Luz Maria de la Mora, PhD, founder, LMMConsulting; Maria Teresa Leal, co-founder, artistic and executive coordinator, COOPA-ROCA Rocinha Seamstress and Craftwork Co-operative Ltd.; Vera Golik, CEO and partner, Fundo Infinito Comunicacao e Responsabilidade Social; Sister Rosane Ghedin, president-director, Santa Marcelina Health Complex; and Sandra Cristina Ornelas, managing director, Compliance, Bank of America Merill Lynch.
Photography: David Hume Kennerly