Stories & practices that empower real change

Marise Barroso: The Power of Real Relationship [Transcript]

In Dialogue with Walter Link

GLOBAL LEADERSHIP TV

 

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Marise

 

I really believe in relationships. And I think that the only real value of life is to build good relationships.

 

Walter

 

Welcome to Global Leadership TV, my name is Walter Link. I’ve always been fascinated by the question of how we move from our many challenges into our full potential as individuals, organizations and whole societies. In this television series I inquire with some of the most innovative leaders from around the world about how they manage to move from inspiration to real change. Please join us in this exploration because we all make a difference and we all can get better at it. Therefore, on our website, we not only show other dialogues and publications but also the kind of practices that these leaders and their organizations use to move from inspiration to real change.

 

Today I take you to São Paulo to meet Marise Barroso. In the past it would have been surprising to meet a female CEO at the helm of an industrial corporation producing pipes in an emerging economy. But Marise is the highly successful CEO of Amanco who was named Brazil’s female executive of the year. In the midst of the international discussion about gender quotas Marise demonstrates how to increase performance by filling 50% of top leadership positions with women. Marise is so successful because she is able to integrate female and male qualities into a truly innovative leadership style. At the core of that leadership we discover the power of real relationship.

 

Walter

 

You work of course with one of the legendary business leaders Stephan Schmidtheimer, in sustainability. And of course in Brazil he played such an important role in Rio UN conference at the time and really promoted the idea of sustainability in business. But I think now, with your example, there is an additional, a next step in the movement toward sustainability, not only in companies but in society. To bring in our full humanity, to also have inner sustainability.

 

Marise

 

Yeah, totally. I think that this is the principle of sustainability is that is ethics. When you talk about to preserve the nature, is not only to conserve, to have everything in place, but if you take away something from the nature, you need the responsibility and the obligation to put it again. And I think that same in the social area. If you think that in every company, in every institution you have a value chain. But the value chain is composed by people in every single place. If you are talking about providers, if you are talking about clients, customers, if you are talking about the people that are installing your products and the employees, you are always think and talk about people. And if you really take time to understand the actual situation of people that are part of your value chain as a company and you learn what are the needs and what are the desires and what are moving them. Because if you understand about a supplier, what are really moving them, this kind of conversation of only related to price, only related to discounts doesn’t matter.

 

Walter

 

And the same also even only related to environmental benefit, reduction of use of energy, use of materials. It’s also stays on a material level and it seems to often lack the kind of passion that comes with real relationship. The kind of where you work for the environment, not because you should or because you are afraid but because you love it. Because you love nature and you love people. And therefore, of course, you want the sustainability and you want the development and you want the growth and it’s a dynamic relationship with nature, with people. And that gives you also the strength to move forward and actually do it in the world.

 

Marise

 

Yeah, and, when you talk about a social responsibility, companies think about budgets to do social responsibility. And, wow, this year I need this kind of budget and I cannot invest in social responsibility. But what is in essence social responsibility? First of all, provide an equal opportunity to people inside your company and outside. If you don’t have a process, if you are planning to buy a material or to contract a supplier to do something, if you don’t put equal opportunity for different comforts for doing this, this is part of the social responsibility. And it costs nothing. Nothing. If you, as a CEO, say that and understand that for the results, for my company it’s really important to have equal feelings, to have equal thoughts, men and women, because now they are totally different. They are parts – one is one thing and another completely different. If you put together, the results will be much better. And this is part of social responsibility because we are – you are providing equal opportunities for both. Same about renumeration, about the payment that we are doing. Today the women’s salary to all the world are much lower than men. Why, if they are doing the same? This is social responsibility. If you are paying differently, you are not being – this is part of justice. And this is a value, this is part of the principal of if I was, in some case – I always talk to audience related to business and there are much more men than women for sure. And when I talk about, okay, you are reproducing this kind of model that you have much more men inside the company. But you have a daughter. If you have a daughter, if you change now in the near future she will have much more opportunities.

 

Walter

 

You run an important company, you have an important position and you are responsible to both your shareholders and you have the opportunity to create a culture in your organization. So how do you translate that general thinking that you were just talking about into running your organization?

 

Marise

 

When I came to this company I learned a lot about this new way to think. I was really surprised at that moment because this was the exact way that I was thinking during all my life. But not as a process. I was thinking that way alone as a person. But when I came to this company, I realized that it’s a process to think in that way. And when I discovered that, I tried to map all the value chain of Amanco at that time. Now we are Mexichem because we bought three more companies in Brazil. But at that time Amanco was a producer of pipes and fittings. And I tried to, as a marketing director at that time, I tried to understand all the value chain. And I realized that the plumber is a very important person. Is a very important part of our value chain. Because plumbers recommend the brand, recommend the products and they install our products. I checked at that time how many plumbers Brazil had at that time. And what about the education? The technical background of those guys. And I realized that close to 92% of those plumbers don’t have that fundamental education. And, for sure, nobody had technical education to be a plumber. When you think in that way, you think it will be an obstacle to grow the company. If I invest to really have very good plumbers in Brazil and they can take more jobs, they can perform much better, they can have much money. And for sure it will be part of my growth. And the first thing that I did as a marketing director was to go to the government, talk with an institution that is part of government and private sector called Senai. They are in charge to have technical courses in Brazil for the industrial segment. And I talked with them and I would like to build with you a plumber technical course in Brazil. And they said, well, this is nice because we are growing, the construction business is growing in Brazil and in the past the automotive sector did this with the Senai and because of that the automotive industry in Brazil is really powerful because they invest in the education, they invest in people. Part of the other thing that I studied at that time is about, you know things related to self-esteem. The construction professional in Brazil is really suffering because they are not valued enough as you h ave a technical guy in the US or in Europe. They are – if you don’t have any other possibility you go to the construction sector. And they felt that they are not valued people. In effect it reflects totally in the amount that they can perceive every month because, you know, people said, you can hire everyone to do this kind of, you know. And we constructed a curriculum, not only to have a very good course related to the technical issues, but related to the self-esteem. Today, at the end of this year, we are finishing new classes and we already formed 45,000 plumbers in Brazil. And we did research, a social research related to things that we really like to know if the evolution is good enough as we planned. And everything, all the things that we measure, they grow a lot. And it was amazing. When you go to the – when they finish a class, when they received a certificate that I am a plumber and I have a certificate. And all the family in the classroom. The children and the wife – or the husband because 12% of the plumbers are women. And husband, wives, all the children, they are together taking pictures. And this is part of – they are human beings. They are not only plumbers.

 

Walter

 

Obviously it’s not only that it creates good results for both your shareholders and even for the environment, the social environment, but you also love it. When you are talking about it there is a clear sense, you are loving doing this. So this work, this taking this position here, gave you the opportunity to bring your personal values that have grown through your family contacts and everything else in your life and to put it into your CEO position and to run a company differently and to bring value to society. Tell us about this love, tell us about this deeper motivation and how you are growing from it and drawing happiness from it.

 

Marise

 

I think that personally I really like people. I really like. When I was a child I asked my father to build a table, a chair, three tables and three chairs when I was 10 years old because I would like to teach children that they don’t have – in the urbanization that I lived there were a lot of poor people. They don’t have enough to put the children at school. And I asked my father, you know, to build those – this is a small school – and I teach those children only the basics. As and Bs and how to sum. And when they started school they already know how to read, how to write. And I discovered that for me it was really fun because I acted as a teacher – for a child it was nice because I am at school and I am performing the same way that my teacher. But when I see the happiness of those children, and when I saw the smile and they are reading and they are borrowing books to read, you know, I realized that this is really what moves me. I could see that people are growing, that people are, you know, they are feeling, they are discovering things. And when I discovered that I think this is what I would like to do in my life. Transform. Give opportunities to others because I am a rich, rich person because I was born in a middle-class family and everything that my mother and my father did was to work. To put the three children at University. This is the proposal of the family. And I think, wow, I have a lot because I have a nice family, I have love, I have attention, I have my mom helping me with my studies and doing the better food that they can do for us. On Sundays we have the lunch together. It was an amazing – and I realized I have a lot of things. And I need to share things that I have with others that didn’t have this kind of opportunity. And I saw this teaching children. 25 years after that I received a letter from one of those that graduated as a lawyer at University. And I think that it was the most important gift that I always have. Because this girl remember that I gave the first beginning for her. And this is, for me, this is what really moved me. In every place that I am. Now I have the opportunity acting as a CEO. But I think that act as a CEO is the same to act as a mom, to act as a teacher, you only have different roles. But at the end I think that needs to be the same. Because you need to have a proposal [purpose] in your life. If you don’t have this kind of proposal [purpose]­, you are living a life that it’s not really yours. You are living a life of a company, you are living a life of someone talk to you that this is the real life. But if you don’t have your own proposal I think that the happiness, the real happiness, we will never have. Because you don’t know what do you want to be, what do you want to – you know to impact. And I am totally clear related to this.

 

Walter

 

So if you would formulate that proposal, that purpose, that sense of destiny that you have, what is that for you?

 

Marise

 

I really believe in relationships. And I think the only real value of life is to build good relationships in a way that you can grow and the other can grow at the same time. For me this is the proposal of my life. And I am a passionate person and I think that in some time it is a little bit difficult because you are in such different roles in your life. For me it’s really important to perform in a good way in every role that I have in my life. But when you concentrate your role in people, you get everything related to things that you can have because those people will help you to grow too. If they are your employees, they will help you to perform better because they really want to perform better because they are confident, because they are really want to perform better for you. I think that companies, for a long, long time, they don’t realize that people are not working for companies. They are working for people. And this is the huge difference if you have a good boss in your perception. It’s not, this is the kind that perform and the fortune and they are the CEO of the year – this is not the good boss. The good boss is the guy that the employees say, he is a good boss. And I want to follow him, I want to help him. And if you measure results in a way that if you take companies that are for long, long years performing well, I am sure – I’m not only talking about the top guy, I am talking about the leadership – if the company has good leadership it is related to turnover, it is related to results, it is related to growth. Because if you don’t like your boss, you find another company with another boss. You are looking for another boss. You are not looking for another company. I really think that this is the truth. And for I think a long, long time companies didn’t realize that to invest in people, to invest in have better leadership – not leadership related to results only – this is important part. That they need to be well-prepared on the technical side of the finance or industrial society. No, everything, this is part of the know-how. But really hire people that care about people, that empower others, that really care. When I see an employee in my office, people that are working together with me because now we have nine plants in Brazil – and they are in the whole geography in Brazil – but at the office when I see an employee that, you know, is sad, I go there. Because I think that I can help only to say a joke – and always it means that we start a conversation and they say that they have a father in – with a really difficult disease. I help a lot of people. Only asking what happened. If I never ask, how can I help? My last secretary, a year ago, two years ago, I saw in a moment and she was crying. And I said, come here, let’s talk a little bit. And she said that her father has cancer and the doctor said that it’s a really difficult – he said at that time it’s at the end of the disease. And she was totally – when you’re in this kind of situation, you can’t think, you only can suffer. It’s only emotion. And I said, did you call to a hospital? Did you call to an institution that can have a new approach of this evaluation? And I called two different doctors and ask. Because I have the network and I think the network that I have needs to be – need to help other people. This is not only for me. And I call different doctors and one said, okay, say that they can go here tomorrow. And her father lived three years more. And this is three years of happiness. And I think that this is part of what I call relationship. This is relationship. And she is important for me as a person. Not only as an employee.

 

Walter

 

Let’s talk about in this new paradigm of leadership and this new paradigm of society that’s emerging and that you are very much part of, women play an important role, and especially the feminine and discovering what that really means for both women and men. And you of course are CEO in a traditionally very male industry. Very heavy industry. And you live in a country that traditionally was very much dominated by men. And yet you seem to have not only preserved your femininity but it has become a key for your success. Tell me about that.

 

Marise

 

First of all, I believe in leverage. I don’t believe in the feminine power or in the male power. I think that the human being is feminine and masculine. But we teach them that you need to act as a man or you need to act as a woman. And this is two models that we are having now but I think that this is part of the conflict. Because we create a rule for men and a rule for women. And in both we are excluding for men a lot of things and for women a lot of things too.

 

Walter

 

So there is an integration that is possible?

 

Marise

 

Yeah, sure because who decides that men need to work and the women need to stay at home taking care of children? Because this is now the society is denominated by men. But who said that? I don’t agree and I really feel angry when I heard some women saying that this is not – this is part of justice. We need power, we need to be part of the world that we are having positions. And I said, but who said to the men, who is in charge now of a company. And the men that are dominating the world that he needs to act in that way? Her mom. Her mom said that. Mostly. Because she was at home passing values, trying to – you as a man, you cannot cry, you need to study, you need to take care of your family. And for the girl, you need to find a man that can protect you, that you can build a family. You know, this is the way that we were educated. But not for men. Mostly for women. And this is, when you recognize this, as a woman, you can change this.

 

Walter

 

And how did you change that? How did that happen for you?

 

Marise

 

I had a totally different example at home. My mom worked all her life – same as my father. They really divided everything at home. And she teaches us that if you work, you have money and you are independent. Only this. And this is really important because in that way we have the relationships that you really want to have. Not what you need to have. This is I think that the most important thing that my mom said to me, to my sister and to my brother. I learned that when she came home she talked with us about her job. Because this is part of her. And I did the same with my daughter. When she was born I talked about – when I came home I talked, Marianna, today in my day I had a meeting and I performed in this way. And she would talk about school. Same thing. And about what I talk with someone. And this is, I am part of her life and she is part of my life. But my entire life. And this is I think at the beginning because this is part of the relationship. When I have an important meeting I said to my daughter, today I have an important meeting, I do a presentation, I need to get some approvals. And she asked me, what time do you finish this meeting? At 3 PM. Okay, at 3 PM she is calling. What happened with your meeting? And I do the same. When I talk about this I am talking about the way that you are creating your family. You are building your family.

 

Walter

 

How can you use your company and the relationships that you have with people and the relationships in the organization to bring about this new kind of thinking about the feminine and the masculine and how they can be brought together and how coming together they really empower a new way of working and a very high performance?

 

Marise

 

I work a lot with leaders because I think that this is the way that you can impact much more people inside the organization. And what I am doing is empower men to take away this kind of squared rule to be a man and empower women to do the same. Let’s see an example. I think that if you conquer this kind of leverage that you can act as a human being. It means that if I want to cry, I have the permission to cry. Because this is part of my emotion. And if you are a man, you have the same. Not because you are a man you cannot cry. If you are a man, you are not – your destiny is not to be an executive and delegate for your wife the education of your children. You need to leave the office to stay with your children. I did a lot of this with men. At eight, at 9 o’clock. And what happened? Are you having some problems with your marriage? What are you doing here? Because this is not a value for the company. If you are not complete. If you are only a part because you are a very good executive, but you are a poor father or you are a poor husband. This is not good for you. And if it’s not good for you, in the near future, it will never be good for the company.

 

Walter

 

So you are really allowing people to be human beings rather than primarily men or women? You don’t seem to be much concerned about the difference of men and women but rather, what’s the human being in front of me, that person?

 

Marise

 

That person. And if I see that this kind of roles, that wrong roles that you need to be an executive and stay here and work and work and traveling every year, every week. This is not good. And nobody, no company needs this. When I started this company it was 100% men in leadership. And now at the top level we have 50-50. The industrial director is a woman. Because I think that is interesting because we are seeing a lot of companies having this kind of a 50-50. But the woman is human resources, is legal and the industrial, the sales, what moves really the company are men. And this is not equal for me. When you put – today we have 50% at top level and the managers, we have 31% women. And the whole company, 21%. We are in a move to get – to have 50%. In an industrial company as we have that we are producing we have a lot of machines and you need to be technical people dealing with the machines. And it’s a little bit difficult to put a lot of women working at the plants. But you need to improve and you need to teach, you need to have technical course like plumbers that I have now 12% women graduating as a plumber. But I think that in the situation that we have now the way to learn from each other is to put both at the same table. Because we have a model here and another model here and if we are working together we can have the single that is the real human being that puts both parts.

 

Walter

 

I think one of the tragedies of a more male-dominated society and economy is that the women that are being – rising up in the economy are often forced to take on more and more behaviors that men have and in a way to do it even more than the men. So work even harder and travel even more and be even tougher. So there isn’t only that there are more men, there is also a pressure for women to take on certain behaviors. So how do you deal, especially in this industrialized work that you are doing with helping everybody to really find themselves as a human being and to be as much women and men, as much masculine and feminine as they individually are from situation to situation?

 

Marise

 

I establish my priorities. I never, never lose – I never lost a presentation of my daughter at school. Never. If it means that I need to change a position, to change to work for another company because the company that I am today doesn’t understand this, I do. This is not, no problem with this. Because this is my priority. And I think that men need to understand that they need to establish their priorities too. And when they realize – and everybody in the future, near or far, will realize this. The time that you lose with relationships only to produce, to produce, to have money, you never get it. You never get – you lose this time. And this is part of this fear that I am not complete, I am not happy, I have a lot of things but I’m not happy. And when men understand this and have leverage of personal and professional life, the model will change because if you see that the top executives stop work and go home and try to stay more with the family, it not means that you have poor results. It’s not true. I said, I never did this and I have amazing results. In every single company that I work.

 

If you care about your value chain, you change the world. Because I do this, you do this and he would do this. And if leaders are doing this, the world will change. As easy as, you know, change your way, change the way that you are thinking, really care about your employees if they are happy, if they think that they have the same prosperity that you are having. I’m not talking about the amount. It will be proportionally for sure. But they need to have as you have. And they need to feel that this is equal. And it will change completely the relationships in our world because a lot of people that are now robbing is because the model that they have is to have and where they are now, they are feeling that they are not having what they really deserve. And if you are thinking about this as a leader, as an owner of a company, that you have this kind of relationship, that everybody is really think that we are growing together, not you are growing and I am stuck. I think that the world will change.

 

Walter

 

On our website, www.globalleadership.tv, you will find additional footage, other dialogues with innovation leaders from around the world and also the hands-on practices that help them and their organizations to move from inspiration to real change.