The place of women in the rental business

"Female leadership should inspire women to take on more positions of responsibility"

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Debora Lopes, 43, lives in São Paulo with her two children, who are 9 and 15 years old. She is currently National Executive Manager of the Locar Group, a company she joined in 2010. She has a background in foreign trade and holds an MBA with a specialization in management.

Debora Lopes

Debora Lopes – national executive manager of Locar Group

How did you start your professional career?

I started very early, when I was 14, as a salesgirl for men’s clothing. After taking a secretarial course, I decided to pursue my studies. I signed my first contract as a receptionist in a company where I stayed for three years and did some accounting. This allowed me to discover new horizons and professional opportunities. I wanted more for my career. I saw myself as an executive. Unfortunately, at that time, there weren’t many women who could serve as role models for me.

Where did this lead you?

I joined the material handling industry by working for Dawoo, a forklift truck company. I took on this challenge in a male-dominated environment, where women had no place. However, I felt at home there and it became the obvious choice for me. I wanted to work in the construction equipment sector. At the age of 20, I went to work for Mills Rental, a company specialized in renting aerial work platforms and generators. During my 10 years there, I developed skills that enabled me to manage a sales and administration team.

Can you tell us about the Locar Group?

Specialized in the movement of cargo and people, Locar is one of the largest groups in Latin America. The company operates both in the maritime sector and in equipment rental: aerial platforms, for heavy load transport, as well as equipment such as cranes and weighing systems. In 2010, I joined the company as a sales manager for aerial platforms. Today, I hold the position of national executive director, with over 20 years of experience. When I started, Locar was known as a large cargo transport group. The challenge was to give it the same reputation in passenger transport. We succeeded. Today, we are one of the biggest in Brazil.

What projects are you currently working on?

We are opening subsidiaries to increase our market share by 2025.  This project was launched in the second half of last year. To achieve our objectives, we’re working on building a sales team, structuring it and developing our sales strategy.

Given your experience, would you say that women are better managers than men?

No. We are not better than our male colleagues. The difference lies in the competence of each individual. But for that, we need to be given opportunities, and our marketplace doesn’t offer enough examples of women in high positions of responsibility. In my opinion, without this, we will not succeed in reducing the gender pay gap.

It is often said that female executives have a more participative management style than their male counterparts. Myth or reality?

Participative management reflects a manager’s profile and skills, not his or her gender. However, we women, because of our maternal instinct and intuition, are excellent coaches capable of facilitating the personal development of individuals and our colleagues. This female leadership should inspire other women, convincing them that we can take on more and more positions of responsibility, without being stamped X or Y.

In your company, do you promote the inclusion of women in traditionally-male dominated professions?

I have had the opportunity to work with the owner of the company, who always defends the idea that competence is independent of gender. This should encourage women to claim what they are. And today, the company has female managers in operational positions. 

Debora HA16 RTJ O

On a day-to-day basis, what do you find most challenging and most rewarding?

The most rewarding part comes from supporting the evolution and development of a team. Today, people I coached at the start of their professional careers continue to grow in other companies, where they demonstrate their management talents.

On the other hand, the great difficulty lies in maintaining the team’s commitment and motivation.  

In your opinion, is the perceived difficulty in balancing personal and professional life a mere preconception?

It would be wrong to say that it’s easy and that it’s part of my daily life. Being a mother, housewife and manager demands a great deal of me. But it’s doable. The secret lies in the support of those around you and good organizational skills. In this regard, I can count on the support of my family, my friends, and my housekeeper, who has been with me for twenty years.

What advice would you give to young girls who want to start a career in management?

Have the courage to be yourself. Overcome your fears. Seize every opportunity that arises, if it aligns with your goals, and get the training you need. Never give up. The first time you fail, get up and keep going.

Debora Lopes’ determination propelled her to the top of a male-dominated industry. Emerging as the role model she lacked in her formative years, her success serves to inspire other women to embrace positions of high responsibility. While she believes that competence knows no gender and lies within the individual, she also highlights the need to address the lack of opportunities for women to demonstrate their individual abilities, a crucial step toward bridging the gender pay gap.

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