Michelle de Castilho, 37, has been commercial managing Solutions Rental for the past three years. Located in the São Paulo region of Brazil, this construction equipment rental company employs 13 people.
Have you taken the lead by creating your company, buying it out or being promoted internally?
Not really. I was contacted by an entrepreneur friend who offered me to become his partner in this company. He provided the capital in return for my skills. Three years later, I control 3 % of the capital, and this share could be increase as the company grows. We started with a few machines, but today we have 150 machines, 60% of which are Haulotte branded.
What were the challenges you faced when you first took over your new role as a business leader?
Building a team of competent and motivated employees was a real one! Believe me, it’s not that simple. I went through a lot of interviews to find proactive, charismatic people who don’t give up when things get tough.
It took me two years to build this team, I invested in their training so that they could delegate and learn to work together as a whole. I don’t regret it; they are still there.
Women are better business managers than men: is this a preconception or not? If so, do we need to make more effort to prove it?
This is not a cliché. As mothers, we sometimes must reconcile the irreconcilable, we are more pragmatic, warmer, even gentler in our professional approach. We will always find a way to succeed. In Brazil, we have an untranslatable expression for this: “o jeitinho“.
In return, we expect a lot from women – knowing that we are still evolving in a very sexist society. Although, I must admit that I have never had this problem. Maybe because I’m strong-minded.
We often say that women entrepreneurs have a more participative management than men, in your opinion "myth or reality"?
This is pretty accurate. Women must inspire and set the example. We are great listeners, which allows us to better motivate our teams and give them emotional security when they are going through difficult times.
Is a female leader less accommodating to her female counterparts?
I think so. Negotiations are always more difficult with other women. Obviously, there are always exceptions. This kind of intransigence comes from the competitive spirit imposed on us by men. It also comes from our common assets. Charm does not work in the same way as it would with men.
In my company, there are five women among the 13 employees. It goes very well, perhaps because they see me as a leader. They are all younger than me. They are like my daughters.
In your company, do you encourage the feminization of professions?
Although I do not make any distinction, women are more employed in commercial and administrative functions.
Men, on the other hand, are employed in tasks that require physical strength. But if a woman is capable of such strength, she can do whatever she wants.
On a daily basis, what do you find most difficult to manage?
The hardest part? Coming to work every day and being in a good mood.
Also, I will add finding a way to deal with other people’s negative energy.
What do you say to those who claim that it is more difficult for a woman to balance professional and private life?
I honestly agree with them. I have a 7-year-old son who requires a lot of attention. In Brazil, which is a traditional society, we are not ready yet to accept the idea that a woman can do what her husband should normally do. As a result, we are forced to take on both roles.