I simply found I might be myself at work, says Amazon CFO

I simply found I might be myself at work, says Amazon CFO

Elis Rodrigues, CFO of Amazon in Brazil, gained confidence in being more natural as her career progressed

Elis Rodrigues today it is known for its loud laugh. As a leader, she seeks to be close to her team, understanding each person’s moment and needs, and sharing hers as well. “Everyone knows that my son is taking the entrance exam when it’s one of them’s birthdays. When my mother is at home, I call her to say hi on the call with the team”, she says to CFO of Amazon in Brazil🇧🇷

This openness has not always existed. “The loud laugh was only discovered in the middle of my career, until then I restrained myself, spoke more quietly and did not bring my personal life.”

As a finance professional, I am almost always surrounded by men, Elis wanted to go unnoticed, did not want colleagues to change subjects when they remembered that there was a woman at the table. 🇧🇷In addition to being a woman, I am a black woman🇧🇷 Since college I thought I had to put myself ‘in my place’, and I took that to the job market”, he says. During her career, she heard comments like ‘you’re not even that black’, as if that, and not her competence, justified her presence in spaces of power and decision. Today, she is the “godmother” of BEN, Amazon’s black affinity group in Brazil.

The executive comes from a humble family, and had a childhood that she defines as “happy and simple”. She was born in São Paulo into a family from Minas Gerais that came to make their living in the capital of São Paulo. She studied in a public school her whole life and was transformed by education and by USP (University of São Paulo), where she studied economics. “My father used to say ‘I don’t have an inheritance, but I’ll leave you ‘educated’ to go after whatever you want’”.

english as a barrier

At university, she got to know a universe different from her own and made friends with people who spoke three languages ​​and traveled the world. One of these friends was the one who encouraged her to apply for a position at the giant P&G🇧🇷 “I passed the process, but with a super asterisk”, he says. Recruiters called her for a lower position because they saw potential in her, despite her not having enough English for the position.

The company paid for an English course and her first boss – the “most annoying” and also one of the most important ones – insisted on encouraging her to learn the language. “He told me to do and speak absolutely everything in English,” she says. A year and a half later, she was promoted to the position she had applied for. And she racked up so many promotions until she left P&G, 21 years lateras Senior Director of Finance, to take over at Amazon.

Career is a priority – but not the only one

In more than two decades at P&G, Elis had two pregnancies. Rafael and Gustavo, now 17 and 13 years old, respectively, were born at the beginning of their careers. “I had Rafael when I was 28 and with a lot of insecurity of what this period would be like when I was away, if a colleague would pass in front of me.”

Four years later, pregnant again, got a promotion to a senior manager, and I was determined that I didn’t want to go further in my career. But, when she came back from leave, she had a change of heart. “To continue being the mother I want to be for them and with the examples I want to set, I need to be complete and I know that part of that is having a successful career🇧🇷

Motherhood demands flexibility to deal with the priorities of the moment, but it also brought maturity to make decisions more clearly. “I never stopped doing the important things for the boys and I also never stopped doing the important things in my career,” she says. For Amazon’s CFO, life is one. “I will prioritize things as they need to be prioritized.”

When she looks back, she sees that she didn’t have to experience some of those insecurities – although they are justified by the fact that after two years of maternity leave, almost half of women are out of the labor market. “We have anxiety when we are at the beginning of our careers that everything has to happen very quickly”, she says. Today, she realizes that these goals don’t make much difference in the long run.

career turning point

“I think it was when I came back from the second maternity leave that I said ‘I want to and I already know I can’”.

who helped me

“My parents, my friend, my first boss, and my husband. The partnership we have of always looking out for each other and supporting what the other wants to do has made all the difference. At times I would say ‘wow, there’s this trip, but it’s complicated this week’, and he would say ‘so what? you go’. The confidence he gave me of having a person who will be there to hold me when I can’t and give moral support made a lot of difference.”

What I still want to do

“I still want to have an international experience. The companies I worked for were growing a lot in Brazil, so there were a thousand opportunities to grow without necessarily having international experience, but it’s something I still want to do. I think it will be good for my career development, offer opportunities for my children and it is something that my husband is also really looking forward to.”

Causes I embrace

“The cause of diversity and inclusion has embraced me very tightly. It really made a difference in my life when I got into college and the people who passed through my path, so this is a cause that I embrace very strongly. And men also have a very important role in this matter, not only supporting women, but also showing that the balance between personal and professional life is also important for them, because men also have to be a good father.”

My information

Economics from USP (University of São Paulo)

Source: Forbes

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