Leader hunter: Camila Junqueira recruits women to the top of companies
Of the 30 people who Camila Junqueira helped position them in senior leadership roles in 2021, 30% were women. An advance, considering that the corporate world is historically dominated by men. But still little to the goal – or rather, the mission – that she has set for herself. A partner at Flow, one of the main career repositioning companies in Brazil, and the first female headhunter (for a long time, the only one) in a leadership position in the country, Camila aims to see the chairs occupied equally – with parity not only of genders, but also of of remuneration. “It’s not an easy mission, it’s been years behind,” she acknowledges.
There is no lack of experience and market respect for this, gained in 20 years of hunting. Not even a good dose of confidence, put to the test since he left Hortolândia, in the interior of São Paulo, at the age of 17, to study administration in the capital. “I came from a very sexist family. I got it into my head that I would work and not depend on anyone, much less any man, whether it was a father or a husband,” she says.
Early in her career, in the financial market, Camila came across inequality. He came there, in his early twenties, his first restlessness. “I would look at a colleague and think, ‘I work more than he does, why do I earn less?’” he recalls. With the arrival of Michael Page, a UK based recruitment company, in Brazil in 2003, she moved on to hunting. She’d heard that it would take long hours to grow in the company – which, as a woman, she couldn’t handle. “That was the turning point for me. In a year, I was the best in the company”, she is proud. Less than three years later, newly married, she landed in Mexico to open Michael Page’s first office in the country. “It was one of the coolest challenges I had, because if you think Brazil is sexist, can you imagine Mexico in 2005?”
For eight years at Flow – she joined in February 2014 as a director and became a partner in August 2017 – Camila is confident in listing what it takes to reach a leadership position in Brazil today. For women, in addition to the rooted machismo, it is necessary to overcome the lack of confidence in oneself. That’s because imposter syndrome is highest among them. “We are too self-critical. I see many asking themselves if they are ready. Of course yes. But we put up barriers that men don’t put up,” she says.
What do the leaders you reposition on big boards have in common? They were able to see the value of their trajectory – a task that is not always simple. “You need to be aware of your achievements. Put on paper your biggest actions that impacted not only you, but the company and the people around you”, he advises. Not necessarily the result is a higher rank in the same company. “Once, I did a job for a bank, where I went to map all the areas and I found a lot of nice women. In the end, one of them turned to me and thanked me for opening her eyes. She was not happy, she quit and went to do what she wanted, being aware that she was good and could be wherever she wanted,” she recalls.
As for companies, Camila’s recommendation is not to try to guess what someone’s choice would be – especially women -, but to let the person decide whether or not to accept a new challenge. “The other day I asked in a meeting why they didn’t offer the position to a woman who had been with the company for a long time, if she wasn’t ready or there was another reason. The answer was that it was a position where a person would need to travel a lot, and she has children. ‘But you asked if she wants to?’ Before opening a vacancy to someone from outside and demotivating those who are already on the team, it is necessary to ask”, argues Camila. “But it’s also important to tell people what you want, don’t wait for someone to guess. If you want such a position, let me know.”
The inspiration to seek independence and help leverage so many other women came from home. The mother, Maria Amelia, raised Camila and her two sisters practically alone, and was the main supporter of her daughters. Married for 16 years and mother of two girls, aged 9 and 13, today Camila works to show girls that they can dream big. “I realized that I have to do something, which is not just complaining. I have two daughters and I don’t want them to suffer all the prejudice and discrimination I felt,” she argues.
While working with executive search, she finds time to enjoy her family, be the “CEO” of her own home and, above all, do things for herself. A balance between work and play, she says, is essential for a healthy life – and career. “You have to find time to do something that satisfies you, whether it’s riding a bike or having lunch with friends. The one who runs your career and your schedule has to be you, not the other way around.”
Today, at 44, Camila shares Flow’s partnership with nine other people – three of them women. She is proud to know that when it comes to headhunters in Brazil, her name is a reference. This gives even more motivation to move forward, in an ant job, which often requires changing the status quo in the company. “I sit in front of the president of a company and question why he has to be a man for such a vacancy. In recent years, I’ve been hitting the key of always having a woman on the shortlist [lista com 3 nomes recomendados por ela na etapa final dos processos seletivos]”, he explains. This is its mission: to train more women presidents of companies and move executives to another level in Brazil. “I want to change people’s lives.” And it’s already changing.
Source: Marie Claire