The CEO who desires to modernize a 75-year-old transport firm — and earn BRL 530 million
Paula Corrêa is CEO of Viação Águia Branca, one of the main road transport companies in the country; now, she looks to apps and modernity to increase revenue
The trajectory of Paula Tommasi Corrêa, CEO of White Eagle Car, is an example of how structural changes can be taken in order to innovate century-old companies — or, in the case of Viação, septuagenarian. In the presidency of the passenger transport division of the road transport company since 2019, Corrêa has tried to reformulate an old and familiar management with a touch of innovation and representation.
In a predominantly male sector, Corrêa — who was the company’s commercial and marketing director for ten years — wants to prove that some managerial aspects of female leadership can come in handy. In this scenario, part of the CEO’s effort is to promote a paradigm shift in the sector, starting with the group of companies that make up the Group, today with 17 thousand employees. “There is a concern for the survival of the business and understanding the importance of female participation in leadership is a way to achieve this”, she says.
At the company, two of the three CEOs are women — including the executive. The proposal is to modernize one of the main road travel players in the country based on the perception that innovation comes, in large part, from non-technological requirements. “Technology is just the beginning of this journey. The focus is also on changing the culture of the company as a whole,” she says.
The concern for digitizing the door inwards also comes at a strategic moment. With the pandemic, the transport sector – as well as a good part of the segments linked to tourism and travel – had to reinvent itself and make room for new business models that are better prepared for the demands of an audience more adapted to digital processes.
To have an idea of the impact on the company, in the first months of the pandemic, there was a 90% reduction in the number of passengers transported. In 2019, there were 10 million people, with a fleet of 700 buses.
Now, Corrêa seeks to modernize the company, an effort that begins with the leadership of digitization projects and goes through the launch of its own application to compete with new entrants in this sector, see the case of Buser from Minas Gerais. Viação Águia Branca inaugurated a digital branch, called Águia Flex. With an app or through the website, passengers can buy and change tickets and present them in QR Code format at bus terminals to board.
It is a launch that joins other products created since the beginning of the pandemic. One of them is Squad, a platform that facilitates the rental of buses for groups, as is done at corporate events. The solution was first tested during the last edition of the Lollapaloozawhen artists, teams and sponsors were transported by the White Eagle.
In the long term, the company’s intention is to make major events source at least 30% of revenue of the passenger transport division — Águia Branca also works with logistics and concessionaires throughout the country.
Added to all the efforts in modernization, the expectation is to recover pre-pandemic levels and reach a revenue of BRL 530 million in 2022. In April, the company reached, for the first time, numbers of passengers transported similar to those of 2019. “Without a doubt it is a challenge, but we are growing and the vision in favor of innovation and modernity should help”, he says.