International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
To mark this special day and month, we are shining a light on a few of the many wonderful women who work for Schréder worldwide, sharing their stories and what this day means to them.
After graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro in 2001, at a time when engineering was essentially a male-dominated industry, Susana Ferreira joined Schréder in 2002 as part of the sales team based in Porto.
In 2014, she took up the post of Sales Director for the Northern region and has been responsible for some of the largest outdoor lighting projects in the area over the years.
What does International Woman’s Day mean to you?
International Women's Day celebrates the fight for gender equality and the fight for women's rights.
It took many years to get to where we are today, where women are in leadership roles and can demonstrate every day that they have the necessary skills and ability to successfully do these jobs. Yet, we still don’t have equal access, we are still the minority, globally. But I really believe that with the increasing numbers of good examples across industries, we will get there.
It also reminds us of the difficult journey that women have had over the years to gain access to the same rights and opportunities as men.
Can you tell us about your background and your own role in Schréder?
When I started my degree in Electrical Engineering, there were only 5 women and 70 men! I remember my parents were very anxious and asked if this was really the course that I wanted to do!
As soon as I finished, I started working in sales in the lighting industry. I immediately fell in love with the job and my dream, at that time, was to work for the leading company on the market as I was in competition with them every day. A year later, I saw an ad and applied for the job. And I was hired - I joined the Schréder as a Sales Engineer for Trás-os-Montes, in the north of the country.
The company has always provided the right working conditions to grow professionally, encouraging me to develop my skills further. At the moment I am leading the sales team for the Northern region.
What do you think we can be doing to inspire and encourage more young women?
Companies need to make gender diversity a priority - they must ensure that there is equal access for both men and women. More gender diversity, particularly in corporate settings, enriches a company and can translate to better decision making and increased productivity. We all know that men and women bring a different perspective and approach, which ultimately benefits the final decision and leads to better outputs.
The labour market shouldn’t put up any barriers that hinder women from climbing corporate and public ladders. Equally, traditional stereotypes should not discourage women from pursuing careers thought to be typically reserved for men.
Indeed, women should not be afraid - they should have faith in their ability to take on any professional opportunity that arises, with assertiveness and confidence, as long as they are convinced that it is their vocation.
What women have had the greatest impact on your life, and why?
My mother is undoubtedly the woman who has had the greatest impact on my life. She is such an example that I hope to follow - she is dedicated, strong and committed to everything she does, with such joy. She has taught me to always strive for the best and give 100% to all that I do.
What is your greatest achievement in work to date?
My proudest professional achievement was, without a doubt, my promotion to Sales Manager. It was highly rewarding that my manager recognised my skills and competences to manage a team.
What advice would you give young women starting their professional career today?
It takes a lot of discipline and commitment to achieve goals in the workplace. Be professional, competent and genuine in everything you do. By staying focused and working hard, opportunities will arise - you need to recognise them and know how to take advantage of them.
It is important to believe that everything is possible and especially, to enjoy what you do.
Connect with Susana on LinkedIn