As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, we caught up with Joana Ferraria, Operational Director of Amaris Consulting Portugal, to chat about her Amaris journey so far, her views on leadership and inspiring women, and what advice she’d give to women everywhere.
“It’s very funny to see the surprised faces when I’m taking off my helmet and they realize that I’m a woman”
Hi Joana, thanks for chatting to us! Tell us something about yourself that others may be surprised to know?
Well… I used to say that I am a woman in a “man’s world” in different ways.
Firstly, I was the only woman in my university studying IT (I took Computer Science). And nobody believed that I was playing games like “Action Quake”, “Call of Duty”, etc… they always thought that I was a man.
Secondly, I have another passion in the “2 wheels world”, managing a motorcycle racing team! I’m also an advanced driving course trainer/coach on racing circuits. I have always been very competitive and I really love to show that we women can do anything!
It’s very funny to see the surprised faces when I’m taking off my helmet and they realize that I’m a woman.
From the racetrack to the office, how did you come to be in your current role?
I started as an IT Consultant, with the goal of becoming a Project Manager, because I’ve always pursued the managing part and team leading. In the middle of this journey, however, I had the opportunity to become a Manager.
I didn’t know what this role was until this opportunity presented itself. It sounded great because it was a mix of three things that I really love -managing people and clients, competition and commercial approach, and the IT sector. So I thought, why not?
I then started my career as a Manager, then Senior Manager, Department Manager, and now Operational Director. Once again, the role of a Director has that image that it’s a “man’s job” … I’m quite grateful to have this responsibility and to be recognized for my achievements at Amaris Consulting.
We’re very grateful to have you! What challenges did you have to overcome to get where you are today? Did Amaris Consulting help you overcome them?
When you’re female, I feel that we sometimes have to prove ourselves capable of holding certain positions or roles in ways that men may not.
In life, it’s hard when people assume that you are not capable just because you are a woman. That said, I like challenges, so if it were easy, maybe I wouldn’t be here.
Amaris Consulting recognizes my effort, dedication, commitment, and hard work, and gave me the opportunity to grow throughout these 7 years. I’m super grateful for this.
We’re positive that your future will contain many more successes, but to date, what professional achievement are you most proud of?
Honestly? Every single project, job, professional role, and relationship helped me to get where I am right now and I have learned a lot, all my life. But obviously I am proud to be where I am, with Amaris Consulting as Portugal’s Operational Director.
As Operational Director and a leader, how do you engage and empower others?
I’m a very practical person and my way to engage or empower others is first and foremost to trust the team! I give them the independence they need in line with their associated responsibilities, and I offer them a commitment to help on their growth. I try to lead by example and be bold every single day. Of course, as a competitive girl, I strive to be the best and maintain continuous high performance.
I must add that I believe women (sorry guys!) do have some kind of sensitivity as leaders and are able to create good synergies between people.
We can think of plenty of great female leaders, but who is your female role model?
I could say that its Melinda Gates for her management role and huge heart, or Amelia Earhart who is known for her popular quote “women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
But in all honestly… it’s my mother and my grandmother. Those two women are my female role models. Both taught me how to be independent and confident, and to be strong every step of the way.
What do you think are the biggest challenges ahead for the next generation?
I think that we will continue to face the inequality of rights and outdated ways of thinking, because it’s the most difficult thing to change – sadly, these mindsets and cultures have been around for a long time…
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a young woman starting out in her career?
I have some phrases that I use almost every day, so I would share them with any young woman:
- Trust in yourself. Be your best self every day!
- Sometimes you win… sometimes you learn.
- Do not complicate the situation by giving in to fear. It is this fear that makes you stronger. Be bold!
And my final piece of advice: treat others as you would want them to treat you.
P.S. Throughout this journey, I would not have done anything differently!
At Amaris Consulting, we want to support women at every level to help them achieve their ambitions and realize their full potential.