March 8! To celebrate this date, nothing better than presenting to you an important woman for innovation and cooperation between Brazil and Sweden – Alessandra Holmo. She is currently Managing Director of the Swedish-Brazilian Research and Innovation Center (CISB).
Alessandra Holmo graduated from the Federal University of São Carlos as a material engineer and polymer specialist, also obtaining several postgraduate degrees in the area. She has been working for 17 years with technical and business development in several larger petrochemical companies (national and multinational) and with clients in sectors like automotive, home appliance, civil construction and oil & gas. This has resulted in an extensive international experience during her career in the industry.
One of her largest challenges in her professional career was when she at the age of 35 had problems finding opportunities in the petrochemical sector and therefore decided to focus her career on innovation. At that time, the area of innovation in companies was starting to grow in Brazil due to the recent “Law of Innovation (2004)”. She ended up being very successful in this area, learning well how this sector works. When CISB later was created in May 2011, Alessandra was an important part in this.
According to Alessandra, the main challenge being a woman in Brazil, has always been to find opportunities. Even though she has always invested in her professional capabilities, opportunities were still very limited for her and other women in Brazil. In general, she thinks that a new environment is growing in Brazil for women, where women’s empowerment and lack of opportunities are discussed, and several discussion groups have been created to strengthen women’s positions.
Alessandra points out that, in the area of science and innovation, the number of key positions occupied by women has increased, especially in larger companies. However, she thinks that women in Brazil still are far from achieving equal possibilities, even though they have already reached most enrollments in postgraduate courses in Brazil, according to data from the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes) in 2015.
Recently the National Association of Research and Development of Innovative Companies (Anpei) organized the first Forum of Innovative Women, where several women explained and gave good examples on how they had succeeded in their sectors with entrepreneurship and innovations. Initiatives such as this Forum should according to Alessandra be expanded to help diminish barriers and instead create incentive for women’s careers in Science and Innovation in Brazil.
Learn more about the CISB
CISB is a private non-profit association with industry partners, research centers and academia from Sweden and Brazil. It was established in May 2011.
Inspired by the Swedish triple helix model, CISB acts as a facilitator for cooperation, a catalyst for various initiatives, and its aim is to provide solutions to complex global and social problems that can only be solved through multi-institutional initiatives and networks formed with actors from industry, academia (education and research) and government in open innovation arenas.
CISB consider women’s participation as very important in the organization, whether it is in its staff, internal committees or selection of keynote speakers, in their effort to integrate their workshops and/or projects in Brazil or Sweden.