Adriana Barbosa, Creating Change

Creating Change with Adriana Barbosa

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I finally made it to Brazil for Episode 9 of the podcast. In my journey around the world to bring to life stories of brilliant women CEOs, I have been now to 4 continents. I don’t expect to stop here. Coming from the farm to the big city to be a businesswoman was her childhood plan, and Adriana has certainly executed on it. She is now on her third entrepreneurial venture. Adriana is the CEO and founder of VAIPE, a company supporting companies’ relationships with their employees through data. In a time where the future of work is today, understanding and connecting with your employees has never been so important and VAIPE was there to support them. Adriana and VAIPE embrace change.

No more offices

Adriana was “lucky” to have a few health companies in her customer portfolio. As such, she got early wind of what was about to come. Her customers told her not to expect to be back on-premises for at least a year. Not wanting to leave an empty office for that long, Adriana decided to shut down the offices and move everyone to permanently work from home. The team already had several best practices in terms of remote working, as it was not unusual for either of the 12 members of the team to take days to work from home. As such, the adaptation was smooth and it provided the company with a much-needed cash relief on their rent.

“Only 8% of employees want to have the same schedule as they did pre-Covid19”

Survey Results

Quarentena VAIPE

When the early signs of shut down hit, VAIPE’s business was materially affected. This was more marked with customers in the mobility and retail space that were really struggling. While renegotiating contracts and avoiding cancellations, VAIPE also went on the offensive. They took the bold step to launch an initiative to support their customers and non-customers through this time. Through data gathering and networking groups, they were there for their customers when every HR manager was trying to figure out what do to. What did they create?

  • The first thing to understand was how the employees perceived the company’s response to Covid-19;
  • They gathered data on how people were managing work from home and their levels of productivity;
  • Thirdly, one of my favourites, they had weekly surveys to measure mental health, with a focus on anxiety and stress. They could go as far as point the teams or groups of employees that were struggling the most.

Oh, and did I mention they did this for free?

A pool of opportunity

As of September, Adriana was happy to report she was just about hitting her targets from the beginning of the year. Whilst the revenue was markedly down in the first month, the company adapted to develop additional products and ways to support their customers while maintaining employee engagement. A culture of bootstrapping and smart contract renegotiations prevented VAIPE from doing any lay-offs.

In fact, looking forward, Adriana sees a huge opportunity in bringing into her company truly the best talent available. For the first time since she started the company, she started hiring irrespective of location and has already hired the first person outside S. Paulo.

Creating change

Personally, Adriana used this time to her advantage. As she ate most often at home she could avoid the usual office take-out and establish healthier eating habits. Without the need to commute every day she started sleeping more. She also had a daily exercise routine, as, she claims, she is “not a nice person” if she does not exercise.

A key step in this healthier lifestyle was to quit smoking. Adriana is in her final stage of this process and happy that she has engaged in this tough change from heavy smoker to non-smoker.

And finally, as a believer in a life of lifetime learning, she also enrolled herself in data science classes. I am not sure I know many people that have engaged in so much change and personal growth through these times!

Everything is going to be ok

Looking back, the company performed well, stayed close to customers and is financially stable. If there is one thing Adriana wished she had done differently would be to be less anxious about the whole outcome.

Adriana’s Lockdown List

  • Book: How to take smart notes
  • Sport: Running
  • Technology: Whereby, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp Video, any video app!
  • Lesson: I don’t need a lot to live
  • Word: Best time of my life

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