Isabel Amorim is a Graduate in Business Administration, has a post graduate degree in Communication and Political Science. She has worked for almost 30 years in media, spent half of her career at The New York Times, launched El Pais Newspapers in Brazil and directed Ed Abril, the biggest publishing house in Latin America, for a few years. She recently made an important career change, by moving to Rio de Janeiro to be the CEO of ECAD, The Escritório Central de Arrecadação e Distribuição which is the national copyright collection agency in Brazil.
How would you describe yourself?
I like to solve problems and realised that after many years, I really enjoy improving processes, taking on difficult challenges and working very hard to achieve what I need. I am resilient and creative, sometimes stubborn and I work much better before dark. I am small and very short yet always wanted to be the tallest girl in the class. (Very jealous of these girls who are much bigger than me.)
You are a journalist and are on the Board of World Association of News and the International Press Association to defend Freedom of Speech and Quality of Journalism. How did you pick your career path?
I saw in media a mission, a way to defend democracy and freedom. It is much more than just freedom of the press but a true basis for a just and fair society. There is no democracy and justice without a free media. I started on media in the sales division and this experience helped me throughout my career – you always have to sell an idea, a project and your point of view.
You are “fearless” in your current position. Help us walk in your shoes and understand where you get the strength from.
Every problem has a solution, if you listen, have an open mind, understand all sides of the situation you are able to take decision. One doesn’t work alone but I feel I am there to help people find the best outcome, a better way to make things work.
There is no democracy and justice without a free media.
What excites you when you wake up every morning?
Early morning, honestly? Sports. A nice long run is the best way to start a day. Now that I am living in Rio de Janeiro, I started paddling in the ocean; it is wonderful. After one hour dedicated for myself, I am ready to go. I like to be one of the first to arrive at the office, organise the day and all the challenges I will have to face. It is always full of surprises and I like it. My working day is full on at a non stop pace.
Share some examples where you have made a difference in your country and community.
I decided to take a year off and work with the Mayor of Sao Paulo. I was responsible for the Communications division. For the first time ever this winter, we were able to have zero deaths amongst the people living on the streets. We also worked on a strong campaign to reduce consumption of alcohol by teenagers and mortality due to traffic accidents, It was worth every second I spent there. I will never regret it. What could be more rewarding than making a difference in such matters?
What are some of the challenges you face? How do you overcome them?
As a CEO you have to take decisions by the hour. A wrong decision might affect the lives of 400,000 people in Brazil. This is the number of artists that received money from music copyright in 2019 alone. You have to believe in yourself, in your work and the decisions you are making. You might make mistakes but most of the time you must do the right thing otherwise you will affect the lives of a huge number of people. The work is complex, requires government negotiations, digital changes and different markets.
How do you manage self care? Do you believe in work-life balance or integration? What are some of the strategies you adopt?
It is a constant internal fight. Apart from my sports hours I try to save more time for myself, my family, my beloved kids, try to disconnect, but it is a daily struggle. If you are passionate about your work you have the tendency to spend more time than you should, on your own things, on your work. I need a day with 26 hours. That would be perfect for me. As it is not viable I manage to do many things at the same time. Try to see my friends during the weekends and read as much as I can. I love to read romances and sometimes really light books. Just like to dive into the story.
You have to believe in yourself, in your work and the decisions you are making. You might make mistakes but most of the time you must do the right thing otherwise you will affect the lives of a huge number of people.
I learned how to knit with my grandmother and I keep trying to improve my skills. I have not progressed much but will never give up. She would not be pleased with the quality of my knitting if she was alive but she would definitely appreciate the effort put in. I love knitting since it reminds me of her and the wonderful time we spent together.
Do you consider yourself a “Global Girl”? Why?
I am absolutely a Global Girl. I feel at home anywhere, home is where you can understand people, work with them, have fun with them, learn from them.
What is the advice you would give your 16-year-old self?
Work hard, listen, learn every day something new. Look outside, disconnect from your mobile, focus on what you are doing. Don’t ever think you know everything.
What are three values you think are most important for a global leader?
Creativity, results-driven, perseverance.
What’s next for Isabel?
I would like to make sure I leave my mark on the music industry in Brazil and around the globe. Ambitious? Very much indeed.