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A day in the life of Vanessa Butalla

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Legal Director of Serasa Experian, Vanessa Butalla, lives in São Paulo with her husband and three children. She gives us an insight into how she manages her work/life balance.

I wake up at 7 am, take a shower then get ready for work. My children start waking soon after – I have 10-year-old triplets (two boys and one girl), and I spend time with them getting their breakfasts ready – which is always three different things. Then I leave the house for the 15-minute drive to work.

I always have a big agenda in the morning: I spend a lot of time reading my (many) emails, addressing whatever I can, then I have several meetings and calls, plus the team usually have a few questions.

I’ve been with Serasa Experian for 15 years, starting as a trainee after graduation. I worked in all areas of the company for the first year, then decided to stay in legal.

The business is always innovating and progressing, so I’m kept busy with new challenges and subjects and issues to solve. It motivates me a lot.

I believe a good leader has to understand the business in order to help their team navigate the company, and I am very focused on developing my team and making sure they can provide the best solutions.  

I’m also very open with them and understand that each one is an individual; my job is to help them according to their expertise and particular skills, and I always let them know that I am there to support them.

At lunch, at least two or three times a week I pick my kids up and eat with them; the other days I spend networking with people in the company. We don’t eat at our desks here – we head to a restaurant for a proper meal.

Afternoons are just as busy as the mornings, with a lot of meetings, calls, events and tenders. In Brazil, the personal data protection law was recently approved, so I also spend time attending several panels about that.

The working day finishes at about 6.30pm when I head home and have dinner with my family. After my kids go to bed, I watch TV with my husband or do a bit more work if I haven’t managed to complete everything I needed to during the day.

My evening finishes by reading through all my emails – this actually relaxes me and helps me feel on top of things, then I head to bed between midnight and 1 am.

I think I’ve got a pretty good work/life balance as – while I do work hard – I love my job and the career I’ve built here and I manage my time well enough to be present for my family. Of course, it’s much easier to fit things around the children now. If I need to make a call, for instance, they understand they need to wait for me to finish before they can come and ask me something. That was difficult when they were younger!

One of my goals for 2019 is to carve out some more time for me – I’d like to start working out again, which I haven’t done since before my children were born. I also like to relax of course, and I have a big house in the countryside where I invite family and friends to stay most weekends. We drink wine and eat good food and have a lot of fun.