Viviane Alexandre Interview

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I started as a journalist. I had this ambition of changing the world and I thought journalism was the way. This was the beginning of my journey, and I’m grateful for it because it really taught me how to be curious. This helped me a lot, and it still helps me a lot, as an entrepreneur and as a business strategist. After being a journalist I started working as a PR, so I trained executives and helped them to build the images of their companies and themselves. I was working inside of a big agency, I saw the strategies of advertising, and I was really curious about what they were doing. Because of that, I ended up diving more into analyzing competitors and the market. I then started working for the biggest telecom company in Latin America in a department responsible for analyzing research; by looking outside of the market and at the qualitative and quantitative research, we worked to come up with insights. It was a really great project, but the thing that frustrated me was realizing how slowly large companies operate. After a while, I started getting an itch. I always had this thing about leaving my comfort zone, which my parents didn’t really understand because I was in a good career, and everything was going great. Suddenly I was like, I want to go to New York. After taking a branding course for a few months in New York, I returned to Brazil to work at one of the biggest branding consultancies. Eventually, the itch returned and I decided to move to London, and that didn’t work out too well for me. I think I didn’t analyze my market very well because Brexit was happening, and that complicated things as the processes of hiring a European were becoming more uncertain. So I decided to leave London and come to Amsterdam, and that’s how I ended up here. 

How did you end up at Global School for Entrepreneurship?

When I arrived in Amsterdam, I didn’t know a single person here. I think I had been here once as a tourist, but only for a few days. And so I thought ‘here we go, another adventure, let’s see what happens.’ And luckily, things happened. I started growing my network, and I ended up working for The Student Hotel. It was an interesting ecosystem that ended up helping me a lot with the whole network that I built, and am still building, in the Netherlands. So I landed into this pool of startups, freelancers, and creative thinkers, and started getting to know companies that were like lab rooms, where I ended up working for doing sprints. A client would just enter the room, drop off a problem, and you would have to solve it. And through these kinds of sessions that I was leading, I got in touch with Global School which was also located in The Student Hotel. That call was just the beginning. They said ‘we want to put these sprints in the way that we teach, would you like to do what you do with our students and see how it is?’ And that’s how I ended up here. I never thought about working in a school or being a teacher or in education. But here I just feel at home. And I think mostly because of the profile of the people that we are involved with. We all want to be challenged, we want to be doing something. It feels like being part of a family.

Tell us about your role as a business coach at Global School

As a business coach, I help students with mostly two phases. The first is with ideation. So you have an idea, what do you do now? Where do you start? What does the market look like? Is there anyone there already doing it? Will people use this product or service? Really the baby steps. Then also progressing to how we can go about starting to prove the idea. Not only interviewing people but also putting experiments together to see if we can discover any traction. After ideation, I come back again when they are a little bit more established in terms of a business and are ready to dive into branding. I help them with aligning their own purpose with the purpose of the company, and positioning their company in the market. Ideation and branding are two specialties that students can come to me for help with.

Do you have any advice for students or entrepreneurs?

I started talking about this ‘itch.’ When you feel that itch, please don’t ever let that go. That kind of uncomfortable feeling that says, ‘I’m doing well here but what else is there for me?’ Don’t settle. Okay, you can settle for a little bit but don’t get used to it. Just keep this flame, this itch, alive. Look for what else is missing in your life and reach for it. In this time of the pandemic, we all were forced to settle down and really embrace what we had for two, almost three years. And now we have the chance to bloom again, we can start trying new things. Let’s just enjoy this new vibe.

Erwin Retèl

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