Andiara Petterle, Female Internet Hero and Digital Strategy & Business Development Director, Grupo RBS

Female Internet Hero Andiara Petterle is an experienced entrepreneur in the Brazilian digital market.

Currently Digital Strategy and New Business Director at Grupo RBS and previously CEO Bolsa de Mulher, the largest online women's communications group in Brazil.

Andiara has MA and BA degrees in Social Communications from PUC-Rio, was a guest researcher at Brown University, studied Interactive Media Development at the University of British Columbia, and participated in the Women's Leadership Program at Harvard Business School. She is co-author of the book "Poderosas Consumidoras: o que quer e pensa a nova mulher brasileira".

We spoke to Andiarra about how to target women through digital media; the most common piece of advice she gives to start-ups; and how her journey in tech started on her 15th birthday.

TNW: How important is technology to your success? What kind of technology has made the most impact on your career and why?

AP: Since the beginning, everything I do is about Internet. When I was 15, my father asked me if I wanted a big 15th party or a nice trip, and I wanted in fact a computer. It was 1993 and computers weren’t popular in Brazil yet. My father kindly brought a nice computer from the US and since then I never stopped working. Then the Internet came and I was one of the first users. I started to work in 1997 while I was at college for a few digital companies on developing strategy, content and creating opportunities to use technology to improve people’s lives.

I do not have a tech background but everything I’ve done is about technology and using it with a human approach.

TNW: You are an experienced entrepreneur currently working as Digital Strategy and Business Development Director of Grupo RBS, a large media production company. As someone who has been successful in both entrepreneurial and corporate life, what do you most enjoy about each?

AP: I came to RBS to help the company go digital in a very deep way, so it means pretty much being a startup again on the digital scene. Our team, led by Fabio Bruggioni, the CEO of RBS Digital Holding, is responsible for spinning off the digital area and making it one of the largest digital groups in Brazil. It is a startup in all senses, but backed by a great media company. I am an enthusiastic entrepreneur and probably will not stop being this way even in corporate life; I believe this is one of the reasons it may work well. Combining great corporate executives with entrepreneurs and fostering an entrepreneurial mind set is a powerful strategy to the new economy.

I enjoy very much the spirit and passion of entrepreneurism. And enjoy the serenity and resilience of a good corporate environment.

It is amazing to create new worlds and challenge the rules when you are a entrepreneur, but it is also very good learning to deal with diversity and manage large and complex organizations.

TNW: What is next for Grupo RBS? How do you see technology as a key growth driver?

AP: We are launching in March this new digital company, with a consistent portfolio of companies in digital media, segmented e-commerce and mobile. We’ve acquired great players in Brazil with amazing entrepreneurs. The next years will be dedicated to help those companies to evolve and become some of the most important digital groups in Latin America.

Technology is and will be our key growth driver and our competitive advantage. We recently acquired Predicta, one of the most high tech companies in Brazil. From advertising to e-commerce, technology is our key driver.

Another important recent fact is that F*Hits, a partner of Grupo RBS, has debuted an exclusive fashion and shopping club, F*Hits Shops, curated by the top 25 fashion bloggers in Brazil.

TNW: How does it feel to be living and working in Brazil right now, at such a time of phenomenal economic growth?

We’ve never experienced anything like this before. It is such a great moment in all senses.

Economy is growing despite the crises in the developed countries, middle class is rising and people have access to many things they didn’t have before. On the digital side, we are experiencing a wonderful moment and the best thing is: there are still so many things to be done! It is in fact the perfect place to live and work in at this time.

TNW: Under your leadership, Bolsa de Mulher’s traffic grew from 100k to 14M unique users per month. Which three key tips would you give to business owners looking to increase traffic to their site?

AP: Be really relevant: the only reason for people to get to you online is because you deliver something that would fit a real need in their lives.

If you provide content, deliver the best content. And to have the best content, listen to your customers and set a mission to yourself to dedicatedly serve them every single day.

Partner with trustworthy brands. You grow faster and better when you join forces. Partner with brands you and your consumers trust to drive growth. Advertisers, other online media players, content producers, startups… You can grow together and everyone will profit on the relationship.

Have the best people. From content producers to tech team, have the best people. Only the best people will deliver the best results. This is the best investment you can ever make.

TNW: You wrote a paper in 2009 on how to best to target women through digital media. If you had to condense the paper into three golden rules, what would they be?

Listen before you talk. And you’ll be listened to. Don’t pretend you already know everything about their needs. Ask and really listen to the answers. Care about them for real.

Be relevant at all times. Women only engage and remember those who mean something to them. You will mean something if you find a way to serve them even in a very small way. Connect with players who are really relevant to them.

Content is queen. No matter how easily you can reach women through other sources, content is still the best way to engage them with your brand.

TNW: What was the most useful lesson that you learned as part of the Women's Leadership Program at Harvard Business School and how have you gone on to apply it to your career?

We still have few leadership models for women in Latin America and there is an urgent need to foster them. At Harvard, it was great to get to know great female leaders from all over the world.

TNW: As a startup consultant, what is the most common piece of advice that you give to new businesses? Do you find that men and women entrepreneurs tend to need the same, or different advice?

AP: I constantly advise new companies and entrepreneurs to focus on two things: people and mission. Nothing is more important than to find, attract, retain and lead good talents. That is true not only for startups, but especially for them. The right people are the very key for success. Most of the times you can attract the good ones because you have more than a job to offer them: you can offer the challenge to make the world better. Even in a microcosm of a startup, most good people are driven by great challenges that do not always involve money.

So if the company has a truly good mission, it is easier to find good people to share the dream of building something amazing.

Men and women tend to need different things when starting a business. And we need more women starting to do that. Usually they are only a few. Women look most of the time for more emotional support than men at the beginning. But men are more likely to need help on the consumer’s perspective.  

TNW: How has Dell or the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network enabled you to grow your business? What do you see as the benefits of all-women networks such as DWEN?

AP: To be part of a network like DWEN is a transforming experience in many ways. Sharing experiences and leadership models is crucial for women to find their own ways to make their companies successful. And Dell is admirable for fostering those connections.  

TNW: What is one lesson about leadership you learned from a boss or mentor and have gone on to incorporate into your own leadership style?

AP: I’ve learned very early in life to challenge the rules and to not be afraid of innovating. And you only can do that and be successful when you love very much what you do and you “walk the talk”.

A good leader of people is mainly a great server of his people.

The Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) celebrates the wonderful accomplishments of women in business, whilst looking forward at how we can progress and learn from each other. Natural networkers and relationship builders, women have innate flair for entrepreneurship. With DWEN, Dell is helping women in business to expand their networks while offering technology capabilities designed to help them innovate and grow their businesses.

The NextWomen is in partnership with DWEN to bring you a series of 40 interviews with the world's most influential female founders, investors and decision makers: The NextWomen DWEN Interview Series.

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