Bibiana Carvalho Azambuja da Silva, Environmental Department Head, Veirano Advogados - Porto Alegre office
How long have you been working for your current company?
Since August 2003.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I started practicing law as an assistant to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2000, dealing with a wide array of environmental matters. My initial plan was to become a public prosecutor myself but this experience helped me decide to develop my career as a specialist lawyer in environmental law. At that time, environmental law was beginning to gain more importance in Brazil and given my experience in such an incipient field, in August 2003 I was invited to join Veirano Advogados with the task of developing the Environmental Law Department. I have been heading this department ever since.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
Seeing the Environmental Law Department of our firm being recognized as a National and International reference has been deeply gratifying.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
Brazil is a country of continental dimensions and as such has strikingly different realities to be taken into account. This fact alone implies a great challenge as one must be able to reconcile such different realities with national and regional rules, namely in operations involving more than one state or city. In order to overcome these challenges, I follow up daily on the implementation of environmental policies and, when providing Environment-related guidance to clients, I bear in mind both the standing rules and regulations but also the regional reality where the activity will be developed.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
Attaining work-life balance is a challenge for me. While I understand that it is important to pursue self-knowledge so as to achieve this balance
I also believe that it is necessary to be as efficient as possible when carrying out my professional activities. I really try to spend my time the best way possible.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
There have been many people over the years who have influenced my career. When I worked for the Public Attorney’s Office I had the great privilege of meeting widely acclaimed professionals in Environmental Law; prosecutors and judges who surely became role models for me. Furthermore, Environmental Law allows for fruitful interactions with specialists from other areas, too. Not only do I work closely with outstanding colleagues who are specialists in other fields of law but also with experts from other sciences such as biology, engineering and geology, all of which is greatly inspiring and provides for outstanding moments for knowledge exchange.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
I share the view that equality consists in treating equals equally and treating differently those who are different, to the extent that they are different. Rules that protect a woman’s right to motherhood, for instance, bear in mind a significant set of differences that are inherent both to the role of women in society and to the promotion of life. I feel that corporate diversity initiatives are effective when they reflect such a premise by assimilating the cultural aspects and values of the society they are in.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
Including women in jobs or projects that were once traditionally performed only by men definitely nurtures innovation. I see diversity as a value and as a strategic advantage so I have always considered being a woman to be an advantage in my career.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
Women's participation in the legal industry is significant and growing. Not surprisingly, the fact that women have been pursuing professional achievement and have been taking up corner offices and positions of leadership is increasingly seen as perfectly natural.