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Elaine Poco

LatAm RD&I Director, Sustainability Focal Point in São Paulo, Brazil

Elaine Poco

My name is Elaine Poco. I am a mother of three children, and I live and work in Sao Paolo, Brazil. I have worked in the paint business in Latin America for 26 years, the last nine at AkzoNobel.

My love of chemistry and science led me to enroll for a BSc in chemistry at the Oswado Cruz University, which I completed in 1983. I then went on to do an MSc in Organic Synthesis at the University of Sao Paulo. Later, I felt I needed to broaden my skill base so I took a postgraduate degree in marketing at the ESPM Institute in1985 before finally doing an MBA in business management at the GV Institute in 2001.

The skills I have accumulated over the years have really prepared me for my current post, which I have been in since the summer of 2009. I have always loved the R&D side - I currently head a team of 58 people spread across Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Bolivia – but now I have the opportunity to branch out in a different direction and really push our sustainability agenda here in South America. As head of the three-strong sustainability team, our biggest challenge is to strike the right balance between delivering sustainable eco-efficient products and securing a strong and ethically correct supply chain, while making a lasting worthwhile contribution to the community. It involves new challenges every day.

Ultimately, everything depends on the quality and engagement of our people and their desire to make a difference. As a Brazilian, I’m very much aware of how important it is for our employees to feel that they are part of a close-knit community who collectively have the ability to contribute to people’s lives. To achieve our goals requires strong people management skills. I talk to the teams every day, encouraging them and urging them to get our message as a company across. It' is something I do with a great deal of satisfaction.