Sonepar Asks – International Women’s Day Spotlight: Natal Rodrigues

As we continue to #BreakTheBias by celebrating the successes and strides that women have achieved in the workplace. We are highlighting our female associates in honor of their accomplishments and to promote positive visibility of women at Sonepar within Canada. We have asked each associate about their career journeys and to share their experiences and perspectives with Sonepar. Meet Gescan’s Winnipeg Branch Manager Natal Rodrigues!

What was the position that you started with the company and how did you progress into the position you currently hold?

Twenty-eight years ago, I was a stay-at-home Mom with three children and wanted to get back into the job sector. In 1994, I started with Gescan as a branch administrator and was advised at the time that sales was the only other avenue for career progression. Eventually I moved into an Inside Sales/ Project Coordinator position. In 2002, I was promoted to Operations Process Leader for the Prairies. It was a new position, so I had to win over the branch managers and the branch employees because they had never seen anyone do the job. I was able to prove that I could help them, keep their operations clean and make their lives easier. In 2005 I was promoted to Pricing Manager and Eleknet Admin for the Prairies. I did all the pricing for all 12 branches in the Prairies including Thunderbay, Winnipeg, all three Saskatchewan branches and all the Alberta branches. In 2012 when the marketing group was started, I was asked to support them as a Marketing specialist. In 2014, my current position of Branch Manager in Winnipeg came up and I went for it!

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given that supported your career journey?

I’ve worked with many managers who inspired me and gave me similar advice on working hard, using your intuition and don’t be afraid to speak up if you see something that perhaps needs to be changed and simplified for the improvement of the company. It’s all about our customers. We must simplify our processes to make it as easy as possible for our customers to conduct business with us.

Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?

When I was a pricing manager, I worked for Chuck Hughes who was the pricing manager for all of GESCAN and he was straightforward and direct with his thoughts and feedback. He was responsible for providing on-boarding training and had told at the time, “my job is to train you, and once you’re trained, my job is to stand behind you and that includes whenever you make a mistake.” That inspired me because it shows supportive leadership when your boss chooses to stand behind you and then perhaps walk-through mistakes you have made rather than getting upset for mistakes made. This is something I have integrated into my own leadership style.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

Many years ago, the workplace looked and functioned differently, especially in this industry as it was mostly men and that’s how it was for a while. When you have a date that is meant to recognize the work women have put into respective companies and industries alike, it allows light to be shed on women for their contributions and accomplishments over the years. Women can do it all. You must work hard. My husband and I have raised three beautiful children and now we have four beautiful grandchildren and I recognize how very fortunate I have been with not only my family but also with the colleagues I work with and the company I chose to work for.

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

Diversity and inclusion within the workplace are important since a company is only as good as its people. People are the biggest asset and when you have a diverse workforce of employees that are bringing their life experiences, their education, and their ideas, the company can only go one way, but up. Everyone has different life experiences, education, and different education levels. Sometimes education taken in a different part of the world is a little different and possibly provides people with a few alternative ways of thinking which in turn is an added benefit for the company.

About Sonepar Canada: 

Member of the Sonepar Group, we are Canada’s largest privately-held B-to-B electrical products distributor and supplier of safety, facilities maintenance and MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) products and related services. In Canada, we are represented in nine provinces by Dixon Electric, Gescan, Lumen, MGM Electric, Sesco, Texcan and Vallen. Sonepar Canada has over 1800 employees working out of over 100 offices between our distinctive brands. 

This post is also available in: French