Photo of Fernanda Hoe with a quote from her
26 October 2021

When Inspiration and Passion Meets Resistance: Forging a Path to Leadership


Posted By: Fernanda Hoe, General Manager, Elanco Brazil

As a kid, I always looked up to my dad, an engineer in the telecom industry. Committed to his work and customers, he always looked for new ways to do old things. I remember listening to him fervently talking on the phone with customers and co-workers, resolving issues and making sure everyone got what they needed. Even as a child, I was soaking in all the knowledge, tips and tricks, and the passion he had for his career.

So, when I found myself at 21-years-old with the title “doctor,” a small woman tasked with changing the minds of men whose habits were older than I was, I had to dig in deep to what my father taught me: Move forward, do it with excellence, and know you’re capable.

After graduating veterinary school at 21, one of my first jobs was working with dairy farmers, giving technical consultancy in milk quality. Milk composition was still a very new concept in which I had to teach the farmers best practices, changing their milk routine that they had been accustomed to for decades. Navigating the waters of gaining their trust, while convincing them to change their habits and implement the necessary changes was extremely difficult. I had to stay strong in my beliefs, know that I was capable, and achieve what I set out to do.  

I have always focused on the path ahead, and am glad I do. According to Women in Leadership and Management in Animal Health (WILMAH), in animal health, women are underrepresented in leadership roles, particularly in: Senior Manager/Director, Vice President, Senior Vice President, and C-Suite.

I recently took over as General Manager of Elanco Brazil, marking the first time a woman has been named General Manager of an animal health company in Brazil. And while this is a move in the right direction, the WILMAH statistics show us we have work to do to ensure women have access to those leadership opportunities. So, what’s the path forward? 

  • Mentorship is key: I am thankful for all the support I have received from women and men both inside and outside of Elanco who are inspired by my story. With all of this support around my career, I have been recently named on the Forbes Brazil List of the 100 Powerful Women of Agro. While its my name on the list, it represents the hands and hearts of thousands of people who mentored me along the way.
  • Advocate for opportunities: According to WILMAH, 87 percent of women in animal health want to advance in their company, but the opportunities aren’t always present. Our allies and advocates are key to battling unconscious bias is challenged in hiring decisions. Speak up when you see it.
  • Bring your whole self to work: To the women who aspire to grow their careers into something truly special, my advice is: know your business and areas of work, look ahead and sideways, connect with people, be transparent, and most importantly – be you.


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