International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
To mark this special day and month, we are shining a light on a few of the many wonderful women who work for Schréder worldwide, sharing their stories and what this day means to them.
Born in Paraguay, Maria Castillo grew up in Argentina and graduated from the University of Buenos Aires with a degree in Architecture and Urbanism. Maria joined Schréder Argentina in 2009, before moving to Paraguay in 2012 for a long-term assignment and relocating to Argentina in 2017.
This year, she had the opportunity to move to Chile, where she is working with the team to deliver a first-class service to our customers.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
A symbol, a challenge and a compromise.
A symbol of all the fight for equality, respect and acknowledge we have been fighting for, the symbol of a possible future, more equal and more fair.
A challenge, because this day makes it real and present in our lives and reminds us how many rights we have achieved in the past but also, how many are still to be accomplished in the future.
And a compromise, with ourselves to pass to our sons and our daughters this flag of a dream, that is more real every day.
Can you tell us about your background and your own role in Schréder?
Well, I am an architect and I only applied to work at Schréder because I saw an ad requesting a commercial specifier which is quite different to a salesperson.
This type of post was just what I was looking for, so I decided to send in my CV. Even though I didn’t know anything about lighting, I know a lot about giving good advice and satisfying needs. I hadn’t heard of the company before, but as soon as I arrived and saw their blue urban lighting catalogue, I knew that it was where I wanted to work and where I should be working.
I have been at Schréder for more than ten years now, and I have discovered and learnt a lot about the wonderful world of lighting, how it can influence our lives and how it is capable of creating the most diverse situations and emotions.
What do you think we can be doing to inspire and encourage more young women to work in this field?
In my opinion, young women need us to give them a safe and challenging working environment, with real opportunities to participate in new and inspiring projects. Real jobs with equal pay, equal respect and equal opportunities to shine will encourage them.
Our company has great opportunities to learn and to create projects that have never been seen before, which if led by women would give them a great opportunity to share their new ideas.
What women have had the greatest impact on your life, and why?
Certainly, all the women in my family. I grew up in a family of strong independent women in a very tough Latino environment. My two grandmothers surpassed all the limits and clichés of their time, either because of adversity or because of their own decisions. My mother, of great intelligence and humour, who broke all the models of her own time, taught me that everything is possible as long as you just work hard and never give up.
Today, it's my daughters' turn. I can see how all the ideals and statements are taking shape in her. She is perfectly aware of her rights, she is raising her feminist voice, much more than me, to always create awareness about woman’s rights, freedom and equality, fighting against all kinds of violence. She really is an inspiration.
What is your greatest achievement in work to date?
I do believe that my greatest achievement is the relationship that I have built up with my customers. I listen carefully to their needs and what they are saying, to discover what they really need, but haven't yet realised.
I share our passion for light, our values and our beyond light services to gain their trust, with honest advice, extensive knowledge of our solutions and problem solving when necessary. I am always there, a reliable and loyal partner to make things happen. This is something that I am really proud of.
What advice would you give young women starting their professional career today?
Believe in yourself, always be authentic and loyal to your own beliefs. Understand that with every step we take, we are building our own world. Never let anyone make you think that you cannot do something or that you have to settle or compromise just because it is 'supposed to be that way'.
Think outside the box. Everyone's achievements matter, especially womens'. Don’t put any limits on yourselves, don´t be afraid to go beyond the boundaries.
Connect with Maria on LinkedIn