Rethinking what is valuable, an unexpected journey to become CEO

March 30, 2021

3R Mozambique Maíra Valladares

Sometimes you just have a broad desire to make a social impact, using your skills to create tangible results. With this aspiration, Maíra Valladares moved from Brazil, and her career in Communications, to study Social Innovation Management in Kenya. A few years later, she is the CEO of a very successful enterprise in Mozambique.

“Waste management was never a dream or a passion, it just came,” said Maíra Valladares, the CEO of 3R, a waste management company that aims to promote a circular economy in Mozambique. If you asked her if she was going to find her impact career in waste management she would have laughed, but then how did Maíra end up here?

Maíra was and still is “always looking at the next step and finding value in things”. Maíra had been working as a project manager in a startup consultancy and prior to that, she was working in positive news journalism. However, in 2016 something changed and Maíra decided to shift her life from Brazil to Kenya to do the hybrid version of Social Innovation Management (SIM) post-graduate program with Amani Institute. It was not so much about the theoretical aspect of the course that enticed her to join but more the benefits of going through her Inner Journey.

The Inner Journey is a large part of the SIM program. It focuses on equipping SIM Fellows with skills to manage their whole self. When working in the social impact space it is important to know how to stay resilient in the long run. One way to do this is to understand the journey you as a changemaker are on and simultaneously find out your why. At Amani Institute we call our why our burning, the flame that keeps going when the times get dark or tough.

Maíra realized her burning was not specific but rather a broad desire to make a social or environmental impact in a way that she can use her skills to create tangible results. This has made Maíra into a valuable chameleon who is able to adapt and help any social impact initiative using her skills. The key though is “being conscious of your skills”. Maíra, with the help of the SIM program, found her burning and with that her confidence and her network. She said, “I found my place, I found my group, I found my crew.”

So now, after SIM, Maíra has her burning, she has her crew of supporters and has an extensive network but what to do next? Maíra clarified “I did not have all the answers, I still don’t have all the answers, but I wanted to change my career and I found someone to believe in me”. This someone was her manager and mentor at Carbon Africa where she was doing her apprenticeship through the SIM program.

Maíra had never professionally worked in the social sector, so she needed to pivot her career after the SIM program. She was “conscious of [her] skills, the tools [she had] that can help make a difference somewhere”. Her manager at Carbon Africa saw those skills too and offered her a position as a Business Developer in Mozambique for a new venture called 3R… Fast forward five years later Maíra is the CEO and 3R is going from strength to strength! Maíra’s days are filled with promoting a circular economy, empowering locals to find formal employment, and finding value in resources many of us take for granted.

“I don’t want to talk about impact, I want to see impact”

We are so incredibly proud to be able to be spectators of Maíra’s amazing journey in finding herself, building a career of meaning, and reaching her goals. We are eager to cheer you on too! Join the Social Innovation Management Program digital edition youself! 

By Maylis Bezuidenhoudt

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