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Every Journey Starts With the First Step – Fernando on his journey to Evonik

Fernando is Account Executive at Evonik in Brazil. In our students@Evonik blog, he writes about his journey: starting with his interest in chemistry to an internship and, lastly, working for Evonik's Regional Business Development in São Paulo, Brazil.

A big hello to everyone,

My name is Fernando Rezende and I work for Evonik as an Account Executive in Regional Business Development in São Paulo, Brazil. You may be wondering why I write for students@Evonik when I am no longer a student. Well, I did not, of course, start out as Account Executive. My journey began as a student and today I would like to tell you a little about myself and my journey to Evonik.

I think a good starting point for my story is to tell you how I got into chemistry in the first place. After high school, I was not very sure where I wanted to go. Of course, the University offered many different options – business, medicine, psychology, physics, engineering and so on – but, to be honest, I could not decide. I think many of my peers feel kind of lost after school – probably because or due to the fact that you finally can plan your own future. At that time, I was watching a documentary about a pretty crazy theory in particle physics, which then got me excited about science - it was fascinating! The course of my journey was set, but the details were not yet clear. Physics sounded interesting but I had the feeling that physics might probably be too much theory for me. In the end, I chose chemistry: a theoretical, scientific background that, if you want, can also be transferred onto the corporate world.

When I was accepted at the University of São Paulo, considered the best in Latin America, I believe that was the first personal achievement in my life that really made me proud. It was a very special and happy time for me but studying chemistry was not easy. The first semester was full of calculus and algebra that I had never seen before. I felt like I barely survived the first semester but I guess every freshman feels that way. Only in the third semester did we start with organic chemistry and, although difficult, it was very interesting. It was not long before I decided to do an internship in the organic chemistry laboratory at my University. I might have been a little overzealous about finally being able to do real scientific research and experiments because, at the end of the course, I had no real knowledge on how to combine chemistry with business. I eventually found out that scientific or academic chemistry is not the same as economic chemistry. In economic chemistry, you always pay attention to the possible effects on the market. On the other hand, in academic chemistry, you do not necessarily pay attention to the market. In other words, my original plan to simply translate my knowledge of chemistry into business practice was not as simple as I thought. Therefore, I decided I needed a second degree to fill that gap. After four years of chemistry, it was and still is not easy to start a second degree in materials engineering. However, it quickly paid off because it gave me the opportunity to do an internship at Evonik.

I started my internship at Evonik right after my first year in Materials Engineering. My first position was with Evonik's High Performance Polymers Business Line as a market intelligence intern. Chemistry and materials engineering were a solid fundament for my internship because I was able to perceive and understand all the new things from two different perspectives - with a micro approach from chemistry and a macro approach from materials engineering. 

Everything I learned during my internship was incredible! It was definitely not something you could learn in a classroom. For example, how important and efficient teamwork truly is in business. For example , in order to observe the market properly, you need to have a good understanding and knowledge about the value chain, the competition, the products and, most importantly, the customers. Let me tell you, this is not possible on your own. I was fortunate to have many colleagues who helped me. And not just in Brazil! I had the opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world. For me, this is an important part of Evonik's culture and charm because, from the very first day, I felt really welcome both by the company and by my colleagues.

That is it for today! I hope I was able to show you a bit on how I got to Evonik. But the story is not finished yet! 

In my next post, I will tell you more about my internship and a bit on the transition to Regional Business Development.

See you soon,
Fernando


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