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Karen Schneider

Our Positive Woman is Karen Schneider, coordinator of the Women & Golf Female Golf Incentive Program, who tells us how the program is changing the paradigms of a sport predominantly attended by men. "We work with a sport predominantly frequented by men, and we want to ensure greater opportunities for women. Our goal is to unite them on the golf course and increase female participation in the sport," she says. "Through golf lessons, we create a new opportunity for social interaction; students are encouraged to remain active and continue training and playing after the course ends. We structure the Post-course with a schedule of activities and meetings, tournaments, and outings to the course," she adds.




1. How did your career begin? I left the interior of Rio Grande do Sul and moved alone to Porto Alegre at the age of 16. I started my career as a journalist at 18. My first job was as an intern on the program "Palavra de Mulher," presented by the iconic Marley Soares on the now-defunct TV2 Guaíba. My awareness that women must fight for their place in the workforce was awakened early on. The absence of women in public positions became clear during my two years as an intern at the Press Office of the Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Sul. After graduating, I worked as a radio reporter at CBN and RBS, but soon Porto Alegre seemed too small for my career dreams, and I moved to Madrid in 1999. It was a time when social networks and internet communication were still a dream. With a lot of courage and detachment, I left my job as a journalist and pursued a postgraduate degree in International Relations and Communication at the Complutense University of Madrid. I went with only a one-way ticket, money for three months, and a two-year paid course, which meant I needed to work to sustain myself in Spain.


2. What was the most difficult moment of your career? Leaving my job, friends, and family in Brazil was one of the most challenging moments, not only of my career but of my life. Being an immigrant in an unfamiliar country was an immense challenge. Initially, my student visa allowed me to work part-time delivering leaflets in mailboxes and on the Madrid metro. I was 25 at the time, and I thought about giving up, but overcoming challenges has always been my trademark.


3. What is your greatest achievement? I consider myself a woman of many achievements, but when I think of the greatest one, I think of my life as an immigrant in Spain. It was a time of great loneliness and uncertainties. That's why I consider persisting and staying in the country despite having a low-paying job as one of my greatest achievements. I developed a strength that I didn't know I had. The easiest thing would have been to return to Porto Alegre and continue my career as a journalist, but I realized I could use my knowledge to carve out my space in Spain. After several months of "handing out flyers at the Metro" (as some dissatisfied people referred to what I did in Madrid), through the Casa do Brasil, I met a television producer, took a test, and was hired as a reporter for the American television PSNews. It was a 10-month freelance job reporting on the stories of Brazilian football players like Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo, who were starting their careers in Spain. At the time, I thought it was luck, but now I see it was confidence in myself and the strength to overcome obstacles.


It was in Madrid where I had my first contact with golf. I worked in the organization and execution of events, conferences, international fairs, as well as golf events. Being as communicative as I always have been, I quickly made my mark in the events company. I was responsible for the Community of Madrid's stand at all IFEMA events. On two occasions, I received the Prince of Asturias, now King of Spain, Felipe de Bourbon, at the opening of the International Art Fair. From an immigrant with a low-paying job to hosting the prince at the art fair, that was a great achievement. My restlessness and desire to learn about other cultures took me even further. After three years in Madrid, I moved to Vienna, Austria. I graduated in German and English at the Wiener Internationale Hochschulkurse Universitat Wien. I lived in Austria for seven years. I returned to Brazil because I became pregnant with my first daughter, Luiza. I came to São Paulo where her father lives. And here I have been for 15 years.


4. How do you balance your personal life vs. corporate/entrepreneurial life? Motherhood came to me with a major life change. I returned to Brazil after nearly 10 years living in Europe, moving from Vienna to São Paulo, a city I had never lived in before, four months pregnant. It was quite a change. Staying connected to the Austrian maternity leave system (2 years) helped me a lot with this adaptation. We know that even with all the support, balancing career, personal life, and motherhood is quite complex. I have two daughters, Luiza (14 years old) and Aurora (8 years old), and I prioritized raising them after both were born. I literally took things one step at a time. I stayed home a lot, breastfed both, and chose to be self-employed investing in a career as a children's photographer. For 10 years, I had Kromakids, photography, and photobooks. But I confess it was quite difficult to leave corporate life with all my experience, fluent in four languages, and prioritize motherhood. Currently, after years of experience, my maternal and work lives flow quite smoothly, but it took time to achieve the fluidity I have today.


5. How is the business model of the Women & Golf Project structured? Women & Golf was born as a program to encourage golf practice and female empowerment through sports. We work with a sport predominantly frequented by men, and we want to ensure greater opportunities for women. Our goal is to unite them on the golf course and increase female participation in the sport. The starting point is the course with eight free lessons spread over two months of meetings, where participants receive theoretical and practical content. All content and materials used during the lessons are free. The classes take place at the Honda Golf Center, the sports center of the São Paulo Golf Federation. Our course and our students are our main focus; investing in their education enhances women's space in golf. Competent teachers, quality events, inclusion on golf courses, active and motivated students are our differentiators. Through golf lessons, we create a new opportunity for social interaction; students are encouraged to remain active and continue training and playing after the course ends. We structure the Post-course with a schedule of activities and meetings, tournaments, and outings to the course.


We started as a social cause, conceived and carried out by Instituto Chaves with the support of the São Paulo Golf Federation. The programs and projects of Instituto Chaves offer investment options through Sports Incentive Laws. Direct investment or through tax waivers creates opportunities for social inclusion. At this moment, we seek to attract investors willing to invest part of their taxes in our project. Women & Golf is gradually structured as a Social Business with a very clear cause. Through strategic partnerships, we are transforming a program of collective and free classes into a reference in women's golf practice in Brazil and worldwide. Our forecast for 2023 is to have more than 500 women directly involved with M&G. In addition to the free course, our current structure includes the Women & Golf Academy with private or group lessons using our methodology, where students can continue their learning. We have formed a group of host golfers who accompany newcomers on course outings. We create M&G tournaments and seek companies that support and sponsor these tournaments and events.


6. What is your biggest dream? My biggest dream is women achieving gender equality. And through our women's golf incentive program, we occupy this space for women on golf courses. May Women & Golf become a reference for this inclusion in Brazilian and global golf practice.


7. Book, movie, and woman you admire... Book: "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" (Sogyal Rinpoche). Movie: "Gone with the Wind." Woman I admire: the list is extensive, but I would like to mention Angelina Jolie, Angela Merkel, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

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