Kathy Fehst Barroso

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Hi Kathy,

1. Where are you from? Where are you currently living?
I was born in Germany but I'm living and working in Portugal.

2. What is your professional background?
Marketing, Sales, Communication, PR & Advertising, Finance / Banking / Accountancy, HR & Recruitment

3. What are you most passionate about and why?
Foremost I’m passionate about my family, since they are the reason for me to get up in the morning, my joy throughout the day and the motor which keeps me going.
Second, I absolutely love what I’m doing at the company and seeing the business grow and diversify from year to year is very satisfactory. I have the most amazing team and seeing that they are invested in the success of the company, as much as I am, is very rewarding.

4. Do you have any projects/company/startup that you want to share with us?
http://www.siroco.com.pt which is my own company. http://www.fehstgroup.com and http://www.only-smarthome.com which are our family businesses

5. Why did you decide to start Siroco?
The company Siroco was acquired by our family in 2010 and I’m managing it since that date. In October 2015 I took over the business, so I’m shareholder, owner and manager all in one now. The decision to take this step towards “independence” in terms of my family business, was easy because I had come to the point where I needed a “solo” experience in terms of managing a business that wasn’t linked to the family. As a member of a family business and if you all work closely together, there is sometimes not enough room to develop your own ideas and to grow both personally and professionally. This is not always the case, but in my situation that’s what happened. So I was on my emancipation path and it was and is my total responsibility to get things going like: hiring and developing coworkers, production and products, the financial situation, the strategy, business development and decision making. It’s a lot, but I’ve never been so happy and satisfied - and busy of course. However, it’s not always fun and sunshine. Being independent comes with a lot of risk and responsibility but with a skilled and motivated team, you can get a lot done.

6. Very interesting! Tell us more about Siroco?
SIROCO has been providing solutions for tooling, machinery and equipment for our customers. Over the years we have complemented our know-how with new and more specialized competencies which lead us to sustainable growth and recognition in the industry.
Today we are your ideal partner for automated turnkey solutions from concept to completion.
With over 28 years we’ve built a skilled team experienced in design, development and construction of automation solutions working with some world leading companies applying automation to their assembly processes and improving production sequences. Our know-how and expertise, will help you achieve a competitive advantage by increasing your Productivity, Flexibility and Improving Quality Control.
Whether you need a single station work cell or a complete integrated multi-function assembly line, we welcome you to visit us and learn more about our competencies. Let us show how we can service you best with innovative solutions for better productivity and cost reduction.
Our main customers are the automotive industry, however we are growing the food and beverage industries, furniture production industry, health, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries as well.
Our mission is to provide cost-effective all-round solutions that give our customers a competitive advantage through increased productivity, lower cost, greater flexibility and better quality. We use proven, state-of-the art technology to design, develop and build quality solutions that meet our customers’ specifications and invest in specialized training for our co-workers.

7. What was the most difficult or challenging thing to start with?
The most challenging is to get the right people in your team. They should be (in my opinion) like extended family, you have to know them as individuals and you have to be sure what their strengths and weaknesses are. Knowing your team and finding the best way to work together is key. Additionally, to that you have to figure out how to get everyone to work together, since it’s not enough that they only work well with you. Once you get that right, you can face about any challenge that comes your way.
I would say that choosing the right people for your team is the biggest challenge, since you work about 80% of the day with them. Communication and working methods have to be in sync for fast problem solving situations or if you are brainstorming the next big thing for your company.

8. Where do you currently need support in the project?
We are always in need of new and better ideas to develop the business. A company which comes to a point where everything is done, stagnates. We are constantly looking at our processes and at the market to see what we can continue to improve or do in a different way. So I would say that we can always use new people in all areas to contribute with innovative ideas.

9. Do you have a advice for other women?
Advise for fellow women…sounds easy, but to be honest I’m still looking for advice for myself. I would say, start by yourself. Know yourself as person – respect and love that! Fight for yourself and develop yourself. Don’t do things to impress someone else, do it because it literally screams “you” and you identify with this particular thing. It is a very courageous and powerful thing to commit to your true self in spite of your surroundings! But don’t be too hard on yourself. You are only human, you make mistakes which is necessary to learn and develop. Making those mistakes or admitting that you’ve reached your limit does not make you look weak, quite the opposite. By admitting you need help, you are showing that you have a realistic view of the situation and your capacities. Ask for help or mentoring from someone you trust and who’s opinion you value. Ask, always ask when in doubt – even when you think that asking a “stupid” question can make you look bad – making a wrong assumption is worse. So be humble and ask if you don’t know. Another advice is to work on yourself, both personally and professionally. Try to find out how other people see you and if they like working with you. Enroll in training programs, you can never learn and know too much. Join interesting networking programs, like the present “IW-Connection” and share your experience – learn from other experiences, as well. Dare to be bold and different. Try out new things, be innovative, be yourself. You will make mistakes and you will fail, but never give up! I’ve heard once: “The only real failure, is the failure to try. And the measure of success, is how we cope with disappointment.” Keep your head up and a positive attitude and persistent attitude.

10. What would you tell your younger self?
Keep moving!

How to get in contact
Kathy Fehst Barroso | CEO SIROCO
E-Mail: kfehst@siroco.com.pt
Website: http://www.siroco.com.pt/

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Fehst Barroso