Three-time mentor Sinval: ”Stepping out of our comfort zone, that’s how we grow”

It was Carnival day 2016 and Sinval Junior was partying with his friends in his hometown in Brazil when he got a call that would change his life. Volvo Construction Equipment had offered him a position at their plant in Braås, Sweden. Engineer, two MBAs, Sinval Ferreira de Oliveira Junior has been working in Sweden ever since. Balancing a new culture - that he and his family have enthusiastically embraced - with a certain Brazilian way of being that he gladly carries to work every day, this foreign professional has been a mentor twice and is getting ready for a third go in Mitt Livs Chans this spring.

Why have you decided to become a mentor in Mitt Livs Chans?

- I’ve been raised with the conviction it’s up to us to contribute to society the best we can. In Brazil I had worked quite a lot as volunteer and, after moving to Sweden, I really missed that part of my life. So when Volvo promoted Mitt Livs Chans, the mentoring program seemed perfect to fill the gap! When I left Brazil, I knew it would be challenging to approach a new culture and live so far away from home, but my wife and I accepted the challenge because we wanted to grow. The mentoring program is yet another way to do that.

Speaking of challenges, which are the biggest ones for the foreign professionals that you’ve met in the program?

- I think the language is often a big barrier holding them back. There’s often sort of a suspicion that people who don’t speak the language fluently might somewhat be less competent. On the contrary, I think that people who have the courage to put themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to learn a new language as adults and work with that language will eventually learn it if they have a chance to practice it in the workplace, while the strength of their character is a great asset for their company.

- Another big challenge for these colleagues is to stay motivated in front of all that’s thrown at them, which turns into a big challenge for me as a mentor. They face a lot of rejections when trying to find a job, and on top of that the corona crisis makes everything much harder right now. So I try to motivate them to go on, I give them concrete examples that it’s possible to make it, even if it’s difficult.

What is the best piece of advice you can give them?

- I was working in Brazil when I first heard about an opening for the position I now hold at Volvo. I read a post on LinkedIn and said to myself: ”Well, Sinval, you must try!”. So I applied, while also taking contact with someone working at Volvo that I met at an event. I think that showing my curiosity and interest really made a difference and that’s why I tell my mentees that networking is so important. I understand it can be hard to take the initiative and approach new people. At the same time it’s a step out of the comfort zone that can be a real game changer.

What do you get out of the mentorship?

- As a mentor I get to see the direct effect of what I do, which is amazing! When a mentee comes to me with a big smile on their face and says ”Sinval, I tried what you suggested and it worked!”, that’s the biggest reward I can get! The mentoring program is the classic win-win situation. I get to do something good for society at large and for these colleagues and at the same time I learn so much! It may be challenging but only by getting to know each other and our differences and accepting them we can become good citizens of a fully functioning democratic society.

Curious about Mitt Livs Chans?