Breaking the glass ceiling

Energetic, team-focused and career driven, Serena Gonsalves is on a mission to accelerate Jotun’s embrace of digital solutions to optimise the customer experience in Performance Coatings.

Now in her 10th year at Jotun, Serena Gonsalves currently occupies the role of Digital Customer Experience Manager for Performance Coatings. If that feels like a mouthful, she offers a simple explanation for what she does. “My responsibility to ensure that the ‘left impression’ that a customer has of Jotun on any of our digital touchpoints is positive, helpful and consistent,” she says.

Humble beginnings and chance meetings
Serena brings years of experience to the job. “I have always been a storyteller,” she says. “So, after completing my university studies and earning a master’s degree in Business, I eventually landed a role in marketing at Emirates Airlines. It was fast-paced and exciting, but after five years, I got restless.”

A friend told her about a position in Jotun and applied in 2011. While Serena knew next to nothing about powder coatings, she was excited to learn about a new industry. “I began in marketing and worked hard. In 2014, I was offered a position managing global communications for the Powder Coatings segment,” she says. “Helping Jotun grow the business and connect with non-buying customers like architects, owners and designers was a gamechanger – and lot of fun!”

Penguin opportunities
Serena notes that working with Jotun in Dubai gave her career opportunities she may not have been offered in other countries, and a chance to be a part of diverse and multicultural teams. “I never considered myself to be in a unique position until it occurred to me that I was interacting more with men than women,” she says. “That only fuelled my desire to push against the glass ceiling. I reasoned that if I perform well, it will be easier for the next woman of colour to follow in my footsteps.” 

When asked if she has any advice for the next generation of ambitious, driven young women, she answers: “Don’t be scared to take up space and be heard. And feel free to reach out. There are plenty of women who have broken glass ceilings who can help you navigate your career without cutting yourselves on the shards!”