Danielle Rainha is the Global CHRO/Board Member at SHV Energy in the Netherlands. She started her Human Resources career at GSK, before moving to BG Group. Danielle joined SHV Energy in 2014 as part of Supergasbras Energia Ltda in Brazil, before moving to the Netherlands in 2022.
I’d love to start by learning more about your career and personal story.
I have been working in Human Resources for more than 20 years and started my career at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). I was hired as an intern, and I spent 13 years there. I would say GSK was the place I built my technical, professional background.
After that, I went to BG Group, now acquired by Shell. I worked there for four years, and I was an HR Business Partner for countries in South America.
Then, I went to a national, family-owned company with over 10,000 employees, and my mission there was to support the company with the IPO. It was an amazing experience to prepare the company and support the improvements of the processes that should be in place.
After that, I joined SHV Energy, where I have been working for almost ten years. I started my journey with the company in 2014 as an HR Director at Supergasbras Energia Ltda. After two to three years, I was invited to go to Makro Atacadista as a CHRO in South America.
Then, a year-and-a-half ago, the company invited me to come to the Netherlands to become the global CHRO for SHV Energy. So, my professional journey has always been in HR. I think HR is something that touches my heart. I truly believe our journey is not about products and services; it’s about people and love. I believe that this passion is something that is a very important energy and fuel to make the company successful.
Personally, I was born in Brazil. My father’s family is from Portugal, and my mother is Brazilian. I have had the experience of working very closely with countries in South America, such as Columbia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. I am really proud to have had the opportunity to work with these countries. Now, in a global position, I am very proud that I am learning a lot about the new countries that I am looking after. I can say that I have the job of my dreams: work with people, contribute to their happiness and satisfaction, and relate to different cultures - it is really amazing.
Talking a bit about my purpose in life, and what I was born for, it is about growth and giving or giving and growth. As much as I give, as much as I grow. And as much as I share, as much as I grow – that is my belief. I believe and understand that, worldwide, must be the wave generating and developing growth and passion. Every place I go, I have that with me – give and grow. That is my inner belief.
I was born in Rio de Janeiro. My father was a teacher, and my mother was a secretary. If you were to ask me if I thought I would be in the position I am today, the answer would be no, never. But, for me, it is very important to take opportunities that life can offer to me, and also to bring people together and make them grow with me.
Education was very powerful in my house. Values such as respect, collaboration, and sharing were taught by my parents at home and are still with me today, and still guiding my beliefs, the way that I am, the way I connect with people, and the way I believe I can impact the organisations I work with.
Tell me about the move to the Netherlands. How was that transition?
It has been amazing, but I must confess that, when I received the offer, I was a bit shocked, because I was afraid. I told them it was my dream; it was something that I wanted to happen in my life to live abroad to work in global company. I didn’t have a dream to be the CHRO, but I did have a dream to have a professional experience abroad, so - when the offer came - I was positively surprised.
I have a high motivation to learn, and it is important to me, and I try to spread this belief in every place that I go, with my children (sons), and also to the people that I work with. To be in a senior position in an international company, it was also about representation, Diversity & Inclusion - I am a woman, Brazilian, and a single mother, so people like me can see that they can also grow. That is very powerful.
As I mentioned, I came to the Netherlands with two kids. My youngest was eight years old when we landed and my eldest was 14 years old, so it was a very interesting and powerful experience.
We landed here a year-and-a-half ago, at the end of the pandemic, so it was lockdown. My assignment was going to be in one city, but that changed, and I chose the house I would live in via WhatsApp! I just had to go for it.
I landed in the Netherlands with my two boys and nine pieces of luggage, going to a house that I only saw via WhatsApp. I had to go with my gut feeling - following a bit of intuition is something that can be very powerful.
It was a successful choice; my house is very nice, the location is very good. My children love living here, the freedom, and the country. I can see they are growing very fast and that makes me very happy, and also updates my purpose and why I am here – it’s about me and my relatives, but also the example I can bring to the place that I am in.
As a mother, if your children are happy and settled, that gives you the comfort and the freedom to do your role, which I am sure is intense, but you feel a strong connection and purpose with.
What I try to teach to my kids and when I share my experience, is it’s not just having your values written down; you show values with your behaviour. We are not perfect, we are human beings, and sometimes we have a lot of contradictions inside ourselves. But, if we know ourselves and we have the commitment to be better person every day, why we are here, and why we are doing the things that we do, that is very powerful.
When I talk about values with my children, I try to give powerful examples to them. For example, after we landed in the Netherlands, two months later, I was driving a car and I hit the car behind me. I thought, “How am I going to deal with this, who am I going to call, I don’t know anything…” But the kids asked, “What will we do now?” and I said, “I’m going to park the car and then come back," because the car I hit was parked.
I said we would wait and then have a talk with the owner. I told them, “It’s important to be responsible for our own actions.” So, we stayed there together, waited for the owner, introduced myself, apologised for hitting her car, explained I was new in the city, and asked how we could resolve it together.
I was going to be responsible for everything, because I was the one responsible for the incident. The lady was surprised, because she knew I could have left. I believe in doing the right things and having the commitment to do the right thing, that’s why I am here, and it was a strong example to my children. I say to them, “Be honest and be responsible.”
I learned that from my parents. When I was seven years old, I went to the supermarket with my mother, and I stole a lollipop. I went home and showed it to my mother, saying, “Look, I stole it from the supermarket,” smiling as I said it. My mother came down to my level and looked into my eyes, and she explained to me that we couldn’t steal anything that didn’t belong to us, and we would go back to the supermarket, apologise to the manager, and pay for the lollipop.
So, I went back to the supermarket with her, apologised to the manager myself, and paid for it. It was a very strong example for me and a strong memory. I believe we learn not from explanation, but through the way we behave.
It would be great to hear about the values within SHV Energy and how they come alive. Could you tell us more about that?
At SHV Energy, we have a clear purpose: courage to care for generations to come. We have three elements in our purpose: performance, people, and planet. In most of the meetings that we have, we ask ourselves: did we think about the purpose, have in mind performance, people, and planet, and where we are related to this?
We are a family-owned company, so it’s the courage to care for generations to come, not only for the generations to come for the owners of the company, but the generations to come worldwide and how we can positively impact the world.
We have different kinds of businesses under the SHV umbrella. In SHV Energy, we are leading the energy transition, so how we will impact the world for generations to come. We have been working very closely with all the business units to make it come alive.
When we talk about values, they are very powerful. It’s about integrity, curiosity, passion, trust, and inclusivity. Our values are more than just words; it’s how we bring them alive.
Integrity is having a very strong compliance culture. We have channels, we have learnings, and a strong community we work very hard with to strengthen the compliance commitment and strengthen the values of integrity and trust.
Curiosity is about entrepreneurship. We are a company that believes we have to look at the unusual. We have to look ahead and see what no one else sees. It’s something that motivates us.
Inclusivity is about me, as a woman, a Brazilian, single mother in this role as a CHRO worldwide. It’s much stronger than what you put on the wall; it’s how you show it in an organisation. How you behave is more important than what you say, as I mentioned earlier. Culture is about how you hire people, promote people, etc.
Passion is to put love in everything we do. It’s not about products; it’s about people and love.
For me, it’s an honour and a pleasure to work for SHV. SHV is a company that really connects with my values. I feel respected and recognised. I have had huge opportunities to climb the career ladder in this company, starting from HR Director in Brazil to Global CHRO. I am a concrete example of how much the company invests in me and my career, and has given me opportunities to grow in the company. It’s a very special company; every day, I am sure I am in the right place, doing the right thing.
It’s quite a responsibility to work for a business that focuses so much on the next generation.
I think we work very hard to take care of our people and to make smart decisions that positively impact the work we are doing.
For example, in our head office, we have more than 30 nationalities. It is very international, with different mindsets and cultures. It is a rich place to be and learn. As leaders, we have to be able to look at ourselves and have a growth mindset – a mindset of improving ourselves.
In SHV, I have the opportunity to improve myself every day. In every meeting I participate in, all the interactions, it’s always a great opportunity to grow and learn.
You obviously have a very strong sense of belonging and connection with the business. How would you say you create that sense of belonging for the wider workforce?
We are quite decentralised, so we don’t have a big head office that centralised everything. I have 21 business units, 21 HR Directors, and only eight people in my head office - two people in charge of different specialisms in HR. That means a lot has been done by the business units.
What is aligned and what we have as a common understanding is our purpose, values, culture, and leadership. We have some rituals as an HR community; we meet twice a year to share best practices and build things together. We have an HR community to learn from each other and share what we have been doing.
We have four strategic projects. In these projects, we have an opportunity to work together to deliver a better experience to our employees. One of those projects is related to leadership. The second is about employee value proposition (EVP) from a local and global perspective.
The third is about data analytics and how we can improve the quality of data, make decisions based on data, and how we can create this culture in our organisation.
The fourth is about building capabilities; looking at our strategy, business, and what capabilities are required for our business. To understand capabilities broadly comprises tools, processes, and competencies – looking at the people and what we are missing, the knowledge we can enhance in the organisation, and leveraging knowledge sharing in our teams.
With these four strategic projects, we have the commitment of working together to apply the product of these projects to other business units.
Was there ever a different career path if it wasn’t HR that might have been interesting?
No, I love working with HR, I love human beings. I love to study psychology, coaching, and mentorship. I truly believe in people development. I think we can learn everything our mind can acquire, meaning if you understand it exists and you believe it is possible to learn, then it is possible.
I think I was born to work in HR. My goal is to be a business leader, to help my colleagues and influence them to make good decisions about the business, taking into account the effect on people.
When you have happy people in your work environment, that can impact your profit and loss (P&L). Happy people will make customers happy and send a positive wave worldwide.
I think everyone understands that people is not a subject that belongs to HR; people is a strategy and subject that has to be integrated into all parts of the organisation.
Is there anyone who really stood out to you as being inspiring or anyone who has helped contribute to your success and where you are today?
I am a lucky person, as I have had the opportunity to work with very inspiring leaders. Since the beginning of my career, I have had the opportunity to work with different people and different profiles.
I can share one small experience. When I was at GSK, I had my first son, and I received a letter of my first promotion as a manager when I was at the maternity hospital, which is very meaningful. I went to the hospital to have my baby, and my promotion letter arrived together with my baby – it’s very symbolic.
It was an important message; you can have a baby and climb the career ladder. You can do both together.
I’ve had leaders who were so generous with their knowledge to help me understand the business and develop myself. Also, I am very lucky to have worked with amazing teams, very good people, with very good potential, and high talent - they fly.
I am very proud of the people I have worked with who are in very special positions today. They have climbed the career ladder and are remarkable professionals.
For people who are early in their HR career, is there any advice you would pass on to them that has been helpful for you and had an impact on how your career has developed?
The first thing you should do is know yourself. Leverage your level of self-awareness, know who you are, what you like and what you don’t like, embrace your vulnerability, and don’t pretend you know everything, because you don’t - you need people to connect with you. So, please be aware of yourself, who you are, and where you’d like to be.
The second tip would be to take the opportunity, take the risk, don’t be afraid – go, go, go!
The third one is to be generous with your colleagues and the people around you. Connect with them and share as much as possible, because when you share, you grow.
Thank you to Danielle for speaking to Katie Insley, Associate Director in our Human Resources recruitment team in the Netherlands.
Views and opinions contained within our Executive Interviews are those of the interviewee and not views shared by EMEA Recruitment.