By Pamina Mullins
What does it take for a Mozambican girl child with five siblings, who had to walk long distances to school and whose family had to rely on food and clothing donations, to earn a BSc in Organizational Psychology and an MSc in Human Resources (HR) Management and ultimately become a HR Development Specialist and Director of her own Mozambican consultancy firm?
Determination, hard work and a little bit of moxie.
“Somewhere deep inside, I always believed I was going to change my reality,” Marta Madeira says.
Born into a Portuguese-speaking family in Maputo, Marta learned early on if she was to realize her dreams she would need to speak English. “My mother worked at the airport as part of the airplane-cleaning crew,” she explains. “One day she came home with a magazine written in English. It had a picture of a fridge in it filled with food I’d never seen, and it made my mouth water. I told myself ‘when I grow up I am going to have a house that has a fridge with food like that in it’ and so learning English became my first goal.”
Marta studied psychology at Universidade Politécnica because she wanted to understand why she was the only one in the family who was so driven to break out of the cycle of poverty. From there she headed to the UK to earn a Masters from the University of Manchester but still yearned to do more with her life.
Watching The Secret – a movie in which scientists, authors and philosophers propose the secret to leading a happy and successful life – was a turning point.
“It opened my eyes to just how much more I am capable of. The sky’s the limit when it comes to human potential.”
Never one to miss an opportunity or be intimidated, she contacted Bob Proctor, one of the contributors to The Secret, and joined his coaching program. He has since become her coach and mentor, as well as business partner in her HR management and development consultancy, Atos Lda.
“When I started, I didn’t have any business experience or clients,” she explains with a laugh. “I started by knocking on doors and reaching out to my networks. Slowly the assignments started trickling in until I landed a big recruitment contract that gave me the funds to set up an office.”
But she wasn’t on the home run yet. Marta went without a salary for a year and resorted to selling Tupperware to make ends meet at home. Whatever funds came in were invested back into the business.
“I registered the company, bought a laptop and a desk, rolled up my sleeves and started working,” she explains. Initially it was just her until she hired a cleaner. “I was tired of cleaning my floor before getting into serious work,” Marta recalls with a smile. Within six months, she hired her first professional who didn’t have much experience and trained her.
Marta kept in mind her mentor’s advice—if you have a worthy ideal, something you want more than anything else, create an image of that and start moving towards it.
“Don’t wait until you’re ready,” Bob advised. “Get ready as you work on it”.
Like almost everyone involved in startups she learned how to fall and stand up, all the time recalling Bob’s words “failure is temporary but quitting is permanent”.
Those days of cleaning the floor are long past and today the 46-year-old’s work experience spans 22 years. Marta’s clients include international organizations, such as the British Council, the World Bank, the UN, BHP Billiton and SNV – Netherlands Development Organization, private sector companies and international NGOs. ATOS, Lda provides consultancy services such as recruitment and selection, payroll process, labor brokering, psychometric assessment, and development of HR outsourcing. Marta’s coaching programs are partnered with Bob Proctor’s Thinking into Results and Janet Attwood’s The Passion Test.
Marta’s message for those with a similar dream? Find what it is that you really love to do and just start. It doesn’t matter how much competition there may be—just let your uniqueness shine. “If I had known how relatively easy it would be, I would have started earlier” she says. “Provided you have clear, compelling goals, are prepared to work, lead by example, and provide value for money, you can be successful.
- Study every day for an hour to get to know, understand and improve yourself.
- Leaving a powerful impression on the people you meet, they will become ambassadors for your business.
- I cannot stress the importance of strong leadership, good communication skills and networking in growing your business.
- Finding the right people for your team can be a huge challenge. Seek those who are self-driven and can contribute creatively, balancing skills you may lack.
You can reach Marta on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ATOS-Lda-Recursos-Humanos-266459766700249/messages
Pamina Mullins is Zimbabwean based, born in Zambia, and has lived in Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa and the United Kingdom. She is a Corporate and Personal Stress Management and Life Coach, Hypnotherapist, Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and NLP practitioner. She uses these inter-related methodologies to develop, motivate and guide her diverse clientele toward reaching their full potential. Pamina’s coaching focuses primarily on Stress Mastery, Change Management, Developing Human Capital, Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Diversity. She is a blogger for the Huffington Post Business series Africa’s Women Entrepreneurs author of the kindles Stress Free You! and Unlock Your Emotion Code and contributing author to Modern-Day Miracles by Louise L. Hay and Friends, The Coaching Gurus, and Radiant Survivor. Find out more at www.breakfreeandreclaimyourlife.com