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Employee Spotlight: Rafael Fideles

January 22, 2024
Rafael Fideles Portrait

Rafael Fideles | Peripheral Vascular Senior Marketing Manager – Latin America | Joined Penumbra 2011 | São Paolo, Brazil

Q. What is your current role at Penumbra?

Currently, I am Sr. Marketing Manager for our Peripheral Vascular Business in Latin America (LATAM). I support distributors and their sales reps in a territory composed of 15 countries plus Caribbean islands. My main responsibilities include developing LATAM strategy for our peripheral portfolio, analyzing sales numbers to identify areas of growth, and maintaining close alignment with fellow international and global marketing teams. I also plan and organize marketing events, train sales reps on topics such as disease states, as well as develop and execute educational programs for healthcare professionals to foster adoption and use of minimally invasive techniques.

Q. What drew you to Penumbra?

After working for 15 years at another company in the cardiovascular field, I felt I needed a more challenging set up. I have a transformational profile where I like to take small projects and turn them into strategic, high-profile ones. When I heard there was a spot opening in Penumbra Latin America, a friend encouraged me to participate in the hiring process. Two things immediately compelled me to fight for the job. First, I had been in the market for 15 years and had never heard of Penumbra. When I looked the company up, I was struck by the history of how it started and how engaged the founders are. The fact that they were still there to oversee the entire company gave me confidence that it was a solid company, managed carefully to be where it is today. The second factor was that I heard a comparison that Penumbra was the Apple for the medical device market and that triggered me. I mean, a solid company with a great product, but looking to grow its reputation in the peripheral vascular market!? It was a perfect match for me. I felt there was a mutual benefit opportunity. For me, I would be able to learn from great professionals and leadership and, for the company, I could be the right person to spread the technology across the territory.

Q. Describe yourself at age 10. What career aspirations did you have at that age?

When I was a kid, I was very artistic, I loved to paint and draw. I even got a few awards for drawings when I was 11. I loved LEGO and had a great imagination, definitely had a world of my own. So, I imagined myself as an artist, or an architect, but also, I wanted to travel and see the world. Looking back, I think I was able to mix both of my desires. I can use my creativity in marketing, and I travel 80% of my time, which allows me to meet new cultures and breathe new air.

Q. Describe a travel adventure that you’ll never forget.

My favorite vacation was a 21-day experience in Thailand. As any big country, Thailand has several facets that are very charming, and I was enchanted by every one of them. First, Bangkok is a very cosmopolitan city with a lot of people everywhere, lights, tall buildings, museums, shows. Then only 80 km north there is Ayutthaya, the old capital of the Kingdom of Siam, which is pure history between its ruins. Once to the south, you can find amazing beaches on several small islands with water a shade of indescribable blue; there’s resting time, fresh air, and warmth. Then into the far north lies the Golden Triangle, defined by the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. It’s a region where the Buddhist doctrine is very strong and there is a magical energy. I was lucky to be there at the Chinese New Year Party in Chiang Mai, where they stop the entire city, and each person releases fire balloons to the sky with a wish. It is magical, like the scene from the Disney movie Tangled. I think that what amazed me the most is that even though it is an underdeveloped country with a somewhat poor population, you can still see a smile on every person. It taught me the concept of resiliency like nothing else.

Q. What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

I remember back in 2006 during college, I was working as an inventory analyst for a medical device distributor in the countryside of Brazil, a state called Minas Gerais. I heard about a website where one could write a letter to their future self, and then select a date to receive it via email. I received mine in 2015, and what I wrote as a professional goal back in 2006 was that I wanted to be a sales rep for that distributor. But guess what? I was already a marketing associate for the entire country at a medical device company. So, my first lesson was to dream big. There is no limit to where you can get, despite any background or seemingly indirect path. You can get to wherever you want. Which leads to my second lesson: work hard, and not just for yourself; try to understand the big picture, help others, learn from others. There is no limit to what we can learn when we step out of our comfort zone. The third lesson is a career and personal one: be kind. One can be competitive and not step on others to get where one wants to be. Be kind because everyone is doing the best they can at that given time. Be kind vertically and horizontally, make no distinction between people. And try to be kind to yourself too, we are all learning human beings with qualities and flaws.

Q. What is your personal philosophy?

Be wise and truthful. Once I heard that pain is mandatory, suffering is optional. It meant a lot to me to learn that things out of our control and especially out of our life planning might happen and it’s a slap, it hurts. But the amount of time you choose to suffer due to that change or obstacle is completely optional. You can choose to suffer for a long time, or you can understand that we cannot plan everything in our lives, adjust according to the cards you have in your hands, and move on. It will most likely take you to a better place.


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