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Carina Cassandra, director of ESPAÇOS STP: “They looked at me with great disbelief and asked immediately to speak with the boss”

Carina Cassandra. Foto: Ody Mpouo.

The female presence in the formal labor market is still below men, especially in decision positions and when it comes to young women is a phenomenon still very rare in Sao Tome and Príncipe. The 28-year-old Carina Cassandra contradicts the rule.

Carina Cassandra is a student and hard worker as are most of the university students in the country. She is in the last year of the Law course at the Lusíada University of Sao Tome and Príncipe and is the director of ESPAÇOS STP and ESPAÇOS CV (Cape Verde).

STP Digital – Tell us a little about your walk and how you started working with outdoor advertising.

Carina Cassandra: After I had suspended university attendance in Portugal, I returned to Sao Tome and began working in a law office. It was 3 great years of lots of learning. As the person in charge of the customer service I forwarded the process of constitution of Espaços STP. In this process, the High DG wanted to recruit me, but I was not formatted to leave the office project and venture into an area that I never identified myself with. I come from letters and never considered myself a creative person (laughs). After a year, I thought I needed a fresh start and decided to go back to school (law). It was at this point that I also decided to challenge myself: to what extent would advertising work be a rocket science? Closed the chapter of the office, I embraced the communication universe of Espaços, which goes beyond outside advertising, also known as OOH – Out of home. As our signature says, we are “much more than you see.”

STP Digital – In Sao Tome and Príncipe, it is not common for companies to have young people and even more females in management positions. What is the reaction in the environment in which you work and how do you deal with it?

Carina Cassandra: (laughs) That’s true! The world is not yet ready for this new normal and Sao Tome and Príncipe is no exception to the rule. Being a small, sexist country, they would look at me with great disbelief and ask me to “talk to the boss”. I did not let myself be intimidated! Despite being a young woman, I made my way so that they take me seriously. Professionalism, rigor and consistency are the key words. Today I’m more self-confident and I believe they see me with different eyes.

STP Digital – In recent years there has been an evolution of the outdoor media in the country. How do you evaluate the relation of the Saotomean public to this type of media?

Carina Cassandra: In fact, yes. Espaços marked the beginning of the era of the exterior media in Sao Tome and Principe. I say this without any pretension because we brought the first billboards here. From then on, other players emerged, consolidating the advertising market. Competition is needed to get out of the box. Two years ago, I felt a greater stir among the SaoTomean brands, which began to include the billboard in the communication plan. Studies indicate that the outdoor media is the most effective mean of communication in Africa where people spend a lot of time on the streets and not all have a television or access to the power grid. I think that the companies in Sao Tome and Príncipe have begun to realize this.

Carina Cassandra. Photo: Ody Mpouo.

STP Digital – Social networks have gained more and more space. In your opinion, can such growth be a threat to outdoor advertising as it reaches the target audience?

Carina Cassandra: Threat never. I see it as complementary means. In this digital age, where we have a lot of accessible information with a click, the outdoor media had to reinvent itself. Become sexier and create positive experiences for the target. The bet on differentiating supports or with 2D communication, are examples of this metamorphosis. On the other hand, Espaços as a universe of communication, thinks solutions from A to Z for customers, not only fixing on the outside. We adjust to the age we live in and so our offer is not watertight, it is dynamic and comprehensive insofar we think, create and execute marketing and media solutions with a strategic and integrated vision of the market and all points contact with the final consumer.

STP Digital – Being in the advertising area don’t you feel the need to have an online presence?

Carina Cassandra: I’ve always felt some pressure to be on social networks, but now it’s a lot bigger. To provide a service of excellence we must study the brands, their actions in the various media, the information made available. I end up being a bit off the mark, not having Facebook or Instagram. I’m considering creating accounts just for professional purposes. (laughs)

STP Digital – What are the biggest challenges you face in the Saotomean market?

Carina Cassandra: Essentially, the size of the market and the lack of awareness of the benefits of marketing and communication. Although it is a small market that does not allow large bets, many brands still see communication as a cost only and not as an investment with strong possibilities of return, not only financial but also in terms of brand awareness and territory. There are several ways to communicate: a brand activation, a rooftop, a TV spot, a social network or a billboard are media. In addition, I firmly believe that we need to improve the quality of the offer. We have to professionalize ourselves, set goals and develop strategies that are increasingly directed towards the final consumer. Be it anywhere in the world, the consumer is more and more attentive and demanding and we are not exception.

STP Digital – In addition to directing ESPAÇOS STP, you also accumulate the responsibility of directing ESPAÇOS CV. How do you reconcile all this with the university and personal life?

Carina Cassandra: I summarize it in 3 words: team, method and resilience. Team: because in Sao Tome and Principe as well as in Cape Verde, besides shared direction, there is an invisible team that is the basis of the success of Espaços. And we are talking about the operatives (who make magic happen in practice), the creative, the administrative, finally, a whole universe without a strong and cohesive team it would not be possible.

Method: because if I did not have some daily and constant organization (between calendars, post its and notes in the phone (laughs)) I would be completely lost.

Finally resilience: because of my mobility, I miss some essential lessons, but I never gave up taking an exam or handing a university work. After hours of work, I change the chip and go to college. I do my best to reconcile everything, but I cannot wait to end it (laughs).

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