Carolina Lourenco – Epson do Brasil

Head of legal navigates data protection changes and a major merger

COVID-19 couldn’t have come at a worse time for Carolina Lourenco.

As head of legal at Epson do Brasil, the Brazilian division of the technology company known for its printers and imaging products, she was reconfiguring the company to comply with a far-reaching new data protection law and completing a major merger when the pandemic struck.

Carolina Lourenco | Head of Legal | Epson do Brasil

Carolina Lourenco | Head of Legal | Epson do Brasil

“It was very difficult to put everyone together with only remote access,” Lourenco recalls. “Because we are an international company and many of our resources and systems are controlled in the United States, we needed their help also.”

Looking back today, Lourenco sees parallels between her willingness to venture outside her comfort zone in her career and her ability to rise to the twin challenges of the data protection law and the merger. Her history of taking risks and seizing on opportunities allowed her to lead her team of four through a challenging transition period.

Sounding the alarm on data protection

In 2019, the National Congress of Brazil passed a new data protection law with sweeping implications. The law’s regulations came into force at the height of the pandemic in 2021, and Lourenco was responsible for implementing all of Epson do Brasil’s new privacy policies and procedures—both for employees and for customers.

“One of the most important and big challenges was to make all the stakeholders in the company aware about the consequences [of the law], because if they do not go with you on this project, it’s impossible to do this implementation by yourself,” Lourenco says. “You need the whole company together, because you’re talking about personal data protection, and each area always will collect some kind of information.”

For instance, the human resources department collects sensitive personal information about employees and job candidates. Marketing collects end user information on the Epson online store. Third-party agencies that work with Epson also collect personal information about customers on the company’s behalf.

Carolina Lourenco | Head of Legal | Epson do Brasil

All of Epson do Brasil’s departments collect data, making each of them subject to the new regulations. And noncompliance with this law carries hefty penalties.

“It took some time to convince them that this was really important, we needed to implement measures, we need to have controls, we need to have procedures,” Lourenco says. “If you’re sharing personal information, it must be encrypted, for example. Where do you store the information in the company? How long should you keep the personal information?”

The company’s manifold third-party vendors all needed to be brought into compliance, too, requiring Lourenco to review all the relevant agreements and set up new processes.

All told the project took a year, and having successfully completed it, Lourenco is now looking to implement those policies and procedures in other Latin American countries.

Merging two companies remotely

Lourenco has also had to contend with a major merger: In 2020, Epson acquired a manufacturing partner in Barueri, Brazil. She was charged with managing the tax and legal details of the deal.

That required her to work closely with Brazilian government officials to transfer all the tax incentives to the merged company. It was a task she was well-equipped to take on, having previously worked for the chemical company Akzo Nobel and the technology giant Toshiba as a tax lawyer and having started at Epson as a tax manager.

Throughout the merger, Lourenco also handled all the contracts and corporate documents involved. The integration process was tough, but the companies are now fully united.

“We needed to imagine a merged company—you have legal, you have finance, you have logistics, everything together, you merge one company to the other, and we did this all remotely,” she says.

Capitalizing on opportunities

Lourenco attended the Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, graduating in 1998; Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, where she earned a degree in tax law in 2000; and the Centro de Extensao Universitaria, where she studied international business law in 2007.

Carolina Lourenco | Head of Legal | Epson do Brasil

While she was in college, Lourenco worked as a consultant at KPMG, conducting research on fiscal and tax issues. After graduation, she joined Mattos Filho Advogados, specializing in tax litigation. In 2003, she signed on with Holland & Knight, moving to the U.S. to take the job, then moved back to Brazil to work at Akzo Nobel, where she remained until 2008.

From there, Lourenco went to Toshiba, and then, in 2011, to BSC Bahia Specialty Cellulose. She joined Jackson Empreendimentos in 2013 before accepting the tax role at Epson in 2015.

“When I was working at a big law firm in Brazil, I decided to quit and move to the United States,” she explains. “It was a big challenge; I was very young, but I saw this opportunity to move to a different country and have a different experience… This changed my whole career because my English improved, and I could work in an American law firm for six months, so when I came back to Brazil, I had much more to offer to the companies I was working for.”

Another key opportunity, Lourenco says, was the chance to become a manager in a different sector and a different part of Brazil from where she’d been working for BSC Bahia. She moved far from Sao Paolo with her daughters to take advantage of the opening.

“I take these opportunities as challenges for me, always looking into the future and saying, ‘Well, this could change everything,’” Lourenco says. “I’m always looking to take risks, venture outside my comfort zone and better my knowledge.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Fall II 2023 Edition here.

Published on: September 18, 2023


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