Getting to Know You: Carlos Fernando da Costa Almeida de Paiva Nascimento, Vice-President, Regional Counsel, and Compliance Officer for Latin American Operations at Ohio National Services, LLC
As a boy, Carlos Fernando da Costa Almeida de Paiva Nascimento always loved a good debate, but what began as a youthful interest eventually blossomed into a rewarding career. His love of debate steered him towards studying and practicing law. Somewhere along the way, Carlos cultivated a love for business, as well. At the University of Miami, in the international student program, a mentor recommended that he build his practical experience by working with an established international company after graduation. Taking this to heart, Carlos pursued a position at a company empowering him to utilize his language skills and legal knowledge. Although he originally envisioned eventually opening his own law firm, as his career progressed, he discovered a new and more rewarding path.
Now the Vice President, Regional Counsel, and Compliance Officer for Latin American Operations at Ohio National Services, LLC, his primary focus is to provide legal advice for the company. Working as the in-house counsel, Carlos plays a large part in the daily company functions, from budget control and foreign investments to compliance and international taxation. He is an expert in product development and assists with the implementation of international agreements. With nearly three decades of experience to his credit, Carlos Fernando da Costa Almeida de Paiva Nascimento brings a wealth of legal knowledge and business expertise to the company boardroom
When not at work, Carlos enjoys spending time with his wife and son, especially playing games or reading together.
What was the inspiration behind your career?
I have always had a genuine love for debate. When I was young, I always loved to engage in any kind of justifiable debate. Several times in my young life, I was told by friends, family, and some mentors that I was fantastic at debating. This love led me to law school. I still enjoy having fruitful conversations about any kind of topic. Part of my love stems from teaching people new things through my side of the debate. Another part of it stems from learning new things from whoever I engage with.
What defines your way of doing business?
As an in-house attorney, my job is to work with internal clients and look out for what’s best for the business. At the same time, I am tasked with ensuring that the client is protected and compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. I believe having learned to develop a creative approach to business solutions sets me apart from other attorneys in my field. I’m not someone who simply says no to a client, proposition, or project, without reading (or sometimes writing) an in-depth business analysis and attempting better comprehension of the client’s needs. In my role, it is imperative to look at the broader picture and find the right solutions for both the client and the business.
What keys to being productive can you share?
Focus is the key. It’s always important to set your priorities correctly. In setting those priorities, you definitely need to obtain alignment with your peers in an organization, as well as your superiors, in order to make sure that you are driving the initiative properly. Be timely, and ensure that you are working strategically with leadership.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
I think leading by example is the most important lesson I have ever learned. Understanding the weight of being an example and being accountable for your responsibilities before your peers, superiors, and the people that you manage clarifies your professional path and provides insight into the decisions you will have to make. This lesson has guided me throughout my career.
What are the responsibilities of in-house counsel that surprised you after you took the position versus what you were expecting before you took the position?
The level of production regulations in the US and Latin American countries astonishes me. The amount of legislative monitoring you have to ensure is absolutely up-to-date regarding new regulations and new legislation being passed either in Congress or by regulators is absolutely incredible. There is, to put it mildly, a gigantic amount to keep track of, and it is constantly changing. It’s quite challenging, and that brings with it a level of difficulty to exercising my duties. Even after so long in this profession, it still surprises me the amount of new incoming legislation and regulations. I’m a believer that regulations are absolutely necessary and important, and we have to comply with them. At the same time, the raw amount is overburdening many companies. Working within compliance and still finding the best options for the company can be taxing, both financially and physically.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?
In my opinion, there is only one way to success, and that is through integrity and effort. Those two words are the best advice I can give. If you put tremendous effort into your career—study more than your peers, dedicate yourself to your work more than your peers—then you will obtain success. The effort is key, but effort without integrity means nothing. So, I would say that success is reached by the combination of these two concepts. In fact, I would describe it as the formula of success.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my son. He is a very active child and I love when we play together. I think playing with my son is when I’m the happiest. There’s nothing in the world that makes me happier.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
I work for a multinational company that is pretty good at guaranteeing all executives and employees a comfortable life. I’m very grateful and fortunate to work for an organization that honestly values work life balance. Over time, as a professional, you learn how to prioritize and how to delegate, and how not to micromanage. If you learn to do these three things, you can achieve a good work-life balance. I have finally found it for myself. It took me some years because, in the beginning, I think it’s more difficult. But as time passes by, you learn to perfect this balance.
What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?
I would say it’s Zoom and Microsoft Teams. During the pandemic, these programs enabled us to hold meetings with people located around the world. I work with the United States—all 50 states—and also with multiple countries in Latin America. The connectivity that these teleconferencing technologies have provided during the last couple of years with my team, in being able to connect them not only by phone but also by video, ensured that the pandemic didn’t cause more damage to our business than it could have. Those two platforms came into my life at a moment when I really needed them.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
The immigration process to the US can be very complex and lengthy. Mine was no different. However, with the right employment and sponsorship, you can get it done, and fortunately, I did. It took me years to go through it, though. At the end, when you become a permanent resident of the United States of America, you truly value it and appreciate it. You understand why it has to be so complex and lengthy. Becoming a permanent resident it was hard, and it brought me some anxiety, but the rewards were very much worth it. I’m pretty happy with the end result.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My role model has been my father-in-law for several reasons. The first is because he raised my wife, and I think she’s the most incredible human being I have ever met. Also, he had a very similar career, in the sense that he was an international executive working for a multinational company for 40 years. He provides me with career advice, and I feel very embraced by his family, for which I am truly thankful. I try to mirror his values as best I can. He’s an interesting person, and I deliberately chose him as a role model. It has been working out very well for me so far.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
Trust, but verify. If you do this in all things, you’ll see consistency in yourself and the people around you.