Francisco Pope says, in a family, we should love each other despite knowing that we are imperfect human beings; no one is a perfect son, a daughter, has a perfect set of parents or can proclaim to have an unblemished life journey so far. I always like to take inspiration from this message to remain focused, give the right effort and priority to each task and keep in mind my life’s purpose while juggling different roles. I am so glad to have this opportunity to share my experience with a few who are on the same road, and others who are a few kilometers behind but soon shall pass the same hills as I did.
I hail from a small city in Mexico where a woman who decides to have a full-time career with a family is not looked upon very well. I have two teenage daughters and one pre-teen son with my husband. Cultural and stereotypical people glared at me for not being the ‘ideal mom’ – caring for children all day long, being proactive at school activities, attending Catholic’s prayers and being a good cook! It took me a while to understand that my main barrier was getting past the ‘mother stereotype’. When I was in the beginning of my 30s I used to juggle to excel at both my personal and professional life, being busy all the time and totally burning out degrading my health on the way. This forced me to stop, strategize new ways to deal with things and trash the perfect mom stereotype mentality.
I started reading books related to emotional intelligence of children. My first advice and a key learning which summarizes all my reading is that, parents should focus on building memories with children. It is not about quantity of time spent but, the quality. Memories are the bridges to come back home to and so, I started building memories with my children. If I were to give you an example, when I realized that I could not be a good cook, I decided to learn only one dish and practiced cooking just that one – Chicken- broccoli pasta – which is a common favorite among my 3 kids. Now, I am the best chef for them and they believe no one can cook it the way I do!
My second advice and learning that I got from a book called ‘De la culpa a la calma’ (From Guilty to Calm) is that working moms experience a psychological guilt when they are not around for their families and the human mind naturally does a wonderful job of maximizing this guilt and turning it into fear! While it is necessary to be aware and understand these bouts of distress, always remember that your children are neither comparing you to others nor making any judgments. Do not reprimand yourself for not being there all the time.
Switching to my career, I am a Chief Supply Chain Officer of one the largest retailers in Mexico, leading a team of 10,000 people. I have been working in the same company for 20 years in different areas of supply chain. Having worked so many years I have understood that companies are just like a life’s journey, filled with imperfect humans. You need to show resilience in accepting unfair decisions that come your way just as the good ones do. Promotions are not always given to the ones that deserve it, but it is your duty to practice patience and keep working because one day if you are honest and humble, you will be rewarded.
As a manager, at work, I feel both the hard and the soft skills need to be in balance as they are equally important and usually the softer ones are harder to develop. One of the toughest decisions I had to make in my career was to fire a brilliant manager who was unable to develop his soft competencies. One smart brain and two hands are not enough to create an impact in a company with 100,000 people. The need is for a talent than can create synergies and have emotional intelligence.
Deciding to pursue the Blended Master’s program in my 40s with everything that was already going on in my life was not an easy task. Completing the Micromasters itself was extremely demanding. I used to spend all my weekends on the dining table joined by my kids who used to do their homework along with me. The reason that made me go ahead with the master’s was looking at the dynamic environment caused by digital revolution now. I wanted to improve my hard skills and get to know more of the systems and technologies that are needed to internally shape my supply chain team to better achieve my company’s purpose and externally for me to stay competitive and in the race.
Finally, when people ask me how I handle my personal life and professional career, my answer is simple – Be humble enough to recognize and accept the fact that yes, I am an imperfect woman, a mom and a supply chain officer but also, I am someone who is grateful each day for all successes and failures that life has made me experience and I will not stop working hard in making each day better.
All thanks to my family and my team at work!
Some recommendations on books to read for those interested:
Career for women:
- Sandberg, Sheryl – Lead In
Leadership and Team building:
- Koftman, Fred – The meaning revolution the power of transcendent leadership
- Robison, Ken – The Element
- Koftman, Fred – Conscious Business
To understand Emotional Intelligence of children:
- Robison, Ken and Aronica Lou – You, Your Child and School
- Marulanda, Angela – “De la Culpa a la Calma”
- Vazquez Mota Josefina – Cuando los hijos mandan: Cómo querer y educar con límites
Emotional Intelligence in general:
- Tolle, Eckhart – The Power of now
- Ortega Trillo, Alejandro – Vicios y virtudes: conócete, acéptate y supérate