I usually get asked about the role of Latin American women in business. My response is that my experience has been, in general, very good. Besides one or two businessmen coming into my office and asking me to schedule a meeting with “my boss”, I haven’t really faced any problems that I consider to be gender biased.
One of the most interesting panels at the 8th Latin American Business Conference last Saturday was Success Stories. To my delight, two of the three representatives of successful businesses were women …and no, they were not in charge of communications!
Ana Maria Diniz is Executive Vice-President of Operations of Grupo Pao de A‡£car, the largest food retailer in South America. The company currently employs 52,000 people and operates 443 stores in Brazil. In 2001, Pao de A‡£car posted gross sales of US$4.3 billion and its operating margin was one of the highest of the industry.
Ana Maria headed the company’s reorganization process and the acquisition strategies that led the company to become number one in the Brazilian market. She is also founder and President of Instituto Pao de A‡£car, a non-for-profit organization that provides education for children and teenagers in Brazil. I think Ana Maria’s record speaks for itself.
Mar¡a Asunci¢n Aramburuzabala is a member of the Boards of Directors of multiple companies in diverse industries such as Beverages, Financial Services, Media, Telecommunications, Real Estate and Manufacturing.
Among her current positions, she is Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Directors and member of the Executive Committee of Grupo Modelo, the maker and marketer of Corona Beer. She is also Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Directors and member of the Executive Committee of Grupo Televisa, the leading Spanish media company in Latin America and the United States. Mar¡a Asunci¢n also heads a venture capital firm that supports entrepreneurship in Mexico.
Both Ana and Maria had to prove to their families and associates that they could make business decisions on their own. They are both related to the founders of the companies they head, but they have diversified their predecessor’s investments and have proven their strong business skills with impressive financial results. They were both at some point offered the opportunity to “just oversee” their businesses, but they took operational roles and became leading business people in Latin America.
I am proud to share the story of these two women. It was encouraging to see these dynamic women represent success in Latin America.
Story Source: Harbus