In April, Angela Gomez, Vice President of Services for SAP Mexico and Central America, and Raiza Morales, Director of Operations at SAP Venezuela, were included on the list of “Latin America’s 100 Top Businesswomen” by the pan-regional publication Latinvex. According to the publication, the list is the most extensive ranking of its kind ever made, includes both foreign executives and natives from Latin America and spans 15 countries in the region. “The ranks of female CEOs in Latin America have grown significantly in the past three decades, especially helped by foreign multinationals operating in the region,” writes Joachim Bamrud, Editor-in-Chief at Latinvex.
Gomez and Morales have been SAP employees for fifteen and five years respectively, and have been promoted within the company several times to their current leadership positions. To find out more about how both women lead, we asked them what this distinction means to them, how they motivate their employees, and what role diversity plays in achieving business success.
SAP info: What does the distinction “Top Businesswoman in Latin America” mean to you?
Angela Gomez: This recognition was completely unexpected. Firstly, I feel proud, because it is a real honor to be representing Mexico and SAP Mexico, where I have worked for the past 15 years. I have the feeling that all the hard work during these years has paid off. I also feel renewed commitment, because I realize that making it onto this list is not the end, but only the beginning. I have a responsibility to myself and my colleagues to remain on the list and to keep delivering results for SAP. My hope is that one day the people in my team – both women and men – can make it on lists of this caliber as well.
I also want to express my gratitude to SAP and my management team, as every time I asked to take on a role or an additional responsibility, I was given the chance. At SAP I have been promoted roughly every two years as a result of a desire to grow. I am also incredibly grateful to my team, and of course to my family and the support they have given me in taking on all of these challenges.
Raiza Morales: This distinction fills me with pride and satisfaction, and is a huge acknowledgement to my professional journey. It recognizes 25 uninterrupted years in the workforce, and five years at SAP in particular, always giving my best and striving for excellence in everything I do. I also believe that this distinction creates new opportunities to spread the message to many women, motivating them to accomplish goals that make a real impact, and spreading a positive influence around them.
This recognition will also lead to an even bigger commitment to continue an initiative that I started with two other women with renowned careers as general managers of large companies in Venezuela. Our objective is to impact at least 12,000 women, and we are hosting conferences and forums with universities and a number of NGOs to reach that goal. It is also a way to spread the word to women of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds about the benefits of using technology as a tool to propel their skills, to open up new doors for employment and to reach their full potential.
Next page: Motivating people to get results
Every leader is different. How do you motivate your people to deliver great results?
Morales: To motivate, you first have to project a shared vision that people find both captivating and positive for the future. Then you need to work together to turn that vision into action. Part of leading a team also includes participating like any other member while listening to each employee and providing them with the tools they need to drive their growth. At various points in my career, I have had to face very hard situations, but I believe that all of them have taught me important lessons that I share with my team. I promote resilience. Regardless of how hard or long the path may be to our goals, we need to face this path with determination and discipline.
Gomez: I put my focus on teamwork, communication, and feedback. At SAP, you can’t succeed as a one-man show. I really promote working together for smarter and stronger results, as well as leading by example. This means that if I ask for quality, then I need to create it and live it myself. In SAP’s fast-paced environment, it is important to be in constant communication. I hold a quarterly meeting in an open forum setting where we can align and see what lies ahead. As human beings, we all try to give everything and put in our best effort, but sometimes we don’t do things in the most effective way, or in a way that doesn’t accomplish as much as it should. Learning how to give and accept feedback takes a conscious effort and a willingness to learn from experience and strive to do better each time. It is also very important to remain as fair and objective as possible, and to give both positive and constructive feedback because recognition for a job well done will always make an impact.
Diversity is one of the cornerstones of SAP’s success. What diversity initiatives are required to make SAP even more successful in Latin America?
Gomez: I’m a firm believer that balanced teams produce the best results. Men and women both have their strengths, and a team that is made up of both genders will always yield the best outcome. Men and women should be given equal opportunities. I think we do a very good job with that at SAP: I can speak from experience, knowing that I have never been regarded any differently or hindered because I am a woman. Finally, by opening up networks for men and women, we will provide a stage for many colleagues to share experiences and take part in motivational discussion. There, we will encourage participants to strengthen their skills and gain insights in how to manage various areas of their lives, not only work.
Morales: I believe that when you are competing in such a diverse global market as ours, diversity is the key to success as well as to bringing innovation into the company. Different points of view and perspectives ensure that all bases are covered in the decision-making process. I also think that each person has an individual responsibility – regardless of his or her role – not to be afraid and to just challenge themselves to speak, be heard, and get things done. We need to promote the discussion of ideas in order to create an environment of openness and respect.
Additionally, SAP should continue to support development and management programs for women. Another good practice would be to ensure that in every team there is an even number of men and women. This can be accomplished through policies that seek a diverse and balanced culture. Last but not least, I believe that SAP should reinforce the values and principles of equality, communicate all activities that promote diversity, and measure results and progress on this issue.