As someone having spent over a decade looking over innovations in one of the world’s largest conglomerates, who can be a stronger advocated of the need for diversity that Maria Eugenia (Maru) Quindmil? She is currently the Regional Compliance officer for Asia Pacific, India and Japan for Merck Sharp & Dohme. Quindmil has spent the last 14 years developing an expert cultured and business perspective across diverse geographies of Asia, Europe and Latin America. In this special interview with Binjal Shah for SheThePeople.TV, she tells us about her ascent to a senior management position and everyday challenges that come with it.
How do you feel, being at the very heart of your industry?
Being in the position that I am today, I feel extremely blessed and empowered. As I was growing in my career, one of my goals was to help other women to break the ‘steel’ ceiling and to succeed. I started to hire more and more capable women for non-traditional roles and help them to climb the corporate ladder.
I started in Argentina, South America, in an extremely male dominated industry, which did not welcome women of any kind. However, I was able to gain the respect of my peers in despite of being a young woman at that time. Helping others is so rewarding and amazing experience that multiplies ten times from what you might consider a small gesture.
Tell us about your journey- did you face social or even legal roadblocks on your climb to the top? How did you overcome them?
Yes, I had to overcome cultural discrimination, legal roadblocks and to re-learn the respect of others in different geographies. The most challenging experience on that respect was several years ago when I was relocated to Germany for my first international assignment. Not speaking the language and being Latina, was a strong challenge. To be heard and respected in a very male and ‘wasp’ corporate culture at that time was a constant roadblocks.
Sometimes, you feel very lonely and trapped in difficult political situations. However I had also some ‘guardian angels’, other women in higher positions who helped me to overcome these challenges and to succeed.
Having interacted with women across the globe, what revelations have you witnessed? How has that enriched your perspective and struggle?
I truly believe that women are extremely capable to occupy more and more powerful positions in any industry. The main problem with women is with our internal conversation: we feel not good enough or we try to analyze situations by different angles and possibilities.
Sometimes, we convey a ‘please all’ attitude and that can burn the candle from both ends. In general, men are better in leaving the problems at office and not bringing them at home. However, women tend to be multitasking so it’ll be very natural to be thinking about a job problem and at the same time, handling issues with kids, husbands or cooking a meal!
I always ask my direct reports to analyze what it is important and to separate the urgencies from the important and strategic milestones. Prioritization and clarity is one of the biggest gaps for women in general as far as I have worked with them different teams. It’s interesting that it is not geographical dependent as I have worked in many different regions, however it’s gender dependent.
What are the mantras that you have followed through your life, that you would like to share with the aspiring women leaders of today?
My mantra is to be true with yourself and your own values. If you are not true to them, you will be miserable and you will not be either successful or happy. Compromising your own values is a death sentence, because sooner or later, that will come back to you as ‘bad karma’.
The other important thing is to balance your life and prioritize your family over work. You can be busy, but if you are always running around your cellphone, your family will suffer more and those years cannot be recovered.
How important is it, rewarding women’s achievements? What role do awards play in the women’s movement?
Extremely important to ensure self-esteem as well reassurance. Sometimes, we need to become again that young professional that started very enthusiastic and help others to do the same journey or even better with less pain.
My aim is always to recognize as much as possible my team members fairly but constantly, because it’s important to be valued and appreciated.