Author: JC Agid. French journalist based in New York. He is former the Director of Women’s Forum Mexico.
In her revolutionary book about women ‘Choose everything‘ Nathalie Loiseau, one of the most senior diplomats in France, and mother of four children, wrote: “I remember the irony with which it was said that, as a child, I wanted to have everything” . Currently serves in the government of French President Macron as Minister of European Affairs, Loiseau added: “Poor naive: naive for wanting, naive for believing that it was possible and naive to express it, I’m still naive and I’m proud of it. Live fully, don’t give up before you start: I would like this to be possible for all women. “
‘Naive?’ The general director of Nissan Mexico, Mayra González, is also one of the women who wants to have everything.
In 2016, at the age of 39, Mayra González was promoted to the position of highest ranking in the fourth largest operation of the Japanese automotive company and, therefore, admitted to the exclusive club of women CEOs, just three years after Mary Barra became the first woman named CEO at General Motors.
Mother of a small four-year-old and one of the most respected corporate leaders in Mexico, Mayra González holds the famous titles of ‘Mother’ and ‘CEO’: a nickname she had always wanted to have. This sense of empowerment was instilled in her throughout her childhood.
In fact, she could have everything: professional success, a modern family and, as far as she knew, keep her “fear” under control.
“I grew up in a family where they taught me that I could become the person I wanted to be, as long as I was the best at it,” recalls Mayra. “Being a woman was never a reason to do nothing.” Thanks to this education, the young Mayra developed great self-confidence and self-esteem. She was raised to succeed, regardless of sex.
Audacious and ambitious, willing to “have it all,” Mayra González, 20, joined the auto industry, a predominantly male sector.
At first, she incessantly tried to talk to car dealers – quite older than her – near Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, a feat she managed to drive 20 hours from Mexico City and armed herself with patience. “I think I spent more time waiting outside their offices than talking to them, because it didn’t fit in their heads for a girl to share ideas on how to better operate their businesses.” To compensate for the situation, Mayra focused on the market, on the figures and on establishing various commercial products. It was a year before the business appointments were regular and that the car dealers, who, over time, saw the benefits of their presentations, began to ask her to meet with them.
“There are three sins in your possession: you are young, you are a woman and you are Mexican.”
When she learned of her “three sins”, Mayra simply took them as advantages.
“I was young, the only woman in the auto industry, and I live in a country that is characterized by its machismo, so it was easy for people to remember me.” And when her colleagues asked for her “opinion as a woman”, she spoke of “perspective of results,” she says. KPI’s don’t know about gender! “Sharing my perspectives with the support of figures was my way of overcoming the “three sins “.
Another advantage was working for a company that considers diversity and inclusion as business imperatives.
“This applies at all levels,” says Mayra González. In an open conversation on the stage of the Women’s Forum Mexico 2017, she explained that the president of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, Carlos Ghosn, is convinced that a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture create a “competitive advantage” and lead to more innovation .
To have a diverse workforce, it’s necessary for companies to attract diverse talents, but these must receive adequate training. Women “can’t desire something they don’t see”, explains Mayra González, who studied Marketing. In all sectors there must be examples to follow, and “it’s necessary to tell the girls that if they want to become nuclear engineers, they can do it”.
“You have a company, and the name of the company is Family.”
The dreams of Mayra González weren’t limited to having a position within top management. She also wanted to have family. As she stated at the WIN Forum 2018 in New York: “Leadership has to do with working for your dreams, because these will not come true unless you do something about it.”
And now, she has it all: the employment of her dreams, a four-year-old daughter, whom she loves to raise along with her husband, and the opportunity to lead her team of professionals.
At home, she tells her little girl that she can do whatever she wants. So, what if “after-school classes” mean “ballet” for girls and “taekwondo” for kids, and she doesn’t want to dance? “I say,” You don’t have to. “
Mayra admits that she doesn’t fit in with other mothers. “I’m not a dedicated mother at home, I don’t attend every school meeting, I can’t go to all sporting events, I don’t supervise all the tasks, it’s overwhelming.” “It’s funny,” she adds, “because I’ve never felt different in the automotive sector, but I’ve felt it among mothers in kindergarten.”
– Why don’t you pick me up from school? Her daughter asked once.
-Because I’m at work.
-Why didn’t we go to that birthday party? She asked on another occasion.
-Because I must travel.
“I let my daughter know that I’m not only her mother but that I do many other things and I am everywhere: in a magazine or in Europe, at a meeting or on a trip, it’s an example for her future, if she wants to work or travel. It will be normal for her. “
With her heavy travel schedule, the CEO of Nissan Mexico appreciates that her husband’s employment allows him more flexibility to be at home when necessary. More than grateful, it seems normal for him to do his share of housework. Carlos, her husband, has the main quality of a modern man: “He knows how to work as a team”. “We have a company, and the name of the company is Family,” says Mayra.
While attending a special dinner at the Franco-Mexican Chamber of Commerce, where Mayra was awarded the Franco-Mexican Friendship Award last November, Carlos showed his admiration and total support for his wife’s achievements. “I owe him 50% of my success,” says Mayra. “If he wasn’t the husband he is, I wouldn’t be here,” she added.
This is a fully integrated alliance, where it doesn’t matter who’s the breadwinner of the house. “At the end of the day, we talk about a family income.” Using the same words with which she explains her professional methods, the mother / CEO focuses on the following perspectives: “There are KPIs that we must reach, as well as objectives to achieve in the family”.
Their convictions fit naturally and similarly in their work environment: building bridges between men and women. “It’s teamwork, it’s a 50-50 culture.”
“Why do you work?”
However, Mayra González doesn’t think she can do anything.
“No. My motto is ‘one day at a time’, because every day’s different, I may be CEO, but I’m also a mother, wife, sister and friend. Sometimes, during the morning, I focus on the company, then in the afternoon I go to school to attend a festival before heading to the airport to take the night flight to Tokyo, but the most important thing is that each decision is my choice of priorities, it makes me feel good and gives me peace of mind, which favors my productivity,” she told a delegate of Women’s Forum Mexico. In addition, she considers that being “multifaceted” in life is something that new generations expect from leaders.
Her daughter inherited her strong sense of independence and once, when she was three years old, she asked her bluntly:
-Mom, why do you work?
“Because I like it a lot and I’m good at what I do,” Mayra said.
-Ah good. It seems a good reason.
The little girl has never asked her father that.
Originally published at the Huffpost, on August 21, 2018