Fabiola Sojet is on the board of directors of five large Colombian companies, including Banco Santander and Acesco. Her resume shows that she has been president of the multinational General Electric for Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname and Guyana. In all of the directors' meetings in which she participates she is the only woman. In each case, she was invited by headhunters who were looking for diversity on the board. "I feel responsible for opening roads for others," Sojet tells Latin Trade.
Almost half of the 100 largest Latin American companies have no women on their boards of directors, according to research by the organization Corporate Women Directors International in 2015.
Just like Sojet, another Colombian, Olga Botero, thinks it is her duty to help more women be prepared and be interested in occupying the seats at corporate board of directors meetings. Botero studied computer science at the University of Iowa and her collection of international specialties includes course credits from Harvard and MIT.
She set out her career plan from early on. "Preparing yourself isn't just having the technical skills," she says. "To get on a board, you need to know how to position yourself, how to create a brand that can be attractive in the marketplace, how to make the contacts. In addition, networking is fundamental to making sure that you are taken into account," she explains to Latin Trade.
Gabriela Terminielli of Argentina is the first--and only--woman in the directory of BYMA (Bolsas y to getting on a Board Mercados Argentinos), a new stock exchange market in Argentina. She also believes that Latin American women have to be more closely linked to associations to build a powerful network of contacts. "True networking is what we do from 9 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon. Sometimes we don't know who works on the floor above us in the company, and we should. Small changes in our habits can make a career different," she says.
In the past, there was little or no diversity of gender, or of professionals, at directors' meetings. They were composed entirely of men and their group of friends. It was an uncritical environment, scarcely competitive and less prepared to confront a world that supports constant transformations.
Today, having a highly qualified and diversified board of directors is essential to being able to lead, given the volatility of the markets.
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