Her positive attitude knows no limits. She is a staunch defender of the idea that both the world and talent are now globalized concepts. Laura González-Molero encourages everyone to embrace the professional world with decisions that may involve change. “In order to take charge of our future we have to train and be ready to learn every day, take decisions, assume risks and think big. Society and business organizations need talent that can work in a team, create value, innovate wit undertake every project with passion and commitment.
Looking back, do you think you have been fortunate in terms of work?
Definitely. Since January 1989, when I first started my career at Roche, I’ve had the privilege of working at five companies and they have all helped me and given me the space I needed to grow and develop. This has helped me a great deal. The journey has been worth the trouble because I’ve had colleagues who have been not only magnificent professionals but also wonderful people. As far as I’m concerned, at each and every company, my commitment, passion and efforts have focused on generating value for them, and I think that if I have managed to achieve that, it’s because I have always had faith in the power of teamwork.
During your career, what has been your most difficult challenge?
Over the last 25 years, I have faced enormous challenges and the most difficult have also undoubtedly been the most demanding. However, these are the kind of challenges that end up generating more value both for oneself and for the company. I learned many years ago to view challenges as great opportunities for personal growth, for learning and for being creative. Life with no challenges would be grey and stagnant. It would not evolve. Situations like leading a merger or assuming the helm of a company in international markets involve great challenges, but they also represent a great opportunity. I’ve been very lucky in that way and I hope to have many more such opportunities.
In your opinion, what makes a good leader?
For me, a good leader must have five basic things. First of all, the ability to create diverse teams, and here it is important to have a broad sense and understanding of the concept of diversity. Secondly, a leader must have the capacity to inspire enthusiasm, to motivate and encourage teams, customers, shareholders, suppliers and the society of which his or her work forms part because people are always a company’s greatest asset. Thirdly, a capacity for effective communication that has an impact. Next, strategic and global vision. And, last but not least, a leader must become an example in order to transmit and apply his or her values. A good leader must be a reference for the values that underpin the company’s mid and long-term success in any sector. In short, honesty, integrity and respect are always the prime keys to success.
You are part of the first generation of Spanish women who broke the glass ceiling that prevented women form managing business projects, and now you are president of Merck Serono Latin America. What is your opinion of the fact that still few women sit on company boards?
To analyze women’s presence in senior executive positions and on boards of directors we also have to analyze the road we have left behind us and how far we have travelled. I think we’ve come a long way and we have done things right. In Spain today there are a large number of women presiding companies, and they sit on boards and work in major public organizations. They do a great job and are firmly committed to developing and providing opportunities for the best talent in this country. Progress is indeed slow, but in my opinion, the important thing is that decisions are taken in each company, based on genuine talent without limitations in terms of gender, age or belief. This is more important than the speed at which we are moving and numbers. I am fully convinced of the benefits of diversity in the broad sense of the term and women have much to say in that area. In general, women have better CVs than their male colleagues and they show great commitment and have better performance levels. This has been demonstrated beyond question. However, again, self-confidence plays a key role if we are to break that glass ceiling and continue to grow and take the positions we deserve by right and on our own merit. Having said that, I think it’s important to say that boards, companies and institutions need to improve their capacity for attracting and developing the best talent. In times of transformation and big challenges, the only key to success is innovation, and there we need genuine diversity.
In line with the logical strategy of maximizing talent, what would be the ideal profile of a professional in a field as complex as pharmaceuticals?
I don’t think the perfect profile depends on the sector, but rather on the individual and on talent. This is so because, once again, we need diversity. In my opinion, the star profile involves qualification flexibility, a capacity for teamwork, leadership, ambition, commitment and passion. It’s the profile of a person who is more interested in reaching goals than in resting on past achievements. Today, we need leaders at every level in the company, because if there is no leadership there is no evolution, no innovation, and no growth. Again, I go back to self-confidence to show that we can become leaders in each of our respective areas of responsibility.
After a career spanning 20 years and five multinationals, dealing with multiple challenges on a daily basis, do you have anything left to prove?
There is always something to prove because we learn and evolve every day, but not only in the workplace. We also need to prove our capacity for generating value, first of all for ourselves, then for our society, for our children, and for our country. We must continue to learn and change every day because the world, our environment, also alters every day. That’s the great miracle of life, small daily changes that turn us into better, more generous people and which undoubtedly makes us better professionals.