Marcela Márquez Alonso, General Counsel, P.M.I. Comercio Internacional, S.A. de C.V.
How long have you been working for your current company?
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I started in PMI as a legal analyst. The oil industry in Mexico is a particularly male industry, so for me it was quite difficult to start growing in the Legal Department where all were male lawyers. Fortunately my work spoke for me, and I started being promoted – first, to an assistant manager, then as a legal manager and finally for the last 16 years in my current position.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
My proudest achievement is the integrity and great working team we have, working with senior and junior lawyers in a nice and friendly atmosphere. This helps me do my work every day in a timely and professional way. I am very proud of my team.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
The current challenges that I am facing are still the older ones, being a female in a male world in the oil industry, in a “macho” country like Mexico. Being “The Lawyer” of the company sometimes is like going against the current.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
I am a single mother of nine-year-old twins, they are the sunshine of my life, they are the reason for everything I do. It has been difficult to find a balance and also it is very tiring to do it. I work from 8 am to 5 or 530 pm and wake up every morning at 5am to make breakfast and send the kids to school at 645am, then run to the office since traffic in Mexico City is terrible; but when I arrive home in the afternoon and get a hug and a kiss from them, everything is worth all the trouble.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
I really never ever had a mentor, but fortunately I have both my father and my mother. My dad is an architect and my mom is a housewife. Both of them always taught me how to be a honest human being, a caring and loyal friend, encouraging me in all the steps I made in my professional career and in my personal life. Right now they help me with my kids at home when I need to travel, so they both have been my mentors.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
From my very own perspective, corporate diversity initiatives are poor and, at least here in my country, are not seriously taken into consideration. Gender equality is gaining very littleground, since the ones pushing such initiatives are always women who are always criticized by men and even by other women for being “wannabe” men. I think said initiatives have to be in form of formal laws for helping not only women but any other diversity issue, such as sexual orientation, race, religious preferences and accepting differences in a global and new evolving world we are living in and leaving to our kids.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
Sometimes I feel I am at a disadvantage mainly when I have to deal with senior men here in the company. On one occasion in a board meeting where I am pro secretary, one of the members referred to me as “girl,” and that really was annoying. Besides, he asked me for coffee, of course I can do it, but they still think women are not capable to attend such meetings, instead they are there to serve them. And there I was sitting beside him. He just gave me a glance and said nothing. The oil industry is a male industry and in a country such as Mexico, it is worse I have to say, but hopefully things are changing little by little.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
I think that women in the legal industry have become stronger and have gained more places in high positions, now you can see important jobs covered by women lawyers all over the globe. Nowadays more female students choose to be lawyers, believing in law and justice.