Alejandra Gonzalez is the Director of Marketing at Pizza Hut Latin America & Iberia. This seasoned businesswoman started her career journey 21 years ago while in the middle of her bachelor’s degree. Her father had just lost his job, so Alejandra paid for her own education by working at a bank in her home country of El Salvador. When she heard that Coca-Cola had a managerial position open, she decided to apply because the job had better benefits than her current role. “They wanted you to have a bachelor’s degree, and I was in the middle of my degree still. But I was like let me apply, and we’ll see if it works,” she said. Alejandra attended the interview equipped with minimal English and a positive attitude. She got the job. Fast forward 21 years and a lot of success later, she had some incredible advice to share on being a successful woman leader full of optimism and confidence at our 2021 Women in Business Summit.

Here are her tips on becoming a true leader in business.

Tip #1: Get your attitude right, and your mindset will follow.

I love this quote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any set of given circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (Viktor E. Frankl)

This is just powerful for me. And the reason why it’s powerful is nobody can take control of your attitude. You are the person who decides how you face a challenge… how you face life… how you keep going with things that you can control or not. Attitude comes also with a mindset. So attitude is the start of a mindset that you start building to success. And by success, I mean what is success for you. If you get your attitude right, or in the best possible way that works for you, it’s getting you on the right path for your own success.

Tip #2: Don’t let circumstances define you.

Don’t let circumstances define you. Being proactive means you shaped circumstances — they did not shape you. So, like a quote, I saw: If life gives you lemons, make lemonade… or make a margarita! But try to make the best of it. Take to take the time to embrace the challenge.

Tip #3: Embrace yourself, but understand your audience.

As a Hispanic woman, I’ve always been afraid of showing my true self. We’re passionate… and that brings something different to the table. But you must make sure you adjust for your audience. This is not just for Latin women; it’s for anyone like you. You have to understand your audience where you are. Shape the way you show up to your audience. Don’t hold yourself back; believe in who you are, embrace who you are, and acknowledge who you are and what you bring to the table

Tip #4: A good corporate culture starts with you, so be kind.

When you have the freedom to show yourself the way you are without fear of being judged, that also encourages people to show their best selves. If you have to provide feedback, just be kind. Be tough with the problem itself, not with a person. Address the circumstance or the situation or the behavior in a tough way. But be soft with the person. You’re talking to a person, and every person has a journey. You don’t know what that person was going through that morning in their house. But just be kind. There’s nothing better than being yourself because that’s when you really unlock and you bring those unique sets of skills and talents that you have. But I think you also become an enabler; you also are an active part of developing culture. It’s every individual that makes a difference and builds that culture. Stay true to yourself, and make sure you’re always kind to people so that you can bring out that best version of themselves as well.

Tip #5: Take a break, then come back fresh.

Take a break. If you’re in meetings and if there’s something that is bothering or challenging you, sometimes you don’t have to answer it. Take your time, go take a break, have a minute, and breathe. I can be very explosive sometimes, very emotional. And I like to take my time if I’m not ready to answer… and then come back with something. And that’s an ongoing journey. Sometimes, if you explode, you explode. Just make sure you acknowledge that and you keep going. But also don’t be afraid of taking time, or not jumping into the answer immediately, or reacting to everything. It’s good to take a minute or a couple of minutes, or a day to come back with an answer. Take a minute to take a break and ensure that you’re addressing that the way you think it should be. And if not, acknowledge, learn and move forward. – Source: IFA SmartBrief.

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