No. CCXXX; May 30, 2015

No. CCXXX; May 30, 2015
Special Edition: Global Summit of Women 2015, Part 2


The 2015 Global Summit of Women took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 14-16 against a backdrop of financial uncertainty in the Latin American region following a period of strong economic growth.  Julie Katzman, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Inter-American Development Bank, noted in the Summit’s session on “Global and Regional Megatrends,” that from 2008-2011, the number of people living in extreme poverty in the region declined by 50%, totaling 110 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean uplifted in a relatively short span of time.   Since then, however, the financial situation has changed and growth for 2015 is expected to be about 1% GDP, putting the economic gains at risk as governments are no longer able to support the social programs and infrastructure projects, which benefited millions, during the prior economic ‘boom’.

“So, what is a government to do?, asked Katzman.”  Her answer: Look to an overlooked market – women – and make women fully-included economic actors both as consumers and as producers.  The women’s market, she states, is three times the size of China and accounts for $18 trillion in global buying power.  With women directing 60-70% of all purchasing decisions, it is a necessity for companies to consider women as they think about their products and how to sell them.

To see a clip from Katzman’s presentation,click here


“I hope not” was the answer from Nelton Friederich, Director of Itaipu Binacional, as he opened his presentation on sustainable projects addressing international concerns about climate change and access to water across Brazil in the Summit plenary session on this topic.  He cited that oil and energy battles created conflicts and corrupt practices, and oil is something countries can do without, but no one can live without water in any corner of the world. Moderated by Katrine Sharp, Vice President for Group Gender Diversity at Technip, the session focused on creative solutions to water crises across the globe.

Katrine Sharp, Vice President for Group Gender Diversity for Technip (Left) moderates the panel on “Water: The “Oil” of the 21st Century” with Pepsico Mexico General Manager Paula Santilli, Director of Itaipu Binacional Nelton Friederich, Vice President for Greif Latin America Eduardo Simoniello, and young inventor Raissa Muller

Raissa Muller speaking at the Summit. Click the photo to see a video clip of her speech.

Paula Santilli, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Savory Business Unit of Pepsico Mexico, shared with the 1,000 attendees from 63 countries PepsiCo’s emphasis on improving access to a clean water supply and sanitation services throughout the world.  Through their efforts, irrigation in the Latin American region (which uses the most water) has decreased, while the use of recycled water has increased.  She also spotlighted how water is central to women’s lives, given their responsibility for carrying and conserving the water supply in 76% of households in the developing world.

Focusing on the one in seven people worldwide who do not have access to clean water, Eduardo Simoniello, Vice President for Greif, Inc., provided a solution for the women and children who spend over 200 million hours daily carrying water from source to home.  Working with 50 partners in 35 countries, Greif manufactures a safer alternative, known as Pack H2O, for the women and children carrying heavy cans of water.  The Pack H2O is currently being used in Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake to deliver water to affected areas.

Finally, highlighting the 2015 Summit theme of “Creative Women – Creative Economies” was the 19-year old student and inventor Raissa Muller, who detailed her research to invent a sponge which soaks up oils in waterways and then recycles the oil.  Following her presentation of how she was inspired to improve the lives of the people in her community and throughout the world, she received a heartfelt ovation from the Summit delegates.

To hear Muller discuss her inspiration, click here.


The Male CEO Forum, which began last year at the 2014 Summit in Paris following a challenge from Taj Deloitte CEO Gianmarco Monsellato to include more men in the Summit’s dialogue, featured five male corporate executives leading companies throughout Latin America.

Juan Pablo Urruticoechea, CEO of Sodexo Brazil, opened the Forum with the results of a recent internal study at Sodexo illustrating the business case for gender diversity.  The study examined over 50,000 managers in over 100 global entities and found that gender balanced management teams outperformed those which are notgender balanced on all performance indicators:  brand awareness, client retention, engagement and financial performance.  A mix of between 40% to 60% of both genders brought about the best results, according to their findings, underscoring the benefits of a diverse leadership team, based on his company’s research of its own employees.

Male CEOs discuss the Business Case for Gender Equity: from left – Managing Editor for Bloomberg News Latin America Adriana Arai (moderator); CEO of Sodexo Brazil Juan Pablo Urruticoechea, President of GM South America Jaime Ardila, President of Fersol Michael Haradom, Senior Vice President and President of Avon Brazil and South Market Group David Legher, and President of McDonalds Latin America Edgardo Navarro

Jaime Ardila, President of GM for South America, acknowledged the benefits of a diverse workforce and offered that more women are needed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professions. While he stated that GM is led by a woman CEO, with key company positions also held by women, the dearth of women engineers and girls entering STEM studies made it difficult to maintain a pipeline of female leadership.  Avon’s President for Brazil and South Market Group David Legher pointed out that their CEO is also a woman, their Board is 60% female, and the company is known for opening up doors to women’s entrepreneurship.  Yet, the company continues its work to attract, retain and promote women by requiring a woman candidate for every open position, and also by providing its first in-house child care center for Brazilian employees.

President of McDonald’s Latin America Edgardo Navarro cited the need for companie to be more flexible and that McDonald’s has been providing opportunities for women to work in different roles and in different work schedules.  As society has changed, so must companies, including McDonald’s.  Finally, Michael Haradom, President of Fersol, a Brazilian chemical company that prioritizes social responsibility practices, shared that his company needs to have a quota for white males since the company’s hiring practices emphasize employing historically-excluded populations, mostly women.  His mid-cap company exemplified that commitment to gender equity in the workplace is not confined to multinationals which tend to have more resources to address this issue, but for companies of any size.


In this spirited panel discussion, the women CEOs shared the changes they have seen in the workplace and their own personal journeys to top leadership roles, which required major shifts in their own career choices.  The movement in their career choices all had to do with finding companies whose mission touched people’s lives. As a group, they felt that women leaders have the flexibility to deal with the changes brought to their own work due to technology and the increased globalization of their lines of business, their competitors, consumers and workers.

Rachel Maia, CEO of Pandora Brasil.

Panelists at the Women CEO Forum: CEO of Pandora Brazil R. Maia, President of Technip North America D. Goodwin, CEO Siemens Spain R. Garcia, General Counsel for GE Latin America G. Hernandez, and General Manager for Acision F. Raimondi  

To a person, they stated that women also have the ability to create opportunities for other women as well as for business growth.  General Counsel for GE Latin America Gabriela Hernandez recounted the changes she has experienced throughout her career from delivering coffee to negotiators at the North American Free Trade Agreement talks early in her work history to engaging in international trade with multinationals as an executive, and then as President and CEO of GE Mexico before her current role.  She cited mentors along the way, who pointed out to her the next rung of the ladder, which she had not necessarily thought about herself.

Echoing the other panelists’ sentiment that work must be meaningful, Fatima Raimondi, General Manager of Acision Latin America, said she works in telecommunications since it has the ability to impact the lives of people.  A trained engineer who dreamed of travelling the world, she first worked as a Trainee for Ericsson in Sweden before rising to the position of CEO for Ericsson Brazil.

Rachel Maia, CEO of Pandora Brasil, opened this session and shared the reality of being perceived as a black woman CEO, who must constantly prove that she merits this leadership title.  Despite her degree from Harvard and a successful track record of increasing profits for companies, she has had to be twice as good at every step.  However, she knows that she herself embodies change, when people see through her that leadership is not confined to one race.  To see a video of Rachel Maia speaking at the Summit, click here.

One of the changes noted by the panel is the globalization of the workforce, which has resulted in a greater need for collaboration, since not everyone is in the same room, let alone from the same country or culture.  In these CEOs’ view, this is where women’s innate collaborative instincts are valuable.  President of North America for Technip Deanna Goodwin stated that the global workplace has also created increased pressure for women to work quickly to make positive impressions to supervisors and their own teams to overcome cultural and other biases lurking regarding women.   Highlighting  another shift in corporate leadership, Rosa Garcia, CEO of Siemens Spain, pointed out the ‘democratization of decision-making’, as opposed to the top-down model of the past, echoing her colleagues’ focus on collaboration as a necessary element of success in the tech-connected, spread-out workforce and market they deal with on a regular basis.  Finally, all shared the importance of their personal relations, their families, as pivotal to their own success in the corporate world.


Companies are creating ways to address the needs of communities in which they operate and the 2015 Global Summit of Women provided a number of them an opportunity to share their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives with Summit delegates.

On the topic of global health, Laura Gonzalez-Molero, President for Latin America for Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, stated that the companies CSR activities centered on sex education address three of the UN’s Millennium Goals: promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, and improve maternal health.  “Self-determined family planning requires knowledge and sex education is the cornerstone for improving people’s future opportunities,” she said.  She also stressed the need for pharmaceutical companies to work together with governments and NGOs to bring about a better future.

Luz Maria Jaramillo is President of Pavimentos Colombia, a road-building company with a 50% female workforce.  In addition to a sense of corporate responsibility toward her employees and their families, she also has focused the business’ efforts on providing housing for vulnerable populations and developing entrepreneurship programs aimed at women heads of households.

An example of a small company which has dedicated itself to uplifting the poorest of communities in Brazil is FLC Lamps, led by its Founder and CEO Alcione Albanesiwhich produces energy-efficient light bulbs which Ms. Albanesi brought from China.  In addition to investing in sustainable technology in opening the first LED factory in Brazil, Ms. Albanesi founded Amigos do Bem, which provides food, water, and housing to the poorest regions of Brazil as well as educational and self-sustaining projects.  In doing so, she has expanded the concept of CSR to include improving entire communities of people.

President of Schneider Electric for Latin America Tania Cosentino shared what one of the world’s largest energy companies is doing to help create a sustainable economy by changing lives of the 1.3 billion people who do not have access to energy.  Ms. Cosentino provided an example of solar electrification in two villages in the Amazon forest.   The project resulted in a safe and reliable energy system with 80% less emissions and benefits including the creation of economic activities around maintenance and expansion of the system and new economic activities increasing local income preserving the forest.

Join us in Warsaw, Poland for the 2016 Global Summit of Women ***  June 9-11, 2016

Polish delegates at the Closing Ceremony of the 2015 Global Summit of Women inviting delegates to Poland in 2016.

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