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7 Questions with Aura Maria Abadia Jimenez
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7 Questions with Aura Maria Abadia Jimenez
Name: Aura Maria Abadia Jimenez
Current title: CFO
Current organization: Tecnoquimicas
Aura Maria is a Colombian business manager. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from College and scored one of the highest Business Management Graduated Proficient test in the Country (ECAES test). She did her MBA at ESADE Business School. She was awarded one of ESADE Merit Scholarships and Colfuturo´s scholarships. She describes her MBA program as one of the most enriching, in the personal and professional field, experiences of her life.
Her professional career has been mostly in the pharma industry. After 10 years in marketing, she was appointed Tecnoquimicas´s CFO early in 2021. She looks forward to help strength the company´s economic position, as well as to make Tecnoquimicas´s culture prevail. Tecnoquimicas is one of Colombians biggest Pharma companies. It is family-owned business, that believes in education, promotes hard work, commitment and ethics. Aura believes that Tecnoquimicas´s culture is a key success factor and that Colombia needs companies with strong values.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Finance and accounting have traditionally been areas that write stories about the past. We need to start writing about the future. The CFO´s mission nowadays extends to risk management, performance management, strategy, communication, competitive analysis, and every day I discover a new field. So, transforming the accounting and finance roles and team´s culture is my biggest challenge.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I believe everything started at home. I grew up in a family that always motivated me to dream big. A family that believes education, commitment and strong values, are the 3 key factors to success.
I am always trying to learn from every situation. And I have been very lucky that life has put on my path great minds and kind hearts. They have been kind to share their professional experience with me and teach me. They have also been kind to listen to me and guide me when needed.
Having a good performance in the different roles I have held in Tecnoquimicas (trade-marketing coordinator, brand manager, business unit manager), studying, showing a strong orientation towards goals and good leaderships skills, made me a good fit for the CFO position.
So, my story is the story about a person raised in a value-oriented family, a good student, a committed worker, a goal-oriented person and a good listener. Someone who did different roles in life, and truly committed to all of them. Someone that never gives up. Someone who enjoys what she does.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up at 5 am. The first thing I do is to thank God for the 2 first happy thoughts that comes to my mind. Then I exercise for around 1 hour. I take a shower and have breakfast. I never skip breakfast! I share this morning routine with my husband. We share time and talk about the day to come. I get to work around 8:30 am, read emails and start the meetings at 9 am. I have an agenda full of meetings, so I try to book some “spare” time to have some flexibility. When I finish my day, I like to recap and take notes about the projects I worked on during the day. Then I go home; and share dinner time with my husband.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most important leadership lesson I have learned has been understanding the “why” behind every situation. It is not about a number or a procedure not done. It is about understanding why that is happening. Like it is said in marketing: it is about doing a good qualitative research, understanding people´s mind and feelings.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Lean in, by Sheryl Sandberg, has been one of the books that have had an impact on my leadership. Once in a while, I go back on read it again. It thought me that the ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have. It showed me the importance to be able to see the situation from the other person´s perspective. One must ask a lot of questions and watch carefully in order to do so. But also, it pointed out a lot of situations I would later find myself in, as a leader or as a part of the team. It truly helps when you, at least, have read about something before you encounter it.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Get the time to know yourself and your team. You lead people. People have motivations, have strengths and weaknesses. People have a preferred way to do things. Be aware of their changes in behavior and their feelings. But most importantly, be aware of yours. Because, as a leader you set a tone.
And do more of what makes you happy! When you are happy, things work out better. People notice your happiness and get happy.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I received a report that showed a behavior that was not “natural” for the company I work for. I could not believe those numbers were true. We went deeper; and tried to understand what was going on. My experience in consumer research and consumer behavior came very handy. When testing a product concept, you know that people won´t buy what they don´t understand. My “product users” didn´t understand how to use my product, so they didn´t use it at all or did it wrong. That was the reason behind the bad results. We changed how we were delivering our service, and the results changed dramatically.