Name: Anz Paula Ruiz Alfaro
Title: Co-Founder & Owner of Restaurant Week France, Spain and Mexico
I was born in Mexico where I made my career in hotel management. I worked in different continents and countries such as France, Thailand, South Africa, Mexico and finally back to France enriching my profession and my development skills at an international level. Getting to know the world of tourism, hotels, restaurants and events. Opening my mind and creating qualities to learn from others with all the differences in thought and culture.
I have challenged myself all this time to come out in me a better and better version of myself and at the same time compassionate with myself for the achievements and defeats that may arise along the way. Now I am the owner of my time, being the owner of a project that I am excited to do and I am passionate about its subject. It involves everything I have learned along the way. Events, tourism and gastronomy. Always looking for the best and show it to the world so they know it. Restaurant Week is about that. Involving the best restaurants in the country to show the world the best of its gastronomy and regional products. Creating spectacular menus in just one season and attracting food critics and foodies from all over the world to a country full of gastronomic surprises.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Paula's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Being clear enough to get to the results.
Speaking different languages and dealing with habits in each country, many things are not executed as you think they should be. I have learn I have to adapt to who you are working with so that things can be aligned as much as possible to the ideal.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
After working and living experiences in many parts of the world. My working days were often 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in different companies and hotels. Since the events and tourism is very demanding. I thank each of them for my professional growth which gave me the desire and courage to start my own. I took the decision to make my first company in Mexico. I was doing great. But life tests you and during COVID had to close for obvious reasons. No one was traveling or organizing events in those days.
I had to reinvent myself and look for alternatives that would work in France, Mexico and Spain in a more technological way and that would attract the attention of the tourism and gastronomic world. A very close friend of mine gave me the idea to do the same thing she was already doing in South Africa. And so it was that I made the decision to be an entrepreneur now in faraway lands like from my country.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up at 6am to meditate. It is my only space without anyone bothering me so I can connect with myself and have more energy during the day. Just like my husband goes running or go with his bike to get a little exercise.
My baby wakes up at approximately 7am. My husband makes the bottle of milk and hands me the baby in bed so I can have some time in the morning with him.
We prepare breakfast. And my husband takes Gabriel to daycare.
I take a bath and tidy up the house.
I work early and meetings start at approximately 10am.
About 12 French time I have lunch. After more meetings and work. I go out to pick up my baby from his daycare to take him to the park.
I return to the house to cook and at approximately 7pm we eat.
My husband bathes the baby and either he or I read him a bedtime story.
8:30pm the baby sleeps and we can watch a movie or series at night with tea and in pajamas and then go to bed to read and sleep like 10:30pm
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Leaders who prioritize adaptability and resilience are more likely to inspire confidence in their teams, maintain productivity, and steer their organizations toward long-term success. This lesson serves as a reminder of the importance of agility and the ability to learn from new experiences and challenges.
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?
"The Culture Map" by Erin Meyer is a book that explores the cultural differences that affect how people from different parts of the world communicate and collaborate. It introduces a framework for understanding and navigating these cultural differences effectively. The book highlights various aspects of culture, such as communication styles, feedback, hierarchy, and decision-making, and provides practical insights for individuals and leaders working in multicultural environments.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Invest in continuous learning and personal growth. Leadership is not a destination but a journey, and the most effective leaders are those who are committed to ongoing self-improvement. This includes developing both your hard and soft skills, such as communication, empathy, decision-making, and adaptability.
And also Take Risks: Don't be afraid to take calculated risks and step out of your comfort zone. Leadership often involves making tough decisions, and learning from both successes and failures is essential.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Everything falls into place when it is time to do so. There is nothing to force. After my mother's death, I was living far from my country. I had the decision to put my job aside to deal with my personal life. It was a very challenging time since the person I loved most left and at the same time I had to put aside the project I had been working on to establish my balance again.
I learned to let go and everything comes when one is prepared not only professionally but emotionally.