Name: Dr. Graciela De Oto
Organisation: Suma Veritas Foundation
GRACIELA DE OTO
International speaker, business coach, writer, and business
entrepreneur she has dedicated her entire career to empowering others creating powerful connections with
their passions in order to achieve their goals and build
their businesses. She built a career path as a
marketing CEO with a philanthropic view, a standpoint that moved her to create Suma Veritas Foundation helping women entrepreneurs develop professional skills and start
new businesses. Her energy, enthusiasm, and continue
search of innovative ways to encourage women entrepreneurship is contagious for anyone who wants to realize their leadership potential.
To help spread the impact of her work, Graciela
has participated in the writing of articles on
gender issues, being at the same time co-author
of a book entitled ¨Women in the organizations
of Latin America and the Caribbean, published
in Colombia and Argentina. And the author of
another books : "Find your passion",seven
steps to developing your life project. " The four paths for entreprenurship", " The Constitutions of the World and the Gender Pay Gap", published in Argentina & Spain.
She has also donated countless hours of his
specialized experience to various organizations
acting as a gender advisor of the Advisory
Council of the Commission for Gender Equality of
the Civil Society of the Argentine Foreign
Ministry, an executive at the Coordination of
Strategic Planning of the Gender Commission of
the Government of the City of Buenos Aires,
former vice-president of Parliament of Women
in the City of Buenos Aires, being also a founding
member of the Network of Latin American &
Her permanent concern for the role of women in
society was her motivation to produce a radio
program with a gender focus called “Bloom
Women” to strengthen women's leadership and
entrepreneurship and give them greater visibility.
As a member of various boards in some regional
women's organizations, she has helped design programs
and events to encourage women to network,
learn and associate with others.
She participated as a speaker at conferences
worldwide, having been called to speak at the
G20 in Argentina, Saudi Arabia and India on gender
For her contribution to training, mentoring and
volunteering in her community, she has received
several local and international awards.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Dr. Graciela's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
As a leader in the field of gender and women's entrepreneurship, one of the most challenging aspects of my role has been navigating the complex landscape of deeply entrenched cultural and societal norms. Breaking down gender-based barriers and championing equal opportunities is a multifaceted endeavor that demands persistence, resilience, and a deep understanding of the intricacies involved.
The challenges are manifold, ranging from dismantling age-old stereotypes that limit women's roles in society to addressing disparities in access to resources and opportunities. It often involves challenging not only systemic bias but also individual perceptions and biases deeply ingrained in our communities. The resistance and pushback encountered along the way can be disheartening, but they only serve to underscore the urgency of our mission.
Nonetheless, despite the difficulties, leading in this space is incredibly rewarding. It's about paving the way for a more inclusive, equitable future where everyone has the chance to thrive. Overcoming these challenges, while daunting, is a testament to the power of collective determination, and it reaffirms the importance of our work in reshaping the narrative of gender and entrepreneurship. The journey may be tough, but the destination is one of a more just and prosperous society for all.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My journey into leadership in the realm of gender and women's entrepreneurship began with a deeply rooted passion for empowering women and advocating for gender equality. It was not a predetermined path but one that evolved organically over time.
It all started with a desire to make a difference. I began by volunteering with local women's organizations, eager to contribute my skills and time to causes I cared deeply about. As I became more involved, I realized that there was a profound need for change and an untapped potential in the women I met. This realization served as a catalyst for my journey into leadership.
Over the years, I took on increasingly significant roles, and my commitment and dedication were recognized by those around me. I became known for my unwavering advocacy for gender equality and women's empowerment, and this led to opportunities to lead initiatives and organizations dedicated to these causes and create Suma Veritas Foundation as a place for women entrepreneurs to learn and grow personally and professionally.
Through my journey, I've learned that leadership is not about titles or positions but about the impact you create and the lives you touch. It's about being willing to step up, lead by example, and inspire others to join the cause. My leadership story is a testament to the power of passion, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of positive change in the world.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My daily routine is structured to ensure a balance between my professional responsibilities, my commitment to family, my beloved dogs, and self-care. I typically start my day early having breakfast with my husband, setting aside time for morning exercises to rejuvenate both my body and mind. Once my morning routine is complete, I shift my focus to work, which often involves strategic planning, meetings with our team, and engagement with partners and stakeholders. It's essential to ensure that my work hours are productive, and I prioritize tasks to make the most of my time.
My dogs are an integral part of my life, and I ensure they have their share of attention and care. Daily walks, playtime, and nurturing their well-being are incorporated into my schedule. Their presence adds a sense of joy and connection to my daily life.
In the evenings, I review the progress of the day and prepare for the next. However, I'm mindful to set aside time for relaxation and personal reflection. This reflective time helps me decompress and rejuvenate, ensuring that I can be at my best in all aspects of my life.
Balancing these elements in my daily routine is a constant juggling act, but it's essential for maintaining my well-being and sustaining my effectiveness as a leader. It's a testament to the importance of harmonizing professional and personal life while prioritizing self-care and fostering a deep connection with family and our four-legged companions.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A recent leadership lesson that I've been reminded of is about the concept of "sorority" among women which is a powerful and complex phenomenon. It's not always as harmonious or readily apparent as one might hope. In my journey as a leader in gender and women's entrepreneurship issues, I've encountered a diverse range of dynamics within female communities. While there are strong bonds and unwavering support among many women, there are instances where divisions and competition exist as well. It's important to acknowledge that sorority, or sisterhood, is not a given but rather something that needs to be fostered and cultivated. My experiences have shown me that, just like any group, women can have differences in opinions, interests, and approaches. These differences can sometimes lead to tensions or rivalries. As a leader, I've learned that my role includes not just advocating for gender equality but also encouraging the creation of a more inclusive and supportive female community. By addressing these issues and promoting unity and solidarity among women, we can maximize our collective impact. The challenges within female communities have underscored the need for honest conversations, empathy, and active efforts to build bridges rather than walls.
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?
One book that has profoundly impacted my leadership is "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg. This book not only resonated with me but also played a pivotal role in shaping my leadership style.
"Lean In" presents a compelling perspective on gender dynamics in the workplace and encourages women to take on leadership roles unapologetically. Sandberg's insights on mentorship, self-advocacy, and embracing leadership opportunities were particularly influential.
The book left an indelible mark on my leadership by inspiring me to be more proactive in my own journey. It made me recognize the importance of pushing boundaries, seizing opportunities, and raising my voice in advocating for gender equality. Sandberg's advice on mentorship also encouraged me to become a mentor and supporter of other women, recognizing the significance of a strong support network in personal and professional growth.
Moreover, "Lean In" urged me to look beyond my comfort zone and challenge stereotypes that women face in leadership roles. It reinforced the idea that, as a leader, I must actively break down barriers and advocate for inclusivity.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
If I could impart one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be this: never underestimate the power of networking and building meaningful relationships. Networking is not just about accumulating contacts; it's about establishing genuine connections with individuals who can help shape your leadership journey.
Networking is a crucial skill for young leaders, as it opens doors to opportunities, broadens perspectives, and provides invaluable insights. It's a way to learn from the experiences and wisdom of others. When you connect with people from diverse backgrounds and industries, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge, different viewpoints, and potential mentors who can guide and inspire you.
Moreover, effective networking allows you to surround yourself with a support system that can provide guidance during challenging times and celebrate your successes. The relationships you build can lead to collaborations, partnerships, and opportunities you might not have discovered on your own.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One particularly meaningful moment from my time as a leader was when we successfully partnered with a local government to launch a women's entrepreneurship program. Witnessing women who had previously faced insurmountable barriers to accessing equal opportunities at work and in life turn their business ideas into thriving ventures was both heartwarming and inspiring. It reinforced my belief in the power of empowerment and the profound impact it can have on individuals and communities.
This experience was a reminder that fostering equal opportunities doesn't just benefit one group; it benefits society as a whole. By working towards gender equality and promoting inclusivity, we bring together people from all kinds of journeys and backgrounds. These diverse perspectives enrich our communities and organizations, leading to innovation and growth. It's an amazing experience because you get to know people from all walks of life and learn a tremendous amount from each of them.
As a leader, I've had the privilege of seeing firsthand how individuals, when given the opportunity, can achieve remarkable things. This reaffirms the importance of our work in advancing gender equality and creating environments where everyone, regardless of their background, has a fair chance to succeed. It's not just about the impact on individual lives; it's about the collective strength and resilience that diversity and equal opportunities bring to the table. This experience serves as a constant source of motivation and a reminder of the transformative power of inclusive leadership.