Although Sofia’s balance of soft and technical capabilities helped her stand out, her visibility also drew some opposition in an era when few Mexican women held managerial positions.
She recalls an incident years ago when she attended a strategy meeting with a group of male regional sales directors. As the meeting convened, one senior executive pointed at Sofia and asked the group loudly, “Is she going to stay for the discussion?”
Sofia credits the company’s executive vice president, a trusted and open-minded mentor, for defending her. He retorted with fury, “She’s my right hand in strategy and will stay in all discussions that I need to have.”
While her executive showed his impatience with sexist comments, Sofia controlled her own response in the moment, describing how, “I ignored the comment and stayed like a rock, showing no reaction or negative feelings. I knew that I had to remain self-confident in myself and my position at the table. While men could get upset, I had to be more mature than them.”
Sofia’s calm but strong demeanor likely comes from her other personal passion, soccer. She told me how, her mother encouraged her to pursue her childhood love of ‘the beautiful game’, or any activity that was not typically a girl’s pursuit.
This sport, which she still plays four times a week, taught her teamwork, discipline and respect for other players. And today, she instills those traits in her younger team-mates, many of whom come from rural communities or struggle with economic and social barriers. “We are like a family and I tell them that, despite their difficulties, we must have rules of engagement on the field, including discipline and respect for each other. I let them know that 90 percent of their results will come from their attitude and behavior.”