“It always works,” says Fuencisla Clemares. “The day I stop, I’ll be out of the market.” This relentless focus on learning has been the hallmark of a career spanning retail sales, management consulting, and a decade of rise at Google.
The urge to learn has continued for the past four years as country manager for Spain and Portugal at Google. “I believe being outside of your comfort zone is the key to improving and growing yourself,” he says.
Clemares set a tight pace from the beginning. He completed his undergraduate business degree in 1996 and joined retailer Continente in Madrid. After spending a year in the loan department, he was ready for a new challenge and went under audit. He asked again after just 12 months, what’s next?
Spanish, from a family of businessmen. One brother was trained for an MBA. Business school a few years ago in Barcelona. “I’ve seen the impact on his career,” he says. “I wanted to continue growing and I realized that this would not be at the pace I wanted at the company I am in. So I said to myself, maybe there is a moment to do an MBA. “
Clemares joined Iese’s program in 1998. He had a bachelor’s degree in business administration, so can a graduate really push him and make a forward leap in the learning he wants? The MBA says “it was completely different” and taught new skills.
Clemares says his focus tended to be theory during his undergraduate degree, whereas the MBA taught the “minimum level” of theory and very quickly moved on to practical applications. The case study method, “you approach problems more holistically, and [this] It really helps you think strategically, ”he says. Because students are” very nervous, “they are forced to develop new skills such as how to prioritize. He points out that the MBA environment simulates the “rhythm you have at high performance companies.”
The masters gave Clemares the support he wanted to his career and opened up career options such as consulting, investment banking, and private equity. “The MBA prepares you to access these roles, which leads you to accelerated career paths,” he adds.
After graduating from Iese in 2000, he joined McKinsey, a management consultant. He soon realized the lack of variety at the summit. “There were zero female partners then,” he says. Promoting diversity in business was to become a theme of his career, and he helped establish an initiative at McKinsey where senior female executives held breakfast meetings to network and share their experiences.
“There were very basic questions that I couldn’t ask a man because men have different strengths and very different problems,” he says. A small example of how to greet people in a professional setting. It is customary in Spain to greet a woman socially with a kiss on both cheeks (for men or women). This was increasingly common at business meetings where the atmosphere became less formal. But men would still shake hands. Clemares wanted to better understand what the protocol should be.
2009 to present Google. He started as a manager of retail and FMCG businesses, then became a sales manager, managing the travel, retail and telecom sectors in Spain. Now country manager for Spain and Portugal.
2007-09 Spanish Home Goods manager at French retailer Carrefour
2000-07 McKinsey promotes to assistant manager
1998-2000 MBA at Iese
1996-98 Credit and audit roles in Retailer Continente
Breakfast meetings have evolved into larger structural initiatives such as special education sessions for women. McKinsey has a policy of recruiting and developing female talent, especially in senior roles.
Clemares says women’s leadership styles are not always well understood or “properly evaluated.” For example, he remembers getting feedback that he was “very good”. He shared this with a professional coach and told him that his voice was very quiet, so he spoke to further criticism. Clemares says that the feedbackers saw the problem from their point of view. That’s the “beauty of diversity,” he adds – you get broader perspectives and different assessments, and your leadership style is better understood.
Clemares, mother of three, says the situation is “completely different” today. It is “fully understood and fully embraced” that diversity adds value to a company – but still it takes time to change corporate culture.
More generally, Clemares says that job transformation has changed in three main ways throughout his career: the pace of change has increased, it has become steady and much more complex. However, he rejects the concept of digital transformation and says that technology is a facilitator, but the change must be driven by the business itself.
“There are much deeper connections between everything we do,” Clemares says, adding that technology affects every stage of a company at all levels. “The complexity of the change you have to drive is enormous,” he says. “You need to have a comprehensive view of the company. Also a minimum [level of] technology knowledge. “
Asked what advice he would recommend to his 20-year-old self, Clemares looks at technical skills. He was good at math, physics, and science, but he never considered a technical career. This may be because he is from a business family or because he is “full of men” when he looks at technical university courses. . . and I did not look like them ”.
But Clemares believes that technical skills and an MBA would be “the perfect combination to succeed in the environment we currently have”. Through Google’s internal courses, she continues to learn from the technical experts on her team, and she continues to learn by leading meetings with her clients on topics that she is not experts in and therefore require extra effort in preparation.
Clemares returned to Iese to teach MBA courses and lectures at ISDI in Madrid, which describes itself as the “first digital business school”. While he said that schools should continue to adapt their MBAs to the business environment, one skill he learned remains unchanged for him: leadership. “Being a leader is the same [as 20 years ago]. To be able to develop a vision and strategies and share them with our teams in a way that motivates and inspires them. “It’s about building high performing teams and managing them under stressful situations and uncertainty.”
Clemares says the pace of change may have increased, but he believes “truly and deeply” that the essence of leadership is constant and that what he learned twenty years ago passed the test of time. “I believe the MBA experience is so valid even in this world that is so different.”