Ten years later, Carolina is Comdata’s Director of Continuous Improvement and Digital Transformation for Spain and Latam, based in Colombia: “I lead teams in all the countries in this region to ensure the quality of our services – looking for continuous improvement in what we offer our clients, and looking at digital transformation and opportunities for innovation.
“My team are all specialist analysts, so we measure all the operations, we analyse the KPIs, we analyse our processes, and consider how we can improve upon them or evolve them in order to make a difference to clients and customers. It’s about looking at processes end-to end.”
This work is increasingly important In a world where customer experience (CX) is a key differentiator for businesses in all sectors, and where 73% of people point to CX as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. As consumer expectations rise, end-to-end quality process improvement and quality are essential to meeting them: “Approach all the processes with focus on digital transformation mind set – I really like this role because there is a lot of scope to make positive changes and think differently.”
A MULTI-COUNTRY TEAM
One of the key challenges in her role is the fact that her team is spread widely across Latam and Europe in different countries and even time zones. “They’re in all the Spanish-speaking markets where Comdata has a presence”, says Carolina: “Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Chile, Spain …so we all work together virtually.”
In addition to working across the region, they also work with colleagues on global projects, collaborating with teams in Morocco, France, Italy and elsewhere to horizon-scan and introduce best practices.
Surely it must be hard to manage a team so dispersed? “Yes, but now it’s very easy for us to work this way since the pandemic because everyone got used to it. All our meetings are virtual, but so are everyone’s meetings,” she laughs.”
“THE TEAM DIDN’T EXIST”
Carolina’s passion for her job is clear to see, so what is she most proud of since starting the role? “Before I started this role, this team didn’t exist. So I’m proud that I built and consolidated a wide team that is so committed to innovation and improvement.
“I built the team, I found the skills and the profiles and the people, we brought them to Comdata and made the team. It happened through a mix of internal and external hiring. I have worked with the Colombia team and the South America team for about two years, but then last year and this year, we brought in the other countries and consolidated the team.”
DIVERSITY MAKES BUSINESSES STRONGER
Was any of this a lifelong ambition for Carolina?” No,” she smiles, “I studied Business Administration, and then specialised in Finance, and I then worked in marketing and as a marketing analyst, so it was very different to this. When my children were born, I stopped working for quite a long period in order to look after them. Once they reached school age, I looked for work and came to work in BPO!”
That was over ten years ago, and she came to Comdata in 2017 as Regional Director, BPO for Latam, joining the business from Carvajal Tecnologia y Servicios, also in Colombia. One aspect that she particularly enjoys about Comdata is the company’s belief in cultural diversity and talent and the benefits that they bring. This applies especially in her own team: “Because the teams are in so many different countries, it’s a very multicultural group. In our role, it’s very valuable to have a diverse team, all thinking and analyzing things differently.”
Her belief in diversity and inclusion made her an early volunteer for the Women@Comdata initiative, and she’s been part of the committee promoting the HR and qualitative surveys that will steer the next steps. “We need to create projects with multicultural and diverse participation – something that Comdata has been promoting for some time, so that all Comdata employees carry it in our DNA. This Global Diversity & Inclusion Group is a new project, and we haven’t yet started local activities, but that will come soon, and it will be very good.”
“WHEN YOU PROVE YOUR WORTH, IT’S EASY!”
Although Carolina can’t remember experiencing any equality or gender discrimination in her own career, she acknowledges that in some cultures it can be hard – or intimidating – for women to get their voice heard. “Maybe, in some countries, as a woman, you need to prove your worth and demonstrate your intelligence and knowledge before they have confidence in you. But when you demonstrate this, it’s easy.”
She also acknowledges the need to attract more women into areas like IT, digital and technology. How can businesses do this? “It’s true, you have a predominance of men working in these technical areas, but in my experience, they are very receptive to women. There’s certainly not a bad ambience, but I’m not sure how we promote these areas to more women and girls, but we do need to promote diversity. I think women and men often think differently – and all businesses need the innovation and creativity which comes from having diverse staff.”
And how to do this, how to attract women into areas where they are underrepresented? “I think we all have to look for talented women and talented people. We have to look for them, spot their talent and invite them to be part of a team. Businesses and teams often have a lot of creative and very wonderful people, and we need leaders or directors in each country to promote these people. It’s the duty of people who lead teams, who know all their people, to identify these people and promote them.”
And Carolina herself is putting this into practice .“In my own team, I have a lot of women, yes, but I also have a lot of men too. Because – you don’t want just one gender – the value comes from diversity, not from gender.
“I think that all women need to believe in their abilities, feel passion for what they do, and always give their 100%. And of course men should do the same!”