Interview With Fuencisla Clemares, Managing Director of Google Spain & Portugal
With a degree in Business Administration from IESE Business School, Fuencisla Clemares (b. Madrid, 1974) has earned recognition as an outstanding manager in the technology sector. Working in companies such as McKinsey & Company and Carrefour, she has successfully held various positions of responsibility, always focused on business strategy and digital transformation.
In 2009 she joined Google Spain as Director of Retail and Consumer Products. Since then, she has supported companies from different sectors in their migration to the Internet and has led Google Spain’s mobile initiative. Her merit was recognised in November 2016, when she was named managing director of Google Spain & Portugal.
Question: There is still much to be done to establish gender equality in management positions in Spain. However, there are more and more women leading large companies, as in your case. What do you consider the great values of female talent?
Answer: I would emphasize that women have a style of leadership that is more people-oriented and integrated. We’re always seeking consensus, considering everyone’s opinion and inviting constant participation in decision-making. When you arrive at decisions in this way, implementation is much easier. Many men have recognized that, in general, women stand out for their practicality: they seek to be as efficient as possible at work. This results in them being leaders in productivity.
Q.: How have you lived your professional career in Google?
A.: The 7 years that I spent in the company until assuming the role of Country Manager, were exciting. By changing responsibilities approximately every two years, I always had an interesting challenge on my hands. This allowed me to continue to grow and develop (new clients, new teams, new business areas to manage). Thanks to this, I was able to get to know the company’s component parts and to develop new skills that have proved essential in my new position.
Q.: In your opinion, what are some characteristics or values of a great leader?
A: Great leaders must have a formidable strategic vision that allows them to tackle complex problems successfully, and define a clear and exciting vision and project for the business. In addition to this, they have to be able to communicate with force, clarity and enthusiasm in order to excite and motivate their teams with respect to the vision they have developed. Finally, they have to be great managers of people, have the capacity to form high quality teams and know how to draw the best from them in order to achieve an impeccable execution and implementation of the plan.
Q.: It is always said that “the soul of a company is its people”. How do you communicate this value in Google?
A.: People are, without a doubt, the most important asset we have. From my point of view, people need to clearly understand what is really expected of them.They need to feel they have sufficient resources, capacities and support to be able to achieve these expectations and, finally, when they have done things well, they need recognition. It’s important to emphasise that recognition can take many forms, and you have to employ them all: a raise, bonus or promotion, but also a public recognition of a job well done or a message of private gratitude for the effort and great work done.
Q.: What is the daily life of Fuencisla Clemares like? How do you manage to reconcile your professional and personal life?
A.: My day-to-day experience is very intense. This is especially true for this year, as I attend many conferences. Now, fortunately, we use a lot of new technologies and travel moderately. This allows me to have breakfast almost every day with my children. I then try to get home early and have dinner with them three days a week. The weekends are for spending time with my family.
Q.: Before coming to Google, you worked for seven years in the world of strategic consulting, with McKinsey & Company. Do you think that companies are prepared to face the digital transformation?
A.: Transformation processes are always complex. We all know that it’s easier to create than to transform. Therefore, companies often need help from third parties in order to accelerate these processes. In recent years, we have seen a strong commitment from the strategic consulting sector, which has invested in developing new capabilities in the digital world to better be able to help its customers. These companies can help in infinite ways: the important thing is to select the most appropriate partner for each case and define the scope of collaboration very well.
Q.: There is a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence and sometimes it’s perceived as something negative. What are the keys to getting the best out of the Technology-People relationship?
A.: In the short term, technology is developing new qualified professions and is of high value for society and the economy. If we don’t prepare university students well, we will unfortunately not be able to cover these positions. Addressing this, I think, should be our biggest obsession as a country now. Four years ago we launched 'Activate' with the aim of developing digital skills amongst young people. To date, more than 300,000 people have been trained in Spain and more than 34,000 claim to have found work thanks to this training. We definitely need more initiatives of this kind.
Q.: What would you say to a company that is concerned about your business in the digital environment? Is there a "key" for success? Where should their priorities lie?
A.: I would tell them to put their clients at the center, and to focus on using technology to develop the best possible experience for their client. Let them raise it and question everything: don’t seek to adjust their current experience. Rather, let them create a new generation of experience that uses the power of data and technology to surprise their client.
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