Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Beatriz Recio Salcines, President @Mujeres Influyentes de España
How could you describe your career path in a few words?
I had my first work experience as a journalist in a regional newspaper, just after my first year of university, when I was still only 18. Since then, I can clearly distinguish four stages in my career almost aligned with every decade of my life. From 18 to 30, I was a reporter, special envoy, foreign correspondent, editor and later, head of the section and chief editor. I enjoyed the last years of “traditional” Journalism, full of adventures, with a grade of craziness and romanticism and awesome experiences…at that time, I travelled a lot and lived in Germany, the Czech Republic and China specializing in the Economy and International areas. Back then, Journalism was an individualistic profession where you had to take important and quick decisions, many times isolated or with no support, and take important risks too.
This way of working made me very strong, and it was very suitable for my independent character. I was very young when interviewing outstanding personalities worldwide, such as Franco Modigliani, William F. Sharpe, Robert Solow, Jürgen Donges, Lester Thurow, Michel Camdessus…Nobel Prizes, presidential advisors, heads of international institutions, ministers from Mexico to Poland, China or Japan, politicians, high-level economists, bank governors…, from all of them I learnt a lot. I also covered historical events and wonderful human stories. This stage, my original vocation, marked my life. I alternated this work with other experiences, working at Communication and Events agencies, public relationships, edition, teaching, and translation.
From 30 to 40, I clearly saw the change to come and had no doubt about getting into the digital sector as one of the first technological journalists and digital content specialists in my country. From 2000, I worked for national and international IT and Media companies as a manager and director of different internet products and discovered the corporate world, where I learnt a lot about managing, teamwork, innovation, strategic alliances, and leadership and where, due to the creative freedom and experimental atmosphere in the first years while working at an ISP, I also discovered my entrepreneurship capacities.
From 40 to 50, I became an entrepreneur and an avant-garde professional in fields such as digital leadership, professional networks, social networks, and personal branding. I founded a female leadership platform, Womantalent, and “Influential Women of Spain”, the first Spanish support network among women leaders, putting together high executives, CEOs, politicians, scientists, academics, technologists, militaries, artists… all professionals with the highest-level profiles as an unprecedented initiative. At that time, I became a sought-after speaker and moderator in events and congresses, a referent in leadership and branding, a knowledge disseminator, a trainer and a mentor, with my own permanent spaces, interviews sections and opinion columns in national and international media (Press, Radio, TV and internet) and continuous collaborations.
At 50, I moved to Hong Kong in the middle of the COVID crisis, wrote a book and decided to turn to the Academic World. I studied the prestigious MATRAN program at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), a master´s degree in Translation, Interpreting and Bilingual Communication Chinese-English. With seven A grades, including my final project, I specialized in the technology stream and received the International Scholarship Student Awardee and the Outstanding Academic Performance Distinction.
What was your most challenging experience, and it has changed your mindset?
My career and my life have been full of challenges. Finishing a 5 yearlong Bachelor in only four, studying Journalism and Political Sciences at the same time, learning seven languages, working for more than18 hours a day for years, facing the different economic crises in Spain, and adapting so many times to different countries, environments and sectors, living in China in the nineties, creating my own family, founding my own projects, combining an impossible number of different roles, helping other women to become better leaders, managing teams and enhancing other people careers, leaving all behind at 50 to begin once again in Hong Kong… every experience has been an opportunity to learn, innovate, share and become a better professional and person. With all of them, I grew and had to change my mindset. And now, landing in the AI world, studying, and researching, I continue growing and learning, developing new projects, which in my opinion is the key to happiness and a useful life.
When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain contexts, what do you think?
I am used to uncertainty and permanent change. I am not afraid of it and consider it a natural state. Maybe because of my journalistic base and my experience in different environments and situations, and due also to personal circumstances, I have very big adaptation skills and my understanding of the world is very flexible and open-minded. I have a huge experience in digital transformation and multicultural and intergenerational situations. For years, I was the youngest person in many areas, teams and works, then I became a senior and now I have even become the oldest in my last university experience, even older than professors in some cases, with an extraordinary relationship with them and with my classmates in their twenties… adaptation and a quick evolution is key nowadays. We need these skills more than ever in the AI Era.
Also, the strengths that my generation has developed after so many years of survival in the Laboral market, have a lot to teach to the new generations. It is simply not true that being young means being better prepared for the change. This mantra must be definitely denied since uncertainty and unusual contexts can probably be much better managed by people with experience, resources and perspective who can be better guides and leaders in this kind of context, whereas they also have of course the knowledge and the skills required.
Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader/manager?
Generally speaking, women are extraordinary managers and natural leaders. Our comprehension of the world looks at future generations, we care for our people and society, and we usually have a strong common sense… but what makes us strong is also our weakness, being more conservative and conscious of dangers, less willing to take risks, and at the same time we are unfairly biased by stereotypes and social and cultural issues, something that undoubtedly limits us.
Of course, every person has his or her own way, and many factors influence our personalities. But from my experience, women are strong, intelligent and skilled. No wonder, since for centuries we had to survive and live in a world made for and by men, with their rules and methods. In the last years, at least in Western countries, many barriers are falling provoking an unprecedented change. In this way, we are also facing some misunderstandings about the key factors for equality and many fake beliefs exist. In my opinion, what really defines the difference between men's and women's leadership and what separates women from success is, internally, self-confidence (which depends on ourselves and has to do with many internal and external aspects) and, externally, economic independence (which depends on the system and means being fairly paid for our work and results).
Once there, female leaders must also be well-prepared, having the skills, competencies and knowledge required for their positions. Being a woman is not linked with being talented, of course. But both things together are a wonderful combination, full of possibilities.