Success stories: Fuencisla Clemares. How to become a Google executive with an MBA

Fuencisla Clemares is Google’s CEO for Spain and Portugal, a former McKinsey consultant, and mother of three.

When we think of a professional like Fuencisla Clemares (MBA ’00), one of the first questions that comes to mind is where does she get the time to do so many things and so well. It really seems like her days are longer than everyone else’s. Are they?

Clemares explains that her days at Google are divided as follows: “40% of my time is dedicated to business management, 30% to visiting clients and interacting with people to make sure that we have the visibility and the external impact that a company of these characteristics demands, and the rest of time is spent on strategy, trying to anticipate where the future is taking us (20%), and training (10%)”.

“My greatest managerial challenge,” she continues, “lies in mobilizing and coordinating professionals who are part of my team, but who don’t report directly to me”. She knows that simply having earned her stripes isn’t enough when it comes to having the people who don’t work as closely with her give it their best.

Personal interactions, she clarifies, are what “make the difference”. You have to spread enthusiasm as if it were an electric current, get them involved in the project, remind them of its importance and encourage them to step outside their comfort zone, even if doing so prompts them to make mistakes.

And here leading by example is also essential. She doesn’t hide her stumbles and stresses that at Google you’re “allowed to make mistakes.” According to Clemares, this philosophy also offers a fundamental advantage: mistakes are not hidden, but are recognized and corrected as soon as possible. “Failures make you more human.” And being more human is key to engage your people emotionally.

Equality as a mission

“In the tech industry, women are underrepresented, which means people remember your face more easily. I try to take advantage of this fact, but sometimes you feel alone” Clemares says. “Men,” she adds, “are curious as to whether I’ll live up to the responsibility entrusted to me.” Her credentials speak by themselves. Clemares took over the helm of Google for Spain and Portugal in 2016, and her management of the company has proved to be a remarkable success.

Clemares has defended for more than a decade not only gender equality, but also diversity in the top management team and board of directors. She acknowledges that her company is making an effort in this regard, despite the fact that the challenge is enormous. “Women engineers are scarce,” she warns, and these are precisely the profiles most in demand in the technology sector.

Before joining Google, Clemares worked for McKinsey for six years as a consultant specialized in retail and marketing, where she also worked for greater equality and diversity. She helped organize networking breakfasts for high-level executives as well as training sessions for women, and planted the seeds for more structural changes: in 2000, the consulting company didn’t have a single female partner. Today there is even a specific policy in place to recruit female talent in positions of responsibility and women represent more than 40% of the company’s employees and almost the same proportion in managerial tasks.

Preparing for the leap

Clemares joined McKinsey shortly after completing her MBA at IESE, a program that helped her take the steps she was looking to take in her career. But what exactly did she learn at IESE?

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Clemares explained that the MBA program allowed her to experience a work flow similar to those at high-performing companies and that, therefore, “it’s a great way to prepare to work in one of them.” She also highlighted the case method, which enables you to address “problems in a more holistic way and helps you to think strategically.”

She considers that her main strength as a manager is precisely her “strategic capacity”. An aptitude she began practicing at McKinsey and which she summarizes as “the ability to deal with very different problems in very different industries.”

Given her trajectory, it’s still easy to wonder whether this extraordinary professional has some secret recipe for multiplying the hours in a day, making hers thirty or forty hours longer than the rest of ours.

5 keys from Fuencisla Clemares to become an impactful leader 

1. Get your entire workforce excited, not just your team.

2. Power matters. The human touch makes the difference.

3. Financial results are not enough. What are your values?

4. If you have problems, you have solutions.

5. Your time is your agenda. Organize it carefully.

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