Scholar Spotlight - Pamela Flores Mónico

Pamela Flores Mónico, a Women's Business Education Laidlaw Scholar from the debut cohort at London Business School, on creating impact through business for development, trailblazing, and staying true to yourself.

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Pamela Flores Mónico, a Women's Business Education Laidlaw Scholar from the debut cohort at London Business School, on creating impact through business for development, trailblazing, and staying true to yourself.

I was born in El Salvador, the “pulgarcito”. However, when I was one year old, my dad had a job opportunity in Argentina, so we all moved. It was an incredible opportunity for us as a family. But the first years were not easy: we first arrived to Cordoba, where my dad was working for 12 hours straight and usually flew to Buenos Aires, which meant my mom had to stay home alone, taking care of me and pregnant with my sister, all while being far away from our family. We then moved to Buenos Aires, and once there, my parents finally started creating the life they were looking for, while also trying to support our family back in El Salvador.

As I grew up, I started hearing of business applied in the social impact space. But it wasn’t until 2013 that I saw it in action for the first time in Nicaragua, at Casa Esperanza. It was a shelter home for women getting out of prostitution, where they lived and made jewelry later sold in the United States. That was a turning point for me - I realized that was what I wanted to do with my life: business for development. So, on the one hand, I started working in the pharma industry to learn about business. At the same time, I was volunteering in local communities in a trades program, trying to cascade down all that I was learning as an HR or Marketing employee. I did that for 6 years, until I felt I was ready to take the next step: do an MBA at LBS that would allow me to pursue my dream of using business for development in developing countries. So, that is how I decided to apply to the Laidlaw Scholarship. It’s values really resonated with me.  

Construction volunteering

Briefly describe a scene from the future you are striving to create.

I would like to work towards creating greater access to healthcare and medicine in developing countries. 

Right now, we are going through a pandemic, and there is a race for who will have the first vaccine. However, I also see that this vaccine will be accessed mainly by first world countries. For me, it is important to provide access solutions for developing countries too. And I would like to work towards more egalitarian solutions across the healthcare sectors. At the end of the day, there are so many countries that are still suffering from many diseases that are no longer a problem in so many first-world countries. And we need to try to accomplish the same in these countries. I know that there are many structural problems that are part of the cause, but I believe that we have to have everybody involved. There needs to be synergy between the private and public sectors and international organizations in order to achieve these objectives. 

What is the biggest life challenge you have overcome and what did you learn from it? 

One of my biggest challenges has been my role as product manager in the pharmaceutical industry. I was just 24 years old when I was promoted to product manager in order to launch a very innovative product. And, not only did I have to lead this launch, but also gain a deep understanding of the disease and its market dynamics. Meanwhile, I was responsible for leading diverse teams who didn’t report to me in the launch process, and connect with physicians whose medical language I barely spoke. Furthermore, I was the first female product manager, and the first woman to lead a launch in an industry that was dominated by men with more than 20 years’ experience, and in the “machismo” of the Latin American culture.

However, it turned out to be my best professional experience: I grew so much at that time. I gained insight into the interworking of the pharmaceutical market, and how it is interconnected with the political and macroeconomic contexts. Also, I learnt how to lead through influence and to network efficiently. But most importantly, it allowed me to connect with myself on a deeper level and understand how to leverage on my strengths.  

Adventurous me

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

 “Strive for excellence”. This doesn’t mean that you have to pursue perfection, but that you have to put your heart, time and effort into what you do. In that way, whatever the result is, you will feel satisfied and content with yourself knowing that you gave it your best. 

Conversely, what is the worst piece of advice you have ever been given?

“Be more of an extrovert”. I have always been more of an introvert. I like to observe and then immerse myself in things and people. But sometimes, we introverts are underrated because introverts are associated with “not talking as much” or “not being bubbly enough”. However, introverts usually listen a lot and are quite empathetic. So, I’ve learnt that yourself is your best self; trying to be somebody else or someone who you are not will usually be more exhausting and perjudicial to others, even. There is always something we can give to others by being our own selves. 

Top 3 tips that will help someone become a better leader

  1. Listen: everybody has a different story and background. We cannot make any assumptions, and in order to connect better with people it is important to be curious enough to listen to their stories. 
  2. Integrity is fundamental: it is important to stay true to one’s self. That’s what makes us unique. And never negotiate your values, no transaction will be worth losing yourself. 
  3. Errors are OK: it is important to live in a culture that accepts mistakes. This will foster creativity and innovation in a limitless way. And people will feel more comfortable and happy at the workplace. 
I really enjoy photography. I feel it has allowed me to open myself, be more aware, and empathize and connect on a deeper level with nature, people, and my own life – even the simplest thing, for that half second, can become eternal.

Which leaders in the world inspire you the most and why?

I have always admired female leaders. One of my favorites is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She had this big ambition to make this world a more egalitarian one. And she worked so hard for equality, for women’s rights and minorities' rights in general. I remember learning of her some years ago, when I watched her documentary on a plane, and I just became a fan of her. I consider her a revolutionary and a badass. She didn’t have it easy, but she worked so hard to get to where she got, and her legacy will remain.

What does it mean for you to be a Laidlaw Scholar?

I feel really humbled and honored to be a part of a community that is trying to create impact in the world.  I really share the Laidlaw values, and I feel they truly represent me. What is more, their support has allowed me to pursue my studies at my top B-School choice, be part of an invaluable network of students, alums and scholars, while trying to attain my dream of working in business for development.


Quick-fire Questions

📺 Currently binging: I am actually watching Seinfeld, I had never watched it in the past and it is so funny! I have just finished The Kominsky Method too. Loved it, so witty and funny too!

 

🎵 My quarantine anthem:“Qué bello es vivir” by El Kanka. He is a Spanish artist, and my boyfriend showed me his music just recently. I’ve become obsessed with him! This song is just so happy and positive :)

Qué Bello Es Vivir by El Kanka on Amazon Music - Amazon.com

📚 My top book recommendation: When Nietzsche Wept. Very philosophical, it makes you dig deep within yourself.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog. A novel that includes some sociological points that makes it super interesting.

Exhalation. The most recent book I have been reading, a compilation of sci-fi stories

 

🎧 Podcast obsession: This American Life. I just love it. So many short stories of different random people. It is interesting to hear and listen to others that are so different to one’s self, and makes you appreciate the diversity of every story. 

This American Life : NPR

🌈 Something that made me feel joy recently: I learnt how to make my own flower pots out of cement. I never thought I would do something like that, and I really enjoyed it. I even gave away a couple to my friends. 


Pamela is a Laidlaw Scholar from the debut cohort at London Business School. The Laidlaw Women's Business Education Scholarship aims to help build a pipeline of future women leaders through access to best-in-class education, resources and global networks by providing full and half scholarships to women who would not otherwise be in a position to reap the benefits of attending an outstanding school. 

Find out more about the Laidlaw Women's Business Education Scholarship.

Nikol Chen (she/her)

Digital Content Manager, Laidlaw Foundation

Hello! My name is Nikol and I look after the Laidlaw Scholars Network.

I am originally from Kazakhstan and I studied Human Sciences at UCL. My final research explored the potential effects of design on patient wellbeing in hospitals, and I also took modules such as Ethnographic Documentary Filmmaking, Anthropology of the Built Environment, Art in the Public Sphere, and other less interesting-sounding things :)

Drop me a line if you have any questions about the site, or if you'd just like to chat! I am always down to meet interesting people, so let's get [virtual] coffee ☕️

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