The best female leaders empower other women to succeed and there’s no better time to recognize the strength and achievements of mentors like this than on International Women’s Day. We tapped one of our fearless female trailblazers, Cristina, to gain insight on her journey to the top, her mentoring techniques, and the best advice she would share with aspiring female leaders.
Tell us about your journey to, and now within, Staples?
I was a corporate lawyer at a technology company and was laid off. That day, I began reaching out to my peers and outside counsel and received the position description for a job in the legal department at Staples from one of my colleagues. It was an excellent lesson for me about the importance of having a strong network. I’ve been at Staples almost 11 years starting as Senior Company Counsel, and after our acquisition by Sycamore, I’m proud to lead a team of legal and risk professionals. Our group is the smallest department at Staples with 27 people but makes a significant impact everyday.
What is the best career or leadership advice you’ve received?
Stay objective and don’t be afraid to try something new. After Staples went from a public to private company, it was a change for all of us. Our team began to evolve and changes for the better started happening. I liked the fact that we were building a strategy that focused on the customer, rather than managing to meet Wall Street expectations. I like that we are raising the bar; I like the collaboration among the different business functions. I have the opportunity to work with great people that I respect, and the legal work is just as challenging but different than before.
Would you consider yourself a mentor? What are your mentoring techniques for developing young females?
Yes, I would consider myself a mentor. I have mentored younger professionals here at Staples and newly admitted lawyers outside of Staples. I learned so much from my own mentors that being one myself is my way of giving back. My mentors taught me the importance of diversifying my practice, establishing strong working relationships, making sure I understood my audience, listening, being objective, and making sure I had the confidence to get the job done.
What lesson can other aspiring female leaders draw from your experience? Do you have any advice for them?
It’s important for you to be authentic and make sure you find your voice and style. Our former General Counsel was a dynamic, charismatic and energizing leader. I am more reserved and quieter. The days that I tried to imitate his style were the days that I completely failed. Once I figured out my strengths of connecting with people on another level by seeking their feedback and acting on it, sharing personal stories, and being honest and transparent, I felt a lot more comfortable, and that style seems to also work for the team.
Can you tell us about women who inspire you?
I’m inspired by strong women that risk everything for what they believe in. Harriet Tubman tops my list.
Cristina is a member of several employee-led groups, including Women Who Lead, a group that works to develop female leaders. We love providing an environment that empowers our employees to thrive within the business and mentors like Cristina help drive this culture of learning and development.
We are proud to announce that Cristina has been named to the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA)’s 2019 Most Powerful Latinas list. She was recognized for her contributions, influence and commitment to serve those in her community and abroad.
Want to work with Cristina? Join our growing team!