On every International Women’s Day anniversary, there are women who, with their dedication, tenacity and perseverance, spread the word about their efforts to achieve gender equality. At Moneytrans, we did not want to miss the opportunity to talk to our General Manager for Spain, Leticia Carbajo, whose commitment to women’s empowerment, social integration and education is reflected in the actions she promotes, such as the social initiative ‘Making People Smile’, which aims to forge a positive visibility of migrants and the women around them. Without a doubt, her leadership conveys a very clear mission: to contribute to the growth, progress and development of society in a simple and fair manner. Following up, here is her interview!
Her beginnings in the field of finance were in her home country, France, where she worked in the area of business administration, financial and market analysis. After gaining experience in multinational companies in various countries (Australia, France, Spain), Leticia joins the Moneytrans team in 2011 as a Financial Controller. Only three years later, she decided to present a global growth and restructuring plan to founder Francisco Sánchez Apellaniz, who did not hesitate to give her the opportunity to implement it, appointing her as Country Manager. Her ambitions for the company would not stop there, and in 2018 she led the creation of a global marketing department that marked a before and after in the history of the company with a rebranding and the creation of a department specializing in digital.
But without a doubt what she considers her greatest achievement is her team and its consolidation: in recent years Moneytrans Spain’s workforce has increased by 33% while the group’s cohesion has been raised under the banner of the company’s social commitment. For her, the human factor is at the heart of the organisation and the key to Moneytrans’ success.
Seeing how far you’ve come in your career, what would you say to the 15-year-old Leticia?
Our present is the result of the decisions we made in the past; so I would surely begin by thanking her for having trusted in herself and having believed in her dreams. For having fought for what she wanted. For never having feared the future. I would also tell her that the actions of her present have a lot of influence on her future. I would advise her to respect the times of rest and work, and to not let them interfere in order to enjoy thoroughly what she does. To travel, to do crazy things from time to time, and to surround herself with people who are in the same state of mind, even if they are very different: that will enriche you!
What barriers have you had to overcome as a woman and as an immigrant?
Harmful social norms and stereotypes are the strongest causes behind persistent gender gaps. These outdated norms which discriminate women are all around us and are deeply entrenched. During 17 years, I have worked in male-dominated sectors and companies, and I have had to deal with the occasional discriminatory comment: “how are you going to manage a team of men who are older than you? They won’t listen to you, they won’t respect your decisions. Your accent discredits you, you won’t be able to travel to some parts of the world because you’re a woman, etc”. Fortunately, I’ve always been an optimistic and pragmatic person who doesn’t get caught up in other people’s opinions. Warned of the possible barriers I would encounter, I decided to learn how to make the most of my ‘condition’.
I remember a study carried out in the 90s, asking 500 men and women business managers to describe the characteristics they thought a successful manager should have. Most spoke of competitiveness, leadership ability, self-confidence and responsibility. Those qualities were identified in male managers and in only three female managers. However, when asked what characteristics they missed in their bosses, they highlighted the lack of understanding, intelligence, sensitivity and empathy with others. Those qualities were identified with female managers. At that time, it already seemed necessary to achieve a balance between masculine and feminine abilities within the organizations.
This has always been my battle; to achieve this balance by developing both my competencies related to decision making, leadership and objectivity as well as emotional intelligence, sensitivity and empathy. Because at the end of the day we are people who think about people.
Which ones remain to be overcome in terms of gender equality?
From businesses to governments to civil societies, we have made some progress towards gender equality, but if segregation is to be reduced, I think we should start by making a change in the occupational structure. The best paid jobs in the service sector, such as financial, real estate and commercial services and public administration, are still in men’s hands. On the other hand, women are most affected by the difficulty of conciling professional and personal life; there is still a clear tendency for household tasks and childcare to fall to the female sector. In this sense, the work-life balance should enable both men and women to share household tasks equally and to enjoy personal time equally.
At Moneytrans we take work life balance very seriously, as well as integration and gender equality. I am proud to work today for a company that does not focus on the differences between men and women, but rather on uniting strengths and skills for the benefit of a common goal.
What´s the best advice you had been given in your professional career? And what advice would you give to a woman starting hers?
More than a piece of advice, I would quote a collaborator which I worked with in the beginning of my career; he said that ‘people are quick to judge others, but slow to correct themselves’. A great truth that led me to continuously train myself and question everything, perfecting and seeking innovative solutions or more effective methods in all areas of the company. One should not be afraid to knock down some of their beliefs when necessary.
My advice? Whatever you do, be different. Don’t try to imitate a man: have more ambition. Be persistent and confident. Excellence is the best way to defeat sexism, but don’t be afraid of failure. Dare and go for what you want as an independent woman who does not get caught up in the opinion of others.
Who is the woman you admire the most?
My grandmother. She took the decision to leave her beloved country at 50 years old to provide a better life for her children. Nothing stopped her; neither the fact of not having her husband’s authorization to get a passport, nor the language barriers, nor her limited resources.
If you could choose a female historical figure to have dinner with, who would you choose?
A Mexican artist who was a revolutionary for her time, both in her art and in her lifestyle, – Frida Kahlo -, or an author who had no predecessors or successors, – Simone de Beauvoir -, whose thinking was a vanishing point that allowed her to go where she had not gone before. Without a doubt, they were women who transcended barriers, knowing how to question everything established in their times and their social context.
In your opinion, what is an empowered woman?
A woman who is connected to her true essence, who has known how to break her internal barriers to live from authenticity, without getting influenced by established models of power and accessing her own: making her dreams come true.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “ Feminist”?
LABELS. Labels help us to classify data in an organised way, to create a more comfortable and easy way to understand the environment. But, such fixed and rigid designations are misleading and often the belief we associate with a label can be limiting.
I think that is happenning around the term ‘feminism’. A 2018 YouGov study revealed that less than half of the men and women surveyed in five European countries would agree that they are feminists. People do not seem to reject the term feminism because they are against gender equality or because they believe it has been achieved, but they do not feel identified with the term.
Are immigrant women the future of many developing countries?
Today, they are already almost half of those who are looking for a future outside their countries: 48% according to the statistics. And they outnumber men when it comes to internal migration. In a crisis, women are often the first to react. Whether they are itinerant or in camps, in the country of origin or destination, they play a key role in providing care, supporting and rebuilding their communities. Evidence shows that when a woman’s situation improves, her transformative power knows no boundaries. Empowering them is therefore much more than a feminist proclamation. It is a passport to the well-being of all.
What is Moneytrans doing for women’s empowerment? What does International Women’s Day mean for the company?
Our social initiative ‘Making People Smile’ aims to promote education, women’s empowerment and integration. One of our challenges is to enhance a positive visibility of the women around us: customers, colleagues, partners, friends… How do we do that?
- By making women visible: in April last year we organised the first Moneytrans Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards with several categories and one specific category for “the entrepreneurial woman”. We received many nominations from brave, enterprising and successful women.
- Supporting the financial inclusion of groups at risk of social exclusion, a risk that most closely affects immigrant women: this is the framework for our future collaboration with Fundación Nantik Lum, which develops programs based on microfinance and inclusive entrepreneurship https://nantiklum.org/ https://nantiklum.org/crea/.
- Offering opportunities to professionals regardless of gender, race or religion. At Moneytrans, we have no gender quota to fill; what we seek is a truly diverse, skilled and equal workforce.
- Fighting against stereotypes and prejudices, raising awareness of their existence and the right attitude to adopt when facing them; both in our professional and personal environment.
I am proud to belong to a company that considers people to be the pillars of its business; a company that continues to be very close to the needs of its customers, close to the millions of migrants who are part of our society; a company that has always gone and will continue to go against the tide of the establishment. Both in our way of doing things and in our mission. A few days ago a news item reminded me of this. A bank in Belgium had been accused of denying its services to people of foreign origin. This is one of the most neglected forms of discrimination: discrimination in access to financial services. The phenomenon exists: in Belgium, but also here in Spain, in France, in Italy and in many European countries.58 million people do not have access to a basic bank account in the European Union.
At Moneytrans we believe that it is a matter of public interest and social dignity; that it is time to abolish stigma and provide security for all by facilitating access to financial services. a basic account that is necessary to collect their salary, as well as to access the payment tools that are spreading at great speed, such as the card and electronic payments. And when some think that it is the role of the state to ensure such social integration, we, anti-conformists, prefer to take action.
When institutions deny a part of the population access to a basic account, we react by creating the first free, transparent and non-binding account accessible to everyone in Europe. When banks close down thousands of branches in Europe, Moneytrans is once again extending its network. At Moneytrans our desire is to unite by providing everyone with the same quality of service, while respecting the individuality of each, offering choice in both our services and our channels.
And finally, are there dreams too big?
ABSOLUTELY! You have to dream big to get big results. As Simone de Beauvoir rightly said:
“Let nothing limit us. Let nothing define us. Let nothing hold us down. Let freedom be our own substance”. – Simone de Beauvoir
International Women’s Day is certainly a time to launch a message of equality and unity! At Moneytrans we work every day for a better world, follow us on Facebook or Instagram and help us making the role of women visible around the world!