A&P International

María Victoria Vargas Silva | Councilwoman for the Bogotá City Council

How beautiful is diversity – and we see it everywhere – even in a male–dominated field such as politics. Today, we wrap up our Women on the Move spotlights. And last, but not least, we are honored to present a woman who has excelled in the difficult life of politics for more than three decades; María Victoria Vargas Silva is the Councilwoman for the Bogotá City Council, in Colombia, South America. We have the honor to have Councilwoman Vargas personally connected to our team, as her daughter, Ana Maria Valencia de Benitez, serves in our Department of Cultural Communications, specializing in the legal and business translations in both Spanish and French.

Until the mid-50’s, women were not allowed to vote in Colombia; but today, they play key roles in politics. This is the case of today’s spotlight. Councilwoman María Victoria Vargas Silva graduated as a lawyer from the Universidad del Rosario with a specialization in Commercial Law, and she earned her degree in Political Sciences from the Universidad Javeriana. She has been elected seven times for the Bogotá City Council by popular vote and has been the council’s President three non-consecutive times. Her career has been exemplary, thanks to her honesty, strong values, and generosity to those in need. It is a pleasure for us to share some of her insights about maintaining a balance between a remarkable career and taking care of a loving family.

How have you balanced a successful career while raising and caring for your children?

“I stopped working, for a year, when my daughter was born. Subsequently, my mother and a nanny helped me take care of her while I was at work. The political world never stops, especially during campaigns. However, my family is my main priority, and I always manage to spend quality time with my daughter – and now with my grandson, too. Fortunately, my mother and my daughter’s father were supportive of her in her childhood and teenage years.”

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a mother in your career?

“Without a doubt, the main challenge has been trying to play my roles as a mother and a politician, at the same time. Dividing my time between a career as demanding as politics and dedicating quality time to raising a daughter, requires a good sense of time management. Besides, as I mentioned before, I was lucky to have the support of my daughter’s father and my mother. But, that does not mean I was not involved in 100% of my daughter’s life. The same instance applies today with my grandson. Even though I am still engaged in the political sphere, my family is my priority, and I always manage to spend as much quality time with him as I can.”

How has your career inspired your children?

“Well, I guess my daughter could give you a better answer! Nonetheless, I would say my dedication to my different roles –especially as a mother and a working woman– has inspired her to achieve her goals and aspirations, as both a mother and a professional woman. Of course, her husband and my grandson’s grandparents have been an essential piece of the process of her achieving her family and professional goals.”

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders regarding career success while being an active, caring mother for their children?

“Fortunately, parenting has become more of a shared task between both parents nowadays, and that makes things easier. But, based on my experience, I would advise them to organize the amount of time they dedicate to different activities, yet most importantly, they must dedicate quality time to their children.”

 

Even though I am still engaged in the political sphere, my family is my priority.

Juan Pablo Benítez | Translation Services Coordinator

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Ann Dunwoody | First Female Four-Star General (U.S. Army, Ret.)

In our fourth segment of Women on the Move, we pay tribute to General Ann Dunwoody (U.S. Army, Ret.), a woman who represents a major milestone in the U.S. Army by becoming the first female four-star General in the history of our nation. She advocates for diversity; encouraging people to “leverage the power of diversity” by creating teams of different backgrounds to provide a broad range of ideas leading them to the best-informed decisions. In 2017, A&P International’s Department of Cultural Communications was honored to translate, into Spanish, her successful book A Higher Standard – an incredible story of her journey of leadership strategies and powerful messages.

General Ann Dunwoody served 38 years in our country’s military forces. She is the former commanding general of one of the Army’s largest commands – the U.S. Army Materiel Command. Now retired, she offers strategic insights to companies and corporate boards. 

In addition to becoming the first woman in U.S. history to achieve the rank of four-star general, she was also the first woman to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division and become Fort Bragg’s first female general officer. Dunwoody was also the first woman to lead the Combined Arms Support Command. We had the chance to have a beautiful conversation with her about the difficult task of keeping a balance between family and a successful career in the military.

How have you balanced a successful career while raising and caring for your children?

“I have never had children of my own. I always thought I would but the Good Lord had other plans. I do have a wonderful husband, four beautiful grandchildren, and two daughters and sons-in-law. During my 38-year career in the army, finding a good balance between family and work was challenging.  As a nation at war for the last 12 years of my career, putting our deployed men and women, who were in harms way, and their families had to be a priority. That said, taking care of my own family was a priority for me, as well.  You cannot work yourself to death and ignore your family, or else you may risk losing your family along the way. Small things count. Showing love, respect and demonstrating in small ways that you care about them, will go a long way to retain your family’s love and understanding.”   

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a mother in your career?

“The biggest challenge trying to find the time to spend and stay in touch with my own family and friends.  I had loving parents, and now I have two brothers and two sisters scattered around the country.  I worked very hard to stay in touch, visit when I could, and not let them fall off my radar screen.”

How has your career inspired your children?

“I know how proud my parents, my husband, my brothers, and sisters were of my accomplishments.   I also have heard from girls in elementary schools who have done reports on me, and they send me pictures of themselves in uniform; conveying the message that they can be anything they want to be – including a four-star General.  I could not even image doing what I did, when I was their age.”  

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders regarding career success while being an active, caring mother for their children?

“Believe in yourself and never give up. Anything is possible with hard work and commitment.”

 

You cannot work yourself to death and ignore your family, or else you may risk losing your family along the way. Small things count.  Showing love, respect and demonstrating in small ways that you care about them, will go a long way to retain your family’s love and understanding.

Juan Pablo Benítez | Translation Services Coordinator

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