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“Only if you are willing to take risks yourself can you expect the same from your employees”

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In our Diversity@NORMA series, we highlight the diversity of employees who work at NORMA Group. In 2021, the series focuses on NORMA Group’s female employees. Female colleagues from a variety of departments and countries report on their professional and personal experiences and provide insight into their wishes for the future.

Adriana Pampanas is a Senior Commodity Buyer Temp Labour, Real Estate & Projects at NORMA Group in Maintal. In this interview, she talks about professional role models, her passion for her job and social change. 

Adriana, what woman has had the greatest impact on you in your life? And why?

In my life, there have been two women who have had the most impact on me – my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother is an incredibly generous, independent and confident woman. She has always worked hard and always made sure that her family was doing well, including emigrating from the Dominican Republic to the United States for a better life. Despite her humble beginnings, she was always eager to generously share whatever she had with others.  

Also, my mother – she has been my biggest supporter throughout my life. She has always encouraged me in everything I have wanted for myself even when I wasn’t sure it was possible, whether it was exploring the world to learn about other cultures, earning another educational degree, pursuing a new career in another country… and the list goes on. She taught me to strive for high goals, to always believe in myself, and being the savvy businesswoman she is, that everything in life is negotiable.

Do you have a professional role model?

At the moment, I have three professional role models – all strong, confident and remarkable women. My first professional role model is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She was a fearless, highly intelligent and very empathetic woman. She achieved a lot for us women here in the U.S., including in the area of equal pay for women and men in the workforce, for example. Hilary Clinton is also a professional role model for me. She has great leadership qualities, doesn’t let criticism get her down and has been campaigning for more social justice for decades. And, last but not least, Oprah Winfrey is a great professional role model for me. She came from a poor background and therefore, had very little resources accessible to her in her youth but she courageously overcame her obstacles in order to fulfill her dreams. She is well known for her extensive philanthropic efforts, giving back to society regularly, and her eloquent communication skills that inspires and reaches millions of people. These three extraordinary women have provided me great examples of female leadership.

Why are you professionally where you are today? And what does your career mean to you?

Professionally, I am where I am today for many different reasons. Among other things, I maintain a positive mindset, am passionate about my work, and am always looking for new challenges that give me the opportunity to develop further, personally and professionally.

In addition to my law degree at George Washington University, for example, I decided to pursue an MBA in Spain so as to gain new perspectives and to become a more well-rounded professional. After my legal career in the U.S. and Spain, I am now working at NORMA Group in Germany and learning German, a new language for me. I believe that changes are always good because we grow when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone.

I do value my career highly as I care deeply about doing meaningful work that provides me a purpose. It is important that I can make a difference and have a positive impact on the development of a company and its employees. I really enjoy building relationships, helping create positive changes, collaborating with wonderful colleagues from around the world and negotiating – which I find thrilling. That’s exactly what I have at the moment and that’s why I’m very happy.

What social changes have occurred over the course of your career?

In recent years, there has been an increase in the importance of sustainable business practices. In my opinion, companies must now prioritize the topic of social impact when running their business, such as valuing their people giving back to the community and minimizing their impact on the environment. Companies that want to be successful can no longer only focus on profit; we must aim to look at the big picture and do this in a holistic manner. I love that there is more focus on employees and their well-being today and I hope to continue to be a part of these positive social changes.

What do you wish for the future and do you have any advice for all women?

I would like companies and their leadership to continue to recognize that they have a great responsibility for their employees and the environment and to show it through their words as well as their actions. Consistency and authenticity is key. I hope that in the future, more and more companies will put people and the environment before profit because I strongly believe that true success comes when you are doing things well and in a way that feels right. I would also like to see leaders and managers lead their teams with empathy and be willing to put fear aside in order to try out new things boldly; we must be open to taking risks in order to innovate. Only if you are willing to take risks yourself, can you expect the same from your employees. Most importantly, I wish to see people enjoy what they are doing and spread that joy!

I do wish to offer advice for women: Be fierce and fearless in your ambitions. Don’t be afraid to fail because failures are simple an opportunity to learn. And always dare to aim high. Bring passion into your lives and you will go far. Plus, don’t forget to surround yourself with people that inspire you or support you because we all need each other. As the poet Rumi said – “Set your life on fire and seek those who fan your flames.”

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