Posted By: Ramiro Cabral, executive vice president, Elanco International
Growing up on a farm in South America I saw my father, a veterinarian, and my grandfather a farmer – raise and nurture countless animals. I knew that would be my path – a career passed down by the hands of generations before me. But I also knew that my path would lead away the farm and the Argentinian town I called home.
When I began my first job with Elanco in America, I mistakenly tried to “smooth out” my accent, my fiery presentation style, and tuck my differences away in the pocket of my suitcoats. I wanted to blend in. To mirror those around me.
That’s when my mentor, an American executive, pulled me aside and said that I needed to use my differences as fuel to my presentations and interactions. That the energy put towards conforming is borrowed from the pool of energy and passion you have for your work. He told me that my culture is a part of my experience, and my experience was valuable. On the flipside, he coached me on how to communicate more effectively with executives regardless of the culture…”Brevity, Clarity, Impact”…combining both pieces of advice pushed me to try new ways, ask for feedback, and be myself while still seeking to learn and improve.
He was right. I could be more effective if I combined Board and Roots. That was a pivotal moment for me.
This illustrates something that companies often get wrong: It is not enough to hire diverse talent. You must create an environment where that talent can thrive, where their ideas and experiences aren’t just heard, but applied and celebrated. Elanco was that environment for me, where I did not have to compromise my culture and heritage to succeed. Today, when mentoring young professionals, I give them the same advice that my mentor gave me a few decades ago: Be authentically you. Seek engagement, not comfort, in all interactions. That is where you make a difference.