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Cristina Marcen


EPIC Awards 2022 Finalist

"SUMA to build commitment. SUMA to advance. SUMA to win."

Founder and Director, Programa SUMA Talento. EMBA 2017

I was born in Zaragoza, I grew up in Madrid, I live in Santander, and I love the light of Cadiz. I have always liked being of service to people, helping them achieve the goals they have set for themselves. My greatest satisfaction is feeling I’m part of that journey. The desire to build projects from multiple perspectives, achieving national or even international impact, led me to work in the Public Administration, private companies, and third-sector organizations. A key point in my career was when I decided doing the Executive MBA, combining it with a very important personal moment: motherhood. My concern with placing a value on the skills that women develop when they perform caregiving tasks, and how these skills could contribute to their professional career (adaptation to change, resilience, time management), led me to create my own project, SUMA Talento.

How did IE helped you to get where you are today?

IE has helped me building a solid knowledge base, giving me an extensive vision of organizations, and helping me identify the trends and challenges we were about to face. Taking the Executive MBA gave me the skills to align the learnings with my interests, and thus create my social impact project. The IE methodology tackles teamwork, which is where you learn how diversity can contribute with being more productive and competitive, and with growth. But it’s not only the methodology, the IE family has also been present during the birth and evolution of the SUMA program. I have had the great support of my EMBA colleagues, who have always celebrated and shared our progress. I have also been supported by my professors, as is the case of professor Felipe Quintana, to whom I am very grateful because he delivers a free training workshop that is highly valued by SUMA women.

How are you impacting the lives of women?

Data shows that caregiving, children, and family, are factors that have a major impact on the personal and professional lives of women. This professional break, sometimes chosen, sometimes forced, becomes a barrier them when they want to resume their careers. In addition, society sometimes forgets the important social work that they have carried out by penalizing these breaks. SUMA is a program aimed at women who have paused their professional careers due to maternity, illness or caring for a relative, and want to resume them. We have developed a training program with the purpose of giving them the necessary skills to ease the job search process, as well as getting to know how to manage this time of transition through emotional intelligence sessions. At the same time, we do intensive work to provide organizations with talent that is sometimes not visible to them. We look for real employment opportunities that allow these women to continue their careers, showing how the skills they acquire during that time (adaptation to change, resilience, time management) complement their professional skills.

In your opinion, what institutional or societal changes need to be made to keep women at the forefront of business and society?

Gender equality makes an important contribution towards boosting economies and sustainable development. It is important that we know how to channel all the talent and how to place it in leadership and management roles of organizations. As a society, we must act where there are barriers and limitations for talent development, and we know that motherhood for women can be one of these barriers. We must eliminate certain stereotypes and prejudices in order to advance in real equal opportunities. I believe that the greatest change will come when organizations (and society at large) see these breaks—or life stages—as something natural, something that work towards people development, and adds value and diversity to teams. Organizations must escort their collaborators and act as facilitator of their professional well-being, without forgetting the personal one. Companies should have more fluid internal communication channels and collaborative environments where there is greater flexibility to find a real balance. In short, change the culture to build commitment to society.


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