Lucía Urban López, Vice Chairman of Cerealto Siro Foods and the Grupo Siro Foundation is articulate and appealing in person. When she talks, her conviction fascinates you. In fact, that is the only way – being convincing – that she has been able to head up (as a “satellite” she points out, recalling the merits of Juan Manuel González Serna) a major project such as that of Cerealto Siro Foods, a name that comes from the merger of Cerealto and Siro Group which took place in November. And this great strength, passionate and with very deeply rooted values, as suggested by the references to “heart”, is what distinguishes the woman who today will be presented with the Castile and Leon Emprende Award in Valladolid. But she is also natural: and it is with this natural manner that she explains that 45% of employees in her company are women, as are 50% of the management committee; and that among her 5,000 workers there are 600 with special capacities.
How did you receive the news of this award recognising your enterprise?
It’s a real surprise, because it’s the first time that I’ve been recognised as the driving force of the joint project that is the company that my husband Juan Manual González Serna and I founded 28 years ago.
In your career you have been notable not only for your entrepreneurship, but also for continuing to learn, to evolve and to expand your brand. Where do you consider lies the key to this growth?
In the heart. When you see that with the training you have available you have a company with 78 people for whom you are responsible, you have to be capable of digging deep into your heart and finding what you didn’t know you had. On the personal side it helped me realise that with all my training I was outside the scope of my responsibility. I needed to live up to it, not as a responsible executive, but to all the responsibility involved in having 5,000 people behind me. Beyond training, it is important to have clear and well-defined management and a good team, which my husband and I formed, above all. He is the driving force behind the project, of which I form part with conviction and enthusiasm. I never imagined a future such as this and being part of it as a satellite.
What would you say is the formula for successful entrepreneurship?
Three words: training, courage and work. Anyone who thinks that it is enough to take a model from a book to be an entrepreneur is making a big mistake. You have to have a dream, a vocation; and starting from there, you must move forward to be in charge of your life and of everything that you generate around you. That is the path.
Why is Cerealto Ciro Foods committed to the integration of people who are at risk of social exclusion?
We believed that we had a moral obligation to do something like that. Nearly 20 years ago the ONCE Foundation suggested that we could hire a person with special capacities and we put an ad in the local papers for a company in which we were going to hire 25 people. We received 1,200 applications from within a range of 40 kilometres. That goes to show how misinformed society with respect to the needs of a group of people who are capable of overcoming barriers to have a job of their own and develop as people. It is not something related to charity, but people’s personal development. It is a profitable and sustainable commitment over time to people with different capacities.
Your company has always set an example of women’s equality and integration in the working environment. Do you consider this to be rooted in the feminism that is so much in vogue now, or do you see it as something natural?
The concept of a woman as a senior manager in a company and that of a woman entrepreneur have changed in the last 30 years. Women now have access to education, they can reconcile their family life with work… It’s not necessary to believe that we are heroines; someone who has what it takes, has what it takes. We have to select employees for their talent and attitude; for their knowledge and approach to life. There’s room for all of us here. The glass ceiling depends on the courage you have and how you want to organise your life so that you are not left behind.
You are a model of female entrepreneurship in Castile and Leon. How would you urge someone who is unsure whether to become an entrepreneur, whether a man or a woman?
If you have a good project, the banks and institutions will support you. If you are a leader and founder of a business, you must be aware that you have to give your life to it, without being a fatalist. Because no one will take away this great responsibility that you are going to acquire. I would encourage everyone to do it if they have the skills to find support in people who can help them, who have a good idea and the common sense to set the goals which they want to reach.
Is there the talent and capacity needed for entrepreneurship in this region?
Of course. We always tend to think negatively, but if we had the statistics of the number of people who are entrepreneurs and are successful I’m sure that we would not see things so badly. The institutions must help and make it possible for people from the rural environment, who have the necessary heart and courage, to be able to access the market.
Source: El Norte de Castilla