If you could choose the adjective that prevails in your personality it would be risky: “Since I was little, they told me at home that I can do anything and I believed it. I come from a family of strong-willed Colombian women, and I am one of them”
Catalina Irurita believed that she could do everything, and the best thing is that she has shown it. Being very young, she can proudly enumerate many rungs on her professional ladder: “I do what a fun saying that Mexicans use frequently says, I let myself go down a slide like a chubby girl”, she says, laughing.
Her favorite word is “yes” because she feels that when she says it, the paths open. She speaks with the warmth of women born in the capital of salsa, Cali, in Colombia, and complements her comments with an open and frank laugh that makes whoever holds a conversation with her feel close to her, always known, as a friend.
She studied social communication and advertising and marketing at the Javeriana University in Bogotá and once she finished her studies, she and the business world said “yes” that would last for many years.
Growing by giant steps
Given her phobia of mathematics, the last sector Catalina Irurita thought of working in would be financed, but since life has so many paradoxes, her first executive position would be at Banco Santander!
She found herself in a world dominated by men that she would not leave for long in both finance and technology. She leaped the stock market as a commission agent and later stood out in the Centralized Securities Depository: “From there I went to Banco de la República, an institution where I learned a lot directing the public relations and marketing area. I met characters who opened windows to the world for me, like the great woman that Christine Lagarde is, today President of the European Central Bank”.
The next great professional challenge for Irurita occurred when the companies from the public and private sectors, Une and Tigo in Colombia, merged. At that great wedding that took place in Medellín, she was invited to take the helm of public relations and communications. Five years of work left her with deep satisfaction, but her job destination would be the next stop in Mexico City as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Ericsson Latin America: “The universe was opening the way for me to a country where I always wanted to live and, in addition, At that time I was going through a difficult personal moment, the separation from my partner, my daughter’s father”.
Mexican culture is wonderful but we cannot doubt that it suffers from problems of machismo and violence against women. “This is not just a matter of the home but of a company where frequent micro-aggressions against women are experienced.
Incredibly I have seen macho manifestations that come from the same women against those of their gender”.
Given her experiences in technological scenarios, Catalina Irurita is a reference in issues of female empowerment and has been invited to talks and interviews where she brings up three terms: “The glass ceiling, the cement ceiling, and the impostor syndrome, which I have understood that they are not so familiar to women. I explain them to them and I apply a maxim in my work because I only hire women in management positions”.
In 2022 she was named one of the 100 most powerful women in business in Mexico, and it was a definitive year for the decisions she would have to make: “I realized that in each position I held I had been creating my brand in technological scenarios. I decided to undertake it when being in the pandemic, my 6-year-old daughter, Mía, stopped having the mother who only paid the bills and is now at home. Before she traveled permanently, attended meetings and companies demanded practically all my time”.
Own business and own life
Today he advices large companies such as Urban Air Mobility, a business oriented towards the use of drones on three fronts, for shows, package delivery and passenger transport (in the approval process): “This venture is one year old, and it has been that great experience that I assumed with fear but with conviction”.
At the same time, Irurita gives talks in Latin countries, and takes a Cesa course on the leadership of women on boards of directors: “I want to impact Mexico by helping companies in terms of female inclusion in management positions”.
She also dedicates time to herself: “I enjoy my daughter, I love discovering new restaurants and diving. I love the magical realism of Mexico, I work to strengthen my intuition and my energy because what you believe, you believe. In Mexico, I learned to make paella and I love inviting people to my house to taste it!”.