We’re excited to announce our new VP of Lean Growth for Cincinnati, Fadia Perez Cruz! She comes to us with a knack for consumer empathy and 17 years of experience to back it up. She’s held leadership positions throughout her previous career at P&G in both consumer insights and brand management. Early in her career, Fadia’s contributions completely revamped the way R&D teams used human-centered insights to create substantially more exciting innovation. Her obsession for going beyond the insight and connecting learnings with business plans made her a critical contributor to Downy becoming the fastest growing brand at P&G. Just before coming to TGG, she assisted in launching VF Corporation’s innovation ecosystem, helping them to establish methods for research and commercialization, as well as cultural changes necessary to capitalize on white spaces.
In the short time she’s been with us already, she’s showcased tremendous hustle and a stellar growth mindset. Those two qualities are what we look for in team members, so we wanted to understand a bit more of how they came to be so prominent in her work ethic. Read her story on the two people and the experiences that have shaped her into the hustler she is today:
I recently read a book called “Talent is Overrated”. The title was intriguing to me and after I read the book, I totally got it. The book talks about the concept of “natural talent” being a myth. There are two key ingredients in every history of success (from Mozart, to Tiger Woods): One, hard work (or “hustle”, as we like to call it at TGG); the second one is to have someone that either teaches you or gives you the first opportunity you need to start a journey of success.
As I take this leap and start my role as VP, Lean Growth (Cincinnati), I am reminded of those who’ve given me opportunities for success. My role models are critical to shaping me into the person I am today: I would not be here without them, it’s as simple as that!
My mother is my first role model. She grew up very poor in Mexico, but against all odds, she hustled her way through working since she was 12 years old, and ended up being the first person in her family to finish college. When I was a little girl, my mom climbed the corporate ladder at the times when most women in Mexico did not work. I remember her taking me to the office over the weekends: she had to work and I “worked with her” (playing in someone else’s desk). I did not realized at that time that she had to work and the only way we could spend time together was bringing me to the office. Many times, she would not be home for dinner (she was a single mom, but we had my grandmother at home, watching after us). She made it to CFO of a large healthcare conglomerate and then decided to start her own business so she could spend more time with us, her two daughters. She then opened a textile factory, which was very successful because of her hustle, hard work, and passion. After some years of success, she went bankrupt and we lost everything. But with her courage and determination, she demonstrated one more time it was possible to recover from failure, going back to corporate life and ascending to the ranks again.
I learned from my mentors to be courageous and do the right thing (even if it was hard). One of my most difficult challenges was the move to Panama as an expat with P&G, newly promoted to Associate Director. My team was disjointed, demotivated, and everyone felt undervalued. I knew it would not be easy to transform the culture of the team, but we hustled together, casting a vision for who we wanted to be. After 3 years, we were recognized as the best performing insights team not only in Latin America, but around the world! I give my mother a lot of the credit for showing me how to connect and motivate people. She was always the one organizing family events or cheering up her team when things started to go downhill. A combination of my cultural background and all the wonderful leaders around me helped me discover my biggest passion: develop, grow and support people to be what they want to be!
I also had another important role model who trusted me when I was a young manager at P&G. He moved from India to the USA and through hard work and dedication, became an Associate Director at P&G. He was super smart, demanding, but caring at the same time. He was the best role model of a manager! I can recall a time when we were presenting the results of a very important research to top management at one of our top customers. I built 100 slide presentation and he told me: “we need to bring this down to 10 slides.” Needless to say, I spent a long night working on it! The next day, I had it ready for him–he traveled all the way from the USA to Mexico to present it. Then he told me, “You will come with me, and you will present it. I will be there to support you, but you can do it!” I was freaking out! How was I, a 24-year-old junior manager, to sit in front of Walmart VPs to share the work? I had so many doubts but he told me: “You got it, and if something does not go well, it is not the end of the world.” We moved forward (along with a group of anxious sales directors that were a bit uneasy about having me present), and he gave me so much confidence that I crushed it! Not only did the customer agree to our join business plan, but this sparked the beginning of me becoming a regular attendant to top customer calls, which accelerated my learning and career progression. This is just one example of the way he pushed me to excel, but he was like that all the time. There was nothing too important that I could not do. He pushed me when I needed it and stood behind my back when I failed, encouraging me to continue to hustle to achieve my goals.
I have learned from my mentors to work hard every day, to believe in people just the way they believed in me. I have failed many times, but from my mother I learned that failing is an opportunity to grow, to re-evaluate options and to develop more compassion and understanding for others. From my long term mentor at P&G, I learned that the best and fastest way to learn was to take risks and jump into new experiences. I joined TGG because it’s a place where I feel I have permission to learn, to teach, to hustle and celebrate wins, and most importantly, to be part of the great legacy that the team has already created!