Last week, while running a sales training course for Coke, I interviewed Maria Sarah Pedrosa-Albert, known as Tata, the Home Market Associate Director of Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines. Since corporate sales is a male-dominated profession especially at management positions, I was anxious to ask Tata about her experiences given her very successful career.

Did you always see yourself in Corporate Sales? Has it been difficult for you to be in a male-dominated industry?

Recalling my days pondering in the Ateneo College Quadrangle in the early 1990s, drinking a Coke out of an 8-oz glass bottle, NO, I did not envision a corporate life for myself. I thought that I would be traveling the world with my cameraman as I covered news in the front lines. And when I settled down, I thought I would be able to hold an anchor job explaining the latest trends on Wall Street. But as fate would have it, I was offered a job in my Junior Year by Unilever. It was then that I was introduced into the art and the science of salesmanship.
I moved from Unilever to the Mommy-friendly environment in Johnson & Johnson. It was so Mommy-friendly that I had two more kids while I was there. Each morning, I’d kiss my kiddos goodbye, drive to work listening to the AM radio for the latest blind item that I could tell my Store Managers later in the day, take my coffee and read the business page on the newspaper to have common chit-chat when I meet up with the Mega-retailer owners, submit the previous day’s sales reports and take a peek at my territory’s P&L, then make it to my customer’s office by 9am. Meticulously, I would plan out my daily visits to my selling areas for the day and make it home to my family before needing my headlights on. Homework, projects, parent-teacher meetings could then be done.

Increasing responsibilities and growing opportunities led me to a many of other gems of experience. Leading a pioneering group in a new multi-national dietetics company (DUMEX), professionalizing a local, traditional company with a leading market share while working with unionized sales and merchandising teams (JS Unitrade), then catapulting a full service marketing and logistics team for a Gillette to the P&G business unit (IDS Marketing).

And now it all comes full-circle in Coca-Cola. I have been fortunate, privileged, more than that, blessed, to be witness to the transformation of many sales systems in the companies that I worked with; to be part of the old and the new, to be seen from threat to support, to be both change agent and change leader.

What advice would you give to other female professionals to get ahead?

One of the strongest business values that women in sales embody is Entrepreneurship. When one is part of an organization with over 20,000 employees, with Expats, scores of offices, and being associated to the best brand in the world, one could very easily seem lost and "blend with the furniture." There have been many articles and books written about the values and the spirit of Entrepreneurship, but they all seem to agree on at least 4 core behaviors of great entrepreneurs:

Integrity- is doing the right thing, even though nobody is watching. How wise is that? If we owned the companies we corporate slaves work with, would we hesitate coming working on weekends? Would we add a non-existent tip in our expense report?
Service above self - an act giving assistance or advantage to another. There is something to be said about the love we have for our work that orients us towards doing more than what is expected. It breeds loyalty without a direct need for compensation.
Tenacity - Something needs to be said about the kind of passion that business owners have towards their work. Often they treat their businesses like mothers care for their own children, with a fierce loyalty, with a resolute vision. And often, entrepreneurs have an uncanny persistence.

Discipline - It is the single-mindedness of doing our daily tasks, monotonous or not, in order to achieve a goal.Many great organizations, large or small, have achieved outstanding results not because they're the brightest, the most innovative, or even the cheapest. Greatness is a purposive, pain-staking process. Tough love has a space in the corporate setting.
It is having these 4 core behaviors, which can arguably be seen as gender-neutral, that I’ve seen lady colleagues thrive in Sales. Entrepreneurship comes naturally. And to thrive in the industry with these behaviors means to be true to being the most natural instinct of all: being a budget-wise shopper and seller.



Learn live from Emilio Macasaet III in the 8th 7 Building Blocks of a Winning Sales Team on April 7-8, 2015 and5th Advance Trade Marketing on May 12-13, 2015. To know more about the programs, call 584-5858/412-0034, text (+63) 918-81-168-88or email us at info@mansmith.net