Features

Francisco Coronel – Cargill 

Ensuring the labor force is treated fair  

As a Venezuelan lawyer living in Brazil, Francisco Coronel starts his day a little differently than most.  

After waking up around 6 a.m., having breakfast and saying goodbye to his wife, Coronel heads to his office in São Paulo. When he arrives, he spends his first hour taking an online course in Portuguese, the native language in Brazil.  

Francisco Coronel | Latin America Employment & Labor Law Lead | Cargill 

Francisco Coronel | Latin America Employment & Labor Law Lead | Cargill

“Improving my skills in Portuguese has been crucial since we moved here in 2021,” Coronel tells Vanguard during an interview in March.  

On the day of the interview, Coronel’s calendar included six meetings—with that much time in his day already accounted for, he says it’s important to respond promptly to emails and Microsoft Teams messages to avoid unnecessary interruptions and maintain efficiency.  

Coronel is the lead layer for labor and employment in Latin America for Cargill, a global company providing food, ingredients, agricultural solutions and industrial products to nourish the world.  

Lunchtime allows Coronel to connect with colleagues, fostering a better understanding of their jobs and continuing to build relationships with the people he works with daily. After lunch, he has plenty to do to fill his time before leaving the office, going to the job and heading home to be with his family.  

“After work, I like to wind down and relax, watch a TV series or movie with my wife and family and get to bed at a decent hour,” Coronel says.  

Though Coronel had a relatively typical day when he spoke to Vanguard, the nature of his work and Cargill’s business means that no two days are ever the same.  

Diversity, equity and inclusion 

As a member of Cargill’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee in Latin America, Coronel is actively involved in several initiatives related to paternity leave, disability and accessibility expansion and mentorship.  

Francisco Coronel | Latin America Employment & Labor Law Lead | Cargill 

Coronel and his team supported the analysis of paternity leave terms in Latin America to advocate for extended leave, promoting shared responsibility in childcare. The efforts led to expanding paternity leave to 20 days for new fathers in Brazil.  

The needs of employees with disabilities have also been something Coronel and his team have explored and are working to identify. He says that improving the work environment and enabling individuals to reach their full potential is a goal.  

Additionally, Coronel mentored a Black Brazilian law student as part of the Cargill Global Scholars Program. He shared his insights on leadership, professional networking and having a growth mindset. 

“Mentoring is not about teaching people talents or skills but about helping people discover them for themselves. As a mentor, reflecting on your impact and the growth you facilitate in others is truly rewarding,” he says.  

Growing the business 

Cargill’s business strategy focuses on three pillars: growing with customers, strengthening the core and targeting new markets and acquisitions. Coronel’s team is crucial in supporting these objectives, particularly in providing legal support for various regional projects.  

Francisco Coronel | Latin America Employment & Labor Law Lead | Cargill 

When Cargill makes an acquisition, Coronel and his team are there from the beginning, assisting in due diligence and post-closing integration for deals in Brazil and joint ventures in Ecuador and Mexico.  

Coronel leads a team of nine, including lawyers and interns across Latin America. He emphasizes the importance of a robust hiring process and a close management style to retain talent. Regular meetings and personal coaching are key components of his approach to leadership. 

One of the hardest parts of Coronel’s job is managing complex projects that require influencing stakeholders across different departments and regions. However, his passion for law and people management keeps him motivated. Despite the challenges, he finds fulfillment in his work and is grateful for his diverse experiences over his 27-year tenure. 

 “Even though I have been with Cargill for 27 years, I have never felt that I have been doing the same thing for many years, but rather that I have had several different work experiences. I love what I do.” 

Una carrera en derecho 

Coronel’s career path is unique in large part because of the way education is handled in his native Venezuela. In his home country, students must choose their careers when they graduate high school. He chose law and immediately went to law school—where he stayed for five years.  

“It is very common for students to make a career choice without much of an idea of what that career really offers,” he explains. “That is why many students drop out of law school a few years in.” 

Coronel chose a career in law because he thought being a lawyer in Venezuela would be similar to the Hollywood lawyers he saw in movies about courtrooms, trials and attorneys. He says he could not have been more wrong.  

“Luckily, I discovered a passion for the craft despite it being very different from the idealized version of the profession I had in my head,” Coronel says. “But I loved it so much that after graduating law school, I earned two more degrees in tax law and labor law.” 

It was also in his native Venezuela that Coronel faced his most challenging professional and personal experiences, including defending his employer’s interests in the face of expropriations and numerous government inspections and leading the labor and employment workstream during the sale of what remained of Cargill’s operations in the country in 2021.  

It was heartbreaking for him to see Cargill leave his country after more than 35 years of operations, but he takes comfort in knowing that the business continued under new ownership and that former Cargill talent in Venezuela had the opportunity to continue working.   

When he’s not working on behalf of Cargill or learning more about the law, Coronel enjoys spending time with his wife of 27 years and his two sons. He loves to travel, exercise, and play video games—something he does on weekends when his wife goes to bed. He recently reached a significant milestone by completing Baldur’s Gate 3 after nearly 100 hours of gameplay, which he says is not easy with the amount of time I have to devote to this hobby. 

His passion, however, is his work, and he is proud to work for a company that does so much for its employees. 

“It’s reassuring to work for a company like Cargill that lives and breathes its core values of compliance, integrity, putting people first and treating them with dignity and respect,” Coronel says.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring II 2024 Edition here.

Published on: April 9, 2024

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