Features

Mariel Picado – FIFCO

Applying creativity to a crisis

As a lawyer, Mariel Picado is accustomed to being a stickler about rules, but as an artist, she loves to break them. Both approaches are necessary to conduct business in a world economy turned upside down by a pandemic.

Mariel Picado – FIFCO

Mariel Picado | Chief Legal Officer | FIFCO

Working as the chief legal counsel for Florida Ice and Farm Company, a publicly traded food and beverage company in Costa Rica, a challenge emerged during the pandemic: to keep the business operating while pursuing domestic growth, international expansion and sustainability initiatives.

While the company’s immediate concern was the health and safety of its employees, she notes, FIFCO was looking to find new ways of serving its clients. It sought to expand its business by creating new partnerships in Mexico.

“We’re all in this together, going through a storm,” Picado says. “It is important to keep our team focused to adapt to new challenges.”

Adapting on the fly

FIFCO, based in Heredia, has weathered its fair share of storms, figuratively speaking, since 1908. The early ice retailer that got its start servicing trade ships on the Caribbean coasts has evolved into a multinational conglomerate, developing in U.S., Mexican and Central American markets.

Mariel Picado – FIFCO

Its three primary business units are focused on food and beverage, capital investments, and real estate investment and hospitality. Over time the company has been willing to transform its business model by embracing new opportunities to diversify.

“We’ve had to adapt quickly to develop simple solutions, yet keep calm and get operations back to the center,” Picado explains. “It’s our key to surviving this crisis.”

If FIFCO was accustomed to a set of rules under normal circumstances, everything has changed during COVID-19. One of Picado’s challenges—especially dealing with multiple jurisdictions—was rapid-fire regulatory changes.

“We had to understand, embrace and adapt quickly to new regulations weekly,” she says.

Together with a team of attorneys in Costa Rica and the U.S., Picado helped to find creative legal solutions to flexible working schemes for FIFCO employees and extend work-from-home policies. In addition, she sought to implement safe practices for employees, contractors and customers, and renegotiate supply chain obligations to address fluctuating volumes and disrupted timelines.

Mariel Picado – FIFCO

“It was important to communicate with everyone to help them all understand the broader agenda,” Picado says. “We all had to give a little bit to make it work.”

Creative mindset

She says communication, empathy, pursuing the family tradition of law, and the art of negotiation were instilled in her DNA from her earliest years growing up in San Jose.

The oldest of three children, Picado says her parents had a knack for celebrating every early milestone in her development, giving her confidence throughout her life. Her foundation, she says, was learning to understand the needs of others.

Mariel Picado – FIFCO

Her life would ultimately be driven by two primary interests: law and art, which would take her around the world.

Equipped with a JD from the University of Costa Rica in 1997, she taught there for a year in 1998 and then served as a negotiator for Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Trade for several years before heading to Georgetown University. There, she earned a Master of Laws in 2001 and was granted a Fulbright Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. government.

Degree in hand, she became a minister counsellor of Costa Rica to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, for a year before returning to government work in Costa Rica until 2005. Along the way, Picado became an internationally respected acrylic painter with exhibits at the United Nations, in the U.K. and in Washington, D.C.

Seeing a chance to transition to an in-house role, she joined FIFCO in 2005, just in time for a hectic M&A period between 2006 and 2012 that saw the company strike deals with Marriott, PepsiCo and Diageo; acquire packaging businesses in Guatemala; establish retail operations in Costa Rica; and acquire a brewery in the U.S.

Mariel Picado – FIFCO

“We broadened our reach as a company and solidified our role as distributors,” she says.

Through the company’s trajectory and challenges, Picado draws from her artistic background, encouraging her team to creatively problem-solve and treat each issue like a blank canvas.

“We must look at problems from a variety of angles, like an artist,” she says. “Through that process we can create something beautiful that offers hope in a time of worry.”

Published on: December 14, 2020

regions:

categories: ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.

Testimonials

The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.

LATEST EDITION

Fall III 2021

READ NOW

GET VANGUARD IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.