Natalia García Quintero – Colgate-Palmolive, Mexico
The mass consumer industry always appealed to Natalia García Quintero. Thus, connecting with Colgate-Palmolive was natural and instantaneous. Since the first day, she shared its progressive business model and goal of a healthier future for all people, their pets and the planet.
Associate legal director of the company’s Mexican subsidiary since 2020, and a member of the legal department since 2016, the Colombian-born Natalia had grown up using its products. Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste, soap and cleaning solutions were mainstays in the family home.
Now, in her professional capacity, she makes the most of her opportunity to create that same connection between the company and consumers by ensuring the products are manufactured and commercialized within the legal and ethical framework.
“My experience working as a business legal partner with different areas such as sales, marketing, finance, operations among others, has definitely made me a strategic, well-rounded lawyer,” Natalia says to Vanguard in April from her Mexico City home where she’s been working remotely throughout COVID-19. “And this experience allows me to understand both the business and consumers’ needs to help.”
Being high-speed e-commerce, one of the new areas she oversees in her current position, she ensures that digital marketing meets all the legal requirements and personal data is safeguarded. Like many product manufacturers, Colgate-Palmolive has seen an uptick in online sales since last year, and she recognizes that’s likely to be the new normal for many consumers, even if the pandemic’s threat lessens.
It’s all part of the expanding responsibilities an in-house lawyer must be prepared to tackle, says Natalia, and at a young age she’s garnered much experience at doing just that.
Working as an in-house Counsel
She’s now in her third in-house role, having come to Colgate-Palmolive after nearly two years at PepsiCo in Mexico City and, before then, a six-month stint overseeing contracts and legal opinion management for the voluntary pension fund at Porvenir in Colombia.
Both those jobs gave credence to Natalia’s knack for adjusting to new circumstances. At Porvenir, she achieved product flexibility in a way that facilitated new affiliations for the client and the advisor. She constructed sales alternatives that were compatible with local rules and regulations.
Then came the PepsiCo role in 2014, with Natalia just having moved to Mexico with her husband. While circumstances forced her to put some plans on hold, she saw this movement to Mexico as a great opportunity to have international experience.
“When I came to Mexico, I wanted to do a master’s degree, but for me it was crucial to continue working,” she explains. “So, I decided to start my international experience by working in the contract area where I was able to go beyond just drafting contracts. By working in this area, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the company’s operations.”
Soon promoted to handling the legal marketing area, Natalia still found time to complete a master’s in business law at Universidad Panamericana. In 2016, Colgate-Palmolive recruited her to be legal counsel, and while it was hard to leave PepsiCo, she immediately connected with Colgate’s purpose, Natalia says.
“The lessons learned throughout my career and working closely with areas such as sales, marketing, finance, operations, human resources, among others, allow me to suggest effective legal solutions totally aligned with the business objective and ethical principles,” she says. “It also has allowed me to achieve significant challenges on a personal, professional and cultural level.”
Talking about cultural challenges, Natalia explains that she’s committed to empowering women to assume leadership roles, and she’s doing so with her own example.
Business- and legal-minded
She always did want to mix legal with business, but first Natalia had to hone her skills after graduating Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia in 2011 with degrees in law and political science. The prestigious Colombian firm of Brigard & Urrutia was the ideal training ground for over two years.
Her responsibilities included the implementation of a workshop that trained senior executives in labor law and social security, and she picked up other skills that would prove most valuable in future pursuits. While firm life was demanding, Natalia knew she wouldn’t be where she is without those years at Brigard & Urrutia.
“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to have worked in a firm,” she says. “This experience, by far, helped me build the necessary skills to provide legal services at a high level.”
It also taught her to appreciate outside counsel. Nowadays, Natalia works closely with the full-service Mexican firm Creel Garcia-Cuellar Aiza y Enriquez—a go-to for Latin America’s corporate sector—.
Family life will always come first, Natalia says, and this is clearly supported by Colgate. After being with this company for a year, Natalia gave birth to a boy in 2017 and a girl a couple of years later.
Motherhood has never been an obstacle to her growth. On the contrary, today her family represents an additional motivation to continue taking new challenges, and Colgate has been the first who has encouraged this, Natalia remarks.
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer III 2021 Edition here.
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