Maria P. Villablanca – An Inspiring Businesswoman Helping Supply Chain Leaders Cut Through The Hype And Noise Of Transformation

Successful women are clear about their goals. They believe they have a right to dream and achieve their goals. This also gives them the inner strength to go through hurdles with an open mind while seeking to learn and grow. A higher vision for life is the foundation for all this.

Maria P. Villablanca, Co-Founder & CEO of Future Insights Network Success is not to be determined simply by financial metrics. That is a very antiquated way of looking at things. “To me, success, whether personal or professional, is very much tied with the contribution you make to your employees, shareholders, customers, community, your family, and with expectations you set for yourself,” she says. She also states that her definition of success has evolved significantly with more experience.

Leading a company to success is not an easy task

Starting a business is hard work, requires a lot of determination and learning, and only pays off in the long term. At times, business owners and leaders find it harder to understand their own strengths than to understand their customers. Starting Future Insights Network with her business partner, Maria was quite driven by a desire to lead and not follow. They have their own ideas and dreams about this business and wanted to deliver on them for their audience. This industry, Supply Chain, is fascinating and full of potential. “Although I’ve worked in this sector for many years, I am always enthusiastic about the possibilities of working in this industry and the impact it can have on the wider world,” she states.

Great advantages are gained when we overcome challenges

Challenges are a part of everyday life. They make us stronger and without them, life becomes somewhat meaningless because we have nothing to compare the good times to. When facing challenges, we must remember that they’re opportunities that carry with them benefits as they call for our creativity, make you stronger, keep you humble, and amplify your achievements.

Maria says that she takes failure as her biggest teacher. She claims to be a firm believer in the idea that challenges have made her a better person, a better manager and a better leader. “It doesn’t feel nice to fail,” she exclaims. She has spent a lot of her time analyzing, feeling sorry for herself and digesting what has gone wrong. However, she states that once she gets through that part, the best successes she has had, have come because of failure. Failure and challenges teach you resilience, and agility while giving you the stamina to succeed.

Future Insights Network and its services

The Future Insights Network is a digital media platform for Supply Chain leaders. Their mission is to help executives navigate the complexity of managing transformation in a disruptive landscape. They do this through their actionable and thought-provoking content on Supply Chain TV, collaborative working events, their topical and exciting podcast, Transform Talks and their expert network of over 80,000 senior Supply Chain leaders.

The Supply Chain industry is complex and filled with hype and noise at the best of times. During times of disruption, this noise can lead to the inability to make progress. Their contribution is creating an environment of collaboration, knowledge and content to cut through this hype and noise. They work with senior leaders to help answer their burning questions with actionable insights directly from their peers. “Our content is created BY the industry FOR the industry,” states Maria. Her future plans for the business are to grow and scale to reach a much bigger audience and gain more reach. The next step is to be number 1 in their space.

 Leadership – the capacity to translate vision into reality

Maria strongly believes that leadership is very different from management. A true leader needs to get on the ground with employees and customers and not live in an ivory tower devising strategy all day. The leader must know the company and all its functions and processes inside out. Moreover, leadership is also about surrounding yourself with the absolute best people, who can bring skills to the table that the leader lacks. There is no point in creating mini replicas of a leader. You need a diverse and energetic team with multiple skills to take a business forward. “Influencing change in the next generation can be done by showing them that not only do you talk about diversity, equity, inclusion, and other purpose-driven mantras but that you live by them as well. It’s important that the next generation sees this,” she says.

The beginning of Maria’s career

The beginning of Maria’s career was marked by drastic change. She left university and immediately moved to Latin America, where she had never worked. She barely spoke Spanish very well, certainly not at a business or professional level. Being thrown into the “deep end” of a senior

management position in her earliest job was invaluable in teaching her how to survive almost anything. She highly recommends it. “The best recognition so far has come from my customers. It still makes me tremendously happy when something I do helps bring them value,” says Maria.

Before Future Insights Network, Maria’s professional life saw her working across multiple sectors, industries and geographies. She has had tremendous success and huge failure. She states that each of these taught her invaluable lessons that she tries to take with her in everything that she does. “I’m very fortunate to have managed thousands of people and to have made many mistakes because I am still learning every day,” she exclaims.

Responsibilities as the Co-Founder & CEO of Future Insights Network

Maria chooses to define herself as a person who is quite driven. “I am driven to succeed. I am driven to add value to my employees and customers and this industry,” she says.

Her responsibilities as Co-Founder and CEO are varied. She has a great relationship with her

business partner and they complement each other very well. He supports Maria in areas she doesn’t focus on and vice versa. Furthermore, her responsibilities centre around all things commercial, as well as being the voice and face of the business. Her goals are to grow and scale the business and deliver value.

A typical day for Maria includes her speaking with potential customers, and recording content with speakers, and podcast guests. She also spends time with the team ensuring they are creating robust processes in the business to help deliver value to their clients. My day usually starts at 6 am when she wakes up and begins to review emails and what her goals will be for the day. She then takes time for herself, reading the news and industry stories. Her meetings begin at around 9 am each day and she doesn’t stop until she takes a quick lunch break and then gets back for more meetings or recordings until around 6 pm. She then walks her dogs, which she states she absolutely loves to do because it gives her time outdoors to reflect and enjoy nature.

Maintaining a work-life balance

“Balance is something that has to be planned and worked on. You must make sure to make time for yourself or you will burn out,” says Maria. She tries to make a point to show her team that she does this and therefore, leads by example. “I actually build in time in my calendars (both personal and work) for “me” time. During this time I exercise, meditate, think, read, or simply chill out. It’s vital to survival,” she explains. Maria encourages her team to do the same.

Maria’s advice for aspiring businesswomen is – Just go for it. Don’t wait on the sidelines. If you have an idea then pursue it and see any failures or challenges as just a valuable learning experience.