To mark International Women’s Day on Friday (8) and National Careers Week, we’re sharing career stories and advice from women in various roles across Bupa. From IT to mental health to care services, read their career journey, who inspires them and what advice they would offer other women. Here, we speak to Yolanda Erburu, who is Corporate Affairs Director, Europe and Latin America, and Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Lead for the Bupa Group.
Can you tell us a little about your career journey?
I started my career as a journalist at a Spanish business magazine called Actualidad Económica – it is like The Economist in the UK. I went on to work for another publication in the same group and worked on various TV and written projects, mainly reporting on the telecommunications industry. Six years later, I wanted a change and went into the corporate communications industry. My first opportunity was at France Telecom, the incumbent French telecoms operator, which entered the Spanish market in 1998. I then moved from telecoms to healthcare, joining Sanitas in Spain, and have spent the rest of my career here. During my time with Sanitas – Bupa’s healthcare provider in Spain - I have worked on the development of Sanitas, including its expansion in Latin America, evolved our corporate responsibility and sustainability agenda, and worked on the launch and ongoing strategy of the Sanitas Foundation.
How have you balanced being a mother and your career?
My career journey at Sanitas has been broadly parallel to being a mother. I have two children, aged 15 and 13, and they were born coinciding with my early days with Sanitas.
I think there is a question around planning in terms of the time you devote to your family and your career. You often feel like you never devote enough energy to either because you are always short on time. But, I’ve always been focused on being the best I can be in both of those areas of my life. Balancing the lack of time, with passion and determination to do the best can be difficult at times, but it is so rewarding.
When I have mentoring conversations or general chats with colleagues at similar points in their career, I always point to the fact that women are most productive and most creative when balancing work with maternal responsibilities. We feel more powerful, more inspired. I think it provides women with an additional push to do great things – to expand their ambition. For me having children is positive, I now have additional and supplementary strength and power.
Why do you think it’s important to have diversity at all levels?
The more diverse an organisation is, the more apt it is to understand the demands and needs of its customers and society at large. The more diverse we are, the less biased we are. We can understand the context of situations better and as such, be more competitive.
As a leader, how do you advocate for women at Bupa?
I am always willing to provide flexibility, I prefer to lead on a results or project basis rather than the length of time spent at work. As long as the work gets done, and the results are good, I am happy for my teams to fit work around their family life.
I think flexibility works for both men and women with and without children. Everyone has personal and individual needs other than work. I believe in supporting everyone equally. Digital tools offer great opportunity and flexibility.
Promotions and career development is something I’m also very much in favour of. Training, learning and helping people to build their skills. Trying new things in new areas is key and I often stress this in my team, and the importance of balancing private and professional life.
What advice would you give other females aiming to progress into senior roles?
As women, we need to be bolder at expressing our ambitions. We need to be more vocal about what we want and what our aspirations are. We need to have a clear view of what we want our careers to look like and we need to continue this conversation with leaders. It’s important to be confident in sharing your views.
Believe in yourself and how valuable your contribution is.