Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Maria Isabel Ventura

April 19, 2022
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Maria Isabel Ventura

What better way to celebrate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion than by showcasing AltoPartners’ women in leadership? We asked María Isabel Ventura a partner at Executive Connection S.A.S in Colombia to share her story of how she rose to the top of her game.

How did you get into this business: by accident or design?

“Accident! When I graduated from college in Boca Raton, Florida, my father had me meet the executive recruitment firm that provided services for his company at the time, just so they could guide me through my career plans and expectations. I had never even heard of a headhunter much less knew what they did. They ended up offering me a job and I fell in love with the industry right away.

And then you took a detour into the corporate world?

I was midway through a great career with L’Oréal in their HR department, when I was invited to come back to the world of executive search. This was in 2010, and I joined Heidrick & Struggles in a more senior position. It was a leap of faith, since I was also happy working in HR in a company where talent plans matter, and people development is taken seriously. However, my career path wasn’t clear enough since the position that I aspired to was occupied by an international executive (an expatriate - that was the norm for many years). I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out had I not accepted Heidrick’s offer :)

Were you lucky enough to have a mentor?

My first boss – a partner at Spencer Stuart – and my main inspiration to date, taught me the basics and her passion for the industry was contagious. She made a big impression on me and gave me many nuggets of advice that I still practise.

They include:

  • If you have nothing smart to say, stay quiet.
  • Always treat candidates as potential clients, life goes around.
  • Content is important, but so is the way you present it.
  • High quality, international standards, hard work, conscious interviewing.

Our job is very serious, you can have a profound impact on someone’s life and family – make sure your assessment of the candidate and the position is correct.

Advice for your younger self?

Be brave! Do not think that because you are younger than the rest of your peers, you cannot influence others.

María Isabel holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and a postgraduate course in Marketing from Universidad EAFIT in Colombia. She has extensive knowledge of the business and executive landscape in the Andean region, and although she has recruited leaders across a broad range of industries, she has a special interest in talent spotting for Consumer, Retail, Services; Digital, Media, Entertainment; Leadership Consulting; and Life Sciences, Healthcare & Biotech sectors. You can contact her here