After 20 years of working in commercial roles, and primarily serving local and international B2B markets in the industrial sector, I took on the challenge of a lifetime at Grupo El Comercio: leading a complex business transformation process to completely reshape the company.
Working in the graphics industry, I had seen and experienced first-hand the threat and disruption caused by the rapid rise in digitisation. With large printing facilities serving regional markets, we had to quickly find, assess, and enter new markets with high growth potential. Eventually, we decided to fully enter the packaging industry – and that’s where my story really begins.
As this challenge emerged in early 2018, I had just completed my Oxford Executive Diploma in Financial Strategy at Saïd Business School; a journey I had taken during 2017 which was definitely one of the best experiences that I have ever had. Coming from South America and having previously pursued my MBA in the UK, I really valued the quality and diversity offered by an international programme at a top British institution. The University of Oxford and Saïd Business School was nothing short of impressive, from the faculty I had the privilege to meet and learn from, to the programme content, the rich heritage and tradition evident at every turn, to my classmates and friends with whom I shared so much. All of this enriched my experience on both a professional and personal level.
Practically speaking, the programme enabled me to significantly enhance my professional toolkit and confidently face the challenge ahead. In my role as Commercial Director, I had to put into practice all the advanced strategic and financial knowledge that I had learnt on the diploma programme. I had to create a strategic plan to effectively scale a single business division into four new ones to support our entrance into the packaging industry. I also needed to design a commercial strategy to ensure that we accelerated our growth and met our ambitious plans.
In hindsight, realising the first growth phase seemed relatively simple, as we focused on inorganic growth through a successful merger with another company in the same commercial parent group as ours. However, the second and most intense phase involved creating whole new business units from scratch, not only embedding them in a rapidly changing organisation and external market but also crafting the right strategy to ensure exponential growth. If we failed to land it correctly, we risked damaging our company culture and our internal ecosystem in the process.
To avoid the risks of failure, I once again turned to my learnings from the Diploma in Financial Strategy. By applying all the financial concepts and strategic frameworks that I learnt through the programme, I was able to thoroughly assess our business plans and work out a way to connect all our divisions together that would maximise value. Equipped with my refreshed analytical approach, I was able to effectively analyse the project valuation, understand the value map and assess how to maintain the strong pace of growth whilst managing liquidity. Thanks to the insights and experiences that I had gained on the programme, I was able to extend the scope of my role beyond commercial strategy and better lead my team to achieve our goals.
Fast forward three years later and the company was hardly recognisable. We had completely changed its profile and launched a renewed business portfolio. The new business lines that represented 20% of our overall revenue in 2018, now accounted for 68% in 2021 and were on a steady growth trajectory.
In 2020, the pandemic severely increased the decline of our classic printing business, but we were prepared - the company had already transformed and was successfully competing in the packaging industry. Our transformation project was a success and had undoubtedly secured the company’s future.
I feel thankful to have had the pleasure and privilege to work with my team to steer our business through this journey. They all showed unwavering professionalism and commitment, consistently going the extra mile to ensure the success of the project. Thanks to them and the Diploma in Financial Strategy, we literally shaped our own future.