Meet Lyssette Bravo, Director of External Communication and Public Affairs, Mexico, and Latin America in HSBC, she is part of the Executive Committees of HSBC Mexico and HSBC Latin America. She has been awarded as one of the Leading Executives by the Executive Woman magazine, the Victorias de México (Kellog's Company) Women in Leadership by the Global Diversity Council and in the list of the 100 More Powerful Women by Expansión Magazine.
Who is Lyssette Bravo? Define yourself
I am passionate about life. I live both, personal and professional life with intensity. Choosing Communications has been the best career option I could make. I am so intense that I like boxing very much, a highly challenging sport, similar to my professional career, which demands having good memory, strategy, coordination and to hit the target (either with the fist or when managing communications in a crisis situation). I like to travel, reading, get tanned and enjoy every moment of peace.
How were you as a kid?
A very shy girl full of dreams. Very happy, with the love of my parents, who have always encouraged me every step of my personal and professional life. Being shy took me to find great moments in books; I was always studying, exploring, making questions. Colegio Oxford was a very strict one, which helped me in being disciplined in all aspects of my life. I also devoted much of my time swimming.
“I like boxing very much, a highly challenging sport, similar to my professional career, which demands having good memory, strategy, coordination and to hit the target”
You hold a Bachelors’ in Communications by Universidad Intercontinental and post graduate studies in Economics and Financial Journalism at ITAM. Why did you choose those courses of study?
I always wanted to study Medicine, until I came to know of journalism through a neighbour, who was then one of the most well-known journalists in Mexico. He knew of my taste for reading and took me to a wonderful world and books which left an impression in me, but also I truly admired what he did that I used to read all his investigative reporting and articles. I began to get acquainted with a profession that took me back to my childhood, studies which allowed me making questions; and by the time I finished my bachelor studies he invited me to work at El Financiero financial newspaper, where I questioned everything and sat at a computer. My hands and the information made a wonderful synergy and I learned to love journalism.
While at El Financiero, the ITAM Institute launched the first economy and financial journalism certificate course in Mexico and I was chosen to participate. I also met wonderful people there, who are still great friends.
From journalism I went to Corporate Communications and it’s something that has kept me close to the profession that drove me, that I have always loved, and where I have made and keep great friends.
You started your career as a business reporter at the newspaper El Financiero and later specialized in external and internal communication at the leading Public Relations agency, Burson-Marsteller. You have worked in transnational companies such as Unilever, Telefónica, and Televisa. What are the biggest lessons you have learned over the years, working in such important companies?
First, I must say that I’ve been very lucky. My life has given me everything I dreamed of. I have worked in companies I once dreamed working for, and each of them allowed by to specialise and given me personal and professional lessons.
By working in Corporate Communications, you undoubtedly keep daily contact with the media. The communications agency thought me the strategy for both customers and stakeholders, since although you now work for the company, you are always the communication advisor of all the company, starting with the CEO.
Massive consumption companies teach you how delicate selling any product can be, and you should be prepared for the constant handling of crisis communication. After that, I worked for a long period in the telecommunications world, when the mobile evolution took place in Mexico. It was an honour having been part of that story.
And I have worked for HSBC for 10 years the world’s most international bank. I started my career in the bank as head of External Communications for Mexico. In 2011 I was appointed as head for LATIN AMERICA In 2017 I became the sponsor of ERG Balance (an affinity group that aims at gender equality) for Mexico, and where we began with 170 affiliates, and in 2020 we are now over one thousand. Another reason to be proud is that starting this very year, I also lead the Public Affairs Office, besides taking on the sponsorship of the ERG Balance for LATIN AMERICA.
“There are dreams and goals, and the only way to achieve them is through hard work, with passion, making plans and networking”
In July 2010 you joined HSBC México as Director of External Communication, and since October 2011 you were appointed Director of External Affairs for Mexico and Latin America. You are currently part of the Executive Committees of HSBC Mexico and HSBC Latin America. You have been awarded as one of the Leading Executives by the Executive Woman magazine, the Victorias de México (Kellog's Company) Women in Leadership by the Global Diversity Council and in the list of the 100 More Powerful Women by Expansión Magazine. What´s the recipe for your success?
Thank you. I believe there is no magic formula. There are dreams and goals, and the only way to achieve them is through hard work, with passion, making plans and networking. There is no such thing as luck by itself, you must work for it with passion.
What are the things that make you most proud of working at the bank and why?
Absolutely everything. I work at one of the most human organisations I’ve met. There is a lot of openness to opinions, ideas and to make your people develop. The daily job is thrilling.
You are in charge of the Women's Leadership and Empowerment program within HSBC and you mentioned in another interview that your biggest challenge today is to achieve gender equality, but without falling into feminism, how are you doing it?
It has been a wonderful journey. We started with little knowledge of how to understand the gender equity without reaching a misunderstood feminism. But gender equality started stronger back in the 60s, when feminists were looking for the same opportunities in different areas such as jobs, socially, etc.
We started this program supported by HSBC’s senior management worldwide. They inspire us in going forward with this project; then we have focused on inviting inspiring women, such as Irene Espinosa Cantellano, under Governor of the Central Bank of Mexico; Mayra González, former Nissan Mexico CEO; Margarita Luna Ramos, a Minister of Justice now retired; and recently Laura Rojas, former chair of the Mexican Lower Chamber of Representatives. Besides, we have the support of all the executive body of the bank.
But this is not a personal achievement but of the Balance Mexico team, comprised by 8 teams, with over 20 persons, who perform an excellent job.
“The only goal you must seek is to be happy, and never chase social standards, since they are chains that can stop you in many ways in your life”
You have extensive experience as a volunteer mentor inside of HSBC, as well as with the American Chamber of Commerce, what does it drive you?
Ten years ago, I was working in my first mentoring program, as an HSBC mentee. All what my mentor supported and guide my back then encouraged me in being part of this program, but now as a mentor. The very first year in which I took part as a mentor was a real learning challenge, and part of it was the rapport with the mentee.
I have been a mentor for nine years now, and it’s been one of the most satisfying experiences. When you work with your mentee, his/her professional career and you design his/her strategies in order to achieve their dreams; the most satisfying is when you see that they actually reach their goals. It is an emotion of pride.
What does a normal workday look like for you?
I wake up at 4:45 am to take a nice cup of coffee and to be fully awaken. At 5:15 am I do box although I have had to do it home due to the pandemics. From 6:30 to 7:30 am I go through all the information in the media that could be of some impact. Also, since ours is a global bank, sometimes I need to make calls or Zoom meetings at 5:00 am. They are intense days, but I’m always thankful for working here.
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
I like everything. I believe that choosing this profession has been the right thing; I have never had regrets. I like to interact with my colleagues and the external audience; I’m passionate about communications in every sense, and what challenges me the most is the communications in crisis situations. I think the most difficult case has been this quarantine. I love been physically close to people, so it has taken a great deal adjusting to do home office, since my job is outwards.
What is one strategy that has helped you to grow in the professional ladder?
I believe we cannot talk of only one strategy, there are many because goals not always are long term. May times we have to set short- and medium-term goals and have a strategy to achieving them.
What are the do and don’ts in female leadership?
On the DO side is keep supporting each other within the sorority. Acting with strength in all circumstances and adversities. Under the DON´Ts is thinking that we are better than men, but equal in talent, each gender has its strengths and that is what we must learn and put together to become successful in a Company and in our personal life.
“Never stop setting up goals, both professionally and in their personal life. But also, do not let these goals become obsessions, since they hinder you from enjoying the present”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Exercising, lots of it to release all that is not good. Enjoy my spare time with family and friends, whether a meal or having dinner out, laughing with all my heart with them. Reading get to know new stories through books. And travelling, travel to know, clear your mind and nurturing from what the world must give.
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, a blossoming family life and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all, you are single without kids so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
The only goal you must seek is to be happy, and never chase social standards, since they are chains that can stop you in many ways in your life. You should be free, and if you have a couple, you should be free to choose your way with the support from that someone. We, the women are more dreamers than men, but one thing is the fantasy, and a different thing is reality. We should try to be happy based on our reality.
What are your plans for the future?
My personal and professional plans are to be happy. Being happy with whatever I have and always to give the best of me. You can make plans and dream, go after your plans and your dreams, but always trying to do well to the others.
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented with the glass ceiling? If yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
I disagree with this “glass ceiling”. If I believed in that, I would not be where I am. I believe that all human being has the strength to break any glass. If you were trapped in a glass room, you would do anything to get out of it. It’s a matter of surviving, all human being may break these subconscious prejudgments to escape from them.
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become a high position in the communications field like you?
First, they should be convinced of what they want in life; to look a mentoring program to help them design their professional career; to get into investigation if that is what they really want; if they wish to become TV journalists, go to a studio and see how they work; if you want to be in a newspaper editorial office, get ink stained. If you want corporate communications, ask to spend a week is said company and feel what the day to day is. We, women, have the known feeling that the moment we are at the right place, your own instinct will tell you “I belong here”.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are, and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Lyssette and what´s not?
I strongly believe I cannot stop what the people thinks about me. It matters to me that the people I work with takes me as a professional, and that we, together can work out any project, that I do teamwork in order to achieve our goals. Family wise and with my friends I like to be considered as a kind person.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
Women’s role models change through time. There are plenty of women in History, and it also depends on personal and professional situations. I admire women who boost others and help in going after their dreams, women like my mother.
Something else do you want to add or share with us?
Never stop setting up goals, both professionally and in their personal life. But also, do not let these goals become obsessions, since they hinder you from enjoying the present. You should take rests and enjoy everything life must give, because you fought for it. When you reach a certain goal, take a break, enjoy, get the pleasure of that moment; you will know when you are ready to plan your next objective.