Norma Cerros is a lawyer who specializes in economic competence. She has built her career through hard work, discipline, and consistency. Her experience abroad has given her countless good things, one of the most important being the chance to be in a position from which she can make big changes to help others, especially women moving up, women who are committed to reaching the peak of their careers but who also desire to have a family and be just as successful at it.
She was born in Monclova, Coahuila, and studied Law at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Monterrey campus, where she graduated with high honors. An EXATEC MDI, 2007, she also got a master in Law, with a specialty in economic competence, at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She is currently the director at Womerang.
Where did you get the idea for Womerang?
Both my partner Perla and I had very pleasant experiences when we left the country. We met up with people who helped us with our careers through mentoring. After working for 9 years in the firm and the company, I did my master at Berkeley because I wanted to specialize in economic competence. During that time, my son was born, and I hadn’t really planned to have him there, because I had been admitted to the master with a very exclusive internship at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Two weeks after my son was born, we moved there and I continued with my career. I started to apply and do interviews, but I had never thought that by having a baby, my career was going to change. So, I thought, I’ll keep working, I’ll keep moving up in my career. That’s something I’ve always had and that stands out about me, that idea of exceeding my own expectations and those of others. It was very sad, very frustrating and very painful that they want you to work very long hours, which was no longer an option for me. Besides that, I had worked at the Federal Trade Commission with very progressive women from first-world countries, where the topic is much-more advanced. Flexible hours are no longer so stigmatized. I never got a call from the jobs where I had applied, so I started to study more, to read more, and I started to create a work environment. And little by little the idea came about. But I can tell you, it came out of the huge frustration I felt when I thought my career was over because there was no way to combine the two things with the available options. I worked for a long time, but in the end, I thought, why don’t we do something to help women, something real? And that was how I came up with the mentoring idea. I believe firmly in that set up, because it is not just sharing experiences and knowledge but also opening yourself to social-capital networks. When I was in the United States, they sent me with very top-level people in the government. I said, wow, this person knows me, I write her an email, I tell her what I want to do and she is willing to help me, so I thought, we should replicate this in our country. When you share in mentoring you don’t lose, you add to; if I share my knowledge and experience with you, it doesn’t mean I’ll have less. But we also know that mentoring can take you to a certain point, and it is at that moment when other tools come into play that we’re developing: sponsoring programs, boot camp programs for executives and for advisors.
How is Womerang financed?
Well, that’s an excellent question. I said, I want to do this, but I don’t want to wait until I have everything structured and we can do it. So, we decided to launch, putting ourselves in God’s hands. Like I heard once in the United States, Silicon-Valley style: do it, prove real results, and then you can turn around and ask yourself how to do it. That’s how we did it. I started with my own resources, and then I invited Perla and she said, “Ok, fine, let’s share this.” And now we’re working on it. We’ve been set up as a civil association for a year, and we’re in the process of getting authorization to receive donations.
How can you guarantee sustainability, or how can you guarantee that this mentoring service really will meet the goal of empowering women?
Well, it’s difficult. It’s a subjective matter and it depends on each case, but to measure the program, what we have based it on is the objective set by each one at the beginning of the mentoring. The idea is to plant the seed so that eventually they can have the tools that will allow them to reach decision-making positions where they can permeate the structure and make it more ad hoc, more flexible. It’s not just for women but for men, too.