Gender equity, productivity, and well-being: A conversation with Angela Hurtado, JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s managing director and senior country officer for Colombia
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)

Gender equity, productivity, and well-being: A conversation with Angela Hurtado, JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s managing director and senior country officer for Colombia

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Angela Hurtado discusses diversity, equity, and inclusion in Colombian businesses.
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In this next episode of The Heidrick & Struggles Leadership Podcast, Heidrick & Struggles’ Roberto Hall speaks to Angela Hurtado, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s managing director and senior country officer for Colombia and independent director at Bolsa de Valores de Colombia, the Colombian stock exchange. Hurtado, also the chairperson of Women in Connection, discusses the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Colombian businesses, the challenges and opportunities of managing both executive and non-executive roles at once, and how leaders can foster a culture of allyship and inclusion at their companies.


Below is a full transcript of the episode, which has been lightly edited for clarity. 


Welcome to The Heidrick & Struggles Leadership Podcast. Heidrick is the premier global provider of senior-level executive search and leadership consulting services. Diversity and inclusion, leading through tumultuous times, and building thriving teams and organizations are among the core issues we talk with leaders about every day, including in our podcasts. Thank you for joining the conversation. 

Roberto Hall: Welcome to the Heidrick leadership podcast series. My name is Roberto Hall. I'm the partner-in-charge of Heidrick & Struggles here in Colombia. I am here with the managing director and senior country officer for Colombia at JPMorgan, Angela Hurtado. 

Thank you very much for being here, Angela. 

Angela Hurtado: Roberto, thank you very much for the invitation. It's an honor to be here with you. 

Roberto Hall: Thank you very much. We try to do this with leaders around the world, and we are very proud to have you here. Angela Hurtado is the managing director and senior country officer for Columbia at JPMorgan. She's responsible for the firm's operation and client contacts in the country across its line businesses, and she has greatly contributed to the expansion of JPMorgan in Colombia and the Latin American region as well, dealing with both international clients and local clients. She also—and it's very important for this conversation—an independent director at Bolsa de Valores de Colombia, which is our stock market here in Colombia. And she's the chairperson of Women in Connection, a very interesting organization. 

So, thank you again, Angela. I have a couple of questions to start the conversation, if that's okay with you.

Angela Hurtado: That's perfect. 

Roberto Hall: What do you see as the benefits and the challenges, Angela, of having a non-executive directorship position and a current executive role at the same time? Since you are dealing with JPMorgan and at the same time you have two non-independent roles as board person, how does each role influence the other? 

Angela Hurtado: Yeah, that’s a very interesting question, Roberto. Probably it has been more organic than planned. I think that when you are in an executive role such as the one I have at JPMorgan, you realize that there are many ways you can make an impact. I think that the creation of Women in Connection, which is, as you mentioned, a nonprofit organization that works in female leadership roles. I will say that there are positive and challenging things that I can bring to the conversation. The positive thing that I can have in my mind is that, through the different roles, I can generate an extension of what I really believe. What does that mean? So I think that I have been very lucky to play the role that I have at JPMorgan. But, for me, going farther than the executive role and trying to impact the society through the organization of Women in Connection—for me, it's about being consistent. And I think that is something that I can leverage in terms of influence beyond the corporate world. I think that, particularly now, I feel that leaders need to become closer to the society, need to make sure that people understand the importance of corporate roles. And I think through the opportunity of non-executive roles, you are able to [build] those type of bridges.

At the same time, I think that when you are able to have the experience from the corporate world, you realize how important it is to try to bring some of that experience to the non-necessary executive roles. And I think that, for me, that has been a challenge because, first, you have to manage your time. Sometimes when you get involved in something that is passionate for you, it's important to keep the equilibrium and mind the time that you dedicate to each of the roles. 

But I also think that one of the other challenges is that you don't necessarily realize that, when you are not in the corporate world, execution is a privilege. What does that mean? It means that when you are in an organization that is not necessarily in the corporate world and you try to generate impact or generate results, you don't necessarily have the same toolkits that you have in the corporate world. You are building something completely new. So, I think that managing that type of frustration can help you to pursue what you are willing to get. That is, impact and results, but understanding that there are different ways to get results and it is not always the way you have learned in the corporate world. 

I think that another important point for me is around the role of the private sector. I think that we are a crucial actor. The change that we generate in many lives is so important. But we are not necessarily used to going deeper and show it to many of our stakeholders. So, I think that, at the same time, being able to participate in those non-executive roles help us to make clearer the power that we have as private actors in the society. So, I think that those are the type of interesting things that have happened to me in the experience of bringing Woman in Connection together with JPMorgan.

I will say that, in the case of my role as independent board member of the Bolsa de Valores of Colombia, I think that probably it's a little bit different because I already have a role in capital market construction. So, I think that there is more of a link to my executive role. It's more fluid. So I feel that it's a little bit more different than the role that I play at Women in Connection versus my executive role.

Roberto Hall: Angela, how are you seeing organizations and individuals themselves driving the condition that gender equity drives productivity and well-being. What are you seeing? Are there any changes in perspective for the public organization and civil organizations needed in order to achieve this? 

Angela Hurtado: Yes. I feel that we are in a completely different momentum than, I will say, 5 or 10 years ago. Even if this diversity discussion has been in other countries for many years, I feel that in Colombia, there is now a completely different level of discussion. Now, companies, leaders, even think tanks, governments, and policymakers, they understand that we are not bringing the discussion or the awareness, because it's something that we just, you know, were thinking in the short term. But I feel that now there is a belief, and that this can be a way to improve society. 

Now, I feel that, unfortunately, in other countries, the discussion has become more political. But I feel that, in the case of Colombia, we are in a place where the discussion is more around the benefits that, for men and for women, diversity can bring. I feel that in Colombia, it's a moment where we can use diversity to connect with society, with people. And so, I feel that we are now in a moment where it's more in the mindset of leaders—but at the same time, it’s there because consumers, employees, different stakeholders are asking for that. So I think we are in a much better position than we were a couple of years ago.

Roberto Hall: And how important is it for women to get involved in organizations such as Women in Connection? 

Angela Hurtado: That's a very important question. I will say that it's important, but it depends on what you want. Our women are not necessarily willing to go and fight for diversity. I think that in the case of Women in Connection, this is an organization—like any other organization that works in diversity—that matters. It requires conviction. It requires time and it requires work. So, it depends on what you want, the level of influence that you want to generate. But I wouldn’t say it’s the only way you can help on driving diversity. You can do it in your own family or in your own space of impact. 

I think that an organization like Women in Connection is an organization that puts leadership to work to help others. This is not necessary for everyone because it requires a lot of work and I think that there are people for everything. And I will invite people that really want to drive change but are also willing to put a lot of effort into doing that. Of course, I think that, for women, it's important because probably you have a better understanding of why diversity is an important matter. It's not clear for everybody. And I think that we need to start to understand why it's not necessarily, you know, a silly thing to think, but a crucial improvement for society. 

Roberto Hall: Yes, that's great, Angela, what you just said. In terms of gender diversity, specifically among Colombian leadership teams, there are no legal quotas or requirements, but the government passed a law in 2000 requiring that woman hold at least 30% of top decision-making positions in the public sector. How do you look this in the private sector? Is there a trend? What's happening? What's your view on that? 

Angela Hurtado: Roberto, I think that is a socially important discussion around the quotas, the targets that companies can implement. And I will say that, today, after so many years of learning about diversity, diversity is not a goal; it’s not the end. Diversity is a way to achieve something, and that something should be much better for companies, for governments, for society. So, when you feel that the objective for companies is linked to getting 30% or 50% or 40% in terms of gender diversity, it shouldn't be alone. It should be hopefully a way to bring more diversity, to generate more visibility about diversity, but it’s not necessarily because the objective is to get 30% or 50% [representation]. It's because you have policies, corporate policies, that help the company to drive and help in terms of the cultural change.

So, the 30% or 50% should be the result of the efforts of companies changing the mindset and the culture of the company. Unfortunately, when you put it that way, it's not necessarily that easy. And companies and leaders and C-levels—executive levels—need to understand that even if that's the objective, it’s not necessarily always easy to get it. So that's why sub-targets, hard targets, or even quotas, are a way to get an improvement or a higher speed in terms of the changes. But for me, it's not necessary. The goal is to change the way we are doing the things in the corporate world. 

Roberto Hall: Just perfect. What is your perspective on some ways that leaders can foster a culture of allyship and inclusion in general within their companies?

Angela Hurtado: I think there is a growing process, Roberto. I feel that we are in a moment where leaders are challenged to change the way they have lived in the last decades. And I feel that now we probably feel more comfortable making mistakes and using the teams as a powerful tool to grow with organizations. So probably we, as leaders, can feel less lonely about how to drive organizations.

I think that probably that's the best way to generate a real path for culture of generating that type of [allyship] and partnership. And when you are sure that you are not alone, that you have a team and you are conscious and active, that you are making sure that that team is diverse and you are listening and not necessarily just, you know, making sure that you have the answers. Rather, you are probably generating the questions, more importantly. I think that's the way all the teams can become more productive and generate more inclusion. Because, as you mentioned, I think that you can bring diversity, but if people don’t feel included in the discussions or in the decisions that are made by the companies or by organization or by teams, then probably you can change the policies, but not necessarily change the culture that, at the end, is what is going to last in the long term.

Roberto Hall: Thank you very much, Angela. This has been a great conversation and congratulations for your success so far with Women in Connection and JPMorgan as well. So, thank you very much, Angela. 

Angela Hurtado: Thank you, Roberto, for the invitation. And I hope that that's useful. And I really enjoyed the conversation.

Thanks for listening to The Heidrick & Struggles Leadership Podcast. To make sure you don’t miss more future-shaping ideas and conversations, please subscribe to our channel on the podcast app. And if you’re listening via LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube, why not share this with your connections? Until next time. 


About the interviewer

Roberto Hall (rhall@heidrick.com) is the partner-in-charge of Heidrick & Struggles’ Bogotá office and a member of the global Industrial, Technology, and CEO & Board of Directors practices.

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