Rosa Estrella did not grow up with professional role models—let alone female professionals balancing work and family. Nevertheless, her hard-working parents taught her good values (responsibility, integrity, and giving back), which certainly influenced choices in her career path.
Since she started working at Eisai Inc. in 2008, Estrella has advanced within the legal department and is now assistant general counsel with a primary focus on Latin America, manufacturing, and antibribery/anticorruption matters.
As part of its human health care mission, Eisai started expanding its footprint a few years ago into the main markets in Latin America, primarily Mexico and Brazil. Estrella collaborates closely with the senior Latin American management team, outside local counsel, and colleagues within the compliance teams to ensure the provision of comprehensive and strategic legal support across the region. Being the lead counsel for legal matters that arise in Latin America has allowed Estrella to leverage her language skills while continually learning. “It’s very exciting to be part of the core team that is bringing important medicines to these Latin American countries,” she says.
While the countries within Eisai’s expansion zone share many similarities, each country has its own nuances. This is true from a cultural standpoint as well as legal. “In the last few years I’ve learned more than ever not to view matters with a US-centric lens,” she says. “When working in Latin America, we need to be adaptable, and we cannot assume things are—or should be— like the United States, or other Latin American countries.”
Being a successful professional woman also involves balancing professional life and family, and Estrella admits it’s a continuous work in progress. “I am very fortunate to have a village of family and friends to help me carry the weight when the balance gets too heavy on one side.” She points out that in her experience, however, the balance between female and male is far from equal in most dual-income, Hispanic households in America. The woman, by default, is usually also the primary caretaker for children, family, and household. This unfortunately can be a huge barrier for young Hispanic women seeking to advance their careers.
Attitudes are nevertheless evolving, and Estrella believes Hispanic mothers have a big role to play in that evolution. “It is important to raise children who are less gender-biased when it comes to so-called ‘traditional’ household roles,” she says. “Our children are going to be the next generation, and hopefully we are paving the path to a more balanced approach between men and women in our professional and family lives.”
Estrella doesn’t intend to rest on her laurels; she instead wants to continue improving her professional skills, learning how to be a strategic partner and a well-rounded counsel for her clients. Most importantly, as a Latina professional, Estrella believes it is essential to stay involved with Hispanic organizations because they provide an invaluable source of support, personally and professionally. “[Being members of Hispanic organizations] allows us to give and get back in so many ways. By sharing our successes, a sense of pride we should all have in our rich heritage is reinforced,” she says.
Estrella has been a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association since law school and is also a member of the New York Society of Hispanic Lawyers. Both organizations have enriched her life and allowed her to learn, gain inspiration, and continue giving back to the Latino community.
Estrella also insists it’s necessary for women to be more conscious and mindful about sharing their stories for those who may not have a professional role model in their life. “We have to show not only that professional success can be achieved, but how it is achieved, so we can learn from each other and enable ourselves to have fulfilling professional and family lives.”