When Hispanic Executive spoke to Marisol Sanchez in 2018, she’d already established herself as a vital member of Swiss-based instrumentation and process automation company Endress+Hauser USA’s legal department. Since then, the Puerto Rican executive has been hard at work, continuing to build out the company’s legal team and growing the diversity and inclusion initiatives she kick-started to give women a leg up in their careers. Indeed, she has extended those efforts into a full diversity initiative to ensure equitable opportunities throughout the organization.
As vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, Sanchez has taken on a wide breadth of new responsibilities; she now provides legal representation for thirteen business entities across North America. She’s also begun to head up the company’s procurement division as well as the quality, safety, compliance, and commercial contract management teams, going from a department of two to a department of nine employees. “It’s a challenge,” she admits, but one that matches her desire to push herself to her full potential.
Similar to what she did with her legal team, Sanchez has also established new procurement and contract management teams for Endress+Hauser USA from scratch. The creation of these teams, Sanchez emphasizes, would not be possible without the support of her legal team, which she’s built up into a modest but mighty team of three—Sanchez, another attorney, and a paralegal.
Finding a second attorney to join her team was a strategic process. She wanted to find someone who could look at the business holistically, assist her in supporting all the US entities, and bring more work (such as employment and immigration-related matters) in-house. “I rely on her for certain expertise,” Sanchez says of her colleague, adding that she leverages each of her department team members’ individual strengths to be proactive and implement better, stronger strategies and policies throughout the company.
Despite having a lean team, Sanchez works diligently to keep up with the responsibilities that have accompanied Endress+Hauser’s rapid growth over the past few years. “Our expectation is to grow double digit to market,” she says, “and the challenges we face are not unique to us.” Rather, Endress+Hauser defines itself by the quality of its people—those who drive the company’s services and products, innovation, and customer satisfaction.
A central component of this people-focused perspective is Endress+Hauser’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, which Sanchez has played a crucial role in building. One major initiative is the Women’s Integrated Network (WIN), a platform designed to promote the advancement and development of women in their careers, which expanded on a global scale in 2018.
“The number of women in the manufacturing and automation process space is less than 30 percent,” Sanchez explains. “So by extension, you don’t see a lot of women in advanced or managerial roles.” How do you improve those numbers? For Sanchez, WIN is a key part of the solution: the platform provides a forum for women at the company to discuss issues, highlight concerns, and help each other grow and develop in their careers.
WIN also places a large focus on encouraging students of all ages to seek out a STEM education. As a part of that, WIN encourages students to participate in the company’s Community, Career, and Education Forum, which brings educators, students, parents, teachers, and community and industry partners together for a night to showcase what manufacturing and STEM degrees can do for students’ careers in general, including a woman’s career.
“There’s a stigma that manufacturing is dirty and limited in opportunities,” Sanchez says, citing it as one reason women don’t typically go into the industry. This work seeks to address that preconception and showcase the value of advanced manufacturing for young women. In so doing, it has the added effect of diversifying the pool of perspectives and ideas from which companies within the industry can benefit. “You need the ideas you’re having to reflect the community—our customers,” the VP says.
To help foster those ideas, WIN has been prioritizing the need for women in leadership and management roles. Endress+Hauser as a whole has also established a diversity and inclusion initiative intended to bring more minority representation to roles at all levels throughout the company.
Whether she’s keeping up with the complexities of Endress+Hauser’s legal work or encouraging greater diversity in the industry, Sanchez is hugely motivated by the energy of her team to accomplish her goals. “People ask how I can balance all these functions,” Sanchez observes. “I balance it because I trust that I have a great team leading from an expert level, a team with which I have a trusting, open relationship.”
Conversations about Conservation
When she’s not molding the future of young women in manufacturing, Marisol Sanchez sits on the boards of the Central Indiana Community Foundation—an organization committed to ensuring all individuals have equitable access to opportunities to reach their full potential, no matter their place, race, or identity—and the Indianapolis Zoological Society. As a trustee for the Indianapolis Zoological Society, she does philanthropic work on behalf of the Indianapolis Zoo, one of the largest privately funded zoos in the country.
“It’s an anchor institution for our community,” she explains. The Zoo is a cornerstone of tourism for Indianapolis but is also critical to conservation efforts—in fact, it has been named a global leader in that area. “Speaking of diversity,” Sanchez says, “the zoo shows us the ecological diversity we need to conserve our species.”