Our series Women in Powersports has set out to meet ladies from a variety of areas in our industry. In this interview, we meet Elizabeth Munguia, Director, Quality, for the Querétaro plant. Elizabeth is a trailblazer as the first-ever Mexican female director at BRP in Mexico, where the percentage of women on the management team is now 10%. With 145 people reporting to her, including two Quality Managers, she is responsible for quality assurance on the engines and machined parts manufactured in Querétaro, as well as the Sea-Doo watercraft. Elizabeth trained as an electronics engineer and began her career in this field, switching to quality when she moved to Querétaro – a manufacturing hub – for her husband’s job. In 2012, her desire for a better work-life balance, more time to spend with her young son and family, led her to BRP.
However, what’s special about Elizabeth is that she’s also considered a role model by her colleagues. They say she pays attention to people and learns from them. And therefore people, especially women, bring their concerns to her. We were eager to find out more.
What’s it like to be a woman in the powersport industry and, more particularly, at BRP?
I didn’t know anything about powersports before I started working for BRP. Here in Querétaro, I worked for a number of years, first with an appliance company, then in the automotive industry. I was sent for training in Europe and I have also met with many suppliers, so I feel I have a good understanding of what it’s like to be a woman in manufacturing and, particularly, automotive.
BRP is an exceptionally egalitarian company, and it really fosters a good work-life balance. At BRP, I’ve never felt like my opinion is not considered because I’m a woman, even if I’m the only woman on the team. Also, there’s no glass ceiling here. You don’t come up against male superiors who stereotype you. You can keep on growing professionally if you show your value. You don’t have to work twice as hard as a man, like with some companies.
For example, I took a step down to work at BRP, going from Quality Manager to Coordinator, because my personal life had become as important as my professional life. My supervisor recognized my abilities and gave me more responsibility, so I didn’t get bored, and by working diligently, I gained the trust of my managers and was able to get back to the level I had before. When BRP added the Director level, I was asked if I wanted to be considered for the job. A lot of people were interviewed for the position, and I don’t feel that being a woman or not was at all a criterion.
So being a woman at BRP is different from similar industries. The company culture is different: BRP is proud of being multicultural and diverse, and not segregating, so everyone has opportunities if they have the skills and the will to advance. I love that about BRP. I’ve never seen that before, anywhere I’ve worked.
How have things changed for women since you entered the job market, and what still needs to be done?
I can see that there is more openness in the workplace as a whole. With more women in the industry, everyone gets to see that it isn’t a competition between genders. Men are good at certain things, and women at others, in the same job. They complement each other. Personally, I always try to get the best talent, and if we have a balance of men and women, we have strength across the board. And this means we’re helping the company grow, as well as helping women grow. But there’s still progress to be made.
For example, I want women to feel comfortable everywhere in the workplace. In some areas of the company, it’s culturally acceptable for men to behave in certain ways that women aren’t comfortable with, and this takes time to change. I’m privileged to be in a position where women confide in me, believing I can make a difference, and I have brought this to the attention of our HR and communications teams, who are working on solutions to improve the work environment for everyone.
How have you helped women to grow and what advice do you have for them?
I think there’s enough room for every woman to shine. Work should be a pleasure. Each of us needs to identify what we do best, where our skills can be useful, and then give our best effort in everything that we do. Women are no exception. But we have more possibilities now, and they’ll continue to increase, and the key is to show our value. So, I say to women: Don’t be afraid to try. Go for everything you dream of, and make sure to do your best. You’ll find your place to shine if you know your strengths and take advantage of the opportunities you get.
I dreamed of a stable, happy family, as well as a successful career. I’ve never stopped doing what I wanted to do, and I regret nothing. I’m lucky enough to have a very supportive partner, of course, but I’ve also looked for the right opportunities and worked to make the most of them. And I try to help women recognize what they like doing, and what they’re good at, and help them find a place to do that.
Also, what I’ve learned from my experiences, I try to share with other women as much as possible. And I also like to hear from them. I’ve learned a lot from talking to the great women I work with. Some have a really good grasp of work-life balance. One of my female colleagues is a single mother, and she has impressed on me the need to be disciplined in how you organize yourself. If you say you’re going to leave at a certain time, you leave. That’s really great advice!
“Go for everything you dream of, and make sure to do your best. You’ll find your place to shine if you know your strengths and take advantage of the opportunities you get.”