Claudia Márquez, President & CEO, Hyundai Motor México
By Gloria Romano-Barrera
It has been a year and a few months since Claudia Márquez returned to Mexico to serve as CEO and President of Hyundai Motor México and embraces the challenges and achievements that come in place with being a top-ranked Latina in the auto industry in Mexico.
“It has been a demanding ride without a doubt, full of challenges,” she shares. “Just briefly after my start, COVID-19 hit Mexico. My first challenge and success were to secure the right working conditions for the Hyundai team and their families to be safe. Related to the business, no different than in any country of the world, the economy closed, people had to be confined for safety reasons.”
Unlike the United States, dealers throughout Mexico closed operations during April and May, opening back slowly in the month of June. According to Márquez during that time, the Hyundai brand in Mexico was able to gain 0.4 points of share with the support of online sales, which was the most difficult quarter since the pandemic hit Mexico.
Joining Hyundai on November 1st, 2019 from Nissan, Márquez has more than 24 years of global automotive experience in sales, marketing, aftersales, dealer development, and strategic planning. As the CEO and President of Hyundai Motor México, she is responsible for managing all aspects of Hyundai’s business in Mexico, including its product strategy, sales, marketing, customer relations, and negotiations, among other responsibilities.
“I’ve had the opportunity to lead the redefinition of our mission, vision, strategies and most importantly our corporate and living values,” she shares. “To achieve our expected results, we needed to start from the beginning in terms of values with high emphasis on our integrity, transparency, respect, accountability, engagement, commitment among others and at the same time, work on the right competencies and skills like customer focus, results-driven, teamwork, strategic thinking, people development, and leadership.”
With an associate degree in Business Administration from Alexander von Humboldt in Germany and a BA in Marketing and Commerce from La Salle University in Mexico, Márquez was raised in Mexico but with a German-oriented education, which she strongly believes defines her today.
“On one hand, I had the human touch of Mexican values, friendliness, kindness, warmth, humbleness, combined with life skills I learned growing up about the importance of discipline, structure, reason, and logic,” she shares.
Márquez is no stranger to a high-pressure day and decision making, even through a pandemic. Her drive, passion, and energy at a young age were brought together today to keep going. She recalls it was the day she started working for the first time, without clear expectations that drove her to pursue a corporate career. It was only then, being at the workplace when she felt the energy and power a corporate office provoked in her.
“I felt good, empowered, strong and independent; there were suddenly many possibilities in front of me,” she shares. “Now it was on me to learn, ask questions, seek solutions, understand and finally to find what I really wanted to create for myself, for my future.”
Eight years ago, she was approached by a Japanese brand and there she had the opportunity to meet one of the automotive industry’s greatest leaders, José Muñoz, President and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America.
She had the opportunity to join his team, work closely under adverse and high-pressure conditions and learn more about herself and the industry. Years later, he joined Hyundai Motor Company in May 2019. Shortly after, he invited Márquez to join the Hyundai family and be a part of his strategic leadership team.
“Claudia and my professional paths crossed many years ago. She is a strong, intelligent, independent, and skilled executive who is committed to achieving excellence in everything she does. Claudia has a proven record of success and is an inspiring and charismatic leader,” shares Muñoz, “Claudia is passionate about achieving results and is an expert in the Mexican automotive market. In these challenging times, she has already delivered positive results in sales growth and profitability for the brand. We are fortunate to have her in the Hyundai family.”
Before joining Hyundai, she built her career through various leadership positions for both the Nissan Motor Company and the BMW Group. Most recently, she was vice president of vehicle sales and operations at Nissan North America, where she was responsible for these same areas in the United States, including fleet and certified pre-owned sales.
For Márquez, not everything came easy. Similar to many Latinas in high-ranking executive jobs, she had to overcome many intrapersonal and interpersonal obstacles. She recalls a time when she faced three important historical challenges within a corporation and took on the challenge, which challenged her own self.
“I was young, I was a woman and I was Latina,” she shares. “The method I used to overcome them was very simple but also very complicated. I had to believe in myself, work on my mindset, be excellent, and outstanding in every possible way. Low margin of error.”
Today, Márquez’ challenges are different as she transitioned to a new country, and she has been working diligently to make the transition as successful as possible by being proactive and adapting to a new life.
“More than a language or cultural barriers, as I am local, one of my main challenges is related to staying connected with new generations and changing environments,” she shares. “To come back to my country after several years of international work experience and having the opportunity to apply the gained knowledge and key learnings in terms of best practices to my new role is the best part of working at Hyundai-Mexico. The Hyundai Motor Mexico team combines young talent and experienced professionals and I truly enjoy the opportunity to be involved in our talent management strategies which include, how we attract, develop and retain people.”
Living in a new country will bring with it new experiences and changes, yet for Márquez, her professional leadership staples such as open communication, and values remain with her wholeheartedly.
“The governance of our local company needs to be very clear,” she shares. “Innovation comes through a diverse group of empowered people that bring ideas together and finally build the best solution to achieve a common goal. I force myself to encourage the team to act with that spirit and behavior. The customer is the number one priority in every thought and without a doubt should be at the core of every idea pitch.”
Coping with today’s challenging and uncertain times, Márquez continues to lead by example, challenging ideas, and being adaptable.
“Related to the company, since the beginning, we made sure that our employees were safe,” she shares. “Related to our dealers, we supported them through different measures to cope with the imminent financial hit. Related to our customers, we supported them with their loan payments if needed, and we implemented concierge pick-up delivery for their aftersales needs. We extended the warranty duration for the vehicles that were expiring during this period.”
In addition, the company has launched an integrated corporate responsibility campaign related to: Awareness and Responsibility (#Aprovechemos el Alto – #Avancemos con Precaución); Transportation readiness for doctors, nurses, hospital administration employees that didn’t have the availability of safe transportation from their houses to the hospitals (#Yo cedo)
Personally, Márquez has been working from home since mid-March of 2019, making sure every health guideline is respected. She remains optimistic, focused, and very busy.
“Spending quality time with my family, exercising, cooking on the side – of course, my daily job responsibilities are key elements in my daily plan,” shares the mother of two, daughters Ceci and Alexa. “The current health crisis has been an opportunity to learn how to be more resilient, and more aware and appreciative of who we have by our side. Without a doubt, this is truly a wake-up call to revisit what is really important in life.”
Claudia Marquez at Hyundai Media Event. November 2019, Mexico City.
Claudia (right) with her husband Alex and two daughters Ceci and Alexa. Christmas 2019 – Mexico City.