Alejandro Rodriguez shows how a strong culture can bridge any distance
How does Monterrey, Mexico, Office Manager Alejandro Rodriguez create successful global businesses? By combining his people skills and passion for understanding cultures.
“I was a little surprised they were interested in me,” says Alejandro. “I was a mechanical engineer, and Plante Moran was known as a tax and audit firm. But I had chemistry with the team off the bat, and I was impressed by how smart and kind everyone was during the interview process. I just knew it would be a great fit.” Alejandro has now been running Plante Moran’s Monterrey office since 2008.
Despite his success, Alejandro never planned to be doing what he’s doing today. But as Steve Jobs once said, and Alejandro believes, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”
“To be honest, if you asked me right after school, I never imagined I’d end up at a professional services firm; it never crossed my mind,” says Alejandro. “But I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision and where I am right now.”
Today, with more than 20 years’ experience living and working in both the United States and Mexico, Alejandro is a global business force. But more than that, he’s a compassionate leader who believes a strong culture can unify a team and that understanding different perspectives is the key to successful global business.
“Some people say they’re multilingual; I say I’m multicultural because I don’t only speak the language, I try to understand the culture,” says Alejandro. “One of my biggest strengths is getting to know people and removing obstacles from business in order to do cross-border and cross-culture business.”
“Some people say they’re multilingual; I say I’m multicultural because I don’t only speak the language, I try to understand the culture.”
An important aspect of conducting successful global business is building relationships with not only your clients but also your team. Alejandro does this by getting to know each of his staff members individually — so much so that the Monterrey office once delivered personalized snack boxes to staff based on what they like, showcasing their tight-knit office culture.
“That’s a reflection of Plante Moran’s culture,” says Alejandro. “I saw how the firm’s people interacted in the states, and I recreated that here in the Monterrey office. I consider my team to be a really close, small family.”
As you can see, Alejandro believes that the culture of an international firm needs to be consistent from office to office regardless of the location. That’s why he tries to implement the Golden Rule — treating others as you’d want to be treated — on a daily basis at the Monterrey office.
“When you open a new location, you need to be able to create the same culture that your company has in the new office that you’re creating,” says Alejandro. “You have to not only say it and write it but also live it. Our culture is real, and we prove it by how we do things.”
It’s not just the Plante Moran culture that Alejandro is proud of. He’s also proud of his heritage – he’s Mexican – which is why he’s offered to step up and lead Unidos, Plante Moran’s staff resource group for Latin and Hispanic staff.
“The firm has made the decision to be more diverse, provide equity, and increase inclusion. We’re looking for ways to back that up with action, and having this SRG is one more way that we prove our commitment in this area.”
Alejandro describes his leadership style as diplomatic. He values others’ opinions and recognizes that success is a team effort.
“I try to lead by example,” says Alejandro. “If I ask the team to do something, I’m going to do it as well. I like when people disagree with me, and I like hearing other ideas. I’m not the best at everything, but I know that the best way to succeed is to surround yourself with people that complement you — and with people who are smarter than you.”
Being the office manager of the Monterrey office is more than just a job for Alejandro. He’s honored to be the face of Plante Moran in Mexico and views it as an opportunity to add value to the firm and provide opportunities for staff to grow in their careers.
“I take my responsibility very seriously,” says Alejandro. “The fact that I’m representing the firm in Mexico means a lot to me, and I want to be able to give my team the same opportunities that I was given.”
“I take my responsibility very seriously. The fact that I’m representing the firm in Mexico means a lot to me, and I want to be able to give my team the same opportunities that I was given.”
Alejandro is not all work and no play, though. He knows how to have fun in and outside of work, especially when it comes to soccer.
Soccer has played a big part in Alejandro’s life over the years. He once played a match at the largest stadium in Mexico, the Azteca Stadium. Today, he watches his two sons play and makes the most out of his season tickets to his favorite team, Rayados de Monterrey.
“I try to make it a family outing,” says Alejandro. “I bring my wife and kids to the stadium every two weeks.”
But what if he can’t make it to a game? “I offer my tickets to my team. Even if they don’t root for the Rayados, the offer still stands.” Spoken like a true leader.