Latin America. At 35 years old, Röhm's New Business Development Manager for the Americas enjoys more than technology, metal and Toluca games, with every hobby with his children.
By Federico Duarte Garcés
In March 2005, Andross Corona received news that shed light on his professional project. After attending high school with a 50% scholarship, he obtained the highest average not only from his school, but also from the school district in his native Ticul, state of Yucatan, which assured him an unprecedented scholarship of 90% to study chemical engineering at a university in this state, to which he had initially applied. but at Unitec, in Mexico City (CDMX). However, in November of that year he reached another milestone in his life: the birth of Ariel, his first daughter.
Andross was 16 years old when he started college. It was not strange for him to be one of the most advanced in his academic year; By the time he was six, he had gone from kindergarten to elementary school, where he was immediately transferred to high school. He came home from school to read, just like his father and mother, both teachers who met in their teaching practice, and who also shared having supported their parents and siblings with their own work.
Andross's father had a peasant education developed in a school of this lineage, the Rural Normal School, where not only did they not charge him tuition, but they gave him accommodation, food and clothing. The wages of Andross's grandfather, who was away from home, were not enough to cover the needs of six children. Hence, at the age of 18, his father began to intersperse peasant work with teaching.
For her part, her mother had come to terms with her own father's abandonment when she was 13. However, from him she would learn her vocation as a merchant to work in shops and support her four younger siblings and her deaf-mute mother. This would be strengthened by getting a temporary position as a teacher, just like her future husband, with whom she doubled in shifts to ensure the well-being of their children; Andross, the first of them.
That's why, at the time of becoming a father, Andross was so aware of the history of his own parents and their routine when he was little.
A Family Legacy
Andross's childhood memories come not only from playing games with his siblings and cousins, but especially from visiting his paternal grandparents in Mazatepec, Morelos, on weekends, and accompanying his mother to sell typical clothes door to door. In this way, he obtained additional income to support his house, a rented house that remained in black construction and consisted of only three rooms: the kitchen, the dining room and a room with two double beds in which the five of them slept; in one, his parents, and in the other he, entwined in the legs of his two younger brothers.
His parents' routine began at 4 a.m. when they got up to do household chores, prepare meals for the day and from there take public transportation to take him and his siblings to school, have lunch together at noon and take turns each one until 7 p.m. to get homework with them. Late at night, it was almost law with his brothers to watch Dragon Ball on channel 5, the only one that picked up the air antenna well.
As his siblings were born, his parents' extra occupations multiplied; While his father traded gold, his mother sold everything from candy to school supplies at the same school. Under this tradition, and even more so when, in correspondence with the potential demonstrated, his parents decided to transfer him to a private school, Andross would start working from a young age to obtain his own savings.
At the age of 14 he was already working as a tourist service in the Xcaret park in Cancun, on the Yucatan Peninsula. For several years, and along with his studies, he would sell credit cards in different call centers, as well as products on the internet. That's where he was when Ariel was born, and he would also go there at the end of his career when Andross, his second son, was born. He was 21 years old.
At the forefront of your children
At that moment, Andross decided to take a sabbatical to watch his children grow up, while importing cameras through Mercado Libre to distribute them personally with a map in hand of Mexico City, where he had settled with his wife, whom he would also support in her studies. Thus, he rejected the proposal of a Mexican paint manufacturer located in another town because of transportation costs that did not compensate for the salary.
However, the death of his maternal grandmother, whom he also visited every weekend in Yucatan, would motivate him to do a social service in a food company, where he accepted to be an intern for $50 a month for six months. By the end, he already had proven experience in business, as well as a letter of recommendation to apply to Sherwin Williams.
There he would work as a Research and Development apprentice in the areas of Resins and Light Industrial, supported by those he recognizes as his first great mentors: Raúl Chimal and Javier Rodríguez. During that stage he would continue with the sale of cameras, with Javier's endorsement, as it did not clash with his work and allowed him to have a closer vision of the relationship with customers.
"Solving technical problems, with a broad perspective, awakened my interest in sales, and that's how I started my commercial career at First Quality Chemicals, which would eventually become a great business school for me, and that would lead me to learn about different ways of doing business in other latitudes within Latin America," says Andross, who would later go on to work for a couple of years at DVA Mexicana as a new business development leader.
His career within the chemical industry, already on the side of manufacturers, began as Polymer Sales Manager for North Latin America at Wacker, "a multicultural, global corporate experience, and with a broad focus on setting growth milestones and developing unique solutions for diverse markets," he says.
In 2019, just before the pandemic, his life would have a new turning point. By then he had already completed a master's degree in Business Administration, as well as a diploma in Coatings Technology at UNAM. In June, with some visibility in the industry, he would apply for an executive position at Evonik. In August, following a corporate reorganization, Röhm would become an independent company and Andross would take over as its business manager for Latin America. Two months later, in October, Alanna, his most recent 'chamaca', was born.
Before the opportunity presented itself at Wacker and Evonik, and while his wife Andross was studying for her degree, she and their children would sleep in the same room inside their in-laws' house, "a déjà vu". He would then have the opportunity to rent an increasingly larger apartment, close to the respective headquarters of each company, until his appointment last year as New Business Development Manager for the Americas, which would lead him to learn Portuguese during the confinement stage to serve the Brazilian market, and recently to move with his family to New Jersey.
Settling in just a couple of months ago in these new lands, it has been like "learning to walk again". He didn't have a residential address, no credit history or a driver's license, but under a hindsight he recognizes that the three hours he must form in front of the social security office are not compatible with the journey on foot through different countries and even continents that migrants like him must make in other conditions.
"The main personal challenge I face is adapting to life in the United States, supporting my children to do the same, and feeling this country as a home. On a professional level, it is to show that Latinos are made for great things, and we can perform wherever we are put; to show that we are hardworking people, that we don't take anything for granted, and that we are always striving for more," she says from her new apartment, from where she responds to this interview, with her daughter Alana by her side, on the eve of her fourth birthday.
Meanwhile, her eldest daughter, now in high school, is getting ready to study English, while her son is in the "very middle" of adolescence.
"If there's one thing I regret in this life, it's not spending enough time with my children; when they asked me for a story, I didn't tell them; when they asked me to, I wouldn't have played," says Andross, even though his words are recanted in the middle of a video call when he answers Aldana's reports about any possible insect that could generate any swelling.
And although he acknowledges that he could have been 99%, "my regret comes from that 1%; So with this 'changa' I want to give at least 102%," he says as a penguin appears that he has tattooed, like his wife, and that reminds us of a species that only has one partner in its life. In his case, it is a sense of father that he carries imprinted in his actions, wherever he goes.
About Business Success
"Employee relationships, staff training and meeting goals are essential to business success. Maintaining a positive relationship with employees improves engagement, retention, and the work environment. Constant training develops skills and encourages adaptation to change.
Goals provide direction, enable performance measurement, and ensure alignment with business strategy. These factors combined contribute to the productivity, innovation, and competitiveness of the organization. HR leaders and professionals have a key role to play in effectively managing these aspects.
I'm a big believer in the idea that people always come first. To take care of them is to take care of the company; Taking care of the company is making it grow, at the same time as our family grows. I am an avowed enemy of micromanagement, coercion and exploitation of employees."
About the industry in the region
"These have been very particular years, as we have seen "n" amount of changes, many mergers and acquisitions of both raw material suppliers and paint manufacturers, which at the time were standards of the industry in their country. There's been a lot of consolidation, and it's a trend that doesn't seem to be stopping.
In these years, I have also had to live through the productive changes, which were derived from political-economic factors in various economies of Latin America, such as Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico. Our region has always had challenges, and that has added 'fun' to our work."
About the future
"There are a number of global factors that could directly affect our region, as the political pendulum today swings much more to the left. In addition, global tensions and initiatives such as the BRICS can have a significant impact on the Doing Business of our markets.
Demand, however, I see it maintaining sustained growth, beyond considering factors such as GDP per capita, derived from the fact that we have a demographic bonus that other areas such as Europe and Asia lack. In addition, we are at the center of major global trends, such as electric cars, which would be potentially beneficial for countries with large lithium deposits (Bolivia, Chile, Argentina), as well as nearshoring that paves the way to turn Mexico into a major global player, leveraging the current free trade agreements with the United States.
Today, the region represents an important growth opportunity for investment, especially when capital flows are relocating, and Latin America can take advantage of this situation.
I am a firm believer that the digitalization of the chemical industry is the biggest trend that we can take advantage of, optimizing processes, handling large amounts of data to get to know our customers better, automating and personalizing technical support, giving real-time visibility to logistics, handling complaints, creating financing, processing orders without people involved, etc."