Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: An Interview with Julieta Gutierrez

Published on : 9/19/22
  • In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we spoke with Julieta Gutierrez, Chief Operating Officer, Airport Lounges, North America. She shared more about her career path, her Mexican heritage, and her advice for underrepresented groups facing barriers in the workplace today.

    Interviewer: You've called many places home. Tell us about your travels and how you got your start at Sodexo. 

    Julieta Gutierrez: I was born and raised in Mexico but also spent quite a bit of my childhood in France, so I have a lot of love for that country and culture as well. I studied accounting and business administration in Mexico and Montreal and completed my postgraduate studies in Finance and International Commerce at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. In 2004, I had the opportunity to return to France and worked in the energy industry there for ten years. In 2013, I joined Sodexo as Vice President of Finance at their headquarters in Paris.  

    I took on the role of CFO for Sports and Leisure in North America and moved to Texas in 2015. When Sodexo launched Sodexo Live! in 2020, I was given the opportunity to move into operations as the Chief Operating Officer, Airport Lounges for North America. It's been such a joy to transition to another side of the business. 

    Interviewer: What excites you about your role? 

    Julieta Gutierrez: I love a challenge. What really motivates me is seeing how this team has responded to the challenges of our industry over the last couple of years. We have a very dedicated and competitive team. I work with a phenomenal group of experts who have done a fantastic job growing the business.  

    Making a difference for passengers is so rewarding. Whether they're heading on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or are frequent fliers, we want to make that journey pleasant and memorable, especially now when there's so much uncertainty around the travel experience.  

    Interviewer: How has your heritage influenced you? 

    Julieta Gutierrez: I was born and raised in Mexico. Even though I've lived in France and the U.S. for years, my Mexican roots made me who I am today. During tough times and adversity, there is just an unwavering positivity. Every opportunity or hardship is a lesson. Understanding that the difficult times are just as much a part of life as the good times has helped me a lot throughout my career. 

    Mexican culture also embraces being very ambitious and hardworking. There is a kind of go-getter attitude that I love. You find a way to succeed, even if you don't have all the answers. I've never worked harder than I did in Mexico when I was a young professional. All these traits are just embedded in the Mexican way of life, and I think I've carried them with me. Most of my family is still in Mexico, so we visit often so my children can also discover and absorb the culture.  

    Interviewer: As a leader in the business, what do you say to people who may not see themselves represented in leadership roles? 

    Julieta Gutierrez: I've been lucky to work for companies with an international presence and very diverse teams. I find richness in our differences. There's so much to learn from what everyone has to offer. That’s one of the reasons that I believe networking is an amazing way to advance your career, whether it’s with people that you have something in common with or not. Our networks influence the way we think about the world. Being intentional about interacting with people outside of your traditional circles or who pull you out of your comfort zone is the best way to expand your views, learn from their experience, and make connections that help you grow as an individual and as a leader.  

    Remember to be yourself. The ability to stay positive in adversity and overcome obstacles in life are extraordinary qualities that not everyone brings to the table. Be confident and proud about who you are, and don't hold yourself back. Our differences can be our advantage.