Women Worth Watching 2015
Valeria Chapa Garza
Honeywell’s General Council Is a Passionate Advocate for Women in Law
As Honeywell’s Latin America general counsel, Valeria Chapa Garza provides commercial, corporate governance, and compliance advice. Because of her expertise, she is also engaged in Honeywell’s High Growth Regions strategy, participating in regional leadership teams. Valeria also leads the Business Conduct Leaders network for Mexico and South America, which strengthens Honeywell’s integrity and compliance program.
In 2015, Valeria launched an innovative program for women lawyers in Mexico that pairs senior lawyers with junior lawyers to provide mentoring, share best practices, and guide professional growth. And this year, Valeria co-founded Abogadas MX, which aims to increase the representation of women in law through professional development, networking, and leadership opportunities. The organization now includes 170 attorneys.
Valeria is a fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization that actively promotes diversity and inclusion, and a member of the Women in the Profession Leadership Committee, led by the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. In 2014, she was recognized by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association as one of the most inspiring female corporate counsels working in the region.
“…you have to visualize where you want to be with every molecule in your body and believe it.”
“I was 31 when I took on the role of Regional General Counsel for Honeywell without any prior in-house experience,” says Valeria. “I learned quickly that you have to visualize where you want to be with every molecule in your body and believe it. If you focus your energy and passion on a goal, you will unquestionably accomplish it.”
Valeria holds a JD from the Universidad de Monterrey, where she graduated cum laude, and a Master of Laws (Harlan Stone Fiske Scholar) from Columbia University.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Valeria now lives in Mexico City with her partner Dhyana. She enjoys collecting contemporary art, attending art and interior design fairs, and practicing yoga. Her most recent initiative is building a webpage for Abogadas MX, and creating a blog about diversity and inclusion relevant to women attorneys across Latin America.
Education: LL.M. Columbia University, LL.B. Universidad de Monterrey
First Job: assistant to the art teacher at the Alfa Planetarium summer when I was around 13. I would also tutor middle school students in the afternoons on Analytic Geometry.
What I’m Reading: “Sputnik Sweetheart” by Haruki Murakami
Words I live by: Integrity, honesty, friendship, perseverance, and a passion to make a difference.
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Remain flexible about the professional decisions you make. Nothing is set in stone. Be open to recalibrate and consider a slightly different path than the one you initially envisioned. Some of the greatest opportunities come from unexpected places.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…I began working part-time at a firm when I was still in law school. I would have waited longer to dive into the profession and spent more time exploring some of my other interests such as art, literature and history, while simultaneously studying law.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…listen to music and shut off email and phone calls for a few hours. Other times I just have to go for a walk or do something unrelated to work so I can reboot and get focused with renewed energies and a clear mind.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…unique and empowering. While I recognize the challenges faced by many women to reach leadership positions in all professions, I have not felt hindered by being a woman. However, I do recognize that we need to create more opportunities for women, especially in leadership positions. I am committed to furthering the cause of equality not just for women, but for minorities as well.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…a good moment to pause, reflect and try again with a different and relaxed approach.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…making time for those things that I´ve been consistently doing throughout my life, like grilling outdoors with friends, catching up with the family, reading a good magazine, taking a weekend trip with my partner to recharge, or simply doing Yoga and eating well.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…I realized that being a lawyer entails being a facilitator and a bridge for others to communicate and resolve differences. My profession is a tool to help people find common ground and trust each other.