February 12, 2019

“If you want an international opportunity position yourself to get it”

She manages the Canon’s financial services, with responsibilities in the whole american country. With a 15 years international career and based in the US since 2006, the Portuguese Diaspora Counselor Ana Tavares shares her experiences with Executiva.

Based in New York, Ana Tavares is the vice-president of Finances and Accountability for the United States at Canon and the rest of the american continent, since 2013. With an international career specialized in the area of shares services, she has been managing reorganization projects in Asia, Europe and Americas.

Graduated in Accountability and Financial Administration by ISCAL (Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração de Lisboa), where she completed a master on the same field, in 2000, Ana Tavares also holds a post-graduation in International Trade by Universidade Lusíada. At the beginning of her career, in Portugal, she worked in financial consultancy for Pannell Kerr Forster, a multinational in the area of accountability, between 1999 and 2003, the year when she was recruited by the pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb to work in England, managing an Iberian company with responsibilities in the field of Shared Services for the United Kingdom. In 2006 she is invited to take the financial direction of this company, on the USA.

At the end of 2009, she went to Pall Corporation, a world producer of filtration and purification, in New York, where she took the role of controller for the occidental hemisphere, and after less than a year she would the financial global director for this company.

Distinguished in 2016, on the USA, with the award “Milton Zipper Financial Executive of the Year”, attributed by the Institute of Management Accountants, Ana Tavares is also an active presence in organizations of economic and social exchange, such as the Portuguese-American Chamber of Commerce and the Portuguese Diaspora Council.

When you finished your graduation at ISCAL, what were your professional ambitions?
I wanted to work in audit.

When and why did you decided to work outside of Portugal?
At that time, my professional activity included the support to the multinationals in Portugal. In some cases, this support included the translation of the financial information to ‘compliance’ with the Portuguese system; from the Portuguese system to the system of other countries. This nuance allowed the exposure to presentation international systems of financial demonstration. The option of working outside of Portugal was reveled on this context, I was motived to go if, and when a concrete opportunity would appear. The hiring by Bristol Myers Squibb was the reason to advance.

What were the main differences that you felt on the working procedure and the corporate culture, first on the United Kingdom and then on the USA? What did you learn in each of these cultures?
There is the side of the corporate culture and in influence of the origin country culture. As a newcomer to England I was surprised by things such as starting the day earlier and, in general, to finish it earlier too; having less pauses during the day; the respect for the arrival hour; the formality of the meetings, being very structured; the informality between colleagues; in treating others, the use of the first name, and the same with managers. The career progression is clear and defined. Despite these and other differences, the major learned lesson was the one that the Portuguese academic system is above average.

On the USA, the energy id directed to a vigorous commitment to work “work ethic”, and recharging batteries with family and community causes. In contrast to the social state – as Portugal – in the USA the social security and the juridic figure of labor contract are irrelevant. Major risk, but a major flexibility. Each individual manages its retirement, plus structured in private funds and less in the social security. Labor contracts are rarely used. In the majority of the cases, a collaborator is in a company ‘at will’, being able to quit and being able to be ‘exempted’ at any time. It’s common to have 10 days of holidays. The disposition to assume this kind of risks, to sacrifice long holidays, to have a good academic background, experience in some field, a consistent and dedicated performance, is worth it after some years.

What are your duties and main responsibilities today, at Canon?
Everything regarding Treasury, Taxes, Account Consolidation, Accountability and Shared Services, Financial Systems. In the majority of this duties I have regional responsibilities – Americas.

You worked almost 10 years on the biotechnology sector before moving to Canon. How did this opportunity came up? The change in this sector was a challenge?
More than a challenge, it has been enriching. The pharmaceutical sector makes a brutal exercise of ‘trade-offs’ in the researching and development process. In other words, nearly 250 of the main active discovered is going to arrive to the final stage of commercialization. And at the time I had the luck to participate in the transformation process of Bristol Myers to a bio-pharmaceutical.

The opportunity at Cannon came up because they started a search process for specific ‘skills’, and my name was in that short list. One day, I was surprised with the recruiter’s call.

By Executiva, February 2019