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Meet the New Regional Director of Zurich, Stephanie Molina y Vedia

By Enida Himaj

Born in Houston, Texas into a large, international family of Argentine and American parents, Stephanie grew up travelling, learning languages, and developing a love for different cultures. For 10 years, she was a cobalt and copper trader with Swiss commodities giant, Glencore International AG, before turning to the world of professional sports, inspired by a personal turn of events. A mother of 4 and an avid sportswoman, she founded Asmantra Sports & Consulting GmbH in 2017, a boutique sports agency which is dedicated to the management of professional football (soccer) players. Stephanie is the only female football agent in Switzerland and one of few in the industry at large. A vocal advocate for female entrepreneurship for many years, Stephanie recently joined the community of Global Woman as the Regional Director of Zurich. Today, she is committed to growing our community in Switzerland and supporting local women create and grow their business, expand their networks and take action to make a bigger impact in their professional space. 

‘Don’t be phased by failure – just keep going…’

Stephanie, as a citizen of the world, you have made many trips, many memories – how was this experience for you?

As a child, I loved hearing different languages, learning about different cultures and travelling. I became fascinated with the world outside the United States and dreamed of living my life abroad. When I was 4 years old, my father flew me and my 5 siblings to Argentina in a small Cessna aircraft so that we could see his home country. We spent two weeks travelling, stopping throughout central and South America. I had an early ear for Spanish. In high school, I had the opportunity to study in Spain for a year, which I absolutely loved. I lived with 2 host families, learned to cook, and managed to visit all the major cities and cathedrals where I acquired a real passion for stain-glassed windows! At university, my decision to study foreign languages, namely, Spanish, French and Russian, was an easy one. I dreamt of living and working abroad as soon as I graduated. 

Which city would you single out for the impact it has had on your life?  

Without a doubt, it must be Madrid. I spent 8 years there, made friends for life, fell in love with the culture, and it was where I landed my first job with the global commodities giant, Glencore International, which was then called Marc Rich. It’s still my favourite city in the world and I have been to many!

What led you to join the metals industry? 

I had started working in metals as my first job out of university with a stainless-steel scrap company based out of Houston, Texas (my hometown). They were looking for a Russian speaker to liaise between their Houston and Moscow offices. This turned out to be a great job and set the groundwork for my next move to Hungary and further development in the industry.

A seemingly masculine sector, how difficult was it to adapt? 

 When I started working in metals in the mid-1990s, there were very few female metal traders in the industry. I was young, inexperienced, and quite clueless about how to manage many situations. Luckily, at my first job, I was able to work under the wing of our office manager, an older lady who taught me a lot about how to test, sort, buy and sell scrap! 

I learned that I needed to always act extremely professionally, which meant that I avoided over-socialising at conference parties or other events. This was clearly more of a man’s thing. I learned very early on that I had to be as good, if not better, at my job than other men to get taken seriously. The industry was very sexist. Success was only possible from hard work, fiercely protecting your credibility, and bringing good results. 

From the metals industry to sports, what led to this leap in your career? 

After working more than 15 years in metals, 3 young children, and many years of juggling work, travel, and family life, I decided to quit my job and take a much-needed break. Six months later, I fell pregnant with my fourth child, Abigail, who was born very prematurely at just 27 weeks. This was an extremely traumatic experience for both me and my family; she needed a lot of extra time and dedication, and I was simply an exhausted zombie for the first 3 years of her life. We had hired a great nanny whose husband turned out to be a professional footballer. 

He was very ambitious and had a lot of energy, and wanted to create an agency in Switzerland, where I had lived for several years already. I wasn’t too keen on going back to work at that point, but I was curious to learn about football, an industry that was a complete mystery to me then. Over a period of 2 years, he taught me everything about football, and I tried to help him on the commercial side, since my background in metals was highly commercial. 

We started making contacts, transferring players and were able to grow the business. It was a fun and more relaxed environment than I was used. which suited me just fine. I liked the flexibility of being my own boss. It took another 4-5 years before Asmantra Sports was considered an active and respected agency in major leagues around the world.  

Stephanie as a woman and as an entrepreneur, how accomplished do you feel?   

As a woman, I feel quite accomplished, because I have raised four children, maintained a high-level career path, and managed to enjoy success in very male-dominated industries. To be honest, there were many times when I felt torn between work and family. Football is a very high-touch and demanding job, requires a lot of travel, and the timing of the transfer windows (mostly during Christmas and Summer holidays) is very family-unfriendly. This part is always a juggle. The work-life balance requires both discipline and a lot of organisation. And despite how well one can master it, I believe every working mother experiences some guilt at some point whether to a greater or lesser extent.    

As an entrepreneur, I feel there is still so much more I want to learn and do. I’m ready to take on challenges that put my confidence to the test and make me feel uncomfortable. I’d love to integrate automation more effectively into my business. I’d like to diversify the sports agency and create more innovation on branding. I’d like to be more active at the forefront of female leaders in football and develop some digital solutions to problems that exist in the industry.   

What are your future commitments at Global Woman? 

I’m focused on growing a dynamic and diverse community here in Zurich and integrating it well into the global platform. It’s very exciting to create something from such a powerful brand like Global Woman, yet still, have the freedom to build your unique identity within the brand.

The quality of the content of both the online and live events for me is paramount. I believe this is best done by focusing on one simple theme at a time. It’s important for me that the women have clear take-aways and above all, feel that their experiences with us are always meaningful with time well-spent.  

This platform gives women countless opportunities to learn and grow, but as a director, I also feel responsible to ensure that they stay active, motivated, and engaged in a specific project or task, which will help to improve and expand them. It’s easy to show up at the events, listen and even present yourself, but it’s not easy to take the action and be consistent as long as it takes to make quantitative and qualitative changes in yourself and your business. I’m committed to supporting the women in our community as much as possible and as long as necessary to make this happen for them.   

Do you have a message for women entrepreneurs to help them on their journey to success?

  1. Take time to sit still, reflect and identify where you want to take your business. 
  2. Find the end goal and work backwards. 
  3. Seek/invest to improve your mindset and/or skillset as necessary to grow in the direction required to reach that goal. 
  4. Seek a mentor or an accountability partner who will support you, encourage you, and keep you on track with your ideas and time frames. 
  5. Do more of those things which make you feel afraid or uncomfortable, but which are necessary to grow your brand, your business, get visible, raise your profile and/or create meaningful partnerships.  
  6. Take risks to try new things and don’t be phased by failure. Just keep going.  
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