Be Kind to Yourself

When Flor Manriquez graduated with her B.S. in mechanical engineering, she could not have predicted that life would take her so far beyond North America. Currently FM Global’s Manager of Office Engineering and Training (MOET) in Australia, Flor is based in Melbourne.

The family connections and work ethic Flor experienced growing up in Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, provided a solid foundation for personal and professional growth. That foundation enabled her to graduate from The University of Texas at El Paso, work for FM Global in Dallas, train at the company’s Massachusetts headquarters, and return to her hometown where she became the resident servicing engineer for a number of large, complex locations across the state of Chihuahua.

Working closely with FM Global’s clients, she understood their risks and helped them improve their risk profiles, which she continues to do now located in Melbourne, Australia.

Flor Manriquez, Manager of Office Engineering and Training, FM Global, Australia

Facing the biggest challenge

“Moving to another country has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced,” Flor said, describing her experience acclimating to life in Australia. She moved there to be with her now-husband, James, whom she met during her first year at FM Global. “I didn’t hesitate, my family supported me, his friends and family were lovely and so welcoming. I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity by FM Global to transfer to Australia and continue my field engineering career,” she added.

“I’m very lucky that Australia is such a rich multicultural country, and so my personality and accent were embraced straight away. But still, a few months after the excitement passed, I started missing my big loud and beautiful family. You see, my mum is one of 14 and my dad is one of 12, so I have over 70 first cousins.” With such a large family, “we’re always celebrating someone’s birthday, graduation, wedding, holiday, you name it, which meant that almost every weekend [in my hometown] was filled with laughter, color, food, music, and just noise in general.”

Although things appeared to be going well, “I missed my friends terribly, I missed my language, I couldn’t speak Spanish with our friends or at work,” Flor said. On top of that, “Professionally, I also demanded too much of myself and although everyone around me was very supportive, I found it very hard to feel at the same level I did when I was working in Mexico.”

Flor knew she needed a change in mindset and recalled a quote which resonated with her. That quote, “Be kind to yourself because you’re listening,” made an impact. It led Flor to realize that “we can be our harshest critics and fail to see how good we are and the good we can bring. We fail to see possibilities and see only challenges instead.”

With a change in outlook, Flor joined a soccer club despite her lack of experience, made a conscious effort to strengthen her relationships in Australia, and worked on improving her already solid English language ability. And she reached out. “I welcomed and asked for help when I needed it. I reached out to colleagues for mentorship which allowed me to grow professionally and ultimately progress my career,” she added.

Making a difference

Since coming to Australia, Flor has been introduced to other engineering specialties such as glass manufacturing and power generation. In 2015, she also was appointed FM Global Australia’s first Society of Women Engineers ambassador.

Although the company has retired the ambassador program, she describes this role with SWE as one of the most fulfilling roles in her career. It complements her current position as one of the leads of FM Global’s Multicultural Business Resource Group (BRG), and is consistent with goals of FM Global’s Womens’ BRG. In her SWE ambassador role, she worked alongside fearless and inspiring women to advance strategies to help retain and develop our amazing female talent and support the company efforts to increase gender diversity in our talent pipeline. Similarly, her role in the Multicultural BRG is to foster inclusion across the company’s Asia Pacific division.

Flor feels very fortunate that in her personal and professional life she’s been surrounded by people who are happy to be in her corner and so she tries to do the same for others. As a MOET, she is able to support FM Global’s engineers in building a successful career, which she finds incredibly rewarding. When asked if she had advice for young women starting their engineering career, Flor said “Be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Regarding the leap she took by moving such a distance, Flor pointed out that, “Australia introduced me to a passion for travel. James and I have traveled to many countries around the world and every time we visit a new country, I really focus on embracing the differences they have to offer, their food, their language, their customs, etc., which has made my life incredibly rich.”

Having experienced so much of the world, Flor confidently said, “I know diversity makes us better and I know that accepting others for who they are makes them flourish. I want to do everything possible to continue to help FM Global be the place where we all belong.”