Engineering, HR, procurement, sales… not a linear career path, but Laura Urrutia’s trajectory has a common thread: adapt and add value.
Urrutia’s unpredictable career started with her journey as a Global Trainee at Tenaris. She joined the company in Mexico in 2006, right after graduating as an industrial engineer. While working in international assignments, she witnessed the growth and opportunities that the company was enabling worldwide, which triggered Urrutia’s curiosity to work abroad. Her first stop was in Italy, extending her knowledge to Tenaris’s operations in Europe. In 2011, she transitioned to a procurement role, based in Houston. Six years later, she was in West Texas territories deploying new processes to facilitate sales. She then supported the offshore Gulf of Mexico business, one of the toughest markets in the world. As of July 1, Urrutia is back onshore to take on her new role. The first female US commercial director for Tenaris shares what motivates and inspires her.
“Flavor. For me definitely, it’s the flavor we bring into any role,” says Urrutia. “No matter what you do, it depends on the flavor or the passion you bring to your work. You must leverage your strengths. Throughout all my roles, even as a mother to my six-year-old son Lorenzo, I have utilized three flavors, or key skills: problem solving, negotiation and people management."
Tenaris’s status as a high-profile global entity has steered Urrutia to become multilinguistic and given her the temperance to confidently mention that problem solving is what she is made for. “My focus and determination allow me to achieve results. I take this from my grandfather, a retired captain for the Mexican Navy who always had the tenacity and confidence that he would be able to reach the next port, regardless of the circumstances.”
Speaking about her new role and the challenges that will come as a commercial director for the US Southern Region, Urrutia’s uncanny resolute emerged. “Coming from an HR and procurement background hasn’t hindered me. Take for example, the collaborative, digital solution we’ve developed with IT: our Rig Direct® Portal. It was initially implemented with one key customer, but we saw how beneficial it could be if used broadly—that insight came from my knowledge of procurement. I knew the challenges our customers dealt with throughout the procurement cycle, and while developing the Rig Direct® Portal, the light clicked on. I went from thinking about my time in procurement, to the customers that Tenaris works with, and how we would all benefit from this solution. Ultimately, the Rig Direct® Portal has become an avenue to closely integrate with our customers’ operations and improve their supply chain.”
The Rig Direct® Portal has been adopted by 95% of Tenaris customers in the U.S. and has been deployed in 10 countries.
Urrutia recalls how her early days in HR, positioning global key talent around the world and managing a support system for expats, turned into a winning methodology for her in sales. For instance, her experience with a potential customer that refused to work with Tenaris. “I respected their position and at the same time knew the benefits they would achieve from using our products and experiencing our service. Some may question, ‘what does an HR support system have anything to do with sales?’ I knew that if I tweaked my sales approach by having a conversation with the person behind the problem and not only the customer, I would eventually steer them to change their mind, and we did. After years of rejection, we are now the main pipe supplier for this customer. This experience reflects the vital importance of nurturing relationships at all levels.”
Urrutia’s warning shot into the ether is a solid note for success. She knows she’s going to succeed not because of over confidence, but because her optimism has been tempered.
Her advice to anyone reflecting on their own career path, is to “Become an asset by capitalizing on every experience. Don’t be afraid to re-invent yourself. Be focused on the goals you are determined to achieve, question the status quo and try new approaches. Listen actively to everyone around you, your customers, colleagues, mentors and adapt to the evolving environment. And always add value.”
Outside of work, Urrutia enjoys spending time with her family and friends, event planning and DIY projects around her house to unleash her engineering background.