María Gabriela Alvarez de la Fuente | Colgate-Palmolive
Regional legal director Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay)

María Gabriela Alvarez de la Fuente

María Gabriela Alvarez de la Fuente joined Colgate-Palmolive in May 2016 as its regional legal director, after almost 13 years of experience in senior in-house roles at other large multinational companies operating in Argentina. Colgate-Palmolive, the US worldwide consumer products company, focuses on the production and distribution of household, healthcare and personal care products and operates in Argentina through its subsidiary Colgate-Palmolive Argentina. Since joining Colgate-Palmolive, Alvarez has worked on simplifying several processes within the legal department, as well as bringing the legal team closer to the rest of the firm. ‘I have encouraged colleagues from other departments to feel free to contact our legal team early, believing they will receive good advice from us as a business partner’ she states. In the past three years, Alvarez has built up a rich portfolio by supporting projects that involved the launch of new products and technologies, facing challenges from competitors regarding product claims, as well as handling various business restructuring and litigation cases that are still ongoing. Alvarez is praised by nominators for ‘being very committed to her vision, and capable of achieving extraordinary goals’ as well as ‘providing excellent coordination with the company’s internal tax team’. One nominator comments further: ‘Alvarez has a strong focus on people and is passionate about developing a diverse legal team to deliver results through a business partner approach. By providing commercially astute and solution focused advice, Alvarez and her team enable the business to win in the marketplace whilst protecting the business operating mode’. Summarising her career, Alvarez speaks of a number of highlights. When she was working as an in-house counsel for BASF Argentina, initially she had to build up most things from scratch, including ‘creating a signing policy, organising corporate issues and developing a series of business units such as antitrust, contractual liability, compliance, and moral harassment. That was a period of incredible career growth’, she says. Alvarez also networked with peers from other companies in order to implement good practice that’s suitable for the company. She tried to show that lawyers are not just expenses to companies, but are creating value instead. ‘During my 12 years at BASF, I managed a lot of M&A deals and also several divestitures. My previous experience at adidas and now at Colgate-Palmolive have also been both challenging and helpful for my career’ she adds. Speaking of future plans for Colgate-Palmolive, she comments: ‘I am planning to launch a survey for internal clients to collect their feedback, this practice was well received when I first tried it at BASF.’

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