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Let’s face it, it can be difficult not to compare yourself to other people. And if you have a tendency to do just that, you might think it would be even harder to work with your father—and what’s more, your father-in-law.
But for Pablo Javier Miranda, now 45 and living with his own young family in Bogotá, Colombia, working at the same company as his two family patriarchs not only pushed him harder to succeed, it also taught him valuable lessons. His biggest learning? That the only healthy competition in life is against yourself.
As a young boy, Pablo accompanied his mother and four brothers to the Siemens office in Buenos Aires each afternoon to collect his father, Juan Carlos Miranda, who worked as the Head of Accounting & Taxes for Siemens Argentina. As he grew up, Pablo remembers being very proud of the company, but never envisioned that one day he would follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I’ve always identified Siemens as a cutting-edge company in terms of technology,” he says. “Basically, the perfect match for engineers. So, my initial perception was that there wouldn’t be room for a guy without that technical background. Early on I considered Siemens as out of my league. To an outsider, Siemens can appear very intimidating.”
When he finished school, Pablo trained as an accountant and earned his keep by doing the accounts for a regional fishing company. Not completely satisfied with his chosen career path, he applied for an auditing role at Siemens. He got the job—and 25 years later, he’s still there, now heading up his department as a Lead Country Compliance Officer in Colombia, which covers most of South America.
In 2005, Pablo’s father retired. He’d been with the company for more than 40 years. “I was invited to the retirement ceremony and it was very, very emotional,” says Pablo. “The ceremony that he had when he’d done 25 years at Siemens also showed that no matter your level, everyone receives the same appreciation—that was really moving.”
Although his father-in-law, Arnold Manfred Pfefferkorn, had retired by the time Pablo joined Siemens in 1993, he had left a strong legacy behind. A trained technical engineer, Arnold had spent 30 years with the company and was instrumental in setting up the first radio networks in Argentina, so was well-known by many of Pablo’s peers. “Arnold’s work had resulted in a very important technical development and everyone held him in very sincere esteem,” he says.
Pablo’s family connection has helped to cement his passion for the company he’s called home for the last 25 years. “I have very special feelings towards Siemens,” he says. “It’s because of several things, not just the very nice career I’ve had, but it’s also strengthened my link with my family. It’s difficult to explain in words, but I can assure you it is something very special.”
He admits working with family wasn’t easy at first, despite the fact that he didn’t report directly with his father. “I felt the pressure to do things the right way because I knew everyone was looking at me,” he says. “It’s the pressure that I think everyone has when you’re young, that desire to succeed.”
He did work in the same department as his father, though, and this meant colleagues would occasionally try and compare the two men, even if they didn’t manage the same projects. “Some people tried to push me forward, encouraging me to do a degree that would put me in a position above my father,” says Pablo. “I didn’t like that at all. In my opinion, it’s not about getting a higher position, it’s about facing challenges and succeeding. Having good outcomes, that’s the true victory in our jobs.”
Pablo has taken on various positions within the company, so he’s been able to hone skills and continue learning. Past roles include Financial Controller for Siemens Solar in Argentina, and Internal Control Officer for Argentina & Uruguay.
In his current role as Colombia’s Lead Country Compliance Officer, he provides advice to business people at Siemens in order to prevent and mitigate risks. Pablo also leads fact-finding missions to clarify alleged wrongdoings, as well as supporting managers during disciplinary committees. “I remember our former global general counsel saying, ‘It’s not possible to get bored in Siemens’,” he says. “I think about that all the time. And it’s true, this company is very flexible, and that’s why it’s important to know that at Siemens you’re always free to work across different roles to help shape your career.”
Rather than crack under the pressure of working in the shadows of his family, Pablo used his experience to learn valuable lessons about competition. “A certain degree of competition is very good, but my personal belief is that at the end of the day, we need to understand that every single competition is against oneself,” he says. “If I’m competing, I’m competing against myself to be a better professional, to prove myself, to develop skills and so on. I’m not competing against anyone else, because if I focus on other people, I will lose the energy to develop and improve myself. In other words, it’s a distraction.”
He says he was lucky to have his father as his mentor in both his personal and his private life. “I am really proud of my father and the career he had in those 40 years,” says Pablo. “I know he’s happy about the path I’ve chosen. I’m pleased to say that it’s a two-way admiration and we’re very happy to be a father and son who work with Siemens. That’s the ultimate thing.”
A certain degree of competition is good, but we need to understand that every single competition is against oneself
Pablo Javier Miranda
Pablo’s attitude towards competition is also reflected in his love for the Japanese martial art, Kendo. He began training in 2003 and has been hooked ever since. Earlier this year, he even joined the National Team from the All Colombia Kendo Federation to compete within the All Latin American Kendo Championship 2017. They reached the quarterfinals.
Just as in his professional life, Pablo views the competition element as an opportunity to improve himself—not beat other competitors. “Winning only lasts a little while,” he says, “so I try not to focus on these short-term achievements. When you train in a national team for Kendo, you are not training to beat another national team, you’re training to be better, stronger, faster.”
And what does the future hold for the Miranda family? Pablo’s 10-year-old son Mael, who is fascinated with robots and automation, has already expressed an interest in pursuing a career with Siemens. Perhaps you’ll be reading his story in 20 years’ time.
Pablo Javier Miranda is the Lead Country Compliance Officer Colombia and has been working with Siemens in various roles for 25 years. He lives in Bogotá, Colombia. Pablo is a Future Maker—one of the 372,000 talented people working with us to shape the future
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