developing and inspiring our people

People - Illovo sugar

how we safeguard, develop and inspire our people

People - Grad girl in china

Ada Villafafila

Operations Director


The Faces of AB Sugar
Ada Villafafila Operations Director Spain

Since joining Azucarera over a decade ago, Ada has worked in different factories, spent time in the Finance and Strategy teams before taking on a new challenge as Operations Director last year. Moving across the different disciplines has helped her to have a 360o knowledge of the business which is something she values highly. She explains:

“Looking back on my career, I can see that each opportunity and experience has influenced and lead me onto the next. It all started out during my education where I was away studying in multiple countries; this first contact with a variety of cultures opened my mind to how we all do things in our own way and the need to be open to different opinions and working environments. From this I learnt how important a customer-centric approach was and from my time in Strategy, the importance of a long-term plan, a solid strategy and aligned organisation.

“All of the above are experiences and learnings that I still look back on now in my daily work. They have contributed to many memorable experiences over the years, but all of them have had one common denominator: people. The best moments are when you are working with others on a project and they thank you for your help in their development or in solving a problem. Knowing that, somehow, you have contributed to the professional progression of a colleague is extremely rewarding.”

It is through this desire to put people at the heart, work with others and collaborate that motivates Ada daily:

“We are currently immersed in a very exciting moment in the sugar industry; transforming our business and the relationships we have with all stakeholders within our supply chains. We are all learning a lot from the journey and each other, which makes every day a new experience for all of us. Part of my role is to look ahead to the future and I find that through visiting our factories, packaging centres and offices, and talking to everyone working within them; I get a real sense of where the business can go. My time is often spent chatting to our employees, understanding how I can support in their own development, how we can further improve our operational performance and share insight and information between teams. It’s very dynamic which is something that appeals to me!”

“Don’t be afraid of anything but of being in your comfort zone for too long”

Ada is a positive advocate for the wealth of opportunities within the sugar industry, she explains:

“It is an amazing, vibrant and dynamic industry; it allows you to develop many different skills both hard and soft (from technical knowledge to leadership). It is very motivating to see how your work is directly transformed into a high-quality product for customers and consumers. We also see the impact we are having on our people, their families and communities. Why wouldn’t you want to join?”

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