A Visit with Theresa A. Flores
Theresa A. Flores
Manager, Public Affairs
Mary Kay Inc.
You are that too-rare commodity: a bilingual American.
I’m first-generation American, or one-and-a-half generation. My mother was born in Mexico, but my father was born in the U.S. He is Mexican-American. We spoke Spanish in our home. My mother spoke no English, and my father wanted us to know Spanish so our mother would understand what we said. I didn’t learn English until I went to school. I think it is unfortunate that so many Americans know only one language. I wish our schools were more like those in Europe where classes are taught in more than one language.
We’re a global company. Our two biggest markets are Mexico and China. Trade issues are huge for our company.
We hear a great deal these days in Washington about how polarized things are. But you live and work in Dallas. Is the “real America” as divided as Washington seems to be?
In earlier administrations, I would have said no — even recent ones where there was a good deal of partisanship and polarization. But this seems different. I am a big believer in the rule of law, including our immigration laws. But, considering my background, the rhetoric of the campaign and of this administration has made me reconsider.
We also hear a great deal in Washington about how unpredictable things are right now. Does it feel like that in Dallas? Do people there take a longer view?
People in the heartland do take a longer view. They tend to see continuity rather than change. But again, things are different with this administration. And I’m as concerned with the difficulty of planning as anybody in Washington, where I spend a lot of time. In the past several months, we have taken great pains to make sure our relationships with other countries remain strong. We’re a global company. Our two biggest markets are Mexico and China. Trade issues are huge for our company.
Can you be specific?
We are an American company headquartered in Texas. That’s where our manufacturing takes place. But we import components and ingredients from Mexico and Canada and China, just as we export finished products. These countries are our trade partners. We’re not isolationists, and President Trump doesn’t seem to understand that about companies that might be based in the U.S. but have partners in other countries.
You have a background in software development?
Sort of. After I got my B.A. from Cornell, my Plan A was to go to law school. But that didn’t work out, and I had no Plan B. So I went to Washington and took temp jobs. One of my temp jobs was answering phones for a company that was doing software development for Lotus Notes. One day I was asked if I wanted to try software development. So I said sure, and while I could never do that now, I did it for a while, and it was a good experience.
One benefit was that I became comfortable with the ins and outs of computers. To this day, staff come to me with questions if there’s a problem with computers, and I can usually figure things out. A lot of people in the public affairs profession — especially people in midcareer — are intimidated by the pace of technological change, but I’m not. That’s a plus.
Reach Theresa at Theresa.firstname.lastname@example.org or 214.663.1029.
Read more “Visit with … ” profiles in the Impact archives.