Sofia Muniz - HR Business Partner - Interfood Americas

Navigating Global HR: Sofia Muniz on Her Career and Culture at Interfood Americas

Hi Sofia, can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Sofia Muniz, and I am the HR Business Partner at Interfood Americas in Montevideo, Uruguay. I was born and raised in Montevideo, but I've always had a curiosity about life in other countries. After studying German as a hobby during secondary school, I spent a year in Berlin living with a German family, who still feel like family to me. Once I returned to Montevideo, I completed my Bachelor's degree in Psychology and decided to enroll in an Institute in Barcelona to complete two Master's degrees. I moved there for a few years to specialize in Assisted Human Reproductive Psychology.

I then moved to The Netherlands, where I had my first experience in international recruitment in the HR field. After almost 5 years abroad, I decided to return to my home country where I truly enjoy living. I'm a curious and active person who is always looking to learn new things, and I occasionally enroll in new courses. I love spending time outdoors and consider myself a fan of trees and sunsets.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Interfood?

Once I returned to Montevideo, I decided to continue my professional career in Human Resources and had the great opportunity to join the HR team of a large commodity trading company. I spent 6 years there, focusing on local and international recruitment. I then had the chance to join the first Uruguayan unicorn, a fintech company in the payments industry, as their Talent Acquisition Lead, overseeing global recruitment activities and leading a remote team. Unexpectedly, I ran into a former colleague from the commodity trading company in the lobby of our office building.

A few days later, she recommended an HR position at her current job, a Dutch dairy trading company that was building up their global HR team and was looking for their HR Business Partner for the Americas Hub. Despite not actively seeking a change, I was intrigued by the coincidence of encountering a Dutch company. I decided to give it a chance and participated in the recruitment process. It gave me the chance to meet several people with whom I would later work and, most importantly, it introduced me to the company culture, which I connected with immediately. I finally joined the team in May 2022.

How does Interfood support your personal and professional goals, and how have you grown since joining the team?

When I joined, I was the only HR person in the Americas, as the rest of the team was located abroad. This was a challenge for me, as I was accustomed to working with colleagues in the same location, sharing professional and personal topics every day. From the beginning, I was exposed to learning and getting involved with many new topics while building up a department from scratch. I received substantial support from management and the HR Global team to bridge the physical distance and feel a part of it, even when there were differences in time zones and locations. I found Interfood to be an open organization with a team always willing to answer questions and provide the necessary context for the right direction.

What kind of work-life balance do you maintain while working for Interfood, and how does the company support your well-being?

Work-life balance had never been at the top of my priorities until I became a mother, and, as it often happens, my priorities were reorganized. I enjoy working and being challenged at work, giving my 100%, and accomplishing all my goals in an environment that remains flexible and respectful to my priorities outside of work. I have experienced this working culture firsthand and recognize the same feeling across the teams, confirming that my feeling is correct! I can say that Interfood is a people-oriented organization that takes care of its employees and encourages well-being and healthy habits.

How does Interfood foster a sense of community and teamwork among its employees, and what role do you play in this?

Interfood is a family-owned business that promotes values over competencies. This is truly the first time I have seen this in an organization. Interfood has five core values that are omnipresent and genuinely considered when reviewing our performance. A guideline to promote helping behaviors and discourage unhelpful behaviors has been developed to align everyone towards these values. As an HR professional, I am responsible for ensuring that the values remain present and are incorporated into our ways of interacting with each other and conducting business. I actively enable these values to grow within our team members. A great example of this is the upcoming 50th-anniversary event, to which all global teams have been invited to celebrate together in The Netherlands for four days this summer.

What sets Interfood apart from other companies you've worked for, and how has this impacted your career development?

Despite its 53-year history and being the largest dairy trading company globally, Interfood remains open to questioning the way things are done, striving to become more efficient, current, and sustainable, while maintaining ambition and innovation. In terms of HR, I have seen great openness to receive the knowledge that each team member brings, building together towards our future goals. I see a lot of energy moving in the same direction and foresee great achievements ahead!

What would you say to potential Interfood team members?

We are proud of our teams and our working environment, which maintains a balance between working hard and focused, but is also able to have fun and build relationships with each other. We are open to talent who likes to work with a team mentality, who is critical of the ways things are done and proactive in developing new methods. To any potential team member, I would say Interfood is a great place to learn, develop, deliver, and grow!

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