WHN NY 2023: Keynote Remarks with Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría

“If you don’t risk, you don’t win,” said the former deputy prime minister of Spain at the 12th AS/COA Women's Hemispheric Network Conference in New York.


  • Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Partner, Cuatrecasas
  • Susan Segal, President and CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas

“Gender gaps reduce the potential for innovation, for growth, and for a new perspective to address current and future challenges,” said Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría at the 12th Annual AS/COA Women's Hemispheric Network Conference: New York. The former deputy prime minister of Spain and partner at Cuatrecasas delivered a keynote where she explained the keys to her professional journey, her fears about remote work, and the importance of failure.

 “Employers tend to reward long hours and inflexible schedules, which puts women at a disadvantage as they tend to take leading roles at home,” said Susan Segal of AS/COA in her opening statement. This proved to be a major theme in Sáenz de Santamaría’s speech. She outlined the point in her career when, at the age of 40, she was appointed deputy prime minister of Spain. She had a one-month old baby. 

“Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace if they are in an unequal position in the household,” said Sáenz de Santamaría. She explained how her husband and her support system helped her navigate her new role. Though she was cognizant of the challenges she would face, “If you don’t risk, you don’t win,” she said. 

Sáenz de Santamaría warned that though remote work brings new opportunities, it can isolate women and undermine networking opportunities. “The problems of reconciling work and family life resulting from remote working are already affecting the mental health of women,” she said. Finally, Sáenz de Santamaría encouraged women to not fear failure. "I see failure as a twist in the script and the story,” she said.