FIU Business Now Magazine
Her Embrace of Analysis and Data Opened Doors

Her Embrace of Analysis and Data Opened Doors

By Karen-Janine Cohen

Francis Hondal (MBA '94, BBA '88) started her career in banking and rose to Mastercard's C-suite. Yet her apprenticeship began far earlier, in her father's import-export company he had founded in Miami after her parents and three older siblings left Cuba for the U.S., where Hondal and her brother were born. It was an informal introduction, she noted, to the international business sector, where she knew she wanted to focus.

Hondal was intentional in pursuing expertise that would make her attractive to employers. "I loved business and financial analysis and applying my skills to improve performance and identify growth opportunities," she said.

Barnett Bank of South Florida was her first post-college job. There she learned how the corporate world functioned.

Within a few years, Hondal moved to American Express, where she rose from chief financial officer to vice president and general manager of Consumer Services for Latin America and Caribbean markets.

"My strategy has always been to lean into my strengths and what I do really well." In her case that meant data and finance. "That was my superpower." Her Latin America portfolio expanded to a global role in the company's insurance business.

The 2008 financial crisis gave her an even larger canvas. "Challenging situations, turnarounds and transformation have always been attractive to me," Hondal said. "Creativity and satisfaction come," she added, "in assembling and motivating teams while coaching them to success."

Following the crisis, Hondal, who had two young children, stepped back from the corporate world. She founded a consulting company and pursued other interests.

In 2011, Mastercard came calling. There, Hondal led the kind of global portfolio that would showcase her talents. "It was an extraordinary experience, not only to understand how business is conducted across different countries and regions, but also gaining an appreciation for the unique cultural and social nuances," she said.

Hondal left Mastercard and the corporate world in December 2022, after rising to president, loyalty and engagement to pursue a portfolio career. Now, she serves on the boards of Bath & Body Works and Equitable Holdings.

She's a sought-after speaker encouraging young people, particularly Hispanics and women, to aim for highlevel careers in finance and the C-suite.

"I didn't set out on a path to the top – I managed my career pursuing roles that I really enjoyed and gave me increasing responsibility to deliver high-impact results," Hondal said. She encourages those in their career's early stages to pursue finance, including its more technical aspects. "It is a huge advantage to step into a business role when you have the fundamentals."