A conversation with Marleny Farías is like sitting down and talking to a mother. But this mother tells stories and anecdotes of her life and of the times when she has had to advise and take to task her large family of more than 300 people.
Marleny has been the manager of Melody Flowers since it was created 21 years ago. A Colombian flower company dedicated to the production of roses and gypsophila in the savanna region of Bogotá. Melody Flowers is a Florverde Sustainable Flowers certified company and we talked to the manager about her role in floriculture.
As an accountant, Marleny began her history in floriculture through her husband, entrepreneur Felipe Cely, who has been a floriculture entrepreneur for more than 40 years and founding partner of several flower companies in the country.
“I got involved in floriculture many years after Felipe did because my children were small and I wanted to spend more time with them. At that point in time, I worked independently so I could be there when they arrived home from school.” she tells us.
When her third child turned 9, Marleny began to devote herself full time to the management of the newly founded Melody Flowers. Together with Felipe, they share the management of the company.
Building the great Melody family
Marleny has seen many more than the current 367 people on the payroll pass through the company. As she says: they have all helped build the “great Melody family”, referring to all the people who have worked and are part of the company.
“Perhaps because of my own experience, I have been interested in highlighting the importance of creating a family through welfare and human management programs. As a mom you know many things and have a lot of experience, so you can give advice on and manage certain issues. They learn to love their family more when they are supported and given guidance.” she says.
For her, a family which is able to count on both a mother and a father is ideal. However, when this is not the case, both mothers and fathers who are heads of families have a fundamental role in the construction of a good society. Advising and guiding the workers of the company on issues such as educating their children and sharing the responsibility for the children’s upbringing are important when it comes to building strong families.
“It helps them to realize that their children are the future of their family, that they are ultimately the future of the country, and that we have to take care of them and educate them as best we can. I believe that children are the reflection of their parents.” she says.
This big Melody family has seen many generations work on their crops; many of the worker’s children have begun working there once they reach the legal age. Some of them continue their high school, technical and university studies while working for the company, and several of them have continued working for Melody Flowers as supervisors, technicians and professionals in the production or administrative areas.
And that spirit of personal growth is one of the advises that Marleny includes in her talks and welfare programs directed at the workers:
I tell them: Everyone in this company has a normal intelligence, but what makes us all different one another are the goals that we set and the projects that we have in our lives.
Sustainability and profitability is the obligation of every company
As far as Marleny is concerned, a company doesn’t belong to its owners, nor its current workers, but instead, it belongs to its future workers and owners. A company has to be profitable so that it can continue to produce and employ hundreds of families that depend on it. But what’s more, it must be sustainable in order to ensure that the impact is long lasting, over time.
“From the moment that new personnel are inducted, we emphasize how important it is for our actions to have a long lasting effect. A company can’t close, it must endure, hopefully for many years, taking care of the environment, its family, and community, while complying with the legal regulations.” she reminds us.
In order to emphasize the importance of the company’s sustainability, and taking into consideration the deteriorating situation of our planet, Melody Flowers has focused on fostering a culture of caring for the environment in the children enrolled in the educational institutions in El Rosal y Subachoque.
They hold workshops related to the environment and self-care. Likewise, together with the teachers, they organize farm visits in order to learn about the production processes, and encourage the children from these areas to become involved and understand the importance of the flower companies when it comes to generating employment.
The Children’s Day celebration is very important every year at Melody Flowers. On this day the children visit the company and take part in the cultural activities organized by their parents during the cultural week, as well as participating in recreational activities with other children the same age and integration activities with their parents based on the values of the company.
When we asked Marleny about what she feels has been the greatest lesson she has passed on to her children through her work as an entrepreneur in the flower industry, she tells us:
“For me it was very important that my children understood that a company without its workers is not a company. If we don’t have collaborators, the company wouldn’t exist. They understood the message very well, because two of my children are still involved in floriculture. It’s special to see when they go to the farm and they are greeted and the people recognize them; you can see the affection they have for them, because we are all close.”