I was very driven. It was part of making sure I
proved I could do things and succeed ... I knew I
had to be friendly and always be outgoing. At the
beginning, I would joke a lot, but not in an unprofessional way. I felt I had to make people comfortable
with me. I let people know through jokes that I was
approachable and could talk about different subjects.
I speak Spanish and I’m able to use it at certain
points of my career. The company wanted to expand
its engineering recruitment to Puerto Rico. But
I found that when I got to Puerto Rico and started
talking to professionals, there was a bond. Most
recently, I found Spanish beneficial when I had to do
work in Spain. The subject was sensitive, and when I
walked into the room and started speaking Spanish,
you could see people go “Wow.”
A lot of times, women and ethnic minorities tend
to be a little more reserved about showcasing and
verbalizing what we expect from our careers. We tend
to think our leaders will pick up on our skills. But we
have to be realistic. Leaders have multiple conflicting
priorities. They can’t slow down and read our minds.
The individual has to pick the right time to talk about
their goals and new skills they want to acquire and
how that fits in their responsibilities.
I’m an avid reader so I’m always reading about trends.
I always looked to see what were the expectations and
qualifications of the level above me. I looked at the
behaviors of a good role model above me, looked to see
what impressed me about them that I could learn from.
I have a short-term and long-term plan. It’s
important to make sure people you are surrounded by
personally understand your plan. For example, when I
knew I wanted to position myself for a global role, I sat
with my husband and said, “Here are my aspirations
and what I want to do and how it will affect our family.”
We collectively sat and made a decision. I said to my
family, “Here’s what I want to do. We’ll need your
help.” You have to have a plan; otherwise, life can get
stressful and you can feel overwhelmed. You need to
know your support structure and when to tap into it.
To go at it alone could be a lonely and stressful road.
By the time I was a new manager for a couple
months, I knew I would love being on stage and
presenting on diversity and coaching. But at that time,
a lot of people presenting on behalf of the program
were senior executives.
One opportunity came up in our Atlanta locale with
300 employees there. I wanted to get on stage. I said
to the partner that it would be great if we were co-presenters. It would be great to see me as a woman of
color speaking on diversity. He said, “Just present the
I SEEK FEEDBACK ALL OF THE TIME
FROM MY TEAM, PEERS, LEADERS.
I WANT TO KNOW HOW I DID.
entire presentation.” I thought, “Even better.” I came
home and had my husband listen while I presented. I
was so appreciative of the opportunity. I had the time
of my life and felt so accomplished. At the time, several
leaders said, “You are a great presenter. You’re engaging
one-on-one while 300 people were in the room.”
A lot of times it becomes a hardship or sacrifice to
get you out of your routine for the day and go to that
dinner or networking event or go to that conference.
But that extra effort you put into events could pay
off. People need to say that for this calendar year, I’m
committing to this number of conferences and events.
I seek feedback all of the time from my team, peers,
leaders. I want to know what I’m doing right and where
I can improve, so I don’t make the same mistake again.
I think people are afraid to hear feedback and some
people are afraid to give feedback. I say I want to know
how I did. That helped me build my confidence because
I know where I’m shining and where I’m not.
We have to be very good about selecting our
mentors, coaches and sponsors. [Often,] we go into a
work environment thinking we can fly solo and that we
have all the knowledge. But it’s very difficult for anyone
to fly solo. You need people to guide you. You need to
understand best practices. So seek out individuals you
can connect with to make sure. I’ve had many mentors
of all shades and both genders.
I always find a way to give back to that relationship.
It could be that they learn to appreciate Puerto Rican
food or salsa dancing. It’s teaching about my culture
and what’s important to me and just adding some
sort of benefit. A mentor relationship can be draining.
Show you appreciate the individual by saying what you
did differently because you learned from them.