CEO and Founder
In September of 2020 I left my job as a Senior leader at Facebook and in the middle of a pandemic became a Diversity and Inclusion entrepreneur. This is the story of WHY.
Roll the clock back to 2020. It was a year of reckoning. Personally, I was at home 24×7 exclusively focused on my home-life as a caretaker and in my professional life as Sr. Manager at a top social media company. First, George Floyd was murdered on camera soon after Amy Cooper used her white privilege to threaten Christian Cooper with police retaliation because he was not following her wishes. At this point, the undeniable injustice happening daily gained more credibility in places where a willful blindfold had been before. The systemic inequity conversation, a long time topic amongst activists, started to percolate into the dominant mainstream.
These events and reflection had a tremendous effect on me, as a little girl I had a strong sense of justice. I was that child who more than once stood up in the playground for a person that was being bullied or belittled (which in an all-girl, nun-led catholic school in Mexico had unique challenges of its own). However, when I came to the US and became an immigrant, there was a new mindset that my mom, as she was trying her best to protect our family, ended up instilling in me. “Do what you must, keep your head down, don’t make waves, and survive.”
This affected how I participated in conversations where my views were opposed to those in power – I’ve heard similar stories and people refer to it as the immigrant mentality. So, for the first 20 years living in the US, I did just that – survive. In the early years, the balance between opportunities and obligations was loaded heavily with obligations and so I used my personal strengths of perspective, curiosity and courage to find the best possible alternatives to allow me to remain safely and legally in the US. I studied Economics at The University of Texas at Austin and through much strategic planning, found a way to keep my legal immigrant status after I graduated.
I landed a job in the technology industry quite by accident. In my first job out of college I was asked if I knew how to maintain a website. This was the year of 1999 and my employer, seeing how I had dabbled in HTML, felt I was sufficiently qualified to maintain their website, that is until the fad faded away and we all returned to a more sensible way to share data – a (state of the art) fax.
We all know what happened to the “internet vs fax” battle and so once again I used all of my resources enrolled in an MBA in the evenings and paid it with credit cards (International students do not qualify for loans). I focused my studies in Management Information Systems… and so after graduation, I had wedged my foot into a whole industry I had never considered or more accurately an industry that had not considered me.
To top off my qualifications, I became certified as a Project Manager (PMP) and so after some time I was able to jump from my government job to a consulting company that was highly regarded. I later moved to a local giant (Dell) and though I missed joining at a time where the company created “Dellionaires” I was grateful to finally start the rest of my career.
I joined the Business Intelligence and Analytics domain and learned all I could about Data Warehousing. Eventually, my visa process caught up with my dreams and I became first a permanent resident and (much) later a citizen. Then and only then was I finally free to pursue other jobs without fear of losing my immigration status and so I became a manager and started leading global teams supporting areas such as Finance, Customer Experience, Sales and Marketing.
Whoa, long strides for someone who came with one bag of clothes to start their journey in this country (that is a story for another time, but you can read my sister’s account of our odyssey here).
And so, I return to 2020 and to the subject of WHY I started Vector U, my business.
In 2020 after much surviving and striving I was finally starting to taste the flavor of “Thriving”. When the conversations about race and social injustice became a constant subject of social exchange, I started to reflect on how I could uniquely contribute to making change happen, and how I could help move our global community closer to practices that were equitable and fair for all.
I knew that despite my participation in a few rallies and going to Congress to appeal for the Dreamers, the deep fear of being an immigrant, had kept my voice silent for decades so as to not call to myself the negative attention of groups in power. Although I am now a citizen, these beliefs require much time to shift and so I had the self-awareness to know I would not be a social-justice “fighter”. So then, what could I do?
I had the global corporate experience to understand that those teams that are diverse and manage to communicate and collaborate well have disproportionate problem solving abilities as compared to homogeneous teams. I had built the muscle memory to know that practicing Inclusion is not only something that makes you feel like a good human being but it is ultimately tied to increased profit and competitive advantages for organizations.
My world view informed by my daily Vedic meditation practice told me that much of the grief we have experienced or made others experience through racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, etc. comes from fear. And this fear is usually rooted in a mentality of scarcity – if others have then I will not.
So here is the answer to my WHY? What I can uniquely do to promote a reality of fairness, justice, equity and dare I say love for all in our communities is to make an impact at a business level. Bring experiential knowledge of why diversity is an important tool to shift a culture to engage everyone to give their very best and demonstrate how inclusion will supercharge innovation abilities creating wealth for all by making the pie bigger.
The story continues, after leaving my six-figure job with “Cadillac-style” benefits in the middle of a global pandemic I was shell shocked. My job had not been an easy one and the accumulated stress of caring for children at home (like many parents have done during the pandemic) while continuing in my role at work had worn me to the bone. I don’t believe I realized how burnt out I was until I had time to breath and get some perspective. After a few weeks, I stopped having nightmares about all the things I still needed to do and the reason why I quit became clearer and clearer.
I had the ability to be an agent of change that would have an impact on many – As I started to become more deeply informed about unconscious bias and its impact on every aspect of a company I realized that shifting attitudes would require a framework of cultural change.
I went off to learn more about it and I became certified in Change and Culture Management. Later I reflected on the fact that without support from the top, you could not make even the smallest changes.
And so, I am certified as a leadership coach with a positive psychology framework. Finally, having experienced unhealthy conflict at work more than once and knowing that with unresolved conflict there is no chance of learning or understanding I certified as a mediator and arbitrator.
We bring the story to 2021. How can decades of corporate experience, innovative ways of looking at the world and change frameworks help you?
Vector U can provide all of these services and customize it to your business needs. For those companies that are still in a growth mode and do not have a full department dedicated to D&I, I can be your virtual Chief Diversity Officer.
My burning desire to align my unique story and strengths to a way to create better worlds for us and our children comes together in this one business.
I called it Vector U because a vector has a direction and a magnitude. You (U) determine where you are headed and how quickly you want to get there and I can be the catalyst and enabler of that positive change.
Contact me and let me know your thoughts…. email@example.com