As a Hispanic woman in a high-growth tech company, there is a greater responsibility to ensure my people are part of the conversation. Our experiences empower and encourage future leaders to reach new levels where we are not currently represented, and in times like these, we cannot afford to let anyone else tell our story.
It’s clear that our contributions are valuable: Hispanics are the highest growing labor force in the United States. We need to see ourselves as a key driver of the now and the future. We need to share our stories and the lessons we’ve learned to inspire hope in others and help create change.
This is my story.
We permanently moved to the U.S. from Mexico when I was a junior in high school. I became the first person in my family to earn a college degree, and this enabled me to have the opportunity to lead change in high-growth companies, especially working within People Operations for the last 10 years.
This included organizations like Ulthera, a venture capital-backed, energy-based aesthetics company acquired in 2014 for $600 million. Today, I am part of CampusLogic, which is the fastest-growing SaaS company in Phoenix.
I’m thankful to have had such great opportunities, but this potential for my career wasn’t always clear. Statistics said I had slim odds to reach my goals: I had come from another country, didn’t know the language and didn’t have a support structure ready to guide me through the process. But along the way, I learned key drivers to my success.
Above all, it took work ethic to rise above the challenges I faced. As an immigrant to this country, I had to play catch up in a world I didn’t know and couldn’t understand, and I had to do it quickly. I was always the odd man out, and I didn’t have connections to give me perspective.
I originally came to the U.S. to learn English because I knew it would be a good tool for when I returned home. That seemed like a lofty goal at the time, so I had no academic plans beyond that. Higher education and a career were not priorities. My grandfather Ernesto Gastelum, who was the pioneer of our family when he moved to the U.S., raised the bar for my expectations.
My grandfather supported and provided a home for me while also supporting his family back home. He expected me to work hard, and he ultimately was the catalyst and reason for where I am today.
Even if you have a great work ethic, it also takes mentorship to show you the way. Being the first in my family to complete a higher education, I didn’t have much knowledge from family experience on what it takes to create a thriving career. I didn’t have a reference point for inspiration.
Thankfully, my college degree enabled me to work for purposeful companies and placed me under inspiring leaders like Stacie Mallen, Matt Likens and Gregg Scoresby. Each one showed me how to leverage my innate abilities to help create successful organizations that work together to change lives through shared values.
All of this leads me to why it’s important to share our stories as Hispanic leaders and the one thing all future leaders must know:
No one does it alone; it takes a community.
I’ve greatly benefited from a community that supported me throughout my life and career. My grandfather, patient friends and teachers, financial aid advisors and strong leaders all showed me a potential I didn’t even know existed. They helped guide me to the work I was made to do, and now I live to support others because I understand the power it has to change people’s lives. I can now stand in my own reflection and understand my superpowers while also seeing the gifts that others bring.
As Hispanic leaders, we can be an invaluable community to those that follow us by remembering our cultural heritage, teaching the lessons we’ve learned and being the example for future generations—and it all starts by sharing our stories.